The Archer-class starship made its debut appearance in the Vanguard series of novels, and went on to develop some backstory in the Seeker book series further down the road. Small and scrappy, the Archer class starship is only big enough for a dozen or so crew members (and that includes hotswapping bunks!), a ground-effect vehicle in the “garage,” no shuttlebay here, and is more than small enough to allow for planetfall. The design of the ship was based off of a Starfleet Museum design by Masao Okazaki. He converted and re-sized his Paris class to reflect a smaller, faster, stealthier craft, and the very unique Archer class was born.
There have been a couple models of this available, in 1/144 scale and a tiny 1/1400(ish) Shapeways model, but I was surprised and pleased to see that Ugh! Models has recently released the ship in a small and very displayable 1/350 scale. Being only 50m long, the kit is barely 5 inches in length, but there’s a good bit of detail in this little package. Here’s a closer look at what you’ll find when you get your order.
Inside a very sturdy small box you’ll find 15 blue resin parts, including a base (which I’ll probably never use), and a spare deflector dish. I’m grateful that they included two dishes, as I’m relatively certain my fat thumbs are going to make one of these disappear some time mid painting. The model is cleanly cast with only a few small air bubbles, but there is some moderate flash on some of the seam lines that will take a little careful work to clean without damaging small parts. Flash like this is common with very small resin pieces. Unfortunately the warp engines have some large vent gates right on the warp engine tips. This wasn’t the best place in the world to vent the resin, so when you clean up this area I would suggest going slowly and being very careful…otherwise you will mess up the shape of the Bussard collector.
The primary hull has a few issues that should be addressed before you get down into the painting stage. First, it appears to have a good coating of mold release on the surface, so make sure you give it a good bath to remove any release agent. Second, and most important, I’d recommend you go over the ship with some fine sandpaper to smooth out print lines from the main hull and warp engines. This was a “grown” model from a CGI file, and while it is extremely detailed and well done, there are still digital artifacts from the growing process that give the hull a slightly CGI feel to it. Some fine sanding paper, followed by a coat of automotive scratch filling primer, should do the trick. And finally, once again with the pour stubs — these are on the front surface of the saucer and are rather large, so care and patience will be needed to make them disappear.
Many of those ‘problems’ are more along the lines of nitpicks, and issues that can be solved in an afternoon with a few sanding sticks. I’m extremely happy to see the finely engraved panel lines and vent detail on this kit, and the impulse engine is absolutely fantastic.
It goes without saying that I slapped the main parts together temporarily to see how she looked assembled, almost as soon as the model was in the house. I’m really pleased with the clean fit and tight tolerances between the main hull and the warp engine pylons. There’s almost no chance to misalign these parts. Just make sure the pylon is fully seated in the slot, give the kit a quick eyeball to make sure everything is pointing true, and add a drop of CA glue. You’ll be golden. Below you can also see a quick photo of the ship alongside another 1/350 scale ship. You might recognize it; it’s been in a couple movies now and then.
The model comes with a pair of landing legs, and two sets of gear doors. The thin doors are meant to be glued on to the landing struts, and the thick doors should be used if you plan on building your model ‘in flight.’ While I can’t say definitively, I think that some careful planning on the modeler’s part will enable you to build this kit the way we do with Bandai Star Wars fighters — you should be able to build the model to swap back and forth if you want to display it both ways on any given occasion. I’m really happy to see that Ugh! Models went this route with this particular model. It opens up a world of diorama designs you can use.
Last but not least, you get a simple one-page assembly diagram for the model, and a very nice decal set with 4 different starship names to choose from. The decals are crisp and pretty well printed. There are a few smaller details that aren’t on the decal sheet, but I expect some of the usual suspects will come out with aftermarket decals in short order.
All in all, I would give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s a nicely done model of an unusual subject, and the scale gives you a lot of display options to choose from. At $40.00 USD, it’s perhaps a little pricey for the size, but still worth the money if you’re a fan of TOS era ships or the Archer specifically. The minor nitpicks I found on my part should be easy to overcome. I would recommend it for pretty much anyone; this would be a good first-time resin model for beginners, but with enough possibility for more advanced modelers to really make the ship pop.