“Retro-Review”Kit Review: DLM Lightable 1/1400 Scale Nebula Class

After posting about the companion build that will accompany her, I thought it was only fair to give you an honest accounting of a model I’ve been meaning to build for a really long time: the Don’s Light and Magic version of the 1/1400 scale Nebula.  This model has been rattling around in my closet for quite some time now.  It’s survived at least three moves, a few drops from high shelves, and the general vortex of entropy that tends to envelope my hobby space, so I’d say the poor kit has paid its dues.  2017 will be the year of the Nebula.

Since it’s been so long since I last looked at it, I was a little worried when I opened it up last week to do a parts inventory and photo session.  I’m happy to say it’s survived its years in a box fairly well.  Here, take a look:

Resin USS Nebula Parts Layout

The model consists of 16 resin components.  As this is a conversion kit, the builder will have to supply a few parts from a donor Enterprise D model; namely, the main saucer and the warp engine components.  The conversion kit has a clear 2-piece secondary hull, and translucent tinted blue and red resin parts to make the deflector dish and what I am assuming are photon torpedo launchers.  Everything else is molded in opaque gray resin.

Even the opaque parts are built for lighting, however.  The upper pod is built in two halves, with plenty of space to route small LEDs or fiber optic for the marker beacons and torpedo launchers.  The warp engine connecting pylon is attached to the cobra head mounting point for the saucer, and in a sly move from DLM, has trenches pre-cut in the pylons with matching resin covers to allow you to route plenty of cable down to each warp nacelle.  Strangely, the dorsal pylon connecting the upper pod to the secondary hull is cast solid.  You will need to drill a hole through this piece in order to pass power cables up into the weapons pod.  Not a big deal.

This kit has been in my stash so long, I can’t clearly remember so I won’t speak too much in regards to the cleanliness of the kit.  My copy has zero flash, but I have cleaned it up a fair bit since I bought it.  I can tell you this, though: nary a single air bubble can be found in my casting, either in the clear parts or the gray bits.  That’s pretty impressive, and makes me suspect this kit was pressure cast.  I’m very happy with the ease and fit of this model.

The secondary hull and deflector mount are pretty accurate to the deeper profile of the original filming miniature.  There is some slight warpage of the resin around the deflector housing, as clear resin is notoriously softer than opaque polyurethane resins.  I think I can fix this with a little hot water or hair dryer.

The rear pylon assembly mounts somewhat loosely on the secondary hull, and to be honest the instructions around this area aren’t fully clear as to where the lower plate (with what I assume is a shuttlebay door) fits on the hull.  DLM is probably relying on the builder to know, or at least be able to Google, what the ship looks like here, but since the directions are a little vague I would recommend working slowly, checking fit carefully, and making sure your references are in place while you’re assembling the model.   Speaking of instructions, though…..

Instructions

Despite my one minor nitpick mentioned above, the kit instructions are actually very detailed and easy to follow.  DLM really went out of their way to help the customer properly light this kit.  I give him a lot of props for the hard work he put into this assembly guide.

Last but not least, here are the final components and a rough test-fit of the main parts.  The cobra head/warp pylon assembly has the ‘impulse engines’ built in, and you can see the few windows on the kit back here that you WON’T be able to light.  It’s a small shame about those windows, but it’s the price you pay for molding these pieces together for what looks to be a very sturdy nacelle pylon.  Anyone who remembers the very old Macro Trek kit will likely remember the heartache of those droopy polyester resin warp pylons that very quickly assumed the sad frowny face that we all felt when we saw it.  This model doesn’t look like it’s going to have that problem in the least….and if that means I have to sacrifice a dozen or so windows to do it, then so be it.

All in all, I’m going to give this model a 4 out of 5 stars.  It is expensive at $140 for the conversion parts, and I don’t think I would recommend this for a person’s first resin model OR first lighting job.  You should have a little experience for both under your belt.  HOWEVER, it’s one of the most accurate models of the Nebula on the market right now, and given the state of the resin industry, I would buy it sooner rather than later.  Even if it’s just to keep in your closet for a bit while you get that above-mentioned experience.  There have been a few worried conversations online as to the availability of the model, but as of this writing the kit is still available on the DLM website….it’s just not immediately obvious from his homepage.  Scroll down on that link a little ways and you’ll find it.

There are very few offerings of the Nebula available at the moment.  We’re fortunate that the easiest one to get here in the States happens to be one of the most accurate ones around.  I’m looking forward to putting this ship – and the AGT Enterprise – in dual drydocks in the near future, and I will document both builds as they progress.

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