Blast From The Past: Macro Trek Nebula Class Re-build

Let me take you back in the past.  Waaaaay back, relatively speaking, nearly 20 years into the past, to show you some photos of a model I built a long time ago whose photos I just found in a stack of old 4×6’s.

Yes, photos.  REAL photos, the kind you took with a physical camera with film (!!!) then had developed at your local camera joint.  If you can remember that kind of thing, congratulations, you’re at least as old as me.  Come, let’s reminisce.

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This overexposed, grainy, poor quality shot is one of the very first resin models I’d ever built: the Macro Trek USS Nebula.  (In point of fact, I think this would be the THIRD resin model for me, after getting my resin legs with the Macro Trek Grissom and 1/3900 scale Ambassador.)  It had all the hallmarks of the typical resin kits of the day: smelly, polyester based resin, inaccurate details, stickers instead of decals, etc.  And yet, not only did we overlook these issues, we snapped the kits up like they were going out of style.  Where ELSE would we be able to get our very own Nebula model?  Needless to say, it’s pretty obvious from the pictures above that I didn’t waste too much time on model prep before slapping a coat of paint on the kit and calling it done.  Heck, I was impressed with myself for even putting an aztec on it, to say nothing of painting the windows and lifeboats!

As time went on, my Nebula began to develop a very familiar problem.  The warp engine support structure began to surrender to the forces of gravity and slowly, slowly bend downward under the weight of the engines.  Polyester resin is more wont to do this when compared to newer polyurethane resins, but in the end they almost all do it: the heartache of warp nacelle supports very ironically “warping” under pressure from the warp engines.  I was fresh outta high school, with time on my hands and a few spare plastic Enterprise D kits in my closet.  So I did what any other red-blooded geek would do: I operated.

The first thing I did was remove and fill in the saucer impulse engines.  This was before the CGI Nebula models with their saucer engines intact; all the on screen evidence pointed to a saucer that wouldn’t be able to operate autonomously.  (When I build my new one, it WILL have saucer impulse engines, because…..come on.)

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Next came the secondary hull.  The old kit part was not quite deep enough top to bottom to reflect the more open “mouth” of the Nebula’s deflector dish.  I solved this by grafting an Ertl E-D secondary hull onto the bottom of the resin, then used a heat gun to bend it onto shape.  The rest was just filled in and rescribed.

The next bit of repair was more or less straight forward.  I took the old crappy resin warp engine support sled and cut a new one from an Ertl plastic kit.  Same exact part, just new less bendy plastic instead of resin.  While I was researching these parts, though, I also went in and corrected (to some degree) the detail on the back of the weapons pod pylon.

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Last but not least, I rebuilt the pod itself to what (I thought) was a more accurate representation of the on screen model.  Granted, this was a poor early example of my scratchbuilding skills, but it wound up looking pretty decent.  In retrospect, it’s clear that I went to the opposite extreme of Macro Trek; their pod was too stubby, mine was too wide.

Some last few pictures of the USS Ulysses, rebuilt in the very early 2000’s from a model I originally purchased in 1997 (if my aged memory serves).  As you can see, I went for a much more muted palette for my aztec colors and escape pod hatches.

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I wound up selling this model to an old Trekkie friend on the West coast of Florida.  Don’t know if he still has it, but it was a fun model while it lasted.  Thanks for joining me in going through these old 35mm photos!

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