“Retro-Review” Kit Review: Starcrafts’ 1/1400 Scale Movie Enterprise

I know it’s hard to believe it, but there was a time when this long-lived little model actually didn’t exist!  Back when the world was young, and fresh store shelves glistened with dew on shrink-wrapped boxes of plastic AMT kits like the 1/537 scale Enterprise, the 1/2500 scale 3-ship set, and first runs of small Vor’cha models packed haphazardly inside their standard oversized cardboard boxes.

You know, the 90’s.  An eternity ago.

Back before Starcrafts was Starcrafts, they did a short run of models produced for another company.  While the business arrangement didn’t last, some of the classic Starcrafts models were born during this period.  Most notably, this little 1/1400 scale Enterprise-A was released, much to the pleasure of scale collectors such as myself.  I snapped one up way back then, and my tough little model has been with me through various moves and re-paints for the past *cough,cough,cough* years.  Needless to say, it’s looking a little rough these days.  The paint is chipping, the battle scars on the pylons from when the model would occasionally fall are getting obvious, and the decal job I did last time, while good at the time, is definitely faded and yellowed.  With all that I’d have to do with the existing kit, I decided to just bite the bullet and get a new one!

TMPParts

The model comes in 4 pieces, plus a base and decals.  Starcrafts built their kit so it was easy to paint and assemble: the secondary hull, the saucer/neck assembly, and two warp engine/pylon model parts.  The model is pressure cast these days, so air bubbles and voids are much less common than they were 20 years ago.  I know he makes fresh molds of his kits on a refular basis, and my sample looked like it came from a pretty clean mold.  There was no evidence of surface crazing or ripped rubber that are normally associated with older silicone molds.

The biggest challenge to the model will probably be this resin gate here.  It’s right at the top of the hull, and effectively obliterates the fine engraved lines of the sensor bands on the saucer rim.  Some careful sanding will remove this cleanly, but it will take some VERY steady scribing with a slightly wider than normal scriber to re-engrave these bands.  OR……I could just duplicate it with aftermarket decals.  Much more likely.

Otherwise, detail on this model is extremely fine.  Especially so, when you consider the age of the master.  This was during the early days of the internet, and certainly nowhere near the age of the digitally printed or augmented models that we see these days.  In short, this is some of the finest old-school model making you’ll see at this size.

The secondary hull is equally detailed, but just a little rougher out of the mold than the primary hull.  Nothing too terrible: the seam lines on the sides of the hull will need a little work and rescribing to keep the grid lines even, and there’s a small lip of resin on the deflector that will take a careful hand to remove.  I estimate it will take (GASP!) about 15 minutes of sanding to fix these problems.

The detail for the shuttlebay is especially nice.  I’m not sure how I’m going to duplicate the tiny inset bays on the sides of the shuttlebay.  Right now I’m strongly leaning towards using rescaled Round2 decals for the whole ship like I’ve done with the recent USS Luna and USS Crusader.

The model comes with engine nacelles and pylons as a complete piece, needing only to be glued into the secondary hull.  The detail on these little parts was great, with very little cleanup that will need to be done on these parts.  Once again we can thank pressure casting for these pieces, as I remember there being a slight problem with voids in the tips of the engines back in the day.  Not so, now.  What we WILL have to watch out for, though, is how these will mount.  The resin pylons here are thick enough to hold the weight of the engines (I’ve covered that problem in other places, with other engines!) but the mounting point is still very fragile and not very deep.  I think some small gauge wire pins will be in order to help ensure a longlasting bond here.  I may still stick to my usual method of brass reinforcing the pylons just to make sure they won’t bend….I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Decals for this kit are simple and straightforward, and only provide markings for the USS Enterprise 1701 or 1701-A.  Pinstriping, Strongbacks, Aztecs, or other ship names are not available at the time of this writing – though I have heard reliable rumors that Starcrafts may be working on Aztec decals for this kit after so many years.  For me, I will most likely proceed with my Round2 re-scaled Aztecs.

When all is said and done, I think this model deserves 4 out of 5 stars.  Some detail is a little out of scale for the size of the kit, in particular the phaser banks, and the decals are somewhat sparse.  If Starcrafts does eventually come out with a supplemental decal set, I would revise this rating up to a 4.5 in a heartbeat.  While I try very hard in these “retro-reviews” to avoid comparing a 20 year old model to, say, 2018 Bandai quality, I would be remiss in telling you that this is a shake-the-box model.  You will need to put in a little extra time for this kit to shine.  In other words, you need to be an actual modeler.  On the other hand, I would be 100% confident in telling anyone who has any interest in collecting 1/1400 scale kits that they would be completely happy with this purchase.  While some plastic toys are close to the same scale, NONE of them have anywhere near the detail that this resin kit will give you.

If you want to add this to your collection, you can find it by checking out Federationmodels.com…..or else you can simply email Starcrafts and let him know what you wish to order.  Happy modeling!

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