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Archive for the ‘Polar Lights’ Category

With a great license like STAR TREK, there is no end to the subjects we can introduce as new kits, but sometimes the question does arrive of “What should we do next?”. That question is usually tied to the investment needed for tooling the kit. It isn’t easy to do large, grand scale kits very often, but there are plenty of ships to consider at smaller scales like our popular 1:1000 scale kits. Except for maybe the Klingon K’t’inga, we have represented most of the recognizable ships in one scale or another. However, it seems like nearly every time we’ve asked modelers what ideas they had in mind, we often found one ship asked for over and over… The U.S.S. Grissom. The Oberth-class ship is a bit of a departure from the usual Starfleet fare. Though a fan-favorite, the Grissom was infamously taken out by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey in STAR TREK: The Search For Spock before other Oberths went on to appear in three more films and several episodes of ST:TNG. The ship is a relatively small design with an accepted length of 120 meters. That gave us bit of pause to do as a 1:1000 scale kit. A kit of this size wouldn’t be substantial enough to stand on its own. Though a 1:350 scale kit of the ship seems very appealing, we felt the need to check the reaction to a smaller investment first and come back to a large scale later if that seems feasible. So, what could we do? We could have reboxed our Enterprise Refit and included it in that like we did with the Botany bay in our TOS Enterprise kit, but I wanted to hold out on that and see if teaming the Refit with a dry dock kit might be viable later on. With the Refit still available and our recent U.S.S. Excelsior release, it became apparent that the last of the ships from STIII: The Search For Spock was the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. A smaller ship with a debatable length of about 90 meters, we could afford to team the two ships together in a 2-piece set and allow modelers to build a collection of every ship from that film. The KBoP is a beloved design and is in my personal list of top 5 space ship designs.

The Grissom is based on CAD work by Angelo Bastianelli and the KBoP will be based on our larger AMT kit. The Bird-of-Prey will come with two sets of wing baffles to build in either cruising or attack modes. Both kits will feature snap assembly to fit right in line with our other 1:1000 snap kits.

A few things to note on the mockups. On the Oberth, the factory made a couple mistakes. they grew an earlier copy of the deck. So the mockup shown here has the incorrect detail on the back the rear edge of the deck also shows more detail than we will end up with in production. They put a base rod hole in the bottom large enough to accept the rods for our 5″ dome bases, but these kits will come with our small bases, so that will be less obtrusive. On the KBoP, they forgot the base hole altogether. More significantly, they were supposed to grow two sizes of the ship. the one shown in thepics measures about 3 1/2″ long and would be comparable to the kit included in the AMT Adversary Set. At this length the ship would have been 90 meters long “in real life”. However, this deviates from the debated, but generally agreed to length of 110m. The second mockup was to be about 4 1/2″ long to bring it in scale with that measurement. The detail looks great at the smaller size, but we will most likely kick it up to the larger size. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Here, for the first time, is a look at the upcoming kits. The set is scheduled to be released by May 1st. So look for it at Wondefest 2018.

 

 

Now, I’ve been mulling “something” over… We are working on another brand-new kit. It will be big, and probably unexpected. I wish I could talk about it. It is really driving me nuts. It has been in the works for a long time already, and we are nearly finished with the CAD work. We will probably get a mockup within the month of January. I was hoping to hold out on this announcement until Wonderfest, but if we manage to stick to our development timeline, the kit should be out in August. In which case, we will probably announce it before that. I’ve been considering announcing it now as a Christmas gift to all of the sci-fi modelers out there. BUT, we all know how these things go. Any number of circumstances could crash down on the project. So I won’t say any more except…

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! I hope one (or more) of your gifts is a model kit, but even more than that I hope you receive the peace and joy behind the season.

Star Trek Model Kits: U.S.S. Defiant kit update

posted by JamieH 1:41 PM
Thursday, December 14, 2017

Things rarely go according to plan. I was hoping to show the mockup for our NEXT new Star Trek kit this week, but delays at the factory are preventing that this time. Good news though that we already have test shots for our all-new U.S.S. Defiant snap kit! So here’s a quick look. I’m also showing a look at the decal sheet. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fit the additional registries some have been asking about. (Updated) We are also including a cap (not shown in pics) to seal the base hole for those that choose to use a different mounting method.

We are pretty far along with this kit with packaging underway. Jim Small may be showing off some pics of our buildup soon on social media. We’ll be sure to share those pics on our Facebook page.

Everything shown here is subject to licensor review.

Star Trek Model Kits: U.S.S. Defiant update

posted by JamieH 12:16 PM
Friday, December 1, 2017

When we offered a re-issue of the AMT U.S.S. Defiant from STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine a few years ago it turned out to be a nice solid seller for us. It offered a substantially-sized kit at the odd scale of 1:420. However, the sweet success was short lived. After just a few production orders for us, the tooling was catastrophically broken. It was going to cost us the price of a new kit to fix it. So we decided to do just that!

It took us a while to get to it, but when it came to deciding on our next 1:1000 release, the Defiant seemed to be the perfect choice. As a kit, the subject is simple from the tooling standpoint. We aren’t just making a smaller version of the old AMT kit though. We are making sure that this one is nicely accurate even if it is smaller. 1:1000 puts the overall length at about 6 5/8” long based on an established length of 170 meters. (Yeah, I know the ship was infamous for changing size to meet the need of the shot.) We had Angelo Bastianelli draw up the CAD model which was based on the filming miniature.

The mockup looks great. It features some pretty fine engraved panel lines which the factory states they can match in production. We’ll see how it looks when we see test shots. They captured some nice greebly detail in just the right spots. The kit will include clear parts as needed unlike the older kit where things like Bussard collectors were merged into opaque bulkhead parts. The forward-facing weapons on the nacelle cowls, front “mouth” (did they refer to is as a deflector? It obviously isn’t a “dish”) and round exhaust vents on the back are also clear.

I have to admit I like most of ST:DS9 less than other incarnations of Star Trek. I was one of the viewers the show lost by the time the stakes were raised around the Dominion War. But I have to admit the more I look at this mockup the more I appreciate this ship. If the details translate into the test shots, this will be a great looking little kit!

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I was actually going to make this a lead in to a longer Star Trek models post that also included an update on the U.S.S. Excelsior since I’ve received the first set of test shots. My point in doing that was to deliver positive news along with what will be a disappointment to some of you. Instead I’m just going to rip off the band-aid lay out the situation with the Galileo Shuttle.  No forward progress is being made to engineer the kit. I doubt this will come as a huge shock to anyone. I hope my directness and openness on the subject is appreciated. It pains me more than anyone to make a statement like this.

I won’t drop that bomb without giving some kind of reason. Basically it comes down to timing and the budgetary limits of a company our size that offers such a wide range of products that we do. Sci-fi model kits take up a relatively slim slice of the pie when considering our automotive and military kits, die cast cars in several scales (including the recently re-acquired Johnny Lightning brand) along with other endeavors. Priorities have to shift when opportunities arise and for now we aren’t in a place where we can commit to the kit. Sometime we can invest in something grand, and sometimes other lines get to do something else instead.

You may ask why we’ve steered away from this one while producing others instead. That’s a fair question and this is where timing kind of comes into play. Initially, there was a bit of a delay in getting completed plans of the ship. Gary Kerr is our most trusted consultant on all things Star Trek, but when we first dug into the project, his plans were very preliminary and just captured the basic shape which we used for the basis of the shuttle in our 1:350 kit. By the time he turned them in, they consisted of over a hundred pages of crystal clear information. That took some time to do and while he was hard at work drawing up the plans we did other kits. Keep in mind it is easy to think about the old AMT kit and imagine that we could just do an improved version of that, but you know our reputation of doing a new kit right when we do one. At scale, the ship measures 11” long and over 7” wide. In that old kit one wall provided the interior and exterior. That won’t work for a kit that is intended to be accurate. it requires separate interior and exterior walls, floor, ceiling, roof, etc. So once parts get laid out on a tool, it essentially becomes the equivalent of two kits! I studied ways to cut back or compromise, but ultimately they would have seemed like a shortcut or cheat. The savings in doing so were negligible. One factor that actually worked in our favor was that when combined the 1:1000 Romulan BoP and U.S.S. Reliant were more manageable financially and they gave us more marketable kits at a lower price point. They also tied directly to other kits of the same scale. If we had done the Galileo those kits may never have come to market.

Why do the Eagle and not the Galileo? That qualifies as a textbook “tough decision”. Ultimately we decided that the Eagle gave us the basis for three variations along with many potential add-ons and accessories while the Galileo could pretty much only exist as itself and therefore limited us with what could be done with the tooling. On top of that, sales on the Space:1999 license proved that the market was hungry for a new kit and that seems to indeed be the case. That isn’t to say one license won over the other. We still have a lot we can and want to do with the Star Trek license!

So why say this now? I could have said something a few months ago, but I was knee deep in other matters. Plus, I still have hope and an idea to be able to do the kit sooner than later. I just wanted to clear the air with everyone that really wanted a straight answer on it. So the straight answer is we aren’t doing it right now, and they way things look we won’t be considering it for a while. I DO want the kit to happen and like I said, I have schemes and ideas, but it is time to move on for a bit with the intention to work back around to it. So what will we do? We’ll see. I’ll show you when I have something to show. Onward…

 

Polar Lights Model Kits: U.S.S. Reliant Aztec decals

posted by JamieH 9:17 AM
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hi guys-

I promised this post a while back. I know we are running behind on getting the U.S.S. Reliant decals out to market, but they should be here by the end of August.

The images below show you what to expect so you can plan ahead so you can start building while waiting for the decals. as expected, it s a our usual aztec wrap and we’ve added in several alternative names and registries as well. A preview of the instructions gives you a better idea of how they are broken up and placed on the model. I’ve pumped up the contrast of everything I am previewing here so you can see it at the relatively low resolution that our blog system restricts me to.

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Round 2 Models: Wonderfest 2014 roundup

posted by JamieH 11:50 AM
Monday, June 9, 2014

Another Wonderfest has come and gone once again. I have to admit that though this year’s show didn’t sneak up on me it seems like the time needed for planning for it gets pinched more and more every year. In such great haste, mistakes are bound to happen. Luckily they were small and no one got hurt. (What is it with me and Star Trek ship name spelling…?)

More than anything else show attendees want to see what we have coming next. In light of recent events (which I’ll get into later) I’ve decided it is best to wait on getting too far ahead of ourselves with product announcements. So, we focused mostly on things that are coming very soon, but we still slipped in a few things that we feel confident enough to talk about.

On the Star Trek front, we had…

The U.S.S. Reliant 1:1000 scale snap kit which will be out very soon. I received production samples the day I returned from the show. This means the kit is about 4-6 weeks from hitting store shelves.

The next new kit on deck is a 3-ship Cadet Series set that focuses on Deep Space 9. It features the U.S.S. Saratoga, U.S.S. Defiant and Galor-class ships. As usual the set will include full decals for all three ships.

New to our 1:1000 scale ship lineup of will be the TOS Romulan Bird-of-Prey. The ship is a personal favorite of mine. We are just getting started on it, but we hope to have it out in about a year.

Also coming in 2015 will be a reissue of the U.S.S. Enterprise Cutaway. We are just now starting to examine the kit to see what changes we might make to it. I wouldn’t expect anything terribly extensive, but we’ll see if there is anything “logical” we should do to improve it from previous releases.

Lastly, though it may not look like much as far as our display goes, we’ve completed the overall plans for the Galileo shuttle kit. So we can now begin the mockup process.

Next, Space:1999…

We showcased our new reissue of the Moonbase Alpha kit. It features an all-new four-part vacuform base. I know dealing with the vacuform base in the past was kind of a hassle, so we’ve done what we can to make it as easy as possible to assemble and hide the seams. The new base was necessary to present the entire layout of the base including five all-new launch pads that feature optional docking extensions and new in-scale Eagle transporters. The travel tubes are included as separate pieces where the original release had them embedded as part of the base. New decal artwork rounds out the improvements. These are supplied for the launch pads as well as the computer terminals for the command center interior.

The next development for license is a Deluxe Eagle Transporter. This kit utilizes our existing Eagle kit, but now includes resin parts for the laboratory pod and booster pack.

For the Alien license…

We showed our RP of the resin XO Kane kit which was a little worse for the wear having been sent around the world and back. The #1 question we got at the show was “when will this be available?” We hope to announce a price and release date for the kit soon.

We also showed the CG work done by Angelo Bastianelli on the USS Sulaco. His work has since been approved by the licensor so we’ll be moving to the next step on the ship. I hope to get the kit to market in 9-12 months.

Best of the rest…

We presented our Back to the Future II Time Machine and all-new General Lee snap-together kits along with a reissue of the Hindenburg. All should be out later this summer. We gave a preview of new Lindberg reissue box art that shows our approach to using vintage art and design cues in a fresh way. Everything else on display is available now from your usual hobby retailer.

Along with the compliments on our product, we also fielded questions about a few projects that were conspicuously absent. After “When will Kane be available?”, the next most common question was “So, what happened to the Wicked Witch kit?” Please believe me when I say there isn’t purely one reason, but a pile of reasons that made us reconsider releasing the kit. The final decision was hotly debated here and was a painful one to make. Unfortunately the Witch wasn’t the only kit we have to talk about… Sadly, I had to inform those that asked that the King Kong kit which we’ve shown images will also be cancelled as will the Marvel Comics Thor kit and 1966 Batman & Robin 1:8 scale figures. None of these decisions was taken lightly and I can assure you every one was fought for to continue.

I’m loathed to end a blog post on such a down note, so back to other aspects of the show…

For the past three years Round 2 has presented awards for the “Best Use of a Round 2 Model Kit” in the Wonderfest model contest. This year’s competition had a record number of entries with well over 600. As usual, the level of quality in the buildups was amazing. We present our award for three categories Adult, Teen and Junior. This year’s adult winner was David Lewis who used one of our 1:350 scale TOS Enterprises to build his vision of a TOS-era Miranda-class ship. It was a beautifully built model that featured lights as well as interior details like an arboretum and dual shuttle bays. The junior division winner was Alex Tabor whose diorama presented his vision of the TOS U.S.S. Defiant making waste of a mirror universe Enterprise era ship. Unfortunately, we ran into the same problem we had in the past two years as no buildup was entered in the teen division that had used one of our kits. We’ll have to reconsider next year’s awards and probably do one award for junior/teen. Alex walked away with both junior and teen prizes which featured three 1:1000 scale Star Trek kits (child award) and a pile of kits including the Man In Space rocket set, 1:144 scale C-57D and an Enterprise-E (teen award). David walked away with a $100 coupon for autoworldstore.com. Congrats to the two of you. Also, I want to send a special shout out to Mark McGovern who we have build our own “amazing figure models” who took away the big award for Most Amazing Figure sponsored by Amazing Figure Modeler magazine. His work on the Absorbing Man was truly “amazing.”

As always, it is great to see everyone at the show. We always walk away with the clear message received that we are doing all right by everyone there. I personally have to say that it is my pleasure to be there. I always leave with a sense of renewed vigor for the tasks awaiting me when I return to the office.

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Polar Lights Model Kits: Superhero Modeling Favorites

posted by JamieH 8:42 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Superman-comparison The popularity of mainstay pop-culture characters can be tracked back to the earliest instances of licensed merchandise. Superman debuted in the comics in 1938 and less than a year later, the first merchandise was offered to the burgeoning crowd of fans. The Supermen of America Club supplied members with a button and official membership card. Supermen of America rings were offered to new members in 1940 and over time have become one of the most sought-after collectibles ever. In the early years, trading cards were introduced. They were followed by nearly anything that could have a Superman logo applied to it from lunchboxes to puzzles, books and records, action figures and of course… today’s Superman model kit.

Characters like Superman change with the times, but still resonate with every generation. As sensibilities evolve so do the characters and the various Superman-figuresinterpretations of them. Technology allows our look at the characters to become more defined. In the comics, the original interpretations offered on pulpy page stock by his creators Joe Seigel and Jerry Shuster gave way to the visions of Mort Wiesinger and Curt Swan (among many others) to the more contemporary renderings by Neal Adams and John Byrne to the version offered on today’s glossy page stock or the subtle glow of a tablet. The big and small screen offered a range of interpretations from the shorts created by the famous Fleischer Studios which put still images into stunning motion in a series of cartoons to the live-action serials starring Kirk Alyn to the TV series starring George Reeves to the most fondly remembered depiction supplied by Christopher Reeve in four films to last summer’s blockbuster film.

Every time we see a character depicted in a new way, we are biased (whole-heartedly or in part) by the previous interpretations of him. Some people are die-hard fans of the old stuff, the stuff they grew up with as kids and have loved ever since. Some people are coming to the party late and they latch on to the version being offered at that time. Some are into it for a while and eventually let it go. Others are life-long fans.

For sci-fi and pop culture modelers, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You know if you like Star Trek better than Star Wars. You know if you like STAR TREK: The Original Series better than STAR TREK: The Next Generation. You know if you like the Curt Swan interpretation of Superman better than Jim Lee’s. Classic TV show Batmobile or the Tim Burton version?

Our recent Superman and Wolverine super-hero kits were created with the mindset of appealing to the widest audience possible. The Wolverine kit offers optional heads to appeal to guys that want something a step closer to the recent movie versions. We chose the costume to depict his iconic early appearance, but it was engineered to allow easy modification to create other later versions. Superman depicts one of his most iconic comic book covers, but with a little adapting he can look more like any of his various incarnations.

So, my question to you, the modeling public, is what do you like? (Please don’t misinterpret the question as “what do you want?”) Did you like the Man of Steel movie? Did you like The Wolverine? Do you like what Marvel Comics is doing right now or do you like DC better? Are you into the Arrow TV show or are you more excited about STAR TREK: TNG being remastered to be released on bluray? While you are at it, let us know what you think of our recent figural model kit releases. Feel free to let us know by responding here on the blog or on our Facebook repost.

Polar Lights Model Kits: 4 weeks of Christmas Part 4

posted by JamieH 9:00 AM
Monday, December 23, 2013

Before you lay your head down Christmas Eve and visions of new model kits start dancing through your heads, let’s finish up our rundown of projects in the hopper here at Polar Lights models. I hope you have enjoyed the looks the progress on Kane, the U.S.S. Reliant and King Kong kits.

We announced acquiring the Alien/Aliens license at Wonderfest. Here is a look at something we have talked much about yet, the Alien Queen! This is the digital sculpt as rendered by Bill Wieger, the same sculptor we used on the Kane kit. The model offers a dynamic look at the creature. We are still nailing down the details on the final scale and release date. We’ll announce more when we know more.

Well, that wraps up a great 2013! Please have happy and safe holidays. We’ll see you next year!

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Polar Lights Model Kits: 4 weeks of Christmas Part 3

posted by JamieH 10:00 AM
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Santa’s coming soon and in the spirit of giving, we are presenting inside-looks at some of the projects we have in the works here at Polar Lights models. By now you should have seen our updates on Kane and the U.S.S. Reliant. We had given inside looks at earlier stages of both of those earlier in the year. This month we give the unveiling of something new.

Feast you eyes on the 8th wonder of the world, King Kong. This fabulous sculpt was done by Gabriel Marquez. I’ve kept him in mind for this project ever since he contacted me about it when we first go into the model kit biz. The sculpt is currently being reviewed by the licensor. Look for it in 2014. More details when they become available.

Next week… the Queen!

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Polar Lights Model Kits: 4 weeks of Christmas Part 2

posted by JamieH 10:00 AM
Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Continuing weekly Polar Lights Model Kit updates for the month of December, here is a look at the U.S.S. Reliant mockup that was reviewed recently. This is a much anticipated addition to our Star Trek line of 1:1000 scale kits. This is a new source and the prototype had a few unexpected flaws (like the wavy saucer) as well as the usual amount of fix up we find that is required. A slight mishap resulted in broken Starboard phasers.

Other than that the ship isn’t in too bad of shape overall, but as anyone reading this blog will know that the devil is in the details. Most notably are the grid lines on the top of the ship, not just the saucer section, but the rear end as well. We’ll get that fixed up as well as the other 20-odd points of interest pointed we out to the factory.

Next week… Kong!

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