Star Trek Model Kits: The Great Debate
We made a promise not to discuss the development of our 1:350 TOS Enterprise Star Trek model kit outside of our 1701CLUB updates. This blog post won’t talk about it directly but it does address a significant concern among modelers that seems to have turned into a great debate. This post won’t be about what we will do or what we won’t do, but explains the kinds of things that we have to keep in mind when making decisions about our new kits.
Two words seem to strike fear into the hearts of model builders everywhere… GRID LINES. So, let’s ask the question. Why in the universe would we consider adding such a detail to a hyper-accurate model kit? I don’t have to remind modelers that until we came along, no AMT Enterprise model was ever built without a modeler having to slave over meticulously sanding the stupid things off the saucer… Wait, none of them were ever built without doing that…? Well maybe as kids we never removed them. There was no way to accomplish that at that age and get it to look right. With time, our skills improved and we found ways of improving things as best we could and every build any of us ever did came out looking great… Didn’t it? Well, maybe there were some cases where incredible effort was put forth but some builds weren’t quite as nice as the next. Is that all on the modeler? Or is the manufacturer responsible to some extent? How many kits were made back in the day with saggy nacelles? If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
So here’s the quandary, do we appeal to a core demographic of the really amazing modelers out there and leave something like the top of a saucer smooth or should we consider adding VERY fine engraved lines that would really help out everyone else to make their build look as accurate as they can manage? What if we could do lines so fine that when viewed from an arms length look like they’re drawn on…
Let’s break it down further…
1) it is not accurate to the filming model. The lines were drawn on with a pencil, not engraved.
2) Talented modelers are capable of drawing the lines on themselves.
3) … well… See reasons 1 & 2, I guess.
4) SEE REASONS 1 & 2! (Expletives mercifully deleted)
1) The model kit should represent the TOS U.S.S. Enterprise… as in the one with Captain Kirk standing on the bridge and Scotty in the back screaming that he needs more time. The ship has a deflector grid on the saucer that falls between metal plating resulting in narrow valleys on the surface of the hull. (Or did Apollo’s green hand draw them on with a giant space pencil?). The filming model had some other wonky stuff that we wouldn’t want to copy exactly either. So, we aren’t completely beholden to the filming model, our mission is to create a representation of Matt Jeffries’ design in support of what was shown onscreen.
2) If handled correctly, the engraved lines would look just like penciled on lines.
3) Drawing concentric circles on a 14” curved saucer is not an easy task for anyone. More often than not, most modelers will struggle with it.
4) Star Trek has a wide appeal beyond the modeling market. Tons of Star Trek fans would be interested in building such a kit even if they aren’t modelers or even artists. If engineered well and thought through, the kit should allow them to be able to build an accurate representation of the ship for themselves.
5) If we don’t keep in mind that any kit could be someone’s first kit, we as model kit manufacturers wouldn’t be doing our due diligence.
6) Most modelers who really work over the details of a build to achieve their vision of perfection have the skill to eliminate the lines without much trouble. Or at least they would not have nearly as much trouble removing them, as another modeler would have with drawing them on.
All this is considered without a firm decision in mind at this point. We’ll see how it goes. 1701CLUB members will be the first to find out the answer.