The Collective: Review of Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise

Two years ago Master Replicas quickly sold out the first set of a limited series of pricey ‘studio scale’ models of the Original Series NCC 1701 Enterprise. This summer they will finally finish out the series with the final 500 models and pre-orders just recently opened up, leaving many collectors with the question of whether or not now is the time to pay $1200 for a model ship.

Quest for a ship of your own
If you’re a Star Trek fan, odds are you collect at least some Trek merchandising paraphernalia: DVDs, toys, model kits, soundtrack albums, books, etc. The extent to which you do this is a kind of measurement stick for your degree of fandom—any co-worker can look at your office or cubicle and judge just how Trek-crazy you are by the amount of Kirks and starships littering the space.

Trek merchandise ranges from easily affordable knick-knacks to ridiculously expensive collectors items, and probably no object from the series has been more fetishized than the Enterprise itself. It’s been reproduced in everything from plastic toys a couple of inches long to massive, six-foot unlicensed replicas and numerous model kits produced over the years by AMT and its offshoots.

For everyone who’s slaved over one of these kits trying to make it look exactly like the ship seen in the TV show, there are some seemingly insurmountable obstacles. One is that the kits reproduced up to a few years ago have not been “screen accurate”—they have all required modification to get closer to the look of the 11 foot miniature familiar to viewers, and this has created an entire mini-industry of “accurizing” garage kits designed to help you fix the inaccuracies of the AMT kits. Polar Lights recently saved everyone a lot of trouble by producing a very accurate 12” Enterprise—then they folded after being bought out by the conglomerate RC2, but after more corporate sales the company is due to get back into the Trek business in the fall).

As good as the Polar Lights kit is, it is relatively small and conveying the 947-foot size of the Enterprise has always been part of the appeal for a certain kind of collector. The biggest kit AMT produced of the original Enterprise was a 22” “cutaway” model that can be converted to a reasonably good reproduction of the shooting miniature. But even if you’re a master modeler, there are two major problems in achieving the look of the 11-foot model. One is “nacelle droop”—the tendency of the starship’s thin engine pylons, no matter how heavily reinforced, to allow the large and weighty warp engines to sag over time. The other is the difficulty in reproducing the ship’s elegant warp engine power effect, the result of a complex inner lighting rig of fans, mirrors and blinking lights built inside the ship’s translucent engine domes. Although LED technology has made reproducing this look slightly easier over the years, getting it to look exactly right in any of the smaller models of the Enterprise is virtually impossible.


Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise (click to enlarge)

Master Replicas Presents The Studio Scale Enterprise
This is all a long-winded way of answering the question I often see posted on model collector’s message boards: “Why should I spend $1199 on the Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise?” Master Replicas sold the original run of this 1/350 scale, 33” model a couple of years ago in a limited run and the last 500 are finally on their way out of the factory.

“Studio Scale” might sound like an odd term for a 33” reproduction of an 11-foot miniature, but MR cites the 33” miniature of the ship used to shoot some scenes in “The Cage,” “Mirror, Mirror” and “Requiem for Methuselah” among others as the starting point for this reproduction. The 33” Enterprise miniature had no internal lighting, however, and this and many other details on the Master Replicas model are specifically designed to duplicate the look of the 11-foot miniature.


Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise (click to enlarge)

The Master Replicas Enterprise is a beautiful, impressive display piece that reproduces all the details of the original series shooting miniature, from the internal lighting, blinking navigation beacons (including one at the recently-revealed location of the ion pod), and an amazingly subtle and authentic reproduction of the engine dome lighting effect that would really allow this collectible to be shot as a working filming miniature and look almost indistinguishable from the original model used in the show. The effect involves layers of lighting and filters from the familiar radiant orange/burnt orange and yellow “fan” effect to the winking of subtle green lights deep within the dome, all timed to reproduce the scale and speed of the original effect.

The subtle weathering done on the 11-foot miniature is painstakingly reproduced on the Master Replicas ship, including some surprisingly heavy-duty brown streaking on the forward top part of the primary hull that was rarely visible on the series due to the camera angles and limitations of film and compositing at the time. MR also includes another detail not visible on TV screens of the era: a tiny translucent “phaser cannon” at the very bottom of the glowing white “sensor dome” at the bottom of the primary hull. This is visible in some behind-the-scenes shots of the filming miniature but it is obscured by the dome light effect and bluescreen compositing and may have even fallen off or been removed at some point from the filming miniature—MR provides this as a removable feature and gives you three of these tiny clear pieces since it is inevitable you will lose at least one.


Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise (click to enlarge)

In addition to the internal lighting, the inside of the model is provided with an extensive metal brace support system that is quite strong, meaning that the nacelles of this Enterprise will always stay straight and true. The ship comes with an extremely stable metal display stand that plugs into the bottom of the engineering hull with something like a large headphone jack, making it easily removable and pivotable on the base. And the 1/350 naval scale means you can display the Enterprise next to all sorts of other cool things—like Polar Lights’ 1/350 Enterprise “refit” from Star Trek – The Motion Picture or either of the two United States aircraft carrier Enterprise model kits that are out there. There is at least one inaccuracy on the Master Replicas model—the shuttle bay hangar “floor” doesn’t quite flow seamlessly into the U-shaped rear hull section the way it should, but this is not glaringly noticeable and if you’re determined to have 100% accuracy you can find people who make little plugs to seal this area. Otherwise, this is a beautiful reproduction and ought to be the last word in recreations of this classic vessel. I have yet to show my MR Enterprise to anyone, fan or not, who wasn’t impressed by it. $1200 is a lot of money, but for this level of functionality and size, as well as the kind of workmanship that should allow you to pass this beauty on to your grandchildren after you’ve turned them into Trekkies, well, to quote Ferris Beuhler, “I highly recommend it, if you have the means.”


Master Replicas Studio Scale Enterprise (click to enlarge)

 

Studio Scale Enterprise: The Movie
Here is a nice YouTube vid of the Master Replicas ship by ‘CessnaDriver2’ (note the audio clips and music were added by vid maker)
 

 

Pre-orders now open
The final 500 Studio Scale Master Replicas Enterprises will begin shipping in August and Master Replicas warns "this is the last opportunity to purchase this unique piece of Star Trek history." For more info or to place a pre-order, visit MasterReplicas.com. You can also pre-order from Entertainment Earth.

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise Replica Limited Edition available for pre-order at Entertainment Earth
$1,199.99
(pre-order, estimated available in September)

 

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all i ask for is a tall ship and a star to steer her by!

Pretty cool, though I’m heavy-handed and probably would break it. :(

Green-Blooded-Bastard

“The subtle weathering done on the 11-foot miniature is painstakingly reproduced on the Master Replicas ship, including some surprisingly heavy-duty brown streaking on the forward top part of the primary hull…”

No offense, but how is there weathering in the vacuum of space?

Ions

#3

Because when it’s built on Earth, it gets weathered over the construction time. :)

In response to #4….

LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One of Kirk’s better monologues, and one of Shatner’s nicer performances.
And, man, I wish I had $1200 to blow. That model’s gorgeous.

3. Space is not empty. There’s a lot of material in space. That’s why starships have navigational deflectors and buzzard collectors! Plus the Enterprise has ventured into sub-astmospheric flight on a few occasions. Plenty of opportunity for weathering.

Being the owner of one of these I have to say it was worth every penny. You could film a TV series with this ship!. I must say it is also a nice investment. The MR phasers that sold for $400 are routinely selling for close to $1000, more if they are the signed version. Same with the communicators and tricorder. There is a collector’s market out there for MR Trek items and they will, and often do, pay handsomely for that elusive item that escaped their grasp years ago. I have no doubt that the Enterprise will also rocket in value in years to come. Having said all that I will give two words of warning. 1. There have been reports of the engine nacelle motors stalling on some models. My advice, if you buy, plug it in, turn it on and leave it on for a week. If it has a bug it should surface by then and you’ll have plenty of time to return in for another before they all sell out. And two, the grid lines are very lightly etched on, by hand, with a pencil. The effect is very subtle, as it should be, and you can’t see it unless you step up close. Sadly, many of the ships were getting out of China with grid lines that looked like the were put on my monkeys. Crooked, unmatched, and in the worse case scenario, VERY dark. Many a ship was returned because of the gridlines… Read more »

There may not be water or air in space but there is tons of dust in space. Which when it hits your spacecraft which is traveling at high speed through space wears away the surface of your ship giving it a weathering like appearance.

You can also order this directly from Master Replicas at the same price:

http://www.masterreplicas.com//store/star_trek/star_trek/9125/

$1200.00?

Do you have kids?

Gene Rodenberry's Ghost

It got weathered when it flew in the atmosphere in “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”.

The weathering was present on the filming miniature.
The photos above do not really do it justice. It’s the proper gray, not the whitish color it appears. It looks much better in the video.
There were some QC issues with the first batch. One variable issue was the thickness of the pencil-drawn (again, just like the original) grid lines on the saucer section. Overall though, one of MR’s better efforts.
Glad I waited!
PS Good review.
PPS They should have just used one of these for the Trek Remastered project!

#12

I don’t. Thank God.

Regarding weathering, this is done on just about any movie miniature to add realism and scale to its appearance. When you look at footage of the Enterprise on the original series the effect of the aging is so subtle it is barely noticeable, but if it was not there the ship would look far more toy-like in appearance.

I have one too. Right here in my den. It’s the first thing I’d grab in a fire. Everyone else fends for themselves.

All I ask is a tall steer and a star to ship her by.

I love these models, but think you have to go the whole route. You probably need a rumpus room with proper lighting. One of my uncles built a sizeable wooden model sailing ship. It looks SO much better in its glass case. One thing that makes a miniature look too much like a toy is its environment. If it’s on a shelf like a toy, it looks like a toy.

Anyway, I have my lottery ticket, so I’m hoping I can get one of these one day.

I have one from the first run. It’s awesome! Buy one if you can. You will never regret it if you love Trek and the original Enterprise.

I have one of these and it’s pretty nice. I also have the referenced 5.5 Enterprise, which, by the way, is much more accurate in detail to the original filming model then the CGI for the remastered version. They’ve omitted some of the lighting and other small details, which the original had.

I have the MR model mentioned above, but with the 5 living signatures and 2 reproduced signatures etched in of the 2 we sadly lost Scotty and McCoy. This is the best build reproduced enterprise ever built. If you can afford one, up get it, no run and get it. It will last for many years, my only complaint is that they did not include an acrylic case like alot of their other products. Yes the weathered look is supposed to be there, there was alot of discussion about the weathering, but they decided to include. I sell them on my web site, but I will not post it here, i think its aginst the rules.

[The] TOS Purist aka The Purolator

I think it would be fun to build a life-size version of the TOS spinning, lighted nacelle caps (“bussard collectors”). :D

# 3 & #5 Your both wrong, Weather is just a term, the weather comes from space dust, debris and fragment of asteroids that the ship has past through over it 5 years in space.

Here’s a nit– MR omitted the reddish/copper colored ring on the secondary hull just behind the deflector dish!
Look carefully at original footage. It’s there and it’s been documented.

OOPS!!!! I am a fool…
I meant CBS-D omitted that detail, not MR!!
They got it! As did the Unobtainium version.

I have one, but other than a brief outing when I originally got it, it has lived in its box, and is currently sleeping in my garage. It is really nice though, my favorite of the few MR items I’ve purchased. (Star Trek related, the TOS Tricorder is also great, while the Klingon disruptor is authentic but kinda boring.)

Question for those of you who also own one of these babies; has anyone come up with an interesting way to display it? I saw on another forum that someone had a custom glass case created, which is probably a good idea so it’s safer from prying hands.

Looks great, though I’d only splash $1200 on TMP Enterprise, always loved that version.

One thing I’d love to get but never seen is a replica “Discovery” from 2001 – love to have that one hanging about my desk ….

Who ever wrote this does not know anything about how to build models…..

#15

Little harsh there, bro! Children are a blessing. Raising a little Trekker has been one of the biggest joys of my life!
Having a little person to take to Indy 4 last weekend was incredible; my son helped me view the new Indy through a child’s eyes . . .

#8 – picturing your misspelled ‘buzzard collectors’ brought great joy to my otherwise dull afternoon at work. Just imagine all the ugly birds it would take to power the big E! SQUAWK!

26- I’m with you. But I’ve always loved the ‘A’. For some reason, that’s always been my favorite.

“It’s ok to cheat, if you just really don’t like to lose”

Screw that. I want the life-size model!

Great article- I am so tempted. For the price (as well as the quality of model involved), an acrylic display case really should be included. No ship, before or since, could ever match the original E. As Scotty said, no A, B, C, D, or so-forth.

THX-1138 The Fandom Menace

Can’t afford one but I have seen one at a magazine and collectibles store. Powered up, it is a thing to behold. It makes you rub your eyes a bit as it’s that authentic.

Great idea: MR should give complimentary (or at least discounted to $100 U.S.) to all the Trekmovie.com regs who post. That would be nice.

THX- Did you see one in a collectibles store where you live?

@35

Building a kid doesn’t count….

(ok, yes, I did see the other photos…;-)

I didn’t know the enterprise had “buzzard” collectors (#8). What did the crew do with all those birds they collected? Why did they need buzzards anyway? How could buzzards even survive in space? Does the federation use buzzards for some purpose we were never told about? Are buzzards CANON?
I am however familiar with Bussard collectors ( which by the way would really have to be a lot bigger to collect any significant amount of hydrogen, but we won’t quibble with accurate science) and their theoretical application.

THX-1138 The Fandom Menace

#35

Guess that settled that. I would love to know where you found some of the items in your albums. What’s up with the WOW tripod? Did you make that, buy it, find it? I’ve never seen anything like it as I thought it was a CG creation. I enjoy building models and concede that your skills are great. I kind of go the route of your Pegasus. Short cuts that look pretty good. I’m impatient. Anyway, great stuff!

#36 Denise

In Seattle there is a place in Pike St. Market (where they throw the fish) called Golden Age Collectibles that has/had one on display. The guy behind the counter noticed me drooling on it (don’t worry, it was behind glass) and was kind enough to power it up. I just sort of stood there dumbfounded for 10 minutes while my wife said “That’s awesome baby! Now come on. We have to go.” Knowing that the longer I stayed, the greater the chance I was soon to be parted with money I could not easily dole out for such a prize.

#37

I’ve built six. I am good at that.

#39
I’ve built 2 and they are a handful (They keep me young – I need it). Good for you that you have had the time and energy for 6. You have enough to staff the bridge.

” Master Replicas quickly sold out the first set of a limited series of pricey ’studio scale’ models of the Original Series NCC 1701 Enterprise. ”

This can be used to show why the Enterprise in J.J. needs to be the classic Enterprise of the 60’s and not a re-design version. I hope J.J. reads this and changes his Enterprise’s design to TOS design. I don’t mind the Enterprise looking more real, but I would love to see the TOS Enterprise that look real and not just a design. It is a year before the movie comes out, we can’t get the inside of the Enterprise changed, but maybe we can get the CGI outside of Enterprise change. I hope J.J. and crew see how much money a TOS items make. I can just picture a real looking and Extreme Detailed TOS Enterprise flying across an I-MAX screen in HD…. maybe in 3d too . I think That would fill up more sits then some design calling it self the Enterprise.

p.s.
-38. Krik Semaj
the “buzzard” collectors are named that because they look like an old clear jewel-looking cover for a light like an game show “buzzard”. Some guitar amps (like Fender) have “buzzard” lights to this today. “buzzard” means that it “buzz” like game show “buzzard”.

The more I see the model of the original Enterprise, the less I like it. I think the reason I hated the CGI Enterprise on TOS is it represented the crudeness of the model under higher resolution photography in relation to what we are used to with late 70’s model motion control work. I just figured out why I hate the old Enterprise model when I saw the master repl photo above. I didn’t know I hated it. Well I do.

I should be clear I like the refit Enterprise from Motion Picuture onward. That’s how the Enterprise looks best for the first time.

I like how they mimicked all the classic shots. Cool model. Too rich for me.

All the TOS Enterprise needs is Detail added like the retrofit Enterprise from the Motion Picuture has. I think the TOS Enterprise is the best design and that the retrofit Enterprise from the Motion Picuture is just like the TOS Enterprise just with added Detail. Yes, Enterprise from the Motion Picuture also has some re-designs, but it is a sequel ship and not a prequel and this is way I hate the J.J. re-design.

“No offense, but how is there weathering in the vacuum of space?”

…Contrary to popular misbelief, space is not 100% vacuum. There’s all sorts of gasses, ionic particles, and micrometeoroids out there that aren’t visibly detectable at normal wavelengths. What the E had streaked on it could be any number of remains from any other impacts, and odds are that being on a five year mission doesn’t allow for a paint job every 5000ly, much less a wash’n’wax from Harry Mudd standing on a streetcorner with a sign around his neck saying “Will Push Venus Drugs For Food”.

[shakes head in utter dismay]

“Building a kid doesn’t count….”

…Two points for Jeff Bond:

1) For the kids, did you use resin or styrene?

2) Good job on the Seaview, but what’s really needed that hasn’t been done are close-up shots on the Flying Sub that comes with this kit. it’s almost as if Moebius has sort of ignored that part of the kit because it’s not as detailed as the Seaview is. Any chance of posting some more shots of that FS, preferably of the pre-assembled parts? I’d be curious to see it compared to the old Aurora kit.

Wow, she looks amazing! They could have used her in the Remastered series; she looks that good!

I never knew there was a phaser (or photon toredo) cannon on the lower navigation dome. I’ve seen it rendered in the TOS-R ship as well the MR version. One would think this was directional targeting.

Does anyone remember which episode (probably during the title & director credits) where the camera zooms in on the lower navigation dome? Has that episode played in the remastered version?

The closest I ever came to the real thing was taking the tour of the Christies auction a few years ag where they had most of shooting minatures on display. The refit version was still breath taking. The quality workmanship was obvious comapres to the more recent Enterprise incarnations (especially since it was 28 years old at the time). That’s the one I wsih I could own.

The little doohickey on the lower sensor dome is kinda visible in the zoom-in shot in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”. Since it’s pointed directly at the camera, all you can see is a little red dot on the bump of the dome, but it’s the only shot in the entire run of the show where you can see the thingie. As for the MR version, besides the bizzare anomoly of the hangar deck area, there’s the matter of the forward running light on the upper surface of the primary hull. The original filming miniature didn’t have that. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to dig up effects photos showing the bow area in all its glory to folks who insisted that there was a light there. What she had was a little round access port, to change out the light bulb behind those three round portholes, which was normally covered up with a round piece that was painted the same as the rest of the hull (there’s a nice shot of the ship in the opening of “The Tholian Web” were you can just barely make out a little round dent, apparently from when the effects guy tapped in the piece just a wee bit too far). Anyhoo, some time between the time the poor thing went into storage, got shipped to the Smithsonian, and suffered the ham-fisted “restoration” by Ed Mirarecki, that piece was lost and some (pausing a few seconds to avoid… Read more »
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