As summertime approaches, the folks at Round 2 Models have given Trek fans a potential summer project… the Original Series Romulan Bird-of-Prey makes its debut in June. TrekMovie has a look at the kit after the jump.
The long awaited 1:1000 Bird of Prey
Under the Polar Lights trade-dress, Round 2 Models has released a long anticipated addition to the 1:1000 scale Original Series line of Star Trek models. The Romulan Bird-of-Prey, originally seen in “Balance of Terror” and “The Deadly Years”, and retroactively popped into “The Enterprise Incident” in the remastering of TOS, joins the original Enterprise, the Klingon Battlecruiser, and the refit Enterprise in wide release in June.
To say this kit is a good one is an understatement; and a severe one at that. Simply put, this is the finest engineered Star Trek model kit I have ever built. This is quite surprising, considering some of the complex curves that intersect on this model. A great example is where the main body meets the wings which connect to the engine nacelles. The main body has a curvature on the horizontal plane, and is angled on the vertical plane. That’s fine and good, but the wing assembly, in addition to having to match the curvature and angle of the main body, has to do so while incorporating a shallow concave dip at the mating point… and it’s a lengthy point, a good two inches! The joint was so perfect, it needed only the slightest amount of putty on the forward portion… less than a dab, in fact, from my Tamiya tube. I actually could have gotten away with using Mr. Putty’s liquid dissolved putty in the space. A light sanding was all that was then required for a perfect mate.
The only locations where the engineering of the kit could possibly be improved are the fin on the upper body and the stand. (More on the stand later.) The fin left a very small gap at the back of the superstructure that I considered trying to putty, but ultimately left alone in the hopes that a coat of primer and paint would fill it in. Ultimately, on the final model, a very fine separation can be seen if you pay really close attention to the fin. In retrospect, I’d definitely go in and putty this, though in doing so, the builder has to be super precise in order to avoid removing the window detail along the back of the superstructure.
Potential to improve the stand
The stand itself is the standard dome base that is included in the 1:1000 scale kits from Polar Lights, but instead of the central post and ball/socket pivot, a reducer is included which fits into the dome base, and a thin wire that is pre-bent into a hook shape is provided. This wire fits into the stern of the vessel, ensuring that the bird-of-prey decal isn’t obstructed by a stand. It works, but I have noticed the stand slipping a bit, allowing the ship to cant to the left or right depending on the way my air conditioning system is blowing in relation to the model. The situation improved after I decided to use Rustoleum textured paint on the stand. The texture is a dark gray/black paint with white flecks in it (to which I added some extremely fine glitter to simulate a starfield/nebula) and the texture helps with the grip, but it does still slip a bit. I may consider adding some canopy glue in the back of the Bird-of-Prey (a very tiny amount) and sticking the wire back in while it is still tacky. Hopefully the glue, together with the texture of the paint will allow for some grip to prevent further listing.
Decals, decals, decals
One issue that was addressed by the folks at Round 2 in the lead up to this kit’s release was the fact that while the upper surface windows were able to be molded into the model, the same was not possible for the leading edge windows. Thus, those windows are provided for by decal. While the upper windows provide some dimensionality and surface detail to the kit, I would have preferred to have all the windows at skin level, as opposed to raised windows on the upper saucer. This is one of those areas where, after having completed the model, I determined that I’d almost rather have drilled out the windows and filled them with canopy glue, and then paint them white from behind.
The decals are fairly simple, and, with a sole exception, are of high accuracy. My only complaint is with the lit leading edge windows, in which – at least on my decal sheet – the lit portion of the window is not properly on center with the black outline, leading to the lower right corner of each window having a distinctive edge of basecoat visible. The bird-of-prey decal is outstanding in its quality, sensibly separated for ease of application, and balances the sturdiness needed for such a large decal with enough flexibility to make its application easy. I only had a minor tear on one of the nacelle portions of the decal, and that was due to a dog bumping my elbow while I was applying it. I managed to butt the ends together that tore, and you can’t even notice it now that she’s been gloss coated.
The only real disappointment I have with the kit is a lack of surface detail (beyond the molded windows). While the kit looks great, I do think that some fine panel lines would have enhanced the ship and given her a sense of scale. At the moment, placed next to the 1:1000 Original Series Enterprise kit, the Bird-of-Prey looks oversized for its lack of detail. If I was to build this kit again, I would probably give serious consideration to scribing some panel lines, akin to the detail shown on the remastered “Balance of Terror” ship.
A word about coloration…
The box states that the ship is molded in gray plastic. The copy I received from Round 2 was molded in white. This may be because I received a test shot for review purposes, I don’t know. The instructions specify a silver ship with chrome engine caps on the stern. The nacelle forward caps come in clear, and the instructions simply say they can be left as is or painted. In my instance, I tried back-painting the caps, but didn’t like the result, so I sprayed them silver, and then overlaid it with transparent orange. Also, given that I like to do my TOS era Federation ships in silver instead of in gray, I decided to go the green route with my model. I used SAC Bomber Green (which, admittedly, looked more gray in the store when I bought it) for the main body, and then sprayed the aft nacelle cowlings with copper. I am generally happy with the way my color choices turned out, but I chose not to glue the forward nacelle caps on, just in case I decide later to switch to a fluorescent green… which is still in my mind.
The kit, which is retailing around $25.00, is an effortless build (took me 30 minutes to assemble), easy to paint, and very pleasing to complete. Lighting the kit would require some additional effort. For example, trenches for wiring would have to be cut into the wings, and an alternative mounting process would need to be considered; but lighting the kit is definitely doable by someone with slightly advanced skills.
This outstanding kit deserves a place on the shelf of every Trek modeler, and a spot on your modeling agenda for this summer!