Monday, January 31, 2011

Detailing your AMT 1/537 scale USS Reliant

The USS Reliant was officially the first deviant starship from the United Federation of Planets which did not conform to the requirements of having 3 cylinder and a one saucer pattern design. I say official because we had never seen any other starship designs (besides fans based) that made it into TV or film prior to her existence. And what was really odd about this ship was when her design was approved, Gene Roddenberry was looking at her upside down.

Nevertheless, this ship made quite an impact on me. I remembered watching Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan and thought both the Enterprise and the Reliant were beautifully designed. Of course then there was no plastic model kit of her made available until after Star Trek The Next Generation came about.

I got mine back around 1998, and never really got around to building her. Yeah, at that time, I was sidetracked dating my wife with the hope that she would be my wife later on, so my priorities were a little off for the hobby. But at least I made the smart move of purchasing her just in case. 11 years later I am glad I have her.

However, this post isn't about a review for this old kit. In fact, Round 2 has recently released a new issue of the Reliant, and she now comes with corrected saucer thickness (the earlier issue was just too thin). This topic will actually touch on detailing and correcting the earlier issue of the AMT USS Reliant.

To achieve this, you're going to need the following:

Miranda Class Saucer Correction Kit
Miranda Class Shuttle bay (which also comes with the saucer correction kit)
Some new decals
All of these are actually still available at Federation Models under Products - Federation Models

Since I was getting a detailed hangar bay set, I figured to have a couple of 1/537 scale shuttles inside would definitely look awesome since they could provide a sense of depth to the kit. And oh yeah, a friend told me to get the saucer sensor replacement kit as well since the current one on the kit was a little "short". I didn't understood what he meant until I got one to compare. Anyways, there are still a few accurate parts I want to get later, but first, here's what's in hand, and next, what else you need.

The Miranda Class (the Reliant was classified as a Miranda Class Starship) shuttle bay kit consist of 15 resin parts and a decal sheet for the following areas:

1 shuttle hangar bay base
1 shuttle bay mid partition block
1 port side shuttle bay
1 starboard side shuttle bay
1 hangar bay walls
1 rear impulse engine cowling replacement
2 (starboard and board) top panel replacement and 1 connector
4 round spacers for the saucer section
2 straight spacers
Decal sheet for the hangar base

Saucer sensor and shuttle crafts were bought separate.

Here are more up close images of the parts. The casting is nicely done with a lot of the details intact and clearly seen. However, the parts are casted in opaque making it harder to light up unless you don't mind drilling and trimming parts off.

I also got the 1/537 scale Travel Pods and shuttle craft just to add some details into my hangar bay later on. The trick now is to figure out how to light that area up as I'm pretty sure its going to very dark once the main saucer hulls comes together. All those work and no one can see the inside of the shuttle bay ... hmmm.

The instruction sheet is relatively simple and easy to understand, using diagrams to indicate where which parts go. Please note to test fit the pieces first before applying glue/pinning. Very important.

Decals are from JTGraphics - very high quality. I got two, one with the Reliant insignia, and the other empty since I still have the original decals from the kit (they're a little worn out due to age and not as detailed as JTGraphic's)

Here's an image of the earlier issue top Saucer hull. I was checking out the details on those lowered panels (located on the left and right rear end of the hull) against the studio model and they seem adequate.

So I'm not really sure what these detail set is for. Perhaps another variant of the Miranda Class as seen in the TV episodes?

Here a good comparison of the saucer sensor module. They are the ones positioned toward the outer rim of the saucer. Noticed they are bigger, longer and full bodied compared to the original mold?

Here's how the shuttle craft hangar bay would look. The set does not come with a ceiling piece and you may need to scratch build these. One good source would be QMx's Studio Model kits which comes with the most detailed shuttle bay ever for the Reliant.

Aren't this cute? Itsy bitsy shuttle craft for your 1/537 scale Enterprise/Reliant/Belknap etc etc. They're in scale so its easier to gauge how big a human being against the backdrop of the entire kit. And these shuttle crafts are very detailed, and their engine pylons are very small - hence they're fragile and can be easily lost if undue care is given. Oh and look, they come with decals.

Here's my problem. How do I detail my hangar bay and light her up so people can see the inside?

The replacement rear impulse engine cowling works in tandem with the spacers to give this kit a "fatter" saucer look.

The original Impulse Engine cowling - notice the part is very thin and narrow

Spacer placement, and how the ship would look with these in place.

Now compare her without the spacers.

I still need a few things to get that near perfect Reliant, in particular the Saucer Grid lines decals (available at Federation Models again)

And of course the accurate parts from Don Lights and Magic for the bridge replacement set. Of course if I do decide to light her, I'm going to need those clear inboard warp engine set (in Star Trek II, the Reliant was only lighted with the inboard set. It was only during Deep Space 9 when the studio prop model was used again did the nacelles have both the inboard and outboard engines lighted up)

And of course if you're looking to re-create the outcome of the famous battle between the Enterprise and the Reliant, here's 5 parts resin set to help you recreate the battle damaged sections of the Reliant. The set is available at CultTVman Hobbyshop. You know, I'm thinking maybe I might get this ....

If I can figure out how to re-create the damages like this. WOW!!!! More details were added in to give the damaged areas a more credible look. This build is currently a work in progress by Greg Saum, and you can follow it HERE. I can't wait to see this one finished, she's definitely going to look awesome

Good luck, and if you get frustrated with this project ... take a deep breathe .. and let it all out "KHAAAAAN!!!".  OK, that was a little friendly snide there. I'm sure you'll do fine .. I hope I'll do a fine job with this kit too.

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