Friday, February 25, 2011

My Review of the 1/1000 scale AMT Round 2 USS Enterprise B Kit

Here's a hot one. I know there are many out there that are huge fans of the Excelsior Class starships. I'm one too but unfortunately there aren't many kits out there for these (counting those resin kits as well), and even fewer in large scales. Technically the Enterprise B is a revamp of the Excelsior Studio model, which was later re designated as the USS Lakota (they're similar in design and patterns except for the registry change).

For this review, I will be comparing all 3 available plastic kits that are in 1/1000 scale from ERTL/AMT, PLATZ and from AMT Round 2. Interesting to note that PLATZ is a Japanese brand (I think) and their release merely improved on the decals. The parts' mold remain virtually identical to ERTL/AMT kit

Problem with both the ERTL/AMT and PLATZ kits was that the inaccurate parts are similar since both kits used the same mold. The most significant part in question would be the lower saucer section where the "neck" connects to the secondary hull. Major corrective surgery and aftermarket replacement neck was needed to correct these, but not so with the new AMT Round 2 kit. Those parts were corrected from the mold, hence you get a more accurate rendition of the Enterprise B seen on the movie screen.

From the different brands packaging, I'll vote for AMT Round 2's as the box is sturdier, and the parts fit in snugly inside unlike the ERTL/AMT and PLATZ boxes where there were like 70% empty spaces inside. PLATZ did use better cardboard material for their boxes though.

UPDATE: Aftermarket parts for the ERTL/AMT Excelsior and older Enterpise B kit are highlighted HERE

Plastic Parts Comparison 

Round 2's kit provided five plastic packs containing parts, with the fifth pack containing the decals

Top Saucer section remains the same with all 3 kits. I didn't see any notable retooling done here

As for the lower saucer section, note the extra indentation on the neck connection area with the AMT Round 2 part. This section was retooled to correct this section

The secondary hull have also undergone some retooling as seen in the close up comparison shot (AMT Round 2 VS PLATZ). The window grooves were taken out so what we have is a smooth surface on the AMT Round 2 parts. Unfortunately all three kits came with raised panel lines. Those lines are not suppose to be raised but rather "engraved" unto the body. Some major re scribing required here.

Secondary Hull cover also went through some changes. Those lines dissecting in between the panels have disappeared on AMT Round 2's part, but they were originally there in both the ERTL/AMT and PLATZ's parts. Looking closely at the USS Lakota's image, I can see several lines intersecting there. Looks like another major re scribing effort required here, guys.

As for the rest of the parts, I did not see any distinguishable retooling done on these. Even the clear transparent parts remain the same.

Instructions and Decals

The ERTL/AMT decals were relatively simple in their offering and a lot of these earlier kits depended on aftermarket decals. However, noting that Round 2 did not provide any decal accessory for their recent release, you may still need to depend on aftermarket decals to get those patterns right.

ERTL/AMT decals - too simplistic

PLATZ provided more with their decals sheet

AMT Round 2's decals are adequate but not complete. I am however disagreeable with those decal windows. Its going to be a nightmare for those planning to light up their Enterprise B

And there you have it, a rough comparison between the three existing kits. My review is of course done on a quick glimpse so I may have missed out on a few things. Normally one won't notice too much until they start working on the kit, and in my case, this one will take a while before I get to her.

The USS Excelsior NCC 2000

Let's do a quick comparison between the PLATZ Enterprise B and the USS Excelsior. A look at the parts did reveal some interesting facts.

Impulse housing section has some significant differences

Difference in impulse engine housing at the top saucer section plus the extra impulse engine housing located on the rear port and starboard section of the Enterprise B
Angled view with the Enterprise B on the far top and Excelsior with the closer view

The USS Excelsior

Enterprise B
Even the original USS Excelsior Studio Model underwent some cosmetic changes, as seen with her in Star Trek III and IV (NX-2000) and then under Captain Sulu's command (NCC-2000)

Here's something interesting I noticed with the ERTL/AMT Excelsior kit. The neck area and grove on the lower saucer section was designed specifically for the Excelsior version (not sure if this is considered inaccurate as I have yet to assemble the Excelsior kit to see). The molds were not changed when AMT produced the Enterprise B. What happened here was that ERTL/AMT used the same mold done for the Excelsior, modified some parts of the mold to create the Enterprise B. As such, the original mold for the Excelsior was literally "replaced" in favour of the newer Enterprise B and this is the reason why AMT Round 2 are not coming up with a new USS Excelsior. They will need to re-create a new mold entirely and the cost of creating one is just too high to justify.

Now refer to the actual studio model for comparison. Do also take note that at the lower sensor dome, that potruding thingy (I'm not sure what you call it) that extends out towards the neck is elongated on the kits. This is inaccurate and the new AMT Round 2 has corrected that part.

The secondary hull spots a smooth contour except for those raised panel lines. Definitely need to sand off those lines and rescribed them there again. Raised panel lines don't look realistic anyway.

Another area that needs correction is that hump that holds the pylons. The Excelsior kit has its pylons extended to far up (toward the saucer section) while that is corrected on the Enterprise B kit where the pylon extends out from the centre.

I was also told to look out for the flush vents on both kits. There should be 3 vents at the front and only 1 at the back and a quick check on both my kits found both of them to have 3 each at the front and back. You will need to putty off the smaller vents at the back

On the Excelsior Studio Model

On the USS Lakota (Enterprise B studio model)

There's actually more parts to correct if you plan to re-create the USS Excelsior NX-2000. You can follow up HERE with the forums member's detailing efforts there

Instructions and Decals

Instructions and decals provided were simplistic at best. I'm not sure if any aftermarket parts were done for the 1/1000 scale Excelsior kit but if there was, she definitely needs it.

The ERTL/AMT USS Excelsior is long out of production but you can still get these if you shop hard enough. I still see her in stock at Federation Models, otherwise, you'll need to check out eBay.

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