Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Review of AMT Round 2 Cadet Series 1/2500 scale USS Enterprise Kits

The AMT Round 2 Cadet series is aptly named for its simplicity (very minor painting required, comprehensive decals and simple snap-fit assembly) and I believe these kits were designed to mainly cater to the beginner. But I have found that many professionals opt on getting these as even at 1/2500 scale
(very small), they are quite detailed, and they all come in the same scale, giving them dimensions relative to their actual sizes if compared side by side. Who can say no when these are Starships we have come to love.

The Cadet series is basically a repackaged form of the old AMT/ERTL kits. Set 1 previously came with the Classic Enterprise, the Refit, and the Enterprise D, while Set 2 completed the range with the Enterprise B, C and E.

AMT/ERTL 1/2500 scale Enterprise Set 1 and Set 2

With the Cadet Series, the first set is now repackaged with the Classic Enterprise, the Refit and Enterprise B. Enterprise C, D and E comes in their own separate triangular boxes. They are basically the same, using the same mold as with their earlier predecessor, but they now comes with very comprehensive decals packed together.

The only things that were omitted out from the Cadet Series were the display stands for these kits. In the earlier issues, those fancy display stands took up most of the box space as the ships were relatively small at 1/2500 scale. By removing the display stands, the kits can now come in those cute but unworkable triangular box. I didn't like them for 2 reasons, the first being its harder to keep them among my stash as there's no way to prop the boxes together properly, and second, try putting the parts back in again - especially the Enterprise D. I had to spend some time test fitting its parts still on their Spruce to fit in just nice.

As for their display stands, its looking like you may need to get creative. The Classic Enterprise, Refit and Enterprise B no longer have those gaps underneath so you may need to drill through for a display rod to fit. I do have some suggestions later on in this topic.

Parts Analysis

Unlike the old issues when they old came in that boring grey plastic mold, the Cadet Series had their plastic parts molded in the same colour tone with their perspective Starships. For example, the Classic Enterprise comes with a slight tanned white while the Refit and Enterprise B was molded white. The Enterprise C came in grayish white and both the D and E came in light grey.

If you look at the images below, the first thing you'll notice is that the parts remain the same with their predecessors'. Though assembly only requires the builder to snap fit the parts together, it is always recommended that you apply some scale modeling glue to ensure the parts stay together.

With the new mold colours, painting the entire ship is no longer necessary (but the pros will re-paint them anyway). You will only need to apply their very extensive decals for the details.

The Classic, Refit and Enterprise B

Old issue on top while the Cadet Series is at the bottom. Old issue Enterprise needs some paint detailing for its bussard, warp nacelles, saucer sensor domes, windows and deflector dish. Cadet Series is covered with its new decals
Old issue on top while the Cadet Series is at the bottom. The old issue Refit Enterprise will require painting details on its warp nacelles, deflector dish and the sensor panels (yellow) among other colours. Again the Cadet Series have everything covered with its complete decals

Here's a better comparison of the plastic part's colours. You can see the differentiation quite clearly here.

The old decals were simple and adequate. and the display stand had those nifty miniature boards where you can display a few brief description on each ship.

Closer look at the old decals which then included the Enterprise D

The Cadet Series Enterprise B at least came with its parts still attached to their spruce. The older kit parts were already loosed from their spruce while still sealed in their plastic bags. Be careful with that tiny pylon piece. The tiny plastic edge is sharp and managed to "poke' me in between my fingernails. Yeah, no blood but it still hurts.

The 1/2500 series Enterprise B is pretty much a hot kit, sought after by many Star Trek fans. At that scale, AMT successfully gave fans a very nice representation of this ship with fairly good details.

The old decals for the Enterprise B was very basic, requiring you to paint in the other details. Not easy at that size.

Here's the other reason why so many went gaga over the Cadet Series kits - these superbly prepared decals that came with the kits. Not only do you get the basic insignias, panel lines and emblems, but they now also encompass that dreaded Aztec patterns. Your Starships will now look even better, and closer to the screen models.

The Classic, Refit and Enterprise B decals comes in two sheets, encompassing almost everything. These are about the most complete decals I have ever seen that's considered "stock" (out of the box)

The second decal sheet that covers most of the Enterprise B's markings. Say bye bye to detailed painting especially if you don't have steady hands

The Enterpise C (mistake is intentional)

Well, the kit is produced from China, and I hear they're short on good English proof readers there. Apparently this mistake was found in its decals and I had actually waited a while to order my kit hoping that this mistake would have been rectified. Obviously I must have gotten one of the early batches as I still see it there. Nuts.

Again the parts are exactly the same with its predecessor, but this time molded in grayish white. The snap fit especially with the neck/saucer section the secondary hull isn't very stable and I would recommend gluing this parts together.

Note the nice panel details on the saucer molds.

The secondary hull - note those tiny markings for windows.

You will need to glue the warp nacelles to their pylons as I found these parts very unsteady for snap fit

I found that after test fitting the Enterprise C together, there are some areas that require putty to seal some of the gaps, especially on the secondary hull. Most of the parts require glue as well as they don't stay together for long under their own "snap fit". Of course you'll need to do these if you want your kit to conform to IPMS standards.

The old decal was very basic at best, and again you'll need to paint on the other details.
The new decals comes in two sheets, and covers everything from aft to stern, something I'm grateful for as I found it difficult to get that different shades of blue that encompasses her hull.

The mistake highlighted in the red box

The decals included had the "USS Enterprise" misspelled as "USS Enterpise", missing the "R".

But Round2 is making good its claim as a responsible and trustworthy Scale Model Kit Manufacturer. If you find your kit with this decal problem - then you need to just follow their instructions

Due to a typo on our latest release of the 1:2500 scale U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-C (AMT661), we are offering a replacement decal. Send the postcard included in the Enterprise 1701-C (AMT661) Star Trek model kit. Fill out the information completely and mark the bottom with “ENTERPRISE C”. The replacement decal will be sent out promptly.

The Enterprise D

Once again the molds are the same with the exception in colours. The saucer section have a minor problem with two exceptionally huge spruce stubs (those pieces that attaches the part to the spruce) when you try to remove them. My earlier set was already loosed from its spruce and you can see how big the stubs are that are still attached to the part. A hobby knife and some filing should do the trick.

Assembly requires quite a bit of gluing especially with the saucer section. You'll need to clamp the saucer section up (you can use ordinary clothe pegs) after you apply the glue as I notice if you don't use glue, horrible gaps will appear all around. In fact, try not to depend on snap fits. They usually don't last, and can be detrimental to your decals application.

And here's my reason for getting her. These decals are awesome. Three sheets of super details waiting to be applied.

The Enterprise E

Same thing here with the molds and colours, and for this kit, you'll definitely need to use glue on most of the parts.

The old decal carries very basic details. Want more, you'll need to use paint

The new Enterprise E decals comes in two sheets and once again they are very detailed. One thing is for sure with these Cadet Series kits, they want to make them easy and convenient since the decals would have taken care of most of the painting needs.

And here's a comparison of all these Enterprise Starships in the same scale. The Enterprise B, C and E were test fits from the AMT/ERTL kit, while the painted Enterprise D was my "masterpiece" when I was studying in the U.S. The Refit and Classic had a coat of white airbrushed unto them but I wasn't able to finish them as I left for the U.S. to further my studies soon after.

I actually got another AMT/ERTL Set 1 from Walmart but I didn't have any of my tools with me. So I depended on spray cans, some very basic painting brushes and I think I used Humbrol enamel paints for the details.

You can see my half completed Enterprise D there using very basic tools.

Some angle shots of my test fitted Enterprises. You can see some pretty ugly seams and gaps in some of these images and its what you're going to get if you rely on snap fitting them.

My simple build ups from my days in the U.S. of A. Had them packed for so long that when I wanted to do this review, I actually found them by accident. These were done like 17 years ago and most of them are already in pieces. Guess I can try to salvage these later. The Klingon Bird of Prey and Feringgi Cruiser was from another AMT/ERTL Adversaries Set. I remembered painting up the Klingon BOP and Romulan Warbird but I can't find the Warbird anywhere now ... sigh.

You can see why I prefer airbrush and masking tapes. I'd get straighter lines. The above was painted using free hand ... and yes, I'm one of those with sweaty shaky hands. Personally I don't think they're that bad given the fact these were among my few kits I did while still at the University without my trusty tools. It was also a good stress reliever from my exams.

Display Stand Issues with the Cadet Series

If you had purchased the complete Cadet Series USS Enterprise kits, you will notice that these kits did not come with any display stands. I believe I mentioned this earlier in the blog, and promised to touch on them later. So just how do you display your completed kits?

From my test fit from the earlier kit, you'll notice that there are grooves molded underneath the kits for their respective stands. With the Cadet Series, those groves are now replaced with a retainer cap over a hole on the Enterprise B, C and E. These holes are missing from the classic, refit and D which presents a problem for those who don't own a hobby motor drill.

While I don't really have an exact remedy for this problem, I can suggest for you to get creative on how you want your kit displayed. Creating your own display stands require a good set of tools and scratch building components. Of course owning a good hobby motor drill would solve a lot of these problems, it may not be a solution for those who don't have one. 

Here are what some of the Starship Modeler forum members used on their kits, a wooden base and brass rods.

Laser cut acrylic makes a wonderful display base, but can be pricey.

Or you can do what others do, shop around for something they can use. Usually hobby model shops as well as those $5 dollar shops do provide some simple alternative display stands and with some minor modifications, you can adapt those for your kit.

Some of these materials can also be found in Art Shops so you'll need to do some scouting around to get the best materials for your kit. Its not impossible and you may even find a way to display them without drilling holes into your kits.


  1. Thanks for the heads up on the misspelled Enterprise C decal. I hadn't started the kit yet and hadn't looked at the decals. Have you any suggestions for applying the decals on such small models?

  2. Hi Paul, you will need to cut out those decals using a sharp scissors, and use tweezers and the tip of Q-tips. You may need to wet the area you wish to apply these decals first, so that its easier to maneuver them in place.

  3. Be careful on the Enterprise-B decals some first sets of them are mirrored in all directions (1 regular, 1 backwards, 1upside down, 1backwards & upside down)

  4. Hi MEATLOAFr, you're the third person to highlight this. Thanks for the heads up.