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classic-plastic-model-kits.jpg (9199 bytes)
Classic Plastic
Model Kits:
& Value Guide

by Rick Polizzi

Deep Space Nine Model Kit
Pointers on assembling the AMT/ERTL DS9 space station
by Archie Waugh

Models and Miniatures
Strange New Worlds  Issue 14 - June/July 1994

Hot on the heels of their beautiful RunaboutTM kit, ERTL / AMT has just released their version of the Deep Space Nine Space StationTM. It is impressively sized at 1 / 2,500 scale, 16-1/4" x 12-1/2". Meticulously detailed, the Deep Space Nine model, nonetheless, suffers from several significant design flaws. Hobbyists eager to recreate the look of the station as it appears on-screen will have numerous problems.

A quick glance at the box art and instruction sheet provides a tip-off — there are no painting instructions! The cover art is a slightly retouched version of Paramount’s stock publicity photo of the station. Side panel photos show the model painted a sickly beige with yellow, gray, and red-brown details. Could this be the ugly prototype that so dismayed our Adrienne Reynolds (SNW #13) at the New York Toy Fair? Worst of all, neither these photos nor the kit indicate windows!

Even more troubling is that many of the parts do not fit together accurately. Test-fitting of parts, usually a formality with styrene kits, is a necessary here, as are a sharp knife and sandpaper for altering connection-points between parts. The box description boasting "over 75 pieces" should add the line "that barely fit together."

Now that I have thoroughly discouraged anyone from wanting to build this kit, let me say that it is possible to produce a handsome finished model, if you’re willing to put a lot of effort into it.

First, let’s address the subject of windows. On screen, the most obvious feature of the station, aside from its basic shape, are the hundreds of brightly-lit windows studding the surfaces of the concentric rings and center core. Without them, a model meant to withstand close inspection looks woefully inadequate. (Remember the disappointing Romulan War Bird in the three piece Star Trek: The Next Generation Adversary Kit — SNW #7).

Former Deep Space Nine effects supervisor Rob Legato rigged the six-foot filming miniature with neon internal lighting. Fiber-optics carry light to the pinhole-sized windows. As the model kit is less than one-fourth the size of the "real" model, recreating the windows with absolute accuracy is impractical. My solution was to take a piece of stiff 1mm wire, mount it on a handle, heat it with a candle flame, and melt tiny window depressions into the plastic. Use the box cover photo and the opening-title sequence of the show as a guide for placement of the windows. After finish-painting the various sub-assemblies, I carefully dotted each of these depressions with a tiny droplet of flat white paint, letting capillary action pull the paint off the fine brush, filling the holes. For this procedure to work, the following assembly order must be followed.

Assemble the promenade ring halves as directed. Assemble the power core hull pieces and support module. Leave the rest of the power plant parts for later, they must be painted. Cement together all six docking pylons and the three docking ring sub-assemblies, including the docking ports. After these parts have dried, sand and finish all the seams. At this stage, you may "melt in" the windows, being careful to keep the rows straight. Don’t press the hot wire too deeply into the plastic. Remember, you’re only creating a little hollow, not a hole. As the wire sinks into the plastic, a tiny "lip" around the hollow will be formed. This will keep the droplet of paint from running out across the surface.

Next, paint the various sub-assemblies. Color choice is really your best guess. The actual filming model is a tan color. Good reference photos appear in Cinefantastique Magazine, April and October 1993 issues. Rob Legato had the miniature painted such a light color to accommodate exposure levels in photography that would allow great depth-of-field, giving the model a huge appearance on film. Unfortunately for our purposes, the on-screen color is much darker and grayer, so a compromise must be found.

I used Testor’s Model Master color "Armor Sand" as a base coat, using an airbrush for smooth results. I painted ridged vertical stripes on the Promenade ring zinc chromate yellow. I painted the Cardassian-styled triangular depressions in the pylons and docking rings flat rust, then over-painted the details within them gold. After picking up various other details in shades of gray. I overpainted everything with a translucent coat of Testor’s Metalizer Burnt Iron, which both subdued the detail painting and darkened the tan surface, giving a weathered, rusty appearance.

At this point the windows may be painted as described above and other finish detailing added. The inside of the clear red plastic radiator grid should be painted white, the grillwork on the weapons sails red, and details on the shield generators gold.

Now cement the three docking ring sections together. As directed, place on a flat surface to dry (inserts at these joints would have strengthened the outer ring — another design goof). Now go back through the rest of the instructions and finish whatever assembly steps we have skipped. The Metalizer finish is easily marred, so I recommend a coat of Metalizer sealer. The display stand may be assembled and painted flat black. I suspect many will forego the stand and hang the model instead. This model takes up a lot of table space and is too wide for most shelves.

One delightful finishing touch to the kit is the set of three tiny Runabouts. Paint them camouflage gray with red and black details as directed. When placed on the landing elevator pads, these 3/8" replicas of the 72-foot Runabouts give a clear picture of the enormous size of Deep Space Station Nine. l

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Strange New Worlds' Models and Miniatures columnist, Archie Waugh, will be a guest for the Trek Trak penels at Dragon*Con '94 in Atlanta on July 15 through 17. He will be presenting a special panel and workshop on science fiction model-making. Also, Strange New Worlds publisher, Jo Davidsmeyer, will be part of the Trek Trak programming. If you are attending Dragon*Con,we hope you will be able to attend these informative panels and come meet with the staff of Strange New Worlds. Come visit our table on the concourse. We'll be happy to talk science fiction, publications, and collecting.

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