10 October 2015

U.S.S. Excelsior, NCC-2000 (1/1000 scale model)


The U.S.S. Excelsior was first introduced in 1984's Star Trek III, but, although it appeared again in re-used footage in 1986's Star Trek IV, then again (with fresh, new, exciting footage) in 1991's Star Trek VI, and numerous appearances in Star Trek: TNG as various other ships, a model kit wasn't made available until 1994, the same year a re-dressed and slightly-tweaked version of the Excelsior appeared in Star Trek Generations as the Enterprise-B.


I'd already built the refit Enterprise 1701-A in 1992, and had possibly built the U.S.S. Reliant maybe a year or so afterward...or maybe I built the Enterprise-D next (I can't remember the order or vintage of my builds of the Trek starships), but I certainly built my A-Wing fighter in 1993, so this may have been the second-last model I built in the '90s (the last being the U.S.S. Voyager in 1995 (or '96)...and my last model of the '90s would have been the U.S.S. Defiant, but, believe it or not, I still have it –unbuilt– in its box).


I remember reading a review of ST3 in 1984 in a rather hard-to-find magazine called Enterprise Incidents, which only seemed to appear only a handful of times at the local convenience store I bought my comics and magazines from. In it, the reviewer levelled some harsh criticism of the ship, likening it to a baby's sippy cup (referring to the primary hull's extreme tapered design). I hadn't seen the movie yet, and you didn't get a really good look at the ship in the few pictures the magazine included, but I felt this was an unfair judgement, and I still do.


It was big and lean and designed to contrast its new design and new technology (transwarp drive!) with the decades-old Enterprise. Then Scotty messed up its engines, striking a point for the little guys.


Anyway, I found its sleekness very attractive and the slight Art Deco look was indeed fresh, while still keeping that "Starfleet-clean" aesthetic. Years later, when I saw an interview on the ST3 DVD with its designer, Bill George, talking about the ship, I fell in love with it all over again.


My modelling techniques were quite unsophisticated in the '90s, so the various flaws are obvious, the main ones being sloppy gluey bits all over the place, mediocre hand painting all over the place, and leaving the bare plastic as the main hull colour rather than painting it. 

Black paint from the stand rubbing off on the lower hull over the decades.

I have no idea what that smudge at the front of the saucer is.

This is my favourite angle of this class of starship.

That dramatic notch cutaway in the middle of the engineering hull is a nice callback to the original Enterprise, and establishes a Starfleet design lineage that turns up in the U.S.S. Voyager as well..


Wobbly decals; shiny gluey bits.


More black paint transfer visible here.




Overall, I seem to remember having a fun time building this kit (that's the whole point of this hobby, after all!), despite its tiny size and lack of detail as a result (I wasn't concerned with absolute accuracy at that time; it was close enough).






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