16 January 2016

U.S.S. Reliant (1/537 scale model)


The Reliant made its debut in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982. The story called for another Starfleet ship, but the filmmakers felt –correctly– that if it was the same design as the Enterprise, the battles would be confusing, so the Reliant is different enough to be distinctive, but shares some design elements of the Enterprise to belong in the same Starfleet family.

Box art.

I could have sworn that I built this model between 1992 and 1994, but the model listing at Memory Alpha says that this AMT/ERTL kit was issued in 1995, the same year I bought and built the Voyager (unless I built that ship in 1996...still, it was the last model I built until 2015), which means I had to have built this before late summer 1995 (or '96). Thinking more about this, unlike the other ships, I don't remember anything about building this model. Very weird...

Head on.

As with all of my starship models of the period, I assembled it, applied the supplied decals, and did some minimal paint work. Lighting the model never even crossed my mind as an option for me.

Still head on.

In the movie she looks great from this angle with the lights from the bridge section illuminating the registry and such.

Right side up?

The proposed design for the Reliant actually had the warp nacelles at the top of the saucer, basically, an inverted version of the above pic. When director Nick Meyer and producer Harve Bennett saw the blueprints, they were looking at them upside-down –with the nacelles underneath– and signed off on that orientation. While that configuration would have worked, I think this works even better, with the roll bar up top balancing things out.

Rear view.

At least I did some minimal painting here, so it doesn't look completely naked. It's not entirely accurate or very well done, of course, but it's better than nothing.

Shuttle bays.

The shuttle bay doors came on the same clear sprues that the "lights" (the four round bits, two on either side of each bay), but I don't know why –or why I didn't paint them grey or something.

Back end of warp nacelle.

The decals are holding up okay, with some mild yellowing here and there. Note the very heavy-handed paint job and not-so-great masking resulting in rough edges.

Front end of warp nacelle.

More of the rough paint job. Also, those rectangular bits at the top on the saucer section are windows and they could be cut out and lit, but I just left them as is.

Bottom view.

This kit came with two basic, clear "stands" that you could rest the nacelles on. I glued them to the model, seeing as I had no idea about alternative display methods (like mounting the ship on a rod tall enough that the bottom was nicely visible).

First look.

This is pretty much the angle from which we first see the Reliant in Star Trek II, showing us right away that she's a different design from the Enterprise, but still a Starfleet ship (a newer one, too, since the registry is a higher number than the 1701).


The black balls on the yellow rectangles are the phaser turrets. Down below, on the sensor dome, you can see more rectangular clear parts that would have benefitted well with internal lighting.

Top view.

The Miranda Class starship is quite a nice variant of the Enterprise's Constitution Class, especially since it has all the updated design elements of the Constitution refit first seen in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I really enjoy the concentric oblong details on the top of the nacelles.

Looking good, here.

At this angle, my modelling skills seem pretty good and it doesn't look like a lot of detail is missing, mostly because the lighting defines the shapes well.


I don't know what those square and triangular nubs all over the saucer are supposed to be, and if the instruction book identified them, I've since forgotten (despite my usual steel trap memory for useless Star Trek trivia). I suppose there's Google, now...

Incomplete yellow.

If you follow the grid line from the 4 down to the edge of the saucer, there's a yellow triangle. This is supposed to be part of the Reaction Control System (RCS) that steers the ship. You can also see the triangles on the bottom view. I mention them here because the top and bottom triangles are supposed to "spill over" on the sides of the saucer, but not quite be connected to each other –but my reference imagery was lacking and I didn't know much about starship design back then.

The Voyager and Excelsior models have very detailed RCS thrusters molded into its hull, while the Enterprise-D has decals for its own. Ah, well...


I'm not sure what's happening with that second C, and I don't remember of that was how the decal simply came or if I broke it while applying it (but it's all one piece!). Weird.

Roll bar!

Here's that weird and wonderful roll bar. The front rectangular protrusions are the photon torpedo launchers (there are two more in the back)...and I guess the crew gets there the long way, up the pylons and across the horizontal bit? It's probably large enough so no one has to crouch just to get there. Or do they beam people there directly?

The roll bar does a nice job of balancing the design (not having a cylindrical engineering section like the Constitution Class). I've seen variations of this without the roll bar and it looks imbalanced rather than sleek. Still, with no engineering hull, there's no deflector dish, so how does–

Ah, but it's best not to look too closely at how things work in science fiction. Warp drive, phasers, transporters are simply devices to aid in the storytelling and not ends in themselves. Just enjoy!

Roll bar imperfection.

There's one of many horrible gaps I would fill if I were to build this model nowadays. Here's an amazing example by Boyd over at TrekWorks of the potential for this kit in the hands of an expert builder. And here's how he did it.

Despite having meager modelling skills at the time, and not knowing the true potentials of the kits I was building, I really did enjoy building this kit (even though I don't remember it very well). So, although I may feel at times like I missed a lot of opportunities for improving the models, I have no real regrets, having had my fun –which is still my main reason for modelling.

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