Star Trek premiered in 1966. With episodes written by some of the prominent sci-fi writers of the day, the show introduced TV viewers to a Future History in which humans and alien races traveled among the stars in spaceships unlike any seen before in TV or movies.
I proudly hung the finished model from my bedroom ceiling and couldn't wait to talk about it with my friends. Of course, I was the weird one. Everyone else got bored with the kit before finishing it, relegating it either to a closet or the trash. I was the nerdy kid who thought building and painting scale models was fun and went on to build many more.
A few years later I discovered that male rite of passage, July Fourth fireworks. It was only natural that I would eventually combine this new interest with my other hobby and blow up many of the models I had so carefully assembled and painted, including the Enterprise. (Did you know that an "Ash-Can" was a perfect fit inside a warp engine nacelle? I'll bet you do!)
In 1974, I was an 18 year old college freshman who hadn't built any models since the seventh grade. Scale Modeling was ignored as interests shifted to girls, cars and guitar playing. Star Trek was canceled five years earlier but was more popular than ever thanks to syndication and reruns.
A friend from college was an avid fan of the show who had built the AMT
kit but left it unpainted. I suggested that the model could look better
with some color and offered to paint it for him. After buying a paint
few of the little square bottles of Testors enamel paint, I spent a
evenings painting some details onto the model. I had a some fun with it
and was pretty happy with
way it came out. My friend was pleased enough that I was rewarded with
an Enterprise kit of my own.
Using what little modeling skills I had at the time and whatever resources were available or even known to me, I did my best to build and paint a Trek-worthy Enterprise, one more refined than my first build.
The model which came to be known as the Star Drek Enterprise is mostly un-painted white plastic. Paint was brushed on by hand and colors were chosen not because they were accurate but because I thought they looked good. Decals were applied directly to bare plastic without any overcoat, leading them to inevitably peel off. Extra windows and markings were applied freehand and were painted or penciled on with a minimal attempt at accuracy. Seams and gaps in the plastic were not filled or blended and show themselves proudly.
Not a Best in Show but given my skill level at the time and the resources that were available, I thought it came out really good. Years after building it, I still proudly display it alongside more recently built models.
Building the Enterprise again re-kindled my interest in scale
Over time, I was able to develop, expand and improve my modeling
skills. By 1986, I had been fortunate enough to turn those hobby skills
With dreams of building models for a Hollywood special-effects house, I worked as a professional Model Maker using my skills to build prototypes for a manufacturer of retail store displays. Not glamorous but it was a steady, full-time job in a well equipped industrial-level model shop which gave me access to a wide selection of tools and materials. I also had the good fortune to work with more experienced and very talented Model Makers who generously shared tips, techniques and ideas.
My work environment motivated me to take on a variety of modeling projects and to experiment beyond building model kits out of the box. I'd thought about building another Enterprise but was hesitant, knowing what I wanted to do if I got my hands on the AMT kit again. It was sure to turn into a bigger project than I was interested in taking on.
At the November, 1988 exhibition of the Long Island Historical Miniatures Collectors' Society in Freeport, New York, I met Ed Dietrich. Ed brought photos of his model, the U.S.S. Lucifer, a modified AMT-Ertl Enterprise. (In the early 1970s, AMT was bought by the Ertl company which continued to sell most of AMT's kits under the AMT-Ertl label.)
Trekkies, Trekkers and Trek-techies will recognize the Lucifer as the "Destroyer Type" variant on the design which had come to be known as the Constitution Class Starship, seen in Franz Joseph's book the Starfleet Technical Manual. (The name, Lucifer and registration number NCC-521 are also from the "Tech Manual.") Ed did a "conversion" on the kit by relocating, replacing and modifying parts and added scratch-built details and custom made markings to create a great looking, one-of-a-kind starship.
Starship U.S.S. Lucifer photos used with permission
TUTORIALS AND KIT REVIEWS