Star Trek Deep Space 9
Growing up building all genres of AMT/ERTL/MPC kits, it was sad to watch the demise of the company to a shell of its former self. Being a particularly big Star Trek fan and with AMT being the only game in town all those years ago for Star Trek models (before the internet), it was a sad to see them go.
Then, a few years ago, along came Round2 – acquiring the AMT/MPC molds, fine-tuning several of them, and re-releasing most of the old kits we all remember. Many are being re-released with Retro-Style packaging, while others are being issued with all-new box art and packaging. In late 2012, Round2 re-released Star Trek Deep Space 9 (DS9) in a new, colorful package with a short history of the space station on the box bottom. Thanks to Round2 for reviving those old Star Trek kits, for updating a few of them like DS9 (to include the USS Defiant), and especially for bringing out the new ones!
In the Box
This re-release of DS9 is the same basic kit as before, but this time it is molded in clear plastic and includes a 1/2500 scale USS Defiant. When you open the box, you'll find it tightly packed with individually bagged sets of parts, a double-sided instruction sheet in the traditional AMT fashion, and, for this re-release of DS9, a set of window decals for the station and decals for the Defiant.
The double-sided instruction sheet contains the build-up & finishing instructions for DS9 (~ 65 parts), Defiant (6 parts), and the display base (3 parts), plus special assembly instructions (need to be sure to read those!). Also printed on the instruction sheet are special Window Location Masks. These masks give the advanced modeler a template to drill or otherwise locate the correct window positions. One of the great things about this kit being molded in clear ABS is that there are several finishing options available for any skill level of modeler to add any level of complexity he is comfortable with as far as lighting or display options.
Unlike its polystyrene predecessor, this new DS9 and Defiant are made of transparent ABS plastic. ABS plastics are composed of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene in varying proportions...blah, blah, blah. What that really means to us is the plastic in this kit is slightly softer and much less brittle than clear polystyrene. The ABS tag also means it won't respond to typical glues for styrene parts. You need to use a cyanoacrylate (CA) glue to assemble this kit.
About scale: Since I’m an engineer in the real world, one of my particular obsessive/compulsive issues is that I like to see kits of the same scale so I can see the relative sizes of the subject matter. AMT's and now Round2's 1/2500 scale Star Fleet/Cadet Series ship kits have been absolutely great for that (and there are more new ones to come – thanks again, Round2!). The scale of the new DS9 is listed on the packaging as 1/3300. This kit measure about 16 inches in diameter and with a little research on one of my favorite Star Trek related websites, the proper scale can be calculated and comes out to be closer to 1/2500 scale. (I'm not quite sure how or why the scale was recomputed but I'm satisfied that this DS9 is closer to 1/2500. I still have one of the AMT vintage kits and it has 1/2500 printed on the box.)
As far as assembly, this kit goes together nicely and fast, since you're using CA glue. Depending on your experience level, desired finishing options, and technique, that time is modified, but in any case the build is fast and fun. As the finished model is 16 inches in diameter, it is helpful that this kit is built up in sub-assemblies – essentially, in thirds – then completed by gluing the 3 main sub-assemblies together and adding the final central hub details. One issue that carried over from the previous versions of this kit is that the alignment pins don't exactly line up and if you're not careful, each section can be glued just slightly askew. Likewise, the curved tabs on the base of the pylons don't fit all the way down into the grooves on the outer ring. Since I was using CA glue anyway, I ended up removing all the alignment pins and I clipped off the pylon alignment tabs, leaving just enough to position the pylon in the right place.
Another issue with the ABS plastic is that you should use a good primer coat so your finish coat of paint sticks properly. As usual, you can put as much effort into finishing as you want to get the desired effect, but even simple finish schemes turn out well (see photo).
The quality of the new window decals is excellent and they really contribute to the final look of the station. The window decals are grouped nicely for the segment of the station they apply to, but there are a lot of them! The markings included for the Defiant consist of basic registry numbers and name. They are small but look really good as well. The decals are strong and forgiving and do react well to setting solution which pulls them right down. You may want to hit the model with a coat of gloss finish before applying them, to give them something to stick to first, though. Then, a dark wash over the whole station to make the details pop and a final coat of flat/semi-gloss/gloss on top, depending on your preference.
I highly recommend this re-issued Star Trek Deep Space 9 + Defiant kit for modelers with a little more experience, just because you need to use cyanoacrylate glue with the ABS plastic. Like the AMT originals, this kit was a fast and fairly easy build right out of the box, but that is where the similarity ends. Since it’s molded in clear ABS, you can take this kit in several different directions based on both how you want to finish it and your experience level. This kit would be easy to light up (for example, LED strips would work great and be pretty easy to integrate), but it also looks great built right out of the box. The white window decals are a great addition to the basic kit from years ago, as is the USS Defiant. The Defiant could be left clear – without paint – to resemble it being cloaked (as I'm sure you know, the Defiant was the only known Federation ship at the time with a cloaking device).
On a personal note, I was disappointed with the absence of Aztec pattern decals for the Defiant. It would have been nice and fairly easy for Round2 to include decals for Defiant's complex paint scheme (as is shown on the box art on the top & bottom of the box), like the Aztec patterns they produce for the other 1/2500 scale Cadet Series star ships – which are awesome, by the way! And I wasn't really sure what to make of the paper window templates. They would make a nice drill guide if you have the right drill and tiny bits. I can see how they would be handy for the more ambitious, experienced modelers.
Just a side note: you should build your kit in a well ventilated environment because the CA glue fumes can really irritate the sinuses and eyes.
I want to thank Round2 Models for re-releasing these old Star Trek favorites, developing the new ones in this scale, and for providing this kit for review. And I’d also like to thank IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review it.