Adventures in model making - Building the 1/350th scale Enterprise

Adventures in model making – Building the 1/350th scale Enterprise

It was on my bucket list.

Like so many things on my bucket list, I had put it off. I was too busy with other things, I had too much work to do, I couldn’t put aside the time to do it. I also questioned myself, thinking that I wasn’t good enough to do it.

Then I had drinks with my friend Neil, and he told me how he was doing this – the same activity I was procrastinating – to relax, to take his mind off things. It helped him. “Work-life balance,” he said, as he drank down a gin and tonic. “Work-life balance.”

After that chat, I decided – screw it, I’m doing it.

“It” in this case was building the biggest model kit I ever attempted – Polar Light’s 1/350th scale model of the USS Enterprise from the original Star Trek. Finished, the model is over 32 inches long – almost three feet.


It was intimidating.

As I started putting it together, my wife (aka She Who Must Be Obeyed) rolled her eyes, but she understood – as a father of three, and the sole breadwinner, I very seldom did something just for me… and the more I continued the more I realized I really did need to do this.

It was easier than I thought, but it was still hard to do well… and I wanted to do this well. I wanted the finished model to be a museum quality piece, and that meant patience. I tend to rush things, and the process of building out this ship meant that I needed to take my time.


I decided not to light it, because A) I wanted to recreate the prop model that was used for publicity shots before the show began, way back in 1966 and B) I couldn’t afford the very pricy lighting kit – not to mention that if She Who Much Be Obeyed found out I had spent that much it would put a real damper on my love life. I instead painted the windows black and white before gluing them in, and made sure to add accent colors that were as close to the original as possible. I ended up using sharpies more than model paint, because it gave me more control when detailing.


It took three days over two weekends., but when it was done I was extremely satisfied. Is it perfect? No. But it is MINE, and when doing it I was reminded of the satisfaction I felt when I crafted things by hand. I – and I think we, as a culture – have lost a lot of that, in our rampant consumerism. In this I agree with TV personality Mike Rowe – we should build more things, learn a trade and a craft. Model making is not construction or woodwork, obviously – but the satisfaction at the end of the project is the same.



I also learned I should not put off things as much – I live a life of great privilege compared to much of the world, and I need to appreciate it and take advantage of that. I only have one life, so I need to live it more. For me, that means travel, and knocking off some of those items off that bucket list…

And, yes, building models.