*This is a repost from the first tip posted in the 1:350 Star Trek Modeling Group* The Introduction

The day has finally come. You’ve received the glorious giant box containing the huge and magnificent model of your dreams. You open the box and admire and caress her beautiful lines and curves. At once beautiful and intimidating, the stacks of styrene filled with kinetic potential for dazzling beauty practically beg and dare you to get to work unleashing that potential. Maybe you start diving right in. Maybe you close the lid and say to yourself, “when I’m ready.” Maybe it’s been sitting there calling to you for 5 minutes or 5 years… Well, let’s get you started! It’s about time!


Before we get into hands-on techniques, there are some things you’ll need to decide on up front. Each of these decisions will affect both the process and materials you’ll need later. Here are some questions you must ask yourself.

1. Are you lighting her up? If so, how? Will they be basic “always on or off” lights? Or do you want to go “basic/animated” with some blinking lights here and there to add some life? Or do you want to go full lights/effects/ sound etc.? Truth is, writing wise, there are only a few differences for each as there’s pretty much same amount of lighted fixtures and areas regardless. Adding timed effects really only changes the number of inputs and where you run certain specific wires. All of this will be covered in more detail. But choosing to light your model will change the instruction manual order considerably and add a lot of extra time and consideration to your build. It’s really doable, though. It just requires a few basic techniques, which we’ll also cover, some organization skills, and some basic understanding of current, which we’ll also cover to some degree.

1A. Once you decide to light your model, you’ll need to decide if you want to use a lighting kit and, if so, which one. There are several to choose from on the market and each is different in form, feature, and design.

2. Paint – To Aztec or not to Aztec? Or, more specifically, paint them or use the decals? We’ll cover a little of both. And then, if painting, two color or the full 5-color iridescent look as seen in the movies? There are paint guides and video series galore on the specific techniques for the paint. We’ll avoid covering specifics here and maybe try to fill in the gaps that the other series may not cover as well.

3. Budget – How much am I willing to spend for the ship of my dreams? Let’s be honest. It’s not a cheap hobby! True tinkerers are always looking for that tool that makes it easier for them to create their art. There are some basic modeling tools you must have for this endeavor and some you will probably really want to get. We’ll list some of these things to help. Also, when lighting, you’ll need lots of LEDs, wires, a soldering iron, (Probably even for the “solderless” kits) and some resistors. (We’ll also help you find the right ones) The kit itself isn’t cheap. But in adding on costs of lighting, paints, effects boards, and third party products, expect to spend a minimum of 2 to 3 times the kit cost, conservatively. Experienced builders may have several of the tools needed already and that will considerably keep costs down. But if you’re new to it or to lighting, there will be some extra costs. The good news is, for tools and such, those costs still apply to future builds as well. There are also ways to reduce costs here and there.

4. Other third-party parts – Will you be using add-on or corrected parts? Photoetch? Custom base? Custom decals? The possibilities are nearly endless. It’s best to decide up front what add-ons you’d like as they can and often do alter the build process.

Once you have a gameplan, you’re ready. You don’t need to know how to mix and airbrush paint, run wiring, and solder before you start. You can learn it along the way. Just be patient, watch the videos, and ask questions in the groups whenever you have them and you’ll be well on your way in no time! One step at a time and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. This isn’t the last time we’ll say this… It’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Happy modeling!

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