Restoring an Icon

In 2010, a customer from Calgary asked me to fix up a rare "Icons" brand model of the Star Trek Klingon Cruiser.

The models were made by the now defunct company and were apparently actual licensed products, as evidenced by the licensing stamp on the bottom of the miniature. They were sold not as kits but as fully finished replicas, reportedly very accurate. I do know that the original Klingon cruiser as filmed was molded and cast while in possession of the model maker who restored it for the Smithsonian display, although finally painting it an incorrect overall battleship gray. This is the same fellow who was also responsible for the re-treatment given to the 11 foot Enterprise filming miniature also in the Smithsonian. I am forced to assume therefore, that one of these castings was the basis for the Icons model and re-worked to be manufactured in limited numbers.

The model had been damaged and a lot of the paint was flaking off. My customer sent me a few quick snaps and I quoted him a price for a repair job.

When the model arrived I saw it was in need of a lot of TLC. First, the colour scheme was all wrong. Second, some parts had broken off or cracked with small chunks missing and the "head" was incorrectly attached to the neck of the ship, pointing several degrees upward instead of in line with the rest of the ship. The "windows" up front, made from letraset type rub down transfers were all the wrong shape and incorrectly located. The whole thing was quite sloppily made, really, and needed a complete overhaul.

After consulting with the customer and getting approval to do all that was required to make the model presentable, I started by taking the model apart further into it's basic components as shown in the picture below.

Next the job of stripping off the old paint began. I used a whole can of Easy Off oven cleaner to do the job. It took several applications, as some of the paint was on pretty thick, however, why the paint was flaking off the neck and head became apparent.. the model had not been properly primed in those areas, so the colour had lifted off. The Klingon symbols were made from sign maker's vinyl, computer cut and stuck on. Those were removed after I scanned them to get size and proportions correct in case I needed to replicate them exactly. As it turned out, they were the wrong size anyway.

The neck section has a 1/4" diameter solid brass rod cast into it for strength, and was embedded into the body and head. So to straighten out the head-to-neck joint, I just had to use brute force and pull it free, breaking the glue joint. I then re-drilled the hole in the head section so the neck could be glued back in place at the correct angle, then automotive putty and primer did the rest, as shown in the following "before-and-after" shot....


The warp engine pylons had broken off easily as they were simply butt-glued into place... shown in the next picture, one shown in the black coloured resin it's molded in, the other shown primed to find blemishes.

So to help prevent breakage in the future I reinforced the joints using 1/8th inch steel rod, bent to the correct angle with holes drilled into the mating parts to accept it. Cyanoacrylate glue filled the voids and bonded the parts back to the body.

The rest of the model was assembled, joints filled, sanded and the whole model was properly primed this time, ready to accept the final colour coats.

I had a local automotive paint supply shop mix up the two needed colours based on research I had done using the best information I could find.

Is it perfectly accurate? We may never know, as the original model's paint job was long ago stripped off by the model maker who "restored" it, incorrectly painting it the overall medium gray, so absolute proof of the correct colour simply may not exist. The only way to figure it out would be to personally examine and match the colour of the "Roddenberry" model which sports it's original paint, but is now owned by an unknown individual. We can assume the two models, both the filming miniature and the second model, were painted the same colours, but there's no guarantee of that really, is there? The colours I used were made by matching it to the best known sources.

The green colour on this model inadvertently had a slight metallic sheen introduced by the paint shop, noticed once the paint was applied, but the tone was right and the customer liked it, so it was used despite this slight inaccuracy. Dull coat helped reduce that metallic look and give the model an attractive sheen so all turned out well.

It's interesting also to note here that the only serious accuracy deviation from the original studio model is a lack of a torpedo tube (or whatever the hole is supposed to be on the front of the head section) presumably done to aid in manufacture. Instead of a hole, there is simply a depression. I could have drilled this out correctly but my customer wanted to retain the "icons" features of the model so the torpedo launcher hole was instead simulated with carefully airbrushed paint.

The windows were made by printing off some waterslide decals which I created using reference to the studio model, the "Roddenberry" model (the second original model built by AMT for the show, not filmed but pantographed to make the AMT kit and later owned by Gene Roddenberry for many years afterward) as well as other sources. The Klingon markings including the three-pointed star and the white "7CS" lettering were done with masking patterns (created in Photoshop, printed on label paper) and paint, not decals. The model was NOT weathered as the original was not weathered originally either, which, along with poor lighting techniques used in 1966, is part of the reason why it looks so toy like on screen. Realistic model making and photography for science fiction was still in it's infancy then!

Photos of the finished model shown below. The hole in the bottom is for the stand that came with the model originally. Enjoy!

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