Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 1 of 4 by TSJ

TSJ Returns to a Hobby After Forty Years:  Model Making

It’s been a stressful last few months, no doubt due to the production and release of my latest thriller, A Blanket of Steel.  Because of this, while I await my signing tour this Spring, I’ve decided to revisit a former hobby from over four decades ago.  And boy, I had no idea how much fun it would be.

You see, when I was younger, I enjoyed making the odd model.  They were exclusively military in nature, and usually WWII vehicles or planes.  Spitfires, halftracks, etc.  (I lived in England for one year in 1977/1978, and many of the toys/comics/books were related to the war.  I remember playing in bomb shelters in people’s backyards … the experiences had a tremendous impact on me.)  But the thing that hampered me then was a lack of supplies.  Poor brushes, no paints, and so on.  No tools in order to do fine work like sanding, filling gaps, and priming.  We just had very little money growing up.  So now, when I set my sights on creating this beauty from AMT/Round2 — NCC-1701 — I had no idea it would take me by storm the way it did.

Just recently, and now fifty-three years old, I decided to revisit this hobby as a means to relax, unwind, and decompress.  I chose to begin by building models from my creative formative years watching Star Trek and other shows from that time.  I quickly settled on Enterprise, the Klingon D-7 Battle Cruiser, and the Romulan Warbird from Balance of Terror.

First up was Enterprise.  It presented huge challenges, because I have not followed this hobby for so many years, but with the benefit of YouTube and advice from a Facebook group I’m a part of, I set off on this (new) creative journey.

This is the back of the box.  It’s a newly retooled and rereleased issue of the classic model from the late 1960s.  Much of the art on the box is original from the time, but this set was released within the last few years.  Peering inside the box, you can see the pieces within the bags.  The extensive decal sheet is there as well, along with the single page of instructions.  

I grew instantly nervous.  I had no idea how to do the decals, you see.  I immediately began to doubt whether I’d be able to do this successfully.  When I was very young, I often suffered catastrophic setbacks, which might be why I left the hobby in the first place.  I’ve learned now that many of the setbacks were the result of not having the proper tools.  Also, that advice from those more knowledgeable is necessary.

The AMT 1296 model consists of twenty-nine pieces.  This doesn’t include the massive amount of decals.  There is also a paint guide, though I discovered that some of the colours are not produced anymore.  Luckily they’re just suggestions, and I could take artistic license with anything I wanted.

The model comes with a nice black dome and steel rod to use as the stand.  Much more stable and aesthetically pleasing than the old plastic stands that they used to come with!

Here are some of the other pieces in the box; you can see the Bussard collectors, the shuttlecraft doors, the deflector array and the dish, and some major hull pieces.  Trust me when I say this … I was getting very nervous.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  Gluing, priming, painting, filling gaps … I just had no idea.  Thankfully YouTube videos by other modelers and the FB group I’m part of really assisted me.

First up was connecting some of these pieces. I set on the nacelles.  I glued them and then, taking advice from fellow modelers, sanded down the lips and edges, filed down the ends so the pieces were flush together, and made sure everything fit together nicely.  I realized that there would be gaps, but I had also learned that there was a way to solve this issue.  In the next pic, note the old-style stand in the top right.  This is still provided in the set in case people want to use it.  It’s a bit flimsy to say the least, so I left it attached to the tree and didn’t use it for this project.

Here’s part of the secondary hull, now glued together with some edges sanded.  You can see evidence of the sanding, and this worried me a bit.  I could only hope that priming and painting would hide this, but I still didn’t really know.  The fit on the nacelles was excellent, and in case you’re wondering, they do taper a bit toward the aft.

And here’s another view of the pieces.  I wasn’t sure if paint would prevent gluing the large pieces of the hull together at the end of the process, so I taped them off just to be sure.  (More on priming and painting in a future post.)

When I attached the two sections of the primary hull — or the saucer — something appeared which I had been expecting, but also dreading.  While watching YouTubers showing their process, there were always gaps that have to be filled and repaired.  It happened to me on the nacelles and also here:

Note the gap between the top and bottom of the saucer:

Areas like that had to be fixed …

Some also appeared at the back of the saucer, near the impulse engines.  One major gap also appeared on the secondary hull when I attached the top and bottom pieces.

More on this major issue and the repair process in Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 2 of 4 by TSJ,” coming soon to the blog.

Follow my blog or bookmark this page to continue with me on this journey.

— Timothy S. Johnston, 2 March 2024


A BLANKET OF STEEL is out now!




A Blanket of Steel from Timothy S. Johnston and Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Ltd.

“Read the book and prepare to be blown away by one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure to read. Timothy S. Johnston is simply amazing.” — FIVE Stars from Readers’ Favorite

“Innovative technology, Mac taking risks no one else would dare and thinking his way through to brilliant solutions … But the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before. This is it. The countdown to the final battle … Johnston does an excellent job of keeping the tension taut as he plays with the reader’s perceptions of characters we thought we knew and trusted …” — SFcrowsnest

“Expect to be left breathless. Trust me here. Please. I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.” — Michael Libling, author of The Serial Killer’s Son Takes A Wife and Hollywood North: A Novel in Six Reels

Book Cover, Jacket Copy, and the Gripping Book Trailer:


A mysterious assassin has murdered Cliff Sim, Chief Security Officer of the underwater colony, Trieste. Cliff was a mountain of a man, highly trained, and impossible to defeat in combat. And yet …

Someone brutally beat him and left his broken body in a secret Chinese facility at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

And included a calling card for Truman McClusky, Mayor of Trieste.

Taunting him.

Mac has led the underwater colonies in their fight against the world’s superpowers. Climate change has devastated the surface; nations suffer famine, drought, rebellion, rising waters, and apocalyptic coastal flooding. But now, as Mac leads the underwater colonies to freedom and independence, he’s faced with the gravest threat of his life: a Russian assassin, hellbent on killing Mac and everyone he cares for. Now Mac must uncover the identity of the killer, face him in combat, and at the same time lead people in battle against the largest underwater force ever assembled. It’s Mac’s final test, and to win the war, he must use every tool at his disposal, including the most surprising and devastating underwater weapons ever invented.

If Mac fails, all hope is lost for the future of human colonization on the ocean floors.

But the assassin could be anyone …

Watch your back, Mac.

A Blanket of Steel is the most gripping thriller yet in The Rise of Oceania.


The other books in The Rise of Oceania series by Timothy S Johnston:

The War Beneath 9781771484718
The Savage Deeps 9781771485067
Fatal Depth 9781554555574
An Island of Light 9781554555819
The Shadow of War 9781554556007


TSJ’s Awards

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THE WAR BENEATH:  FIRST PLACE 2018 GLOBAL THRILLER Action / Adventure Category Winner, 2019 Silver Falchion Award Finalist, 2018 CLUE Award Semi-Finalist, 2019 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist, & 2019 CYGNUS Award Shortlister

THE SAVAGE DEEPS:  FIRST PLACE 2020 CYGNUS Award Winner, 2019 GLOBAL THRILLER Awards Finalist, 2022 Kindle Book Awards Semi-Finalist; 2019 CLUE Award Shortlister

FATAL DEPTH: FIRST PLACE 2021 GLOBAL THRILLER Award Winner, 2022 Silver Falchion Award Finalist (Best Action Adventure), 2021 CYGNUS Award Semi-Finalist


“If you’re looking for a techno-thriller combining Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy and John Le Carré, The War Beneath will satisfy … a ripping good yarn, a genuine page-turner.” — Amazing Stories
“One very riveting, intelligent read!” — Readers’ Favorite
“If you like novels like The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising,
you will certainly enjoy The War Beneath.” — A Thrill A Week
“If you’re here for thrills, the book will deliver.” — The Cambridge Geek
“… an engaging world that is highly believable …” — The Future Fire
“This is a tense, gripping science fiction/thriller of which Tom Clancy might well be proud . . . When I say it is gripping, that is the simple truth.” — Ardath Mayhar
“… a thrill ride from beginning to end …” — SFcrowsnest
“… if you like Clancy and le Carré with a hint of Forsyth thrown in,
you’ll love The War Beneath.” — Colonel Jonathan P. Brazee (RET),
2017 Nebula Award & 2018 Dragon Award Finalist
“Fast-paced, good old-fashioned Cold War espionage … a great escape!” — The Minerva Reader

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