Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 2 of 4 by TSJ

TSJ Returns to a Hobby After Forty Years:  Model Making

I previously posted on the blog about my experience getting back to a hobby I’d abandoned four decades ago.  It was likely due to a lack of proper supplies, tools, paints and so on.  Growing up, we just didn’t have much money and my models generally looked pretty bad.

In fact, some of my attempts were just dreadful.  For example, the only glue I had was in a squeeze bottle.  There was no “thin” glue that I could brush on.  It often left huge areas of smeared and melted plastic.  Also, I often didn’t have paint.  I could only make the model, put the decals on, and that was it.  Sometimes I actually made a model and then threw it out … some were that bad.

However, I’ve recently revisited the hobby in order to help destress and unwind a bit.  After all, getting a novel ready for production is an extremely stressful affair!  Before the signing tour for A Blanket of Steel this Spring, I thought I’d revisit this hobby.  Read more about starting AMT 1296 on my first post about it, here.

The last post ended with a description of large gaps in the saucer section and in the secondary hull.

Researching the issue, I learned that the solution is to fill the gaps with “modeler’s putty.”  Simply squeeze it in, let it dry, then sand later to smooth everything down.  In the end, the result is a hull with no gaps or openings.  (I had never heard of such a thing four decades ago.)  Check it out here, and also note the large gaps near the rear of the saucer near where the impulse engines fit:

Since I’ve created this model, I’ve learned that some people paint or prime first, before starting to fill gaps.  And some modelers do this multiple times!  Paint, fill, sand … paint, fill, sand.  Paint, fill, sand.  And keep repeating until all the gaps are gone.

In my previous post, I mentioned that this issue occurred on the secondary hull as well.  In this case, it was a pretty major problem, and one I had problems fixing, likely because I’m so new to this process.  More on this in a bit.

Now that I’d connected some major hull pieces, like the nacelles and the saucer, I had to start painting the large hull pieces.  I created a “painting box” which is decidedly amateur compared to what some people do.  I used a grey primer on the pieces because that was a great base for the final colour (the suggested final is “Ghost Gray,” but it is no longer available).

I immediately identified a major problem:  laying the pieces on newsprint like this, and then spraying, caused an issue with “pooling” at the bottom, and some splotches of extra paint showed up.

To avoid the pooling issue, I’m going to have to figure something out for my next project.  Some modelers hang their pieces from a framework, for instance.

But there was an even greater problem:  DUST.

I made a huge error here.  There was dust everywhere, from all the sanding and filing.  Dust from the modeler’s putty.  Dust from the plastic where I sanded down sharp/jagged edges.  I hadn’t wiped the pieces first, and the dust was now embedded under the first layer of primer.  This is a problem that’s difficult to see unless you’re looking at the model closely, and obviously I’m going to have to be more careful in the future.

I also hand painted some smaller bits.  It brought up a fairly large and imminent decision:  should I connect everything and then paint the little pieces?  Or should I paint before attaching, then glue them all together?  There are pros and cons to each, I’ve learned.  I decided on the latter, so I started with some painting. Here is the deflector dish and array.  The paint guide called for copper.  I decided on this Tamiya metallic copper, and boy is it wonderful.  The colour just explodes from the model.  The shimmering quality is fantastic.

I was very worried about gluing after painting.  Some problems did arise.  More on this soon.

I had all these little pieces to paint.  At this point, in the picture, they’ve all been primed in my primitive painting box.

The Bussard Collectors were to be “Stoplight Red” by Testors.  This is another colour that just turned out incredible.  I know that in Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), the Bussard Collectors in the large NCC-1701 model had tiny motors, lights, and mirrors within them.  I wasn’t going to do that for my first model, so I wanted a very glossy paint, and this one just blew me away.  The way the light glints and shimmers off of the collectors is just amazing.  (For those who aren’t aware, the Bussard Collectors on Enterprise are meant to collect free hydrogen in outer space.  As the ship travels at immense speeds, even though hydrogen is extremely rare in outer space, there is enough to be collected in usable amounts.  Scientists have been writing about this for many decades.  The latest research predicts three atoms per cubic meter.)

Here are all the little bits, now painted by yours truly.  Note the impulse engines.  The decal sheet has two black rectangles for them, but I remember from the show that the impulse engines were red.  I decided to paint the hull around the engines Gunmetal Gray, as are many of the other little mechanical elements, and the tiny engines with the same Stoplight Red.

Now we come to another major issue.  Connecting the two halves of the secondary hull left some major gaps.  But I decided to paint the array first, then connect the primed halves.

But this turned out to be way more difficult than I thought.  The fit wasn’t great and it left a sizable gap.  The solution was to use the modeler’s putty.  I did that, then sanded it down.  I still couldn’t fix the problem completely, however, but luckily a large decal covers this area.  More on that in Part 3 of this series.

Remember, this is the first time I’ve done anything like this!  I had no idea if I was doing it correctly, if the primer would cover it, if the paint would stick to it, if the glue would adhere to it.  No idea.  Luckily, some of the YouTube videos I watched covered this issue, and so I kept plugging away, hopeful that things would work out for me.

My next big problem was gluing all the painted pieces to the large hull pieces and to the nacelles.  This presented a problem for me, and made me wonder if I’d made the correct decision to paint before gluing!

More on this issue and the extensive decal process in Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 3 of 4 by TSJ,” coming soon to the blog.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

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

— Timothy S. Johnston, 5 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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