Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 3 of 4 by TSJ

TSJ Returns to a Hobby After Forty Years:  Model Making

I recently posted two stories about my journey revisiting a hobby I’d left over four decades ago.

To be blunt, this entire four-week journey took me by storm.  Check out Part 1 and Part 2.  It had been so many years since I’d last invested time in this hobby, and getting back to it felt incredible.  When I was younger than 12 years old, I didn’t have any money.  I had to rely on my parents, and I only had the bare essentials.  Now, I can invest a bit more into the hobby, and it has made things a lot easier.

By this point in my rekindled journey, I’d already identified some major issues with my building:  learning to fill the gaps in the seams, sanding, failing to deal with all the dust and debris, and painting in a box, which wasn’t well thought out.  But now came an even larger problem:  assembling already painted pieces.

I had already painted these pieces with either Stoplight Red, Metallic Copper, or Gunmetal Gray:

By this point, I’d already primed them (by spraying) and then hand painted them with a brush.  I’d also already painted the major hull sections with a spray called “Neutral Gray” by Tamiya.  In the picture, note the two half-cylindrical pieces at the bottom left:  they fit under the Bussard Collectors where they connect to the nacelles.  The paint schematic has them as Ghost Gray, like the rest of the hull.  However, the picture on the box has them as Gunmetal Gray.  I decided to follow the scheme on the box.

I began to put the nacelles together.  There are six smaller pieces on each.  However, I discovered that where I’d painted, the modeling glue melted the paint and it bled into the gray hull!  Argh!  I had to do this very delicately, but there was no stopping the bleeding.  All I could do was get the pieces connected, then go over the hull with a brush to touch up where there was now a swirling mixture of grey and black.  It looked terrible, but touching it up solved the problem.  Tedious, but essential.  Here is the first nacelle with the smaller black pieces connected.

Here are some other angles, with all the pieces connected, including those fabulous Bussard Collectors:

Once I had completed the nacelles and the other large components of the hull, and had connected all the smaller pieces, it was time to move onto the stage that I’d been dreading the most:  the decals.  I just didn’t know what to do.  I had never done them before with any success at all.  Usually I ripped them, they peeled up, they were mangled, or they just looked terrible.  With this model, I had to do it right.  This is Enterprise, after all!  The most beautiful ship in Science Fiction, without much question (in my mind, anyway).  After much research, I discovered that if you clear coat the ship in gloss first, covering any bumps, laying down the decals would work much better.  And remember, because of the dust, there were a lot of bumps.  The whole surface was kind of textured because of it.  So I set up my painting box again, and gave the large hull pieces a good spray of TS-13 clear coat.  Then I did it again.

And again.

Now I was ready to apply some decals.


I started with the nacelles.  The decal sheet is massive on this model.  There are some significant markings on each nacelle, most notably the “NCC-1701” on the outside of each. Then on the support pylons, there are some windows and some large black rectangles.

I researched meticulously.  I watched videos.  I purchased the Micro Set and Micro Sol, which people seem to use for this.

Preparing the bowl of warm water, I started with the first nacelle, then the second, then the underside of the secondary hull.

I noted an immediate issue.  The decals slid off the paper easily.  I got them into place using tweezers, made sure they were level, then applied the Micro Sol.  But the edges were still visible.  Sometimes they curled a little.

Using the Facebook Group I’m a part of, I asked for assistance.  I learned that applying decals on a curving surface is tough, but a hair dryer would help immensely.  It allowed the decals to settle into place a bit better, and sure enough, the next day, after they’d dried, they looked fantastic.

Once I got into the rhythm, I settled down on a Saturday and finished them all.

And there were a lot.  Check out this decal page:

Here’s the Micro Set and Micro Sol.  The first few decals I did, I chose not to use the “Set.”  I’d read about some people not using it at all, however the first few I laid down just didn’t sit properly.  Once I started using it, though, along with the heat from the hair dryer, I realized there was no other way to go.

And once I got going, I finished them all off on that long Saturday … and I had so much fun doing it. I loved this entire process.  It was so rewarding to see the beautiful ship coming together (notice the seam along the edge that the decal mostly covers … if you look up close, you can still see the flaws; I’ll do better next time).

I finished the decals with the most important one of all, that glorious “NCC-1701” on the top of the saucer, just forward of the bridge:

There is a large lamp directly overhead in this pic, and it’s showing the edge of the decal.  I wanted to try to minimize that, and I thought I had a way to fix it.  Time would tell …

And that left one last stage to complete:  assembling the large sections of hull, and then doing one more spray application to the model before I could display it.  There was a major worry with this, but it was something I had to do, and I had to be careful not to mess up.  I’d come this far, and I didn’t want to screw the whole thing up.  After all, it was looking good for my very first attempt, flaws and all.

More on this last important step in the final part of this series, “Creating AMT 1296 USS Enterprise Part 4 of 4 by TSJ,” coming soon to the blog.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

Read Part 2 of this series here.

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

— Timothy S. Johnston, 7 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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