This presentation goes beyond the traditional construction of a model and deals with how to make a sci – fi model to draw everyone’s attention even if they are negative towards modeling, creating visual effects in other words.

This particular article deals with the construction of USS DEFIANT from the STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE series.

The particular model is an old one from AMD / ERTL with nice detail and engraving but with a total absence of transparent pieces.  In the Greek market there is neither this nor the latest model of the same company (AMT) which comes with transparent pieces.  At this point I would like once again to thank Sotiris from GEHOBBIES who found for me that particular model in a heartbeat.

Starting with the construction, I would like to emphasize that “General Surgeon” knowledge is required in order to begin “creating”.
First of all was to find the proper materials for the interior of the model.  Here I have to point out that the purchase of LED’s is a challenge for itself, since someone has to search in a number of electronics stores to find, with several compromises, the ones needed.  Thus and after a lot of searching, I acquired the following:



  1. An LED strip, (the entire reel as its not sold in pieces). Ταινία led ολόκληρο το καρούλι (δεν το κόβουν για να μην τους μείνει όπως ισχυρίζονται). The LED strip is designed so that it can be cut per every three lights and the wire can be soldered to the existing terminals.  The strip works with 12 Volts, so a transformer is necessary.
  2. LED lights of 3mm and 5mm in diameter, red, green and blue, (the latest of high luminosity).
  3. LED Flashers also of 3mm and 5 mm in diameter, for the navigation lights and the strobe on top of the bridge. I chose a flasher for the strobe due to the lack of a normal one.
  4. Resistors of 1ΚΩ for the LED lights in order to operate with 12 Volt.
  5. 5 meters of thin black, red and white wire.
  6. A white Bread board with holes, which at the end wasn’t used due to lack of space.
  7. A slightly flexible transparent plastic piece.

Having gathered all materials the pieces of the model were placed “On the operating table” to begin with the “operation”.
According to the pictures of the “real” spacecraft, the Impulse and Warp engines, the front deflector dish, the Thrust engines (thrusters for those who know) and the locations for the position and navigation lights, were cut.
This procedure is particularly laborious because the excessive thickness of the plastic.  Once cut and sanded, the transparent plastic was glued from the “inner” side, painted accordingly (bright red for the impulse engines and bright blue for the warp engines).


Next, I spent some time to turn the model opaque.    Keep in mind that both the LED strip and the high brightness LED’s are particularly bright, so the model needs good insulation in order to prevent it from “shining”.  For this, I used black color and adhesive foil.  After completing the process, I opened the portholes using a small 0,5mm drill.  On the inner side I glued transparent plastic.

With the “surgical” procedure finished, after several hours and a lot of “foul language”, it was time for the lighting test.  The pieces of the LED strip were glued to the desired points (opposite from the drilled holes), as well as the navigation lights (red and green flashers) and the first test was carried out.


Here I quote the manufacturing process of the LED’s.  The lights have a positive and a negative pole.  The positive pin is slightly longer.  We have to shorten the pins in order to gain some space.  On the positive pin we solder the resistor and after that the wires.  On the LED strip we solder the wires to the respective terminals

A satisfactory result!

Afterwards the remaining LED’s that illuminate the engines, the deflector dish and the position lights were placed.


From this point onwards, the construction continued according to the kit’s instructions.  The next stage where a lot of “foul language” was used came upon closing of the two halves.  A Grand Canyon sized gap!!!  I used a couple kilos of putty, at least!
After 4 days of laborious work and a lot of cursing and swearing, enough to guarantee a place in hell, the model took its final shape.
Painting process, masking off of all transparent parts and protruding LED’s required some more “street language”…

I used two coats of light gray primer and let it to dry for 24 hours.  I didn’t bother with preshading as I couldn’t see the reason to emphasize the panel lines.  In painting itself, I completely ignored the kit’s instructions; mainly because I have a smaller same model and I do not like a lot of gray.  The colors I used were RLM 76 for the base coat and RLM 74 by Gunze (being a fanatic fan of the Bf-109) and a little bit of Blue Gray Pale 70905 by Vallejo.

The final stage was applying the decals, (gutter language again!) and the model was airbrushed from a distance with a coat of RLM 74.

For lighting of the model I used, a 12 Volt, 1 Ampere transformer.  I use low Amperes to get long life out of the LED’s.

The final result, although it has several deficiencies (mainly due to the “surgery”), satisfied me a lot.  The model has already taken its place next to my other models from STAR TREK!


Built / Text / Photos: Theodosis Nelios
Translated: George Roumbos

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