The Enterprise Bridge

In 1975, soon after the animated Star Trek series aired, the company AMT released a model kit of the Starship Enterprise’s bridge. I remember building that kit, but it was eventually lost to time. I know my patience and painting skills wouldn’t have done it justice. I also remember that two things disappointed me about that kit. First, it wasn’t the complete bridge. A few stations were around the outside were removed. Arguably, this made it easier to display on a shelf in such a way that you could look inside, but I was enough of a completest to want the whole thing. The other problem was that the original kit didn’t include Spock’s scope. This is that gray viewer Spock looked in to gain vital plot information. My understanding from newer websites is that it is, in fact, some kind of external viewing scope, probably with some sensor display overlays. The kit also didn’t include the library computer module on Spock’s station.

The kit was re-released for Star Trek’s 25th anniversary in 1991. The new version had more accurate decals. Both versions had figures of Kirk, Sulu, and Spock, but the new kit featured a re-sculpt. This version still didn’t include Spock’s scope or library computer. The kit returned in 2013. This time, they included all the consoles and Spock’s scope along with much better decals. This version still was missing Scotty’s scope on the engineering station. Yes, Scotty had one of those mysterious viewers, too! It was also missing the library computer module.

Late last year, after watching the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, which featured the return of the classic Enterprise I thought it would be fun to build the Enterprise bridge again and I looked for the kits. I soon learned the 2013 kit was hard to find and expensive when you could find it. The 1991 kit seemed the easiest to obtain. After watching a couple of weeks, a tempting eBay listing appeared. Someone offered two of the 1991 kits for less money than one kit alone. The only catch was that the seller didn’t guarantee the kits were complete. I decided to take the seller up on the offer. I figured I should be able to cobble together a complete bridge from two incomplete kits. It turned out, the kits were all but complete. I’ve only found one piece missing. I decided to turn the two bridges into the complete bridge.

An important part of this process was making better replicas of the science and engineering stations. I obtained some polystyrene plastic strips and sheeting from a model supply company and built my own scope and library computer module on Spock’s station. In the photo below, you can see the upgrades right after I applied a coat of gray paint. The station on the left is the version without the upgrade. I also built a scope on the engineering station.

Another feature of the old bridge model was that it had so few people and they weren’t great likenesses. I did like this 1991 kit’s people a little better, but the bridge never really felt complete. It turns out, there’s a 3D printing company called Shapeways that sells additional crewmembers for the Enterprise bridge. My wife and daughters bought me a set of crewmen to add to my bridge for Christmas. Here they are before painting.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of turning two of the 1991 bridge models into one complete bridge model is that there are two small stations on either side of the main viewer in the front that aren’t duplicates, but mirror images of each other. I considered taking one of the full size stations and cutting it, but I would have had to modify the detailing around the viewer over the station itself. I was saved by a change made for the animated series. In the animated series, they replaced the small port-side station with a second elevator door. Now, all of the plans for the bridge from the animated series, show a narrower entry into the front turbolift than the rear one, so I thought I might have to modify the second turbolift door. It turned out, the only things I had to modify were the floor panels and and the wall panel to the port side of the main viewer. Here are the two doors in my completed model.

Completed Enterprise bridge with two turbolift doors. Note, the engineering station has a scope!

I thought it was great fun to see that the Enterprise bridge actually could have two full-sized doors. It always seemed a poor design that there should be only one exit from the bridge. I will note, some blueprints of the Enterprise indicate the door next to the communication station attaches to a tube you can see on the outside of the bridge on the complete model of the ship. Personally, I don’t think an elevator shaft on a ship like the Enterprise would be that exposed, so I could be believe there’s space around the outside of the bridge to allow two turbolift cars. The next photo rotates the view, so you can see the finished science station in place.

Enterprise bridge model from port side stern.

Of the figures in the bridge, Kirk and Sulu are the two that came with the kit. All the other figures are the Shapeways figures. The AMT kit did come with a Spock, but I liked the Shapeways version with the iconic pose of Spock looking into the scope. A fun part of adding the people to this kit was telling a story with the characters’ placements. It looks like Kirk and Sulu are in conversation while Scotty is conducting some repairs. Meanwhile Spock and Lieutenant Jones are consulting on a scientific problem. McCoy is listening in to both conversations.

One last view of the Enterprise bridge

One final feature to point out, I added a floor to this bridge. The original kit leaves that spot around the helm/navigation station and Kirk’s chair open. A small piece of sheet plastic allowed me to give the bridge a more finished look.

This was a fun project. It took a little longer than my usual model build because of the modifications, but in the end, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

19 comments on “The Enterprise Bridge

  1. Greg Ballan says:

    Great job! What a great read as well!

  2. I considered getting the first release of this, as I was a fan of the show as well as a huge model builder at the time, but it always took a back seat to adding another plane to my collection. Your writeup kind of makes me glad I didn’t, as I’m pretty sure I would have been both disappointed and angry. Heck of a piece of kitbashing on your part to bring this epic display together, though. Looks living room-worthy!

    • Thanks, Jack! I had the original from childhood for several years as I recall. At some point in high school, I got annoyed enough with the inaccuracies that I modified the paint scheme to look more like the bridge in the original pilot. (Black handrails, a gray door, gray helm console, and so forth). It was kind of cool, but the viewports over the stations weren’t right for the pilot. That would be another fun way to go for a more accurate bridge. This one has ended up in my living room. The only problem is that it’s a little unsightly on the outside, especially when you sit on the couch — I’ll be back soon with my solution to that problem! (Hint, I built a small model to sit next to it!)

  3. Looks like you did a great job.

  4. Willow Croft says:

    This is a little random, and probably a “can of worms”, but what did you think of Andromeda?

    • It came out in the whole era when I dumped cable, so didn’t see many episodes, but I liked what I saw and even own a DVD of a few episodes. One episode was written by Walter Jon Williams, who I’ve known for many years and even worked with a little on a project. This is one I should go back and watch more of. What did you think?

      • Willow Croft says:

        Which episode did Williams write?

      • Willow Croft says:

        I mostly liked it…loved most of the characters in the series…Beka Valentine, Rommie the Warship, Tyr Anasazi (As soon as he came on, I was like “He’s Shakespeare!”—aka classically trained thespian, I grew up in a theatre, so Tyr was refreshing to watch.) “Oh, Tyr, stop being so dramatic.”– Harper. (or however it went). Trance Gemini was an intriguing character! I won’t give you any spoilers, but I loved the scene with her and “Cigarette Smoking Man”. And, like a lot of other people, I kept thinking of Harper as Alan Tudyk from Firefly…like it was messing with my head at first. LOL But his character was fun! Those characters made the series for me.

      • Willow Croft says:

        I’ll check out that episode again…”All Great Neptune’s Ocean”

      • Willow Croft says:

        Oh that was the “locked room” murder mystery one…

      • Willow Croft says:

        Leave it to me to spy “sea novels” under his IMDB profile! Ha!

      • Willow Croft says:

        Ah, they’re only in Kindle (Sorry for the flood of messages).

      • Willow Croft says:

        Whew, he had a story in a collection alongside one of Patrick O’Brien’s stories?!??!! And Melville and Forester, and…okay I’ll hush now. Goodness!

      • I’m working at the observatory this week and lots of replies while I was asleep! Anyway, looks like you figured it out, Walter wrote “All Great Neptune’s Ocean” which was episode 10 of season 1 of Andromeda. That’s one of the episodes I have on DVD. Sounds like I should go back and watch more… I did enjoy what I saw. I had missed that his sea novels are now out on Kindle. Sorry that means you can’t read them, but I’ve been looking for them a long time and that lets me read them (yay!) I recommend just about any of his novels you can get your hand on. Particular favorites for me are “Hardwired” which is a cyberpunk novel set in the world of Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley and “Days of Atonement,” a futuristic thriller set in New Mexico.

  5. Willow Croft says:

    I liked Andromeda, mostly, Wasn’t drawn to the captain character as much as some of the others. Let me know what you think of Andromeda if and when you watch it! And thanks for the feedback on the books!

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