Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Star Trek USS Enterprise Refit: Questions on the Aztec PAint Scheme

10 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Ohio
Star Trek USS Enterprise Refit: Questions on the Aztec PAint Scheme
Posted by David2080 on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 6:46 PM


Starting another AMT refit with the idea of taking what I learn here and applying it to the 1/350 Polar Lights refit in the stash.  I built two of the AMT kits many many moons ago and want to do one more.




The kit I have is the one that came out around 1991, the Special Edition USS Enterprise with Sound and Lights.  I checked the electronics and all is good.  Also adding the Paragrafix Photo Etch sets….




Most of what I have read revolves around the Aztec paint scheme and it seems there is no end to the opinions.  It looks as if the man responsible for the paint scheme, Paul Olsen has written a book, “Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise” that covers the subject.  He says the unique effect was achieved by using iridescent paints used by taxidermists applied over a white base coat. Makes sense to me.




So, my questions….


1)      Has anyone read the book by Paul Olsen?  Looks interesting but there isn’t any way to look it over first.  Opinions?


2)      I’m looking at Aztec Dummy masks.  Are these masks designed with the idea of filling in all the panel lines on the ship and working on a more or less smooth surface or do they follow the layout of the panel lines on the ship? 


3)      What would you recommend as a base coat?  I’m thinking of using Tamiya Fine White primer, but I am also considering over coating that with a Testors Pearlescent white very lightly sprayed over the white primer.


4)      Planning on using the Polytranspar Iridescent paints as they seem to be more or less transparent but “shimmer” depending on how you view them.  I was going to limit myself to two colors for the AMT kit but then step up to five for the Polar Lights model.




Thanks in advance for the help.  It seems like most of the discussions on this subject occurred some time ago when everyone was trying to determine what shade of light grey the original ship was painted with.  This information about the shimmering taxidermy paints was new to me and I’m looking forward to trying this on my AMT kit.




Thanks again




  • Member since
    April 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 8:28 PM

1) Olsen's book is alright, but don't knock yourself out trying to find it. It's a good read for fans, but as far as solid references on the layout of the various colors, it lacks the sort of information modelers demand.

2) Aztec Dummy's 1/350 set is sort of hit or miss. They lay smoothly, but the vinyl material is a bit thick and the adhesive is fairly aggressive. A good alternative is the set from Orbital Drydock. The material is substantially thinner, the adhesive removes easily, and the set is a little more detailed and comprehensive.

3) I went with Tamiya white primer, then sealed with Tamiya's pearlescent clear. No compatibility problems and the Tamiya offers a better finish than the Testers in my experiments.

4) Careful with the Polytranspar - this stuff is an incredibly potent lacquer that gives off a very strong smell that lingers for days if not vented properly. It's not exactly cheap, either. The shimmer effect is great, but you'll need to experiment with the paints first because the blues and greens can go from slightly transparent to patently opaque if you don't mix and thin them properly. Lacquer runs hot, so be careful to go with light coats through the airbrush.

An alternative there is the parliament powders available in art supply departments of stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Mix a small amount of the powder in with a clear gloss (I know a few guys who have used Future) until you reach your desired level of opacity. It's a little more forgiving and there are a lot less fumes to deal with.

Above all, keep it subtle - it's very easy to go overboard with the colors and you wind up with a brightly colored Easter Egg, rather than a Federation starship. In any event, Aztecing requires a large degree of experimentation, expense, and a bit of practice, in addition to a lot of labor hours. It's a lot to get right straight from the start, but the results can be stunning.

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Ohio
Posted by David2080 on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 9:28 PM

I see Polytranspar is also available as an acrylic which might be a better alternative. 


I will I’ll take a look at the Parliment Powders. I’m at hobby lobby too often lol. 

Got a chuckle out of the Easter egg comment. Thanks for the advice!

  • Member since
    April 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 10:48 PM

I hope this catches you before you go shopping, Dave. My "smart" phone did its own auto-corrections and substituted the word 'parliament' for 'Pearlescent' powders. Pearl Ex is just one of many brand names for the pigments. 

I also should have also clarified that my comments about the Aztec Dummy set were specific to the 1/350 refit version. Lou puts out a good product and the smaller scale set for the Enterprise have been and industry standard for years with good reason.


My apologies!

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Ohio
Posted by David2080 on Thursday, January 3, 2019 8:12 AM

I had not gone out yet but I did look for “parliament“ powders online. Obviously I was hitting the proverbial wall. I appreciate you getting back to me  One of my co-workers is into model cars and I mentioned Pearl X to him and he has used it. Hopefully my son and I can make a run tonight after work. 


I think your advice is sound regarding the powders. It makes sense to me and I like that I dont have to go online. Thank you!  I’m excited to get this moving. 

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:35 AM

David: I hope you post some finished photos of how she turns out!

KT: And I hope you don't mind me writing down your advice. I've got the big 1/350th refit Connie and couple of smaller ones around. One day I need to get around to painting them. 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen


  • Member since
    May 2011
  • From: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posted by Real G on Thursday, January 3, 2019 5:01 PM


I wish you best of luck in getting that beautiful beast painted up.  I think the refit Enterprise is hands-down the best looking sci-fi starship ever.  But as you know, the intricate paintwork (and lighting!) is what makes her really shine.  I have the utmost respect for builders who can make it through finishing one of these kits.

  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Ohio
Posted by David2080 on Thursday, January 3, 2019 6:25 PM

I couldn’t agree more Real G. I remember as a kid Starlog had a two page spread of the new Enterprise and it blew me away. I still have the cutaway poster in reasonably good shape in a tube somewhere. I think the thing is like four feet long. 


Yeah that refit is it is a beauty. I’m going to try some things on the AMT kit first then move on to the bigger Polar Lights kit.  I hope I can do it justice. 

  • Member since
    August 2016
Posted by DinoMike on Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:47 PM

One thing to bear in mind: That old Enterprise refit kit had that horrible random "paneling" engraved into the mold. If you want a decent looking aztec job, I'd think all that extraneous stuff would need to be sanded off.

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: From the Mit, but live in Mason, O high ho
Posted by hogfanfs on Friday, January 4, 2019 6:50 AM

Would it be considered cheating if one used the Aztec decals provided in the Polar Lights kit? Has anyone here used these decals? 



 On the bench:  1/48 Eduard MiG-21MF

                        1/35 Takom Merkava Mk.I


  • Member since
    July 2016
  • From: Ohio
Posted by David2080 on Friday, January 4, 2019 7:58 AM

The Polar Lights kits are different scales so that’s not an option. But if you did do it you’d get credit for being a miracle worker 


I was was planning on filling in the extra panel lines and leaving just the “major” lines. I have an old FSM book about sci fi modeling and that is how the problem was best solved. It seemed like a heck of a lot of work at the time but I’m going to go that route on this kit. The pictures I have seen of kits done this way look much nicer to my eye. 


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.


By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.