I have always been drawn to the real artistry of the Star Trek models from Dutch designer, Ninjatoes. While some people I know have been critical of his hand-drawn approach, which can be frustrating, as it makes assembling his models more difficult, I've been able to look beyond that and appreciate the thought that goes into engineering his model designs. That's what led me to create my own version of his Danube-class Runabout, the USS Rubicon, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
|Early Cockpit with hard angled profile|
|Revised cockpit with smoother profile|
Later in the project, I realized that I really didn't care for the abrupt angle of the bow above the forward ports, so I revised the cockpit with a much smoother transition above the main windows, which were made a bit smaller. I also rearranged a few surface details, added a few missing bits, finished the cockpit's panel lines and corrected the placement of the forward registry number.
|Underside of cockpit|
Underneath the cockpit, the photon torpedo launcher/ front landing pad was shortened and got new detailing, as did the area behind it. To add depth to the surface details, I utilized multiple shades of each base hue to emphasize details and heighten the illusion of shadowing on the flat surfaces. At the rear of the cockpit, the "wing" of the phaser module was reshaped, I added the details of an RCS thruster and added changed the ribbed look of the thin section between the cockpit and the ship's center section to look more prototypical.
Ninjatoes' original design integrated the wing/engine pods into the center section of the model, requiring a rather complicated build sequence.
In shaping the wings, I took one of my AMT plastic runabout kits out of mothballs for use as a reference. The wing's leading edge doesn't look like it would be difficult to design once it's built, but the math involved made it a challenge, and as difficult as the leading edge was, the trailing edge was ten times worse. The runabout wing is a complex shape for a paper modeler, especially for a Luddite like me, that works without 3D modeling software. It has complex curves from just about any angle, and a mistake in any one of them has a negative effect on the whole part. While my finished part isn't a perfect replica of the studio model's wing, I think it's as close as you'll ever find without building one in CG. That one small part of the model consumed a lot of time and energy, and caused a LOT of frustration, but by the time I was done with it, I knew that my skills as a model designer had taken a big leap forward.
|Revised Warp Reactor|
|Close-up of layered surface details|
Once that was done, I moved on to the warp engines. During the design and test building, I was asked by another modeler if I had rounded off the bussard collectors on the warp engines, as Ninjatoes' original design had a sharp corner at the top and bottom edges of the bussards. The simple answer was no, I did not. I played with the idea quite a bit, and looked at Paragon's repaint of the runabout, where he had eased the corner with a multi-pieced bussard, but I had a really hard time building his version. The problem with rounding the bussard is that the shape of the prototype is a tight, flattened sphere that fades into a rectangle where it meets the hull plating. Even if I worked in CAD or a 3D modeling program to design it, the actual parts would be horrendous to build. In the end, my own version of the bussard uses Ninjatoes' squared edges, but with corrections to the shape and a few changes to the assembly of the forward ends of the warp engines, which make the hard edges stand out a bit less.
|Revised Fuselage Clamping Strap.|
|A few of the "unsuccessful" test builds...|
|Sometimes, things just DON'T work out...|
|Early test of the unfinished Sensor Pod|
The finished model, including all of the different registries, is 33 pages, and includes parts for either a simple or a more detailed model. The size of the model, and the scope of the project was a real challenge, and looking back at that time, when my wife and I were both dealing with job issues, losing our home to foreclosure, and a serious health crisis for my mother-in-law, I sometimes wonder why on earth I was wasting my time with such a large, time-consuming project, but then too, I realize that having this to focus on during all of that drama really helped me deal with the strain I was under back then.
|Finished model and photo by Micky Muller|
|Finished model and photo by Loenf|
I hope that you'll like it, too. You can download it here: