Bringing Model Building Back to Laserfire Creations
Enterprise in space
First off, a little history…or maybe a lot. I love building models, and I love the Refit Enterprise. I’ve built the AMT/ERTL kit numerous times as a child, a DeBoer Hull’s kit, and now own all of the available parts for the studio scale Timeslip kit. I guess you could say it’s an obsession. In 2009 I built a Polar Lights 1/350 Refit with full pearlescent paintwork, just as the original appeared in “Star Trek the Motion Picture”. My wife persuaded me to take the model to Louisville Kentucky and enter it in the model contest at Wonderfest. Much to my surprise, my model won both a Gold award and Starship Modeler’s award for “Best Vehicle and Hardware”. Honestly, I was overwhelmed by people’s reaction to the model! Complete strangers were shaking my hand and patting me on the back....totally unexpected. Click here for pictures.

Laserfire Creations was created around the same time I finished my PL Enterprise. One of Laserfire’s original missions was to offer a build-up service. I was unemployed then, and had plenty of available time. Unfortunately, the laser work was slow, since my company was so new, and I had yet to establish a client base. In 2010, a “day job” became available, and I was obligated to reluctantly accept. The regular job, with heavy emphasis on overtime, plus other Laserfire commitments, left precious little time for actual modeling, and I had to stop offering model building as a service. Luckily, only one customer build had been contracted, and thanks to the client's continued patience I’ve been able to slowly push it forward over the years....yes, years.

This brings us to today. I’ll be honest. Like so many of us, I hated the day job. Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss”, and this wasn’t it, my friends. Luckily, over the intervening years, Laserfire Creations was ticking and purring away in the background, slowly growing and developing. In 2014, I cut the day job hours back to part time in order to devote more time to Laserfire, and now I’ve finally shed myself of it completely. Work on my client’s Enterprise has accelerated back to more “normal” levels, and I find myself in the position of asking myself, “What next?” Well, put simply, the return of build-up services to Laserfire Creations.

In recent years I’ve seen a quite a number of build-up companies come onto the scene, and the market is really quite competitive. Admittedly, most of them do very nice work. So what advantages does Laserfire Creations offer over other companies? Well, for starters, it’s in the name. The laser engraver gives me the unique ability to create custom accurizing parts, acrylic window inserts, engraved plaques for display with the model, and a plethora of other items to make your model special. See the window inserts and diffusion disc I've designed for the Refit here. These will be included in any Refit I build. I also use my own vinyl cutter/plotter to create masks and stencils in house, so there’s no need to rely on pre-made masking sets that limit you to what’s “in the box”. This is extremely important when it comes to painting proper multilayered Aztecing. As for the lighting and electronics, I’m trained as an electronics technician, and worked in the field for almost 25 years. You can be assured the electronics in your model and base will be properly wired, soldered, and safe. I also fully understand how the various LED circuits function. The last thing you want is someone wiring your model that isn't familiar with the basics of voltage, current, and resistance. All internal connections will be properly terminated by soldering, and insulated with heat shrink tubing. I can use ready made circuits such as those produced by Tena Controls, or create my own if needed or desired. I'm a big fan of the Arduino micro-controllers because of their versatility and ability to use PWM to allow dimming of the various lighting circuits.

Another big advantage to having Laserfire Creations build your model is my ability to make your base along with the model itself. A model’s display base is more than just something to set your ship on. It’s one of the main things that sets your model off and makes it unique. One of Laserfire’s core products has always been display bases. Specifically, hollow bases with engraved acrylic tops backlit in different colors, mirrored acrylic tops, or built-in "Shields Up" displays. In 2015, a small CNC router was purchased in order to expand on the laser’s capabilities. I can now offer bigger, more refined display bases that can be manufactured with everything from basic plywood and mdf, to exotic hardwoods. And everything is made in-house to the customer’s specifications.

The plan now is to build another 1/350 Refit using all the knowledge I’ve gained from the other two, plus a few new tricks, and make it available for adoption.
If you’re interested in owning it, please contact me for details. The sooner it’s claimed, the more it can be customized to your specifications.
Work will commence on this new build as soon as my current commission is completed. Complete terms below.

Now a bit about the build specifically. I approach the Refit somewhat differently than other builders....especially when it comes to paintwork. First off, I use only paint, and not decals, for the Aztecing and strongback details. Decals that large can crack and flake off over time, and in my opinion, simply don't look good. When painting, most builders use masking sets for Aztecing and details. I create my own masks with my vinyl cutter. So, instead of masking off the entire model at once for each of the four pearlescent colors, then blasting it with a thick layer of paint, I can work panel by panel in a manner similar to the original artist. If a mask tears, or wears out, I can simply make another one. This technique gives me much better control over the intensity of the various pearl colors, as well as the overall appearance of the Aztec patterning. Speaking of the pearl Aztecing colors, I use only real automotive lacquers mixed with automotive-quality pearl powder pigments.....not acrylics, craft store paint, or taxidermy "fish paint". Why? Because just as the original artist (Paul Olsen) has said, lacquers can be applied in thin layers that melt into one another creating a myriad of different effects. Other paints will simply pile up layer upon layer, creating an uneven thick film. To make matters worse, many modelers try to minimize the paint build up on the edge of their masking by sanding. This dulls the reflective quality of the paint, and the end result is a kind of pastel "Easter basket" look with very little pearl luster left.

saucer aztecing
saucer aztecing
I've found that the Polar Lights kit has a few serious problem areas. The first is the fit of the secondary hull around the area at the base of the pylons. When assembled, a couple of large uneven gaps are created. There is a lot of stress in this area due to the weight of the nacelles. So, rather than covering the gaps with decals, or filling with putty, I insert styrene strips and fuse them in place with solvent glue, then sand them flush with the hull. This creates additional strength, as the strips and kit pieces essentially become one contiguous part. Another problem area is the rim of the saucer. The rim consists of a number of segments that must be glued into place. Obviously, this creates seam lines that need to be filled and sanded. The problem is that you end up damaging the sensor bands that run around the circumference of the saucer while trying to eliminate the seams. Most modelers deal with this by either ignoring the seams, or removing the bands completely and replacing them with decals. I've been developing a system for re-scribing the sensor bands if they are too seriously damaged. What it entails is mounting the saucer on a revolving platform jig, and using a scribe mounted on an adjustable-height fixture to replace the bands.

saucer scribing jig
For a complete list of options and pricing for this build, or to get custom pricing on another build, contact info@laserfirecreations.com. All ship options and display base details must be decided upon before final price quote. Payment terms will be half down immediately before work starts, and half upon completion. Shipping costs will be separate and must be determined after build is completed. Delivery may be available to areas in and around Ohio.