Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Polar Lights logo

Polar Lights Models is a manufacturer that produces Star Trek model kits, starting in 2003, as then regular kit producer, AMT/Ertl, started to wane in their releases of its Star Trek-line. Currently featuring a substantial line for themselves, two releases in particular, the highly detailed 1:350 scale models of the original USS Enterprise and its refit successor, are highly acclaimed in the Star Trek modeling community.


Polar Lights Models was the model kit-making division of toy company Playing Mantis, set up in 1994 with the specific intention to reissue Aurora Plastics Corporation's signature monster and science fiction kits of the 1960s and 1970s. The company's name itself was an homage to "Aurora" (both references to the northern and southern polar lights). Apart from the figurine kits, the company also produced scale models of famous vehicles from various TV and movie projects, such as the Ghostbusters ECTO-1 and the Back To The Future Delorean Time Machine, which was originally designed by later Star Trek alumnus Andrew Probert.

Star Trek associationEdit

In 2003, Polar Lights started to release Star Trek model kits, including some not previously released designs, having been given the license as then owner of AMT/Ertl (hitherto the regular licensed manufacturer of Star Trek model kits), Racing Champions, showed no interest to develop the Star Trek model kit line any further. At that moment in time, no Star Trek model kits had been marketed for four years. Unfortunately, holding company Playing Mantis itself was acquired on 7 June 2004 by the same Racing Champions and production of new model kits was halted immediately by the new owner, resulting in 2006 in the announcement of Polar Lights' closure, due to the elimination of the brand. [3]

Still, one year later in 2007, the product line of Polar Lights was sold to Round 2 LLC, having also acquired AMT the same year, and the brand was revived in 2008, resulting in that all active US-based licensed Star Trek model kit manufacturers were once again united under one roof. In June 2009, Round 2 indicated that by 2010, they would start releasing entirely new models under the Polar Lights brand, starting with the alternate reality USS Enterprise from Star Trek and the USS Thunderchild from Star Trek: First Contact. However, these two have been canceled as of 2012.

Having already started to occasionally release the below-mentioned accessories sets on behalf of sister company AMT in order to enable their customers to customize their Star Trek kits, the relationship between the two was from 2018 onward further strengthened when the box-art style was synchronized for their respective Star Trek model kit releases. This is conceivably a harbinger for a possible impending merger, especially when considering that Round 2 has apparently appointed Polar Lights as the lead company to release truly new Star Trek model kit designs as evidenced by those from Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery, whereas those from AMT are somewhat limited to (retooled) reissues – whether or not differently scaled – of the ones they had already released prior to their acquisition by Round 2.

Star Trek releasesEdit

Excepting the 1:350 scaled model kit line, Polar Lights releases all its other Star Trek model kits in its so-called "snap-it" style (meaning that in theory at least, no glue is required for assembly) with detailed decal sheets included. No glue or paint were included with the kits.

Item Scale Release Item No. Notes Boxart
USS Enterprise 1:1000 2003 PL4200 This kit can be built in three versions: the Enterprise seen in "The Cage", that seen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and the standard "production version" seen in later episodes Polar Lights Model kit PL4200 USS Enterprise 2003
2008 POL803 Reissue of PL 4200; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art.[1] Polar Lights Model kit POL803 USS Enterprise first issue 2008
Polar Lights Model kit POL803 USS Enterprise 2008
2012 POL889 Lunchbox tin edition Polar Lights Model kit POL889 USS Enterprise 2012
1:350 POL880 Original detailed tooling; with interior bridge, shuttlebay and in-scale Class F shuttlecraft; avant-premiere edition for "1701 Club" subscribers, limited to 1701 pieces and regular edition with differing box art Polar Lights Model kit POL880 USS Enterprise 2012 Limited Edition
Polar Lights Model kit POL880 USS Enterprise 2012 Regular Edition
1:1000 2013 PL908 "Space Seed" edition; with in-scale SS Botany Bay; Botany Bay first truly new Star Trek model kit design since 2003 by either AMT or Polar Lights Polar Lights Model kit POL908 USS Enterprise Space Seed Edition 2013
1:350 2016 POL938 50th anniversary edition; Reissue w/ detailed bridge and smooth saucer parts Polar Lights Model kit POL938 Enterprise TOS 50th 2017
Enterprise NX-01 1:350 2003 PL4201 Featuring over 200 pieces and clear parts for lighting PolarLightsEntNX01
1:1000 2005 PL53028 Along with PL4204 (see below) one of only two kits allowed by Racing Champions to reach retail under its ownership Polar Lights PL53028 Model kit Enterprise NX-01 2005
2008 POL807 Reissue of PL53028; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art Polar Lights Model kit POL807 Enterprise NX-01 first issue 2008
Polar Lights Model kit POL807 Enterprise NX-01 2008
1:350 2013 POL902 Reissue PL4201; boxart by Doug Drexler Polar Lights Model kit POL902 Enterprise NX-01 2013
1:1000 2014 POL898 Contains parts to construct either a standard NX-class or a refit NX-Class; boxart by Doug Drexler Polar Lights Model kit POL898 Enterprise NX-01 refit 2013
2019 POL966(M) Reissue POL898 Round2 AMT Model Kit USS Enterprise NX-01 Snap 1-1000 2019
Klingon D7-class Battle cruiser 1:1000 2003 PL4202 This kit can be built and labeled as either the standard Klingon version or the Romulan version seen in "The Enterprise Incident"; Polar Lights original, not associated with the AMT rlease. Polar Lights Model kit PL4202 Klingon Battle Cruiser 2003
2008 POL806 Reissue of PL4202; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art Polar Lights Model kit POL806 Klingon Battle Cruiser first issue 2008
Polar Lights Model kit POL806 Klingon Battle Cruiser 2008
2013 POL897 Released as Romulan battle cruiser with matching decals Polar Lights Model kit POL897 Romulan Battle Cruiser 2012
Star Trek Nemesis Reman Scorpion-class fighter 1:33 2003 PL4203 With Jean-Luc Picard and Data cockpit figures PolarLightsScorpion
USS Enterprise-A (or Refit) 1:350 2004 PL4204 Featuring a full interior shuttlebay, three small shuttlecraft, TMP-Style Work Bee pod, botanical garden, conference room and VIP lounge; includes a large number of clear parts to facilitate lighting of the kit; two box variants; box-art by Chris White PolarLightsEntABox2
2009 POL808 Reissue of PL4204; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; new box Polar Lights Model kit POL808 USS Enterprise-A 2009
1:1000 2010 POL820 New tooling, not associated with the AMT releases; with "Aztec"-paneling decals; box-art by Andrew Probert Polar Lights Model kit POL820 USS Enterprise 2010
1:350 2017 POL949 Reissue with new box art Round2 Polar Lights Model Kit USS Enterprise Refit Reissue 1-350 POL949 2017
USS Reliant 1:1000 2014 POL906 New toolings, not associated with the AMT releases Polar Lights Model kit POL906 USS Reliant 2014
Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd century) 2015 POL934 Polar Lights Model kit POL934 Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd century) 2015
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Klingon Battle Cruiser K't'inga-class IKS Amar 1:350 2018 POL950 New toolings, not associated with the AMT releases; 2 feet half studio scale model; new "near black" and clear mold; lighting kit MKA031 separately available. First kit released with synchronized box-art as concurrently employed by sister company AMT. Round2 Polar Lights Model Kit Klingon K't'inga 1-350 2018
USS Defiant 1:1000 POL952 New toolings, not associated with the AMT releases; USS Grissom first truly new Star Trek model kit design since 2013 by either AMT or Polar Lights Round2 Polar Lights Model Kit USS Defiant 1-1000 2017
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock USS Grissom & Klingon Bird-of-Prey POL957 Round2 Polar Lights Model Kit USS Grissom and Klingon Bird of Prey 1-1000 2018
USS Discovery (NCC-1031) 1:2500 2019 POL961(M) With metallic decals; first official model kit released based on Star Trek: Discovery Round2 PolarLights Kit USS Discovery Snap 1-2500 2019
USS Shenzhou (NCC-1227) POL967(M) Round2 PolarLights Model Kit USS Shenzhou NCC-1227 Snap 1-2500 2019
USS Enterprise NCC-1701 POL971 Discovery-retcon version Polar Lights Model kit POL971 USS Enterprise (Discovery) 2019
Canceled releases (boxart as proposed)
USS Enterprise (alternate reality) 1:2500 2010 POL836 This kit was developed using Ryan Church's CGI scans provided by ILM from Star Trek. Slated for a postponed 2011 release[4], but eventually canceled in 2012 Polar Lights canceled model kit POL836 alternate USS Enterprise
Polar Lights canceled model kit POL836 alternate USS Enterprise variant
USS Thunderchild 1:1000 n/a to be confirmed[5]; canceled as of 2010.[2] Polar Lights canceled model kit USS Thunderchild 2009
  1. Box variants as ascertained on second hand market sites websites such as eBay, featuring privately shot kit photographs.
  2. A fan favorite, the design was slated for a 2009 release, but was canceled later the following year without much further ado, despite being in an advanced state of development and having secured the input of Designer Alex Jaeger. [1] The company has later stated that they felt the ship was not the right choice as the debut outing in their new 1:1000 scaled product line – actually already started in 2003 with PL4202 – , as it was not a "hero-ship", fearing it would not sell well enough to cover development costs; the sentiment was certainly not shared by fans. [2]

The 1:350 scaled model kit lineEdit


Solicitaion box-art for the first refit-Enterprise 1:350 scaled 2004 release

Of the Star Trek model kit line from Polar Lights, the 1:350 scale line is generally considered as its show piece.

In 2004 Polar Lights released a highly detailed 1:350 scale refit-USS Enterprise model kit. Measuring 35 inches long when assembled, it was the largest officially licensed Constitution-class model kit released to date. [6] Polar Lights did put a lot of research into the development of the model kit to make it as accurate as possible, having sought the advise from the refit co-designer, Andrew Probert – who would also do the box-art for the 1:1000 scaled 2012 spin-off release. Very noticeable features of the model kit were the inclusion of a full interior shuttlebay as originally designed by Probert, three small in-scale shuttlecraft and a Work Bee pod, the botanical garden, the conference room and the VIP lounge. The development of the model kit caused the release of it to be postponed several times, and by the time the model was ready to be released, in the tail-end of 2004, Polar Lights had already been acquired by new owner Racing Champions, who immediately halted the release of new model kits. Nevertheless, they made an exception for this model kit and allowed the release to go through. Despite the relatively high price tag attached to it, the model kit was critically acclaimed by the model kit community [7], and when Polar Lights resumed production under new ownership (Round 2 LLC), it was reissued in 2009.

Buoyed on by the success of the model, Polar Lights embarked on the project of developing a similar model kit of the original configuration Enterprise. For its development the company took it up a notch by hiring Gary Kerr as consultant. Kerr is arguably the person, still living, who is most intimately acquainted with the original studio model of USS Enterprise. He acquired his knowledge when he took for his personal edification numerous photos and measurements of the original model, when it was at at Ed Miarecki's model shop, Science Fiction Modelmaking Associates, when the latter was engaged in the 1991 restoration of the model for the 1992 Star Trek Smithsonian Exhibit. He expanded upon his knowledge five years later by composing detailed construction blueprints of the original model, at the behest of his friend Gregory Jein for his construction of the 5.5 foot studio model for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". Back in in the summer of 2002, Kerr had already served as consultant for Polar Light's 1:1000 2003 release of the original Enterprise. (Sci-fi & fantasy modeller, Vol. 26, p. 46) Jamie Hood, Polar Lights' brand manager, has expressed his appreciation for Kerr's involvement, "Gary’s involvement in the new kit design has been a tremendous asset. His extensive knowledge has allowed us to add intimate details to the model. This kit will be the most accurate representation of the ship produced since the original filming model." [8] Several years in the making and highly anticipated, the model kit was released late 2012, and it too was favorably received by the model kit community. [9] Like its predecessor, noticeable features were the inclusion of interior features, which included the bridge, shuttlebay and in-scale Class F shuttlecraft. When assembled the model measured 32 inches, the same size as the original three-foot studio model.

Kerr himself has written a four-part article for the UK magazine Sci-fi & fantasy modeller (starting in volume 26, 2012) that chronicled in detail his personal involvement with the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, including his experiences with Miarecki, Jein, and CBS Digital, as well as the development of the Polar Lights model kit in particular.

The two Enterprise kits had actually already been preceded in 2003 with that of NX-class, conceived and researched in the same vein as its two successors, whereas the K't'inga-class joined the 1:350 line in 2018.

Accessories setsEdit

Fully aware that the two 1:350 Constitution-class Enterprise kits were considered the flagships of their Star Trek model kit line, Polar Lights started to release so-called "after-market" (meaning after the original release of the associated model kit) accessories sets for the two kits in order to enable modelers to further modify and finetune detailing on the model, which they believed would meet the scrutiny of even the most discerning fans. [10] The first two, released in 2011 were applicable to the refit models, whereas six additional sets were released in 2012 for the original configuration model. Beginning with item MKA003, an off-shoot of the refit-Enterprise decal sets, was released in 2011, as a courtesy to sister company AMT, who had reissued their 1:537 scale model kit of the USS Reliant that year. Additional courtesy sets were to follow.

Most of the accessories sets are packaged in clear plastic bags, featuring either a sticker on the bag, or being closed at the top by a stapled-on imprinted carton which in some cases runs all the way through on the back. Some of the more elaborate sets though, are packaged in standard boxes.

2011-2018 accessories sets
note: for the 1:350 scale models, unless otherwise noted
Item No. Contents
MKA001 Five decal sheets with "Aztec"-pattern, one sheet with alternate ship names and registry numbers as well as engineering colors in blue, gray, and green Polar Lights USS Enterprise accessories set MKA001 2011
MKA002 Off-shoot decal sheet for the 1:1000 scale refit model Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA002 2011
MKA003 Off-shoot decal set of four sheet for AMT's 1:537 scale USS Reliant model kit Polar Lights Reliant accessories set MKA003 2011
MKA004 Supplemental parts pack to modify the model for its appearance in either "The Cage" or "Where No Man Has Gone Before" Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA004 2012
MKA005 "Deluxe accessories set"; contains the contents of MKA006, 008 and 009 Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA005 2012
MKA006 Detailed lighting kit Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA006 2012
MKA008 Weathering decal sheets Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA008 2012
MKA009 Photo-etched details sheet Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA009 2012
MKA010 Alternate ship names and registry numbers decal sheet Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA010 2012
MKA015 Alternate "smooth" dorsal saucer part, without gridlines as standard included in POL938 Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA015 2016
MKA017 Improved decal sheets for the AMT 1:1000 USS Excelsior kit Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA017 2016
MKA018/12 Expanded 2017 reissue of MKA004 Polar Lights Enterprise accessories set MKA018-12 2018
MKA019 Aztec decal sheets for the AMT 1:1400 USS Enterprise-D kit Polar Lights Enterprise-D accessories set MKA019 2017
MKA020 Weathering decal sheets for the AMT 1:750 Galor-class kit Polar Lights Galor-class accessories set MKA020 2017
MKA021 Improved 2017 reissue of MKA003 Polar Lights Reliant accessories set MKA021 2017
MKA031 Lighting kit and brass etched detailing for POL950 Polar Lights Klingon K't'inga-class accessories set MKA031 2018

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