(written from a Production point of view)
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. 
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.
|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|
|2008||POL803||Reissue of PL 4200; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art.|
|2012||POL889||Lunchbox tin edition|
|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|
|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|
|1:350||2016||POL938||50th anniversary edition; Reissue w/ detailed bridge and smooth saucer parts|
|Enterprise NX-01||1:350||2003||PL4201||Featuring over 200 pieces and clear parts for lighting|
|1:1000||2005||PL53028||Along with PL4204 (see below) one of only two kits allowed by Racing Champions to reach retail under its ownership|
|2008||POL807||Reissue of PL53028; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art|
|1:350||2013||POL902||Reissue PL4201; boxart by Doug Drexler|
|1:1000||2014||POL898||Contains parts to construct either a standard NX-class or a refit NX-Class; boxart by Doug Drexler|
|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.|
|2008||POL806||Reissue of PL4202; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; two issues in 2008 each with different box art|
|2013||POL897||Released as Romulan battle cruiser with matching decals|
|Star Trek Nemesis Reman Scorpion-class fighter||1:33||2003||PL4203||With Jean-Luc Picard and Data cockpit figures|
|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|
|2009||POL808||Reissue of PL4204; acquisition by Round 2; new numbering; new box|
|1:1000||2010||POL820||New tooling, not associated with the AMT releases; with "Aztec"-paneling decals; box-art by Andrew Probert|
|1:350||2017||POL949||Reissue with new box art|
|USS Reliant||1:1000||2014||POL906||New toolings, not associated with the AMT releases|
|Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd century)||2015||POL934|
|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.|
|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|
|Star Trek III: The Search for Spock USS Grissom & Klingon Bird-of-Prey||POL957|
|USS Discovery (NCC-1031)||1:2500||2019||POL961(M)||With metallic decals; first official model kit released based on Star Trek: Discovery|
|USS Shenzhou (NCC-1227)||POL967(M)|
|USS Enterprise NCC-1701||POL971||Discovery-retcon version|
|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, but eventually canceled in 2012|
|USS Thunderchild||1:1000||n/a||to be confirmed; canceled as of 2010.|
- ↑ Box variants as ascertained on second hand market sites websites such as eBay, featuring privately shot kit photographs.
- ↑ 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.  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. 
The 1:350 scaled model kit lineEdit
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.  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 , 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."  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.  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.
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.  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
|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|
|MKA002||Off-shoot decal sheet for the 1:1000 scale refit model|
|MKA003||Off-shoot decal set of four sheet for AMT's 1:537 scale USS Reliant model kit|
|MKA004||Supplemental parts pack to modify the model for its appearance in either "The Cage" or "Where No Man Has Gone Before"|
|MKA005||"Deluxe accessories set"; contains the contents of MKA006, 008 and 009|
|MKA006||Detailed lighting kit|
|MKA008||Weathering decal sheets|
|MKA009||Photo-etched details sheet|
|MKA010||Alternate ship names and registry numbers decal sheet|
|MKA015||Alternate "smooth" dorsal saucer part, without gridlines as standard included in POL938|
|MKA017||Improved decal sheets for the AMT 1:1000 USS Excelsior kit|
|MKA018/12||Expanded 2017 reissue of MKA004|
|MKA019||Aztec decal sheets for the AMT 1:1400 USS Enterprise-D kit|
|MKA020||Weathering decal sheets for the AMT 1:750 Galor-class kit|
|MKA021||Improved 2017 reissue of MKA003|
|MKA031||Lighting kit and brass etched detailing for POL950|