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

The Official Star Trek The Next Generation: Build the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D was a weekly partwork magazine that was published by De Agostini's Japanese division.

Planned as a 100-issue run, the completed partwork would have provided the parts to construct a 72 cm-long model kit of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D with internal LED lighting and a diorama stand.

A sixteen-page magazine containing feature articles and annotated illustrations was included with each release, along with a blueprints sheet and assembly instructions.

In May 2011, an initial test run for the line debuted in Japan, which later received strikingly different assessments from its UK editors. Martin Ritchie felt that the run garnered "quite amazing sales figures" but Tim Leng wrote, "...well, it failed. Didn't. Expect. That...".

Nonetheless, De Agostini opted to discontinue the publication due to the severe economic downturn following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. [1] [2]

Seven issues were released to the public before the title was cancelled.


# Box cover Contents Magazine cover Contents
1. 14 June 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 1 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - dorsal exterior view
  • Magazine issue 1
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 1 magazine.jpg
2. 21 June 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 2 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Deck 2
  • Magazine issue 2
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 2 magazine.jpg
3. 28 June 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 3 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Deck 4
  • Magazine issue 3
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 3 magazine.jpg
4. 5 July 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 4 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Deck 3
  • Magazine issue 4
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 4 magazine.jpg
5. 12 July 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 5 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Deck 5
  • Magazine issue 5
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 5 magazine.jpg
6. 19 July 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 6 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Port and Starboard views
  • Magazine issue 6
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 6 magazine.jpg
7. 2 August 2011 The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 7 box.jpg
  • Blueprint - Deck 1
  • Magazine issue 7
  • Model kit parts
The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D issue 7 magazine.jpg
8. unreleased N/A
  • Blueprint - Deck 8
  • Magazine issue 8
  • N/A
9. unreleased N/A
  • Blueprint - Fore and Aft exterior view
  • Magazine issue 9
  • N/A
  • Tour of Deck - Deck 36
  • Critical Systems - Transporter console
  • Apparatus - Internal sensor/sensor data pre-processor
  • Mission Logs - "Home Soil"/"When The Bough Breaks"
  • Star Trek Memories - Bridge designs
10. unreleased N/A
  • Blueprint - Deck 9
  • Magazine issue 10
  • N/A
11. unreleased N/A
  • Blueprint - Deck 7
  • Magazine issue 11
  • N/A
  • Tour of Deck - Deck 3
  • Critical Systems
  • Apparatus - Communicators 2364/2371
  • Mission Logs
  • Star Trek Memories - Rick Berman interview Part 1

Issue contents

Model kit

Official Star Trek TNG Build the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 -D model.jpg The Official Star Trek The Next Generation Build the Enterprise-D close-up of the model.jpg
Rick Sternbach's partially-assembled prototype
Close-ups of the interior

The main attraction of the entire partwork, the 72 cm-long, 1:900 scale, mainly plastic (on a metal spine) model was designed to be constructed deck-by-deck by collectors. Sheets of transparent, laser-etched Plexiglas featuring the starship's interior decks and based on Rick Sternbach's upgraded Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, slotted into the interior of the model. Evoking a 3D effect, these deck parts were lit by LEDs from the lighting kit.

The ship's superstructure and interior were to have been overlaid by pre-painted hull plates that were, at the insistence of the producers, as accurate as possible, especially where "Aztec patterning" was concerned. The model could be displayed on stands as a single unit or divided into two parts when shown in saucer separation mode.

The ship was designed to be easily assembled by a complete novice with nothing more than a screwdriver, which was to be included within an issue.


Issue 1 magazine cover

A sixteen-page magazine was also included in the package, focusing on aspects of the USS Enterprise-D and its history, technology, and crew.

As Tim Leng was retained as Chief Editor for the project, it came as no surprise that the contents of the magazine were organized much like his work within the pages of the Star Trek Fact Files. Similarly, contents were organized into six main categories, and the pages were dispersed throughout the run of the publication.

These articles were easily detached from the original publication and could be re-organized afterwards and placed into corresponding binders. The company hoped to produce four large binders to hold 600 of pages of projected content. Much of the magazine content was based on work previously compiled for the Fact Files and other Fabbri magazines.

Apart from former Star Trek production staff, the writing staff further consisted of Tim Leng, Chris Dows, and Peter Griffiths (all former Fact Files writers), and newcomers Rebecca Levine and James Goss. (source) Martin Ritchie co-produced the magazine with Leng. [3]

Gabriel Koerner and former Foundation Imaging employee Robert Bonchune (from issue three onward) were the artists responsible for all of the new computer generated imagery (CGI) printed on the magazine covers. This new imagery was reproduced on the inside back cover without text imprints, for optional framing purposes.

A "Series Guide" gatefold pamphlet that provided comprehensive details about the contents of the partwork (known in the trade as a "boost") was included with the first issue.

All of the magazines' text was submitted in English and edited for De Agostini at the offices of Midsommer Books (the Fact Files joint venture partner of GE Fabbri and end copyright holder) in Hammersmith, London, UK, and was subsequently forwarded for translation into Japanese at De Agostini's Japanese editorial bureau.

Recurring sections included:

  • Tour of Deck: Companion article for the accompanying blueprint sheets, providing more elaborate descriptions of the sheets, and written from an in-universe perspective.
  • Critical Systems: Technical articles about the various on-board systems of the USS Enterprise-D. Written and illustrated by Michael Okuda along the lines of the work he had done previously for the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, and written from an in-universe perspective.
  • Apparatus: Technical articles about various pieces of hardware in use aboard the USS Enterprise-D, written by Okuda and based upon technical annotations by Rick Sternbach, from an in-universe perspective. The articles were illustrated with new CGI imagery by CGI artist Rob Garrard, a former Fact Files contributor. Garrard's newly created CGI art, alongside some of Bonchune's, has not been a complete total loss though because of the failure of the publication, as some of it was later repurposed for inclusion in the 2019 reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation: The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Illustrated Handbook licensed by Eaglemoss Collections, the successor of GE Fabbri, as were some of the new articles, albeit re-edited.
  • Mission Logs: Episode guide from an in-universe perspective. A slightly differing approach to the guide was taken by Leng. He felt that the guide should be in line with the overall concept of the product and so the texts were written with emphasis on the role the starship played in the specific episodes. The writing was based on much of the work Larry Nemecek had done earlier for the episode guides from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion and The Fact Files. (source)
  • Star Trek Memories: Real-world interviews with actors, producers, directors, and production staffers associated with Star Trek: The Next Generation. New interviews were conducted by Larry Nemecek for this publication, alongside previously unpublished interview material from his archive. (source)
  • Step-by-Step: Detailed description and assembly manual for the model kit parts.


Issue 1 blueprints

Each issue included a 550 × 840 mm blueprint sheet that corresponded with the model parts in the box and the companion Tour of Deck section of the magazine.

This project saw Rick Sternbach revisit the work that he had done for the Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, which he did enthusiastically, getting to address a number of issues that he had never had the opportunity to fix before. It eventually resulted in a more enhanced version of the Blueprints and also served as the master for the cross-section parts of the starship model. Leng stated that it was so detailed that, "if you zoom in at the leading edge of deck ten, you could actually see Guinan standing behind the bar at Ten Forward."

Blueprints-based deck sections

In the end, and with the help of Tim Earls, Sternbach produced a large number of revised Enterprise-D blueprint sheets in 1:900 scale for the publication, and Martin Ritchie provided the poster layout, annotations, and other information.

One hundred sheets, just shy of A1 format when unfolded, were projected to be collected inside a custom-designed case that was to be delivered to subscribers with issue 5. To make these blueprints distinct from Sternbach's earlier Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, a darker blue background was used.

Conception and development

Japanese launch commercial still

Conceived after the conclusion of the Japanese runs of the Star Trek Fact Files and the DVD/magazine version of the Star Trek: The Collector's Edition called the "Star Trek: Best Episode Collection", De Agostini's Japanese editors wanted to publish a new Star Trek partwork as a Japanese original. De Agostini incidentally, was sub-licensed by GE Fabbri/Midsommer Books to publish its partworks in Japan and native country Italy, hence the overlap in editorial staff.

As Chief Editor Tim Leng later recalled on his blog, "About 18 months ago, the Japanese team who I worked closely with to produce the Japanese Fact Files and Best Episode Collection came to me with an idea they'd had for a new Star Trek part-works. The project was called Build the Enterprise, and as you might guess, the idea was that you would get to build a model of the Enterprise (the TNG version) week by week. Bearing in mind I'd been working on these sorts of things for a decade by this point, I was surprised to find that my fanboy side completely and utterly pushed to the fore; I thought the idea was amazing, and I was very keen to get going on it." [4]

The company opted for a partwork format that consisted of magazines, a large model kit of the USS Enterprise-D and a set of revised Enterprise-D blueprints, which would be collected over the span of an 100-issue run. Leng opined, "What I should say here is that the Japanese team don't do things by halves. They literally threw everything bar the kitchen sink at this project." [5]

Both Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda were invited to revisit and update their original works on the technical aspects of the Enterprise-D, which they did in detail. Sternbach readdressed his USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints while Okuda revised much of the material that he had created for his Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual.

As with its original source material, additional technical aspects were included that were not necessarily seen or referenced in Star Trek canon. A prime example was the dissertation on the Galaxy-class life boat from issue two that was never seen or referenced on-screen, but was discussed in detail in that issue, based on detailed annotations made by Sternbach. [6] A re-edited version of this article resurfaced in the aforementioned 2019 Illustrated Handbook.

Klingon Bird-of-Prey model

Although it was intended primarily as a newsstand release, subscriptions were also offered to the public. Subscribers were slated to receive an in-scale (1:900) completed (assembled and painted) model of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey as a gift premium, but it did not reach production, in the end.

Leng was convinced that De Agostini had hit upon a winning formula, and the company produced a TV commercial for the Japanese market. [7]

As it turned out, fate conspired against the product. Leng wrote, "And then we tested it in May and ... well, it failed. Didn't. Expect. That... What's really upsetting about this is that there's little - nothing, really - wrong with the product; what was mainly responsible for the product failing was that we launched it in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan back in March. After experiencing something like that, people understandably just weren't in the mood to start buying into a collectible magazine/model series. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time." [8]

At the time of cancellation, seven issues had been released and the editorial work on issues eight through eleven was complete. In recognition of his efforts, Rick Sternbach was sent a complete model by the publisher, pictured above [9], which he at a later point in time opted to sell online through his eBay webshop "intrep74656".

Under its Hero Collector brand GE Fabbri's successor, Eaglemoss Collections, first test-launched a similar but completely unrelated partwork called Star Trek: The Next Generation Build The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D in February 2019. Its model was produced in a similar scale (1:916) as the 1:900-scale model in this partwork, but it is a completely different (and more traditionally constructed) design with a die-cast metal hull. In 2021, De Agostini began to test-market this partwork in select areas of Japan, under its own imprint.

See also

External links