When I recently bought a vintage light-up AMT model and built it, my intent was to recreate the imperfect "toy" Enterprise of my childhood. I was completely successful, and it remains "my" Enterprise.
Is it screen-accurate? Nope. (But it was at least personally vetted by Jeffries, and in many ways compares well to the TOS three-footer.) But the point is that it was my first tangible TOS artifact when I was nine, and it is again. And it looks absolutely glorious with the dome lights on.
That is the way the AMT should be viewed--not a representation of Datin's film model (we have the 1/350 for that) but of our memories.
The AMT model was more than just a model. It is different than any other kit in terms of its place in time--and the associations with it.
To me, the AMT was a summer with the old window unit air conditioner running--almost speaking--in its breathy susurrus as chimes on the porch blew in the warm breeze.
It was smell of paper and pencils--as they used to smell. The AMT kit was healthy parents, Apollo on all the television channels that forced everyone else to look up as we already did. And yet Trek was something special, something only a handful seemed meant to enjoy. It gave shelter, but pointed in its mature, responsibly cerebral fashion, towards the future adulthood that awaited us all.
It was never just a model. Those came later in their accuracy, good, but....
Expert modelers amazed us as we were welcomed into the Lodge.
Where the AMT was the warm fire in the hearth, later incarnations were just snuggies.
I never had that much luck with model kits. I did get that snap-together 3-ship set and applied the decals rather crudely, but I left them unpainted, and they didn't hold up very well.
My very first Enterprise was an early version, with the smooth aft nacelle caps. Knowing even then as a little rug rat that I couldn't do anything right, I convinced my Dad to put one together for me. For a jig he used stacks of Funk & Wagnalls. He actually seemed to enjoy this model. I think he even fixed the nacelle seating using a pocket knife.
My Dad was an amazing man. He never finished high school, and the only way he kept a roof over my head and my Mom was that he worked for the L&N (Seaboard System/ Family Lines/ Chessie the Cat) that became CSX and was a member of the UTU.
Once we had a grey cat that got a forelimb stuck in a chair, breaking it. Somehow, this man set its foreleg with two popsicle sticks and a curved metal brace/splint that went around my pinky that got caught in a door hinge at our old house in Inglenook, across from the old firestation that became a library:
With a little tape and a lot of patience, the cat got full use of its leg.
I'm sure I pestered him: "That doesn't look right"-- but he made that model gleam
Well, once on a visit to my Grandmother on my Mom's side in Vernon Alabama, around the time Guin got nailed in the '74 Superoutbreak, I took that model with me.
I was warned: "You'll break it."
"No I won't" I replied. Well, I had fun until my little brat cousin Donny Tubbs (he was just like his name sounded) showed up, all James Dean and crap. I tried to hide it because I KNEW what would happen. Then my Mom volunteered that I had the model.
"Let him play with it."
I lost it--I put it up--finally "No Grandma, he'll break it --I know he will."
Next thing I know the little hellion is running all over the house until such time as he hooks an ankle against my Grandmum's recliner that looked to date from the Precambrian. A sledgehammer could not have done more damage.
I think that's when I had a light stroke--and for once tough guy was scared of me. :0
"He broke it He broke it.I knew he would."
Calm down they said.
I went through the things. One had a booksatchel thrown on it. I couldn't seem to keep one.
When driving back, my Mom said I told you so and blamed me.
I can look back on it and laugh now. Donny had a bad childhood, and everyone there is dead except for me--which is really the saddest thing.
I never had a model that good. The preacher's son had a newer one, with spheres on the caps. I had the D-7 though. Later a kid played with it. He asked about the D-7 Cobra head: "Does this come off?"
Before I could say no--it did. Sigh.
That was the day I swore that, if I ever got near my guardian angel--I'd punch him in the face.
Shaw's fine work
In Arena, the original effects had the phasers looking different. This actually had to do with Jefferies and the AMT:
The Enterprise's three double phaser bursts, which Sulu says constituted a full discharge of phaser banks, fire from an unusual location in this episode – not from near the glowing dome at the bottom of the saucer, but from much higher up, closer to where Matt Jefferies originally located the main phaser banks in his early diagrams of the ship. These schematics appeared as display diagrams in other episodes and also on the sides of the early AMT Star Trek model kits.
Lastly, here is some new work on an old favorite