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.
That's a good way of putting it. I have very fond memories of my first kit in 1970---it really fired my imagination. Even my disappointments with the way the kit was supposed to go together (that stupid pylon setup) didn't dampen my enthusiasm. I built a number of them through the next few years, but none matched the first one for pure joy.
Today I can look at the kit (including the present version) and see what's lacking, but childhood isn't about perfection but rather about perception.