The good news: I finally got Polar Lights' model of the original Star Trek's Enterprise, NCC-1701. They don't make starships that beautiful anymore. If it were possible to question buying the kit I'd be won by it including detail pieces so the kit can fit either the normal series configuration, or the configuration from ``The Cage,'' or from ``Where No Man Has Gone Before.'' If that weren't enough it has alternate decal sets for the Constellation, the Defiant, and the Exeter1. That's not as great as the old AMT/ERTL kit (I can't build the USS Kongo? -- and more seriously, can't build the USS Republic?), but this kit includes ``Mirror, Mirror'' universe decals, elevating it to simply awesome.
The sad news is the death of Max Faget. He's the designer behind nearly all the U.S.'s spaceships, and chose the blunt-end cone configuration iconic to the Space Race. His name's on the patent papers for the Mercury capsule, the Space Shuttle, and the Mercury- and Apollo-style escape tower. (Though the U.S. never had to use them, the escape rockets built to Faget's model saved Gennadi Mikhailovich Strekalov and Vladimir Georgiyevich Titov when the Soyuz T-10 booster exploded. Both met Faget in 1995 and thanked him profusely.)
1 The Starship Exeter fan-movie people decided the USS Exeter was built at the Singapore Ship Yards, according to their dedication plaque.
Trivia: Max Faget's original space shuttle design called for the orbiter to enter blunt-end first and fall to 40,000 feet altitude (slowing it to about 300 feet per second), then -- while aerodynamically stalled out -- pitch forward, falling another 15,000 feet until it could begin controlled gliding at 25,000 feet. This would have let it use thin, 747-style wings, rather than Concorde-style delta wings. Source: The Space Shuttle Decision, 1965-1972, T.A. Heppenheimer.
Currently Reading: The Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville, Giles Milton.