Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Official Starships Collection: XL Discovery x2

Why review one XL model when you can do two and get to compare before and after at the same time?

Yep, we're back with another Eaglemoss review and this time it's two for one. Not only are we looking at the XL USS Discovery NCC-1031 as seen in Discovery seasons one, two and a bit of three but the refit Discovery NCC-1031-A from the 32nd Century.

Amazingly there are a ton and more differences between the two and not just down to those questionable detached nacelles. Let's plough straight in to this double dose of Disco dissection.

SImplicity is definitely the word when it comes to the original design of the Crossfield Class with a hint of aztecing from the paintwork but overall a very flat, composed and subtle finish to the hull. That allows for much better panel definition on the ship with some tonal changes front to back but also providing a steady consistency of look. In the show space is, obviously, a lot darker and the model allows an appreciation of the lighter tones used for the brown-tinted colour scheme.

It's also a very blocky ship. The hull is a sharp triangular shape, the primary hull a duo of crisp circles while the engines are two overly long sticks. There's nothing glamourous about the Discovery. The shape is basic, functional but Eaglemoss have still managed to shoehorn in some decent detailing.

But what is noticable here is the prominence of the windows and some of the more distinct stripes that adorn the secondary hull. It's a very, very clean recreation of the lead ship with even the bridge portholes marked out. The saucer is pretty strong as well, supported only by the neck piece and the four small struts from the outer to the inner ring. 

Incredibly this thing looks more gorgeous in the flesh than it does on the TV with a great attention to the striking lines and angular body shape. She's also light on decals with only registries on the saucer top and bottom to the front with two more even smaller (only spotted on the photos!) to the port and starboard as they were on the original Enterprise.

Discovery also carries some lovely edging detail along the sides of the engineering hull. Both the impulse engines as well as the grilles on the leading edge are distinctly marked out with Eaglemoss even managing a slight recess in the bodywork which a smaller scale doesn't account for. 

To the front the deflector dish is a bit hotch-potch. It's absolutely stuck on to the frame and sticks out with the antennae then protruding even further. If the edging benefits from the size up, the deflector dish hasn't faired any better with the probes looking way thicker than they should.

Stretching into the mid-distance from either side of the triangular body are the two lengthy warp nacelles. Discovery certainly emphasises these in comparison to the side of the other hull sections. They retain the same minimalistic panelling but even with the slim design both length and width-wise, Eaglemoss have crammed in a set of translucent blue elements along the edges and also the blue bussard collectors to the front. These could have been a paint on job as we've seen on a few other occasions over the years but the move to actually combine pieces here speaks of a push for a more premium product..

The stretched nacelles do have a lot of flexibility towards the tips which is to be expected since they are 100% plastic but they are finished well. As for the construction, the Discovery is a well-built piece carried by that solid metallic secondary hull and neck which links all the extremities together. You do of course need a ridiculously deep shelf to sit her on!

The magazine chooses a safe path reflecting on the design of the Crossfield class as does the edition included with the -A refit. 

Now for that comparison against the season three upgrade.

A more recent release, Discovery-A marked the first of Eaglemoss' attempts at mastering the detached nacelles issue and they're probably hit it in the only way they could - by adding in more transparent plastic elements. More on that, of course, in a bit but let's start at that saucer section.

For anyone with even a hint of OCD, the Discovery-A, especially when lined up beside it's previous version is a visual overload. The flattened surface of the original is replaced with a textured surface with a dulled paint finish completely changing the look of the starship. It's also wonderfully finished with a slightly worn feel which manages to capture the metallic nature of the beast. 

Worse perhaps is that the decals for the registry are almost indistinguishable from the hull patterning. Gone also are the four smaller struts securing the inner ring to the larger outer and also replaced is the squared off nek section leading from the bridge down to the secondary hull. This is a massive design revision in which only the basic shapes of Discovery have been retained. Those leading edges on the secondary hull are less blocky but still keep their blue grilled segments. 

It's very easy to get drawn into the changes here and not look at the model in perspective. Eaglemoss have got this one down to a tee and lining the before and after up, the two are almost identical in size.

I love the recessed deflector dish of the -A, the cutaway sections from the rear of the secondary hull and the more sweeping majesty of the upgrade that marks the leap of 1000 years in technology. The impulse engines are now slightly reshaped and the shuttlebay appears to have narrowed but this remains instantly recognisable as the series' lead ship.

When boxed in the newer style collectors case, Discovery-A is a rare kit form. Coming in three separate pieces along with connectors and stand, the ship only really comes together once you've pulled everything out. The two engine clasps fit perfectly to a set point on the nacelles which means you don't have one poking out back more than the other and that they also line up identically with the main hull. Further note; the engines are very, very light and flexible - but not too much!

That section again as with the original is metal with the two engines in plastic as well as the rings of the primary hull. As you can also see from the pictures, the -A has a much smoother look to its underside and loses the angular pod look behind the deflector dish  while also seeing the bussard collectors on the warp engines enclosed. 

Here there are no translucent elements just paint striping in a very light blue. Gone too are all the window ports that were raised on the hull of the original and painted in where required. This version eliminates that as well as those distinctive light grey hull stripes and adds weathering to the hull plating that lifts this beyond the flat scale of its 22nd Century overcoat. 

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting a great deal to come from this one because of the notoriety of the plastic engine clips if nothing else. However I've been pleasantly surprised by a ship which has some incredibly intricate surface patterning and easily an increased amount of attention to the fineries. Adapting the design cannot have been easy - as we see from the magazine - but the result is far more spectacular than you might expect.

The visual differences between the two are considerable and so it's well worth getting hold of both. Having them on the same scale is also a plus point. Of the two, the -A is by fat the most interesting to look at - but definitely don't discount the original.

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Sunday, 12 June 2022

The Wrath of Khan at 40: The Classic Lives On

I was far, far too young to watch The Wrath of Khan when I first saw it.

My first experience of the movie doesn't come from 1982 when I was *cough* just two *cough* but from about three years later on a videotaped version from one of the (at the time) four terrestrial channels we could enjoy in the UK. 

It was the first Star Trek movie I ever saw and for a six year old it blew my mind. Honestly, I didn't realise that I was probably far too young for this movie as I just lapped up every scene with relentless excitement and awe. It was incredible, proper space battle stuff, phasers and explosions; Amazing! What more could you want from a sci-fi film? Apart from being slightly terrified by those ceti eels in a very much edited-for-Saturday-afternoon version.

This video was watched and re-watched with frightening regularity because it was and still probably is my favourite film of all time. If I'm right I wore the tape out because it was viewed that often and now I know the film, as many, many fans do, line by line. Each word is subconsciously pre-empted, every nuance and action anticipated but loved all the same.

I mean, The Wrath of Khan's brilliance has endured for four decades and - in fact when I originally started drafting this - I even introduced it to my wife who took it a lot more positively than I expected.

Melissa is in no way (read: any way at all) a Star Trek fan and would be happy if the s**t was removed from the house this instant and burned. But she has allowed it for many years and knows it's a part of who I am. Anyway, cutting back to the point, she watched it and enjoyed it. I might have even heard the comment of 'good film' in there somewhere. Mel has been more akin to the general movie-goer friendly JJ reboots and after watching those she dropped in during my in-sequence movie watch with The Search for Spock coming to realise that the more recent blockbusters merely touch the surface and offer a line into the wider franchise.

Going back and watching The Wrath of Khan was a great experience to see her drawn in by the story, the action, the subtle undertones and admit that it was easily the best of the movies. It was pretty much as I did back in the mid-80's watching Ricardo Montalban chew the scenery for the umpteenth time and eye roll at the recognition of Chekov which is the stuff of Star Trek legend.

is in no way a hard movie to say why it's so good and even the franchise itself has attempted to copy its brilliance with varying levels of success - First Contact and Into Darkness being those polar opposite examples. Indeed it's influence reaches into the writing of The Voyage Home, the writing and directing of The Undiscovered Country and ultimately to the direction of Discovery with the inclusion of Nicholas Meyer into the show's writers room. Heck, there's still that rumour that a Khan mini-series will happen and even in the last episode of Picard's second season there was an ominous reference to Project Khan in the hands of Adam Soong. It's influence cannot be underestimated which isn't bad for a movie that had a fraction of the budget of its predecessor. Think about it for a moment and just how much is reused. The Klingon K'tingas, Enterprise in spacedock, the crew uniforms are dyed rehashes of the ones from The Motion Picture and the two main sets - the bridges of the Reliant and the Enterprise are the same set

Even just with those you would be laughing and mocking a movie if it were made now and rehacked a substantial amount of its forebear but in that respect The Wrath of Khan is unique. The story is a huge upgrade, the stakes are unequivocally raised and slot in one of the most gut-punching final acts in cinema history and the sedentary plod through V'Ger is easily banished from the mind. 

People ask if you can single out moments from the movie which are classics but I find it hard to pull apart what is the perfect Star Trek movie. There is true heart, character and loss in every cell of the film from the opening "In the 22nd Century" right to Nimoy's one and only time recital of "Space; the final frontier...". No other Star Trek movie packs so much into its running time and effortlessly feels like every minute is finely balanced, every line just necessary; no more no less (more on that in a sec).

The legendary six day Meyer rewrite may have given The Wrath of Khan the kick that the franchise needed after the pedestrian nature of The Motion Picture it was a vibrant visual spectacular with those monster maroon uniforms, phaser battles, a submarine-like hunt in the Mutara Nebula and the Kirk/Khaaaaaaaaan exchanges but how come it's endured for so long and how come I still find it my go-to Star Trek movie more than any other?

It has matured exceptionally well with my younger self enwrapped in the action, the explosions and the burning starships but as I've grown older each viewing has brought something new to light and a new angle to view it from; life and death, winning and losing; vengeance and perhaps interestingly, growing older itself.  Like Kirk, I tried the desk job and it wasn't for me and I went back to something that I enjoyed before it was too late (!) and still after all that it still resonates. I might not be watching it with the regularity I managed in the late 80's but there are at least a couple of re-watches a year, even if it's just to enjoy the adventurous James Horner soundtrack.

Each scene delivers and provides almost a mini-cliffhanger as we bounce between the Enterprise, Reliant and Regula One with themes explored at the beginning re-emerging later in the movie without feeling forced. It's an action adventure that carries more weight than you think and barely has the two main protagonists speaking to each other let alone ever physically meet.

The Wrath of Khan really affected my views on Star Trek from something that I watched on a Wednesday night into something that I absolutely loved. I can remember recreating the final battle with my Ertl USS Enterprise which had been adorned with phaser and torpedo damage just as the ship had been in the Mutara Nebula - it was on the TV version of the ship however but my young mind could easily make the jump as the Enterprise rose up behind the Reliant/over the bedside.

Believe it or not this is actually going somewhere because June 4th 2018 marked 36 years since the movie was originally released and it still looks great in every frame and with every spoken line. It has everything you could possibly want from Star Trek and I firmly believe that without the success of this movie there would be no franchise today. The Wrath of Khan is one of those moments where Star Trek actually got it right in the right way at the right time. All the elements needed were where they needed to be and it pounced on the move to the cinema with veracity and energy rather than treading a similar line to The Motion Picture. 

Without the renewed vigour and dynamism of The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek may well have become a sci-fi footnote of 79 episodes and two so so movies whereas instead it breathes life into the show which still exists today. If you were to encapsulate the effect of this story in one word it would have to be ‘monumental’. A moment that is off-referred to, imitated both outside and within the franchise and still as fresh today as it was in June 1982.

Indeed, just think how many references to Augments, Ceti Eels, Ceti Alpha V, Khan himself,
great fictional works, the needs of the many or even the Kobayashi Maru have pervaded the franchise since this point - how many times has it perhaps attempted to regain that moment of "perfection"? Maybe the other way of looking at it is that The Wrath of Khan spawned the greatest period of Star Trek's history but was it also the most polluting factor at the same time with everything being rated against the second movie in every sense meaning that future writers and directors were consciously or unconsciously using it as a base?

Now in 2022 I can add another few paragraphs to my love of this movie because I've finally watched the Director's Cut. The differences are subtle; the nod to Scotty's nephew, slight extensions to a few of the scenes that add a little more depth to the narrative (and an odd one or to that actually remove a touch of the dynamic) but as a whole it still proves that this is a classic. Polished up and with some great extras it's a must to any collection and will more than likely be pressed up against the inevitable 4k Blu-Ray render of The Motion Picture that's recently arrived.

Perhaps back in 1982 there was even more riding on the success of a sequel than there was from The Motion Picture. That had proved the franchise could work on the big screen and attract a good size audience and takings but The Wrath of Khan had to do more for less. This one had to prove that there was longevity to this direction and it did that in spades. Even today there is no other film I have watched or quote more than this one, there is no other movie I have seen more times than this nor one that I enjoy as much on each viewing.

Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan has been revered and imitated within its own franchise walls for 40 years and that love does not look set to dissipate any time soon. Maybe though there is one more thing for me to do with it and that's to see it up on the cinema screen itself as along with The Motion Picture and The Search for Spock it's one of only three Star Trek features I've not experienced in that environment. Fingers crossed it doesn't take another 40 years for me to make that happen. 

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Saturday, 14 May 2022

The Nebula Class: Eaglemoss XL USS Bonchune

Debuting in TNG's fourth season, the Nebula Class would be the first new Federation starship design to grace TV screens since the arrival of the Galaxy Class USS Enterprise in Encounter at Farpoint.

While it is a blatant reworking of the Galaxy Class itself, the Nebula Class would undergo several minor reworkings over its time on screen across TNG, DS9 and fleetingly VGR with the alterations here coming from one of the versions visible during DS9's sixth season.

Ok. Obvious one out of the way from the off, those windows ain't aligning perfectly. I know you expect it however, wise move is that most of the windows apart from the ones at the very edge of the saucer are all decalled on meaning there's no errors there at least. ON the underside, the deflector "squares" are all over the place but thankfully it's underneath.. Lesson learned? I doubt it.

Honestly though, the heavy saucer section of the Bonchune is gorgeous. The aztecing is sharp, lifeboat markings are in the right place and generally line up with the raised hull sections as they should. The ship registry is more than legible with a clear red outline on the numbers - it's all seemingly falling nicely into place here isn't it?

It really does have a great finish which leaves you head-scratching why the D wasn't updated after this. Anyway, we have the more sensible sensor pod at the back rather than the  AWACS monstrosity that was attached to the USS Phoenix or the mini-nacelles of the Melbourne

What I have noticed with this one though is that there are some little paint scuffs and flecks which I've not noticed as much elsewhere. However here along the edges of that triangular rear pod there are a couple. These stand out more because of the light base coat underneath over a darker green/brown segment. 

That said, the pod itself is well detailed with a large amount of grille work plus some very nicely painted up RCS thrusters. Also on the pod, something that I would never have seen or expected replicated - the ship registry and United Federation of Planets script. It's a minor detail but one that onscreen you may never have really seen. Minor kick here is that some of the gold detail has been misaligned and is 50% grey. I would also really like to know the significance of the numbers along the grille edges.

Even the connecting neck section between the pod and hull has been meticulously detailed up with some distinct panel work to the rear and again, the inclusion of a tiny ship registry. The Bonchune feels so very complete because of these touches. The painting in some places (especially around the pod) isn't at Eaglemoss' best yet there's something satisfying about the end result. God, even the fact that my sensor pod is sitting at an angle hasn't put me off.

The distinct aztec over the duck egg blue paint finish continues into the engine pylons. So distinctly reused from the Galaxy Class, the finish is incredibly clean and precise. This isn't shock, it's acknowledgement of a really good job. The use of translucent sections for the grilles and bussard collectors was a standard requirement here and would have made left the model a little flat but hey, they're all in there and look great.

One great touch is the precision job that's been done on the main deflector. Even though this is underneath the ship, the colours don't bleed and each ring of the element is clear to distinguish.

The problem does however lie with a good chunk of the ventral section of the secondary hull because, apart from the Starfleet pennant and the horizontal phaser beam, the alignment of windows and the cargo doors to their physical locations is criminal. The cargo doors are horribly all over the place so if you're displaying, stick this on a low shelf so you'll be looking down on her rather than up. OK, this means you don't see the lovely deflector but it's a price you'll have to pay to appreciate the finer parts of the Bonchune. Honestly, look at the emergency warp core eject hatch and that pennant and you'll see that the aztecing doesn't line up. It's not central and it bugs me to the ends of the earth. 

The accompanying magazine takes a let turn and focuses on TNG's The Wounded. Stepping more into the background of the episode, it discusses more around the prominence of O'Brien, the arrival of the Cardassians and Captain Maxwell than the Nebula Class. There is of course some page space dedicated to the development of the class and the use of the models onscreen both in space and as props.

Final line here; the Nebula Class manages to excite and disappoint with the simple flip of a hull. The top is gorgeous, clean and almost perfect aside from a few tickles that are more than likely issues of mass production. But then the underside of the ship just tosses that good will aside for some inexcusable misses. Is she worth a punt? Yes, but probably when there's a good Eaglemoss offer on because you might be upset at forking out the current price for an XL.

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Sunday, 24 April 2022

XL USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E

Re-released in a shiny, magnetically shutting display box, the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E is still a very sought after XL edition.

Now comfortably packed in a black box with black foam and the standard mini-magazine, the Enterprise-E XL is probably one of those Eaglemoss models that has the most to prove alongside the XL Excelsior Class editions.

Why? Because the original regular issues were frankly poor. The box size restricted the ship, the detail was horrendous and everything just seemed to go against them. In the larger scale there's a lot of room to make the necessary updates and kick those smaller ships out of the way.

In the case of the Enterprise-B this was exactly what happened and I was blown away by the quality of the XL, easily becoming one of my favourite display items. In the case of the Sovereign Class Enterprise-E I have mixed feelings.

Larger in every sense, this is still a mix of three different films, taking elements from First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis to bring her to life. 

Lets start at the top. The first thing to get a handle on is that the surface is no longer as cluttered as its smaller predecessor. That had so much packed onto the small model that everything was falling over itself and the ship was lost underneath. Here there's more space for the ship to breathe and for the details to stand out for themselves. Lifeboat hatches (wisely decalled on) and markings are a lot more identifiable and the windows aren't crammed in with the aztec paint scheme.

That spacing means you can appreciate the scale and detail of the model itself much more easily. Yes, you know I'm going to touch on the point that window alignment is all over the place versus the recessed markers for them and annoyingly the RCS thrusters are a few millimetres out of sync with the hull. Those are fairly big disappointments but because of the issues with the small version your mind is willing you to really, really like it and ignore the flaws.

That aztec paint scheme on the ship is nowhere near as subtle as the magazine cover or the onscreen version might make you think with the contrast pattern dramatically blocked out across the hull. In contrast, the gold and gey patterning behind the bridge and over the main shuttlebay absolutely benefits from the scale increase as you can see the lining more clearly and again it's not clustered together.  There is a dip in the structure around this point which looks like a badly disguised join but at least the shuttle bay is recessed under the dock shuttlebay control box.

So too the plating detail along the top of the secondary hull. This does seem very cluttered but nowhere near as bad as before. The scale again allows this to appear more as a speckled finish than a blob. 

What I can't get my head around is how the more brown finish there and also on the underside of the E hull can be accurate. Everything else you see - including the magazine in the box - portrays this as a more grey colouring in keeping with the saucer patterning. However, on the model it's in a mottled beige/grey that just looks odd and this runs right the length of the ship. Bizarrely the top speckling/aztecing is the same colour but when it's condensed into such a small area there's no doubt it's giving off brown tones.

At the front of the secondary hull we do have the deflector dish, here rendered gold rather than a yellow that was seen on screen. I'm also questioning the colouring of the Captain's Yacht in its under-saucer dock because it's definitely in contrast to the regular edition version.

Onto the warp engines. These are more a replica of the versions that appeared on the E in Insurrection and Nemesis when they were slightly extended hence part of the reason this is something of a "cobbled together" final product.  The design of these pieces is excellent while the finish is a bit more questionnable.

For one, the striping on the pylons is slightly sloppy with the edges of the grey and black lines frayed in places. The bussard collectors are strongly featured and Eaglemoss have utilised their translucent plastics to open up the warp grilles along the top of each nacelle. To the rear there is some nice greyed inset detailing and of course the ship registries at the tips.

Tragically though, collectors will get to see just how those blue elements atop the warp engines are connected since they are pegged from the top in four distinct points. Rarely do we get to actually and obviously see build issues on these craft yet this is one that does stick out in a very glaring position.

In the magazine we focus heavily on First Contact with both the work that went into creating a design for the upgraded Borg and the introduction of the Borg Queen taking centre stage. It's a good read and completes the package by keeping close to the focus of the product which always gets thumbs up from me.

Overall construction on the Enterprise-E is pretty decent and there's a lot of weight to the front. The saucer and the upper "spine" section of the engineering hull are metal here with the remainder in plastic. I was actually surprised just how heavy this one is. Genuinely I want to love this model and also the E itself but the more I look at it, the more I'm not convinced by the design. In turn this might be affected by the paint job that makes it more brown than grey. That warp grille issue also bugs me to be honest and I'm not sure I can see past it.

The details on the A actually worry me less than they do here and while Eaglemoss definitely have stepped their game up from the regular mini version, it still feels a long way off an accurate edition of the Sovereign Class from any angle or movie.

Fans will want this one in their collection because of its screentime and significance but beware disappointment.

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Monday, 18 April 2022

Shuttles 8: It Ain't Starfleet

After seven set of Starfleet auxiliary craft, Shuttles Eight takes us into other territories.

Bringing together four ships from the Klingons, Ferengi, Xindi and Vulcans, this mixed set covers ENT, TNG and DS9 with something of a soup of appearances.

Each of the shuttles comes in its own package within the larger set box and includes a mini-stand, wafer-thin A5 magazine and lithograph print. The stands usually seem a bit of a waste but in the case of both the Vulcan and Xindi ships they are essential for display.

So let's tackle these in issue order. This set covers 29 - 32 which sort of adheres to the timeline of appearances. First up therefore is the Vulcan Shuttle as seen in ENT, more often than not docked with a Suurok Class vessel. It's the most streamlined of the four with some marvellous panel work and spotted detail on the hull. For a ship that was most often seen as part of another it's great to see it up close.

Of course it bears the marks of the Vulcan ships from the NX-01 era in its brown paint scheme and the hoop warp engine. What puts this and the Xindi Assault Shuttle apart from the Klingon and Ferengi options is that these two were CG creations. This shows through in the amount of surface detail they have in comparison to the ships introduced in TNG

The Vulcan Shuttle is by no means a very big craft, probably slightly smaller than some of the Kelvin Timeline (set four) Shuttles but with a more distinct finish. The stand also holds the craft in a certain way so watch out here the "kinks" are and line them up with the indents of the shuttle.

I do like this one even given its small stature because you can still make out the surface detail and the painting actually lines up to what it needs to represent - even down to the light blue of the warp engines on the ring. 

Number two up in this pack is the Xindi Assault Shuttle seen exclusively in the third season of ENT. Used by Degra and later Archer on an infiltration mission, the Assault Shuttle is insanely well detailed with extensive panelling from bow to stern. The metal finish is given a two-shade contrast to help distinguish the hull markings and it works more than adequately. 

The blue and darker grey elements are precisely painted in and assist in finishing off the industrial look of the vessel. The upper weapon spike is the main metal element here and ties the parts of the ship together. Visually you'd be hard pushed to tell what was plastic and what wasn't.

Seriously, the panel work is top class as is the colouring of the blue inset segments particularly up and along the edge of the upper weapons spike which protrudes from the rear. Again, it requires the stand and slots firmly in once you line it up with the half-circle grips. Sadly given its shape it just won't stand on its own.

Even the back end is well-worked with fantastic precision in the shell-like hull pieces leading back to the exhaust port. It is, like the Vulcan Shuttle, stupidly small for the price when you work out the individual price for each shuttle but it is well crafted.

Third, we have the Ferengi Shuttle. Most notably appearing in TNG's The Price and DS9's Little Green Men, the distinctive support craft is one that fans will have been waiting for in these sets.

Retaining the sandy Ferengi paintjob as well as the pincers which echo the larger Marauders, the shuttle is the highlight of the pack. With a two-tone hull colouring, the panelling remains simple but the grid lines are fairly distinct. Given the scale this s pretty nice to see and personally, the craft looks better here than it did on TV.

It's the little details here - the yellow of the warp engines and the Ferengi emblems being just two. The tonal shift on the surface doesn't even make it onto the cover of the magazine and definitely adds to the depth of this little ship. The top segment also includes blue engine exhausts to the rear and also the entry port, both of which are once more very crisply added to the model.

Last in here is the Klingon Toron Class Shuttle. Ok, this one is a bit of a love/hate model. Utilised as several other one-man craft over the course of TNG including Rasmussen's pod from A Matter of Time and the Nenebek from Final Mission, this version is as seen in season seven's Gambit.

Simple, blocky and if nothing else, functional, the shuttle bears zero similarities to any Klingon ships - but then you have to consider that the TNG production team were shaving costs wherever they could.

The pint on this one does seem a little heavy with the sharp panel lines we see on the magazine and on screen somewhat softened on the final product. With only two main colours - brown and black - there's little that can go wrong. Do note that there are some signs of wear on the surface especially around what I suspect are the engine units blocked to the sides and above the rear entry hatch. It's also quite weighty given its size but then the majority of the upper hull is full metal. 

Against the other ships in this pack, the Klingon shuttle sticks out a mile with its plain finish and blocky shape. It's also one that we would expect to turn up in this series but would it have been better as the Nenebek? I guess keeping it themed to different races took priority here.

As noted at the start, each shuttle also comes with a LCARS lithograph print. This was absolutely perfect for the Starfleet/Federation ships but with this selection it might have been more logical to use each of the different races own graphics as part of the illustrations. The LCARS images are also on the last pages of the individual magazines.

Unfortunately and in keeping with the previous 28 magazines, the CG in each of them is first class but there's almost no substance, no background and no design processes covered. I think with these fans would have appreciated a ton more detail on how they all came to be - and just how many redressed that Klingon shuttle had over time.

Shuttles Seven included the first non-Starfleet ship with Cyrano Jones' Spacematic so it was then only a matter of time until we have a series of alien race craft. These don't disappoint for the most part even if the Vulcan and Xindi versions could do with being a little bit bigger. Worth a look, especially if there are some decent Eaglemoss offers on the board.

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Sunday, 17 April 2022

XL USS Pegasus

Unusually for an XL, the name has been changed on this occasion.

The original collection version took the details of the USS Grissom from The Search for Spock while this upsized edition acquires the registry of the infamous USS Pegasus otherwise known as the testbed for the controversial phasing cloak.

Now before we get into how and why that certain piece of technology contravenes the Treaty of Algeron let's see what this huge upscaling of the Oberth Class has to offer.

On first inspection it's easy to tell there have been some key changes to the model that bring it in line more with the screen used item. The Grissom suffered from an incredibly dark paint scheme with blocky, dark grey segments not just around the bridge but also on the warp engines. Those engine panels are now gone and the darker grey has been turned down to a much less glaring shade that works better with the equally dialed down off-white of the main hull. 

Looking at the images of the Grissom from The Search for Spock it's evident that the original collection model wasn't all that aligned. We also have to remember that the Pegasus was the reworking of a model that had been in the Star Trek system from 1983 and had appeared as several vessels during the 10 years it had been used. 

That said, the Pegasus retains a light and dark contrast particularly round the bridge and with the silver elements that cover off the front of the secondary hull but it's more subtle in its appearance.

Windows on the hull are better defined here (but not better aligned) and the deep panel lines of the original are less severe. This in turn lets the aztec paint scheme flow more naturally across the hulls and actually add more detail to the large flat area to the rear of the dome. 

It's the little details too. The striping on the dome and the engine tops has less width to each of the lines but is more precise. The dark grey behind the bridge no longer slaps you in the face with the detail again a more realised blend of colours than a paint by numbers block. 

While Grissom onscreen did have a sequence of darker panels on the engines, they didn't seem to be as glum as those on the first version. Here on the Pegasus Eaglemoss have chosen to keep the units covered with the main paint scheme that in turn allows for the Starfleet pennants to stand out even more obviously against the lighter base coat. Check out the grilles to the back which aren't block painted but instead have each of the vanes coloured in. Big step up on the quality.

Also spot the removal of two darker panels from the pylons and a touch of highlighting just under the grilles to the rear of the engines themselves. Now both that  block on the pylon and the recessed detail panels on the underside of the primary hull are given a light blue paint up that offers up a less visceral contrast. At the thinned rear there has been a removal of, again, the darker panelling and in its place, the aztecing. On my original edition the painting at that point was pretty grim and feathered but not here.

Now, we have to take anything beyond about a third of the way along the Pegasus hull with a pinch of salt since it was all buried inside an asteroid but you can't deny that the painting changes make a huge difference to the look and feel of this impressive XL. 

As for the build itself, all the hallmarks of a revision to the original kit are there. The upper panel of the secondary hull fits more seamlessly, the definition of the warp field generator by the bridge dome is clearer.

On the underside - something that we didn't see clearly on screen - there's an additional Starfleet pennant on the forward silver hull section and I have to wonder if that ship registry shouldn't be the other way round. On the Grissom it could be read from the front while here the Pegasus registry arcs the wrong way. 

The model is pretty heavy too with the majority of that primary hull section coming in metal and the lower hull in plastic. But it just goddamn works in every sense. Ok, some of the screen accuracy versus the Pegasus has to be taken lightly but there's no question that the rehacking of the paintwork alone takes this XL up more than just a notch from the Grissom

Ok, some of the decals and windows on the dome are more than just a little out and this pisses me off royally however the positives very clearly outweigh the negatives. As we saw with the size increase for the Runabout, Delta Flyer and the Equinox, the smaller vessels do receive the best attention and upgrades when it comes to this larger scale. The detail possibilities go to a new expectation. 

I recall when the Grissom arrived I was a little dishearted but with the Oberth Class version because of that colour scheme which made it look more toy than starship. Here that's been obliterated with a lot more attention to that finishing look. Of course the larger size offers more significant panel definition from the off and that in turn just adds to both a more impressive visually and tactile response to the product. 

Let's just say it straight, Eaglemoss smashed it out of the park with this one and by some distance. There's no way I would choose to have the Grissom on the shelf when there's a Pegasus rocking it out (unless I was REALLY pushed for space!) but hands down this is one of those XLs that everyone just needs to get. This is an XL where Eaglemoss have learned, revisited their source material and made some strong design choices.

In the magazine we have a recount of The Pegasus from TNG's seventh season before diving right back into The Search for Spock and behind the scenes material from the key third movie. 

It's a brilliant package and one that eclipses the original by a country mile - quite a contrast to the 2009 USS Enterprise which didn't make that many step ups (reviewed yesterday). One hundred percent a core starship to add to the collection and even if you do have the regular-sized edition it's not even a thought that you'll need to add this.

Check out all our Online Starships posts HERE

You can find out more on the Star Trek Online Official Starships Collection by visiting the Hero Collector website HERE

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