Friday, 17 September 2021

Shipyards: Starfleet 2294 - The Future

Unless you're a Trek fan living under a rock since 1969, you'll more than likely be aware that Eaglemoss/HeroCollector are responsible for the largest starship model collection in eternity.

As part of the collection each ship is accompanied by a magazine of varied size which contains background info on the ship both in and out of universe.

Collected here in this updated work, we have a lot of reprinted material stretching from 2294 through to the Timeships Aeon and Relativity and the Enterprise-J however HeroCollector haven't been resting on their laurels and have added some substantial bonus bits into this 300 page volume.

Ok, so we can cover the first chunk easily especially if you're familiar with the ship collection. While it only covers the ship in detail as if we are part of the Star Trek universe and none of the behind the scenes work, this book does help with the occasional memory jog plus it cuts down a heck of a lot of shelf space which the huge A4 binders once did.

You'll have some fun flicking back through the First Contact fleet and the ships of Wolf 359 but the huge draw here is that we have vessels included from Picard, Discovery and Lower Decks for the first time ever.

The Picard entry is the rather clunky Wallenberg tug but from Lower Decks we have new CG for both the California Class and the Parliament Class as seen in season one. Their descriptions are on the VERY brief side but even to have them in here is amazing. There's also the Titan now that it's onscreen canon, again thanks to Lower Decks

Perhaps an even bigger draw for fans are the 32nd Century ships viewed fleetingly in Starfleet Headquarters during Discovery's third season both on the namesake ship's first trip there and substantially during the season finale battle.

Having only been glanced in the series, to see these on the page in great detail is another thing. Every single one is a complete curveball and you find yourself immersed into a whole new starship language unlike anything that's been conceived for the franchise before. The detached nacelles are a bit of a trademark now but there's the chance to see all the angles and add in an even more titillating paragraph of background into the newest additions to the fleet. Yes, the Discovery-A is in there as is the Voyager-J and the Nog which means the important ones (and the weird ones) are all covered.

The CG on these new ships is, as you would expect, beautiful and we have several views of each to really cover off everything you would want to see. Unusual doesn't even cut it slightly and I hope that in the future we find out just why starship design has taken such a turn to the left in the 32nd Century. I would be inclined to think that we'll have more designing aspects when the 32nd Century ships are included into the Star Trek Universe ship collection.

Shipyards updated 2294 - The Future book is the biggest starships volume produced to date and covers every Starfleet ship you can imagine and more from the time frame noted. Definitely a volume to pick up even if you already have the original in your library and with more coming in the next few months, this is quickly turning into the must-have reference material.

Starfleet Ships: 2294 - The Future is available from HeroCollector HERE

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An Embarrassment of Dooplers: Lower Decks S02 E05

Mid season and episode five is a mixed as episode four.

Charged with escorting the Doopler emissary to Starbase 25, the senior staff of the Cerritos have been on tenterhooks to avoid upsetting him. If they cause any sort of emotional imbalance then he could duplicate and fill the ship Tribble-like. So you can guess where this is heading already.

What episode five also manages to do is address the not-mentioned-so-far mental reset of Ensign Rutherford after the season one finale wiped his memory. The building of a miniature and fully working USS Cerritos is a high five for a good portion of the fan community whether as collectors or builders themselves. The added bonus that this one helps nurture the friendship between Rutherford and Tendi.

OK, An Embarrassment of Dooplers does revert to the more "favourable" pairings of Boimler/Mariner and Tendi/Rutherford and it only goes to prove how strong the duos are. The latter's modelling tale does weave into the senior staff's peril on the ship while Brad and Beckett's adventure on the surface joins everything back up right at the end.

It's definitely an action packed half hour to get all three strands to tie in with a slew of reappearing aliens from TOS' Tellarites to TAS' Aurelians and even a Mizarian from TNG's Allegiance, the references are now just everywhere as well as right in front of you. 

Background pictures, locations and even items for sale are all picked out from the background of the franchise again with a strong lineage back to TOS in particular. However, it's easy once more to get tied into the minutae and not really focus on those main story points.

An Embarrassment of Dooplers goes to highlight the ineptitude of the senior officers and just how far down the line of importance the Cerritos is. Starbase 25's Captain's Party is the event to be at - everyone's there including Captain Shelby (The Best of Both Worlds) and Thaduin Okona is DJing - who wouldn't want to get on the list? But the reversion to the pairings this week is more about how far they've both come since the end of season one and it's well thought through. Mariner and Boimler have stuff to work out after he left for the Titan while Rutherford feels inept against his former self pre-memory wipe.

Once more Mariner's questionable past is dredged up and causes a few issues on the starbase but hey, transporting a box full of Data bubblebath should be fine, shouldn't it? One - there might be a couple of Lore's in there and secondly...well, that trouble has a way of coming round.

The car chase sequence is excellent, combining the usual Lower Decks humour with some niche references and visual gags with a fast-paced and genuinely exciting scene. Perfectly entertaining, ...Dooplers does what Trek does best and focuses on the characters and their relationship foibles. It's a great one to rewatch and possibly even one you could use to get new viewers into the show.

It's great that Lower Decks is now becoming aware of its own mythos and lineage as much as it's ramming a lot of earlier franchise references into every corner. These characters are growing each week and now there's the chance to develop their friendships and working relationships off the back of the experiences we as the viewers have seen.

While perhaps not keeping within Starfleet's parameters, the last act of ...Dooplers is poetic if nothing more and only goes to cement the link between the four main characters and the senior staff... for now at least.

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Thursday, 16 September 2021

The Upcoming Shows

Star Trek
Day 2021 wasn’t quite the level I expected. 

With insights from cast past, present and future, there was a real sense of heritage and family which was quickly lost in the madness of new footage for Prodigy, Lower Decks and Picard.

With the dust having now settled after a few days, let’s take a look back in brief at the latest news on the handful of Trek shows currently in production.

Slated for a mid-October release, the new trailer for Prodigy finally allowed fans to see CG Janeway voiced by Kate Mulgrew. Focusing more on the discovery of the Protostar and the formation of the initial motley crew, Prodigy’s trailer dropped in some neat shots of the bridge plus a first look at the two antagonists how are hunting for the prototype starship. 

It’s my there are also shots of a new style combadge and LCARS displays on the ship as she restarts. Couple of interesting pieces in here too. One it looks like the Protostar can enter atmospheres easily and land (rather than crash) and may have some form of new land vehicle hidden away in its stores. That new truck is driven by Dal and seen more than once in the footage. 

Also we see Gwyn tied to the captain's chair (main pic, top) which indicates that all isn’t plain sailing between the characters to begin with. 

Prodigy is a real dilemma to me. It’s definitely Trek but I'm not sold on the look of the animation, It's very similar to the Star Wars animation of The Bad Batch which has just aired on Disney+ and could be the first show I'm not seriously hooked into. The whole kids factor and where this is aiming doesn't seem to sit well with me and I have my concerns that it could be The Show Too Far... but then I was utterly wrong about Lower Decks.

Big news here as well because Discovery's fourth season will be hitting screens from November 18th. Why is this important? Because this will be the first time since 2000 that there will be two Star Trek series on air at the same time. The last time it happened was for DS9's seventh season and VGR's fifth.

The trailer for the second half of Lower Decks' second season teased Tendi as a giant bug, the Borg and a ton more. It seems that the show will be continuing its trend of drawing on events and characters from the past in no uncertain terms.

In there we've got Shaxs buried under containers not unlike Worf and a major, MAJOR homage to The Wrath of Khan featuring Rutherford. Honestly, there was so much crammed into that two minutes that only a slow down and freeze frame helped. We are getting something Mirror Universe themed but the best nod has to be the outfits featured in this pic (middle and bottom left) that have been oft mentioned since their appearance in season three of TNG!!!

But this still remains the most consistent and exciting version of the franchise in existence at the moment. The scope is incredible and even this season 2.5 trailer is only going to be a scratch on the surface. Bring it on and bring it on NOW.

That said, the biggest attention grabber for the day has to be the news that Picard's second season will be arriving in February 2022 and that the series has concretely been picked up for a third season. 

We still haven't spotted a single frame of Guinan in any of the promotional work for season two but the trailer here goes a long way to confirming what the enigmatic metropolis-style poster was all about.

While not only having Q transport them into a fascist parallel universe, the crew of the La Sirena are also going to be travelling back to the 21st Century. The recent announcement that Annie Wersching would be playing the Borg Queen have to be in response to the footage that was intended to be shown on September 8th. We got our first look at the captured and disabled monarch who is being kept as only a torso and a head - and the reason why she's in the show.

The Borg Queen is the way to travel back to the 2100's and that also means Sanctuary Districts and Seven of Nine driving cars recklessly. It's a big departure from the worlds of season one and could they be attempting to capture a similar vibe to either The Voyage Home or VGR's Future's End? Both of these Trek instalments chose to go for a "present day" setting with a good level of success it has to be said.

Ok....bit of a drum roll because I was more excited for the news from Strange New Worlds even more than Lower Decks. We knew who was in the cast but until Star Trek Day we were still in the dark as to whom they would be playing. The diversity here is stunning with fans of TOS receiving a huge payoff while also including some new and intriguing roles into the starship mix.

Anson Mount, Rebecca Romjin and Ethan Peck return as Pike, Number One (Una) and Spock respectively but now we know who will be filling out the rest of the main crew. Babs Oluksanmkun breathes new life into Doctor M'Benga originally played by Booker Bradshaw in A Private Little War and That Which Survives. Jess Bush takes on the role of Nurse Chapel which means that there will be two characters on the ship who were originally played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

Celia Rose Gooding has the monumental task of stepping into the early life of one Cadet Nyota Uhura which must be an incredible honour and also slightly scary at the same time. Christina Chong will also be heading in a familiar direction with her playing La'An Noonien Singh. I can't imagine that's a fluke and might suggest some superhuman heritage at the least.

Then we have Bruce Horvak as Andorian Aenar (first seen in Enterprise) Hemmer. Horvak himself is registered blind - another first for the franchise and the first regular cast Andorian.  Finally Melissa Navia will take on the role of Lt Erica Ortegas. For those of you with a deep knowledge of The Cage, Ortegas was the original surname for the part that evolved into helmsman Jose Tyler.

Strange New Worlds
, even from these images, looks to be the most exciting prospect for Star Trek in the 21st Century. Kurtzman was wise to jump on the opportunity following the popularity of Anson Mount's Christopher Pike. His portrayal of the iconic second Enterprise captain was as off the chart as we could have expected and now seeing shots from the new series would seem to back this up as a Very Good Move.

No trailer for this one as yet and it's slated to air at some point in 2022.

What did surprise me was the lack of Discovery material given that the show is going to be back for the already filmed fourth season and an announced fifth. Amazing to think that only a few years back it was the only - the first - of this new age of Star Trek shows, some of which have surpassed the benchmarks it set.

For now let's enjoy the second half of Lower Decks second season and then await the arrival of Prodigy just next month!

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Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Shuttles 7: Heavy Duty

To date this is the last batch of shuttle released and has to be the most diverse quartet of mini-ships produced in the series.

Bringing in the Enterprise-D's Captain's Yacht Calypso, a Docking Shuttle, Cyrano Jones' Spacematic and the TNG Type 9A Cargo Shuttle, there's a bit of every style in here.

The 25th Shuttle entry is its most simplistic in the oval shape of the yacht. Seen in every episode but yet not seen in every episode, the Calypso spent seven years docked in the saucer of the Enterprise only to end up absolutely scuffed to hell when it acted as a brake during the Veridian III crash.

You can see why this wasn't a standalone issue since it's fairly plain (however there were some full entries to the collection that it could have easily replaced) with the highlight perhaps being the undercarriage and entry hatchway. What confuses me a little is how the Insurrection Captain's Yacht and the Voyager Aeroshuttle both got main collection editions but this didn't when it was the original "hidden in plain sight" craft.

Anyhow, the decalling and paint scheme on this flying pebble. All the windows are lined up to their recesses and the decals are nicely placed and aligned. In all honesty it's a good job although there's very little to go wrong here!

The best bit though IS the undercarriage because it's that instantly recognisable circular structure that sat in the centre of the D's primary hull. The way Eaglemoss have chosen to model it though does put the previous version - included as two pieces in the AMT model kit - to shame. IN that instance there were no decals for it nor any real surface detail on the top. It could be displayed just as a piece separate if you chose to have the ship in two pieces but was otherwise non-descript.

On this, larger, version we have the landing legs and docking platforms extended meaning
that it really does show off its most unique feature and doesn't need the stand at all.

The Docking Shuttle is classic Star Trek, looking very much as though it's a huge kitbash exercise. 

We've already had the Starfleet Tug in issue 140 which followed a similar take but this is a little more squat and unusual in its form. Featured in TNG's 11001001, Coming of Age, Remember Me and Starship Mine, the Docking Shuttle isn’t something we got to see very often but plays a big part in Starfleet operations. It’s also the most basically detailed ship in the set and one that I actually struggled to remember when listing down what the four craft were in Shuttles Seven.

It’s just a bit…meh. There’s a one colour paint job, some interesting shapes cobbled together but the overall effect is somewhat bland. Ok, on the screen it might have been great spotting one chugging around in the background reversing in an Excelsior Class or moving some cargo but as part of the Shuttles series it feels like a barrel scraping. What the magazine fails to admit but is in print over on Memory Alpha is that this model was a rough and ready construct built from a robot foot with Gillette disposable razors for engines. Perhaps the most disposable ship ever? The addition of the pennants and striping does help build the illusion but the singular paint work doesn't help.

The inclusion of Cyrano Jones’ ship suggests that Seven was a set that didn’t quite have enough Starfleet options to pack it out but surely there was something with a bit more excitement than the Docking Shuttle?

There is, admittedly a lot to the Docking Shuttle when you look at the various components but all that does in turn is reassure you that it could have been subbed out for something else; even a Ferengi shuttle would have been an improvement (maybe that'll be Set Eight).

Third in here is that Spacematic. Forgive the name because of the four it’s the most interesting. On the rebuilt K-7 for Trials and Tribble-ations it was parked in the station’s shuttle bay and by that became part of canon instantly. 

What makes this so exciting is that it’s the first non-Starfleet shuttle included in this series and it makes you wonder why it’s taken so long to get to this point. The design is completely different to the other 27 ships that we’ve seen and there’s genuine joy in these words as I look over it.

It reminds me of the camper in Spaceballs and Eaglemoss have really captured the travelling trader nature of Jones in the form of his own ship. It too is a little shabby with some wonderful finishing touches such as the pearl blue side pods and landing gear and the mass of engine equipment strapped to the top and rear. It's lovably makeshift and something that we didn't really see in the series. The painting of the main window is flayed at the edges but overall this is a minor glitch in what is a great little craft. The worn out look cascades across the hull and into the mechanics on the roof which are well defined - certainly more so than the instrumentation strapped to the sloped front which is lost under the blue.

I think this one works so well as part of the set because of its unique look and entry as a non-Starfleet ship. There's more colour to it and variety in the styling which, again, Eaglemoss have done a great job with. Note too that this is technically the first shuttle taken from the remastered TOS and only the second shuttle (after the Galileo in Shuttles One) to come from that show.

Finally there's an old familiar in Set Seven with the 9A Cargo Shuttle. It's a beast of a ship and almost limousine in length compared to the other shuttles stored on the Enterprise-D. When I say that, it's in the loosest terms because after some research to refresh my memory of shuttles, it only appeared in the TNG Technical Manual from the 1990's and the Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual from Haynes. I have scoured the internet and aside from that book, the only other place it seems to have been mentioned is in the USS Titan novel Sight Unseen but that's your lot.

The design itself is taken straight off the black and white page from the classic Okuda and Sternbach work that was on every self-respecting Trekkie's bookshelf during that golden era. The pointed nose, darkened windscreen and off-white bodywork are all hallmarks of the '90's vision edged with that distinct red trim and Starfleet emblems. The surface detail isn't overwhelming; kept to a few panels, call outs and thruster points, the 9A demonstrates its purpose through the stretched body and overlong hexagonal nacelles. No bussard collectors here but there are phaser points showing this heavy hauler was ready to defend itself although you can imagine it being a fairly slow, large and stoppable target.

It's not Eaglemoss' most elegant recreation given its form but it does make this the first model of its type and certainly mirrors the thought processes behind its design in "real life".

The mix here is sot on and the introduction of the Cyrano Jones ship heralds a new turn for the Shuttles series. As we now know, Set Eight will be out later in the year and features support craft for the Ferengi, Klingons, Xindi and Vulcans, all of which have been much requested. A good set of ships here and certainly exhaustive of the Starfleet options.

Check out all our Starships (and shuttles!) posts HERE

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

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Sunday, 12 September 2021

Mugato, Gumato: Lower Decks S02 E04

Crossing the TOS and TNG streams,  with high levels of danger and excitement episode four of Lower Decks feels as though the brakes might have been applied slightly.

In brief; the Cerritos is called to Frylon IV where Denobulan scientists have been getting all puffed up (literally) due to sightings of the Mugato. Dispatched as part of the away team, Mariner, Boimler and Rutherford discover there's a rampant market for Gumato horns. On the ship Tendi is tasked with tracking down the select few individuals who have avoided the annual medical including the elusive Patient 080119.

There's a clear moral story here around poaching, rhinos etc which isn't even subtle but somehow the nuances of Lower Decks' humour seems to detract from the importance of the narrative and launches a little too much into Homage Central.

Wow... ok, that was a bit of a shock because I expected to be writing about how amazing it was but no, Mugato, Gumato actually falls apart a little because the show is trying to tackle something fairly serious yet remain true to its comedic/satiric Trek vibes. Not that it doesn't work, but I'm not sure it's fitting of the series model. Ok, the tracking of the Mugatos, the inclusion of this classic TOS creature and the continued rotation of the matchups does work to a degree but did we necessarily need THAT sex joke? Was it a bit too much for once? The choice to have Boimler and Rutherford in control and be the ones to engineer the final act of the episode as a good twist on the Mariner-saves-the-day formula that's evident through a lot of the aired episodes but somehow the writers make them out to be much more incompetent than ever before. 

In a sense, Lower Decks latest episode doesn't do either of the characters justice and makes Mariner just seem ridiculous. Suggesting Mariner was a secret operations agent was always going to be ridiculous and having Rutherford and Boimler both believing it could be true was just as far fetched - as was their lack of knowledge around the Mugato and its venom. Their meeting with the apparent Mugato expert (a Tellarite) is hilarious too with him quickly succumbing to his own stupidity (read five books on them...he' an expert). While maintaining it's humour, this one does carry a few nice surprises and that's one of them.

It just doesn't hold together very well and I can't see the Ferengi changing their ways for a more difficult way to make money as is played out at the end of the story. Everything about the characters feels a bit wrong in this one however because of the presence of the Mugatoos and the Ferengi you tend not to see the implausibility of the episode until a second watch.

Seriously, take a watch back and while you'll be looking out for the usual (and seemingly getting larger per week) number of references, have a breath and watch the characters because something feels a little off.

Then there's the Tendi plot which is very much a B to C grade arc in the episode. While it plays to her exuberance straight away, the big question of who the final patient is on her list is so obvious you know who it'll be before the reveal that there IS a final, unknown patient. I do admit that the fact she's given this seemingly impossible task by T'Ana because the Caitian doctor knows it's a no hope job is clever however she omit to account for Tendi's focus and drive. This is much more true to the character than the A plot with some nice sparring and bluffing as Tendi completes her assignment. It's also not overly seen with her sections of the episode almost clipped into the main thread however it does paralle in pace and does advance the character (there's even a reference in there to just how fast she's changed). 

UPDATE: I've watched this a second time and it's definitely an "ok" episode. The appearance of early TNG Ferengi certainly spices it up especially with a laser whip and the odd element of Quark's wardrobe (these are Last Outpost Ferengi of course...!) but then there's also the clever spin with the diplomacy game that Boimler and Rutherford are playing at the beginning. Now if you think back to any of Star Trek's ambassadorial missions they all tend to end up at some form of impasse. While it's there for dramatic purposes in the episode, Mugato, Gumato parodies the scenario so that by losing and actually having no hope you've jointly won. It's almost as if there's no no win scenario...spooky.

I also really, really liked the pretitles with the Amb-Jistu match leading into the "revelation" about Mariner being a secret agent. The accuracy of the show is insane on every level from the script and to call back to that was fantastic. Seasons one and two of TNG seems to be a favourite to be pulling randoms from - watch out for more!

This one's a solid entry to the season if nothing quite as spectacular as the previous three entries this year. Good mix up in the pairings, rather logical way of bringing it all together in the final minutes and 100% enjoyable. Keep it up Lower Decks!

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Sunday, 29 August 2021

We'll Always Have Tom Paris: Lower Decks S02 E03

A Caitian Libido Post, a Tom Paris plate and the resurrection of a senior officer make for probably the best episode of the season so far.

We'll Always Have Tom Paris not only takes its running time to play out as many Star Trek twists and turns as possible and as viewers would hope but also manages to address its own consistent inconsistencies in the way in which events play out.

Dr T'ana sends Tendi on a mission to acquire an old family heirloom from Qualor II (yes, that Qualor II) as Boimler attempts to get his Tom Paris plate signed by the visiting Voyager legend and Rutherford tries to get to grips with the return of Lt Shax (yes, the one that died).

With an A, B and C story, it's a packed 22 minutes of action but at no point does it feel overwhelmed with story. Each piece lasts out just enough and there's a bunch of laugh out loud moments all the way. 

Tendi chooses to take Mariner with her and there's a fairly blatant nod to the audience reactions to season one that didn't see these two take on any adventures together. Seeing it as a bonding exercise, Mariner approaches it with the usual over exuberance that filled out many of her episodes with Boimler which is the polar opposite to Tendi's na├»ve cautiousness.   

Their mission to retrieve T'Ana's box takes a turn though (as you would expect) that sends us off across two more worlds and a whole heap of trouble that explores a lot of background of these two characters plus manages to drop a load of franchise references along the way from planets to bars to alien races and even long-forgotten emblems. The attention to detail within this part of the episode is meticulous to say the least and goes even further to provide more information on two of the four main characters.

I'll touch on Rutherford's narrative first ahead of Boimler. This is a classic Trek trope all the way. How many times have we seen characters resurrected? Numerous. How many times in The Original Series did it happen and there was no explanation? (Ok, so accuracy wasn't as laser like as it is now...). We'll Always Have Tom Paris plays on this with the inexplicable return of Lt Shax who we saw die a the end of season one. It's messing with Rutherford horribly with the ensign obsessed with how it's happened. Watch out for the lengthy reel through of how it could have happened and tick off all the actual instances mentioned!

Now for the main event and the incredibly well kept secret of Tom Paris' return to Star Trek.

Boimler's fan obsession is nothing short of your pinnacle of, well, obsessive fandom. It's not helped by the fact that a security update to the ship has rendered him virtually invisible to its systems which leads him to the most extreme ways to reach his Voyager (or VOY as he calls it to save time saying it, wink wink) idol and a missing autograph from his plate collection. 

Honestly this was a scream of a storyline and as a whole We'll Always Have Tom Paris felt way too short with the amount crammed into the relatively short runtime. Of all the three threads this is by far the simplest executed but with the biggest payoff with Robert Duncan McNeil voicing the Voyager helmsman once more - as only it could be.

The humour is absolutely on point but episode three feels as though it has much more depth and is deserved of at least a second watch and not just to pick out the glut of references to its series predecessors. It's an episode that at its heart really is about the characters and their relationships with each other. The missed oversight of pairing Tendi with Mariner is long overdue and adds a dynamic to the show that we have been robbed of for 12 episodes. While Boimler's pairing with Mariner emphasises his neuroses, Tendi's arrival beefs up her role and gives her more to do than we've seen since the beginning. 

She's now not just the initial guide to our arrival on the Cerritos but our lead when it come to seeing more of the Orion people and her uncomfortable place within it. For once she's the one with as many answers as Mariner when it comes to resolving their splintered predicament although Beckett is the one ultimately willing to self-sacrifice as usual to save face for her colleague - no, her friend.

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Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The Kelvin Associates: USS Armstrong

Destroyed only minute after they appeared, the Kelvin fleet has made a first appearance in diecast form.

For fans of the 2009 film will recall that the Enterprise was not alone on its mission to evacuate Vulcan but was the only surviving craft.

Over the next few months Eaglemoss will be releasing three Kelvin Timeline starships. The USS Newton and the USS Mayflower will be following with the USS Armstrong hitting the online shop this week. 

Delayed for a month, the Armstrong has a lot of familiar features in place. There's the saucer connected to two nacelles at either edge, no secondary hull and that rollbar carrying weapons or whatever might be needed for the mission. In essence this is a beefed up Miranda Class with a third, longer nacelle planted in the middle of the ship's underside.

As you become aware from the magazine, the metallic finish is to age the ship and ensure that the Enterprise stood out against the rest of the fleet. If the Armstrong is older though, how come its registry number is NCC-1769? Anyhow, numerals aside, this is a decent little model with a fantastic paint finish that reflects a more industrial perception of the universe in the Kelvin Timeline.

The weathered effect on the metal works as well as it has on Shuttles 4 (which we discussed recently) and what I like there is the continued theme across this range of ships. You know where they're from and they all physically and visually link together. Oddly the Enterprise stands out like a sore thumb being shiny white!

But let's stick with the Armstrong here. The registry on the saucer is super legible namely because it's huge. Both the name and number are edged red but overall the detailing on the hull is basic to say the least. You can make out possible phaser emplacements and the RCS thrusters are just about visible but that's it. The bridge module is recognisable but you can see how far they modellers needed to go when they were making the Kelvin fleet since there's not a lot of very intricate detail anywhere. In fact, we know from the magazine that the fleet itself was a mix of bits reworked for the few craft we got to see.

The top of the saucer is rendered in metal with the engines, the ventral saucer section and the rollbar all plastic addons. The engines do have a familiar feel to them as well since they are almost identical to the one found on the USS Kelvin. The third is longer and just a stretched version of the other two. Detail again is sketchy at best but you can make out the exhaust points and the bustard collectors. Sadly the latter are just moulded parts of the ship due to their scale. 

In all honesty though, the Armstrong leaves me a little cold and has also let a tiny bit of concern in as to the quality of the upcoming Newton and Mayflower. It’s an OK model but there have been many far superior replicas done on this scale since day one of the original collection. Even the multiple Miranda variants have been more impressive and this, while it’s a rare chance to see the Kelvin universe fleet, just doesn’t match the Prime Universe quality in any way. I’d be as bold as to say that it shows up just how much of a cut and paste job the other ships in Starfleet were.

The magazine didn’t fair too well with me either. There’s some glossy CG of the Armstrong but under that it’s a recap of the disastrous mission to Vulcan and an extensive (and decent) look through the design process of the Kelvin Starfleet vessels. Reading this does make you look back at the model and perhaps be more harsh towards it but, strangely, my biggest gripe was the use of dark blue font on a black background. With the shrinking of the magazines, the text was already microscopic but now it’s verging on illegible especially the picture captions. Sort it out Eaglemoss!!!

To conclude - a steady and average model backed with an interesting magazine. Not the stuff dreams are made of but an interesting aside if nothing else.

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

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