Friday, 20 September 2013

The Difficult Third Issue: Eaglemoss Take on the Empire

Issues one and two were played safe; Enterprise-D and the movie refit NCC-1701. It would have been easy to churn out another Federation starship for issue three but instead they've moved further afield.

Not only does the latest in The Official Starships Collection take us to the Klingon Empire but also to the first "guest" ship with the legendary fan favourite Bird-of-Prey. It's not a curve ball by any means and is still in very recognisable territory however it lets us know that whatever ship it is this fortnight the quality is still there in print and more importantly in the model.

Now hardcore Trekkers and Trekkies will start grumbling that Haynes produced a rather excellent tome last year about the Klingon vessel and they're right, it is superb and we reviewed it. This magazine doesn't retread the same ground and that is a brilliant decision.

In Comparison

The standard format established with the two Enterprise editions still stands with initial specs and background on the B'rel class (smaller than the K'vort). Nothing new here and the pictures offer no surprises, reliving famous moments from the shows and highlighting the features of the ship without going into the gritty detail you would find in the Haynes Owners Manual.

Again though - and we've said this before - the beauty of this accompanying magazine is in the second half of its pages where we get to see how the craft was designed for the screen and how it was filmed. With the Bird-of-Prey it's the story of The Search for Spock, missing Romulans and switching from models to CGI which really captured my attention. I've purposely not included any images from these sections of the publication because they are something that I've not seen before but it doesn't stop there. The Voyage Home, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine all get a mention here in the story of the Klingon craft.

Each time I've opened one of these magazines I've skipped straight to the development and filming sections because there is always something new there and this time the images of the original study model are a wonder to behold. I admit, I was concerned this was going to be a rehash of the technical manual but this was nothing of the sort. That focused on the fictional universe while Eaglemoss have balanced the fictional history of the ship with the real world account of it's creation.

Missing Details

Now then, let's turn to the meat on the bones here. The model itself. Working out which parts are plastic and which are metal is going to become something of a game with this collection I think. Wrapped in plastic rather than affixed to a supersized card backer, that moment pre-unwrap is when I weighed up what was what (yes, lame joke). The central body is the light bit with the wings in metal. 

These are fixed out in flight mode giving a great unshadowed view of top and bottom. The paint job is superb on this little scout but the detail on the bottom is less rewarding to the average fan. On the spec diagram in the magazine you can see the lines for the landing legs, panelling and the like but on the Bird-of-Prey all this is missing. Disappointing considering how the rest of this winged beast has been crafted. Notably with all three of the ships released so far the metal sections are by far the more detailed and intricate parts where all the modelling effort seems to have been focused.

In fact the underside of the hull is the only area that isn't detailed; the patchwork colouring on the top and bottom of the wings is fully realised, the main hull is accurate and with differing shades across the metal skin instead of giving us just a pristine "off the workshop floor" model. There's even dust and grime around the rear of the wings which adds to the level of "realism" in the ship (as far as a fictional universe can be). One point though - I'm not sure the windows on the "humps" needed to be blacked out as they do contrast against the "used" impression of the rest of the model. In fact that worn paint job does mark it out straight away to the two Enterprise starships from the first two issues.

The fixture to the stand is pretty good too with the clear arm slotting into the gap around the warp and impulse engine. It's very sturdy especially considering that it's holding the ship from the back. It's a nice display stance although this does end up a little on the wider side due to those wings.

...And Finally

OK; tongo cards on the table - I love this ship and the magazine this time. It's a more difficult subject not being in every episode or a string of movies and Eaglemoss manage to do justice to this popular vessel. I wasn't too keen on parting with a (cough, cough) tenner to lay my hands on this issue after two discounted introductory magazines but the quality of the result does go some way to easing that monetary pain. Good work team, as a package you've managed to make it different enough to add another chapter to the story of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey rather than saying the same stuff over again. 

The use of the CBS archive looks to be key to the success and provides great new images and background not seen in the main stream before. So far the series seems to be going from strength to strength. Now they've tackled one alien race there look to be one or two challenges ahead such as the Krenim Time Ship or the Dauntless which only appeared in one or two episodes. Filling 18 pages on a Bird-of-Prey might be easy work in comparison.

The third edition of the Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection is available now and you can find out more by visiting the official website.

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