Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Profit and Pace

Opinions are certainly split down the middle with the Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection as it nears 18 months since it's arrival on UK shores.

Issues 16 and 17 were previewed on recently but now we can give an even better evaluation of the crab-shaped hull of the Ferengi Marauder and the sleek lines of the USS Dauntless.

The Marauder is not one on my Must Have List but the result from Eaglemoss is actually pretty decent. The mold is good and the hull nicely detailed even to the level that the underside has the imprint of the shuttlecraft conceived back in the early days of The Next Generation. This is a good contrast against the poor belly detail on the Bird-of-Prey from Issue Three so it gets a big thumbs up from us here. Colour-wise there is a whitened/dusty effect to the rear of the cargo hull that doesn't appear on the preview images you might have already seen. Not a big complaint but it does show that these models are being updated even up to publication.

The hull colour and markings have been painted excellently although there does seem to be some detail discrepancy between the illustration in the magazine, particularly around the impulse engines when compared to the rear of the model. I suspect this was fiddly to sculpt hence its "omission" from the lower, plastic hull. Oddly the ventral view of the Marauder is very sparce in detail compared to the model itself. The display stand is another car-crash disaster if you follow the magazine's display instructions and reminded me straight away of the instability experienced with the Romulan Warbird from Issue Five. Slip the clear clip around the front section rather than the rear and it's a lot more stable. 

The Marauder might not be the most often seen starship in the franchise but it's one that couldn't be missed. I would have hoped however that the underside of this model had received the same detailed treatment as the metal upper section. It is perhaps one for the completists rather than the casual fan.

The accompanying magazine does provide some, brief, history to the craft but is more focused on the Ferengi. Significantly for a race that appeared in every generation except The Original Series and the movies, this is their only entry into the collection and as such there's quite a bit to get covered in just 16 short pages. Creation of their look, the change in their motives and characterisation are all here but there's nothing new to add to what fans will already know about the profit-hunting Ferengi that hasn't already been written elsewhere.

That's also the line that we can level at the USS Dauntless which arrives in Issue 17. Hands down I love this ship; all seven decks of her. The design is a classic and while not officially a Starfleet vessel there's hints of what might be in those sleek, bullet-like lines. Damn cool.

If you're familiar with the 1990's book Star Trek Action! then the design history of the Dauntless will be worth a skim read at best. For a ship that appeared in a single episode there isn't going to be much more to add and the content here is just the same as I read all those years back. If you get a chance, it's a good book to get if you can find it (minor plug).

The curve ball in the magazine is that we get a line on the creation of Seven of Nine and the difficulties of that silver catsuit that was just about everywhere you looked when her arrival was announced for Scorpion, Part II. OK, I have to say that some of the tidbits here were interesting and I didn't know a lot about the costume design or the thought processes behind her introduction to Voyager. It's perhaps more of a draw than the details on the ship itself and that troubles me.

While this makes a fascinating read, it does blow a huge hole in the Eaglemoss Starships Collection mission perhaps - it's about the ships not the characters and having a significant section dedicated to a main character wasn't what I expected. It also emphasises how little information there is on the Dauntless in the first place. Mind you, the Seven of Nine story does nicely tie into the episode Hope and Fear which rounds out her integration/origins story started at the beginning of the same year. 

For those of you that are passing fans and liked the ship in it's sole outing you won't be disappointed with this literary addition to your Collection library. Certainly even for the most ardent of fans it'll give you a nice easy to flick-thorough reference point.

Enough about the magazine; let's talk ships. I am massively jaded by Hope and Fear being one of my favourite Voyager episodes. The whole concept of a way home that turns out to be a total load of bull just to get revenge is great and I fell in love with the "alternate" Starfleet designs we see implemented on the bridge and throughout the Dauntless in an instant.

Sadly Eaglemoss won't be providing us with replicas of the interiors (future series perhaps...) but what we do get is the tightly packaged hull and nacelles of the faux-Starfleet ship. Admittedly missing the USS Dauntless moniker across her back end (which is shown on page two of the magazine) I am still giving the result a solid thumbs up. The upper hull alone is in metal this time with the lower hull (incorporating the blue light of the quantum slipstream drive) and the nacelles are rendered in plastic.

One complaint is that the blue strip on the outside of the nacelle isn't flush and I've caught my thumb a couple of times on it (awwwww). No blood drawn but it's annoying and sends a shiver down my back every time! Also there's a bit of sloppy painting on the outer edge of the primary hull where some darker grey has flaked into the lighter grey of the hull - is demand causing issues of accuracy? Well one of my other colleagues also received Dauntless this week and wasn't thrilled that it seemed to be badly fitted together. 

Their concerns over the maintenance of quality in the collection was the first topic of our conversation. So, Eaglemoss, please take note that some of these ships are getting to collectors in the less than perfect condition that we were seeing with the earlier issues. However, it's not all doom and gloom as the paint job is excellent, harking back to the aztec schemes we saw on the Enterprise NX-01. The hull detail too is great to examine, showing up all the lifeboat hatches, panelling and windows which is mainly thanks to the size of the ship in the first place.

It's a great recreation of the ship and I'm very pleased that it's come out well considering how much I was looking forward to this one. It hasn't disappointed and I feel in some ways relived and not as apprehensive looking ahead to the Enterprise-E and Prometheus for example. There were a lot of rumblings about the quality and while, yes, there are some slight missteps overall (and considering demand) the results are still good.  Overall? Two nice additions and a great effort although neither is a patch on the detail and quality of the NX-01. That is still the firm benchmark and the challenge has to be laid down for Eaglemoss to rise to it and hit that mark once again. 

Next month's issues feature the Bajoran Solar Sailor from Deep Space Nine's Explorers and the USS Stargazer fromThe Next Generation's The Battle. Both are single episode vessels (although the Constellation class was reused in other episodes) and again it might be a challenge to fill the accompanying 16 pages. In some respects though it's not a bad thing that we're left in suspense as to how the content will be made up beyond designing the ships. Bajoran mysticism? The Emissary? More on the Ferengi or perhaps the Picard Maneuver? We wait to see.

The Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection is available from newsagents priced £9.99 (UK) every fortnight. You can also subscribe by clicking on the link in the sidebar and head there now to secure your ships.

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All model images supplied by +Hayley Atherton 

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