Friday, 4 April 2014

Two Little Ships, Spherical Defiance!


Both Mark and I feel we were born a few generations too late and missed out, on gadgets, collectibles, trinkets and general Star Trek memorabilia... 

How wrong were we! Since JJ Abrams' latest reboot, we have noticed a (small) resurgence in all things Trek; even from days yonder!

This could be a review about the craftsmanship, quality, aesthetics and value for money. But, we don't want to do just that. Sure, there's a hundred and one web pages out there that claim to be the bees knees on reviews about the facts, but where's the opinion? We pride ourselves on giving a true-to-life account of all our Trek goings on.

Make it so?


First up, I'd like to talk about the Sphere, which is a thing of beauty. Not only will it bounce if I drop it, it can also be used as a tennis ball! The only Eaglemoss Star Trek model that holds rights to that claim. Joking aside though, as a subscriber, it is one of my favourites. I like the not so subtle green tints to it, simple yet effective. Although simple in construction, the surface has plenty of detail to keep a Borg fan quite content. Well, content to be happy flying it around the living room making sound effects... Just wait until I get my Borg Cube!!

In Eaglemoss' defence, Borg starships are so intricate and detailed on the surface, it is virtually impossible to reproduce this intricacy on a budget. After reading through the magazine, which also contains the usual amount of fascinating not-so-known facts, that was exactly what John Eaves wanted when designing a follow up from our beloved Cube. When instructed to undertake this venture (indeed a radical departure from his previous creation - the Enterprise E), producer Rick Berman "felt that the surface detail should look really irregular, with no mathematical patterns". It also appears the instruction was given so as not to look too much like Star Wars' Death Star, success! 

Many fans should also remember the Sphere's many appearances from Voyager, however as the meticulous researchers we are, we are a little disappointed with the list of the Sphere's key appearances on both the magazine AND Memory Alpha! The episodes Dark Frontier and Endgame are quite correctly listed... but aren't we forgetting something? Child's Play anyone? Who are we to fly in the face of the official records...

Mark on the other hand feels that something is missing. After having a 20 minute discussion on the subject and nearly watching a Voyager episode to confirm this (any excuse really), I have to admit he may be right. It appears that an 'aperture' is missing. Not something that really bothers me, it's not like my Voyager model would fit inside it anyway, but Mark feels that it is worth mentioning.

So getting into the swing of this reviewing I have had a 'good look' at the Defiant, as per my instructions from Mark. My-oh-my that is one sexy starship. Not since the days of the Oberth class science cruiser have we seen such a radical departure from the norm. The first departure from the tapered nacelles in cannon Trek history. Or as Captain Sisko would have it: 
"Officially, it's an escort vessel. Unofficially, the Defiant's warship, nothing more, nothing less"

So what about the model? My first impression was, 'looks nice, bigger than I was expecting, but I can clearly see it's the Defiant'. On further examination I can see that a lot of detail is missing when compared to the actual CGI version. For example, the impulse engines... These on the model are simply holes in the aft of the ship, whereas on the images, they're clearly not. Then there's the blue tint to the hull plating, not present on many images (or on some, not as defined). The underside deserves some of our eagle-eyed focus, as in various images I've noticed two lights behind the large warhead, presumably running lights - the model seems to neglect them entirely. Maybe a model design limitation? I suppose the various discrepancies could be explained away with the fact that there were, technically, TWO Defiant ships (USS Defiant NX-74205, USS Sao Paulo NCC-75633). In addition, presumably there were many CGI versions produced throughout Deep Space Nine. With all mass-produced models, they can only work with what they've got.

My main concern (besides the usual stand issues that seem to plague this collection), is the 'anti-matter' warhead on the fore section - I appreciate that in the series this was a (never used) 'last resort' torpedo, therefore not completely nor fully attached to the main hull. But on the model it feels... well... like you could very easily snap it off and never get it back on? My good friend Mark is ashamed to admit he has dropped his once or twice, and reassures me it is the first 'piece' he checks for structural integrity!

If by now you've examined, or even overlooked these little snags, you're now onto the accompanying literature, with some very absorbing facts and figures pertaining to this little 'escort vessel'. One truly interesting piece being the early draft of First Contact. Ira Steven Behr objecting to the Defiant being destroyed, arguing it would cause problems for the Deep Space Nine writers, a fact I was not aware of until this magazine.

I imagine that this is going to be a common theme throughout the collection, how much time and detail can go into a mass produced item? Does this affect people's opinion of it? The obvious gripe here is their claim to have these models directly referenced from CGI, fresh from the CBS archives.

Looking at comments on Facebook, a lot of people are concerned with the lack of detail, but this doesn't seem to sway their decision to purchase more ships. Well it certainly hasn't affected my decision, in fact I'm currently looking to sell my other half to make way for my expanding collection.



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