Monday, 19 May 2014

Hot Rod Starship: Eaglemoss Special Edition: USS Enterprise

Significantly bigger than the original with some seriously curvy new lines, my neglection of the Eaglemoss specials has come to an end as we look to what could be considered a modern classic.

With the first anniversary of Star Trek Into Darkness upon us in May I was lucky enough to receive a delayed 2009 Movie Timeline USS Enterprise. Honestly, I'm impressed and that's saying something considering what I'm going to say.

As regular readers will know I attempted, with some success, to build the Revell kit from the latest movie. It came out OK but this version is so much better in a lot of ways.

The second special edition from Eaglemoss was released the same week as one of our favourite regular issues, the USS Equinox, which meant subscribers and regular buyers had to fork out a little bit more than usual however the result is absolutely worth the retail price.

While the regular issues are packaged in cardboard and plastic, the 2009 USS Enterprise arrived in it's own, larger, four sided box docked neatly inside a chunk of polystyrene. Measuring in at exactly 22cm (8.7') it's larger than your average Akira but you would expect no less from a special edition. But let's stop praising the box and take a look at the ship herself.

Designed off the back of the movie USS Enterprise as featured in The Motion Picture through to The Undiscovered Country it's a look that splits fans as much as the JJ movie itself. I wasn't keen on first glance but over five years I like it more with the passing of time and for the fact it's the only starship I've ever built myself. Eaglemoss have done a mixed job here so without further waffle I'll explain.

This model is screen-accurate to the ship as she appeared in the first 99.4% of Into Darkness (ie pre-refit), as can be identified in that the ship's registry has been removed from the underside of the secondary hull (which you can see is present on the cover photo). The saucer top is in metal while everything else here is rendered in plastic but that doesn't detract from the pure awesomeness of the model. Skeptical we can be about The Official Starships Collection, this is well done however, yes, there are a few bits which are nagging me to say already.

I'll get these out of the way first. The windows on the secondary hull are out of alignment with the indents marking them out; the join between the hull sections (above) are also less than respectable; the lower saucer sensor array is woefully low on detail as are the warp engines which, fortunately, aren't too off parallel as you may fear and nor are they as bendy as the ones on the USS Equinox. However they don't sit completely flush onto the pylons, leaving some of the attaching strut visible.

From the photos we've included it's clear to see that the primary and secondary hulls have both been detailed with the aztec paint scheme but the panel etching and general secondary hull detail is a little substandard but I still like the result. Odd, perhaps, but for the size, scale and cost this is still a good deal. If you want minutely detailed you're going to be paying significantly more or building it yourself. Here we have a very robust piece that has, at the least, all the key features of the latest iteration of the USS Enterprise. If there is one thing that does bug me - and I mean really bugs me - it's the joint lines between the sections of plastic in the neck and also around the shuttlebay and nacelles. Some gaps do seem wide enough to drive a shuttle through. Some of the markings are missing and there does appear to be more grey detailing than anything else. I'm sure there were some other colour decals on the nacelles at the least.

Whatever I say I do still think it looks the part and can't be any worse than the Model That Cannot Be Named which set the lowest bar. Raising this ship as a special is a good - and clever - move since it's not from the Roddenberry Universe and would be in hot demand. Hang on a bit - haven't I sort of contradicted myself here - I like it and yet there's a snag list the length of the Doomsday Machine? 

Well yes, but there's something strangely pleasing about having this model arrive, just seeing it poised on the stand and I'm not sure what it is - maybe it's just the size and the initial impression. The only way I get disappointed is by studying the minutiae of the paint scheme and transfers (or the lack of). Possibly with my modelling "experience" on this very ship it's made me a lot more aware of exactly what should and shouldn't be there.

In regards to the magazine there's nothing to disappoint. The previous versions of the famous starship have had pages, chapters and books dedicated to their evolution and here we finally get the story behind this interpretation. Conceived as a "hot rod", the design team chose to over-emphasise elements of the ship to give it a quirky and different look to the original. The reasoning behind choosing or changing colours (bussard collectors) is explained as are the detailed changes between the two movies - although I would have appreciated just a few lines on what refit adaptations were made at the end of Into Darkness. At a slightly longer 20 pages, just as with the previous Deep Space Nine edition, there's a lot more that can be covered and it's quite telling here although there are no plan views which you would have expected. On the other hand the sketches and images included are much more beneficial and you get a real feel of what the designers were trying to achieve. This had to be an instantly recognisable ship but at the same time be very distinctive and different. Try merging all that together and keep your fanbase happy...

The overall package here is very, very well presented and I learnt a lot from the magazine which is a first in this series. Usually I pick up a couple of points but this was a completely fresh story for me as my understanding of the Abrams universe is limited but improving. Would have been good to get to know a bit more on the interior design but given the tight amount of space provided it's forgivable that the exterior - the model - gains precedent here. While the interior decor does get a few lines there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of page space handed over to engine design, front back and sides. Actually it turns out that these parts are good to read and have some magnificent images to accompany. If you've not already, this is certainly one that you'll be happy to add to the collection. JJ's USS Enterprise isn't the longest serving but it's now a major part of the franchise. Ignoring it's existence at the least is now nigh on impossible. Even I've been impressed here so miracles can happen.

Now that we've seen this alternative, the bet is on that Special Three will be the USS Vengeance. It does seem that everything is pointing to this one which we suspect will launch around Issue 24 (10th July) with the announcement probably due a month earlier via the website or the Facebook page.

Talking of announcements, the Star Trek Starships page on the social media site also revealed that issues 41 to 50 will include the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C, the Negh'Var and for the fiftieth, the classic NCC-1701 - that's 20 issues earlier than expected. Clearly our recent post has everything to do with this announcement....(!). This is great news but then just makes us want to know what the other ships in this batch will be. For those that might not have realised, this also means that the only USS Enterprise's yet to feature are the A and J variants if we're going off on-screen appearances only.

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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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