Monday, 9 June 2014

Out of Time: Starships Collection Issues 22 and 23: Krenim Temporal Weapon Ship and Nebula Class

At first glance you might have been mistaken for thinking Eaglemoss had sent through a novelty pen as part of this month's releases.

Luckily it's not and instead we're treated to one of the best replicas so far - the Krenim Temporal Weapon Ship from Voyager's seminal Year of Hell. Certainly one of the more unique designs we're going to see, the long, thin vessel has been meticulously reproduced from the CGI models originally created for the two-part fourth season story and no fan will be disappointed, even if you're not a huge Voyager fan. 

Rocking in at a touch under 15cm in length, the Temporal Weapon Ship is fractionally shorter than the first issue's Galaxy Class but crafty diagonal box positioning makes you think otherwise. Aside from the rear section featuring the aft momentum conditioners and stabilizer fins, the ship is crafted in plastic and is simply excellent. Notably there is some painting detail missing from the rear section in comparison to the plan views in the magazine (shame) but the remainder of the ship bears a distinctive pixellated scheme which covers every inch of the surface. That does give it a minus point but the rest of the ship makes up for this omission very easily. That back section does carry some detailing in blue around the ion dispersal vent and find which just picks it out of being a solid lump of grey/paperweight however there is only so much you can do with a ship that is fundementally two shades of that colour.

The detailing on the forward momentum conditioners and the temporal shockwave ring is also particularly good with some of the more intricate hull markings highlighted. What does strike you when you look closer is the accurate placing of the blue transparent plastic sections within the forward section.

Given that on previous occasions this has been of varying accuracy (and quality fitting), Eaglemoss should be applauded for this continued improvement in the delivery of the end product. Make a note too that if you're eagle-eyed, this is actually one half-mould twice as both sides are identical. 

Nor are the seams that noticable. In fact I had to remind myself to take a look at them, again with the benefit of 21 previous issues worth of experience.  It really does look good - when you get it to sit straight that is.

The Temporal Weapon Ship employs a totally unique stand design but while the Borg Sphere just slotted onto its base in a second and stayed there, be prepared for a few moments of "erm..." as you try and understand exactly what the magazine guidelines for display are telling you.

Being very back-end heavy, the Krenim's near-indestructible vessel sits with best with the stand angled forward and not as shown on the Eaglemoss site. Try it that way and you might see it perform a triple somersault out of the cradle or at the least, point skywards with it's rear resting on the base.

Opening up the magazine brings us into the story of Year of Hell with a good choice of photos from the two-parter followed by the usual plan views of the ship. I'd love to see more notes on these diagrams as they only touch on the very basics when fans who are collecting will want to have more features pointed out. Twelve notes over three decent size images does seem less than there should. 

What marks this issue out as different to every one previous is the choice to discuss the two versions of the Krenim Imperium's craft from alternative universes. Guess this means we won't be seeing a warship or a patrol craft from these guys in the range anytime soon - or just anytime. The overview on both ships is brief but the CGI images are very clean and clear, showing the distinctive changes in the fleet that came about through the interference of the Temporal Weapon Ship commanded by the impressively named Annorax.

Neatly this sedge-ways well into the Designing the Year of Hell feature. Rather than focusing just on the Krenim super-weapon we get the inside scoop on the challenge to create not only a new ship for a new race but also on breaking apart Voyager herself as the story evolves through the two episodes. The images and sketches alone are worth flicking through the pages and I'd recommend taking a closer look at the detail shown in the battered Intrepid Class ship as you can see corridors, hatchways and even part of the exposed bridge on Deck One. The intricate nature of the finished, crumbling starship is extraordinary and I don't think its kind has been seen anywhere else in the franchise. Being able to compare it to Rick Sternbach's original and equally beautiful drawings is a massive bonus.

Even the final battle and destruction sequence is broken down, telling us why it was filmed in the manner we see in Year of Hell. Rounding it off is a slightly predicable Key Moments page since the Temporal Weapon Ship only appeared in one story but the trivia covering some background information is the bigger draw here. 

Probably one of the best accompanying magazines so far in the collection. In fact I know I said this last month, but this is already one of my absolute favourites and I didn't expect it to be. Eaglemoss knocked it out of the park here and I'm now more confident than ever that their issues have been addressed and the results going forward will prove they aren't sitting on their laurels. Clearly fan reaction has been important to them and this release is sure to secure their place as the best producers of Star Trek ships EVER.

Lending herself to The Next GenerationDeep Space NineVoyager and two movies, the Nebula Class is a Star Trek starship superstar.

Revealed for the first time in The Wounded, the Nebula Class answered the call for a new ship that wasn't just a reuse of the aging ExcelsiorMiranda or Oberth models from the movies.

We could all tell that she was just a reworking of the Galaxy Class due to budget constraints but the introduction of a new type of starship was very, very exciting. Over the years the model and the subsequent CGI reconstruction would receive updates and changes as she became one ship then another. Her arrival in the Official Starships Collection therefore is more than welcome.

Welcome and impressive. More compact as a design than the Galaxy Class, the Nebula Class really lends itself to the restrictions on box size, being more square in form. The metal saucer is 100% identical to that of the larger Enterprise-D although the colour is distinctly duck-egg blue. The sad part is that whoever was responsible for imprinting all the windows did it at an angle so the markings don't all match up with the recesses. Annoying since they got it right for issue one!

However, the secondary hull and nacelles are well made and fit together well. As with the Krenim Temporal Weapon ship on the same delivery, the joint lines are becoming less intrusive with each passing edition. 

For some utterly random reason Eaglemoss have branded up the Nebula Class as the USS Honshu from Deep Space Nine's Waltz. It's a curve ball to say the least as you might have expected USS Sutherland or USS Prometheus (perhaps) - I had to have a quick memory refresh when I opened the box as to where I'd seen her before.

The secondary hull and nacelles are a good, close fit with the latter, once more having the transparent blue and red sections to highlight the warp grilles and bussard collectors. Those nacelles look spookily like they could be found on a Galaxy Class(!). The aztec paint job is a lot more subtle than usual across the primary and secondary hulls while a single shade of grey covers the rear pod, nacelle supports and nacelles themselves.  The issue with the Nebula Class however comes when you turn her around. 

OK, I get that there is a cost implication and that there are restraints on the models and that these are still the best and most affordable range of starships ever produced BUT the rear of the equipment pod support is terrible. In the magazine there is clear depiction of the detail at the back and all of this is missing - the hangar door, the registry, everything - and it's not a small omission however it seems to have been sacrificed due to the location of the seam between two sections of hull. At the top of the support the pod has a little bit of excessive glue which also ruins the effect. I guess I'll have to make sure I look at her from the front at all times because it just looks awful. 

That said, the detail on the top of the pod is excellent, very crisp and clean with all the grills and markings very clearly laid out.

The stand configuration attaches to the warp engine supports and is pretty stable, giving the Honshu that more favourable "suspended in air" display look. Not sure how it'll weather given all the weight is in the saucer section as mine already has a tendancy to lean forward.

The magazine is one that will have the fans raging on Facebook in the next few weeks since there are a couple of questionable points. On the opening stats we have "Shelby" noted as a captain of a Nebula Class ship (USS Sutherland) - a single throwaway line from Deep Space Nine's You Are Cordially Invited which was originally intended to be the same Shelby from The Best of Both Worlds. However it might not be if we step outside canon and refer to Peter David since Shelby features in the New Frontier series. We never actually saw this captain so I'm not totally cool with the mention here anyway as there should be others that could have been named that we have seen. It is a nice little trivia tidbit, almost as good as the naming of the model itself.

Which brings me to another point - was this originally going to be the USS Bonchune? The plan views contain the registry and name of two ships. The only reference to the Honshu is emblazoned across the top of the primary hull (and the cover) while all other markings relate to the Bonchune. In fact all the "new" CGI images here including the one on pages three and four name check the latter. Bit messy there and I'd have hoped that would have been caught before publication.

Moving away from these two points, it's back to more of the same after the diverting contents of Issue 22. Just to emphasise the lack of detail on the rear of the pod support the main CGI image on pages three and four is from the rear. This section also manages to avoid being an episode synopsis, focusing more on the design brief and comparison to the Galaxy Class as well as some key moments from notable Nebulas. No new pics here but I had forgotten that the rear pod on the first Nebula we saw, the USS Phoenix, was a unique, elliptical design with twin support struts.

Six pages get taken over by the Designing... feature this time but there is a lot to cover since the class was probably one of the most developed in the history of the fleet. Considering it's inexpensive origins it's not that much of a surprise that it went through a few permutations both as a physical model and as a CGI construct. Did you know for instance that the window spacing on the saucer was supposed to be wider to indicate that it was smaller than the Enterprise-D? However that didn't happen so it ended up with a saucer the same size. The detailed shots of the miniature in this expanded section are better than the plan views, showing that the rear pod and the saucer here are superbly and accurately detailed. The problem is that one of the images backs up the CGI image to show how much is missing from the rear of the pod support.

Trying to guess the following pages would have proved a challenge this time and so we get a double spread on Introducing the Cardassians who also made their first appearance in The Wounded alongside the Nebula Class. Brought in as a new, recurring baddie since the Borg were never meant to be back often, they certainly have evolved since these early days and you wouldn't have thought that under two years later they would be a major player in Deep Space Nine.

Rounding out the issue are two key appearances from The Wounded and Deep Space Nine's Second Sight although I would have thought Redemption II would have managed a look in here.

Overall and aside from the detail devoid support, this is another step in the right direction for The Official Star Trek Starships Collection.  Each month now is maintaining a good standard but those occasional niggles do keep reappearing and stopping them from being absolutely perfect. That said, I'm more than happy with the final item and the USS Honshu will look awesome among the other Starfleet ships.

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