Monday, 23 June 2014

Small Additions: Hot Wheels Starships

For a while we've known that Hot Wheels were releasing a small version of the USS Vengeance as part of their HW City range.

After several months of waiting it's finally arrived and I stumbled on it by chance in Tesco of all places this week. Now before going any further, remember, THESE ARE NOT BIG REPLICAS!

Usually the confines of the toy aisle are restricted to visits with my two year old son to increase the ranks of his own car collection (never more than a foot away from a Hot Wheels car in this house) but when the addition of a new Star Trek ship was announced there was another reason to hunt through the die cast range.

I had suspected it would be one of the rarer models however there were at least three in the box which means it won't be too much of a fight to get hold of one. Anyway, while we're waiting for the inevitable Eaglemoss replica (special number three I bet), this will have to do and for those on a tight budget or with a low amount of house space, it's recommended.

I already had the JJ Abrams USS Enterprise which was released around the same time as Star Trek Into Darkness last year but the 2014 USS Vengeance is definitely a step up in production quality as you'll be able to see straight away.

With both ships the main body and saucer are metal while the nacelles and struts are a particularly pliable plastic which means they're less prone to immediate destruction once out of the packaging and into junior's active hands.

By no means are these super-accurate replicas designed to be glass-cased alongside your Polar Lights NX-01 but for less than £2 you can't go wrong. The engines on NCC-1701 are super bendy and minimally decalled with some impressionistic battle damage on show as well as atop the saucer. 

For a small model it's quite heavy at the saucer end which also is very basically detailed with the ship name, registry and raised sections. What does let it down is something they rectified with the Vengeance - the stand is a little loose and this tough little ship ends up swinging around all over the place. Now I have road-tested the Enterprise with my sub-three year old son (under supervision of course) and aside from a cheeky bend of the nacelles it survived intact so as a toy it's nice and robust. Good work there, Hot Wheels, but fortunately he's more inclined towards items in your range with four wheels!

The Vengeance is easily a better mini-model with a "key/lock" style stand which keeps her straight, steady and firmly upright. Oddly for a smaller ship the stand is actually bigger. This time the upper primary hull has the aztec paint job and the unusual cut out section around the bridge however the secondary hull does lose a lot of detail due to the scaling of such a large vessel. You can make out the odd "stealth" style bodywork and the deflector dish but being grey/black means it all ends up in shadow under the primary hull. I'll just make sure I'm viewing her from above in the future.

She is smaller (irony) than the Enterprise Hot Wheels toy but the end result still seems to be better - joint lines are hidden and the nacelles don't look anywhere near as out of place as those on the flagship and the detail on them is a step up - and not a spot of fake battle damage anywhere. The underside of the saucer does disappoint on both the Vengeance and the Enterprise with both receiving minimal detailing in favour of model details and copyrighting information. The undersides of the secondary hulls also suffer from some big securing pins which are a necessity and hard to conceal in something this size  - but hey, these aren't collectors items and that's the big point.

For little more than pocket shrapnel you can pick up a teeny tiny model of both ships from Into Darkness and for the young fans who might (and of course shouldn't have due to age restrictions) seen the Abrams movies these are great little tasters to get them battling in their imaginations. I suspect both of mine may well end up being parked on the top floor of Joshua's car garage and I suspect they won't be the only ones that will.

Personal view? They're kind of cute but not brilliantly constructed and are absolutely made to take a bit of a battering at the hands of younger fans looking to recreate the final few scenes of the latest movie. It might also keep wandering hands off those slightly more expensive Eaglemoss or Hot Wheels collectors models that are sitting on nearby, reachable shelves.

The USS Vengeance Hot Wheels model is available in shops. Some shops...Good luck!

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