Friday, 12 September 2014

Crowning Achievement: Eaglemoss Special Edition: Deep Space Nine

Ah the wondrous postal service has struck again.

As you may recall from our post on the Vor'Cha and the Enterprise-E, the great UK postal service we call Royal Mail continues to amaze. The delivery from Eaglemoss turned up this week - nearly a month after it was sent and impressively only one model has arrived - Deep Space Nine minus the magazine. That's right, just the station in a box; a strapped box but one box nonetheless.

Which in turn means this review is going to be either a) delayed even more or b) two parts. Let's see how far we get. Even more significant is that this has somehow arrived ahead of the replacement...

Arriving well packaged and supported in foam, this larger edition instantly became one of my favourites of the whole collection. In a word; Brilliant.

Surprised by that reaction? I suspect you might be. In the past we've been accused of being a little on the negative side when it comes to the Official Starships Collection and I want to make sure the record is straightened out - we're just giving all the viewpoints possible. We do genuinely love this series and occasionally we get frustrated by the slight stumble or inconsistency but overall we are more than happy, nay, ecstatic that these ships are available. 

There are a lot of grumbles and complaints about quality and cost and we will give both the positive and negative space because readers want to know exactly what they're getting. In relation to Deep Space Nine though there is no doubt it's Grade A quality.

Constructed for the most part in metal this is a magnificent recreation of the station and well worth every penny. To be frank I could just end the review there; go out, buy it; but I won't. Let's examine her features further.

Being mostly metal, Deep Space Nine is a little heavier than usual but is the first and probably one of the few ships models in the range which won't need a stand for display, sitting quite steadily on the tips of the lower docking pylons. The level of detail here is amazing and places it easily into a class of it's own - and if not on it's own then probably alongside the NX-01 in terms of quality. I'm genuinely over the moon with Eaglemoss' efforts here.

On the outer docking ring we have the exposed panelling and docking ports as well as the three upper and three lower docking pylons again made from metal. On the inner docking ring are the smaller docking arms as well as window detail and the runabout pads. 

The more intricate detail though comes in the central hub - Eaglemoss have replicated the oval windows of the Promenade as well as the sensor arrays perfectly. Some of the finer aerials and masts are omitted but I can understand that from a safety point of view as well as production aspect they won't be the easiest thing to replicate. The other shame here is the lack of windows on the outer docking ring. Considering the lengths gone to on the other sections of Deep Space Nine it was a bit of a glaring omission but it doesn't detract from the overall magnificent aesthetic of the Cardassian monstrosity.

I have to be fair with Eaglemoss, while there are some things I could get picky over, I've been hard pushed to find anything here that isn't of an exceptionally high standard and makes me love this a little bit more. The joint lines are faultess, the pylons all face the right way and are at the right angle, even the circles of the two concentric rings are circular and concentric. She also photographs really well, highlighting the surface detail and key exterior features such as the landing pads and ports. This is quite simply the best model that has been produced. All arguments otherwise are hereby invalid. If you suggest otherwise I'll be forced to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "La La La" repeatedly until you desist.

Size is on her side and making this a regular issue would have been a total waste if not a rule bender - both of which can be easily sidestepped by using the "Specials" umbrella. To be fair there couldn't be any other option but to do the station as the first XL model but it does open up one heck of a can of worms especially when we're talking from a point when nearly 30 issues have been published and only two specials with two more planned - but we'll come to that in a bit.

Turning to the magazine, it's a few pages thicker than the standard issues providing a chunk more info than usual. If you've read or own The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book from 1994 you'll be overly familiar with the content, especially the station design sections but the new CGI images included are stunning to behold.

Now here's a minor confession - I'm actually using the online archive to review the magazine which also means I can drag out some images and talk about what the archive is like to use - and this is all because my delivery went AWOL and I still haven't seen a physical magazine. Just for added note here, while Issue 27, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey from Enterprise has been released, the online archive only covers to issue 26, the Tholian Webspinner and has yet to add a PDF for the JJverse USS Enterprise

As always there's a potted history of the featured ship/station from it's origins as Terek Nor through it's transfer to the control of Starfleet, their loss of Deep Space Nine to the Dominion and it's retaking. The problem with reading the magazine on the subscribers archive is the need to zoom into every page which resets when you turn to the next spread. The pictures are uninterrupted by staples but reading a page does mean grabbing and looking at a quarter of it at a time. It's a little frustrating BUT you do get a good crisp image to view and these copies won't bend or get chewed by the dog when you're not looking. Talking of images there's a relatively unusual one here of the USS Defiant docked nose-first at one of the lower pylons rather than it's familiar port on the outer docking ring.

Flipping over we have a Key Locations double page which includes pics from Emissary, The Wire, Necessary Evil and Duet among others and the average viewer will be more than aware of what places are featured in the show. After the standard three-view labelled diagrams of the station it's into the meat of the mag with four pages dedicated to the creation of Deep Space Nine. As I noted, this has all been seen before but I love seeing how graphic design has changed in 20 years - the quality of these images is incredibly basic compared to what you would see today but that said, look what the result was!

The filming section though does detail more since it can encompass the five years of the series that The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine didn't - especially when you discover how often the CGI version of the station was used (clue - more than none and less than two). Closing off are three key appearances that you can't really argue with and won't pull any surprises (apart from the fact there are three and not the usual two as you would find in the regular fortnightly issues).

It's a comprehensive package for the first of the specials and posting this now seems to be more relevant given the recent announcements that specials three and four will be focusing on the JJ Universe with the USS Vengeance and Klingon Bird-of-Prey from Star Trek Into Darkness. Will we get to see a special that isn't from the reboot? At the moment it would be logical to assume that specials five and six will be the USS Kelvin and the Narada - the latter is giving the Eaglemoss team some headaches due to all those fins and points.

However when the series started a year and three days ago, the prospect of special one being Deep Space Nine did get us all excited that we'd get K-7, Regula One or even the refit USS Enterprise in spacedock as larger models. So what are the long term plans for the specials? 

There does seem to be a lot of ambiguity over where they're heading after the JJ domination and the recent 41-50 announcements have certainly taken the focus away from them but looking back now to the news that Deep Space Nine would be the first of these larger models there could be a suggestion we're getting short-changed. Do the JJ models really need to be on super-scale? Aren't there other ships that could have benefitted more from more detail such as the Enterprise-E or the Excelsior?

Just a thought. Anyway, I had estimated that the third special would be announced around the time the Xindi Insectoid ship was on the shelves and that never happened and now the indication is a November release for the Vengeance. With that ship confirmed at least we know the specials range is going to continue although how it will pan out across the now-likely 90 issue minimum run is one for much debate - and a few more space stations if you will.

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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