Friday, 3 October 2014

Another Two Ends of the Spectrum: The Official Starships Collection Issues 30 and 31


The first one of these two really had me stumped y'know.

For the first time in 30 issues I had to look up where this squat piece of brown plastic and metal had first appeared when I saw it on the official release list. I mentally narrowed it to Enterprise but beyond that, hey, anyone's guess.

With a little bit of online research (how did we ever manage with books?!) this craft first appeared in Fortunate Son which was very memorable as you can tell. Actually I'm being quite harsh there because the ECS Fortunate was recently announced as being one of the issues between 41 - 50 which makes it a bumper ep for ships.

Digression over. With the Nausicaan Fighter restraint is key. I returned home, opened the box and then handed it over to my dad who was dogsitting. Just as he was about to lever the ship out of its plastic I remembered a comment from Nicholas Garratt on Facebook this morning that underneath the rear of the ship is a little gun turret - and I'm glad I did remember because that's the natural point your hand goes to when you attempt to pop the fighter out of its packaging.

So what do I think to this one? As a one episode ship it does fall into a category also filled by the Dauntless in that all we have to go in is 44 minutes of screentime and with this fighter it's much less than that I expect. As with all Enterprise releases the detail is precise and it's certainly more unusual in that there are no transparent plastic sections - even on the inboard warp engines which are painted greeny/yellow. Nice to see that the hull is marked and worn sporadically which adds to the effect. I seriously believed this would be the weaker of the two releases in October however I seem to have been in error as the finished result holds up well and looks better than the marketing image on the website - unlike last time's Maquis Raider.

Comparing the ship to the image in the magazine there's more detail on the model than there is on the pictures with the ship showing up more hull plating lines although it does appear darker in the flesh than on the page. While it's not the most popular of models judging from the feedback on the collection's Facebook page, you can't help but (again) be impressed with this new Enterprise release (again).

The entire top section of the Nausicaan fighter is metal while the underside insert comes in plastic with the only minor disappointment being the thickness of the aerials and cannons which are moulded in that section. However, from a breakage and safety point of view I can see why they are a little more bulked out than the magazine views show. She is a bit of a lump but the finish is superb and with the rear-locking stand being one of the best fits, there's no concern that gravity might play a part in those antennae becoming a lot shorter very quickly.

It's aquatic origins are fairly glaring in the shape of the hull but there's also a somewhat retro feel through the flaring and excesses on the hull shaping. Nice to note that Eaglemoss managed to mark the cockpit windows in the right place this month. There is a bit of flash around the antennae and cannons on close inspection but this doesn't detract from the solid quality of the issue 30 starship. Mind, there has been a spate of fighters recently (Jem'Hadar, Maquis and now this one) although that looks to be over for the foreseeable future.

Over to the literature and with this being a "one-off" content was most certainly going toswing slightly off topic. The background on the ship is good but more reliant on information about the Nausicaans themselves than the fighter craft they used and also has only Fortunate Son to use as reference material onscreen. Indeed the Nausicaans, as you soon realise, were not big players which is probably why there's a nice section talking about the visual effects of Enterprise rather than stringing out and watering down the appropriate material. As it is, there's a picture of two fighters close to their base asteroid which is repeated on two separate pages. Whoops.

The VFX section is a great addition this month and not an area of the show I was ever familiar with. It is brief and could do with its own book (publishers take note) but there are a couple of trade secrets revealed and you realise that Enterprise was a very different beast to the other four series that preceded it at least in this respect. My question for the issue on ECS Fortunate Son is how are you going to fill those pages without repeating some of the material we've got here? By the way, I won't ruin the surprise of which episode is listed in the Key Appearances section.

The second release which will be hitting shelves mid-October is the Romulan Valdore from Star Trek Nemesis - just about as far at the other end of the Star Trek universe as you can go seeing as this ship appeared in the closing scenes of the tenth movie. 

My dad did the "where the heck is this from?" furrowed brow when I said it was coming out but then got quite excited as he realised it was a Romulan design and would probably look pretty sweet alongside his Warbird from issue six. I may rent it out. Possibly.

The Valdore is an elegant vessel and, like the Enterprise-D to the Enterprise-E there's hints at a stretched D'deridex class minus that lower hull section. Looking at her now it also does suggest a close relationship with the Klingon Bird of Prey through the style of wings and lengthy neck/head section. That said, the familiar darker green hull and more rounded features does remind you of the familiar Romulan style. For once we have a "later era" ship that features some incredible hull detail in every possible orifice from prow to stern. Every surface has a marking, a line, a recess or a window both ventral and dorsal and matches up well with the narrative in the issue 31 magazine.

The lines of the hull and the double-wing are absolutely meticulous in their construction, retaining both the open hull trademark of the D'deridex class as well as the legendary lines of the should-have-been-Romulan Bird of Prey from Star Trek III. Those double warp nacelles are a great touch and pretty well attached - as is the stand when you dock the Valdore. This is another one that won't have to worry about the Fall of Fate from you display shelves with a mightily snugg fit around her rear end. This warbird is definitely one of the more stunning - and wide - releases but has been presented in a far superior manner to the Enterprise-E which is a shame although scale has a deft hand to play in that I'm certain.

She's also fairly light in comparison to the Nausicaan fighter with only the forward neck section and top central hull rendered in metal. There is a joint slightly out of alignment at the back of the neck where it meets the engineering hull but that's hidden underneath. Overall though I have given it the official SKoST nod of approval and now suggests that if a ship is from a less adored piece of the franchise the model will be better than you expected - and better than some of the ones you did want.

Turning to the pages of issue 31 it's like a whole new story covering one of the lesser featured starships. If you recall, the Valdore makes it's appearance almost at the end of Nemesis and then only to get pummelled by the Schimitar and buy the Enterprise some time. This issue does fill out the details on its design but as with the Nausicaan fighter the overview of the ship is very limited in parallel with its screentime. There's a note on the reason behind those two pairs of warp nacelles but the section does fall into the plot of Nemesis very easily once this more unusual feature is explained.

There is a first within this edition though in that we're treated (if that's the right turn of phrase) to an interview with writer John Logan who penned Star Trek Nemesis with assistance from, among others, Rick Berman, Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart. Regarded by many as the worst The Next Generation movie and possibly one of the worst of the ten films in the Prime Universe, I was fascinated to see Logan's thought processes even if, as always, the interview was confined to four (half) pages and some big pictures to space fill. I think I'd like to speak to Logan and get a lot more in depth about what actually happened as here we only get the lightest touch of the surface. Aside from a couple of gorgeous CGI shots the pictures are a bit disappointing, coming as you would expect, from Nemesis alone.

As both of this month's ships were 100% CGI creations the Valdore doesn't get a filming section but there is a superb piece which tells of how two separate designers were tasked with bringing something new to the game for the Romulans to use. When you consider that it was 1988 when the D'deridex class first appeared in The Neutral Zone it was a long time coming. Examining the CGI render here and comparing it to the model really does show how precise the Eaglemoss production has been. Now all I need is a second one in bronze and the Schimitar...not much to ask.

Perhaps even bigger news was the additional in some deliveries this month of the flyer for the USS Vengeance which we'll be seeing around the 30th October. Thanks to Chris Warnes on Facebook for posting this up! This is massive news and for some reason either it's got into a few deliveries by error or most of us missed it?!

For those of you who might not have noticed, the collection website got an update on Thursday 2nd October with a whole new selection of 360 degree virtual tours of every ship up to issue 35 which is the Klingon Bird of Prey from Enterprise. I've included the four we have yet to see in stills below for reference. This means that next month we'll be getting two Deep Space Nine releases (yay!) with the Runabout and the Cardassian Hideki class.

Also remember that if you're heading along to Destination Star Trek this weekend you'll get to see the new models for issues 50 through to 55 on Stand Three!

Starfleet Runabout

Cardassian Hideki Class

Vulcan Surok Class

Klingon Bird of Prey 2252
What are your thoughts on this month's issues? Drop us a line below and let's discuss!

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