Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Official Starships Collection Issues 36 and 37: Long Term Cannon Fodder and Andorian Greys


The Oberth Class probably has one of the worst service records in Starfleet.

Alongside the Miranda Class it turned up in bits, in rocks or in the sights of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey pretty often and one of the only times it survived was when it showed up three seconds before the credits rolled on Star Trek: Generations.

Opening the usual parcel did show that mine was in it's "pre-annihilation" state without a single piece hanging off. Mega. Love it.

It is, to mis-quote sports fans, a starship of two (distinct) halves. The saucer/primary hull is very heavy, very detailed and decalled up as the first of the Oberth Class ships to grace the screen, the USS Grissom. I would have been disgruntled if it has been marked up as anything else since this is the vessel that made the class famous. Not bad for a model that was only there to get blown up by Kruge. 

That heavy primary hull is of course the big metally piece of this release and is a big contrast against the very light and surprisingly flimsy tubular secondary hull. The aztec paint detail and markings are excellent but I was very aware of its fragility from the second it came out of the box. Around that same issue is the stand fitting itself. Very tight it is but it has been noted to be causing some scratching to the paintwork if you attempt to remove it.

So let's weigh (!) this up a bit more. The Oberth Class is one of the most seen starships of all time, appearing in movies, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine in various states so it's nice to see her at in her prime and the model belays that perfectly. The joint lines are virtually invisible here, well hidden by the position of the warp nacelles and their connection to both hulls and therefore keeping all those glaring gaps well out of sight. For note, unusually there are no transparent plastic sections, even on the microscopic impulse engine at the rear of the primary hull.

One of the other great things about the Oberth Class USS Grissom is it's size. With the Runabout recently, this new vessel benefits from the wonders of "big scale", allowing a much better level of depth to admire. The surface lines are much more defined with the detail sweeping across both hulls fluidly. Yes, it is obvious which parts are made of which material but there is a good level of consistency across the whole ship when it comes to their detailing. 

Two things however have let me down a little with the ship however. One is that the alignment of the window "lighting" on the saucer piece is out of alignment with the window slots (that's not hand-finished) and that on mine the tail of the secondary hull is slightly chaffed, Mind, these are minor points when you take into account the classic design and the overall result which has allowed Eaglemoss the chance to apply larger decals for once and cover every surface accurately. The design itself isn't one of my ultimate favourites however this is a top class replica.

The issue 36 magazine follows standard procedure with overall details on the class with a chunk of photos from its movie and episodic appearances including as the USS Cochrane and the USS Pegasus and briefly (very briefly) covers the building and filming of the original model. Apart from the model though all the CGI stuff on the cover and inside the mag is Pegasus. Nice but a bit odd as the model is Grissom.

Anyway, it does include a great visual comparison between the study and filming models used for The Search for Spock. Sandwiched between those two sections is a great little read on the production of that third Star Trek movie installment - designs that would last for many years after. Due to page constrictions it's not indepth but the photos are good to see and provide some insight into the development process.

Issue 37 returns us once more to the seemingly bottomless mine of ships that come from the four seasons of Enterprise. This is the eighth release from the show and the third in the last four. Issue 39 will also be an Enterprise ship in the form of the Romulan Drone which does provide a sense of Archer-era saturation. Nevertheless it's another solid release if substantially plastic. 

That is the biggest criticism I can launch at the streamlined Andorian ship that actually looks like a ship - it has wings and everything - is that it's about 92% plastic and 8% metal.

Those flashy little metallic wings are that 8% but on the counterside it does have more clear transparent plastic sections if that's what suspends your starship and the hull detail in comparison to the plan views is incredibly subtle with two-tone silver all over. Comparing the model to the pictures in the mag and to a selection of Enterprise screenshots it does appear very accurate to the "real thing" and one more chalked up success for the show. There do seem to be a lot more recessed and embossed details across the ships but there have been more of these that have been light on the metalwork.


The Andorian Battle Cruiser is indeed very light but the lack of metal hasn't detracted from the work that has gone into its making. Indeed there have been rumblings about the drop in quality recently which really shocked me as there have been some brilliant models in the last few months - the Prometheus, the Jem'Hadar fighter, the Runabout to name a few. I would even go as far as to say the quality has improved since there were some proper shoddy releases in the early days where they weren't totally screen accurate or there were some very shoddily constructed ships just to keep up with the unexpected demand.

Admittedly on the Andorian ship we have here the blue engine segments in the pods aren't split in two and the red impulse segments are a wee bit large but the finish is clean, the paint textured and there aren't any pieces falling off. I would also note that on both ships the stand fitting is perfect - and this has also been improving since the early days. Remember the non-stick Romulan D'deridex Class or, as I found out, the incredible falling Miranda Class that I did have on my work desk but had to remove since it fell out every time you nudged the surface.

OK - a brief sojourn into the literary quarter of this release. The Battle Cruiser is very conspicuous and the info within is about at the same level giving very little insight inside the ship. We didn't get much of a look round one of these in Enterprise so much of the info is reliant on the dialogue within episodes that featured it and discusses, on the whole, defence and engine capabilities. 

The views, as you would expect and I certainly have, still lack any level of decent detail for the discerning fan but at least we have a well presented narrative on the return of the Andorians to the Star Trek universe and their sporadic appearances since the classic Journey to Babel. If it hadn't been for one Jeffrey Combs they might have only come back for a single episode but since he's so damn good and made Shran his own, we got more and more of the blue-skinned race.

Trading off space from the designing section was a good choice here although most of the space is taken up with John Eaves sketches. Actually I don;t care because they're always great to see and understand where your favourite ships came from.

Neither the Oberth or Kumari Class ships from this month are high-profile classic designs but they have still come out at a high level of quality. When there is a dud I can assure you it will be highlighted but for December, these have been two very understated models which deserve just a fraction more of the limelight.

In other news we have the Delta Flyer to look forward to in January as issue 38 followed by the Romulan Drone in issue 39. Recently we've also been blessed with the first issue cover pics for the USS Pasteur and the Species 8472 Bio-ship which I've included for reference below.

Included with the magazines this month was also the flyer for the limited edition binder. Perfect for holding those special editions that get pushed out every time you hit a 16th issue, rumour is that demand is already outstripping supply on these so get it while you can.

You can get your collection off to a start now by following our link to the left. The Official Starships Collection releases a new addition every fortnight.

Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr
Pick us out on Pinterest
Add to to conversation on Star Trek: Risa