Friday, 2 January 2015

Finally I Shall Have My Vengeance: The Official Starships Collection Special Three

The title of the post probably gives a lot away here.

Released in November on the same day as the Starfleet Runabout, the "blackship" USS Vengeance became the third special issue to fly from the vaults of Eaglemoss.

Once again the UK mail system utterly failed with this edition only turning up on December 15th, precisely a month after release since my original one went AWOL enroute. Second time and second special that has encountered this "challenge". Incredibly this is the package that should have been delivered a month ago - it's not a new dispatch.

Eaglemoss' Facebook team have kept me in the loop and I think were as surprised when it arrived as I was. So, I did indeed finally have my Vengeance, arriving in its own box within a box in mint condition after an extensive trek.

If we flash back to the USS Enterprise from the JJverse you'll remember that it was fairly light on surface decalling and general finishing detail which, if it had been completed, would have placed it into a different league to anything else produced thus far. Sadly it didn't and while I didn't slate that release, it was a disappointment after the magnificent first special. Deep Space Nine had already proved that these specials were an opportunity to get those finer details in and is still one of the top three releases to date in my mind. Vengeance on the other hand goes against a lot of conventions once you've opened the box.

Packaged up as with the two previous specials, the Vengeance is a meaty model if ever there was one. There are a couple of things that strike you immediately - one; it's black and two; there are NO decals. The surface detail is all painted on to the hull and that original, simplistic design really works here.

The metal saucer section is damn heavy for an Eaglemoss model and the aztec black/blue toned hues define the surface beautifully. The multiple negative spaces cut into the disc just make this thing even more of a beast, giving it an almost gothic, cathedralic (is that a word?!) presence. The detail of the hull and the bridge area is perfect and that clean, decal-free surface certainly leads to a more aesthetic appreciation of the design of this ship. Minor issue here is that my saucer is ever so slightly wonky if you look at her dead on from the front but it took me a day to notice which means it's not that big a deal. On the underside the detail continues however the hatches visible on the enhanced CGI beauty shot on the magazine cover aren't anywhere near as well marked. Mind, I really am picking at small points here but they are things that the discerning fan/collector will pick up on.

I know the magazine says that the design harks to the stealth bomber but I'm more inclined to say it's a distant relative of the F-117 steath fighter given the range of angles and surface textures. Even in a well-lit room it's hard to get a proper look at some of the features hidden on the surface of the engineering hull which made using a flash for the photos a must.

Marcus' battleship has to be one of the best produced models in the range. I can't deny I'm disappointed that the third special is another from the JJ Stable and both specials four and five will be taking the same line but it is a more superior recreation of the ship than the Enterprise was earlier this year. I find her, even as a model, incredibly enigmatic and stunning to look at. I wish that we'd had more time to see her on screen and get the bigger battles that are mentioned. The concept of Vengeance and what she represents all adds to the mythos of a well-thought out ship and one of Star Trek's more surprising yet recognisable designs. All of that resonates from the Eaglemoss creation in waves although that's not to say it's not without it's faults.

Within the magazine there is note of a shuttlebay location on the secondary hull as well as some emphasis on the exterior features. While we can see the phaser drones locked into place either side of the main deflector dish, the shuttlebay is nowhere to be seen. In fact the back of the secondary hull is a bit of a low point with the engine mount joint clear to be seen which isn't a regular occurence on the collection and here it screams at you once you turn Vengeance around. The nacelle struts and well made and painted as are the warp engines themselves, fully cowled for extra stealth maneuvers (apparently moveable according to the mag) and all bearing the wonderful, dark aztec paint scheme. There's no discernable shade difference between the metal saucer and the plastic secondary hull paint jobs either so a double thumbs up on that point.

Sitting her on the stand is a bit fiddly since the body isn't a simple slide-in move however once the rear of the saucer is in place she's ready for display and it's one of the ones I'll be most proud to show off. USS Vengeance is once more sure proof that the later in Star Trek history you get, the better the final collection models become given that they have all come from super-detailed CGI creations and not from long-neglected, long-stored or long-lost models such as we might see from The Original Series or the earlier movies.

The accompanying 20 page magazine answers just as many questions as it seems to raise. It's history is brief, covering the reason for its existence as well as it's key features utilised onscreen in Star Trek into Darkness. The use of a double page to introduce the design process seemed like a struggle to fill pages and could have been used for some plan views which are very evidently missing here. That design process however is one of the most extensively covered in the whole of the series so far, taking up easily two-thirds of the magazine with multiple CGI concepts and from one extreme to another to find the perfect Vengeance

From what I can understand here it was one of the most intricate and lengthy design processes in the history of the franchise which ultimately brought the evil relation of the Enterprise to life in the movie. Add into that a huge section revealing all the secrets of the design that we saw in action as well as more than didn't make it into the final cut and would really have shown off the jaws of this vessel. Had most of these weapons come into play I don't think it would have been accurate for the Enterprise to have survived.

With this huge emphasis on the ship the magazine covers in some detail the final dive of the starship and the thoughts behind how the crash into San Francisco was going to be handled by ILM - which in some way influenced just how big the USS Vengeance would actually be.

As an overall package, this is a great special although it is lacking some of the basic info that I would have expected in a regular issues. Eaglemoss' alternative universe offerings along with those from Enterprise have been among the best and I can only think that the Klingon D-4 and the USS Kelvin will be equally as impressive.

Have you had your Vengeance? Was it as good as you'd hoped?

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