Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Official Starships Collection Issues 40 and 41: Option B and the One Shot Klingon

It seems like an age since we had the Enterprise-B as our header image - in fact it's over a year but her arrival in the Starships Collection was one we were counting down to since it was announced.

Fans were skeptical that this would be a reworking of the Issue 7 USS Excelsior model and while it is the same size and scale as the class ship, it's more than that.

Finely detailed she only managed 15 minutes on screen but Eaglemoss have recreated her perfectly. The metallic saucer section carriers all the hallmarks of the Excelsior Class in the blue/grey detail around the bridge plus the two additional impulse engines that upgraded her to the "B". The secondary hull itself is a fresh mould and those flying-boat curves aren't just stuck on pieces which does place a point firmly to Eaglemoss who have pulled out all the stops to make this very individual - their next big challenge could be making the "A" better than the below par movie refit.

The lines and overall shape might well be a replica of the Excelsior which means that, like the Sovereign Class it suffers from the size constrictions of the range. It would certainly have benefitted from a larger realisation especially to highlight the paint job on the saucer. She's also a little front heavy thanks to that metallic saucer although the detail of the maneuvering thrusters and segment lines is very, very impressive.

Those engines are just as plastic and flimsy as you'll remember from the Excelsior but they do get the upgrade treatment with all the fins and flicks you would expect as well as the reduced nacelle "blues" along the sides but if you compare to the magazine plan view you'll spot that the sides of the nacelles should be a grey colour. Also the ship registry is only featured on the inside edge of the engines not the outside as you might expect. Double points mind, for the fact the engines are parallel to each other and square against the secondary hull. The plastic sections don't have the panelling detail that we see (written that line a few times) that exists on the saucer but the positive is that the paintwork is less lumpy and bumpy and certainly a degree smoother.

Across the primary and secondary hull there is a peppering of darker grey denoting the hull plating which, along with all the other modifications shows that this is a much more comprehensive a model than Eaglemoss produced with the Excelsior. That's not to say that it wasn't a great ship but the Enterprise-B shows a much more meticulous attention to detail and through that the suggestion that the producers of these ships are taking note of what the fans want to see and are expecting from the ships. 

Where you might expect some form of gap, especially around the rear shuttlebay and in the open section that should sit in the underside of the secondary hull they are both filled in and while not totally accurate, it is a restriction of the format and entirely forgivable; nitpick over. From my perspective this is a brilliant model and one I'm considering dropping onto my desk at work for a few weeks. It also means that I'm anticipating the upcoming Enterprise-C even more as the quality just keeps on getting better.

The magazine is a little bit of a disappointment to be honest. It has to be the ship with the least screen time covered up to this point. Effectively the coverage of the "B" has to be a step by step retelling of the opening sequence from Star Trek: Generations which was one of the best bits of that movie. Alongside that minimal exposure the magazine has to rely on images of the Excelsior from The Undiscovered Country to fill out the content. Donating a double spread to the Master Systems Display is certainly different but being followed by the obligatory plan views means you have four pages covering roughly the same material.

The section dedicated to the design of the modified Excelsior Class ship is a great insight into how it had to remain familiar yet at the same time provide something new and exciting for the seventh Star Trek movie. As always this section has some wonderful images from the design process and shots of the model but the lack of material in this issue does show through in that Eaglemoss have filled the remaining pages with a piece on crashing the Enterprise-D saucer from later in Generations.

The Klingon Raptor keeps up this month's "one-off" theme. It probably had about the same amount of screen time as the Enterprise-B in the first season Enterprise episode Sleeping Dogs.

The first new Klingon design since the Negh'Var/future Klingon ship of All Good Things, it evokes all the features of a Klingon ship - the long neck, the upswept wings, the rear engine pod, green; it's all there.

The Raptor model is almost completely metal and very well detailed. It's a lot more precise in its finishing quality than the Enterprise-B as the final paint job appears a lot cleaner than the white on the saucer of the Federation starship. The metalwork is excellent, clean and precise with increased detail on the raised cabling which is very reminiscent of the Bird-of-Prey design from the same era. The detail does emphasise the more primitive nature of Klingon exterior ship design in the 22nd Century; even the underside is perfected again due to that 99% metal construction.

Eaglemoss have coated the hull with an unusual mottled paint effect which works very well with the radiator and venting points raised and emphasised in shades of red which are a little akin to the later Vor'Cha Class rather than the D-7s of The Original Series. Might have benefitted from some of those red transparent pieces in either the warp or impulse engine exhausts.

The finish overall on this one, more than likely due to the minimal plastic-work is "A" grade and makes you wonder just why we never saw the Somraw design in other episodes. With the rear-fixing stand this is an unexpectedly nice piece and one many fans are more than likely to have forgotten. I know I keep saying it but the hull plating and markings on these Enterprise series CGI models is still a step above a lot of the recreations based on physical models used for filming.

Each panel is etched with precision and the plan views are a nigh on perfect match to the ship in the box. I think what really does make this stand out is that thin cable surface detail, the weapon turret and the little marks that bring out the lines of the Raptor. Equally it's the use of space within the structure which add to the impressive overall effect.

If you had forgotten then the magazine is going to be a godsend, acting as an enhanced episode guide to Sleeping Dogs from Enterprise. The usual entrance text rolls back the episode synopsis while interlacing detail on the layout of the Raptor followed by discussion around the writing of the episode itself which brings the whole piece together.

In fact by dropping in the design story of this Klingon ship, issue 41 is a comprehensive snapshot of one episode from the first season of the prequel show. This was a good move on the part of Eaglemoss and could indicate the next step forward as we start to see more and more "one-off" ships from the franchise which don't have a great deal of information on them. In some ways I wish that the Enterprise-B issue had focused more on the Kirk-era scenes and tacked the same line rather than diving off into the Picard-era saucer crash sequence. Of the two magazines, the one accompanying the Raptor is easily the better and more logically written.

Next month we've got the USS Pasteur from All Good Things... and the 8472 Bioship from Voyager's Scorpion. Two classic designs and unusually not one from Enterprise!

What did you think to the latest additions from Eaglemoss? Let us know below!

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