Friday, 3 April 2015

In the Skies of Qo'noS: Into Darkness' D4 Bird-of-Prey

A departure from the established norm of Klingon ships, the D4 Bird-of-Prey was much smaller than other ships of the Empire.

The fourth special edition and the third to feature a ship from the JJ Abrams universe, Eaglemoss have created another winner with this model.

Stretching over 18cm in width, the D4 wasn't a ship we got to see all that clearly in the 2013 sequel but here we have the perfect chance to know every inch of the design inside and out. She's well boxed too, coming in the usual special special (no typo) polystyrene tub.

Unusually not any shade of green it's a much more animalistic and perhaps more raw than we've seen before in Klingon ships. Remember too that the Klingons in the movie were certainly different, more violent, warrior-like and enhanced in a similar fashion to what First Contact did to the Borg. As with all the larger specials, the scale is a gift to this most modern starship design. Its avian origins are plainly evident in the wing and hull formation but you do have some expectation that someone is going to come along and stick a whopping long neck on it.

That green is replaced with a coat of metallic silver enhanced with brown markings across the upper hull which appear to have some form of symbolic pattern although even in the magazine it doesn't detail exactly why they are in the style used here. Good thing to note that it's not symmetrical either giving a very individual feel to this craft. There does seem a range of disparity between the model and the more greeny/brown picture on the cover of the magazine. In some ways the pics make it look a great deal grimier and more Klingon than the real thing from the box.

It's a pretty hefty piece ship - the first we've seen used wholly within a planet's atmosphere as part of the collection - with the central body in metal with the wings in plastic. Given the scale it does mean that all the sections get the same exquisite level of detail. There's a lot of detail attached to that central metal body aside from the spread wings. The underside "ribbed" housing, the lower plating and the upper skin all encase a core metal structure that gives a solid backbone to the Klingon ship. The stand does fit onto the protrusions from that structure which meet the wings - a good move due to the weight in the central body.

A few of the "add-ons" are a little loose (most notable on the underbelly) however there doesn't seem to be any room for snappage but just keep an eye on the twin antennae on the front as there won't be much give in them.

The wings are the most impressive part of the product here. Once again there's great detail of panel lines and raised fittings across the surface but on the underside it's smooth metal which was a bit of a surprise as I would have expected much more rough detail as with the top. There's also those two inconspicuous weapons pods standing proud on the D4's shoulders which emphasise the deadly nature of this true bird-of-prey that might be the closest interpretation of the namesake ever.

Talking of weapons, the inside of the wing-tip weapons is lacking in detail much the same as the rest of the wing and I would have expected better seeing as this is one of the specials and not a regular issue. Let's make it clear that they aren't plain, just very simple in appearance.

The 20 page magazine purely deals with the design of the D4 and that says a lot about the research in the process here. Several designers took a stab at the Klingon fighter during the production of Star Trek Into Darkness, taking it in many different directions from the oddball through to the more familiar. The big points to take from this companion piece is how realistic they were attempting to make the ship in its movements during the chase with the stolen shuttle carrying Kirk and co and how the ship had to be designed around a light sequence that had already been shot on the soundstage. There was such an interest in the design of the ship that it's interior and events in the movie helped mold its form.

There are images from all of the various concepts for the ship including those from Pierre Drolet who was involved with many a ship on Enterprise. As a bonus there's also some artwork around the development of the Klingon homeworld from the movie which again took several artists to envisage.

This fourth special is a great ship if missing some of the finer, perhaps lesser seen, detail and not one that garnered much clear screentime in the 2013 movie sequel. She's certainly under-appreciated and the special does bring her out of the gloomy darkness of Q'onoS into the hands of the fans. Those who revelled in the action of the JJ era will be pleased to have this alongside their Enterprise and Vengeance replicas while Prime Universe fans will be interested to understand how the original ships and their associated warrior race helped define the hawk-like Bird-of-Prey.

Are you a fan of this new Klingon design? Was this fourth special worth the wait and are you looking forward to the USS Kelvin?

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