Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Yesterday's and Tomorrow's Today - The Official Starships Collection Issues 46 and 47

This may be my favourite pairing since O'Brien and Bashir in Armageddon Game.

I kid not here Starship Collection fans, because May 2015 brings us both the unforgettable USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C and Gowron's Klingon huge flagship,  the Negh'Var.

Let's kick off with fan favourite, the Enterprise-C. Famed for her singular appearance in the classic Yesterday's Enterprise from The Next Generation's third season, this hybrid design, taking in elements from the Constitution and Galaxy classes may well be one of the best produced models of the entire collection.

A couple of clangers have been dropped mind as I've seen on the Facebook page - one with both nacelles the wrong way round and one poor subscriber who managed to get two Enterprise models and no Negh'Var but we have to sidestep these anecdotal pieces to get right to the ship herself. As we shall see though, delivery clangers are the least of our concerns.

Mounted onto the stand at the rear of the saucer, the Enterprise-C is very close to scale with her predecessor which we saw back in issue 40. Her poise is elegant and Eaglemoss have wasted nothing on this one to be certain. The earlier photos of the model had shown her in a slightly different colour which was blamed on lighting but now we get to be up close it's clear that the hull is a grey/white with sections of the hull - mainly on the saucer - picked out in a duck egg blue. which links the colour schemes of the ships named Enterprise together most firmly in one respect.

The upper saucer only is made out of metal here with the underside of the primary hull, the connecting neck piece, the secondary hull and the two warp nacelles all out of plastic. The metal saucer section gives Eaglemoss a lot to play with here so there's a good deal of focus on the multiple lifeboat hatches, the window lights, the panel lines and importantly the pennants which adorn both the sides of the engineering hull and the warp engines. 

Both sides of the secondary hull bear the full and correct text if you squint and get close enough (so no refit movie Enterprise issue here). In fact there's quite a bit of decalling on the hull and on the engines which is worth checking out. The registry at the rear of the nacelles is quite tight but at least they're on straight. The underside of the saucer registry however is very, very tight against the forward phaser bank but good news is that the decal is clean and there's no tacky print bleed anywhere to be seen.

There's no flashy aztec paint scheme on the Enterprise-C with the surface bearing a blocked blue/grey colouring and extensive window details across both hulls and the connecting neck section. The joint lines between metal and plastic on the saucer as indistinguishable (mine had a slight separation but not a worry) however the join connecting the secondary hull to the engine struts is a little more obvious and not as clean. 

Looking at the warp engines mine do have a slight lean out of perfect alignment which isn't even a concern on my radar since the nacelles have a good, clean finish featuring our favourite transparent blue and red sections for collectors and exhausts. Note too that the deflector dish is in blue transparent plastic and the fit is very good indeed with no flash or evidence of sprue attachment. There's not even a slightly gluey edge but the dish is missing the grey trim which does make it look like an after thought to some degree.

But. And there's a big but coming, that's not the worst thing here and what we're going to discuss will give many fans a nervous twitch. On the Facebook Starships Collection page I lauded praise on the C, saying how it was one of the best produced, top ten material etc but on closer inspection I have to retract my statements because there's one huge omission that will get fans talking and some others which make it fairly incorrect dependant on which ship it's preporting to be. 

Number one - there's no impulse engine unit at the rear of the neck section. Seriously - check out any pics of the Ambassador Class you can find and there's an impulse engine block slap bang in the middle and that's applicable for all the variations that followed the original C model too. It's not that there's a painted blob missing, there's a whole damn impulse block gone AWOL. Once you notice that, there's also the fact that the top of the secondary hull does seem a little devoid of detail with that darker grey strip looking very out of place especially when I started comparing it to model shots that are easy to find through the miracle of Google (or other search engines). But, dear reader, hold your thoughts because I then decided to do some comparisons even further.

The lower sensor platform (the bit in the middle of the saucer underneath) and some of the lifeboat details on the upper saucer are also incorrect to the Enterprise-C but correct to the later Yamaguchi but then the taller pylons and the narrower stern/shuttlebay are right to the named ship we're supposed to have here. It's a total mix and match on this one which, once you get past the excitement of receiving the fabled Enterprise-C, is a huge disappointment because of the inaccuracies. At least the nacelles, underside of the secondary hull and deflector dish do appear to be correct to the fourth USS Enterprise. It might have been better to produce a second variant of this one later with the shorter pylons, more advanced sensor platform and revised bridge module detail. How this has come to pass is anyone's guess however it does appear to be a big blunder. I still think she's a gorgeous model and one I'm pleased to have even with the errors.

Issue 46 of the magazine could only go one way and that was to discuss the Narendra III incident and the classic Yesterday's Enterprise from The Next Generation.  All the CGI images within the magazine carry the errors that are on the model and are clear to see when compared to the photos from the episode. As a one story ship there are a lot of pics from that single appearance but we also get to see the original version as imagined by Andy Probert. This version, which sits more comfortably as the mid-point between Excelsior and Galaxy Class ships, is markedly different to the filmed ship which is closer to a Constitution/Galaxy combo. The magazine this time gives us the story of that vision and of the one that Rick Sternbach developed for the show. 

Rounding off the issue is a good couple of pages covering the making of Yesterday's Enterprise which was more of a mix and match than the model itself but covers the twists and turns of its evolution effectively. While a recognised classic now, the build up to filming certainly suggested it was going to be anything but a brilliant episode due to the number of individuals who had a hand in its writing.

So now over to the second entry for May 2015 and we have the Negh'Var. This model is based on the refitted, beefed up version we saw in Deep Space Nine rather than the "future" version we experienced in All Good Things. We get more pods, less front proboscis and a darker overcoat but at the core it's still the ship that destroyed the Pasteur

OK - down to business here. Scale-wise she's way off with the Enterprise-C being about 160 metres longer "in reality" to start with.  Good point straight away is that about 80% of her is in metal with the upper bridge module, the daughtercraft, warp engines and weapons pods glued on to the main lump. As we've just said, the colouring and detail is taken from The Way of the Warrior but comparing it to the TV appearances is a bit of a nightmare since shots of it are pretty dark so, we'll have to rely on the old model images instead.

Going at the detail, the hull is well painted with all the various radiators, fleet markings and some indications of weathering at the edges which does make it one of the more emblazoned models we've had. The underside is also marked out in full but getting close ups on this is a rarity so kudos to Eaglemoss for tracking down source material here.

I suppose with the Negh'Var I have two gripes which make it just less than perfect. For one the daughtercraft which sits at the rear is just slightly off-centre on my model and secondly - and one that is oddly exactly the same omission that we saw on the Enterprise-C - there are no impulse engines marked out on the backside of the hull. 

To say I was shocked was about right. On both ships from this month we're missing detail and I find it hard to believe that this is because of ease of including these parts since there have been more intricate details and decals included on other vessels right from the Enterprise-D in issue one. Also I might be mistaken but the protrusions on the forward swept wings also look a bit longer and thicker than was applicable for the Negh'Var. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is just a mere blip in the running of the series and that next month's issues of Ablative Voyager and ECS Fortunate will be comprehensively correct. 

By accident I compared this Negh'Var to the smaller and less detailed Attack Wing miniature and the difference in quality is,  unsurprisingly,  staggering. Eaglemoss have attempted a meticulous 360 degree recreation of the ship which we never clearly go to see on screen. Actually the underside is even more heavily decalled than the top with a variety of panel lines, raised grids and those two underslung weapons pods which are very unusual on any Star Trek ship.  But hold on - compare the plan views in the magazine to the underside and the detail of the yellow sections and the impulse engine blocks towards the front of the wing just don't match up. Nor are the grilles along the leading edge of the wing anywhere to be seen. I might let this go however since that edge is pretty slim. The issue with the impulse pods though it's good since they don't extend down from the hull enough. The views do tend to highlight the intakes in all their fiery glory which doesn't translate to the model. 

In relation to build quality, she is pretty solid given the substantial metal to plastic ratio. However be careful taking her out of the plastic tray around the nose as it's firmly gripped. The fitting of the plastic to metal sections is pretty good too although on mine I did notice that the underside piece on the front bridge module was not totally flush and had a little bit of give. Overall it's a decent result and, incredibly the fifth Klingon entry into the series with, I think, only the original TV series D-7 to go.

What the next step of Klingon ship evolution on TV or film would have been we may never know of since the Negh'Var was the last forward advancement of the Empire's designs. After its appearance we would be heading into Enterprise with the recently reviewed Raptor and the reworked retro Bird of Prey. 

The magazine covers the usual back-story of the ship from its arrival in The Way of the Warrior to its subsequent appearance in By Inferno's Light as well as paying service to All Good Things..., a fleeting turn in Endgame from Voyager and a larger presence (literally) in the Mirror Universe as Regent Worf's flagship.

Damage to the original miniature meant that the ship got a revamp between its appearance in The Next Generation finale and Deep Space Nine's fourth season premiere which is represented here in metal and plastic and it's incredible to discover how much of the older Vor'Cha cruiser was used to create it's larger successor - that neck section looks vaguely familiar don't you think...?

A nice addition in this issue is the article talking to Robert O'Reilly around his time as Chancellor Gowron from first appearance in Reunion through to Tacking into the Wind which brought the character's story to a very finite conclusion. O'Reilly's thoughts on the character are very interesting especially in the way he saw Gowron's portrayal originally in The Next Generation to his darker, more power-corrupted self in Deep Space Nine. One point - that picture on page 12 at the bottom isn't Gowron. O'Reilly yes, but the forehead is all wrong so it might be from the VHS board game...!

The designing section here contains some superb photos of the filming model in it's various guises and with parts chopped, extended or painted in a variety of shades of green. Shame that the screenshots from episodes don't allow too much comparison as noted due to their fairly dark nature. The CGI images created for the mag are as usual top standard with an odd pose of the rear end - highlighting that lack of impulse engine detail - emblazoned across the cover.

It's a month of mixed feelings therefore. Back in April I was very excited to be looking forward to the upcoming Enterprise and Negh'Var models but the errors which have been raised do put a dampener on the package. I am pleased with them but I know there are inaccuracies that will bug given the extraordinary level of attention to detail that Ben Robinson and the Eaglemoss team have delivered across 47 issues and four specials on a consistent basis. I'm certain that this will only be a minor setback confidently overcome by next month's two winners.

What did you think about this month's starships? Am I being too harsh here? Let us know below! Want to subscribe? Follow the link in our sidebar to begin your collection today!

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