Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Degrees Kelvin: The Fifth Starships Collection Special

Still keeping to the JJ-verse, the latest special brings the aging USS Kelvin to fans shelving units.

Delivered in its larger "specials" box and foam packaged, the Kelvin is a lot better than I expected. We had been privy to some crisp images from Ben Robinson during the production process but to actually see her is something else.

Well, once it arrived that is because for some reason subscribers had to wait for it to arrive with their issue 58 and 59 deliveries while shop-buying collectors could buy it over a week before.

So to this larger model and the first thing that struck me was that Eaglemoss have weathered the hull - something we just don't see enough of in this series but very applicable to what is supposed to be an old starship.

OK, closer look time so out of the box and onto her stand. It's a rear-saucer fit which is fairly central to the point of gravity so no chance of a planet-fall unless you're an unstable hand with a duster. The clear clip fit into the base is pretty decent too - much better than the Defiant which finally arrived this week. In that case I had to shave a few milimetres off the front of the post to get it into the base. With the Kelvin it's a straight slot-in, no issues and she does display well.

Approximately the same length as the JJ-verse Enterprise, the Kelvin has a lot more detail and looks a lot more complete than the flagship. Yes, the Enterprise was a newer ship but there was a lot of finishing detail missing from that second special which let it down. Here we have the aztec pattern on the hull along with that exemplary weathering effect which lifts the whole model and makes it appear to be as old as it was intended. She's certainly not clean and Eaglemoss have gone to a decent bit of trouble to work in the dirt and grime collected over years of service. Emblazoned on the panelling is the ship's registry in two places - the rear slightly off-centred due to the location of the attached secondary hull and more blatantly the name and number right across the front of the hull. The lines are pretty crisp and does go against the "worn" effect of the rest of the ship. In fact the registry on the magazine cover even has some weathering applied.

The saucer itself is top side metal and bottom plastic. Fairly sturdy all-round and pleasing to see that the detail carries over both surfaces. One thing though - there's missing striping and windows around that saucer edge and a conspicuous lack of RCS thrusters too which is odd seeing as they are included on much smaller ships from the regular issues. The registry too is edged in blue rather than the red which we saw in the movie. Definitely something odd going on here. I also spotted one on Facebook with a terrible join between the two sections and while mine is nowhere near as awful there's still a tiny bit of the plastic section which doesn't sit flush with the upper hull. Not a bit grumble but you do notice it!

The central bridge unit looks pretty basic against the rest of the upper hull with a yellowed out viewscreen and top "blip". The top of the saucer does also bear the huge ship name and registry which must be the biggest in Star Trek history hands down. As to actual surface detail it's sparce to say the least with only a few hatches and phaser emplacements both on the top and bottom. That underside does have a central sensor dome which, in maybe the same respect as the bridge, does seem like it was added, hurriedly, later.

To the secondary hull attached to the top of the saucer and still carrying the aztec paint scheme. They're also managed to add in a couple of red-edged docking ports, windows and more of that dirty weathering. The join between the two halves is fairly evident but on mine the fit is spot on, Perhaps the issue here is more with the limited detail on the deflector dish which is translucent all-blue and does look a bit out of place against the rest of the "aged" Kelvin. The shuttlebay at the rear of the engineering hull does appear to be a separate piece. While not sectioned out it does stand out from the rest of the structure effectively.

Finally there's the single warp engine slung on the underside of the saucer. Longer than the engineering section, it's capped with a clear plastic bussard collector marked out with a yellow and grey cap. Now looking to the magazine this doesn't look anything like the "real" thing so why this scheme was chosen was a mystery to me. At the rear the exhaust point is tipped with another blue plastic piece recessed into the nacelle. I'm not sure it looks quite right but since it's buried inside the nacelle housing you don't see it that clearly. It's also imprinted with a large ship registry which has been crisply applied to either side of the housing. It's actually larger than  we've seen on previous Starfleet vessels and unusually in the middle of the nacelle rather than being at the end. 

The magazine has a few more pages this time but is split into just two sections; ship profile and design. The former takes a mere three paragraphs which allows the remaining pages to be dedicated to the look of the Kelvin. Brilliant choice to do so too because we cover everything to do with its evolution and also its significance at being the first starship to be seen in the rebooted universe. Problem is that the images in these pages show just how limited the model is in terms of its detailing and aging. I suppose we have to understand that there are boundaries to what can be achieved given the retail price. 

The magazine's coverage of the design is extensive in both its narrative and the images we're given are superb, illustrating every step of the creative process, even back to when the Kelvin was the Iowa. Interesting point here that the shuttlebay, the underside sensor dome and the bussard collector get special attention and by default shows that Eaglemoss didn't quite get these three key features spot on. 

The magazine also explores the destruction of the Kelvin in that fantastic opening sequence. The way in which ILM performed the gradual degradation of the cruiser as she took fire from the Narada introduced them to a new process and gave viewers one of the most memorable scenes in the movie and one that promised so much from the reimagining of the franchise.

The Kelvin special is one that we've been titillated with for some time. The ship itself isn't quite accurate and in terms of quality against the other four specials I'd say it's comfortably better than the JJ-Enterprise but not quite up to the D-4, Vengeance or Deep Space Nine. The scale does mean it can be presented with more detail but those blips do mean it doesn't quite hit the mark for me although it's still a nice ship if a little plain - which definitely isn't helped with all those missing saucer details at the least.

Google Images
The next special is likely/rumoured to be the NX-01 refit that was never actually seen on screen but was designed for that "what if" scenario. Looking forward to that since the original NX-01 is still one of the best models - if not the best - of the entire series and has held that esteemed crown since issue four.

Fan of the USS Kelvin special or was it less than spectacular?

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