Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 - Things to Watch in Year 50

Whoo hooo! Here we are, the final post of 2015 and in our now annual fashion, here's my thoughts on what 2016 - the 50th anniversary of Star Trek - will bring...

Looking back at my predictions at the end of 2014 I got a couple right. There was a trailer for the third movie, we had Green Lantern crossovers in the comics and we got confirmation that the Enterprise-A would make it into the Official Starships Collection. As for 50th anniversary announcements there were very little - a cruise, a special - oh and the news that we'd be getting a new TV series. Talking of anniversaries there were a few hookups of the Voyager cast celebrating 20 years but with the imminent 50th I think a bit of shine was taken off this event.

In regards to fan series, Star Trek Continues smashed it out of the park, bringing two new episodes to the screen with The White Iris and Divided We Stand, both of which were excellent stories. We're still waiting for The Holiest Thing from Star Trek: Phase II/New Voyages which only produced Mind Sifter in 2015. A story produced for an anthology many moons ago, it was a very different spin that brought Brian Gross to the show as the "new" Kirk.

The novels from Simon and Schuster did indeed head into more singular territory after the five book The Fall  series but we did get the third and fourth Seekers stories but the big hitter this year had to be Sacraments of Fire taking us back to Deep Space Nine. In terms of reference the long awaited Costumes book landed and was without question one of the best tomes to come out of the franchise since the Deep Space Nine Companion. Saying that I also think a worthy note has to go to the Captain Kirk autobiography "edited by" David Goodman if only for the note that I stormed through it on a weekend (now there's an endorsement). One final point from 2015's want list -  can we get Deep Space Nine in HD sorted this year?

While not everything did come to fruition,  what were my Star Trek highlights of 2015?

In terms of Some Kind of Star Trek I posted our 400th article and celebrated three years in existence. I managed to chat to Garrett Wang, Starships Collection master Ben Robinson and Larry Nemecek (and fanboyed out both times). The Starships Collection delivered the Enterprise-C plus the magnificent ECS Fortunate and has gone from strength to strength improving quality on the models every issue. Shame the customer service isn't as good as the build quality. Oh and there was that rather adventurous 30 day challenge in October.

One final highlight is having some fantastic and loyal readers and friends who have shared, commented,  written and on occasion hacked a few posts to bits for me when  it wouldn't quite work so thank you to all of you including: my wife, Melissa, for putting up with my constant Trek talk, my son Joshua for knowing all the starship classes on sight at age 3, my Dad for indulging me, Rob Gibson,  Damien Devlin,  Tiffany Groves,  Chris Groves,  Aaron Gallo, the Engage Podcast, the Geek Podcast, Mark Thwaite, Matt Goddard, James Patrik, Nils Walter Khan, James Rye, Dan Adams, Dan Foster, the team at Star Trek Anthology, Tim Hitchin from Esdevium, Rhedd Lewis, Kate Barber, Paula M Block,  Mark Cushman, Una McCormack, James Swallow,  Wil Ross,  David Limburg,  Katie Postma and Elicia Basoli from Disruptor Beam.  If I've missed you off I'm soooooo sorry but your help has been much appreciated in the last 12 months. 

So that brings us to 2016. What can we expect from the biggest anniversary in Star Trek history??? What are going to be the big things I can guess at? 

1. Star Trek Beyond

After a trailer that made it look like The Expendables rather than Star Trek we are promised that the finished product is more in line with the ethos of The Original Series than the miss-hitting Into Darkness. Simon Pegg has aired his views on the action-heavy Beastie Boys blasting 90 seconds we received a couple of weeks ago. Without question we'll be getting a few months of trailers, posters, (viral campaign?) and a lot of other promo work ahead of the July release. Am I excited? Yes because it's Star Trek on the big screen. No - because it's Star Trek on the big screen and we know what happened last time. There's a lot of promise from Pegg but having spotted the Enterprise getting obliterated AGAIN my level of optimism did diminish. For now though, I remain on the fence but other events in the world of fan films may also have a more direct and financial effect. More on that shortly.

2. The TV Series

Is this actually bigger and more important news than Beyond?

Twelve months from now we will be in a total frenzy. We will know the cast, have probably seen the ship, know the plot of the pilot and most likely the number of episodes in the first season. In fact we'll be weeks if not just days away from the premiere of the first new Star Trek series since Enterprise launched in 2001. The bad feelings already coming from fans when not even a frame has been shot is just ridiculous. How you can pass judgement on a show that's not been made is crackers. How big will this be? I don't know. I think it will have a huge audience for the pilot even if that's just because of the way in which CBS are planning to show it but I'd like to kpee fingers crossed that this is the dawning of a new age for the franchise in it's 51st year.

Tick list if you're reading this, Mr Kurtzman - space, final frontier, continuing voyages, Starship Enterprise. Job's a good 'un.

3. Fan Series

I have zero doubt that Continues will wow us all once more with Come Not Between the Dragons which is due Spring 2016 and for the last three years I have always flown the flag for both that webseries and Phase II however I'm very, very excited about three other projects that we'll be seeing more of in the new year. 

I could note Renegades too but after the first one I'm somewhat sceptical and reserve judgement until a more suitable time. In terms of the other big hitters we've seen fizzle a bit, maybe one day we'll hear more from Equinox and Captain Pike but for now there are a few which are gathering pace and interest.

First there's the much-hyped Axanar which will finally make its long-awaited appearance, we need to address Axanar. I had hoped we'd be getting some more footage but recent events have potentially sealed its fate for 2016 as the production team swap the bridge of the Ares for the law court. I hope there is an amicable solution to this which will shone favourably on both parties. For the moment though fans seem particularly anti-Paramount and CBS which could have implications on both Beyond and the 2017 series. However, will anyone outside of the hardcore fandom actually give a monkies and boycott "official" Star Trek? (thanks to +JamesRye for that point).

Second there's Horizon that will launch in February and finally there's the high concept Anthology set to explore three different aspects of the franchise. We're probably going to see Challenger and maybe early work in Mother in 2016 and I know how much passion and work the team is putting in. Must do a review of that trailer very soon... Good luck to all!

4. Merchandise

To say there's going to be a lot is the most stupid thing I could write but well, there will be. There are a couple of items I'm really looking forward to seeing. The Megabloks USS Enterprise looks far superior to the buildable version of the Into Darkness flagship. In terms of a model, the Weapon Zero game piece for Attack Wing has gone top of my "must have" items as both a keen player and collector. In terms of novels, I think that the next in David R George III's Deep Space Nine series, Ascendance, will be a must-read this year after the way in which he left us all hanging at the end of Sacraments of Fire.

On a side note I'm also looking forward to hearing the new soundtrack to Beyond from Michael Giacchino. His work on Into Darkness was easily the best thing about it and I don't expect to be blown away by any of the merchandise that will be associated with Beyond unless it's very, very special.

And finally, for the first time in 15-odd years there will be a brand new, updated edition of the Star Trek Encyclopaedia. Covering the whole history of the franchise it's more than overdue since the last edition only just covered Voyager let alone Enterprise. Can't wait for its arrival.

5. First Contact Day

Maybe a little Brit-centric this one but 2016 will see possibly one of the best Star Trek event lineups in the UK EVER (exception of Destination of course)  at this fan funded convention. Here we go; franchise actors Garrett Wang, Robert O'Reilly, JG Hertzler, Aron Eisenberg, Nana Visitor, luminaries  Larry Nemecek, Doug Drexler, Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch, Renegades' John Carrigan, Babylon 5's Claudia Christian, authors  Una McCormack, James Swallow... Oh and we'll be there too alongside media partners Star Trek Risa, Visionary Trek,  the Geek Podcast,  Trekzone and the Engage Podcast.  Three days of total Trek out in Telford. Book NOW. For those on other continents it might be the 50th Anniversary cruise or the Las Vegas conventions which will be floating your starship in 2016 but for us on this side of the water, this will be the biggie.

6. Timelines 

I cannot wait for this. Having been granted a short chat with exec producer Rich Gallup and following the story as Timelines has developed this is sure to be the Star Trek game of the year. Play virtually any character in numerous versions from across the franchise on board one of many ships and make the game what you want it to be. It's different,  it offers a ton of options making no two games and no two players have the same game.  Gowron as your doctor?  Sisko as ship's counsellor? Intendant Kira as your bartender? You can Make It So.

Graphically there seems to be nothing else close in the mobile gaming sphere even though Trexels gives you space and one on one combat to a degree. Watching the character, ship and mechanics evolve and be revealed has been really interesting since this team genuinely appear to have listened to fans and garnered a lot of information from their testing process. Timelines is as near to "the real"  thing as you'll get on a phone or tablet anytime soon and I believe this could mark a big change in the way Star Trek games have to be produced in the future. We won't accept second rate!

Let's just keep our fingers crossed there's no game to accompany Beyond after the last travesty and that the arrival of Timelines in January is everything we could hope for.

So there's my six things to watch out for in 2016. What are you looking forward to? What will your highlight of the year be?

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