Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Four by Four: The Shuttles Special Pack

Aaaaah Germany, how we envied you when it was announced that for a bit more dough you would be able to receive four shuttlecraft models.

Then how psyched were we in the UK to discover that these shuttles would be packaged up for us in one box and available before Christmas. The price was a little higher than expected but with a cunning code there was a decent discount and through the postal service they came (on the second attempt so thanks to whoever nicked my first set).

Presentation-wise it's a bit woeful with simply a shiny cardboard sleeve holding the four regular-sized shuttle boxes together. The magazines come loose inside the sleeve and every expense has been spared for your £75 if you paid full price.

Let's start as we should, right back at the beginning and the Galileo from The Original Series. Introduced mid-season meaning that Sulu had to freeze his ass off in The Enemy Within since the transporter was broken, the Galileo was a box with warp engines, nothing more or less made by AMT to satisfy the series and give them a model to flog.  In its mini form here Eaglemoss have done a great job reproducing the flat, simplistic lines of the craft as well as the signature rear landing leg and tiny twin warp nacelles.

Impressively the nacelles even have translucent bussard collectors which I was surprised to see on something of this scale although they did manage it on the Antares too. Including the Galileo is a bit of a must for this set especially with the recent (from issue 50 onwards really) inclusion of ships from the 1966-1969 classic series. I really do appreciate the finish here, the plain paint job and I have to say it's a brilliant - if expensive - reproduction and one that I would say is essential to any collection. Build-wise there's very little to complain about and even moreso to laud given the smaller scale. There were no bad joins, uneven surfaces, scuffs or cracks anywhere. The fit together was seamless and right across the hull there's nothing to scoff at. Even the transfers - again, teeny, are well applied.

Its probably the most famous of the lot especially with the original being recently restored plus of the four it has the more distinctive livery which is carried on every surface. While there isn't as much surface tech as the ships from the later series, the landing strut and rear engine structure on the hull are well realised and incredibly clear. There's also the solo entry door on the port side but for me it has to be that retro pennant which really stands out here. 

The only real grumble I have with the pack is the equally shrunk down magazines you get with each of the craft. At least there are four but each has just two pages devoted to the craft before the final two pages are covered with a reproduction of the lithograph LCARS image which is included in the box as a separate item! It does seem a waste of space which could have been devoted to filming, design or even episode appearances a la the main series of issues.

The stand you get with the ship is generic to all four with the sticker on the bottom being the only indicator of which came out of which box. To be honest the stands are a bit iffy given that they are just a flat base which doesn't clip or secure the shuttle to it. In three of the four shuttles they sit flat anyway so stands aren't a necessity (the Voyager Type-9 does have a slight list to the nose) but do add to that "model shelf" finish if you will.

The chunky Type-6 from The Next Generation has been a favourite of mine since I first caught sight of it in the series' technical manual back in '91. A more robust and functional design than the flared and over-compensating '80's child Type-7 used more often in the earlier seasons of the show it carries both the surname of a good friend of mine plus helped Scotty get away from it all at the end of Relics. Evidently Eaglemoss thought that its chunkiness needed some reinforcement as this is the heaviest of the quartet. 

Mine does have an annoying mark on the starboard hull plating just above the "...1-" point of the ship registry (you can just see it in the picture above) and some scuffing on the portside by the window as well as a generous finger print in the transfer so thanks for that. Unusually too is the point that the underside is rendered in metal while the top - and by that I mean everything above the centre line - is in plastic. The nacelles too are in plastic allowing Eaglemoss the chance to plumb in the warp exhausts in translucent blue.

Comparing her to the magazine cover, the engine markings, hull surface detail and decals are all spot on but what it does lack is a certain texturing of the hull that the image alludes to. Perhaps not aztecing as with the Enterprise-D for example but maybe a brushing of dirt here and there would have lifted the finished item just a little.

Saying that, you have to be a fan of grey, grey and grey if you're adding these to your shelves since all four are, well, grey since they are all Federation in origin.

The third shuttle, from Deep Space Nine is one which only appeared from the end of its sixth season and fleetingly in the seventh replacing a rather cumbersome shuttlepod which we had only seen a couple of times anyway (The Search, Part II). It's another great design and one which totally flipped the way we look at Star Trek shuttles in the same way that the designers broke the mold with the ship that carried it, the Defiant.

Instead of the standard hull with dropped-down nacelles, the Chaffee has its warp engines fitted into the top and rear of the craft making for a more streamlined and combat-ready support ship. Of the four this has to the be the one which is the most impressively detailed. The hulls on both the Goddard and the Galileo do bear the plating lines as does the Chaffee but in this instance the engine pod is two-tone painted with the warp reactor clearly visible along with some very nicely aligned Starfleet decals around the edges. Even on the top the paintjob has managed to highlight the raised and lowered areas of the hull without any horrible streaking.

Flipping her over the detail continues to be evident on the underside with more components clearly painted up in contrast to the grey, smooth hull. It's a grand job and one that I've liked a lot. 

Finally there's the instantly replacable (!) Voyager Type-9 Shuttle. So good that they built the Delta Flyer in fact. But anyway, here is the smallest of the four special additions but that doesn't mean there's any degradation in quality. 

With a heavier metal upper hull it's the only one that really needs to rest on the stand since the weight pulls the front down over the shorter nacelles positioned far to the rear. Labelled up as the Cochrane (Shuttle 4), the paint job on mine does appear a little thicker than anticipated with not as much plating and surface detail definition as there is on the Goddard or the Chaffee. The nacelles still have a good finish to them with the translucent side panels in place and the Starfleet pennant adorning the top of each. 

As a pack it is very, very impressive if tainted by the high price. Rumour has it that there will be another shuttle set in the future. My guess is that this would include the Galileo from The Final Frontier, a shuttlepod or the Type-7 from The Next Generation, the Deep Space Nine shuttlepod from The Search and maybe the Enterprise version too.  That would give all the series a shot and include all the favourites. I even suggested in a previous article that there could be a third, alien shuttle set however the announcement of the Goroth Klingon shuttle from Bounty indicates that those might well be included in the main range - let's keep fingers crossed for the Romulan shuttle from In the Pale Moonlight then.

I have to grit my teeth and say that, ignoring the price, Eaglemoss have provided just what fans will want, an excellent, well made and solid four shuttle set that does everything it needs to. These are original, unique and probably the best shuttle reproductions to date. Having the Defiant shuttle in there is a big bonus to us Deep Space Nine fans but the highlight has to be the Galileo with its retro styling and function over look. Well done to the collection, a real winner (especially if it was half the price).

Collected the shuttles? Do you have a favourite from the set or one you would want to see in Shuttles 2

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