Friday, 4 November 2016

Delta Blues: The Official Starships Collection Issues 82 and 83

September drew to a close and with it came our latest starship additions with the Warp Delta featured in Enterprise and the Bajoran Troop Transport from Deep Space Nine.    

Receiving these out of sequence meant I actually had hold of issues 84 and 85 two days before these finally dropped on the doorstep and after the disappointment of the Holoship this was a welcome relief in both boxes. 

Firstly the United Earth Starfleet Warp Delta. It's a classic devolution of the recognisable starship design from the prequel series and ultimately the iconic NCC-1701 USS Enterprise herself. A smaller 30-person crewed vessel the single 'delta' hull and stubby warp engines belay a craft from a previous era and in terms of Enterprise it shows how antiquated some of the ships were in comparison even to the Intrepid let alone the warp five capable NX class. Eaglemoss have brought this incredibly basic craft to life in superb detail. While, like so many of the ships in Enterprise, the Deltas were confined to a background role, the ship here displays the patchwork, layered hull plating extremely well. 

It also carries the silver/metallic finish more aligned to the NX class than the later greys of the Constitution Class or the duck egg blues of the Galaxy Class ships from The Next Generation. Having had the chance to look over the NX-Alpha first you can see how the show kept that basic finish concept alive through these early craft, keeping them grounded in basic techniques for functionality rather than aesthetic quality. That style also helps reinforce the more defensive activities of this class because of its limited warp capabilities and deep space functionality.

As a model the Warp Delta is beautifully finished from every angle with the dorsal and ventral planes of the hull bursting with that embossed hull plating. There's no hull registry here so decal-wise she's totally unmarked but that just adds to the simplistic beauty of the mini-hulled spacecraft. The metal underbelly extends out to the swept warp nacelle pylons again well finished and onto the pair of stumpy warp three engines. Line this up with the issue 84 NX-Alpha and you'll see the similarities right away between the engine design - quality bit of continuity there!

On the upper hull you can easily make out the lines of the very forward sitting bridge. Defensively this has to be just about the worst placed Starfleet command centre ever (set forward Holoship for this as well) especially when considering the major role they were expected to take in defending Earth. Obviously different times and different requirements were involved at the time of their construction!

At the rear of the Delta there's a very cramped Engineering 'area' marked out by the warp core dome. Note here that the rear is aligned to the episodes with the impulse engines present rather than the rocket engines seen in the title sequence. Hopefully Eaglemoss will provide us with the more basic Delta in future editions or as a web special since I can see collectors wanting to get their hands on this significant variant.  PS if you're waiting for the review of the SS Yorktown you'll be waiting a while as I'm not getting that one for just a change of a few stickers.

Stand attachment is a firm success here, locking to the rear of the ship over the warp pylons and then onto a small piece of the hull. No movement and a steady grip which is just what we like.

Issue 82 contains a broad overview of the construction and evolution of the Warp Delta design from its days powered by rocket engines through to the impulse refits and then into the role in which the class played during the Xindi threat and also in a couple of alternative timelines (Twilight, In a Mirror, Darkly)

The development of the design for the Warp Delta is a great section given it was only originally designed at the back and later appearances in Enterprise meant that the rest was added at a later time compounding changes to the title sequence riding back end.

Next up; our third Bajoran ship after the Solar Sailor and the Bajoran Raider with the Bajoran Troop Transport. Not w when it was originally announced we all thought that the transport was the more wedge-shaped ship seen depositing Kai Winn at Deep Space Nine and used to board the station during season two's The Siege. However it turned out to be another more distinct design that had its most prominent role as Kira's command ship facing off against the Romulans in Shadows and Symbols from season seven.  

The Bajoran Troop Transport visually offers a break from the round of metallic Starfleet ships of late instead providing our eyes with a more subtlety coloured and relaxing ship with sweeping curves and a less 'blunt' look than we have seen for a while. Even with those forward swept wings it doesn't seem as threatening as the Xindi Reptilian Warship and has an almost spiritual feel to its smooth lines which I turn lies well with its creators' more religious background. 

The colours themselves do a lot to alleviate a dark and dangerous nature being more greens and browns than greys and blacks. Surface finishing touches are a lot less packed onto the surface with distinct colour differences marking out access panels, engine details and cockpit windows. It is a very precise piece and the concern I had was that the end product might have been a bit ragged at the edges however the end product is as smooth and defined as I could have hoped. 

Eaglemoss chose to carve the rear of the upper hull and wings in metal with the bottom of the Transport and the forward section of the hull made from plastic. Looking ahead maybe the choice to make the Holoship 100% plastic was due to the high metal use in this one(!). One important feature that wasn't just blacked out are the engine intake cowls on either side of the fuselage. Instead we have arched intakes with depth to them fitted over the hull rather than formed as a single lump with the rest of the craft. The clever use of the two regular construction materials is a work of genius here as the two almost meld together and initially it was quite hard to tell what was what. This makes a big difference to the overall effect and this attention to detail certainly lifts the Troop Transport out of the average.

It is easily the best of the three Bajoran entries to the collection ahead of the Solar Sailor and the Sub-Impulse Fighter and by some distance at that. It just works in all visual aspects and really the only thing I could push to criticise is the lack of weathering to give it some perspective of age as I suspect it would not be a particularly new craft and is used both in and out of planetary atmospheres. 

Again a rear grip stand clasps firmly around the spreading wings of the Bajoran ship providing that false flight illusion. I was truly prepared to be utterly disinterested by this one but have been pleasantly surprised because of the end result and the way in which these more unusual greens and soft browns have been used to highlight sections. For me this is actually a highlight of the last few months because it's so different. The two tone colour scheme works a treat lifting out different sections of the upper hull while the gold pieces on the bottom do the same to that face of the vessel. Every surface has some kind of patterning to it or structure and it feels very, very complete on every side. Some other ships have, in the past, felt a bit unfinished because the detail has not been 360 degrees - here it most certainly is, even to the tip of the wings.

The magazine veers into some interesting territory after the standard coverage of the craft history and use within Deep Space Nine from early season two appearances to season seven. There's a great designing section which looks over how the information about the Bajorans we learned in season one was pretty much the data used to give the Troop Transport a sense of belonging to the spiritual race. Have to note that the CG version is an incredible reproduction of the model as you'll see. 

What the issue does do differently is provide a step by step guide to Bajoran history and the key events which have changed and shaped their society for thousands of years right up to the end of Deep Space Nine.

OK - two great issues here both in magazine content and in model quality. Both craft have had fleeting appearances in their respective series and while we didn't get the best of looks at either of them on the TV, these models provide an excellent opportunity to laud over two ships that have slipped under the main radar for many years. These later issues have offered up more and more single episode and background starships but it has only helped enhance the franchise as we get to experience the weird and wonderful first hand. 

In other news, we also got a first glimpse of the new shuttles due out at the end of 2016 or perhaps the beginning of 2017 thanks to Ben Robinson on Twitter. We still have to see the executive shuttle from The Undiscovered Country but Ben dropped a great shot of the shuttlepod and Type-7 from The Next Generation and the NX-Class Shuttlepod One from Enterprise

These aren't final versions but the results here look great. Seems the shuttlepod from the Enterprise-D is labelled as Aldrin while the Type-7 is named Copernicus. Note it's a variant on the Type-7 with the window strip heading almost all the way to the rear rather than the shorter portals on the 01 Sakharov. There were a lot of changes!!!

Of the three we got to see (plus the graphic for the travel pod), Pod One is definitely getting me most excited. The detail on her looks stunning and while the craft from The Next Generation are all sleek and refined, it's the lumps and bumps on this one that make it. Really looking forward to this set being available.

Fan of the Bajoran Troop Transport or leaning more towards the Warp Delta?

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