Sunday, 29 October 2017

Elba's Pool Car: The Official Starships Collection Special Eight

Another one of those late arrivals to SKoST Towers is the Altamid Swarm Ship from that rather good motion picture Star Trek Beyond.

Bloody shame then that the model of the enemy craft is such a shower of s**t. Honestly, I think this is the worst special edition that's come out of the Eaglemoss catalogue. I might even suggest a large scale Malon Freighter over this one.

Delivered in its standard special box with polystyrene packaging, the Swarm Ship feels like a bit of a lump when you pull it out. There are a lot of spindles striking out from the central hull but these extremities don’t manage to distract from the rather blocky and dull craft that this is.

Take the central section and let’s work outwards from there. The two shades of brown that act as the paint scheme are very blocky and there’s a striking line between each of the colours right over the hull rather than blending into each other organically. 

The mound itself is fairly sound and steady with average detailing of the panel lines but there’s just something here that hasn’t translated from the screen to the model. It’s almost the same result that we saw from the regular issue Species 8472 bioship and on an even larger scale it’s painfully evident that Eaglemoss can do metalwork but not stray too far outside that remit. The cockpit windows in the centre of the body are all blacked out to avoid having to detail the interior and that’s just something we have to live with here although it does mean the pilot area blends in with the rest of the hull making it almost unnoticeable.

The paintwork is just far too regular and inorganic which doesn’t help that golden final effect. Texturally it doesn’t look right even though the angles and markings are probably perfect and taken from the movie reference material. 

The definition of the claw-like nose section is pretty good with all the separation points and mechanics signposted but that blotchy brown colour scheme seems to cheapen the result. Much like this craft attacking the Enterprise, there’s nothing subtle about the lines of the Swarm Ship especially at the pointy end.

Moving slightly rearward there has been an attempt to form the mechanics around the wings and how they are supposed to fold into the craft. The larger scale works both for and against here allowing Eaglemoss the chance to be more creative visually around the workings but then are inversely beaten back by the apparent restrictions of their own manufacturing plant/processes/costs which mean that they can’t go into too much detail in this joint. Don’t get me wrong, you can see the vision here and some of the cut lines that mark out the sections but it feels incomplete. 

The wings feature that distinct and defined sand and brown colour scheme again. I actually love the form of the two side pods and have to say that there’s no structural rigidity lost here. The tips are clean and fresh with no evidence of moulding which can be tricky when you get to pointy parts. Fortunately that is one thing Eaglemoss have been strong on and with a ship such as this where the protrusions from the main hull make it so distinctive, a sloppy finish would have been awfully obvious. Great to see that there’s strong panel definition right up to the tips as well which can’t have been the easiest thing to produce. 

My next challenge with the Swarm Ship comes with the rear prongs. Remember the Xindi Reptilian Warship and those slender fins to the rear? Yep? Well there’s the same flexibility here which just can’t be avoided. Seeing how this kind of work is replicated absolutely backs up the conclusion that the Narada from the 2009 movie is going to be a series impossibility due to the high fin count. The prongs/fins don't feel stupidly bendy and the front ones are thicker - just watch those ones to the back.

Over on the belly there’s not much more to say than we’ve already noted about the topside of the Swarm Ship purely because the colour scheme is identical. The patterning is different on the underside of the wings with a sharper and more complex geometric pattern contrasting against the dark brown slab of the main fuselage. The detail shows the nose mechanics once more and you can barely make out the join lines between the upper metal hull and the partial lower plastic parts.

Stand positioning is a secure grip to the rear of the main hull with the Swarm Ship's nose slightly elevated. No movement so this one should stay in one piece and it does make for a good display pose however even that can't make up for its shortcomings.

Apart from two pages giving brief background on the Beyond ship, the 16 page magazine is filled out with Designing the Swarm Ship. There's a lot going on in here so it's a good read because these little craft went through a lot of changes before they made it onto the screen. In fact more than you might first expect due to a significant part of the story which required them to do something very specific. Here's a point to note - the magazine contains a ton of fantastic production images, sketches, storyboards and ideas about how these ships should be developed but there's not a single shot of the ships from the movie - not one - so comparing between the model and the "real thing" is a little harder this month. What you do notice even between the mag pics and the model is the wear and tear evident on the CG photos that just doesn't come out at all on the diecast craft. While the Franklin benefitted from some dirtying up, the Swarm Ship is devoid of such finishing but really would have worked given a bit of aging - it might have taken the edge off the paint scheme,

Look, it’s not that I don’t like the ship nor the model but I wanted more from this one and it doesn’t deliver because it feels like a lump of plastic. There’s nothing exciting about it, nothing that draws you to examine it again and again as the best of the collection, beit specials or regular issues, manages to do regularly. The film might have been a great experience but this model leaves something to be desired and probably sits more than comfortably in my bottom five of all time. 

How did you get on with the Altamid Swarm Ship? Waste of plastic? Nice space filler? Decent model?

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