Friday, 2 March 2018

Lord of the Rings: The Official Starships Collection Special Nine: USS Enterprise XCV-330

The specials are always a little larger than life, they're the big boys of the collection, the jewels in the crown - but this one really is, well...BIG.

One of the most desirable and yet most maligned and almost forgotten ships from any point in the Star Trek timeline(s), the striking ring ship has made only one - yes, ONE - speedy appearance in the franchise back at the beginning of the journey into the movies. The XCV-330 is a graceful animal, a huge special unlike anything else that has come from the collection. It's a pretty simple design and a direct homage back to the original concept drawings that Matt Jefferies did for the original Star Trek series. Indeed, this was what the Enterprise could have looked like in another world. Measuring a ridiculous xxcm in diameter, the Enterprise is spectacular in many ways but underwhelming in others. I shall explain.

The prominent double rings of the ship are plastic and therefore very lightweight. On the outside of both of them we have a decalled panel detail that is replicated across the whole blue/grey circumference of the craft.  The strips on the decal are all aligned to each other but there are a couple if you follow it round where you will spot them not running quite parallel to the set to their left or right - but then there are a lot of these stripes to get on on two rings, multiplied by the number of ships made...

The rings are very solid with very little flex in their form. They also have a very clean finish at the edges but the tragedy is that the interior of these surfaces are utterly empty of any hull detail. Both carry parts of the ship name and number in nice big, crisp print so at least you can’t miss that but there's not even the carry over of the small silver squares from one side onto the other which is shown in the magazine.

The stand clips to the bottom of the rear ring, hanging the ship in its (nearly) invisible grip to give the flying effect. Only concern for me here is that the weight of that central section might take a toll on the rings at some point.

Now, this beautifully simple craft is finished off with a central metallic section which hangs from the top of the midpoint between the two rings and gives the ship most of its weight in one lump. 

The panelled neck drops diagonally forward with very blocky colouring and red striping marking out the hull on the descent to the tubular neck. Well worth a look at that chunky engine to the rear which has some very nice edging detail worked into it and has depth around the fins and onto the engine exhaust rather than being a simple, flat unit.  Really loving how the coverings work in sections around that central piece and even have different coloured ends.

Moving forward of the engine there is some more slated, dark grey detail and what I think are the emblems for the Earth fleet running this craft. When you compare this to any of the CG work in the magazine (which I kinda take with a pinch of salt), it's evident that the disparity between the grey and the dark grey is nowhere near as severe as it comes across on the model.

Running forward we have a straight grey painted neck section which, as with the hanging metal body section has no tonal variations to it leaving the whole central section looking very bland indeed. Comparing to the magazine there's again a variation between the two versions of the ship with the model seemingly missing a longer grey callout section that runs almost the length of the neck section as well as the grey slats that are present halfway along. How this was missed or added I can't say but it is an odd omission if the CG is being taken as the reference.

OK, then we get to the head/command section and this, for me is where it falls apart. It's a bummer because the XCV-330 is damn gorgeous and will hold a prime position in my collection however the detail on this forward section is hopeless.

My main gripe is that this ship seems to have been made without the CG designer and the model maker ever managing to link up properly because there are so many little inconsistencies between the two and none more evident than on the front piece. The window alignment to the grooves is, yes, there once again but they don't then match up to the number of windows on the accompanying images. 

The only two areas of the grey hull plating sections that are apparently correctly aligned are the grey stripe to the bottom front and the grey indented circle on the port side. The others appear to be way off the mark. The model also seems to have gained a more dramatic red circle around the side of the module than on the mag pictures. In fact all of the red line detailing appears a lot thicker on the model than elsewhere.

However, the biggest grimaces are left for the front ends of the two cylindrical sections of the forward module. The top one is utterly blank without even the hint of a window, sensor assembly or anything to be honest and the lower one omits that the aerial which protrudes from its end is actually recessed into the structure. I would have thought both of these issues would have been easy enough to correct on such a big ship and the fact it looks unfinished makes for a a lot of dissatisfaction.

Into the magazine and the ship profile is the most minimal ever. Five lines which basically explain...nothing because that's all we know. The following eight pages provide original sketches and screen shots of the process which brought the ring ship to The Motion Picture and also later on Admiral Marcus' desk in Into Darkness. But the story of the design process also covers off how this ship wormed its way back into the Star Trek lore in licenced books such as the Star Trek Chronology and how its physical appearance was used as inspiration for the Vulcan ships in Enterprise.

Through its omission we also get the pics of the Enterprise lineage that hung in Archer's ready room on the NX-01 and Eaglemoss have included the image used on the Ships of the Line calendar as well as a painting that was used in the background of Enterprise.

Now this one is finished off with a real treat in the form of six pages covering the little known and very rarely discussed alien mix from The Motion Picture. These images and explanations give a great deal of background to these one-time-seen races and might answer a lot of fans' questions as to who all those individuals were that turned up, were never discussed and then vanished forever more into the Star Trek ether. Some terrible makeup effects in there from the test shots but give it some leniency since it was the late 1970's! 

Damn this is a Marmite model for me. I absolutely love and adore the fact that Eaglemoss have gone to the effort of producing this as a ship in the collection even though it was only ever seen for a fraction of a scene. The size is perfect, the choice of build materials for the different sections is perfect and the overall simplicity has to be admired but because the accompanying material and the ship do not line up when it comes to the finer details.

Fans will definitely want to get their mitts on this one but it will leave a slightly sour taste that it's not finished off to the top standard you would expect.

How did you get on with the XCV-330? Winner or sloppily executed?

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