Sunday, 3 June 2018

Supporting Roles: The Official Starships Collection Shuttlepack Three

Just before Christmas, Eaglemoss brought us another four compact bundles of joy in the rectangular shape of Shuttle Pack Three.

While they may not have the most dynamic of titles, the third set of small auxiliary craft threw up three curve balls in the set that fans might not have expected. 

Let’s pick out these four in time order so we’ll start with the Travel Pod first seen back in The Motion Picture as well as The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV

A full metal shell, the Travel Pod is one of the most compact craft in the whole franchise and Eaglemoss have done it real justice. The hull finish is a light grey coat overlaid with two deeper shades of grey on some of the hull panels across all sides and then some further white strips to highlight the light panels around the central line of the craft.

There’s some very fine red lining around the top and bottom edges of the pod and although there are a few slight wobbles in keeping the strips straight all the way round but the level of colour and decals is fantastic on this one, topped off with the ‘05’ numbering including red edging around each numeral.

The large viewport on the front is sadly blanked out otherwise there would need to be a whole interior built. It does the job but does take away some of the final overall effect because it doesn't replicate the original model precisely.

To the back is another great feature of this craft to behold in the circular shape of the airlock. Detailed down to the panelling and the locking mechanism in the docking ring, this is a very well designed and replicated part of the Travel Pod, even more because of the scale in which this mas been worked.

Second in the pack and turning up at random throughout the franchise's history is the cute little Workbee. Now this is a real game changer when it comes to the collection because it's the first time that Eaglemoss have detailed the interior of a ship.

In this case the clear plastic windows on three sides of the cockpit allow you to see the single seat and controls within. It's very unusual to get this much on a model and less expected on something like the Workbee. 

Again the whole frame is diecast which provides a much more realistic and varied surface. The one man craft really is a neat replica with a striking yellow paint job head to toe accented with some mustard yellow detail on the forward prongs plus around the rear. At the back end there are a series of greyed technical pieces where the craft can be accessed for maintenance or connect to other units. 

Quite prominent in the design is the thin stripe of black and yellow hatching that borders the windows of the craft. Judged against the lies on the Travel Pod these are nicely aligned to the bodywork and probably benefit from not sitting right on a panel line.

Third up and moving to Insurrection, we have the Type-11 Shuttle which featured heavily in the chase scene with Data's Federation Mission Scoutship. Now that's already been released as part of the regular issues and turned out to be a cracking entry to the series with it's metallic finish and unusual body shape. Here the shuttle that was flown by Picard and Worf takes a more familiar form with the long body flanked by the drop-down warp nacelles.

The main body and engine pylons here are metal with the engines themselves made from plastic which allows them to benefit from the inclusion of translucent warp field grilles and bussard collectors as with the larger starships.

The crisp white paint gets accentuated on the Type-11 through the marking up of two tone grey panelling at strategic points across the ship which is not dissimilar to the way in which the Travel Pod is finished. This shuttle also carries the Enterprise ship registry on its nose and along its flanks where the text is part of the Starfleet pennant stripe.  That stripe and the delta shield also adorn the top of the hull where it is only broken by the inclusion of an airlock.

Now that's a feature that Eaglemoss had to make sure was on since it's a key feature at the climax of the attempt to recover Data in Insurrection. The detail on it is very good and is mirrored with a similar hatch on the bottom. Now that underside isn't as interesting to look at as the top but the panel lining is fantastic with the grey highlights following the grooved indentations of the hull.

Sadly once again the main windows are blacked out to reduce costs and avoid modelling those interiors - which in this case would be strangely identical to a Runabout from Deep Space Nine if you know what I mean!

Now here’s where it gets a bit interesting because the warp engines at the end of those shaped white metal pylons are in grey. I’ve checked a fair few images and even gone back to the source material of Insurrection itself but can’t quite fathom if there is a shade variation from main hull to engine. What I can say is that the difference is not as striking as it is on this model. 

The actual build of the engines themselves is decent enough and incorporates those translucent sections as noted above. The panelling is fairly simple and on the underside we have the ship registry of NCC-1701-E. Of the set I know a few people who absolutely adore this one but in my eyes it’s... ok. I honesty must prefer the Travel Pod for its stubby lines and chunky Classic Era detailing. 

Finally and one that raised a few eyebrows is the Argo. I had expected this craft to come as a regular issue given that it’s more Runabout size than shuttle size and well, if the Captain’s Yacht and the Aero Shuttle got their own issues why not this one?

But alas and fortunately for all those who have a strong dislike for Nemesis it’s the fourth and final craft in Shuttlepack Three.

Oddly it wasn’t the inclusion of the Argo that seemed to be the main sticking point with this one but rather the bronzed metallic paint finish. I have to take it that this is what was envisaged when the ship was created but didn’t quite translate as expected onto the big screen. From memory and the pics in the pamphlet/magazine, it looks a lot more grey in the movie. 

Anyway, to details and the Argo is, annoyingly, a lot better than Nemesis itself. The unique design with the foldout wings (deployed) and that sweeping nose make it immediately distinguishable from every other shuttle there’s been. It looks much heavier, chunkier and purposeful. For once there’s a post-The Next Generation shuttle that goes against the standard format rules and does something completely different in form and colour. 

The panelling is much simpler too with the bronze cost stretching around almost every point from bow to stern and leaving only a few brown hatches to bring dimension to the ship.

Aside from those minor coloured sections we also have two Starfleet pennants running down the sides of the hull including the delta shield and the Enterprise starship registry. Just above that we have the shuttle name in case you’d forgotten it.

To the rear we find the entry hatch - again in the singular bronze colour and still immediately discernible  while the engines are painted onto the exhaust points very simply in a light blue. 

As it goes with the Argo it is very plain given it’s striking and individual appearance. However looking at it another way, subduing the colours does mean that it isn’t too overpowering or cartoony in appearance and I think it’s turned out really well even if the movie it was in wasn’t up to expectations. 

For each of the shuttles in pack three we have a lithograph print with stand which is reproduced in the centre pages of the wafer thin magazine which covers design and appearance in the Star Trek universe in the most fleeting of ways. These mags are a huge disappointment given the cost of the shuttle packs and four pages doesn't do any of them - even the Argo - justice. But to be fair, are you buying this for the mags or the superb shuttles?

The Official Starships Collection Shuttle Pack 3 is available now from the Eaglemoss webshop.

What shuttles need to be packed up for Christmas 2018? Alien craft? Which Federation ones are missing?

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