Thursday, 2 August 2018

The A-Game? Eaglemoss' XL Movie Enterprise

The Enterprise-A took on General Chang in a lethal prototype Klingon Bird of prey and even went to find the almighty beyond the great barrier but now she faces her toughest test, how well will she hold together under the scrutiny of us starship collectors as this £49.99 XL edition? 

Welcome to Dan Houston with his first XL ships review for SKoST and what a way to start...!

At long last one of the most adored ships in Star Trek fandom has landed on my doorstep, thankfully all in one piece.

After initial shots of this ship were released a few months back I have been eagerly awaiting her arrival. First impressions are not great however as the box itself proudly displays an image of the A which is unfortunately mirrored, how this slipped by is anyone’s guess but we aren’t here for the box art so I will let that one slide.

Upon opening the box and delicately picking her out of the polystyrene packing, like all the other XL releases, the first thing that smacks you is the size and weight of the ship. Its extremely satisfying to hold, the weight really giving off a quality feel. Sitting her in the regular Eaglemoss stand and standing back, the ship looks fantastic, the light white paint with faint aztecing and duck egg blue/grey details all come together nicely, it appears to be a nice model of the Enterprise-A.

Going into further detail lets take a look at the plastic warp engines, there is some use of translucent plastic on the warp grilles. Appearing black until light gives them a dark blue tinge, it’s not a bright clear plastic and is very subtle. The warp nacelle front end caps have the white ‘cross’ painted in which really is a bugbear of mine on the smaller model and we have the NCC-1701-A lettering at the rear of the nacelles which appears to be two or three sizes too big of a font.

Heading down the metal nacelle struts to the secondary hull which is constructed with a metal upper section down to a join into a plastic piece just below the deep blue rec deck windows, we have neat pinstripe and hull detailing, the shuttlebay area is great with nicely moulded shuttlebay doors and at the front the torpedo launcher is neatly picked out with paint application. We have more translucent plastic for the deflector dish giving a nice deep blue. 

All the docking ports are present and sculpted into the sides of the hull and torpedo deck with a fine red outline, though curiously not as much decal detail as the port at the rear of the bridge module. The join line is pretty apparent along the length of the engineering hull which is a shame and also we have a oddity with the decal application in that the Starfleet delta on the hull pennant is a deep shade of silver instead of a light silver, I see a pattern emerging here.

Now onto the two piece saucer section with the upper surface being metal with a plastic lower part nestled underneath, the saucer unfortunately is where the model really slips up. First we have oversized decals at the rear of the bridge and also along the saucer rim, other than those errors the rest of the hull wording and aztec detail is good. It would have nice to have had some clear plastic in the impulse engine but what has been done with the impulse dome in a contrasting blue design and red engine ports looks ok. 

There is missing detail however around the saucer rim of the banding strips that can be seen on the filming model, the windows are incorrect along the rim plus the docking ports are missing. Add to that the fact the RCS thrusters are the wrong colour it seems errors are starting to really pile up.

However here is the big one, whatever reference Eaglemoss have used for the sculpt of the saucer is completely wrong, from the saucer lip to the odd Phase II style bridge with faint docking ports seemingly moulded to the side of the module that were not on the final ship seen on screen. The decal graphics used to decorate the bridge seem to be correct however because the moulding is so wrong it seems to distort how they sit on the model, this is particularly apparent at the rear where the large windows are. 

It seems to be some kind of concept that has been used instead of the actual final design and really is not acceptable on a model of this price and considering just how well fans know this ship plus how Eaglemoss present the product as using actual shots and files to sculpt the model you would have thought that it would be a fantastic replica. All this presents me with a difficult, contrasting opinion.

On one hand as I mentioned this should be pretty damned near perfect for £49.99 and on the other when she is nestled on the shelf next to the other ships in the collection these issues I have mentioned seem to melt away and I’m left with a nice looking model of the A.

Now I’m no great model builder and I know that taking into consideration time and materials there is no way I could make a model of the A for £49.99 that looks any where near as good as this due my skill level as a model maker and I’m never going to show what a balls up I made of the 90s AMT kit!. Let’s just hope that Eaglemoss learns from the mistakes made on this ship so they do not continue on to further XL releases as at this price they are stepping into Diamond Select territory with their electronic starship range which includes the Enterprise-A and from what I’ve seen of images of that it seems the Diamond Select version is superior.

The accompanying magazine also puts a slight downer on the model as the cover shot shows a extremely detailed CGI shot of the ship with a heavy aztec design and little red squares around the perimeter of the saucer which are not present, the RCS thrusters are shown in the correct yellow, the saucer docking port at the side is there, the windows are the correct layout, not the odd blocky versions on the model and of course the bridge looks correct. If Eaglemoss had access to a CGI model of this detail how did it not translate over into the actual product? 

Inside the magazine you will find information on the return of Star Trek on the big screen with The Motion Picture which is a nice read but is a bid odd with no in depth information regarding the Enterprise-A herself.

So am I pleased with the model? Overall I would have to say yes which some of you may find surprising given what I have described but it does look great on the shelf and that is what matters to me. Factor in the price and it does put a cloud over it especially when you compare it to the NX-01 refit which was half the price but a nicer issue. There is potential in this model, with a few improvements and a stunning pearl aztec paint job you would have a fantastic 1701 refit from the motion picture. 

Here's to hoping these improvements are made because this XL Enterprise-A does fall apart under closer scrutiny, after all, much like a certain Montgomery Scott, we all know this ship like the back of our hands.

Are you collecting the XL line? What did you think to the Enterprise-A?

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