Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Arctic Monkey: The Official Starships Collection Issues 130 and 131

Two craft that have strong links to the Borg but from different ends of the Star Trek timeline have arrived (flippin’ late) from Eaglemoss.
Due to all sorts of warehouse moves, wormholes and probable Klingon invasion, August’s subscriber issues were delayed by a whole month meaning collectors are only just now receiving their models. 

While it means there was a longer wait for August’s issues it does mean on the flip side that there will be a very short wait for September’s craft.

Ok and to the first of the two issues and the Borg Probe which popped up back in Voyager’s fifth season TV movie, Dark Frontier.

A more rectangular craft than the more familiar cube, the Probe mirrors the distinct metallic polished finish that has been used on the Borg Queen’s ship and also to some extent on the issue 10 Borg Sphere. The surface finery om this,ome is mighty impressive - at least 50% of it is because theres the distinct feeling of deja vu not seen since the Borg Tactical Cube - the top and bottom sections are identical. Yes, honest to goodness this is 50% of thrnship that you would have wanted. It also maes reviewing it a pain in the ass because there’s 50% less than usual to talk about dammit.

Ok, calm down now...deep breath. 

The whole of the Borg Probe is plastic however your first thought when looking at it is that there must be at least a hint of metal somewhere. There isn’t and regular readers/collectors will have vivid flashbacks to the TV remote ship aka the Federation Holoship from Insurrection. Thing was with that while it was 100% plastic there was variation in the hull detail front to back and top to bottom. What we have here is a mirror finish top to bottom and a front and back which are nearly identical.

Have to say while the Borg are a cool baddie, their ships really are dull and repetitive but, I. begrudgingly admit, functional to the core. The surface maze of wiring and black versus silver components is effective if a little boring after you’ve looked over it once but Eaglemoss have, faithfully, recreated the ship as seen in the episode. For that and the excellent finish on the small Borg craft they cannot be faulted and at least there are a few kinked angles in the outer hull that make it a bit interesting at least.

The stand, as with all the Borg ships is something unique with the Probe resting in it like a cradle and not dissimilar to the plastic bases that the shuttles sets utilise. Like the Borg themselves it’s functional, end of.

The magazine opens with quite a bit of information around the reason Voyager was after Borg ship in the first place as well as highlighting that the small ship wasn't actually that much of a challenge to the Intrepid Class starship. Unusually the section overviewing the Probe covers a good chunk of its capabilities and not too much of the episode.

John Eaves' work is once again given a decent level of analysis with the Probe originally starting out as a design for the Borg ship in First Contact. It certainly evolved from that plan - and downsized - into the craft that was used for Dark Frontier. Finishing out the edition is a great piece on the work of the late Cliff Bole perhaps most famous for his work on The Best of Both Worlds - from his own perspective including his personal favourite episodes to work on and his experiences with the multiple casts. 

Absolutely loved reading this edition alongside the Probe. There's a good spread of information on the ship itself plus background detail into its production and, to a degree, the episode in which it featured as well since Bole was involved with its direction.

Providing a lot more to talk about is the Arctic One transport craft from the Enterprise Borg episode, Regeneration. We’ve already had the complex end result of the Borg’s handiwork with the assimilated version of the ship a matter of issues ago and now we have the original shape to compare.

Doing away with the checkerboard two shade of green paint job as seen in the promotional pictures is a good move from start as the more solid base cost here suits the finished item more than the concept model seen via HeroCollector.

The upper section of the exploratory craft has been formed in metal and now bears a more blocked out two shades of green with the lighter playing out as the base coat. For an Enterprise model it's surprisingly light on the surface panel detail although there are definite hull sections marked out with distinct grooves - for some reason it just feels "incomplete" alongside the other CG craft from the prequel show. 

Rising up from the middle of the craft is a distinct bridge module which rests over the landing gear and part way towards the rear of the transport. You can make out some of the structure of the command deck and running close by it some more windows - that aren't aligned to their recesses. As usual.

What we do have with the Arctic One is quite an undulating hull occasionally marked up with black or white window ports. In this instance the windows are marked on to the hull and avoid recessing their positions into the hull. Once more we have two different ways of the windows being applied with the former (the recesses) still not working out exactly as they should. Is it time to give up on the recesses totally?

One tragic error - and one down to the original rather than the model creators is the use of the ANTarctic rather than the Arctic as part of the logo emblazoned on either side of the transport. Bit of a silly one but hey, you can't be perfect every time - and just think of some of the classic model errors that were transferred direct from screen to collection.

Slipping towards the back of the Arctic One there's a good amount of highlighted panel detail around the triple raised engine units. Again its not overly complicated but the contrasting panels add depth to the surface. What could have been good was to add a bit more depth to the back end. The pair of impulse engines and the central warp engine have no real substance to them and merely protrude from the hull with no real purpose or level of reality. 

Protruding out from the hull and over the back of two of the impulse engines are two plastic fins inset into the upper hull. It's a curious choice not to just mould them into the metal and rather have them as two separate pieces. It's more effective that way since the gaps above the engines add depth of detail.

Why is this such a problem? Because flip the Arctic One over and you find that Eaglemoss have bothered to include blackened detail around the thruster ports on the underside of the ship which immediately draws your attention back to the rather bland rear propulsion system.

The scorched detail is a lovely touch on this one and combines perfectly with the greens of the ventral panels. There might not be any windows or emblems filling out space yet the underside is just as interesting to see as the top. Add in that, unusually, the plastic underside inset is actually a front, centre and rear split and you have something even more unusual in the collection.

That middle section actually curves out from the hull to carry two of the three landing skis.and it's a very flexible part of the ship since each ski is connected by only two slender arms on each side. Set into the hull in between the struts are two grey sections which appear to contain some form of thruster arrangement with inset blue detail.

The third ski is right to the back and on my Arctic One is bent to the right. I did attempt to bend it back to centre however the slight "crack" sound after shifting it about a millimetre told me to do otherwise. The supports for the struts are complete with piston and joint work and then also have a further two blue inserts within the hull. In both instances it looks like these grey blocks will be hidden away by the skis when fully retracted.

Issue 131 explores the function of the United Earth Arctic One, its layout and capabilities before turning its attention to exactly how the Borg made their initial (and bizarrely last) appearance in the Star Trek universe in season two of Enterprise. Certainly it's the franchise's biggest curveball but there were plans to go further for season five and there was a big consensus that it had to all make sense...

Finally this time we examine how the Borg were designed for Q Who - and then redesigned for their later movie, Voyager and lone Enterprise appearances - and people complain about the reworking of the Klingons! Visually it all works because of the TV versus cinematic budgets but here we see just what thoughts went into making them a reality.

So two fairly middle of the road editions here with the Arctic One being only just out ahead in this Borg-related pairing. But next time's duo offer's something a little exciting with the Warship Voyager from Living Witness as issue 132 and a Irina's Racing Ship from Drive showing up as issue 133. 

What did you like about the Borg Probe or the Arctic One?

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