Sunday, 17 February 2019

A Ship of the Line: The Official Starships Collection USS Bonaventure Bonus Edition

Included in the 2006 Ships of the Line calendar (rummages in loft to dig out...), USS Bonaventure is one of those "What If?" missing links that make this collection so addictive.

Conceived as the halfway point between the NX-01 and the NCC-1701 Enterprises (before the creator knew about the NX-01 refit), the Bonaventure has a foot in two series with the styling of The Original Series over a design that's clearly Enterprise.

The model is an absolute blinder and while it's not one from canon, Eaglemoss have produced something a bit special here. The hull - at every point carries an asymmetrical aztec paint scheme that gives the replica real depth and quality. The top side of the saucer back to the shuttlebay and then up the warp pylons is metal with only the underside of the ship and the nacelles being made from plastic in this case.

Hull detailing is excellent with precise panel lines and four grilles on the saucer being meticulously painted in. There's even the red and green running lights top and bottom of the saucer and on the ends of the warp engines marked in correctly. 

Scale does mean that the Starfleet pennant which stretches from the deflector dish to just in front of the bridge is squashed and you need to squint to make out the gold delta but it's definitely there. Also the two recessed window ports to the left and right sides of the bridge are very narrow but Eaglemoss have still managed to show that they do dip inwards away from the curvature of the hull. 

Unusually - and something that the USS Shenzhou would later bear in Discovery - we have double registry and ship names printed on the port and starboard sides exactly parallel.

The double stripe continuation of the Starfleet pennant continues back from the dark grey bridge module. This in itself is much darker than any of the reference images show and it stands out like a sore thumb against the rest of the lighter grey finish. It also has a white dome to suggest internal illumination but for some reason the sensor dome on the underside doesn't seem to have this finishing touch - something evident in the magazine.

Perhaps having learnt from their experiences on the original USS Enterprise from issue 50 and the multiple variations of it since, the deflector dish on the Bonaventure is gold. It's a statement of fact but this is a first in that it looks right in both form and colour.

On the underneath the plastic bottom fits as an insert into the metal upper with the running lights and grilles included on that solid rim. The underside detail of the Bonaventure saucer shows up the ship registry to port and starboard again as well as two more recessed window points plus those triangular sections which are a staple of the original USS Enterprise. These are decalled on in the case of the NCC-1000 and actually line up pretty well with the areas of the hull they are supposed to. Shock horror.

To the front there's a second Starfleet pennant which crosses the metal and plastic parts of the ship. This just about lines up but even at an arms length you can see it's just not quite there. Very minor but it's still there...niggling....

Now what is cool with the Bonaventure is that you have the raised section running down the centre of the saucer which, if you lifted it out, would resemble the engineering hull of thr Enterprise (near enough). To the back of the ship and highlighted in a darker grey paint scheme is that distinct scoop up to the shuttlebay which includes a square and circle marking that is lifted straight from the underside of the Constitution Class. 

That's the beauty of the NCC-1000 in that it it has so many hallmarks in shape, size and colour to those two other distinct classes of ship from two eras that you can spot in an second. 

At the rear there's the slightly more grey shuttlebay and just on the lip we can make out the dips for the impulse engines. Real shame these aren't coloured with the accompanying magazine confirming their little red existence. 

The pylons stretching out from the hull and carrying the warp engines have a basic block of dark grey along their middles to indicate the grille effect with the distinction between each segment sadly lost in the process. If you can manage to paint grey segments onto the vents on the warp engines surely it would have been done here instead of one grey swipe.

A now familiar feature of the Eaglemoss ships, the bussard collectors on the ends of the engines are translucent and in the right light it brings a bit of life to the cigar-shaped propulsion units. They too are coated in the aztec paint scheme and finished with darker grey detail at their ends and in the grilles. The engines are really well put together with join lines barely visible and they are dead parallel on my model which always allows a sigh of relief. 

Bigger niggle ahead though because the stand fitting is dreadful and potentially model damaging. The clip is stupidly tight against the nacelles so you might want to file them out first before sliding the ship into place because it will mark the paint.

In fact, aside from the minor whinge over the impulse engines this is a cracking creation of the ship as envisaged by visual effects artist Meni for the Ships of the Line calendar series.

The intro to the magazine covers not just the creation of the generation-linking Bonaventure but also Meni's work on both Voyager and Deep Space Nine during the 1990's having the USS Voyager taking off at the end of Basics, Part I and also providing the space station model for the final pull-away shot in What You Leave Behind. This section also includes preliminary sketches for the Bonaventure as well as a guest appearance by its animated namesake.

A quick double-pager covers the Ships of the Line calendar series and how it's evolved over 20 years from shelved projects to themed editions and beyond, right up to 2019. Closing out the mag we have eight pages dedicated to the work of Doug Drexler across the franchise from makeup in The Next Generation to editing the calendar each year and to breathing life into the Enterprise-J and helping to restore the original 11 foot filming model of the USS Enterprise for the Smithsonian Institution.

So we have to admit that this isn't official but some of the best bits of this collection have come from the curveballs - the Phase II and Probert Enterprises, concept Voyager...all well worth adding to your collection. Here with the USS Bonaventure is something a little more different from a visual publication that's been part of the franchise for two decades. It's a beaut and definitely worth sticking on your shelf. 

Adding the USS Bonaventure to your fleet? Let us know below!

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