Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Boldly Going Online: The Official Starships Collection Special USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F

Dear reader, I have failed. 

Way back in the history of Some Kind of Star Trek I attempted to play Star Trek Online. I dabbled, I teased, I tickled it under the chin and then walked away. It wasn't for me, I didn't get it. 

Then it dropped on to PS4 and I installed it, left it to fester on the console library but still couldn't quite drag myself to have a go and sink back in. But the recent release of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F from Eaglemoss has had the unexpected result of turning me back on to Star Trek Online

More on that in a future post I have no doubt, but just reading some of the background to the digital flagship and having a replica of the outstanding design seems to have had a positive effect. Eaglemoss have released two versions of the Odyssey Class starship, one in Federation grey and a second in its more recognisable online livery. 

It's that second one which I've dropped a few quid on as both come with the same magazine and I didn't see the point in forking out for two. Is the Enterprise-F worth adding to the increasingly bowing shelves? Is it worth punting for a ship that's only ever been featured in a game?   

Similarly sized to the Enterprise-E, the F seems to fair better when it comes to detail. For starters the hull is far less cramped with lifeboat hatches, windows and that aztec hull pattern which meant that the E was overloaded with colour. The white and black paint scheme here is incredibly striking and means that the ship isn’t rammed full of detail and you can actually take in the finished result more easily. The panel lines are well marked out with the windows painted on rather than attempting to align them with hull indentations; wise move on this scale.

The thin strip phaser banks arc around the top of the primary hull with the registry decals crisp and the Starfleet pennant precisely marked behind the tiny bridge and in front of the main shuttlebay which itself is bracketed with another pairing of ship name and number.

Am I that impressed with the Online paint scheme? Not so much but it's visually striking with the black elements highlighting sections of the hull and emphasising the streamlining. Importantly Eaglemoss have lined the pennant on the top of the secondary hull up with the one on the saucer section and this trails right back to the docked auxiliary craft that nestles at the rear of the engineering section.

Unusually for Eaglemoss this craft is constructed in three sections with the metal primary hull giving way to two pieces of plastic which form the secondary hull and pylons.

On the underside of the saucer the paintwork is beautifully recreated in all its digital simplicity with the blacked sections again drawing attention to points of the hull and once more having defined panel lines sunk into the metal and plastic sections. 

The main feature on the underside is that game changing double-neck which sees the primary hull suspended over the secondary hull by two curving arms - only ruined by what appears to be a stabilising pin in the middle which annoyingly breaks that clear central space in two. Man that's annoying seeing as the two arcing necks seem to be quite thick and supportive especially to the back where they sweep down into the body of the Enterprise.

Decals are once more kept pretty simple with pennants on the outer sides of the necks including rhe ship registry but you do find yourself looking down to the solid black undercarriage that leads your eye towards the nacelles one way and to the very well finished navigational deflector. Now there have been a lot of ships - Enterprise's, Nebula Class craft - where the deflector has been a bit of a slap, dash and blob it on job yet with the Enterprise-F the end result is clean and distinct with all the key parts of this eye-shaped piece of ship tech clearly marked. Probably the best one on any ship from the line.

Moving out across the sweeping pylons to the nacelles, disappointingly Eaglemoss have had to go with the bussard collectors and the warp grilles being painted on rather than being translucent sections. Scale, cost and flimsiness of the build will all be factors and at first glance I did think they had managed it only to be deflated on a closer look. Given it's not your "perfect" vision of how the engines should look, they are accurate to the online starship with all the parts well defined and painted in. The black stripe across the top does make it seem a bit "pimped" however it's in keeping with the rest of the starship's eye-catching livery.

Build quality on the Enterprise-F is excellent with only the needle-point warp engines giving any concerns around structural integrity. They are a little flimsy but only if you start attempting to work out if they're flimsy if you catch my drift.

For the stand, this one's dead easy to display with a firm but steady grip around the back of the primary hull giving a stable, amidships hold on the Odyssey Class vessel. I did need to file down the peg from the plastic clip to the base just to get it in the hole but that's minor compared to some of the other disasters - and if you did get an Enterprise-F stand with your USS Bonaventure you will be able to get a replacement from Eaglemoss!

Now to the magazine and a first here because we're dealing with Star Trek Online and not the televisual or movie shoots of the franchise. The overview of the ship, it's construction and service within the timeframe of the online game are extensive bringing it almost bringing up to date and including shots of the ship right back to when the game first launched.

Moving through it would be wrong not to include the background to Adam Ilhe's unique twist on the familiar form of the Enterprise which was the competition winning entry to design the new Federation flagship. That twin neck was certainly a key factor as to why this was the chosen one!

Closing out the issue we take a closer look at the universe of Star Trek Online and how the galaxy has evolved since the end of Nemesis. A lot has changed and Online takes into account events not just from the Prime Universe but also the key destruction of Prime Universe Romulus which was introduced as part of the Kelvin Timeline movies. Many a voice from the franchise have graced the stories to date including Aron Eisenberg, Tim Russ and the great Leonard Nimoy as well as more recently venturing into Discovery territory. If you've not tried it, this might give you a bit more insight into just what it's all about - and yes, it might be one of the reasons I've stepped back into the digital Star Trek universe. 

The Odyssey Class model will not be every fan's choice but it does play a huge part in the mythos of Star Trek as it exists today. The franchise has grown beyond TV, movies and books to a much more interactive level and it's incredible that Eaglemoss have chosen to include this vessel in their range. It shows how much a part of Star Trek its online offshoot has become in the past decade. Great ship, totally unique finish and a real beauty of a large ship on a smaller scale - this is what the regular issue E could have been with a bit less clustered detail.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Borg Sphere to destroy...

Which Enterprise-F did you go for? Or did you not bother?

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