Sunday, 9 June 2019

On Patrol: The Official Starships Collection Issues 150 and 151


There's an overpowering sense of deja vu once more with issue 150 of the Official Starships Collection.

That's because we're back in Miranda Class territory again with the fourth (fifth if you count the Bozeman) variant following the Reliant, Saratoga and Lantree.

While choosing to use the Reliant issue 11 model as its basis, the USS Antares featured incredibly briefly in the background in one episode of Deep Space Nine - but somehow constitutes getting a whole issue dedicated to it.

As with the Reliant, the paintwork is brilliant and reflects the changes that the Eaglemoss team decided to make following the USS Enterprise refit disaster from issue two. The aztec work is seamless right across the hull but even at the start there are a few bits that really grind. For one, the name and ship number decals are shoddy - the red outline around the black typeface is all out of alignment and this is something which continues into the positioning of the red striping over the sensor nodes at either side of the half -saucer.

The windows themselves are painted in where applicable so there's no need to line up with any surface detail and while the physical mold is great for the ship it's apparent there's a little bit of half-arsed finishing here. One thing you do spot is the plethora of Starfleet deltas when looking down from the top and again in a couple of instances you can see that the backing red circle is well out of sync with the arrowhead. 

Y'see with the Antares the basics are done very well and there's clear learnings from the four other times this basic configuration was used in the collection but even on the rear pod there's signs of sloppy decal application at the corners with mine displaying red splashes and bugging me to hell and back.

Also, I was disappointed that this one turned up in partial kit form with one of the nacelles and pylon detached. Luckily it was a simple glue job to rectify but it seems this isn't a one off with issue 150 reading a few comments online. That said the detail again on the nacelle is spot on with the grilles and vents all precisely painted in and the registry decals located correctly against the "expected" places on a Miranda Class. With this one you have to take a little bit of leniency since it wasn't exactly seen front and centre so you have to take things as correct to a point. One further point on the nacelles - the central joint lines are painfully obvious and almost gaping. Just offsets the paint and decal work unfortunately that does look ace.

However I suspect that the rear pod wasn't wonky as the one I received was. Classic kitbashing here from back in the day since the top unit replacing the rollbar is nothing more than a repainted and up-turned stand from the AMT USS Excelsior kit, one of which is currently residing in my loft. 

Before I go all 90's nostalgia, let's move on. The sides of the Antares are finished with dotted windows plus ship registries which line up with the shape of the ship. To the rear, there are the obligatory numbers to indicate the two shuttlebays plus a cleanly decorated impulse engine which matches back to that original Reliant model.

Flipping her over that misalignment continues with the blue warp core field generator. The second imprinted colour is grimacingly off-centre with the mold - which would be understandable if everything else around it was out of kilter but the darker grey senor machinery and gubbins surrounding it all line up even if the colour is blotchy...and has bled into the light grey azteced hull in places...but...y'know...

The aztec paint is great, non-symmetrical on the plastic inserted underside and is a perfect covering for the Antares but AGAIN the damn registry decals have their red border totally misaligned to the black letters and numbers. 

I wish I could get to grips with the errors on this one but every single one just goes against the great work on the basics. At this stage in a collection I would have thought these challenges would have been resolved, never to return but nope, not here.

Issue 150's magazine offers scant detail on the Antares aside from its operational duties in the Dominion War coupled with the brief summary of the features well known to the Miranda Class that we have encountered several times before. The issue is laden with images from Deep Space Nine's battle scenes although the Antares is a tad hard to find...!

Whether anyone is just not willing to admit they created this kitbash may be the reason why it has remained a "design mystery" but at least Eaglemoss have attempted to cover the story behind its creation and while they don't come to an answer there are some decent shots of the altered model plus a rare one of the USS Jupp kitbash which never made it to screen.

Finally there's six pages dedicated to Chase Masterson aka Leeta and her role within Deep Space Nine. Originally conceived as a bit part, Leeta became one of the integral recurring characters within the show and here we get the actress' take on her time with the show. Overall a good and varied magazine which is something of an achievement considering the teeny amount of time we got to see this one on the TV.

Over to issue 151 and here's one I had to look up to remember. Seems that the B'omar patrol ship turned up in Voyager's fourth season episode The Raven - and that was it. They probably received more screentime than the blurry background filling USS Antares but it's not one that every fan will be clamouring for to fill that shelf gap. 

But, as always with these oddball entries into the hallowed halls of the Official Starships Collection it looks fantastic. It's become something of a running joke that these guest ships that were almost instantly forgettable actually turn out to be some of the best replicas that Eaglemoss produce - step forward ECS Fortunate, Promellian Battlecruiser, Merchantman... you can complete your own list.

So what works on this one so well? Very evidently the multi-coloured base pattern of cream, grey and beige is a series of decals and being a lot larger than the standard ship registry ones that adorn the Antares, these blocks fit snugly into the gaps on the hull with the additional "upper" coat of the grey/purple panelling at points from the front to back of the ship. These pieces combine the colours not in aztec-style blocks but rather in a mottled pattern that acts to age the ship through its application.

For the most part the geometric pattern is identical left to right but there are one or two exceptions on the nose where its a little bit more uneven around the cockpit. Effectively detailed and a good choice to go with panelled decals rather than trying to colour segments.

As we move front to back the patrol ship has recessed areas of the ship utilised by more add-on pieces such as black quarter-circle inserts and bolt ons. This theme of circle parts echoes on in the sides of the hull curving up to the top of the cockpit. 

Behind that cockpit there is a wealth of lumps and bumps in the shape of the craft appearing to be the coverings for the engine sections or weapons of the craft. Out on the starboard wing there's a probe element which breaks up the symmetry once more and is pretty sturdy since it's made as part of the metal upper hull. There are some gaps between the decals and the paintwork on the topside but they are fairly minor and the painted sections be they purple-toned, black or green, all stay within the specified pieces of the hull and an immaculate look from above.

With the central "bulge" Eaglemoss have toned down the green engine hue you can see in the magazine on the CG and model and gone for a very light expression in the curved venting. It's barely noticable and I only really appreciated what these slits were supposed to be after reading through the accompanying literature.

Flipping it over, the patterning is limited to the outer edges of the hull with the purple mottled panels dominating the mainly metal underside section. These raised pieces do have some paint bleed with a small element of misalignment when the coat has been applied especially if you look towards the back. It's relatively minor but looks like there is more area covered than there needs to be rather than the colour slipping sideways.

The two blocky rectangular elements line up roughly with the pair on the top suggesting some form of weapon since the two topside are labelled in the magazine as torpedo launchers and are incredibly well finished off. There's no bleed and a good mix of colours in only a few centimetres of space. 

I love the little black elements that sit to the sides and rear of the patrol ship and add bits of negative space into quite a flat design. It's not something we've seen a lot of but the finish is clean as are the lines of the ship as a whole. I think this is definitely an underappreciated ship that screentime didn't allow us to get to know enough. It's very 80's spaceship styling and retains a distinct original feel - even more so since this wasn't recycled into anything else during the latter years of Voyager or four years of Enterprise thereafter. 

Again the stand positioning gives the flight impression with the clip fitting over the rear of the patrol ship. The lean to the back means there's no issue of a nose dive but Eaglemoss do need to look at how they are sizing up the plug piece that fits into the black curved base as I'm getting more and more which need a little persuasion to sit properly.


Into the magazine for this one and there's - unsurprisingly - not a great deal to go on. A brief summary of the ship and the episode it featured gives way to potentially the most minimalist call outs on the plan views ever.  Rolling into the designing section I was a little surprised to see that there were similarities between this and the Romulan scoutship which might have indicated that it would have been reused. It's all to brief a piece but it's followed by a bit of an unexpected gem in the form of an interview with Discovery co-creator Bryan Fuller about his time on Voyager back in the 90's. 

As a piece of Star Trek history this interview is a good read and you can see that it's way before there's ever a hint of Discovery in the air. Given this is slotted in to a "one ep" ship magazine it's not what I would have expected and some more casual collectors could well miss these words from an influential member of the writing and production team.

May's editions couldn't be more varied but the B'omar patrol ship is an easy winner in my eyes thanks to its nifty paint and decal finish plus the fact it's not a Miranda Class variant makes a huge impact. Great replica and another fine oddball pitched into the collection. Next month's USS Excelsior concept and Devore warship (from Voyager's magnificent Counterpoint) could offer a similar diversity in quality although both suffered a fate of minimal appearances but for different reasons...

Had enough of Miranda Class ships? Wanting more of those single episode ships? What's your take on these two starships?


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