Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Real First Contact? The Official Starships Collection Issues 154 and 155



Oddly only a partial review this month to be updated next month due to a printing issue with the Klingon Transport magazine.

Both of this month’s ships come from Enterprise and it’s the Klingon entry which we’ll be tackling first purely down to issue number rather than release order. 

An unusually chunky design for the warrior race, the Transport has an excellent amount of detail once again thanks to the use of CG in the prequel series versus the models of previous generations. 

At the front the stubby green nose carries a golden deflector - an unusual feature on a Klingon ship and here we have it sitting slightly proud of the hull and - as we'll see - the cleanest piece too. The panel lining around the nose is nice and clean although the red inset detail painting is a little blobby in a couple of spots although they are quite tight gaps to fill. 

The metallic paint finish could have looked far too pristine but again Eaglemoss have thought ahead and weathered the whole craft with a dirt wash that takes the edge off the shine and adds a few years on to her age as well as keeping with the hardworked feel of the craft. In this respect Eaglemoss have done well to give that used and poorly cared for atmosphere to the transport.

The dirt weathering is most evident on the central container section where the dark streaks run from the top and down the sides of the craft. The panel detail here is fairly simple indicating larger pieces and fortunately the paint hasn’t filled up the separation lines so every part is distinguishable. Nicely there are what would seem to be two docking ports either side at the front od the main cargo block which I did miss on first inspection. It's another sign of how good the CG was for the prequel series and how impressively this has been translated across into the scaled down reproduction presented here.

However the most impressive element of the Klingon Transport has to be the rear third and the engine assembly. On occasion Eaglemoss has simplified some of the workings on the exterior of its ships yet here we have a fantastic recreation of the propulsion unit that must have proved a challenge to create. The pipe work is exquisite with a load of layering, recesses and call outs at every point, even having an inset red translucent exhaust piece set right at the back. 

Some of the depth of perspective is lost in shallower detail on the engines but overall it’s a sound effort and the detail goes a long way. It’s safe to say this is once more due to the use of CG on Enterprise meaning the original files are easier to work with than the rough and ready models of the ‘90’s.

The transport is pretty chunky from every angle and while that topside is filled with detail the underside is almost a polar opposite with only the engine units repeating their upper mechanical detail. The weathering/dirt wash continues but it's across a flat underbelly with only a couple of changes in depth along the main section to add to the sculpt. 

Therefore best viewed from the top, the stand placement for this one has the plastic clip sliding comfortably between the engines and the mechanics at the rear end and holds the transport steady. No issues either with the peg-to-base which has been a will-it-won't-it gamble every two weeks since records began.

MAGAZINE REVIEW TBC

Since we’re awaiting the magazine for this one it’s straight on to the Vulcan Survey Ship which pops up in the great Carbon Creek - although it's not the one T'Pol's ancestor took to Earth but the craft which rescued her at the end. 

Coated in that familiar Vulcan chestnut brown, the survey ship makes a bold statement out of the box and fits well with the rest of the fleet although you can see it's design isn't quite on par with the ships from the Enterprise era.

Almost bullet-shaped, the small ship has a certain metallic glow to it only offset with (and this is two for two issues here) by the subtle washed weathering applied to the top half of the hull. It's a gloriously smooth finish - again another Vulcan trademark - with the windows dabbed on to the forward, pointed section.

The metal topside is light on embossed detail yet does carry some slight curves and bumps but no obvious panel lines as seen on the Klingon Transport. All the elements of the craft seem to emerge almost organically from the central hull with the forward fins and three engines sitting glaringly proud.

The smaller plastic underside panel plus these extremities are all plastic constructs and actually have the better quality finish when it comes down to it. There are some lovely subtle paint changes on the forward fins that you wouldn't have appreciated on screen nor would you have taken in the use of negative space within the design of the engine units but here you can.

However the other challenge is that all of these plastic sections of the ship are devoid of weathering and look oddly clean versus the darker patches marking up the topside of the survey ship. Yes it's a good build however having three pristine engines and a set of fins that look immaculate does look strange next to a slightly weathered main hull.

The engines and the underside continue some nice painting subtleties with a second shade of the hull brown that appears to be only a small fraction of the colour wheel different to the main covering. 

The underside too carries some very lovely hull panelling detail expanding on a more technical aspect of the craft. The magazine makes much more of the hull finish and does seem to blend all the elements together for a seamless journey of the eye over the ship. 

One bug bear is that the engines have no translucent element to them. Look into each of the openings at the rear and you will only see shadows, darkness and more brown. To the eye it's difficult to differentiate between the brown hull and whether or not there is a translucent red element at the back of each of the warp engine openings. Gut says yes there should be and is yet would it not have been wiser to go with a yellow colour as in the magazine's views instead of a dark red we can barely see if at all. 

The engines are perhaps the flimsiest piece of this one and the sense that they are incomplete doesn't help bring this replica to life. One of the three on mine is a little loose so just be aware as it lifts from the rear. 


Sadly the few shots of it in the magazine from the ep as well as the time it appeared onscreen don't allow for too much scrutiny but the CG images and the ship itself do appear to line up very precisely in terms of panel detail, window alignment and finish. There's even some very slight aztecing on the D'Vahl if you catch it in the right light which highlights some of the varied panel colours across the hull. In fact check out the CG from the Ship Profile section and you'll see how perfectly detailed the underside of the ship is to the rendering on paper.

One glaring omission on the model which is all too present in the magazine is its landing gear. On the undercarriage of the D'Vahl you can make out the three distinct covers for the feet which are displayed on the cover and also in a couple of the stills from the Enterprise episode. The tragedy is that these feet aren't on the model itself and it's an odd one to see the magazine and model not totally aligned at least on the cover in terms of the physical product. 


In issue 155 the Ship Profile section deals with the features of the D'Vahl survey ship as well as the part it played in rescuing T'Mir and her fellow Vulcan observers from Carbon Creek. Surprisingly this section covered a lot of background into Vulcan activities in the 20th Century as well as spewing out the fairly standard episode synopsis. The plan views allow for a good side-by-side comparison on this one with the engines definitely standing out as the "area for opportunity" if there was ever a chance to rework this model. The addition of some strongly coloured engine exhausts does make it feel lacking and every image here reinforces the fact!

Almost feeling like a page-filler is Vulcan Fleet Listing which overviews the craft of the Federation founders in the 22nd Century. In fact all four of the classes/ships included have been seen in the collection which makes this a bit like closing the stable door after the horse had bolted.

Finally Adventures in Time adds Carbon Creek to the pantheon of time-travelling stories from the depth and breadth of the franchise. The article takes in everything from Return to Yesterday and  Assignment: Earth in The Original Series to Time's Arrow in The Next Generation onto Little Green Men in Deep Space Nine then Future's End and 11:59 in Voyager. It does also cover a few holodeck episodes plus Enterprise's North Star however there's no mention of Trials and Tribble-ations possibly because it's "fictional" history rather than "actual" history if you will.

An average couple of issues from the collection with neither Enterprise entry really setting the world on fire. My personal favourite of the two would be the Klingon Transport for the detail and engine build but it's certainly not one of Eaglemoss' stronger monthly pairings.

Average or a hidden gem of the collection? Let us know your thoughts below!



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