Sunday, 27 October 2019

Pitch Black: The Official Starships Collection Issues 160 and 161


Stepping out of Enterprise is this time's first Starships Collection edition; the Sarajevo Class.


A striking delta design, the swept form of the Sarajevo Class is a silver arrowhead with a rack of stunning detail on the surface. The metal upper section not only has a two tone metallic finish highlighting the panelling (and it's not symmetrical) but there are differences in surface texture from smooth to ridged to grilled which gives this craft a very tactile impression.


Eaglemoss have done a sterling job of capturing this early Earth ship from all angles with the larger scale here allowing for more depth and bizarrely better window alignment across the sides of the craft. This is very much about the bold thrusting shape and the panels are well defined with the metallic finish managing not to detract from the undulations in the Sarajevo Class hull.

Decals are kept to an absolute minimum on the ship with the topside adorned by just two small "NC-27" registries either side of the central island. The middle part of the ship draws the eye back to the structure and it's here that there are a couple of uncomfortable details. 

The pod-like centrepiece is plastic and glued on to the hull, continuing the two tone silver paintwork all the way to the top.The smaller detail here - especially the docking port right at the back on the top piece is a welcome surprise. However, the window ports here - encompassing the front of the two upper pods are poorly painted in with the white seemingly flaking away at several points. I'm hoping mine is the exception rather than the rule as it's the biggest negative about the finish. 

Perhaps the most noticable feature of the Sarajevo Class are its in-board warp engines. Fixed at the very edge of the ship, the bussard collectors curve almost fully to the contour of the hull and are separated into two pieces cleanly by the hull. Given that the split of metal to plastic happens right where these translucent pieces slot in means access to set them is easy with a great final effect. 

To the rear the electric blue exhausts strike out from the hull again nicely curved to the lines of the ship. Either side of them are four little decalled grilles - an unusual addition even with this larger scale in play. 

Underneath it's a familiar story with the grilles and silver paintwork continuing on every possible surface, The toned scheme covers the whole hull and again, holy hell, the windows are actually aligned to the recessed holes. It truly is a miracle and one one we've had to wait many moons to see...but it's well worth it.

At the centre is a smaller, less protruding structure than the one topside. With more of that tactile grille-work, it's topped by a white opaque dome - and for a second time there are signs of chipped and thin paintwork which definitely 100% detracts from the otherwise brilliant qualities of the Sarajevo Class. 

While I might have been pushed to remember it initially, the work - as expected from Enterprise is second to none and the CG once again proves that it provides a better result and a more complete replica since all 360 degrees were created. The surface textures and variations on this one really stand out and it's a fine recreation from the seldom seen Earth ship.

As to stand positioning, this one's in a firm grip with the plastic holder grasping the rear end rather firmly top and bottom. It's not getting out of there in a hurry.

Detailing the role of the Sarajevo Class, the issue 160 magazine offers up a series of facts and figures around the role of the ship type plus what role it played within the four seasons of Enterprise turning up on more than a couple of occasions in a supporting role. 

We get to see the design path of the starship from creator John Eaves over a double spread which explains it's form and why the upper sections were conceived as such. Finally there's a decent read on the best season of the prequel series which touches on the work Manny Coto did for Enterprise with mentions going to the story arcs that were developed as well as the trip to the Mirror Universe, the arrival of the creator of the transporter and that finale. 

Now, we go to a distinct opposite with the rather fugly Void Ship from Voyager's fifth season opener Night.

I don't quite know what to make of this one since it's one of the most unusual vessels to grace the collection and the franchise. Flying on a vertical axis rather than the more horizontal plane we would see in a Federation starship, the Void Ship has a somewhat organic feel.

The more lumpy than usual surface unfolds in a hue of purples from top to bottom with a series of impressive recesses cut into the surface and coloured light blue against the dark hull. These features are probably more impressive when seen against the starless "Night" sky if you will although in Eaglemoss' replica it does miss out on having a more luminescent quality to these parts.  What's also a little odd here is the choice to go one half metal, one half plastic vertically meaning one side of the ship has that distinct colder feel to the other when your brain is expecting them to feel the same and it to be the "stick on" parts which will be in the lighter material.

At the back of the hammerhead section the only translucent piece slips around either side of the craft and looks rather obviously glued in place. The touch is different with this being a larger, green plastic element however it's not incorporated and more a stick on.

The shape of the ship is reminiscent of both the Alien films and Species 8472 with the curves in shape and coloured recesses - indeed the connecting pieces to the engine unit even look like the neck of an 8472 pilot. 

That rear section is as non-descript as the rest of the ship, with two dipped exhaust ports set back into the rear. At this point it's clear that the vertical joining of the two halves makes sense since it does give each side a smoother flow across the surface which joint lines would ruin. 

As with the Species 8472 bioships, the organic look is more a miss than a hit and struggles to work in replica form. The material itself also suffers from having been in an episode where the nature of the story itself meant we failed to ever get a decent look at it which in turn means that our opinion on it isn't ever going to be fully correct.

It looks unusual and with the more unconventional stand position, it will be one to cause a bit of starship conversation in that there are very few craft within the franchise that have such a distinct silhouette and for which we know so little - and at least it's better than the Malon ship...

Issue 161 tells the story of Night and the part these ships played in the encounter with Voyager and also how they assisted in repelling the Malon who were polluting their natural spatial habitat. 

The magazine finishes out by discussing the fifth and perhaps most bleak year of Voyager's journey home with the mood set right from the very first episode. This article, if brief, does make you question and look back at those 26 episodes n a slightly different and more analytical manner especially when confronted with episodes such as Dark Frontier and the finale, Equinox.

The two ships this month are a step up over recent offenders but we really are mining the bottom of the barrel with some of the choices. All of the big hitters are long gone with these more extreme options being fished out. I personally find a lot of them fascinating one offs that we will never see again but there are some genuine head scratchers or missing ones that still haven't appeared. The Sarajevo Class just nudges ahead on the quality from these two - there's more distinction in the metal work with more precise markings . 


ADDITIONAL

Ok... an unusual extra bit but this week's Destination Star Trek event in the UK has confirmed that not only will the Busts and Graphic Novel collections be coming to an end but that The Official Starships Collection will complete at 180 issues.

Confirmed issues from the event for the collection are:

166. Tamarian Cruiser
167. Axanar Cargo Vessel
168. Suliban Freighter
169. Kes' Shuttle
170. Tsunkatse Arena Ship
171. Denobulan Medical Ship
172. Xindi Insectoid Fighter
173. Arcos Freighter
174. Young Archer's toy starship
175. Pakled Freighter Mondor

On the Bonus Issues we will also receive:

20. USS Conestoga
21. Enterprise Klingon D4 Concept
22. Cardassian Weapons Platform
23. Friendship One
24. USS Reliant Concept
25. USS Enterprise from The Cage

And for Specials...

20. Gold USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
21. Vulcan Long-Range Shuttle
22. T'Plana'Hath

Eaglemoss have confirmed they will be continuing the XL starships with:

Klingon K'Tinga Battle Cruiser
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D All Good Things... variant

A new line from Star Trek Online will be forthcoming and the Discovery series will continue.

What do you think of the collection coming to a close? Too soon or not soon enough? Any ships we'll miss? What should be issue 180?

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