Saturday, 9 May 2020

Delivering a Legend: The Official Starships Collection Special 21: The Vulcan Long Range Shuttle

The Official Starships Collection travels back just over 40 years with one of its most impressive Special Editions ever.

One that's been on the wish list of many a fan for a considerable length of time, the Vulcan Long Range Shuttle/Shuttle and Warp Sled was one that I suspected would be slipped into an Alien Shuttle Collection but instead it's been given the honour of rocking in as the 21st larger-scale special. 

Having the opportunity to be brought to life as a bigger replica has really given the shuttle an incredible lease of life and the benefits are overwhelming. It has become something of an iconic craft since its scene in The Motion Picture which sees its passenger module spin and turn to dock with the refitted USS Enterprise and deliver Spock back to his shipmates.

OK, if we're really picky it doesn't fit too well with the aesthetic established retroactively with Vulcan ship design in Enterprise however it does work if you think that Federation designs would have probably aligned to a degree given the level of technological co-operation that was happening by this point in Star Trek history. Anyway, lets head in to discuss this superb model...

The scale really does strike you when you open the box for the first time and the second thing is the weight of the thing. All the strength is at the back with the pylon/base in metal with the long, spiky warp engines and pod added on in plastic. As has become customary however, the differing materials really make no difference to the look, only to the structure of the craft since everything blends perfectly - aside from the odd join line - something that's not present here.

Given that the shuttle is likely to have been used within planetary atmospheres there is a considerable amount of weathering to the front streaking to the back on both the engines and the forward, angular plating on the pod suggesting heat damage from reentry. This streaking does lessen towards the rear where the base coat is more obviously white rather than, forgive me, shades of grey. 

Named the Surak, the shuttle scale becomes apparent through the inclusion of the recessed, painted and not misaligned windows on either side of the passenger section. That and the airlock would suggest that at those points it just be just over six foot tall. The docking port is the worst painted part of the craft with a very light wash of white that barely coats the plastic but does have the door detail on the surface.

On the upper surface of the pod there are several - well used - reaction control system thrusters as we as some magnificent red decal trimming right around the edges of the shuttle. The mechanics set into the top are easy to make out  and are enhanced with further yellow and black detailing as well as the Surak registry and what I asume is a lengthy serial number for the craft. 

Along both sides we have Vulcan script confirming ownership and this lettering is mirrored, along with the shuttle name in a larger font, along the side of the curved pylons dropping down to the warp engines. 

The sled itself has cleaner colouring on the top making it possible to see the two main colours of an off-white and light grey panels complimented with more of the fine black detail. The engines bear more of a story to the age of the shuttle with more wear and tear evident than anywhere else on the ship. Eaglemoss have driven dirt into the vent points on the nacelle surfaces as well as "rubbed" wearing on the undersides of the engines that, when you check out the images of the original prop, turn out to be rust spots. The external edges carry the grey/off white colouring while the interiors also have the recessed warp grilles in black. What also stands out on the underside is even more wear and tear with a very dirty wash across the whole sled belly instilling a real "used" feel to this fantastic collection piece.

Inset into the rear end of the warp engines we have translucent exhaust points in yellow bordered with RCS thrusters once more and you get a sense that this is just about as exact a replica as you could possibly get of the Long Range Shuttle. It really has every detail in place right to the very tips of the engines and the black, recessed grille points there. It's exceptionally well constructed and shows that keen dedication to the finer points of the ships from Star Trek that have brought some serious, superior highlights of this collection over many, many other models that have been built over the years.

It's a world class piece because of that weathering, the finishing surface detail and the solid feel of the ship overall. Ok, the running lights we see or some of the black upper hull detail (towards the docking port) isn't present though these are very small issues given the accuracy of the rest of the shuttle.  Lining her up with the original model photos to the back of the magazine is the best comparison piece you'll ever get and dare I say it, the model might actually be better than the 1978 version(!). It does look more purple (as intended but altered post-production) and bizarrely cleaner yet overall you'll struggle to really find anything that isn't in line with the screen-used item. 

Over in the magazine the coverage kicks off with a reminder of the shuttle's appearance in the first Star Trek movie (three paragraphs!) before we have four pages of views from various points on the craft with and without the sled. I think the one piece I noted here was the white light on the front edge of the shuttle which is marked out on the model but coloured the same as the rest of the hull. Designing the shuttle includes a welcome set of sketches explaining the creative process from the perspective of its creator, one Andrew Probert. 

This section also covers how it was originally planned for the shuttle to separate and approach versus the famous shot of it heading to the Enterprise as seen through the officers' lounge windows. Missing from the contents and probably a late addition to fill out the pages with a two pager on the return of Spock to the franchise after Nimoy had been vehemently against putting on the ears for the aborted Phase II series. But we know how that worked out...

To summarise; this is a collection work of art that I would say is essential for any collector. Well presented, packaged, displays beautifully (as log as the stand is the wrong way round) and adds a very popular and long awaited craft of the franchise to the collection - and just in time too.

Read all our other reviews of The Official Starships Collection from issue ONE here.

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