Saturday, 2 January 2021

Move Along Voyager: Star Trek Online Starships Collection Issues 7 and 8

Perfectly timed it would seem to coincide with Discovery's reunion with Starfleet, the Online Ships Collection presents the USS Pathfinder.

Issue seven's revamped Intrepid Class style starship is a clear successor to Voyager with even the class name deriving from the project to find the lost vessel.

Much less bulky than previous issues, the Pathfinder contains a lot of the traits of its illustrious predecessor but with a lot more surface detail. 

I mean, it's covered from nose to tail with sensor arrays and lifeboat hatches filling every space and that distinct, furious Online paint scheme is key to making the ship look incredible. The updates for the shape work in keeping the design align with the other 25th Century tweaks we've seen in the collection - the Andromeda  Class spin on the Galaxy for example.

The sensor arrays at the tip of the saucer are now panelled away, the bridge is recessed and a lot less open a target than it was in Voyager. Some of the decalling is a little grainy especially the grey patterning in front of the bridge and down to the just-legible registry.  The  mould is also a good build but the scale does lose some definition to the sensor grid and also to the immense amount of decals. It's rare to find one perfectly aligned because there are just so many.

The sweeping hull curves back to the shuttlebay which is painted in although not cleanly. What I found as I did examine more towards the back is that the weathered hull effect seems to be more pixellated decalling that looks as disjointed as the decals. 

Dropping down and away from the main hull are the warp engines and echo one of the design features from the original design for Voyager in that they arched away from the ship in a similar manner to the refit NCC-1701. That grubby detailing is evident here again but the black striping makes an effective contrast to the rest of the ship, encasing translucent bussard collectors and accented with Starfleet pennants along the sides and across the warp field grilles.

Oddly the underside of the Pathfinder is more defined than the top. There is still some mottling of the paint adding to an aging effect that we see elsewhere but the blues of the grilles and the inset hatches strike a visual chord. It's much less packed with features too meaning that the segmented hull sees more solid blocks and less hatches to fill space.

Take note too of a couple of interesting "upgrades" from Voyager such as the placement of the aeroshuttle to the front of the saucer section and the slimmer, almost concealed deflector dish hiding behind the quantum slipstream drive.

The magazine details the reason for the development of a new long-range science vessel in the form of the Pathfinder Class. Integrating the quantum slipstream drive, the new ship is well ahead of Voyager with exploration of the Delta Quadrant more in mind than ever. This magazine also covers the increased versatility of the class before moving on to the design.

Wisely the article explains how, in the real world, the design was progressed from the Intrepid Class and took into account some of the concepts that were abandoned on that original path.

Closing out the issue is a thorough section dedicated to expanding the story of the galaxy in Online and just how the four quadrants became a lot closer in the game. but also spreads Starfleet over a greater area than ever with a significantly increased threat level on all sides. 

Issue 8 brings in a fourth major power to the collection with the Jem'Hadar Vanguard Carrier.

A big step up from the cruisers and battleships DS9 fans will be familiar with from the series, the Carrier is Odo's command craft and isn't just a base to launch wave upon wave of fighters but also contains a larger cruiser docked at the rear.

Continuing the strong Dominion purple and grey colour scheme, the vast Carrier is impossibly scaled down. The model itself is surprisingly light even with the top section being wholly metal. Eaglemoss have done well to replicate the hull patterning that resembles the rhino hide synonymous with the Jem'Hadar. It has all the hallmarks of a Dominion ship too, with the engines slung to the rear and forward a la the cruiser or battleship. The upper engine pods of the docked cruiser also add to the familiar silhouette.

The carrier actually looks far better in model form than the version pictured on the mini-magazine. The minimal number of windows also plays well with this Dominion ship since everything seems to line up well. The red decal striping is incredibly fine both top and bottom with it marking out key openings and partitions on the hull. The definition of the panelling is quite subtle nor does the paint scheme overpower it.

One thing that does impress even more are the clear lines marking the docked Heavy Attack Craft from the forward section. There is no doubt which are the lines of the model pieces against the stowed craft.

The front of the carrier is fairly simplistic while to the rear there is use of negative space and more unusual shapes not generally seen on Dominion craft. The underside has a noticeable bulge for the docking of the fighters and if you look in closely you can make out the entry and exit ports to the front and rear of that element.

For another thing, remove the stand from the equation and the ship is oddly well balanced, resting on the furthest rear point of the carrier bulge and remains perfectly level. 

In the magazine, as noted, the CG images make this look a lot more simplistic and cleaner than the diecast replica. At least it does explain how it exists and the state of the Dominion following their surrender at the end of DS9. Initially created for the Victory is Life campaign to mark 25 years of the show, the Carrier needed to show the development of the Dominion for a new age of Star Trek.

The design piece here explores that journey and how the inclusion of that Heavy Attack Craft came to pass. The magazine also covers the future history of the empire and how it came under serious threat from the Hur'q. 

This is an impressive piece that only suffers from the severe reduction in scale afforded it. Upping this into an XL or special would have been a huge advantage to it but I can't think that sales would be that popular given it would only really appeal to Star Trek Online players.

The Pathfinder model is a real delight to hold against Voyager but its cluttered surface detailing is a bit overwhelming. The inclusion of early concepts plus logical developments make it a cool ship but I am slightly more impressed with the "massive" Vanguard Carrier and its place in the Dominion. The model is one of the best weighted and technically finished, benefitting beyond belief for having pockets of windows rather than strips almost not at all (!) lined up with the raised hull points.

Check out all our Online Starships posts HERE

You can find out more on the Star Trek Online Official Starships Collection by visiting the Hero Collector website HERE

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