Saturday, 23 September 2023

Mid-Sized then SUPERSIZED: The XL USS Cerritos NCC-75567

This could well be the shortest review ever. 

To understand the details of the XL it’s actually easier just to head over to my review of the midsize. Seriously, the only differences between the two are size and also a slight colour change on the deflector dish. Even the price was inexplicably the same.

I suppose if we were to be more critical, the issue would be that only the season one version of the USS Cerritos exists and it never had the chance to be upgraded to the more finessed season two version from the show.

Really, that’s it. I’m struggling here to justify actually writing a ton because it’s already been said. Admittedly I do prefer the XL but that’s only down to the size which does just enhance the details. Oddly of course this was the first version released with the mid-size edition only recently unlocked from Eaglemoss' storage.

At least one thing was accurate... this is the shortest review ever.

So in the place of excessive words, here are some further images of the USS Cerritos as an XL!

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Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Reman Scorpion Attack Flier: Unreleased Eaglemoss

One of the smallest craft to feature in Star Trek and the only ship from Nemesis never to be released in the original line, the Reman Scorpion Attack Flier was the penultimate bonus edition to be produced by Eaglemoss.

The small, two man craft was stored aboard Shinzon's Scimitar and used by Picard and Data to escape the Reman battleship. The Eaglemoss model, sold through Master Replicas is a beautiful, streamlined piece and well worth the wait.

With the main hull itself in metal and only the side venting and top weapon pod added on in plastic, its got a bit of weight to it. At only 10cm long and a maximum of 5cm wide, it's also packed a lot in.

The paintwork on this one is particularly striking with an almost pearlescent effect right across the surface giving off grey or black tints depending how the light catches it. In some spots, especially at the front grilles, the paint job isn't right into the corners but overall the effect works and is highlighted with the blues of the engines at the rear wings and two emblems resembling the Scimitar on both rear winglets.

The panel design is very simple and there's noticeable difference in the height of the lines to the main sections. Detail too is perhaps at an appropriate minimum with only a few cut outs to break up the surface on top.

On the underside it's a little different with an extensive segmented finish and what one would assume are exhaust ports facing to the rear. It also retains that singular pearlescent paint scheme. That certainly pair with the Scimitar and that sense of superior stealth/cloaking technology. 

At the rear is a four-segment engine which wouldn't look out of place on Michael Keaton's Batmobile, encased as it is in a conical shroud. It's also hugged by two plastic add on shoulder pieces which seem to be intakes. Sitting right on top there's a silver weapons pod which has an interesting sweeping design that arcs forward towards the front of the Scorpion. 

It's an incredibly slim design and the mould of this is pretty impressive since it appears that 90% of it is a single block. Perhaps the only downer is the lack of interior detail that's covered up with the smoked cockpit canopy. In the right light it's completely blacked out and absolutely adds to the menace but catch it in another way and you can see it's just a flat slab. Is it an issue? Not really given the scale and price - and the fact that none of the translucent shuttle canopies provided a view to a detailed interior.

Minus points also for the placement of the clear clip stand that wraps right over part of the Scimitar emblem. Annoying and unavoidable.

Tragically although the box waxes about the included magazine, Master Replicas have been unable to include them either because of warehousing issues or maybe because they were never actually printed. Either way, this is still a really nice model that offers some form of completion to the models of the movies pre-2009. Small and perfectly modelled, the Scorpion Attack Flier cuts an impressive swansong for Eaglemoss.

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Saturday, 2 September 2023

J-Ride: The Official Starships Collection USS Voyager NCC-74656-J

One of those ships that we only glimpsed, the Voyager-J was an instant hit with Discovery fans.

Cutting straight into the Discovery line, the Intrepid Class successor employed the distinct features of the 32nd Century while managing to retain that instant recognition as a descendant of the original USS Voyager.

A mid-size model, this is comparable in size to the recently reviewed USS Titan and USS Cerritos. Coming in the standard Eaglemoss box, the Voyager-J also comes in bits. Now it's not because Royal Mail can't look after anything, it's due to the fact that the ship has that wonderful detached nacelles arrangement that pervades the 32nd Century and drives fans into the love or hate camp.

One thing that's immediately obvious from the start is that this iteration of its namesake is a lot sharper than before. The first Voyager wore some sweeping curves that matched the title music but here the J is all points and acute angles.

To say that the design has been simplified for the distant future would be an understatement and near insane. The hull is now almost a flat surface broken only with defence/panel lines. Even the bridge is part of the sweeping primary hull, tapering the near triangle back to the almost invisible neck piece.

The black striping around the hull now represents the windows and indicates just how big the J must be versus the classic edition. Aside from markings for a few sensor platforms and the burgundy RCS thrusters, the surface is incredibly plain and belies the jump in technology for Discovery's third season onwards.

You can but only surmise that the grey stripe behind the bridge is for the shuttlebay as there are very few indications of what anything might be. Not too much of a shock since the ship was barely seen in the show aside from the hull registry.

Build wise, the top of the primary hull only is in metal with the lower insert and the rest of the ship in plastic which does give it more weight to the front and at least feels fairly stable when she's slotted onto the classic Eaglemoss grip and black base.

There is something of a connection to the secondary hull although that's more to make it work as a display item than actually used onscreen since the two hulls are distinctly separated. That secondary hull is just as smooth and streamlined as the saucer with it's distinct "bottle opener" rear. That angular feel also continues and is especially strong if you do slide the original and the J side by side. The deflector here is much more deeply recessed and the hull almost comes to a point at its bottom. One might even suggest that the grey block right at the back is another shuttlebay. 

The overall issue is that there is little to shout about because of the minimalistic nature of the Voyager-J. It's clean, basic and certainly no nonsense. Even the registry under the primary hull has a no frills feel in small and inconspicuous lettering. 

The interesting bit comes in the form of the clear sling which slides over the main body of the ship and then allows the two warp engines to be slotted into holders providing the detached nacelles effect. As on Discovery-A, it's not the cleverest of arrangements but there isn't a lot of choice as to how these can be positioned given the 32nd Century evolution of warp drive.

The engines themselves do feature a nice quartet of cutout sections to the rear as well as some silver detailing to the front with the bussard collectors also painted in silver. The warp grilles on the exterior edges are just painted in here given the slimline construction of the engines. They also feature the 32nd Century Starfleet pennants top and bottom with the registry only on the lower surface.

What else can you say?

Ok, I was not that positive about this model when I knew it was on the way but I've been more than pleasantly surprised with the quality and look. It's a nice piece best displayed alongside that XL USS Voyager NCC-74656 and y'know I think it's one that will be out on the shelves for a while.

The magazine (which actually DID come with this one!) is exceptionally brief on the career of the J but does go into a decent bit of depth around the redesign of the iconic starship alongside some great concept art. Just for a kick there's also the "Coming Soon" featuring the never-released (maybe next year FanHome) 32nd Century Constitution Class. 

Definitely a keeper here although it's now as scarce as dilithium in the 32nd Century and some of the eBay prices are going crazy. Well revamped, well made and well, one you'll be oddly impressed with.

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Sunday, 27 August 2023

Mid-Titan: More of Eaglemoss' Unreleased Treasure Trove

Designed for a book cover in the mid-2000s, the USS Titan has since gone on to become almost as iconic a starship as the lead vessels in each Star Trek series.

Eaglemoss did produce a smaller bonus model in line with their regular collection back in 2017 which reflected the original Sean Tourangeau design (2005) for the Pocket Books competition which led to the book cover for Sword of Damocles

While Star Trek Online would enthusiastically include the Titan and therefore the Luna Class in its digital universe, the ship would only gain its first onscreen, canon, appearance in Lower Decks' season one finale, No Small Parts.

Featuring a radical new paint scheme and some other alterations for the animated series, the Titan made a big impression, receiving an XL model as part of the Eaglemoss collection. 

But there was more because along with the USS Cerritos and USS Vancouver (and apparently the Yosemite shuttle!), the Titan was to be featured in the Star Trek Universe series of mid-sized starships. This has now been dropped to the world thanks to Master Replicas finding a load of them in one of Eaglemoss' multiple warehouses and it's a blinder.

Doing away with the two tone flat grey colour scheme of the original model, the Lower Decks USS Titan explodes with colour. It retains the darker grey base coat but has the phaser bank arc in a striking blue with the recessed sections of the hull in a light purple/lilac that draws out the detail on the hull.

Comparing the two, the basic primary hull panelling is near identical although the lifeboat hatches are more defined. The paint scheme is the big winner in really bringing this model to life. Reflecting on the original, it might have been accurate but it was incredibly bland. The siing up has meant that lines have been crisped up and the markings especially behind the bridge just sit more prominently.

The number and alignment of windows has also been changed with those at the outer edge of the saucer moved closer to the lip and a second set now added inside the phaser ring where there was only one previously.

Note too that the registry is a more realistic size and less crammed into a tiny space between the phaser bank and the recessed hull detail. Even the NCC code has an added red border which was conspicuous by its absence on the original. Even the navigation lights have been added to the front, port and starboard positions on the saucer making this a superior replica at every step.

Ok, so this is the animated version so it is brighter and perhaps not the way it would be portrayed in a live action series but Eaglemoss have produced one of the most exciting and vibrant ships in their collection with the Titan

The pod sitting atop the saucer seems to be a little longer on this edition and has equally received a repainting with the recesses in blue rather than the inset squares. This did bear the navigation lights but only as painted on features while the mid-size version has them as raised elements. It has also gained an upgraded paint job with the panelling itself remaining unchanged in layout.

Moving back along the Titan, the lilac/grey split colouring continues and draws the rear lifeboats and shuttlebay doors out. Eaglemoss have added landing strip detail here as well which was absent previously.  The pylons now bear more lilac than grey and this is where the most updates seem to have occurred. The ridging on the pylons is now painted up and navigation lights added to the tops of the engines.

Eaglemoss retained the painted in warp engine grilles but the front of the nacelles have had a massive revamp as evident on screen. The tips are now slimmer and have lost the split casing in favour of much rounder sections connecting to the translucent bussard collectors.

With the pennants, the wording is more in line with the scale and "Starship" has been added before USS Titan with the red striping extending to the halfway mark. The registry to the rear is now in a more suitable font (as per main hull) with the red edging in place.  In every sense it's a big upgrade that sings of better precision and maybe half a decade of learnings from the series as a whole. 

If you think you can't love it any more, take a look underneath. The underside of the saucer is alive with colour and more rows of windows painted onto the raised panelling. The features once more mirror the original down to the number of lifeboat hatches and the lower sensor platform at the centre. The colours just work here even though there's probably no difference in the way that the panel levels are defined against the original. 

On the smaller version the paint wasn't too heavy so the detail wasn't lost as it had been on the issue six Voyager and it's just built on here. Importantly and something that is new is the separate piece used for the deflector dish. Not just a painted (poorly) circle now, the deflector is an individual section slotted into the front of the hull and the colour seems much more suitable. It's even in a translucent blue just to drive home the point.

The build overall is very solid with the main hull in metal linked to the plastic secondary hull, pod and engines. There don't seem to be any evident gaps or dodgy seams either which is very reassuring but also a gut punch since this was to have been one of the later models released. It showed a lot of love for Lower Decks and one of Star Trek's most interesting designs.

As with the engines, the pennants along the sides of the small secondary hull have been reworked and refined to a better scale. Yes, the original was constrictive when it came to the script but lessons have been learned and scale increased to produce one of my favourite models from the whole collection.

Yes, even I'm shocked I've gone that far but it truly is just exciting to look at from every angle and adds that "ping" that a shelf of grey starships might just need sometimes. If you can find one, get it, you won't regret it.

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Saturday, 26 August 2023

Wings: Discovery's Klingon Bird of Prey

 Ah Discovery. Remember seasons one and two when it all went down? 

Yep, me too and I hope that in season five we'll get back to some of the quality that the first two batches of episodes provided.

For the time being though I can still gaze longingly at some of the models that were produced by the now-extinct Eaglemoss as I round out the last splatterings left in the "IN" pile. Oddly though it seems the right moment to look back since several sites are not selling these editions plus we have promising more on the way.

Now these are going to be older models that most people who followed the collection will have but for the sakes of my own completism and desire to ensure that everything from them I've got is documented, here are the last of the regular series Discovery ships I have.

These were actually purchased in that last gasp for breath sale the week before it all went Pete Tong and I had to pick quickly!

First up there's the rather impressive if unwieldy Bird of Prey. One of the things levelled against it is that it looks nothing like the classic design nor does it even come close to anything that's been seen since The Search for Spock, even in Enterprise. Still, it fits with the rest of the fleet - as it was designed to  and that's what counts. After all we're not reviewing the model design, more the model itself as a replica of what was on screen in both detail and construction quality.

The Bird of Prey is, honestly, one heck of a beautiful design for the show. From the front you can very clearly see the distinct shape of a classic version of the vessel but that's where the similarities tend to stop.

As we'll see in all the Discovery designs and models, the detail is mind-boggling. Just taking in the wing shape and features here is a task in itself. Aside from the dirt and weathering which is good but not overbearing,.

Constructed in metal, the curving wings have a very textured finish with ribbing extending from the centre of the ship out and just beyond the edges. These are distinctly raised on both the upper and lower surfaces and coloured bronze against the brown base coat. There's also a clever feathered effect at the wing edge which you just can't appreciate on a TV screen but certainly can here. That bronze edging is in evidence right across the Bird of Prey from the wings into the main body and then into the neck and head section. There's a distinct Gothic feel to the way in which this has been designed and that shows through in the model itself.

But there's also an organic piece to the Bird of Prey as running down the centre is a structure that can only be described as its spine replete with a protruding "bone" structure. Again, the detail is just magnificent although, when compared to the images in the magazine you can see that some of the higher level texturing has been lost to the weathering effect.

Some of the detail is there, notably along those feathered wing edges but into the main body the paint finish is smoother just as the bodywork itself tends to become more complex. 

The neck and head section are masterpieces when it comes to modelling with the translucent blue section touched up with bronze detail to seem an integral part of the vessel. There's something almost Alien (intentional capital) about the shape of the ship's body as if it would genuinely open up and strike out a razor sharp tongue. Everything about it says aggression and Eaglemoss managed to replicate its onscreen persona pretty closely.

Plastic models are unforgiving when it comes to cost though and sadly that real finishing texture that's so evident in the magazine does get lost a little. 

Where there is a bit of a tragedy is that these Discovery ships seem to have very little if any annotation to give you an idea of what parts are what. I can work out from the images that the wings do fold with the ship displayed in attack but what's the little piece that sits under the wings and has a piece of transparent blue at its centre? 

The design might look good but fans do want to know there's thought behind some of the features and why certain things are in set places - it's just the way they are!

The only real letdown as far as the Bird of Prey goes are the two forward facing antenna that are fairly obviously much larger than they should be. Any thinner and we'd be approaching Solar Sailor levels of delicate but these two protrusions are fairly solid. The ship is well put together with the metal and plastic sections both curving and meeting with very little indication towards the front of the sweep.

In the magazine the coverage of the design is the clear highlight with the first section only covering the Bird of Prey as part of the Klingon fleet and the actions they were used for in the first season of Discovery. At least with the design article there are a good chunk of pictures to illustrate the extensive work to create this new take on a classic starship. Even goes as far as working out the scale!

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Friday, 18 August 2023

Path Not Travelled: USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D All Good Things Future Version

There was a ton of excitement when the subscriber gifts for the Official Starships Collection were announced. Along with the binders, Enterprise-D plaque and infamous light up Borg Cube, perhaps the most eagerly awaited was the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D as seen in the alternative future of All Good Things....

While this version would never come to pass in the Prime Timeline due to the destruction of the Enterprise in Generations, it proved to be an unforgettable arrival into the Star Trek starships canon.

The subscribers version was made on the same scale as the 180 issue "regular" collection but once Eaglemoss expanded into the XL line it was only a matter of time before it joined the series. Indeed, the second of the XLs had been the NCC-1701-D. 

In essence this is the XL-D with its future alterations so for the most part this is an absolutely identical finish to the model we've already reviewed. Indeed, lining them up it's very easy to see that the two are - at a basic level - identical.

The aztecing, the decals, the window alignment is bang on a copy but where we get exciting is in the extra parts that were attached for The Next Generation's seventh season finale.

On the top of the saucer we have the least updates to the design with the probe-like guns added either side of the bridge module and then what seems to be an additional torpedo launcher just behind it. The larger scale shows up the slight misalignment in the registry decals with the red border a few millimetres out to the right but aside from that there's nothing major to note here... unless we want to cover those pesky windows once more.

The three structures added to the dorsal side of the saucer might just be bolt-ons but they do mesh perfectly with the green/blue (duck egg) colour scheme of the ship overall. Following just how the original studio model was updated for the series, the All Good Things... Enterprise has the glue on third nacelle structure.

Stretching from the new impulse engine at the rear of the saucer, this element traverses the spine of the ship down the neck connection and along the Engineering hull before rising up to bear that prominent third nacelle. There is a good level of new detailing on here including what seem to be additional transporter emitters along the sides and a raft of new windows as well as continuations of the Starfleet pennant stripes.

Flip her over and the most evident addition is the huge phaser weapon slapped right down the centre line of the saucer. Ok, it does mean saucer separation is out of the question but for pure "wow" factor it nails it. Detail on this has been scaled up and comparing to screenshots of the episode, the colours and patterning appear to be aligned. What is good with the XL is that there's much more definition to the panelling on these extra pieces. Certainly with the cannon the muzzle area has had some nice upgrading and recessed areas although the fit to the hull on the saucer curvature is a little patchy.

All three nacelles feature the additional top "lumps" indicating a new, larger mould to accommodate those elements which add in new phaser placements and modified decals. The engines do retain their translucent blue and red inserts although on close inspection the joint lines are a bit gappy.

Moving just a little further back and the last of the mods to the ship is evident with the two wings dropping away from the curves of the pylons. This has to indicate the upper half of the Engineering hull is actually a different mould to the original since these are definitely part of the structure and not add ons as with the other All Good Things... upgrades.

The finish overall with the future Enterprise-D is superb and actually enhanced with all the clip on parts. The Eaglemoss model carries the original paint scheme on too with the third engine pylon and raised areas of the secondary hull actually blending seamlessly in regards to colour matching.

The magazine gives some brief coverage to the episode and the ship's appearance but the majority is dedicated to the development of All Good Things... as a story. Lining up after that is a short article on the new ships for the finale in the form of the Klingon starship that would become the Negh'Var and the USS Pasteur medical frigate.

Admittedly this is a bit of a "take it or leave it" XL given that the "real" Enterprise-D returned as seen in The Next Generation for Picard's final season. This might in turn just twist collectors to re-label the secondary hull of their XL to match its onscreen swansong. Good finish, lovely design and well executed. 

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Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Fair to Middling: USS Cerritos Unreleased!

Trying to find an XL USS Cerritos is becoming harder and harder.

Master Replicas have managed to secure just about every single last one on the planet but there was some good news when they revealed the existence of the mid-size Cerritos and USS Titan from Lower Decks.

Never released by Eaglemoss, these two are ship-only editions that would have (you suspect) launched the Lower Decks ship range as part of the Star Trek Universe series.

The Cerritos in either scale has been in considerable demand with both this and the XL selling out in minutes although some dodgy multi-orders have been noted by the Master Replicas team. Good to know they're all over it.

Based on the season one version of the ship, the Eaglemoss model doesn't have some of the higher detail that was added in subsequent seasons. It's a bit of a loss that there were never opportunities to upgrade the original build but we all know why that is.

The paint scheme for one is very simple. A plain grey base with blocked dark grey sections  and mid-level grey hull highlights dominate the top of the ship. Alignment of the mid-grey to the lifeboat hatches is pretty good, likely assisted by the scale since this is a relatively small ship in-universe. The windows are also painted on. I can ay no more because the alignment on the mid-size Cerritos is appalling. There's no other words for it because they are so off from their hull indents it's embarrassing. Was this a rush job at the end of the line knowing what was coming? Maybe it was but it ruins what is actually a decent replica.

Eaglemoss have, to their credit, added in the phaser strip with more precision and this almost totally encircles the saucer. The distinct Support Services yellow stripe also pops that touch of colour both on the dorsal and ventral sides of the ship 's primary hull and on the bottom of the engineering hull.. One can only assume that over time collectors would have been able to add ships with the red and blues of command and sciences to their shelves.  

To the rear of the hull is the plain and simple ship registry of USS Cerritos NCC-75567. This is the only place on the model and is in keeping with its onscreen counterpart. The reason for this is brilliant. Since the Cerritos is a support ship and more likely to be towing something, the registry was placed to the back rather than emblazoned on the front.

One thing I do like here is the unevenness of the mid-grey panelling. It's beautifully asymmetrical on the top and bottom of the saucer and Engineering section although that's not continued onto the warp engines. They mirror each other from the centre out but let's get to them momentarily.

On the underside there is some very slight misalignment of the grey highlights in regards to the four darker recesses but those are almost insignificant. The colour scheme works perhaps even more effectively here as it swirls around in three shades towards the centre of the primary hull.

Darting down to the pencil-shaped nacelles we have two industrial-looking struts. Given their size they do provide decent support for the engines. Oddly the two smaller pieces which connect to the tiny Engineering hull are patchily painted.

Nor do the engines contain any transparent elements for the bussard collectors or warp grilles. Everything is painted in here and in respect to the collectors that makes sense as there's a ton of detail around them leading into a darker grey piece before the lighter shades of the main bulk of the nacelle.

Maybe the translucent elements could have been painted as we have seen before however this choice gives the Cerritos a more "cartoon" and matt finish overall. The warp field grilles on the nacelles are fairly slim which may have dictated the choice to go 100% plastic with just the addition of a conspicuous Starfleet pennant towards the front.

The seemingly inaccessible Engineering hull finishes off the Cerritos with the same uneven patterning which is less evident onscreen than it is in reality (which is bizarre since there's actually no physical filming model of the Cerritos!). The deflector is finished in pastille shades which does look out of place and subdued when compared to the rest of this design. Why we've gone for a toned down effect here is a bit of a mystery given the bright glow that emanates from it in Lower Decks and if anything it detracts from the finish.

The stand fit for the Cerritos mid-size is secure although fitting the clear holder into the black base was one of the tightest connections ever to the point where I thought the force would snap something. 

This is a good replica but the choice to market it at exactly the same price as the XL (£59.99) remains a mystery. Yes, it will go with the mid-size Titan but again that's the same price as the XL edition Eaglemoss produced. Both of the mid-size are rare and clearly from the speed they sold the demand was there especially if collectors were unable to get hold of the XL. For note that did drop just two weeks later.

Nor is there a magazine with this one since it was produced and lost in the depths of Eaglemoss' multiple third party warehouses scattered across the globe. I think that finding all of these items may have been Ark of the Covenant level cubed at least.

We'll be comparing this to the XL shortly but at first impression and seeing why some of these were cancelled orders following its launch there really doesn't seem to be a reason to have this AND the larger edition. Personal opinion, choose one and go with it because they're going to be similar in detail with only size being the difference.

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