Sunday, 27 April 2014

Greg Cox Takes Seven Back: No Time Like the Past

Of all of this year's Simon and Schuster releases, No Time Like the Past is probably the biggest risk.

The cover leaves you without a doubt who this crossover will focus on with both Kirk and Seven of Nine featuring. Indeed, not one of the more obvious partnerships in the Star Trek universe but hey, anything can happen especially when it comes to the written word.

From Kirk's perspective a delicate matter of diplomacy gets interrupted by the arrival of Orion pirates - and then the appearance of one former Borg drone. This leads into something akin to The Chase from The Next Generation as the crew of the USS Enterprise go sprinting around the galaxy with the green-skinned slavers in pursuit in an attempt to return Seven of Nine to the future.

Honestly? The plot is merely a device to bring Kirk and Seven into the same time and place. After about 100 pages I sort of forgot about the circumstances that had started it all as it became much more about the interaction between Seven and the characters from The Original Series, most notably Kirk, Spock and McCoy (just as it should be Mr Abrams). Straightforward it might be but the conversations between these people are key to the enjoyment of the book and to be fair it's much more of a reason to dive into No Time Like the Past.

The crew of Voyager do make a fleeting appearance at the start to send Seven on her way and while their essence is, sort of, captured, Cox has absolutely landed on what makes Jeri Ryan's character so memorable. The cold, almost emotionless, computer-esque logic is there in droves suggesting that he might want to switch to Voyager rather than The Original Series. Ok, there are one or two colloqualisms that I wouldn't have expected to have spotted (+Hayley Atherton I'm seeing these more now!) but I can let them go because this is a great enjoyable romp. For once it's not about the morality, a planet in danger, it's just a straight chase to the finish line.  I was totally engrossed in the narrative as Seven easily eludes Kirk's womanising charm and crosses intellectual swords to some degree with Spock. 

While Kirk is captain I think it would have been more interesting to give the focus of this book over to Seven/Spock as we had in Unification II with Data/Spock, putting another two of the observers of humanity together for key scenes. Between them here there are some wonderful little moments of one-up-manship that illustrate Borg perfection versus Vulcan stoicism and aloofness. That said, Kirk is not as strongly portrayed as the womaniser he seemed in The Weight of Worlds from last year. The captain is much more in control of the situation and while he has to share the spotlight with the Voyager character, it presents a much more even tale and, Greg, if you are reading this, No Time Like the Past is a big improvement on last year's addition to the catalogue.

Fantastically this story is rammed full of action sequences from starship chasing through to stampeding creatures and phaser fights galore. Be assured that Cox has hammered in as many redshirt deaths as possible within the 400 odd pages here. Why have one when you can stick in multiple disintegrations of your ever-expendable security force. Now I said earlier that the story is pretty much disposable stuff, it's the places that raise the game above average with trips back to key planets featured in The Original Series such as Gamma Trianguli VI from The Apple, Cheron from Let This Be Your Last Battlefield and Sarpeidon from All Our Yesterdays.

While you'd be expecting straight returns, Cox tracks us into the pasts of these worlds, allowing us a good, if fleeting, chance to understand more about what led these worlds to the point in which we viewed them back in the original show. Very clever that and not something I would have thought to do. It makes it much less run-of-the-mill and does entice you to keep turning the pages if only to see where the ship will be heading next and what untold secrets from The Original Series we will be allowed to spy on.

As you get further into No Time Like the Past however something weird does happen - it begins to fall a bit flat and, unfortunately, predictable. The chase relentlessly continues and then the cliches begin appearing. While it's great visiting different planets the format doesn't change each time - find crystal, incident, return to ship, resume chase. Not only that but the Federation ambassador plays to all the stereotypes; getting in the way and even has a sneaky little aide. More and more it becomes evident that the great idea of sticking Seven of Nine into the Kirk-era was just that - a good idea but once Cox became more deeply embroiled in the story that the plot unravels and the intriguing concept of The Original Series meets Voyager crumbles. 

Character-wise the secondary crew of Uhura, Sulu and Chekov really suffer here with very little to do apart from man their bridge stations. Fortunately given Seven's regeneration predicament which is extensively covered, McCoy gets a fair showing and even manages to be heavily featured in one of the Planet Incidents. His character is spot on, getting nicely crotchey and grumbly at all the right points. Scotty too gets some decent page time during the latter third of the book when the Orions play out a major set piece which should have been spotted a light year off. What leads to Scotty's lengthy appearance just seems extremely out of character for all concerned and seems as though the author ran out of chase sequences to plan. Again, Cox hits Scotty straight on the nail, all Highland expressions and all. The fear I do have that is avoided is that we don't descend into too many Northern cliches and haggis mentions. Good job.

As always with a Star Trek novel though there are a trunkload of references to the 79 classics scattered more than liberally throughout. I keep saying that there really is no need to flush a load of nods to The Original Series into every novel released. Great that we know the material but they do need to be reined in at some point soon because there is a great deal of repetition between authors - Khan here, Gorn there, Mugato on that page...I might start a campaign. One thing I am impressed with from Mr Cox is the redshirt body count. If one turns up you can pretty much guarantee they won't last the chapter. If they make two chapters they've somehow managed to get a reprieve. 

It's very unusual for me to find a Star Trek novel that deteriorates like this one does plot-wise. I loved it though just because it gives the opportunity to place two diverse characters into an unusual situation. The Kirk/Seven or in fact any Seven meets an Enterprise crewmember are the meat of this book and the plot really is secondary. It's all about how Greg Cox masters the interaction, the nuances and the sparkle of the characters he has chosen to feature. Here, I can say it's been a success on every level even if the story is average/below par and isn't a big thinker. It's something I didn't expect to think here however it sort of makes sense in the end. In comparison to his 2013 effort this is 100% the better read and I bounded through the 388 pages with ease. Three or four sittings will easily get you a good way through and you'll enjoy every last second of it. While not this year's biggest brain strainer in the Simon and Schuster catalogue it's a risk that has paid off. Go out and read it because it's a page turner that will entertain at the very, very least. I think you'll find that it's worth the price. Could this perhaps be the launchpad for more of these unexpected crossover episodes? Greg Cox, over to you.

So what were your thoughts on No Time Like the Past? Was it was to team up Seven and Kirk? Let us know below!

Star Trek: The Original Series: No Time Like the Past is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £6.99 ISBN 9781476749495

While we're on the subject of Simon and Schuster, we've also had confirmation direct of the rest of the year's UK releases.

Star Trek: Seekers: Second Nature - David Mack

Star Trek: Seekers: Point of Divergence - Kevin Dilmore

Star Trek: Voyager: Acts of Contrition - Kirsten Beyer

Star Trek: Section 31: Disavowed - David Mack

Star Trek: The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise - Greg Cox

Included here are the cover shots (unconfirmed) for Beyer's Voyager novel as well as The Next Generation and The Lost Era novels due out June/July and a mock up cover for Seekers that looks pretty good too.

I also discovered that the "secret project" book due out in November was actually an updated, expanded and long awaited Ships of the Line featuring all the images that have lavished the series of calendars since the original book arrived about eight years ago. The first was a brilliant breeze-read with every image a brilliant interpretation from a large range of artists. Knowing what material we will be getting means I'll be adding this to the collection without a doubt. Sadly no plot details are forthcoming at the moment for any of the novels noted here but you can guarantee that as soon as we get them, they'll be on here.

You can also look back at our preview in January which detailed all the releases from January's The Peaceable Kingdom through to Seekers. That also includes the Enterprise novel Tower of Babel and The Original SeriesSerpents in the Garden. Just for you, here are the cover shots for those two which are due out in April and May respectively. 

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Friday, 25 April 2014

Eaglemoss and the Final Thirty

Official Starships Collection

But first a couple of little Eaglemoss updates just to warm you up for the Main Event.

It seems that the Official Starships Collection site has now added the upcoming USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E to the flick through previews on the home page - just one more little tease of this much awaited model. On their Facebook page there's also been the addition of a sneak peak plan view of the Vor'Cha due out in just three weeks time.

While that's going on there, Entertainment Earth have dropped on two magazine cover images for issues 25 and 26 due out in August. I'm very excited about these two. The first, the USS Prometheus is more confirmation of just how Voyager managed to get the coolest Starfleet ships. I suspect that this will not be separable into Multi-Vector Assault Mode as seen in Message in a Bottle and if it does come in several pieces I would suggest contacting Eaglemoss for an immediate replacement.

The next image is for the Tholian cruiser (22nd Century) and therefore from the prequel Enterprise series. As regular readers might have picked up, The Tholian Web is my all-time The Original Series favourite episode and for the time being this is going to be the closest I'll get to having the craft from that story. While the latter issue 26 might not be as hotly anticipated as the USS Prometheus, these are still two fairly well known craft which will be welcomed to any collection.

Which leads nicely into something that I have been discussing recently with +Nils W. . The first forty issues of the collection are now set in stone via the Official Starships Collection page (see below for the expected release dates table). However after that it's still something of a mystery. Reviewing the Memory Alpha initial projection list of the full 70, there are a couple of ships that were expected later which have already been released or are due in a matter of months. So, with a quick bit of juggling, here's what we see as the thirty that are still to be confirmed by Eaglemoss.

What we've also managed to deduce is that with the additional release of one special every quarter, there could well be another seven larger scale craft due to compliment the range working on the basis of one coming out every eight regular issues. If we stick to the 70 issues that means the collection will run until April 14th 2016 in the UK with, surprise, surprise, The Original Series NCC-1701 most likely being the final edition (projected currently but come on....has to be...). The Memory-Alpha provisional list is actually missing the Nausicaan Fighter too so it comes in a little short when you start working out the numbers.

There are also a line of notable absences from this list and we think there should be a campaign to ensure that at least the ones here are included in the range - let us also be reminded that the 70 issue figure could well be their original intention which could be adjusted due to demand. In that case we could be looking at 100 or more maybe!

So here's the provisional list that is still to be confirmed. I've included all of the ones omitted from those officially announced on the site.

  • Raptor Class
  • Breen Warship
  • USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C
  • Borg Queen’s Vessel
  • Hirogen Warship
  • T’Plana-Hath
  • USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J
  • Son’a Command Ship
  • D5 Class
  • Jem’Hadar Battleship
  • Malon Export Vessel
  • Federation Mission Scoutship
  • Scimitar
  • USS Relativity
  • Goroth’s Starship
  • USS Kelvin
  • Son’a Collector
  • Xindi-Reptilian Ship
  • Suliban Cell Ship
  • Phoenix
  • Fesarius
  • Steamrunner Class
  • Xindi-Aquatic Cruiser
  • Vulcan Long Range Shuttle
  • Saber Class
  • USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
  • Romulan Bird-of-Prey (23rd Century)
  • Federation Holoship
  • Scorpion Class
  • Norway Class
  • USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Specials-wise I think we can say that the USS Vengance is a given and should be out about the same time as the Xindi-Insectoid craft. Following that are we likely to see a K-7, Regula One or a Spacedock? For note the specials seem to be appearing on 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 64.

Anyway, focusing on the last issues, as we've said, there are some massive omissions, some of which have been identified already. Some are great but others are a bit iffy - in fact there are ones in the provisional list above which we could easily substitute.

  • Species 8472 bioship (cool idea...special?)
  • Borg Cube (yes please - the free one is OK but this is one to consider or a special)
  • Cousteau 
  • Galileo (see below)
  • Aeon 
  • Hazari Vessel 
  • Karemma Starship 
  • Species 6339 Starship 
  • Centaur-Class 
  • D'Kyr Class 
  • Laneth's Starship 
  • Negh'Var 
  • Romulan Science Vessel 
  • SS Botany Bay

I really don't think it will finish at 70 given the blatant holes and missing craft but then there are some that should be here - and are even missing from the "extras" list. Some of these suggestions aren't that memorable and I don't think I'd be upset if the Hazari, Karemma or Species 6339 ships were omitted. At some point the line has to be drawn (who said that now....???) so here are our five essentials that must, repeat MUST get into the final 70 and aren't at the moment. Some are from the list of suggestions but others haven't even made it that far. Eaglemoss, you'd better be listening up now!

USS Pasteur (Olympic Class)

Could well have been the subscribers special model instead of the USS Enterprise-D from All Good Things.... A metal sphere section clearly here and a magazine covering alternative futures as well as the designing of the model developed from the original designs for the Kirk-era USS Enterprise of The Original Series+Nils W. is backing this one to the hilt and I don't blame him. Missing this classic would be a dishonour even the Klingons would be embarrassed by. It's not even on the suggestions list here. Rubbish. 

Galileo Shuttlecraft

Considering that the runabout gets included in the first 40 why aren't we seeing at least one entry for the short-range personnel craft? I'm not suggesting that we do the whole range but maybe just the original design from The Galileo Seven. Forgetting its inclusion would only make it even more obvious and with the real ship's recent restoration project completed there will never be a better time. Fans probably wouldn't be concerned to miss out on the shuttle from Star Trek V or the multitude of designs from The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.


Either as the version seen in The Way of the Warrior or as the future Klingon warships from The Next Generation's finale. How could the Klingons not get this ship included when the Jem'Hadar manage three entries on the list? It's one of my favourite designs and seeing it only included as a side point note is a great shame....However, might I tempt a suggestion that it could be slotted into one of the Specials slots? There's a thought and I reckon that could work.

SS Botany Bay
"Marooned for all eternity at the centre of a dead planet...." Hell yes. Why would you not include this is we have to have the Vengeance as a special edition? Nuts. This is one of the classics and The Original Series doesn't get enough coverage as it is in the range (mainly due to the infamous light dot to represent a ship far away). Most, if not all, fans would at least maim if not kill to see this in the final list. Imagine this as a special perhaps - a whole mag dedicated to Khan - and we mean the good one.

Kazon Warship (Predator Class)

Not the greatest of enemies featured in Voyager but they were the first and as such should be represented in some form. Maybe only the one entry is necessary and in that case let's plump for the large Kazon ship that caused a few issues in Caretaker. It's a curve ball but if we're having to stand some of the randoms suggested then this has to be higher up the priority ladder for sure! It's not special material but Voyager fans shouldn't be short-changed.

Is there a ship that you know isn't being included in the range or even mentioned as a suggestion? Maybe it's time to start getting the campaign up and running to ensure your favourite design doesn't get left on the page. Drop your comments below and let us know your thoughts! Would the ones we've selected be among your choices? Are there any you would remove?

  1. USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D (29th August 2013)
  2. USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (movie refit) (5th September 2013)
  3. Klingon Bird-of-Prey (19th September 2013)
  4. Enterprise NX-01(3rd October 2013)
  5. Romulan Warbird (17th October 2013)
  6. USS Voyager NCC-74656 (31st October 2013)
  7. Klingon K'Tinga battlecruiser (14th November 2013)
  8. USS Excelsior NCC-2000 (28th November 2013)
  9. USS Defiant NX-74205 (12th December 2013)
  10. Borg Sphere (26th December 2013)
  11. USS Reliant NCC-1864 (Miranda class) (9th January 2014)
  12. Akira class (23rd January 2014)
  13. Jem'Hadar cruiser (6th February 2014)
  14. Cardassian Galor class (20th February 2014)
  15. USS Equinox NCC-72381 (6th March 2014)
  16. Ferengi Marauder (20th March 2014)
  17. USS Dauntless NX-01-A (3rd April 2014)
  18. Bajoran Solar Sailor (17th April 2014)
  19. USS Stargazer NCC-2893 (1st May 2014)
  20. Klingon Vor'cha class (15th May 2014)
  21. USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E (29th May 2014)
  22. Krenim Temporal Weapon Ship (12th June 2014)
  23. Nebula class (26th June 2014)
  24. Xindi insectoid ship (10th July 2014)
  25. USS Prometheus NX-59650 (24th July 2014)
  26. Tholian ship (7th August 2014)
  27. Romulan Bird-of-Prey (21st August 2014)
  28. Maquis Fighter (4th September 2014)
  29. Jem'Hadar Fighter (18th September 2014)
  30. Nausicaan Fighter (2nd October 2014)
  31. The Valdore (16th October 2014)
  32. Runabout (30th October 2014)
  33. Cardassian Hideki Class (13th November 2014)
  34. Vulcan Surok Class (27th November 2014)
  35. Klingon Bird-of-Prey (22nd Century) (11th December 2014)
  36. Oberth Class (25th December 2014?)
  37. Andorian Cruiser (8th January 2015)
  38. Delta Flyer (22nd January 2015)
  39. Romulan Drone (5th February 2015)
  40. USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B (19th February 2015)
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The Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection is available from newsagents priced £9.99 (UK) every fortnight. You can also subscribe by clicking on the link in the sidebar and head there now to secure your ships.

All images in this article from Memory-Alpha (unless stated)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Chasing Round Perdition's Flames: The Official Starships Collection Issue 11; USS Reliant

And now for a quick catch up on one we missed out....Sorry. Normal service will be resumed....

I won't go into the done-to-death 'Khan!' joke, or meme, or pun, or any of that. I'll instead lay into Kirk for cheating on the Kobayashi Maru. "Got a commendation for original thinking" - no, you cheated, pure and simple. There was no need for a god complex on a technicality! ...Sorry I had to get that off my chest. Ahem, the ship then.

The Miranda Class escort/science vessel. Actually one of four variants of Miranda class Starfleet commissioned and, like the Excelsior from The Search for Spock et al, it too has seen extensive usage throughout canon Star Trek, including multiple movie appearances. It does appear these two ships slipped quickly into workhorse roles amongst the series, more than likely due to the availability of the models and the ease with which they could be filmed. Interestingly in that respect note how many times the Constitution Class refit reappeared... 

Anyway, curiously for an aging starship design, it saw combat at both the major Borg engagements (Wolf 359 and Sector 001) as well as throughout the Dominion War although generally they seem to end up a few million bits. Take the hint, Starfleet.An interesting note here, the destroyed USS Reliant does apparently make a ghostly appearance in Deep Space Nine's Tears of The Prophets. Perhaps not by name, but definitely by registry (NCC-1864).

But still, I'm digressing here. Onto Eaglemoss' metal and plastic incarnation of this infamous design.

I am pleased with it's overall detail although there are a few "structural integrity" issues that collectors familiar with the movie era ships will know all too well (flexi-nacelles). Given the reviewed releases from Eaglemoss to date, I sadly have to pay close attention to the paint job, the spelling of Federation, alien words instead of ship names, or backwards/upside down Starfleet insignia. I'm happy to report that the Reliant has none of these complications! Decal-focused it is pleasingly perfect. I especially like the detail on the overhead torpedo pod, and the view from the rear, even down to the correct external numbering of the shuttle bays. So, there you have it - nicely detailed, if a little flimsy in the nacelle area but I'm not complaining, she's a beauty and a fine addition to the fleet.

No, I will complain, I haven't bought it yet. I'll complain to my conscience for not having purchased it, because it is very eye-catching and I have an urge to try and recreate the Mutara Nebula scene - who hasn't???!!! On that note, nice to see that we have some narrative on that key sequence and just what it took to bring the destruction of the Reliant to the screen. Looking back at the refit Enterprise we could have done with a piece there on how they filmed its final moments over the Genesis Planet.

Flipping through the magazine this is a heavily documented design and movie so you won't be digging anything new up here. The pictures are crisp and you'll probably drift through until you reach the design, building and filming sections. Kudos to Eaglemoss once more in relation to these articles as they make the magazine worth picking up. A real shame that, as the collection moves through into the teens and towards the 20's, these sections are becoming less and less especially when it comes to the filming piece. Understanding the technicalities of the Real World help found these craft in the movie studio rather than the fictional void of sci-fi in space. Please, please, please make sure you give us, the fans, more of this! 

Instead though, we're now getting more character, race and story focused pieces which wasn't under the original pitch as I seem to recall from the early issues. Note here - there seems to be fluctuation in these magazines as to the content ship to ship and information dependent.

Coming back to the matter in hand, the sketches, stories and images towards the later pages are great to dive into and it is a shame we're getting less of this as it does differentiate the collection from, say, the Encyclopedia or a technical manual. It grounds the series in the Real World which is as important for fans as telling the fictional stories in which these awesome starships featured.

So, nice work, Eaglemoss, nice work and we'll almost forgive you for that shocking second issue screw-up with the Enterprise (we still haven't forgotten!). The Reliant is a must for any fan's collection. Now we're off to recreate those Mutara Nebula battles - like you aren't thinking about that too - We need warp speed in three minutes or we're all dead!!!

The Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection is available from newsagents priced £9.99 (UK) every fortnight. You can also subscribe by clicking on the link in the sidebar and head there now to secure your ships.

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Friday, 18 April 2014

Sails and Stars: The Official Starships Collection 18 & 19 (and some news)

Simply put, Eaglemoss, you've excelled yourselves.

I logged onto the Facebook page for the Collection earlier to see if subscribers had received their latest editions to find a load of comments about disappointment with the two new issues. Not a good sign and knowing they had arrived at home thanks to my Early Warning System (lunchtime call with the wife) it was a long wait until the end of the day.

Hometime and on opening the box I was not happy. I was VERY happy. 

The Bajoran Solar-Sailor and the USS Stargazer might not be two of the more in-demand models in the collection but I do think they are two of the best replicas to date. The Equinox and the Dauntless are personal favourites but the unusual Solar Sailor is probably the most unique design that will grace the series.

For once not saucers and engines, the Solar-Sailor from Explorers is definitely one of a kind, comprising a small crew compartment and five sizeable sails. Very light and a little tempramental on the stand, there isn't anything else coming that is as different as this two man sub-light craft.  It's those extremities which are the most fragile part here - as well they should be all considering and it seems some collectors are already experiencing challenges with it remaining in one piece. Coming in as both the tallest and widest of the regular issues, the sailor just looks stunning. The paint scheme isn't over technical, mainly being brown and a slightly lighter sandy brown but it's more about the shape of the ship and it's simple, stunning recreation for the Collection. 

There are a couple of conspicuous blobs of glue where the masts attach to the main body and some excess flash on the masts themselves but I can overlook those and just marvel in the delicate form on display. I never thought it would be one of the models I would be most pleased with and yet, shockingly, it is. None of the issues we've reported and discussed previously across 17 other issues are evident and Eaglemoss should be proud of themselves as we can't see anything amiss here (famous last words). Even +Hayley Atherton was pushed to find an error in the issue 18 release.

The magazine however then reveals that some of that detail you've been marvelling at just minutes before isn't that accurate - the curved window sections on the rear of the pod are missing and the detail on the top of the pod - is less than displayed in the view images. Overall though the pages are filled with some scant detail on the plot of Explorers and background on the Bajoran system. What is excellent news in issue 18 is the six page section dedicated to the design and development of the (from memory) first ship to be 100% CGI rendered and never created as a physical model. Jim Martin's sketches are wonderful and make this a great all round package - a winner in all areas this time which will reassure those who are forking out a subscription. Good choice by the publishers to dedicate a good chunk of the magazine to the creation of this one-off solar-sailor.

My only gripe with the magazine is that while Leeta's first appearance is noted in the trivia column, there's not a mention of the first spotting of Sisko's bad-ass goatee which also debuted here. Tut tut(!)

In the same delivery comes the Constellation Class USS Stargazer (shop release date 1st May 2014). Now we've all grumbled about the Starfleet vessels so far - wonky nacelles, poor colouring, bad build quality but here we've got a success to some degree.

There's a good feel to the 13.5cm long Stargazer which features a metal upper saucer section with plastic lower saucer, nacelles and support beams. The join between the two saucer halves isn't exactly invisible but it is surprisingly structurally sound. There is a bit of spring to the quad nacelles but the aztec paint job and hull detailing more than make up for that. There is however an unforgivable sin lurking on the underside of the saucer. 

Someone decided to put the registry decals the wrong way round but significantly it's, again, screen accurate as with the bizzare "Federaion" screen-accurate error (+JamesRye thanks for noting my error!) on the side of the USS Thunderchild. In fact I nearly used a picture of the bottom of the ship as the top because the script was the wrong way round. However, I have to say I have been corrected on this point thanks to +Nils W. The model is correct to the studio filmed Stargazer which has since been relabelled as the Valkyrie and can be seen here to compare. I bow to thee, Eaglemoss, good work. It does rile a percentage of fans but it gives the collection a nice little quirk and shows that a lot of research has been done. You're getting a replica of the item that was actually used in the show not just what you think it should look like. This of course means the magazine picture is incorrect....!!! While I'm at it, how come the registry numbers are also omitted from the ends of the nacelles in every image except the ones directly from The Battle?!

And there's something else. I wish I didn't have to point it out because this is a great piece of Star Trek shipping but my nacelles are wonky. Not by much nor would you spot it from directly above or below or from a distance but straight from the back they are off...slightly...and it will bug me. I can say that in comparison to the USS Equinox from issue 15 the joins on the nacelles are pretty well finished this time; no gaps. However, considering the cost, painting work and general result it's one of the good ones and maybe we are being over critical?

As with the Solar-Sailor this was a "one-off" (although it would turn up again as the Hathaway and the Victory in the second season) and as such the detail on the mould is great however the aztec colouring could have been carried on to the nacelles and some more painting detail should have been added for the impulse engines and on the supporting pylons. On the saucer the addition of the thruster markings and sensor arrays are superb so why were these other small points ignored? It's all there in the plan views but missing from the nice chunk of starship in the box. I don't want to say that this is acceptable but just stay mindful of the cost to produce these and the numbers required however Quality once again features in our reviews. Shame. Again.

The magazine follows the formula, the episode/history lesson first with a great CGI image of the featured vessel but this time covering the famous Picard Maneuver. We suspected that this would be the "special feature" with the Stargazer and there's not a shot of Patrick Stewart pulling his tunic down anywhere. The design and filming sections following the plan views offer some insights behind the camera but there are some errors (I believe) in the research especially in relation to the materials used for creating the Echo Papa robot from The Arsenal of Freedom. Plus there are a couple of typos which I didn't expect to see near-20 issues in.

Adding in pieces regarding the making of the show have made this series a great read although they are irritatingly short. Experienced fans will find a note or two here that are new and for new fans unearthing information on the early years of The Next Generation will hopefully want to seek out more after reading these excerpts.

Overall this has been a great month of releases from the Eaglemoss stable and I'm very happy with the results even though I have some grumbles. I wouldn't have picked them out as highlights nor are they on my essential hit list but I have to say they are among the best examples so far produced. No pressure then on the craft following in issues 20 and 21. None at all.

So far thought the series has glaringly omitted anything to do with The Original Series - not a single entry so far although there are three from the movies with the movie refit USS Enterprise, USS Excelsior and USS Reliant. There is of course more to mine from the likes of The Next Generation and all that came after but just one perhaps from the Kirk-era (and I'm not counting the JJ-verse here).

Also the magazine has now reached Japan where it will be released through Deagostini. The same gifts will be available but I'll be darned if I can translate the site.

Sadly this month there's no new shots of any of the upcoming starships beyond the Nebula Class or magazine covers after the Xindi insectoid ship. As more become available we will update. These will take us into June but there has been some interesting news via the Facebook page - it seems that there's a survey in progress.

Subscribers who have received two deliveries already have their USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D dedication plaque but there might be the opportunity to get yourselves a larger collection with Eaglemoss looking to find out how likely you would be to purchase similar items from the NX-01, USS Enterprise's NCC-1701 and A, B, C and E versions, USS Defiant, USS Voyager and the USS Prometheus (odd choice). Priced at £14.99 they're only just above cover price and below specials cost which could be a winner. I'd go for the Defiant.

Additionally the next question asks how likely you would be to purchase the existing Haynes Owners' Workshop Manuals for the USS Enterprise and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey with additional Star Trek Starships material as Project Manager Ben Robinson also worked on those publications. You can view our review of the latter on the link and we'd recommend purchasing - but what extra could there be to add into these great books?

Get your answers in now to have your say!

Next month we have two storming arrivals to slobber over - the Klingon Vor'Cha attack cruiser and the eagerly awaited USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E. The countdown starts here and let's include a couple of sneaky shots from of the new issues to just tempt you a bit more...

The Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection is available from newsagents priced £9.99 (UK) every fortnight. You can also subscribe by clicking on the link in the sidebar and head there now to secure your ships.

Did you know you can now join up with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or even +1 us on Google+? If you didn't why not drop over there now!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Write It Up: Star Trek: Engage

One area we've not touched on is role-playing within the Star Trek universe - but then as if by magic we seem to have found ourselves the perfect commentator to explain what's going on. +Aoibhe Ni it's over to you...

In the past 15 years I have been imprisoned countless times by several malicious factions.

No, don’t worry, it's OK. I'm fine...

I swear.

It didn't knock a feather out of me, actually.

I have also lost my memory, lost a husband (literally, he went through a wormhole, and I haven't seen him since...), passed from one collapsing reality into a safer one where I now reside. I have had a building fall on me in the midst of a firefight, I have manipulated people to my own ends, and in turn I have been manipulated by others. I have yelled “Abandon ship!”, “Fire when ready!”, and uttered the immortal phrase, “He's dead... er, Tim...?” more times than I can count.

I have been telepathic, athletic, near death, crippled, excruciatingly shy, annoyingly outspoken, a harlot and a saint, and I have had several competing past lives. I have even been human once or twice, y'know, for a change.

I am a role-player and I get my kicks playing Star Trek: Engage.

Star Trek: Engage is new on the scene, but its roots go way back. Our founding members all played text-based RPGs since the '90's, using imagination and a love for the written word to pull adventure after adventure out of the bare bones of a story laid down by a Game Director.

Think D&D, without the dice, with a more fluid format, and played by dedicated players who are dotted across the globe, and you get the idea. But it's far more than just sitting in a chatroom while you describe your character doing the Enterprise Shuffle (though, we do love a good Star Trek-related meme...). A well-written character will take on a life of their own, and playing them week after week can bring out side-stories, character arcs and interactions you never would have expected.

The fact that the game is played in a chat room once a week for an hour means you have to think on your feet while all around you the story unfolds. How would you react if suddenly faced with the Borg, for instance? Or confronted with a dying planet containing 3 billion beleaguered inhabitants? What if your Captain started to act unreasonably all of a sudden... would you risk mutiny, or stand by his side trusting that it’d all make sense in the end? What would happen if your best friend was taken hostage and you were ordered to stand down? What if your consciousness was beamed into the body of that hot chick from Astrometrics? No, actually... better not answer that last one. No-one needs to know.

In addition to the hour a week you play with your fellow crew mates, you also have the opportunity to write a duty log that is then read by your crew, and by interested players across the entire game. This can be written in any format you fancy. Some people love to write occasional flashbacks to a time before their character was on board their ship, some do short conversations with NPCs, and some even collaborate with other players mid-week and produce fantastic joint-logs. Any way you slice it, these logs are an excellent way to flesh out your character and add to a crew’s growing rapport. They're also a wonderful chance to get your character's opinions and personality across.

The point is that with Star Trek: Engage, the sky is the limit in terms of story-telling. If you can describe it, you can do it. Just... try not to describe that Astrometrics lady in too fine a detail, OK?

Currently, we have five time-slots to choose from, effectively spanning the week, and we are gearing up to add a sixth ship to our ranks. We have made sure to cater for both morning, evening and weekend players, so you’re bound to find a ship at a time that will suit you. The more we grow, the more ships we’ll launch, and as a player you’ll have a direct say in when those new ships will run. 

Right now, we have the Nova Class USS Saturn, a Prometheus Class USS Hyperion, the Intrepid Class USS Bremen (shut up, I like it…), the Nebula Class USS Hooke and a Space Station on the edge of Tzenkethi space, and we have plans in motion to add a Sovereign to that list. Each ship and station has an atmosphere of its own, and each crew works together differently, making each one unique. 

Whichever ship you choose, you will start at the rank of Cadet, with your first promotion most likely happening after the 4th week. From then on, it’s a case of gathering up promotions for quick-thinking and bravery, commendations for loyal service and dedication, or reprimands for disobeying orders. Your Starfleet career is bound to be peppered with a combination of all three, and who knows… perhaps it’ll even culminate in you being awarded your own captaincy...

In Overview from SKoST

Sounds very, very interesting don't you think? If I had the time I would be tapping away at the keyboard at every available opportunity because writing is definitely my passion and there's always a part of me that wants to define my own corner of the Star Trek universe.

Back in the 00's I used to write for the sadly long-defunct Delta Fleet which was a great experience and helped hone my fictional writing skills which had been out of practice for a few years. I had a Gorn security chief and an operative from Section 31 active on the ship but time and life took precedent (the site still exists in a very different form). The great thing with Engage is the chance to create your own character or characters in an established piece of the fictional universe. Who knows, but you could be creating people who might well end up as the stars of a future

While my experience of writing for the expanded universe was done turn-based, linking characters together over weeks or months to complete a story this sounds much more focused and organised with specific times to connect up and write a new story aboard one of the featured ships. Additionally there are blogs on the site which act as workshops to help aspiring writers develop their characters in a "realistic" manner rather than making them all super-human with Q-like abilities. Certainly makes you feel like you're not alone and there's always going to be someone around top point you in the right direction - or the wrong one depending on your character's evolution!

Star Trek: Engage hasn't been around for long but already there seems to be a good level of organisation and if you want to write - and perhaps aren't quite up to creating your own backstory, ship and setting then this is a great starting point. Even if you're not and are a fan of Star Trek and want something new to be involved in that can feed your hunger for the franchise then why not drop by and see what's going on. I'm sure you'll be most welcome.

If you want to join the adventure, Enlist Here

Want to learn more? Have a look at the handy handbook.

Your crew, and your Starfleet career awaits at Star Trek: Engage!

Thanks to Aoibhe for letting us into the Engage world.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Your Crew to Command: Timelines

Good news, good news - we're getting a new Star Trek game!

From the team that have developed and recently released Game of Thrones (Disruptor Beam) onto Facebook, Timelines looks set to satisfy the fan-base of every series in one, massive online hit. Second good point is that we can actually play as characters we recognise and know!

While Star Trek Online takes players beyond the end of Nemesis, Timelines will effectively allow a mix and match system from across all the different pieces of the franchise. Put Kirk in command with Dax at sciences and Worf running tactical - surely every fan's dream and perhaps one of the cons of Online. Add into that the ability to visit new planets, dangerous encounters and make tactical decisions and it's got us clammering to play it right now (bless hype, it really does blow things up to a whole new level so we can get critically disappointed).

Announced as a strategy, role-playing game it won't just be available to play on your PC but also your tablet which will more than likely draw a larger audience than Online gets at the moment due to the platform flexibility. Based on what we're being told so far (which isn't much) we're going to see huge storylines in which you'll be able to make decisions to impact the outcomes. Sounds fairly standard if you ask me. Said CEO of Disruptor Beam Jon Radoff in an interview regarding the imminent project: 
Star Trek: Timelines will encompass all of these concepts, allowing you to explore the vastness of space along with your friends — letting you live out the ‘where no man has gone before’ mantra we all love — but will also allow you to make decisions that impact your future, your friends, and even the fate of the galaxy.”
Available initially at no cost, there will be a ton of in game purchases to ramp up your ship (a la Online and multiple other games) which will drain the wallet of many a hardcore fan looking to get involved. It's a big gamble digitizing your favourites and allowing them all to interact - but then risk is our business as someone once said. Taking the chance could make this a brilliant experience from start to finish.

From the perspective of the crew creation this is absolutely what many people will have wanted to do for years and will now be truly able to realise. The challenge for Disruptor Beam will be in keeping it interesting and immersive, developing exciting missions for your crew to complete and also making the stats of the characters believable. Also there's no mention of whether or not we'll be given the choice of Prime or JJ Kirk - I can see the conflicts now....

Considering the head start that Star Trek Online has with the gaming market it will be a hard battle for Timelines to win but it will provide some variety into the mix. A contrasting game to Online would make it a draw for fans, focusing more on moral dilemmas and clever situations rather than load torpedoes and blast everything in sight which, for me has led to to stay away from the Online universe thus far (although I am up for being persuaded otherwise).

For those of you who are now chomping at the bit, why not drop over to the official site here where you can follow the project on Facebook (also available on Twitter) as well as register with the potential to be involved with the beta testing of this amazing concept. Without question this will be the place to find out all the latest updates as and when they happen.

Now this announcement also made me think of something I've never ever done - pick my dream crew. So, for the first time ever I thought I'd put it down on screen. I've picked out a range of positions more in line with The Next Generation than anything else. Should raise some opinions (plus a couple of extras). Why I've never done this before I'll never know - maybe I've been in denial. Some fairly obvious choices in here with a few that will raise the odd temperature.

More detail on the upcoming game, Star Trek: Timelines, can be found in this interview with Jon Radoff on VentureBeat and this shorter article on

You can also view the announcement trailer right here... So what do you think? Is this the right way to encourage gamers into the Star Trek fold? Why not add your comments below!