Friday, 30 May 2014

The Art of War - Klingon Style

"Well it's a hardback book."

So came the official review from my wonderful wife when I asked her to open the box and tell me what had arrived.

I expected a thin, quirky little volume akin to the recent A Very Klingon Khristmas and was pleasantly surprised to find that this is so much more than a gimmick and from the very start you can see there is genuine research and time taken in producing this book. Drawing extensively from episodes such as Rightful Heir, Firstborn, Apocalypse Rising and Soldiers of the Empire, Keith R A DeCandido has delved deep into Klingon heritage, separating the principles of how to prove yourself in the way of the warrior with ten distinctive principles. Covering everything from how to choose your enemy, to face them in battle through to die in a manner appropriate (avoiding imprisonment of course) it's the most thorough reference material into what makes a Klingon tick since Marc Okrand created their language. 

Each section relates a "real" event in-universe to the teachings to be put into practice. Linking those events in alongside numerous references to episodic material from every generation allows readers very easy access to the principles. The tragedy is that some of the material explaining historical events might not exactly be from the onscreen universe which means I did tend to read each page with a pinch of salt or might have indicated that I've forgotten a lot of things we've been told about the Klingons in the last 50 years.

In line with the historic narrative is a commentary from the supposed "modern-day" Klingon editor, K'Ratak which explains how each of the sections should be implemented in the life of a Klingon and this makes it much more than a Klingon storybook if you will.  Ok, so from time to time I got utterly lost and/or engrossed in the text and lost my way completely. It's not the easiest book to follow, I can say that, but I absolutely loved it because it is utterly different from any other Star Trek book out there today.

Rightful Heir from The Next Generation's sixth season might not make many people's favourites list but it did give us Kahless in a more believable form than we saw in The Original Series' The Savage Curtain. DeCandido has clearly based his materials around this more philosophical version of the esteemed Klingon, turning the qeS'a (that's the Klingon name for The Art of War) into something resembling a biography of the famed father of Klingon society. We learn of his victories, his travels and his one love with each section, becoming more aware of how the building blocks of this society were put together.

Reviewing is a difficult task at times and it was in a car park that I got to read the Fifth Precept which dealt with aspects of the Klingon people referred to in both Birthright, Part II and By Inferno's Light. Not only do you end up occasionally having a memory-jog of "That Klingon Moment" but suddenly it all seems to make a ton more sense than you realised. Here in this section we learn about Klingon games and their significance in the culture beyond the narrative of the episode while tying it into things we are familiar with. Honour does pop up a lot here - and I do mean a lot as you would expect but its repeated appearances are always justified and linked into the narrative. It might be to do with ensuring your death is worthy of a warrior's life or choosing when and how to strike a foe or perhaps even when to raise a challenge either towards a wrongdoer or when seeking to take command - in every instance the detail and process is meticulously discussed leaving you clear as to how to proceed.

The more I went into the Precepts the more I found it a fascinating read, essentially defining what makes a Klingon a Klingon - and then not necessarily a warrior. The qeS'a, we are told, can be applied to any walk of life in Klingon society - it is much more a guide for all than just those heading off for battle. Honour, as we've said, is absolutely key but there are ways in which an honourable Klingon needs to act and can be used in every Klingon's life not just those intending to fight.

Adding instances relating to Kor and Kang do add depth to the book and even manage to draw in threads from their appearances in Deep Space Nine and Voyager which I didn't expect. The latter series is not only responsible for references to Kang's mission during the events of Star Trek VI but also the Barge of the Dead experienced by B'Elanna Torres. Clearly the research is extensive and footnotes throughout do help a little to keep track of the Klingon terms and their significance outside the context. Don't think that it's all limited to the 1990's shows though as DeCandido has pulled in material relating to the Gorkon assassination covering General Chang and also the subsequent succession of Azetbur to head of the High Council. While her on screen appearance did little to flesh out the role, the text here certainly does, even going as far as helping us understand the line from Gorkon, through his daughter down to K'mpec, Gowron and most recently Martok as Chancellor.

That said, DeCandido has stepped outside "official" canon to some degree throughout, referencing the Typhon Pact and Quo'noS' near destruction at the hands of the Borg to name but two. I found that this was one of those things fans will either love or hate - it links in the other publications that come from Simon and Schuster but might confuse those whose experience with Star Trek stops at on-screen appearances and anything that's linked to those filmed stories. Perhaps in another sense it is confirming for us, the fans, that Star Trek in the Prime Universe at least will only continue to exist in the literature of fans rather than the small or big screen.

One thing that's also worth noting here are the illustrations which open each of the Precepts - covering images relating to material within each chapter we have recreated pictures featuring a younger, fully-forehead endowed Kor, Azetbur, as well as images relating to the chapter content. The style of these is very much in keeping with the Klingon Khristmas book from last year although slightly more focused on the warrior aspects of these people.

Rounding off the text are a couple of appendices which cover some ground regarding weapons of the Empire as well as two narratives regarding a case study of a battle and also the search for the historical Kahless. Again, not expected but engrossing reads none the less.

Cards on the table this will be an acquired taste and if you're not fussed with the Klingons or learning about their background in a decent amount of depth then I would point you elsewhere. Long-term fans will find a lot of superb material here. How much is "accurate" should be taken with at least a pinch of salt I guess but I don't think there's a finer example of non-Federation background literature available at the moment than The Klingon Art of War. Keith R A DeCandido should be proud of his achievement here. As both a casual read and an ongoing reference book he's done a top job.

The Klingon Art of War is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £17.99 ISBN 9781476757391

All sample images from

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Coming Over the Horizon

When I first heard of Star Trek: Horizon I approached it with some trepidation. Fan projects are great, they keep the dream alive but the only decent ones are set in The Original Series because of cost, right?

Not strictly true. Since I started Some Kind of Star Trek in 2012 I've had to hit a fast learning curve to catch up on the multitude of fan films and series that are scattered across the plains of the internet. Some are great, some are OK and there are others which I can never unsee. It could  be said that the stronger offerings are those from the original show's era; Phase II, Continues, Starship Exeter and Farragut immediately spring to mind. The trouble is that there are a lot of others which tread outside of that "inexpensive" territory. A good deal of those shows which attempt to sit in the later eras of Picard, Sisko and Janeway rely on a vast amount of green-screen and CGI wizardry to fill in the backgrounds (sometimes the plot) and save a lot of money on producing hi-tech sets. This leads to varying levels of quality which can adversely affect the result whether or not the script and the acting are any good.

When I got asked to take a look over Horizon I already knew of its existence (see April's Blagger's Guide) but very little else.

At present the team have a Kickstarter fund which has now been fulfilled to help them complete the movie. Targeted for $10,000, Horizon has doubled that amount thanks to 366 backers.  But there's more to this project than just looking for money to get the job done. I sat down to watch the trailer and opening teaser scene and was shocked. Utterly shocked. 

I had visions of 1980's Atari graphics, poor acting and a certain "cheap" feel to the show as well as lasting about 20 seconds into the trailer before turning it off. What I can say is that I made it all the way through that trailer and the opening scene with ease. I wanted to see more. 

If this is a teaser of what's to come then this could be a great movie. Oh - and did I mention that it's set in the Archer era?!

Yep, I'll just direct you to read that line again; the time just after Enterprise. That has to be one of Horizon's unique selling points since very few projects will ever choose to use the least popular time period from Star Trek as their setting. I was never a super-fan of Enterprise but for once I wanted to see more. 

Taking us into the heart of the Romulan War and aboard the NX Class Discovery, this movie will allow us to see the fledgling Coalition of Planets seeking out any way they can to gain the upper hand in the conflict.

The accompanying website gives a decent level of background to the cast and crew who will be working on Horizon. Covering background crew and cast as well as links to a rather impressive range of video blogs documenting the project's progress as well as the teaser trailer. They haven't been idle either in coming forward as there are a large number of articles where project commander Tommy Kraft has been actively promoting this new episode in the Star Trek universe. All well and good but is this just all show? Is there any substance behind this great display of energy and enthusiasm? We know the money is there at least so what are fans getting?

Said Tommy Kraft shortly before the completion of the Kickstarter funding:
"We're in the final hours of our Kickstarter campaign and I couldn't be more excited about everything that's been happening with the project. We're approximately 60% of the way through principal photography and our Kickstarter campaign has garnered nearly 200% of our original $10,000 goal. Big things are in store for Horizon and I can't wait to share some of the latest work we've been doing."

Let's first turn our attention to the trailer. Running at just over one minute it won't remove a lot of time from your day and it'll certainly give you a taste of the bigger vision. Taking dialogue from the opening scene, the sequence has us in the melancholy of remembrance for comrades lost in the Romulan War while also treating us to damage and destruction on board the Discovery. It's short and aside from glimpsing the key characters, some fleeting shots of environments and a gorgeous flypast of the ship there's still much to be answered. The music framing the trailer is very reflective of Battlestar Galactica and I suspect that that show may have had a fair share of influence on the feel of the end result.

But the story doesn't stop there. The Horizon team have also provided us with the titillating opening scene.

These six minutes don't feature anything to do with Starfleet and instead sets up the plot, talks about exactly what Horizon is and also puts a face to the never-before-seen Iconians mentioned previously in Contagion and To the Death. It's a wonderful scene which evokes a sense of Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome through the graphics (yep, seriously seeing an influence here). The two actors involved here give no suggestion that this is all a computer simulation in their interactions and it has to be one of the smoothest combinations yet. I just hope that this is maintained for the upcoming feature production. Nothing really gets given away in these six minutes - but you'll probably work out the main plot point at least!

I did get a bit of a sense of Stargate through the physical form of the Horizon but then it all goes planet-killing which wasn't quite what I expected. My earlier note on the feel of Battlestar Galactica definitely stands here - this is a much more gritty entry into the franchise universe than Enterprise ever was (although it could have been for year five). These guys are producing some top level animation with pretty good quality acting which is rare within the fan production community. OK, so we've only been privvy to a fairly explosive trailer and a few minutes of footage that doesn't show any of the cast who are featured on the website so I'm more than ready to play this cautiously. The test of the tape will come when we start to see complete scenes from later in the story and how the ensemble handle the material.

With funding complete, work can continue in earnest to finish this project. I'm staying on the fence for a while here because so far we've not seen a lot of meat. There's lots of tempting morsels but nothing substantial to dig in to and critique. What we do have seems solid and at least on a par with some of the bigger budget and more well-known films and series that exist. I hope that Horizon in the very least does ignite some more passion for the Archer era of Star Trek. Enterprise was definitively cut short but here we have a group of fans who are trying to expand on that clipped story, to tell an aspect of the narrative that we could have seen if there had ever been a fifth season.

We will be keeping in touch with our new friends over at Horizon to get the latest info on their work and will be reviewing the finished product as soon as it's released.

You can find out more on Star Trek: Horizon by going to their website HERE

All images courtesy of Star Trek: Horizon

What do you think to this new chapter in the Star Trek fan universe? Let us know below!

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Sunday, 25 May 2014

London Called - Destination Star Trek Answered

Back at the place where it all started. It's official now even though we had a feeling it might just happen.

The return to the UK capital was announced on Friday 2nd May 2014 with tickets due to go on sale on Monday 2nd June 2014 but after the mammoth success of both London and Frankfurt, what more could this one do? What would we want to see at the third event?

We can assume there will be some form of The Next Generation reunion as hinted at by Marina Sirtis on Twitter recently but what else? Cast appearances are nothing new however there are a couple of significant anniversaries that are worth mentioning and we've been thinking a bit further...dangerous that.

Anniversary Celebrations

This year marks the 20th anniversary since the final episode of The Next Generation aired and Star Trek: Generations premiered (1994). What a great chance to get the crew and John de Launcie, Denise Crosby and Colm Meaney together for a bit of a reminisce? For Generations isn't this a great excuse for a Shatner/Stewart/McDowell chat? Braga and Moore could also be there to discuss the writing of both! 

Looking at the shows, Deep Space Nine also finished 15 years ago - I'd love to see the cast get together and maybe even get Andrew Robinson, Aron Eisenberg, Barry Jenner, Casey Biggs, Mark Alaimo, Louise Fletcher and JG Hertzler on board for a massive celebration? (I'm now thinking these ideas are taking the event way beyond any possibilities of budget but we can dream...)

Going back a bit further we can see that it's 30 years since The Search for Spock premiered in 1984 - need we say more? Perhaps something with the remaining cast and guest stars? How about a session with the guys who designed and built the iconic Bird-of-Prey, USS Excelsior and the Grissom?

It's also five years since Star Trek (2009) premiered - could this be the first chance to celebrate that rebirth in style and get SIX captains on the stage? Shatner, Stewart, Brooks, Mulgrew, Bakula AND Pine all at one event! Imagine that!

Fan Projects

While there will undoubtedly be a ton of costumes and props on display for all us fans to drool over why not have a big premiere event? Surely The Holiest Thing will be ready to go by October considering the recent splurge of funds from Kickstarter? If not what about if the fourth installment of Star Trek Continues will be available? It would certainly be a unique opportunity and something not done before. Also a chance to get the respective cast, producers and directors involved with Destination Star Trek and promote the continued voyages on this side of the pond.
Who could forget (nearly did actually) Renegades? Must be something they could pull out of the bag for this outstanding event what with all this new stuff they're drip feeding us?!

Hopefully this would also mean we might see some appearances from our friends at Axanar, Futures or Horizon leading a fan productions section? I'd be there for that one.

Bloggers' Forum/Workshops

Heck yes - this should be at the top of the list of course (!). Let's get the UK's foremost bloggers, media site managers and the like together for some idea battering and maybe even some Q and A with the attending fans - what do they like reading/seeing/engaging with? We're probably getting it all wrong so let's get some feedback from those that matter and make it all worthwhile (been a while since we last used that header...). We do know there will be fan forums with topics already being banded around on Twitter - Dominion War anyone? 

Gaming Sessions

Big event sessions for Star Trek Online or maybe the new Infinity Wars tradable online card game? Just a thought (and we have something on that shortly). It would get the community together in a different way - imagine seeing all those fans strategising in one place!

No question that Online will be there promo-ing loads of stunning upcoming new episodes and features - but what about having a special Destination episode that only gets to be played while the event is on or even more specifically AT the event? Given that it's only in October this might be a long shot. Still, hold it in reserve for the fourth one?!


Probably taking a bit of flak over the first run of issues but hey, what about this as a great occasion to officially reveal the 41-50 or even the 50-70 runs? Bring along some of the samples too - we've not seen much in the way of sneak peaks from the desk of Ben Robinson for a few months now. The last ones might even have been the Solar Sailor! Let's not stick them in a corner of an exhibitors room, why not get them on stage, get these guys to present what they're doing and interact with an audience - maybe even let a few of us bloggers interview them as part of the event? Wouldn't we love to see some juicy revelations about upcoming specials? How about having a starship that will only be available at the Destination events?! Hey, +Nils W. what about this being the USS Pasteur?!

What would you like to see at Destination Star Trek London? Is there an event you've thought would make a great attraction? Why not suggest it here!

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Friday, 23 May 2014

What's Today's Date? The Date?!

An odd question to ask unless you're stepping out of a turbolift in your pyjamas after discovering you're travelling back and forth through time.

That date was of course Stardate 47988 - but more significant is the fact that All Good Things..., the final installment of the triumphant return to TV of Star Trek was first aired today in 1994. For those of your about to do some quick maths - that's 20 years ago exactly.

While the US would get to see it in syndication over the next few days, we in the UK would have to wait until All Good Things... arrived on our shores through the medium of VHS. These were the days long before SKY would show new episodes the next (or same) day as the US. How did I survive?! 

I'd kept track of some of the plot points through TV Zone, Starlog and Starburst magazines and eagerly counted down the days until the release of volume 79. I was there as the shop door opened and happily parted with £10.99.

Even today I remember watching it for the first time, unwrapping the cellophane and pushing the cassette into the player. Sadly it was in two-part format which really angered UK fans - but I wasn't disappointed. For note they did release it on VHS as the movie with the Journey's End special a month or so later on a limited run at double the price (also had all the movie trailers as an extra feature). 

The season leading to this point had been mixed with Phantasms, Parallels, The Pegasus and Pre-Emptive Strike the stand out shows but there had also been a lot of average and below par stories such as Sub Rosa, Attached and Force of Nature. Maybe the time had come to call it a day after all. Dad and I settled in for 90 minutes. All went quiet. Press play.

All Good Things... also started the trend for bringing the series' full circle as both Deep Space Nine and Voyager repeated with What You Leave Behind and Endgame. Here in this story it was the end of a very special era - the show that had successfully, gloriously returned Star Trek to the small screen was coming to an end and their adventures would soon be moving to the cinema in Generations. No more would the Enterprise-D cross the TV and we'd be able to see that little man walk across the observation lounge, waiting to see just what the next hour would bring.

The long-forgotten Trial of Humanity came back to haunt Picard as did Q - although his portrayal by De Launcie was miles away from his appearance in Encounter at Farpoint. This was a Q who's own journey through the show had finally revealed a little bit of his humanity at the least. Honestly though it's all the future stuff that sticks in my mind; bearded Picard, VISOR-less Geordi, old and bitter Riker, that super-Enterprise-D, the Klingon ships and the homage to The Original Series design in the shape of the USS Pasteur. The past was equally as brilliant taking us back before the mission to Farpoint and bringing Tasha Yar back to the bridge and back from the dead. Again.

It's also odd to think that both O'Brien and Worf made their first appearance in The Next Generation's pilot - two of the characters who would ultimately have the most screen time ever and were never intended as little more than background talking extras. Having O'Brien back for this was a nice bonus and he did get a lot more to do this time!

This was a feel good finale, a nod to the fans, giving them some nice little treats of a potential future as well as placing existence in the greatest danger ever. It had everything from the off. Let's face it, letting Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore loose on the script it was never going to be easy to get your head round and there was almost a concrete guarantee that time travel would be involved in some manner. It's one of Q's finest moments before he was mistreated by Voyager. The changes in him were evident. Whereas he would have easily erased the crew and humanity from existence if he was the same person we saw back in Encounter at Farpoint he's giving Picard a chance to prove there is some hope for his people. 

Patrick Stewart is in every single scene here and manages the episode magnificently. He is as much a lynchpin to the events as the anti-time rift and Picard is never more in control here. Seeing the crew question him in the past is a masterstroke and reiterates how far the show and the crew have come since that first mission - just how much trust he has in them in every respect. It's a great speech that kicks off that final segment.

It's worth watching back to spot the odd reference here and there which you might miss - Earl Grey not programmed or Geordi married to Leah Brahms perhaps - every level of fandom is catered for here. It just works on all levels and actually, you don't care if the science is a bit hokum because it's purely about entertainment and throwing everything in to make this worthy of the show itself. The cast ensemble works a treat with everyone getting to shine for a moment at least - perhaps moreso in the future where time has been less than kind to some.

The mix of family, action and reflection make it the strongest of the series finales from any generation hands down. I watched it the first time with my dad and it just blew us both away becoming an instant favourite of ours. Shame we had to wait a while to see all the extra bits they sliced out to make it into a less satisfying two part story. But in the big picture it didn't matter on that first viewing. This was a massive send off for the show and we loved every second of it. No other finale can match that closing scene - the poker game led by Picard for the first and only time. It was truly over; there would be no more new TV episodes of The Next Generation - it was all going to be in Deep Space Nine's court and this new show that was coming a few months later called Voyager. On a side note today also marks the anniversary of the first airing of that show's last episode in 2001. We'll hold off until 2016 to mark that one out I think.

The Next Generation had been a bigger success than anyone had expected,  spawned two other series,  would lead to another beyond that and another four motion pictures. The Next Generation had created a resurgence in Star Trek that would have been unimaginable in the 1970s. Odd in a way when this series probably owed more to The Motion Picture,  not a fan favourite, than II, III or IV.  What of this episode's legacy? Well from my perspective it represents a pinnacle of storytelling, possibly Moore and Braga at their Star Trek best. Star Trek itself would have to survive in different forms, no longer reliant on the voyages of a starship named Enterprise - but for me this was the golden age of the franchise - there was a ton of TV, new books, games, a was all happening right about the time of All Good Things...

So what were my favourite bits here? For one you have to say the decloaking of the USS Enterprise-D refit as it obliterates two Klingon warships is just 200% pure enjoyment. The scene between Old Picard and Old Q is also a gem of a moment. Although not essential for the plot it's a little lighter point and also one of the segments clipped to fit it into a two part format. Getting to see Worf back in command red (little did we know) and the original one-piece uniforms brought back some memories. I think having watched this I then chose to skip back and watch the pilot and after the continuous build in quality over seven years it was one heck of a shock if only for Sirtis' over-emotional Troi.

Here's to the anniversary, the landmark that was the first planned series finale of Star Trek. The first of three bookended by two shows that were cut short before their time. Congratulations to The Next Generation - 20 years on and it's still just as good as the first time. Just as the Enterprise continues to fly on as the credits fade up, so would Star Trek.
"Goodbye, Jean-Luc. I'll miss you. You did have so much potential. But alas... all good things must come to an end." - Q

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Make Or Break? Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection Issues 20 and 21

Note to readers: I'm dropping this line onto the blog with the full intention of reviewing both the Klingon Vor'Cha Attack Cruiser and the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E however...

Somewhere between Eaglemoss and SKoST Towers the delivery has vanished. It was due on Wednesday 14th May and now it's Friday 16th May.  The team over at the STSS page have assured me that it is on it's way. Fingers crossed, hey?


Incredibly just before heading out for a bit of shopping with the family what should turn up this morning (Saturday 17th May)? Yep, one Eaglemoss-sized box containing the very two ships released this month. Opinions on the whole, according to the Facebook page, seem to be praising this month's ships but we're always skeptical until that box gets opened and the craft are on their stands. So what can we say about the Klingon attack cruiser and the Federation's flagship?

The Vor'Cha cruiser first hit screens back in 1991 in the episode Reunion, carrying the dying Chancellor K'mpec to begin the process of succession. As with the USS Enterprise special recently, my last experience with this ship was in  model kit form but this time more expertly constructed by my dad back in the 1990's. I recall the colour being a lot lighter green than we see here but this is direct from the CBS archives - the paint job is officially what we saw on the screen. 

For once, the third Klingon ship to feature in the collection seems to have more metal than plastic in its build. The weapons platform, flying bridge and nacelles are in plastic with a fair portion of the ship cold to touch. Good call, Eaglemoss - and it really does matter when you examine the upper hull detail. The main body even appears to have some weathering applied giving it a dirtier look than we have been used to before. Another tick on this one is the point that there aren't any horrible join lines. Everything fits together well. Not a first but after off-centre nacelles, badly-fitting pylons and all the other errors, it's good to have a model solidly made. On the point of nacelles, the warp radiator grilles and collectors are formed in red clear plastic as are the well fitted impulse engines on the rear. To back that point the three Klingon ships in the series have all been built exceptionally well (the other two being issue three's Bird-of-Prey and issue seven's K'T'inga). Additional plus points for the Vor-Cha being that it's one of the less flexible ships we've seen. I don't recommend dropping it out of a third storey window to test this but it's not as fragile as the nacelles on the Equinox or the whole of the Solar Sailor.

Even the underside detail is great and comparing the whole thing to the plan views in the magazine show how close the two are this time. Aside from some minute browner-coloured panelling the two are indistinguishable. Comparing the detail across to the older AMT kit, I'm hard-pushed to find anything out of the ordinary or any discernable mistakes; this really is a great finished Klingon Vor'Cha Attack Cruiser. Ok. There is one thing that makes me wince here (you'd be disappointed if there wasn't) - the stand is one heck of a tight fit, squeezing in under the weapons pod and the underside of the hull. I was worried that I'd be popping the pod off as I positioned the ship - anyone out there broken it yet?

Evolutionary Tales

Opening up Issue 20 there's a potted history of the cruiser class which also confirms that the first ones we saw in The Next Generation were a lighter green (nice one Dad).  The later versions did have the same paint job as the model accompanying this magazine. The following section deals with the evolution of the Klingons rather than focusing on the ship (something I guess we'll see more often going forward), examining the reinvention of the warrior race from The Motion Picture onwards. Significantly this highlights just how much influence Ronald D Moore had in their backstory from the third season of The Next Generation onwards. Shamefully though their continued cultural evolution in Deep Space Nine is conspicuous through its absence. However, it did help jog my memory on some events from the past which will come in handy for our review of The Klingon Art of War which I'm reading at the moment!

As we've said before the highlights in here tend to be the design and filming sections and Issue 20 doesn't disappoint. Featuring some stunning sketches from the library of Rick Sternbach you get a true sense of the evolution of the Vor'Cha Class from it's origins within the shape of the D-7 of The Original Series and the K'T'inga Class which first appeared in the movies. Only criticism we could point at the magazine content was the lack of any new images beyond the CGI recreation of the Vor'Cha on pages four and five. Other than that, a totally flawless package and one of the best yet without a doubt.

Golden Sovereign?

Issue 21 however is the hot coal of the collection. It's been 17 regular issues since we were rewarded with an Enterprise and the arrival of the "E" marks the fourth in the collection as a whole after NCC-1701-D, the movie refit, NX-01 and the alternative timeline special edition (fifth if we're counting the All Good Things... subscribers model). Over on the Facebook page opinion has certainly been polar on this ship - is it really the make or break model for the series? What's the consequences if it isn't up to standard?

On arrival this was the first one to be unboxed and placed on its stand. Initially it looks stunning but after a few seconds something else seems to drift in - dismay. Considering the amount of hull detail that is present here, this really could have done with being made into a larger special edition. The surface is litterally crammed with lifeboat hatches, captain's yacht, light and dark panelling, phaser strips, registry... the list goes on. Just bumping down the scale a bit would have made this even more impressive.

As it goes, the result is very, very good - the top section of the saucer is forged from metal while the secondary hull and nacelles (a pattern consistent in the collection) are plastic moulded. Compared to the plan views there's a good deal of accuracy - until you flip her over.

Whether this is a one off error or not but I have misaligned decals on the lower hull and the saucer registry does seem a bit blurred (or I've been on that green stuff of Scotty's) and your heart does sink - so close to perfection but once more let down by some minor details at the last post. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with the ship and think this will reassure a lot of fans but the consistency and quality time and time again seem to ebb and flow from collector to collector and from model to model.

Importantly here the detail isn't limited to the main body of the ship with the specialist paint job making its way all along the nacelles and their sleek, sweeping pylons. I suspect that having a physical model for reference would have been a great help here - in fact as the magazine reveals, this was the last of the great Star Trek Enterprise models built (for First Contact) before everything went CGI. 

Strangely she does feel a bit stumpy having no neck section between the two hulls and without all those blue and red hues it's one ship that does seem a little, erm, dull in the flesh (or plastic/metal). That's nothing against the publishers and model makers, more a nod that the power of technology in the movie world can do some great things.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E has gone some way to repairing the disappointment from earlier editions - there's no massive open gaps, ill-fitting pylons, wonky nacelles or "screen correct" errors to fuel discussion for once. It's a good solid result that reassures me the collection is being handled well and fan reaction is being listened to. Yes, this could have been a disaster but for those who aren't subscribing and are waiting for it to hit the shelves, you'll be happy with the result. Even the decals on the side are the right way up and the right way round.

You Say Narada...

Flipping through the magazine I was, inevitably drawn towards the filming section. I'm gradually discovering that my knowledge of starships in the last 14 years has been a bit lax and the details regarding the adjustments and modifications to the Enterprise-E between films were genuinely interesting to read (as I'd found with the JJ-Enterprise special). Unlike the previous Vor-Cha issue there are a good number of pics that were unfamiliar  to me alongside the usual fodder of Enterprise versus Borg cube, Enterprise versus Schimitar and the like. For note there is one cock-up referring to the Narada as the ship Troi rammed which does niggle seeing as it's correctly referenced just a page back. 

I'm now finding that I end up skim-reading the first couple of pages as when they focus on the more popular ships it does tend to be a plot summary (as here) of its appearances on screen which won't be new ground to existing fans. The designing and filming sections are excellent once more. The stretching of the Galaxy Class lines to form the basis of the Sovereign Class is fully explained while we also get to see some bits that never made it on screen. I do think that the double page on internal layout could have been better utilised. 

While LCARS images are always welcome, why not look at the features John Eaves never managed to update for the "lost" fifth film but get hinted at almost on the final page. Could we even have had a section devoted to the extra craft the Enterprise-E carried such as the yacht, the Argo or the shuttle that we saw in the latter two The Next Generation movies? 

One thing that does manage to get avoided is the manual helm control used in Insurrection. Just that omission ensures that Issue 21 is a winner in my eyes. The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E might not have received anything like the screen time of some of its illustrious predecessors but fans can be reassured that the production here has done her proud. Surely this must be one of the best month's to date for the series and long may this trend continue. 

Perhaps with recent announcements as well as the ever-increasing number of markets our opening statement is extreme - success has certainly flowered with the collection and I would suggest that a run of 70 issues is now more pessimistic than optimistic.

Eaglemoss Updated

We're still waiting for the official update on 41 - 50 but we have now seen a better image of the Krenim Temporal Weapon magazine cover and an in-focus still of the Nebula Class starship from issues 22 and 23 due for UK release in June. Aside from that it's been very, very quiet from the publishers. However, we would like to offer them a few questions for their Facebook page...

  1. What was the first starship named after a fictional Star Trek character? USS Gorkon
  2. Where is Admiral Kirk's shuttlepod granted permission to dock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Portside Torpedo Bay
  3. Two starship classes are involved in the rescue of the USS Prometheus in Message in a Bottle - what are they? Akira and Defiant
  4. An Intrepid Class starship has only been named onscreen twice - once is, of course, USS Voyager; but what was the other? USS Bellepheron
  5. Which Galaxy Class starship was dispatched to assist Deep Space Nine during The Way of the Warrior? USS Venture
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Hot Rod Starship: Eaglemoss Special Edition: USS Enterprise

Significantly bigger than the original with some seriously curvy new lines, my neglection of the Eaglemoss specials has come to an end as we look to what could be considered a modern classic.

With the first anniversary of Star Trek Into Darkness upon us in May I was lucky enough to receive a delayed 2009 Movie Timeline USS Enterprise. Honestly, I'm impressed and that's saying something considering what I'm going to say.

As regular readers will know I attempted, with some success, to build the Revell kit from the latest movie. It came out OK but this version is so much better in a lot of ways.

The second special edition from Eaglemoss was released the same week as one of our favourite regular issues, the USS Equinox, which meant subscribers and regular buyers had to fork out a little bit more than usual however the result is absolutely worth the retail price.

While the regular issues are packaged in cardboard and plastic, the 2009 USS Enterprise arrived in it's own, larger, four sided box docked neatly inside a chunk of polystyrene. Measuring in at exactly 22cm (8.7') it's larger than your average Akira but you would expect no less from a special edition. But let's stop praising the box and take a look at the ship herself.

Designed off the back of the movie USS Enterprise as featured in The Motion Picture through to The Undiscovered Country it's a look that splits fans as much as the JJ movie itself. I wasn't keen on first glance but over five years I like it more with the passing of time and for the fact it's the only starship I've ever built myself. Eaglemoss have done a mixed job here so without further waffle I'll explain.

This model is screen-accurate to the ship as she appeared in the first 99.4% of Into Darkness (ie pre-refit), as can be identified in that the ship's registry has been removed from the underside of the secondary hull (which you can see is present on the cover photo). The saucer top is in metal while everything else here is rendered in plastic but that doesn't detract from the pure awesomeness of the model. Skeptical we can be about The Official Starships Collection, this is well done however, yes, there are a few bits which are nagging me to say already.

I'll get these out of the way first. The windows on the secondary hull are out of alignment with the indents marking them out; the join between the hull sections (above) are also less than respectable; the lower saucer sensor array is woefully low on detail as are the warp engines which, fortunately, aren't too off parallel as you may fear and nor are they as bendy as the ones on the USS Equinox. However they don't sit completely flush onto the pylons, leaving some of the attaching strut visible.

From the photos we've included it's clear to see that the primary and secondary hulls have both been detailed with the aztec paint scheme but the panel etching and general secondary hull detail is a little substandard but I still like the result. Odd, perhaps, but for the size, scale and cost this is still a good deal. If you want minutely detailed you're going to be paying significantly more or building it yourself. Here we have a very robust piece that has, at the least, all the key features of the latest iteration of the USS Enterprise. If there is one thing that does bug me - and I mean really bugs me - it's the joint lines between the sections of plastic in the neck and also around the shuttlebay and nacelles. Some gaps do seem wide enough to drive a shuttle through. Some of the markings are missing and there does appear to be more grey detailing than anything else. I'm sure there were some other colour decals on the nacelles at the least.

Whatever I say I do still think it looks the part and can't be any worse than the Model That Cannot Be Named which set the lowest bar. Raising this ship as a special is a good - and clever - move since it's not from the Roddenberry Universe and would be in hot demand. Hang on a bit - haven't I sort of contradicted myself here - I like it and yet there's a snag list the length of the Doomsday Machine? 

Well yes, but there's something strangely pleasing about having this model arrive, just seeing it poised on the stand and I'm not sure what it is - maybe it's just the size and the initial impression. The only way I get disappointed is by studying the minutiae of the paint scheme and transfers (or the lack of). Possibly with my modelling "experience" on this very ship it's made me a lot more aware of exactly what should and shouldn't be there.

In regards to the magazine there's nothing to disappoint. The previous versions of the famous starship have had pages, chapters and books dedicated to their evolution and here we finally get the story behind this interpretation. Conceived as a "hot rod", the design team chose to over-emphasise elements of the ship to give it a quirky and different look to the original. The reasoning behind choosing or changing colours (bussard collectors) is explained as are the detailed changes between the two movies - although I would have appreciated just a few lines on what refit adaptations were made at the end of Into Darkness. At a slightly longer 20 pages, just as with the previous Deep Space Nine edition, there's a lot more that can be covered and it's quite telling here although there are no plan views which you would have expected. On the other hand the sketches and images included are much more beneficial and you get a real feel of what the designers were trying to achieve. This had to be an instantly recognisable ship but at the same time be very distinctive and different. Try merging all that together and keep your fanbase happy...

The overall package here is very, very well presented and I learnt a lot from the magazine which is a first in this series. Usually I pick up a couple of points but this was a completely fresh story for me as my understanding of the Abrams universe is limited but improving. Would have been good to get to know a bit more on the interior design but given the tight amount of space provided it's forgivable that the exterior - the model - gains precedent here. While the interior decor does get a few lines there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of page space handed over to engine design, front back and sides. Actually it turns out that these parts are good to read and have some magnificent images to accompany. If you've not already, this is certainly one that you'll be happy to add to the collection. JJ's USS Enterprise isn't the longest serving but it's now a major part of the franchise. Ignoring it's existence at the least is now nigh on impossible. Even I've been impressed here so miracles can happen.

Now that we've seen this alternative, the bet is on that Special Three will be the USS Vengeance. It does seem that everything is pointing to this one which we suspect will launch around Issue 24 (10th July) with the announcement probably due a month earlier via the website or the Facebook page.

Talking of announcements, the Star Trek Starships page on the social media site also revealed that issues 41 to 50 will include the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C, the Negh'Var and for the fiftieth, the classic NCC-1701 - that's 20 issues earlier than expected. Clearly our recent post has everything to do with this announcement....(!). This is great news but then just makes us want to know what the other ships in this batch will be. For those that might not have realised, this also means that the only USS Enterprise's yet to feature are the A and J variants if we're going off on-screen appearances only.

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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.