Sunday, 2 November 2014

Run(about) and Hide(ki): The Official Starships Collection Issues 32 and 33

I like to think that the delay in the arrival of this week's two new starships in the Eaglemoss Collection was due to a spike in demand due to both the Deep Space Nine favourite, the Runabout and the Into Darkness USS Vengeance both arriving on UK shores.

Not since a year ago has there been such a strong double/header when both Deep Space Nine and USS Excelsior were released on the same day.

The regular issues this month follow a very specific theme rotating around that most circular of space stations which has already succeeded in managing two mentions in two paragraphs and as it's my favourite show I don't care; any excuse will do.

Issue 32 is unmissable for fans of the former Terok Nor as the Starfleet workhorse, the Runabout is finally here. Coupled with the model of the station from Special One and the USS Defiant from Issue Nine, it's the final piece of equipment you need to tick for your Bajoran sector fleet.

As this was also the first release in the collection which could be landed in it's presented form it meant we could spend more of the available budget and go on location with the USS Orinoco...location being predominantly my garden doubling for some abstract alien planet in the Gamma Quadrant.

As a Niner this is a must-have and the result doesn't disappoint. The spine section running atop the ship and containing the warp core is made from metal while the command, cargo and habitat modules as well as the warp engines are in plastic. 

She is a little smaller than I had expected in length but retains all the features we're familiar with from the ship as seen on screen for seven years and one episode of The Next Generation. Interestingly there's not even a mention of the Yellowstone Class Runabout from Harry Kim's alternative Earth in Non Sequitur

The base to clear-plastic ship dock is very poor, wobbling all over the place while the Runabout itself is a tight fit - something also shared with the Hideki Class fighter in the following issue (33). The construction material split was a clever move with all the parts hanging off the central spine in plastic. Detail-wise the hull highlights some panelling but I find that it's lacking in some finer detail. On ships such as the USS Enterprise-D we received an aztec paint scheme and given the scale here, the Orinoco would have benefitted from this finish - and perhaps a little space dirt as well.

There is a distinctive mid-point joint line running around the centre of the ship making that the only major, visible seam since everything else (on mine at least) has a pretty good fit. I would have liked a bit more detail (yes, noted already...) even around the warp core and I guess the lack of space and therefore rigidity of structure meant that the venting on the sides of the warp engines couldn't be detailed in blue transparent plastic although the bussard collectors do get that treatment. On closer inspection the front sections of the under-wing impulse engines have also received clear red plastic sections - but not the rear.

Then there's that sensor pod. It's a nice attachment and I'm certain some fans will have two (one with and one that they've removed) for super-completion levels but it was used a lot less than it wasn't. It's firmly afixed to the metal body section of the Runabout and perhaps having it as a removable would have been a nice little twist on the model formula. As it is, the sensor pod is very stable, secure and well-made. Shame the only real reason for it to be there is to distinguish which Runabout was which in the show when more than one was shown|!

Now this review might seem (perhaps as usual) that I'm griping about this one. I'm not. It's magnificently well made, has great lines and from every angle this is one of the models we'll be talking about for a long time. It's nice to see that we don't just have to rely on Enterprise to produce a good ship - there were a fair few in other series but it's taking a while to get to them.

Even the decals on the Orinoco are centred from the pennants on the top of the warp sled section to the ship registry on the sides of the command pod. The underside doesn't appear to be that well coloured or marked however it's in keeping with the original design. Very minimal but hey, how often are you going to be wanting to turn this gem over?

So one more great entry to the catalogue and I've even managed to review without a single mention of this being about the same size as the Rubicon from One Little Ship. Well done me....

The first two pages of the magazine were a disappointment, reusing the cover picture for the main (new) CGI image that introduces the backstory to the craft within the Star Trek fictional universe. Giving some key moments in their lifetime, the sledgehammer that was the arrival of the introduction of the USS Defiant in The Search reminds us how ineffective these three little vessels were for Deep Space Nine after the Dominion showed up.

Rick Sternbach's original designs, based on that shuttle from The Undiscovered Country aren't new and many fans will recognise them from, if nothing else, The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine made after the show's second season. The evolution from that point to Runabout is well covered and backed up again here one more time. I hoped there would be more on the habitat module than we get here (one picture) and more on the overall internal design and changes than is presented in the magazine. 

The trail also includes (since it was the same model as the one from Star Trek VI) the USS Jenolan from the Scotty episode Relics in The Next Generation. Again the design carry-overs are blatant due to its heritage but I never knew that at one point the Sydney Class was a potential for the Runabout itself. Adding that picture of the Jenolan does mean every fan will be hoping to see her in a future issue.

Oddly with an issue so far into the production run there are two things to note - that all of the pages are assigned to the Danube Class alone and that we're still getting some info on what happened to the original filming model and how both that construction as well as a later CGI version were used in the series.

Over in Issue 33 it's our second Cardassian starship, the Hideki Class first seen (and I'd forgotten this) back in the second season of Deep Space Nine during Profit and Loss. OK it might not be exactly the same colour we're more familiar with from the later years but then this is one of those ships that seems to have slipped through the net since it's revealed that no-one is able to fill in the story of it's creation (although some people were unavailable/didn't want to be interviewed) it is one of those enigma's forevermore and shows that sometimes you just can't find out everything. Ironically the story of being unable to find out anything about the design process for the Hideki Class manages to fill an entire double page.

The stand for the ship is exceptionally tight-fitting; so much so at one point I thought it was going to snap and was happily proved wrong when it fitted like a glove around the delta-wing of the fighter. While we took the Orinoco outside for a spin I felt it would be unkind not to do likewise with the Hideki Class so it's two on-location shoots this month (no idea how I'm going to do the Vengeance so bear with me).

In series terms this is the ultimate cannon fodder probably seen leaving a scene in bits more than any other ship type in the history of Star Trek. I mean, who designs a ship that can be destroyed with only a single photon torpedo blast or a sustained phaser hit? Bearing similarities to the larger Galor Class we saw a lot of these getting phasered and torpedoed in the brilliant Call to Arms marking the loss of Deep Space Nine to the Dominion.

As models go this one is flat. Literally. The picture on the inside page of the magazine threw me a bit since it's a front view and doesn't highlight any of the dorsal or ventral design intricacies. From the front this is exceptionally dull - no real depth, no good angle to photograph but when you view the model from any other point it's a good little model.

The reproduction is perfect alongside the magazine CGI images with every lump and bump across the surface duplicated precisely across both formats. Comparing the detail to the plan views in the magazine there's not a foot wring but for those of us looking to see just how screen-precise the Hideki Class model is we'll have to jump over to Google Images as the photos used as part of the guide are very, very poor and if not pixellated, blurred. Rather than having to flick between different sources to not off the precision of the collection I would suggest looking for higher quality results. The new CG pics are crisp and clear and should be correct but they may not (but should be) screen accurate. Seeing episodic images to link the ships to their onscreen moments is great but they can below par. 

The design is in keeping with the Cardassian themes we see on the Galor Class and is better than I expected - a thought that I had with the Nausicaan fighter last month. The top section is solid metal while the underside and rear "pincers" are plastic here but the two gel very nicely together with no joint lines visible. Comparing the detail to the Runabout, this has a much stronger 360 degree finish with all sides bearing superb detail. In fact the underside has just as any recesses and rises as the top. It is one of the more strongly detailed ships helped by only being 83 metres in length onscreen which then makes me ask why we weren't able to get an equally high level of panelling detail on the 23 metre long Runabout in the previous issue. Of the two this month I think I'd have to say the Cardassian factor is a stronger result BUT I'll always plump for the Runabout given the choice.

The magazine provides quite a broad feature on the class as well as its sporadic appearances in Deep Space Nine before attempting to give us some history on the design process. As we've noted it's not documented how this ship design came to be and I found the process to confirm details a welcome addition - not all things always go exactly as you would wish. We do have some photos of the filming model but that's your lot here. Eaglemoss have done a c=good job on the model we get and seeing the images of their resource show just how much they're had to do to bring this edition up to scratch.

Production Illustrator Jim Martin gets a piece dedicated to his work here too. Martin worked on Deep Space Nine during its early years and this article fits well in the series as he was involved with the internal design of the Runabout as well as other notable elements in the show. Martin's concept sketch for the Hideki Class is awesome and really deserved to be featured earlier in the magazine as it's key to the main topic here. Martin's interview is just too brief and you'll find a lot of questions coming to mind during a read. Maybe we'll get some more from him in the future. 

Next month we're back into double Enterprise territory with the Vulcan Surok Class and the 2152 Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Before that of course there's going to be our review of one USS Vengeance from Star Trek into Darkness.

Was it the Runabout or the Cardassian fighter which won your preference this month? Were there any surprises you hadn't expected and are you happy with the quality of the accompanying magazine? Why not drop a line below or contact us on one of our wonderful social media channels!

Like our page on Facebook 
Follow us on Twitter
+1 us on Google+
Add us on Tumblr
Pick us out on Pinterest
Add to to conversation on Star Trek: Risa

No comments:

Post a comment