Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Voyager in Shining Armour and Deep Space Truckers: The Official Starships Collection Issues 48 and 49

Having debated the missing impulse engine on the Enterprise-C last month we were sure to avoid any such intrigue in June.

Nope. Because this month's hot topic with issue 48 is whether or not the deflector dish on the ablative armour-clad USS Voyager should be red rather than the standard blue or yellow. It was a nice little exchange with @bobmat343 on Instagram over this and we're convinced it was never red nor can I find any images where it is that colour. In fact even in a couple of blurry screenshots from the show finale it's most definitely blue.

So this might be a big misstep on an otherwise fantastic model because, although simple it's a well reproduced starship. 

Seen in the Voyager finale Endgame for the last few scenes, the armoured starship is the first repeat of a vessel already featured (issue six in the UK) but with a significant spin although whether this will convince casual buyers to part with their cash will be interesting to see.

So onto the model. Virtually the same size, width etc etc as the issue six Voyager, it's all about the finish here. Top to toe in silver, the ablative armour only leaves the glimpse of a bussard collector, warp engine vent and deflector dish to colour the surface. Otherwise this is certainly Voyager+, fully encased in it's Borg-beating battle-suit. It's a little shame too that the whole of this model wasn't "metalised" considering what it represents however the majority of the saucer and the nacelle struts have the familiar cold touch while the 

She is perhaps a little smoother than you might have expected with raised detail highlighting the panel separations and weapon ports as well as a rather cool Starfleet insignia on each side of the secondary hull. That surface detail is faithfully reproduced in virtually every way and I think the only way it might have been improved is through the differences in the depth of the panels and some of the deeper recesses which don't quite get carried off here. Given the scale though this is forgiveable however that red deflector dish (also blue in the magazine!!!) is still bugging me. In fact I'm sure one pic on the views also shows the armour fully closed around the deflector dish. Still. Bugging. Me.

Effectively telling the story of Endgame, the magazine this month does have some great shots of the armoured Intrepid Class vessel (but not from the front too often) including one of the ship mid-transformation. Add in the expected plan views with which you can compare the model and her onscreen appearances and you have a nice complimentary section for your new ship. 

This publication does keep in-episode with a whole section devoted to the two actresses who portrayed the Borg Queen from First Contact right through to the explosive Voyager series finale. It's a good view into the production world that is rarely experienced and with the point that the armoured starship only featured for fifteen minutes at most, it's credit to Eaglemoss that they turned issue 48 into a companion to a Voyager episode. 

To issue 49 in Star Trek's 49th year and we have the ECS Fortunate. Featured in the season one Enterprise episode, Fortunate Son, it's the workhorse of the 22nd Century, delivering cargo to here, there and everywhere. Here's something to note as well. Although armoured Voyager was in the final episode of its series and Fortunate Son was set 200 years earlier right at the start of the prequel show, these two models were created within 12 months of each other in production terms. Fact.

Each Enterprise model is like a treasure waiting to be unwrapped because they sound dull when announced but I always have to back-track. It's a stone-cold fact. Our last Enterprise arrival was the Intrepid just five issues ago and again this one is another precision creation. 

The first challenge you actually face is with the stand for the Fortunate. While Voyager's slips nicely over the rear section between her nacelles, the guidance for the placement on the freighter is to drop it between the second and third pairs of cargo pods with the clip sliding over the arms connecting  the second pair onto the main spine of the ship. My recommendation is to do this BEFORE attaching the stem to the stand since the warp nacelles on the underbelly make it a tight squeeze and near-vertical angle to get it into place.

Once you've performed this feat it has to be said that the Fortunate is very well secured and no amount of day-by-day vibration in your home will shift her off the stand (for bad examples please see Romulan Warbird; issue five). When I did open the box my mind was already on the oh-really-not-fussed-over-this attitude but in about five seconds I utterly changed my opinion. This is a great ship. In fact it's better than Voyager

Gasp. I'm not blaspheming here, just doing what SKoST does best and telling the truth; the Fortunate is a more satisfying model than the armoured Voyager and not just because of that annoying red deflector dish. Every surface here is finely detailed from the numbering of each individual cargo pod and the ship name through to the  panelling and windows. There's not a lot of surface but what there is has been well-crafted however there are a couple of fitting issues with the plastic to metal. 

The lower fun on the bridge unit is slightly off-centre and the underbelly aerial set is also a bit bent but the pods and the warp nacelles are perfectly parallel and that's a more important point. There are some minor details that don't make the model due to the scale of the Fortunate and are evident when comparing the magazine cover to her. Eaglemoss have even managed a little bit of aztec paint scheme across the top of the central spine as well as some colour differentiation across the pods (note that they are all absolutely identical except for the numbering!). 

The full 360 degree detailing here is some of the best in the series on a ship I would never have expected to like. Sadly given the scale we do lose the blue deflector hue from the bridge module and I can let it go basically due to that scaling point - who knows how fiddly that might have been to paint in. The nacelles do retain their "blue-ness" in paint rather than transparent plastic and I would think that it's, once again, due to the scale which restricts. Saying that, the larger details are covered and it's only those minute details which get omitted. However, I can't complain since she looks very fine.

Issue 49 itself is a bit blah. Why so?  Because we've trodden the Fortunate Son path once before with the Nausicaan Fighter almost 20 issues ago. There are littered facts on the freighter although I did feel I'd read some of this before. Passing over that you do get into a good design section analysing the creation of the Fortunate with some great sketches from the process. I think there's only one picture duplicated from the Nausicaan Fighter issue but I got the sense it was a bit of a scramble for new info here. 

Finishing off the issue is an in universe article on space travel in the 22nd Century. A more unusual entry it's one more aspect of the Star Trek universe that has managed to be covered in the collection and does remain linked to the starships theme of the collection. You'll get a good refresher on some of those killer journeys at warp 1.8 as well as a high level info splurge on Federation travel history up to the arrival of that warp five engine on the Enterprise. A nice addition and just relevant enough to the ship given how trips could take months that the NX Class could do in weeks or even days.

Which brings us to the end of this time's coverage. This month's offerings, bar one blip, do make up for the errors of the Enterprise-C and the Negh'Var and although I didn't need my faith restoring, these two have been a bit of a revelation and an unexpectedly good pairing - perhaps moreso than the last (???) and certainly prepare us for the eagerly awaited 50th issue which will be in shops on 9th July 2015 in the UK and potentially with subscribers as early as the 4th July. For those who have been living under a rock or on a distant asteroid, issue 50 will see the legendary NCC-1701 in it's original glory followed by issue 51 featuring one of my favourite races, the Hirogen from Voyager. A big month and one not to miss.

In other news, Ben Robinson has revealed via Twitter that we can expect the Borg ship from Descent at issue 73, the Insurrection Captain's Yacht (and by default the scoutship), possibly the Gorn ship and Orion ships from the remastered The Original Series and that they may well do the Voyager aeroshuttle as well as a few one and two man ships that have been dotted through the series. Plus via a conversation with @Theirishtrekkie we now know the Mirror Universe ISS Enterprise will have Pike-era nacelles. No news on when we in the UK will get to see the elusive and dribble-icious shuttle collection which do include some nice cutaways from Star Trek legend Mike Okuda...Can we get these soon please Ben???!!!

What were your thoughts on this month's ships? Let us know below! You can also subscribe by dropping onto the link in our sidebar.

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