Saturday, 16 April 2016

Big Things Coming: The Official Starships Collection Issue 70 and 71

What a month and what a couple of corkers we have to talk about.   

Eaglemoss have actually surprised me on both counts with the Voth City Ship and the Klingon Transport being better than I had expected. One thing that has struck me in the bigger picture is how we've managed to get both of the Voth ships very close together yet we have yet to see a single Kazon or Vidiian design, both of which appeared in a lot more episodes than the singular saurian race.   

In the case of the City Ship from issue 70 the pictures we've seen so far have not done her justice. Being one of the biggest starships ever to grace any series of Star Trek there's a lot to do in such a small scale. I did fear that the detail would be lost given the size however you'll be amazed at what they've managed to cram onto the silver hull. Take a close look at the hull too because on the upper and lower surfaces you'll see that there's even a hint of panel tone differentiation that just brings it away from one solid colour and the fear of looking a touch like a toy.

On top of that metallic silver base coat we have multiple tiny coloured sections representing community areas, warp field generators and power conduits. To the rear we've also got the huge transwarp engine that powers this mammoth, seven mile long vessel. One thing I didn't expect or remember from the Voyager episode which featured it, Distant Origin, were the runes which are etched into the surface edges both on the top and underside of the craft.    

The lines are very cleanly finished on the Voth City Ship but I would expect nothing less seeing as there are very few extremities to be concerned with on the sleek end product. Had this been produced as per some of the original sketches shown in the magazine I can imagine this being a nightmare for the collection to manufacture.     
I had thought this was going to be a very plain design but the runic paneling and colouring make this a very impressive result which displays well in its rear-grip stand. Even flipping her over the City Ship detail carries right on down to the rune edging and smooth silver base.  In fact the story within the magazine does comment about how much smoother the final design actually is. It might well be but Eaglemoss have still gone to a lot of trouble to ridge along the hull and colour specific sections giving it a deep 3D feel even though it's still a very slender ship to look at.

Could there have been any translucent sections dotted around the hull? Honestly no. I think that with the scale here that was a physical impossibility as the blue hues painted on are very small and tend not to be that close together. I can only think it would be hell to try and bore out such small areas from the large upper metal section to make that happen. The choice to only have the lower surface in plastic has been a big success here. It's the only single flat piece on the City Ship while all the remainder of the craft has had its lumps and bumps formed in the stronger silver metal.

With the magazine we have 100% focus on the brilliant Distant Origin. Having two ships from the episode, for me, is a big win and the magazine offers much more in depth background on both the episode and the design of the craft too than the sub-standard Voyager Companion ever did (synopsis, trivia, jot all else). Ok the initial ship overview is a near retread of the piece from the Voth Research Ship with a spin towards the later phase of the episode which did take place within the sprawl of the City Ship. 

No new pics aside from the initial CG recreations but tightly written and to the point. Collectors are more likely to flick to the Designing article which brings in the perspective of its creator Rick Sternbach. Always (and I do mean always) a magical insight to the background of Star Trek, the sketches show it could have looked very, very different and morphed over time from a complex, layered craft into its more recognisable and smoother lines.  

The next article ahead of the Key Appearance (it's only appearance by the way) covers Ancient Life Forms. Taking a lead from the saurian race of Distant Origins we are provided with an overview of some of the other older creatures the crews have faced including the Progenitors from The Chase, Apollo from Who Mourns for Adonais and even the an anaphasic life form, Ronin, from Sub Rosa...although I'm sure we'd have been happy if this had been omitted! Finally Writing Distant Origin covers the path that led from dinosaurs with guns to a stunning Voyager story that remains a personal favourite. Offering the elements we have with this magazine and with the issue accompanying the Research Ship we now have a superb archive on a key story and certainly the package here makes issue 70 unmissable for any serious collector.   

As for the Klingon transport featured in the second season Enterprise episode Bounty, this could well slide into my top five. It's a majestically simple horseshoe design and almost as flat as the City Ship if you stand the two side by side. Ironically you have one of the largest ships ever designed along with one of the smallest in the same month (and the transport looks substantially bigger!)

No frills, no extras here but the paint tones skip between a grey and a green dependent on the light and the raised panel effects make it stand out like no other. As I've waxed on about before, the Enterprise models have become the real hidden gems and standout entries in the Starships Collection. In fact I can only think of the Nausicaan fighter being the weak link and even then it wasn't that bad.   

Goroth's transport ship works well given the larger scale it benefits from and just looks beautiful from every angle. In fact that red photon torpedo launcher slap bang on the front of her adds a gorgeous finishing touch as do some of the darker grey panels dotted across the upper and lower hull. Looking further to the back there are the highlighted green warp grilles at the 'wing tips' plus some easy-to-miss on-screen Klingon emblems boldly emblazoned on the upper port and starboard sides. Those grilles to the sides of the wings are in fact translucent although the red impulse engines hidden away just below them are simply painted in. Factually the colouring of those emblems does seem to be incorrect if you refer to the episode stills in the mag where these are seemingly line-etched into the ship rather than stuck on in four colours. It bugs me and I suspect it will you too.

From a detail point of view, the underside is 100% as good as the top with a distinctive loading hatch to the rear and a lot of technical elements prominent across the surface. Perhaps there could have been a little more definition around the disruptors and the photon launcher but that is very picky of me to point out as would be the suggestion that it could do with some weathering to really look "proper Klingon". As it is it looks a bit too new although again, picky me.  

She's got some weight behind her as well being a more chunky blocky mass than the City Shop we've also seen dock this month but I do have a severe leaning that this is the stronger entry into the collection for April 2016. For note as with the Voth ship, the underside panel is the only piece made from plastic giving you a ship that is about 70% metal and looks fantastic. Honestly, simple and flat it might be but I really am impressed with the design and did not expect to be in any way.

Into the magazine now and following on from the standard episode synopsis and screenshots we get another whammy from the John Eaves collection through more sketches and recollections of the design process. Actually it's not totally original for the Bounty episode as you'll find out. Less articles in here than issue 70 with a section on returning aliens filling out the second half before that solus key appearance. 

The point that Gene Roddenberry was never keen on bringing back Klingons, Vulcans and Romulans for The Next Generation is again documented but here we also turn to Enterprise and that it was absolutely essential that races such as the Andorians and Tellarites (with improved makeup) were brought into the prequel fold to show the evolution of their intergalactic relationships.   

Have to say that both here and in the Voth magazine the plan views do no justice whatsoever to the finished models and look rather bland in comparison. I've come to terms with the minimal notes but it's good to see that the main attraction - the ships - are now topping the images produced for the mag.

So to May and issues 72 and 73. We could have some interesting opinions with the former as it's the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A. Will Eaglemoss right the wrongs of the movie refit from issue 2? We pray. We really do. Second we'll have the Borg ship from Descent which has already been spotted and I'm not massively keen on so far. For those wondering where the heck my NX-01 refit review is, I'm wondering where the package itself is. Hopefully it will make it here soon....

What's your thoughts on the Voth and Klingon ships from April's releases? Better or worse than expected? 

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