Thursday, 9 June 2016

Fun in Small Packages: The Official Starships Collection Issues 74 and 75

Impressively this month's subscriber issues turned up on the same day they were released to shops.

So first up, well done to Eaglemoss for getting relatively back on track and secondly, we have two really good looking ships to talk about.

Sadly we're treated to two craft in light grey but once past that initial realisation there's a good deal to discuss. First up is the 33.10 metre long Bajoran Raider. Not actually the smallest ship ever since the Runabout is only 23.1 metres. Most closely seen in The Circle piloted by Kira with the assistance of Jadzia Dax, it's a tiny two-person ship capable of sub-impulse speeds and packing a very light armament.

With the model, that larger scale has allowed a lot of detail to make its way onto the craft. The paintwork itself even carries an aged mottled/patchy darker grey effect giving a good impression of a ship well past its best years and just limping along.

I can forgive the blacked out canopy which, if clear, would have meant some intricate and expensive interior detailing and look to the surface panel lines and highlights. During its appearance in the show we probably saw more of the interior than the exterior so the few frames we did see it in are a little hazy and in some instances long distance too however this is a pretty solid model in every respect. Just watch out for the little fin on the port side below the cockpit because I knocked it off without realising. Fortunately it's tagged onto the ship which meant I didn't lose it!

The main metal body has just an underside plastic insert and a plastic canopy which enhances the small design because it seems separate from the main body. In regards to the surface it's a straight mirror along the length of the fuselage with both sides appearing identical and featuring the same darker highlight points most notably around the rear plasma conduits. The two wing-mounted phaser arrays are lifted out in a dusky yellow and are as detailed as the rest of the Raider but don't overwhelm the end effect. 

To the rear we have the wing stabilisers (didn't know it had them!) which I expected in plastic but are forged from the main body of metal. Beyond these is a whopping sub-impulse exhaust which, thanks to the darker colour makes it seem a lot deeper than it probably is. What amazes me is just how many fins and ridges there are on this little craft especially around this propulsion system block at the back. 

Stand positioning for this ship is perfect too, slipping between the stabilisers and the main body of the craft giving a nice mid-grip/flying effect. Oh  - and not forgetting the underside either. While not super exciting there is 360 degree detail although the bottom is a little lighter on darker highlights. 

Visually it's a really simple, straight forward design but the execution here is exemplary and I find myself, once more, bowing to the abilities of the Eaglemoss team who have done something above expectations with something that I couldn't get excited about for a second two weeks ago. 

I'm really impressed and shocked to admit it. As a Deep Space Nine fan I always look forward to these entries just because the show doesn't tend to get enough coverage but Bajoran ships do leave me a little cold. That said, this one demonstrates how wrong I can be.

To the magazine and the Ship Profile focuses not only on its appearance in The Circle but also when these Raiders turned up as part of the Bajoran fleet in the seventh season episode Shadows and Symbols. Basic info here as usual with an array of stills from the show which show more of everything else except the ship itself it seems!

Designed by Jim Martin - his first for the show - the following two page section briefly scatters in some detail to the process of creating the ship as well as its conversion to CG for later appearances. The remaining six pages of this issue are dedicated to Creating the Bajorans and runs over their evolution from Ensign Ro in The Next Generation's fifth season through to their major positioning within the Deep Space Nine fold. Covering the reasons behind Kira's character, the introduction of Bareil, the death of Li Nalas even the delusions of Kai Winn, it's an insightful article into a race that were such a huge part of the show.

And so to a ship that is a mere 0.43 metres longer than the Bajoran Raider for Issue 75; the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E Captain's Yacht aka Cousteau. Easily one of the most anticipated and desired ships to be seen in the collection, it's also the first ship in the series which was exclusively featured in Insurrection (not counting the "E" since it was in First Contact). It's great to see these smaller, docked craft with us also due to receive the more conspicuous Voyager aeroshuttle in the next few months. 

This is a genuinely gorgeous model from bow to stern and a hidden gem of the series. As with the Raider the hull is in a light grey but this time there's an aztec pattern running across the surface in a shade only slightly darker than the base colour. It catches well in the light and helps to break up what would otherwise be an incredibly plain surface. 

The curved edge is perfectly smooth leading from the nose into the main body of the short ship with only the Starfleet pennant on either side of the cockpit and the mothership registry dotted above each of the pylon points. The blacked out cockpit is almost perfectly aligned with the marked edges but it's only a minor slip and nothing massive if you compare it back to some of the other more glaring finishing touches (still not happy with the bottom of the Enterprise-E). One thing that is missing is the red "intakes" just forward of the registry and seen in the magazine. I guess size, even at this level, prohibited such a final touch.

Considering this was a "lost" model, the finished product is actually breath-taking and I fanboyed a little when I opened the delivery this morning; "I LOVE it!" I gushed over Instagram before having a calming moment to really get a good look.

To be fair I still feel the same but I've come to realise over time that reviewing these beasts is worth leaving until at least an hour after they've arrived so my immediate over-exuberance has dissipated. Right now I've only had them for about 90 minutes and started writing as soon as the box was open so forgive my excitement if it's getting too much. 

One thing you'll notice in comparison to the Bajoran Raider is the inclusion of good old translucent red bussard collectors and blue impulse and warp engine venting which would have been a huge error to omit. This John Eaves design is one I've fallen head over heels for possibly because of its rarity and also because, like the Raider it's so simple, clean and damn near perfect. Across the hull there are a ton of markings for entry hatches and sensor arrays and  I almost feel that each time I look there's something else to catch my eye.

Unusually the top here is plastic while the bottom and warp nacelle pylons are constructed in metal. Join lines on this ship are perfect for both hull to hull and metal pylon to plastic nacelle. Only grumble is that you can see the fixing pins of the warp engines through the blue plastic but hey, that's scale and natural light for you!

As with the top, the underside is painted out in a two tone grey aztec scheme with individual panels then highlighted in a third, darker tone. Again though it's kept very simple and straightforward with just the Enterprise-E registry and pennant stretching out along both of the warp nacelles. For note, the nacelles are positioned at a slight angle down from the hull as if fully deployed. I expect we'll see one modded to fold very soon!

Stand positioning locks around the pylons in a similar way to the issue 74 Raider and displays her in all her glory. Even now I'm hugely impressed with this especially seeing as she's been recreated from nothing. The result here means that we can surely expect just as good results from the upcoming mission scoutship also from Insurrection. Does it mean we're close to seeing a Son'a vessel?

Into Issue 75 and we're breaking new ground with this diplomatic craft. Given there's not much said about the Cousteau on screen, the profile does drop into narrating its scenes from Insurrection with only a few accompanying shots of the ship both in CG and from the movie plus two interior shots, one of which is just a redressing of the Runabout cockpit with Data piloting.

Of course the big win in this issue is John Eaves' Designing Starships for the ninth movie. God I never get bored of reading his stuff nor seeing the brilliant designs that he came up with over the course of his tenure with the show. The four pages isn't enough but we do get nods to the other Starfleet craft seen on screen including the scoutship (soon my friends, soon...), the Enterprise-E shuttle and the holoship in two forms. I could look at this stuff all the time.

Following that we have Herman Zimmerman's concept art (four pages once more) looking over costumes, props and procedures from the oft-maligned/forgotten(?) Insurrection. Having now seen the Yacht I might have to arrange a re-watch.

Have to say I've loved getting my hands on these two ships and am over the moon with the results. The Bajoran Raider won't appeal to everyone but I'd get to the shop first and secure your Captain's Yacht in a couple of weeks; I foresee a sellout.

Next month we have Neelix's Shuttle, the Baxial and another must have in the form of the Romulan Shuttle from In the Pale Moonlight. Cannot wait for that one!!!

So have you got the Raider or the Yacht? Winners or losers?

You can subscribe to the collection by tapping our link to the left and visit the website for more details and other Eaglemoss collections.

You can look back over every ship so far in the collection by checking out our full listing

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