Saturday, 30 September 2017

Riker's Ride: The Official Starships Collection Bonus Edition Three - USS Titan

How one online petition can make all the difference.

When the Official Starships Collection launched, the demand for ships outside of TV and film canon was immediate. One was the Enterprise-F from Star Trek Online but the one that really captured the fan imagination was USS Titan.

Led by The Trek Collective, a petition was launched with Ben Robinson stating that if it gained 5000 signatures then the Titan would happen. Guess what happened..

A product of one line from the end of Nemesis wherein Riker is given command of the ship, the Titan took on a life of its own in the novels that followed spawning its own line as well as appearing alongside the Enterprise-E in the expanded The Next Generation story and even dropping by larger story arcs such as the recent The Fall five book series that included elements from Deep Space Nine.

It has become ridiculously popular over the years and the ship itself is the result of a competition to design her which was won by one Sean Tourangeau. As I'm writing this review, the Titan is already sold out on the UK webshop with a smattering of craft still available in the US and there won't be any resupply in the near future. I'd suspect we'll be seeing these kinds of demands when the USS Aventine, another from the expanded universe, arrives in October so be prepared.

This new "bonus" edition of the collection is in the standard size box as per a regular issue so she'll slide in nicely alongside Voyager or your Steamrunner Class. Construction is the usual metal and plastic mix and on first impressions when you get her out of the box it's a decent enough model. Indeed, most of the Starfleet ones are - but more on my thoughts about the Swarm Ship special in an upcoming piece...!

The slightly eliptical primary hull of the Titan is in metal and there's a surprisingly large amount of detail given the scale of the ship. Fortunately it's not the detail overkill that we got with the Sovereign Class back in issue 20 and the final product is a good, restrained replica of the craft.

The saucer bears some striking and familiar hallmarks of 24th Century design that were key to the original concept such as the shoulders protecting the bridge and that slab of sensor pod. Slight disappointment is the inaccurate ship name and registry font and the omission of the red bordering on the letters - luckily I know a man who can fix that. 

As for feature definition, the Titan’s top is cleanly moulded with the lifeboat hatches, windows and even RCS thrusters etched out. Here too the windows are spot on since there are no grooves for them to sit into however the phaser strip isn't as distinctly marked as I would have expected.

The sensor pod is fitted very securely to the upper hull and is actually set square to the saucer. The detail and greebling on the surface here are just as good and well laid out. As with the hull it doesn't feel overloaded with finishing touches.

The recessed impulse engines at the rear of the saucer are, although you might not believe it, transparent however they're so deep in the hull you're barely able to tell. 

From there the saucer leads into the engineering hull, the topside of which is metal and a continuous piece from the primary hull. The surface mechanics continue too down to the shuttlebay with its distinctive "landing strip" marked out in the darker grey tone which is also used across the hull for panelling highlights. The shuttlebay doors and the strip are well designed and presented in the model with it being one of the Titan's more distinctive features.

Moving sideways onto the engine pylons there's the two tone grey paint scheme in great evidence and there's good support with these two struts being attached to the single metal backbone of the ship that runs back to the tip of the saucer. The pylons are really strong and supportive - there is literally no give or movement in them because they are part of that central structure.

The nacelles are another story and probably the most disappointing part of this rather fine series addition. The shape and form of the warp engines is, as you would hope, spot on, however the finish is less than acceptable, I would have hoped for translucent warp grilles but instead we have blue painted sections on either side. The bussard collectors are translucent but the choice to go with painted grilles does cheapen the overall effect. Noticably the ship registry and pennant is on the wrong angle of the engines. It should be one drop lower rather than right butt up against the grilles.

Over on the belly you can see the design nods to the Sovereign Class as well as Excelsior in the shape of the hull. The rear (the underneath of the shuttle landing strip) continues in the metal of the topside but the bulk of the secondary hull and the inset portion of the saucer are all plastic. You can also just make out the captain’s yacht positioned just behind the lower sensor done which shows this model is based on the final design rather than Tourangeau’s original plans. 

The dark grey panelling is also a lot less frequent on the bottom of the Titan with the secondary hull only having a few surface details to breakup the smooth finish. Tragically the recesses for the window - as always - don't line up with the markings and the larger arboretum windows reminiscent of the movie Enterprise aren't even coloured. Now I love the ship but this bottom section looks horribly half-arsed and unfinished. At least it's got the Starfleet pennants on either side and the deflector is painted pretty accurately within the lines.

The underside of the saucer has a lot more windows marked out just at the edge of the inset plastic section. Cleverly this runs just behind the phaser strip and hides the join rather impressively. There is a lot of detail around the hull here with lifeboat hatches and panelling galore but as with the topside the registry is missing its red lettering trim and some of the finishing red trim is also conspicuous from its absence on several surfaces. 

To the special edition magazine and it’s odd not to be discussing an episode as here we have some background on the introduction of the USS Titan and its role within the expanded Star Trek universe courtesy of the novels. As someone who missed the earlier Titan stories this is a good opportunity to fill in some knowledge gaps and get a better look at the ship as it appears on numerous covers.

The back story to the design takes up the rest of this standard length bonus issue featuring a conversation with designer Sean Tourangeau. His design was chosen as the winning entry in a competition to come up with the Luna Class and it transpires he was further included in the development of the craft to the final result which saw inclusions of more phaser strips and the captain’s yacht.

We are fortunate that the mag includes some of his early concepts for the ship as well as Tobias Richter’s incredible final CG versions which definitely helped ramp up the ship’s popularity. 

This is a great and welcome addition to the Starships Collection and demand has well outstripped supply already so I’ll be grabbing an Aventine asap when it goes back up for ordering. It’s one of those ships we’ve never had in any form apart from CG and to actually have it recreated and available is fantastic. She has her niggles as we have noted but for fans of the expanded universe this is one you can’t afford to miss because of its prominence in the ongoing novel series.

I’ll be getting her up there alongside the rest of the fleet straight away and I’m very glad I took a punt before it was too late on the first run. A great ship and a great model - better than some of the regular issues if I'm honest! Real shame if you miss this one due to supply but apparently it will be back in some point.

Did you purchase a USS Titan? What did you think?

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