Monday, 15 March 2021

Avenger Assembled: The Official Online Starships Collection Issues 11 and 12


First looks can be deceptive and with the USS Avenger it’s easy to fall into thinking it’s a horrendous Starfleet mashup. 

Nacelles from one thing, a primary hull from another and a deflector dish straight out of a Lego set. Yet take a look further into the design and lineage of the Avenger and you begin to understand it a lot more.

Emblazoned with the distinct Star Trek Online Starfleet black and white paint scheme, the colouring actually helps to highlight some of the battlecruiser’s features. Certainly squat for its configuration, the class was conceived to company larger threats most notably following the withdrawal of the Klingons from the Khitomer Accords. 

The design and therefore the model has all those typical Federation hallmarks as alluded to and while it’s not a favourite when it  comes to aesthetics, this is one of Starfleet’s more functional platforms. 

The model conveys that very well with the recessed windows, prominent phaser banks at the front of the saucer and those tightly hung nacelles pressed nearer to the hull.  The most striking part of the ship though has to be the utilisation of the twin neck also seen on the Enterprise-F and the rigid, high-sided spine that runs to the rear of the ship. 

The paintwork does let this one down ever so slightly. Again, the black markings don't cover the whole of the areas its marked out for with some of the panel lines still showing up white and the panels slightly speckled.

But the detail still remains with the overall effect of the ship still coming off strong. Eaglemoss have recreated the main elements that make this one unique although how they would have presented the activation of the ablative armour is another question for another day.

Even down to the front where the class-specific Variable Auto-Targeting Armament (VATA) torpedoes are launched is included on the Avenger and even if this is one of the least smooth Starfleet designs it is important to include given its nature as the first battlecruiser to be included in Online. That is then reflected in the very nature of this model build. Strucurally it's rock solid and Eaglemoss have made the unusal step of making the secondary hull and not the saucer in metal.

In turn this gives the Avenger a lot more stability. Plus, the detail level is consistent. Along the spine you can easily make out the shield generator and the eight warp plasma phase conditioners needed to deal with the immense amount of power this craft generates and requires.

Out to the engines and the pylons (ridiculously thick!), the level of detail matches the main hulls with the ship registry evident on the nacelles. The bussard collectors and warp grilles are painted in this time since they are buried within the hull in line with the ship's mission directive.

Perhaps the only things working against this model are the recessed windows whch are just recesses with no indication of detail. Along the saucer edges the choice to paint them on has worked and the little touches here are what makes the Avenger really shine. The stripes, the edging, the lifeboat hatches; all of them are meticulously added.

The sensor array at the tip of the primary hull is also lacking the detail you can make out on the magazine cover however it is a very thin edge along which to add any fiddly painting and it's one point against a very impressive vista for such a compact design. 

Issue 11 covers the usual ship specific points, an explanation of the VATA feature and the design history of the class adding a good deal of meat the to bones. The plan views are uninspiring and lack much detail save for some obvious features. The design article covers the path from the real world and the reason for the Avenger's existence in the game. This time round we also have the backstory for Starfleet at War expanding on the changes to the galaxy as part of the Online story.

Following the surprisingly cool (yep, changed my mind by the end of that review) Avenger is the Klingon Raptor-style IKS Mat'Ha.

A design lineage that was lost through the alignment with the Khitomer Accords, the attacking Raptor class vessel is initially a bit of an eyefull. The colour palette on these Online Klingon ships is very overpowering and a sharp contrast to the two colours of Starfleet's ships.

The bright green base and brown highlights do make the Mat'Ha stand out. The neck/wings design marks it out immediately as one of the Empire's vessels with hints in there from the Somraw, the Bird of Prey and also the Vor'Cha class.

Eaglemoss have forged the main body, wings and engines in metal here with impulse blocks and structural cabling added in plastic. The colours are a lot more vibrant than we ever saw in the live action series and here it emphasises the different panel depths and features of the ship.

The features themselves are incredibly prominent from an oddly menacing forward deflector to the blatant primary and secondary weapon emplacements on the nose and wings. These are fairly stable and will take some punishment even as protrusions from the main hull. 

The buzzard collectors and exhaust points on the warp engines are another matter. The collectors themselves are a bit gappy when it comes to a smooth and aligned fit with the metal nacelles. They are fairly large pieces of translucent plastic which, maybe, could have just been painted metal. Saying that, the effect looks great if you’re not too close to start spotting fitting errors. 

Simplistic is definitely the word when it comes to the Mat’Ha. The paint is blocky, the style is a set of simple shapes and it all combines here to present a craft very much as functional as the USS Avenger which we have already had the pleasure of getting to know. It’s not as stunning as the bulky Bortasqu’ or the more recent Mogh but it still cuts a spectacular swathe in the collection. 

As to the mini magazine in the box, the usual rules apply. Background details and screenshots from the game including standard in universe backstory followed by an equally comprehensive note on the work that goes on from Cryptic to transfer the initial need and vision into a playable craft in the game. This time’s expansion on the Online lore deals with a very specific section of the game, Delta Rising, which introduced a whole new section of the galaxy to the game.

This in turn explains how classic races from Voyager’s seven year trek were incorporated into the larger framework of the story and continue to be involved today. 

Just a note on display for both of these ships; there are no issues with the clips around the ships with the fitting for them being around the wing/pylons. One thing that does need to be brought up is that the bases don’t seem to accommodate the plastic pegs very well. I think every one I’ve seen in the last six months has needed some amount of filing to fit snugly.

The Avenger and the Mat’Ha have both grown on me considerably during the time of writing this review and Eaglemoss have done immense justice to both Online ships. Certainly the magazines go a long way here to explaining the design decisions and making sense of the spins placed on established Star Trek starship design.

Check out all our Online Starships posts HERE

You can find out more on the Star Trek Online Official Starships Collection by visiting the Hero Collector website HERE

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