Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Shuttles 7: Heavy Duty

To date this is the last batch of shuttle released and has to be the most diverse quartet of mini-ships produced in the series.

Bringing in the Enterprise-D's Captain's Yacht Calypso, a Docking Shuttle, Cyrano Jones' Spacematic and the TNG Type 9A Cargo Shuttle, there's a bit of every style in here.

The 25th Shuttle entry is its most simplistic in the oval shape of the yacht. Seen in every episode but yet not seen in every episode, the Calypso spent seven years docked in the saucer of the Enterprise only to end up absolutely scuffed to hell when it acted as a brake during the Veridian III crash.

You can see why this wasn't a standalone issue since it's fairly plain (however there were some full entries to the collection that it could have easily replaced) with the highlight perhaps being the undercarriage and entry hatchway. What confuses me a little is how the Insurrection Captain's Yacht and the Voyager Aeroshuttle both got main collection editions but this didn't when it was the original "hidden in plain sight" craft.

Anyhow, the decalling and paint scheme on this flying pebble. All the windows are lined up to their recesses and the decals are nicely placed and aligned. In all honesty it's a good job although there's very little to go wrong here!

The best bit though IS the undercarriage because it's that instantly recognisable circular structure that sat in the centre of the D's primary hull. The way Eaglemoss have chosen to model it though does put the previous version - included as two pieces in the AMT model kit - to shame. IN that instance there were no decals for it nor any real surface detail on the top. It could be displayed just as a piece separate if you chose to have the ship in two pieces but was otherwise non-descript.

On this, larger, version we have the landing legs and docking platforms extended meaning
that it really does show off its most unique feature and doesn't need the stand at all.

The Docking Shuttle is classic Star Trek, looking very much as though it's a huge kitbash exercise. 

We've already had the Starfleet Tug in issue 140 which followed a similar take but this is a little more squat and unusual in its form. Featured in TNG's 11001001, Coming of Age, Remember Me and Starship Mine, the Docking Shuttle isn’t something we got to see very often but plays a big part in Starfleet operations. It’s also the most basically detailed ship in the set and one that I actually struggled to remember when listing down what the four craft were in Shuttles Seven.

It’s just a bit…meh. There’s a one colour paint job, some interesting shapes cobbled together but the overall effect is somewhat bland. Ok, on the screen it might have been great spotting one chugging around in the background reversing in an Excelsior Class or moving some cargo but as part of the Shuttles series it feels like a barrel scraping. What the magazine fails to admit but is in print over on Memory Alpha is that this model was a rough and ready construct built from a robot foot with Gillette disposable razors for engines. Perhaps the most disposable ship ever? The addition of the pennants and striping does help build the illusion but the singular paint work doesn't help.

The inclusion of Cyrano Jones’ ship suggests that Seven was a set that didn’t quite have enough Starfleet options to pack it out but surely there was something with a bit more excitement than the Docking Shuttle?

There is, admittedly a lot to the Docking Shuttle when you look at the various components but all that does in turn is reassure you that it could have been subbed out for something else; even a Ferengi shuttle would have been an improvement (maybe that'll be Set Eight).

Third in here is that Spacematic. Forgive the name because of the four it’s the most interesting. On the rebuilt K-7 for Trials and Tribble-ations it was parked in the station’s shuttle bay and by that became part of canon instantly. 

What makes this so exciting is that it’s the first non-Starfleet shuttle included in this series and it makes you wonder why it’s taken so long to get to this point. The design is completely different to the other 27 ships that we’ve seen and there’s genuine joy in these words as I look over it.

It reminds me of the camper in Spaceballs and Eaglemoss have really captured the travelling trader nature of Jones in the form of his own ship. It too is a little shabby with some wonderful finishing touches such as the pearl blue side pods and landing gear and the mass of engine equipment strapped to the top and rear. It's lovably makeshift and something that we didn't really see in the series. The painting of the main window is flayed at the edges but overall this is a minor glitch in what is a great little craft. The worn out look cascades across the hull and into the mechanics on the roof which are well defined - certainly more so than the instrumentation strapped to the sloped front which is lost under the blue.

I think this one works so well as part of the set because of its unique look and entry as a non-Starfleet ship. There's more colour to it and variety in the styling which, again, Eaglemoss have done a great job with. Note too that this is technically the first shuttle taken from the remastered TOS and only the second shuttle (after the Galileo in Shuttles One) to come from that show.

Finally there's an old familiar in Set Seven with the 9A Cargo Shuttle. It's a beast of a ship and almost limousine in length compared to the other shuttles stored on the Enterprise-D. When I say that, it's in the loosest terms because after some research to refresh my memory of shuttles, it only appeared in the TNG Technical Manual from the 1990's and the Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual from Haynes. I have scoured the internet and aside from that book, the only other place it seems to have been mentioned is in the USS Titan novel Sight Unseen but that's your lot.

The design itself is taken straight off the black and white page from the classic Okuda and Sternbach work that was on every self-respecting Trekkie's bookshelf during that golden era. The pointed nose, darkened windscreen and off-white bodywork are all hallmarks of the '90's vision edged with that distinct red trim and Starfleet emblems. The surface detail isn't overwhelming; kept to a few panels, call outs and thruster points, the 9A demonstrates its purpose through the stretched body and overlong hexagonal nacelles. No bussard collectors here but there are phaser points showing this heavy hauler was ready to defend itself although you can imagine it being a fairly slow, large and stoppable target.

It's not Eaglemoss' most elegant recreation given its form but it does make this the first model of its type and certainly mirrors the thought processes behind its design in "real life".

The mix here is sot on and the introduction of the Cyrano Jones ship heralds a new turn for the Shuttles series. As we now know, Set Eight will be out later in the year and features support craft for the Ferengi, Klingons, Xindi and Vulcans, all of which have been much requested. A good set of ships here and certainly exhaustive of the Starfleet options.

Check out all our Starships (and shuttles!) posts HERE

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

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