Sunday, 24 April 2022

XL USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E

Re-released in a shiny, magnetically shutting display box, the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E is still a very sought after XL edition.

Now comfortably packed in a black box with black foam and the standard mini-magazine, the Enterprise-E XL is probably one of those Eaglemoss models that has the most to prove alongside the XL Excelsior Class editions.

Why? Because the original regular issues were frankly poor. The box size restricted the ship, the detail was horrendous and everything just seemed to go against them. In the larger scale there's a lot of room to make the necessary updates and kick those smaller ships out of the way.

In the case of the Enterprise-B this was exactly what happened and I was blown away by the quality of the XL, easily becoming one of my favourite display items. In the case of the Sovereign Class Enterprise-E I have mixed feelings.

Larger in every sense, this is still a mix of three different films, taking elements from First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis to bring her to life. 

Lets start at the top. The first thing to get a handle on is that the surface is no longer as cluttered as its smaller predecessor. That had so much packed onto the small model that everything was falling over itself and the ship was lost underneath. Here there's more space for the ship to breathe and for the details to stand out for themselves. Lifeboat hatches (wisely decalled on) and markings are a lot more identifiable and the windows aren't crammed in with the aztec paint scheme.

That spacing means you can appreciate the scale and detail of the model itself much more easily. Yes, you know I'm going to touch on the point that window alignment is all over the place versus the recessed markers for them and annoyingly the RCS thrusters are a few millimetres out of sync with the hull. Those are fairly big disappointments but because of the issues with the small version your mind is willing you to really, really like it and ignore the flaws.

That aztec paint scheme on the ship is nowhere near as subtle as the magazine cover or the onscreen version might make you think with the contrast pattern dramatically blocked out across the hull. In contrast, the gold and gey patterning behind the bridge and over the main shuttlebay absolutely benefits from the scale increase as you can see the lining more clearly and again it's not clustered together.  There is a dip in the structure around this point which looks like a badly disguised join but at least the shuttle bay is recessed under the dock shuttlebay control box.

So too the plating detail along the top of the secondary hull. This does seem very cluttered but nowhere near as bad as before. The scale again allows this to appear more as a speckled finish than a blob. 

What I can't get my head around is how the more brown finish there and also on the underside of the E hull can be accurate. Everything else you see - including the magazine in the box - portrays this as a more grey colouring in keeping with the saucer patterning. However, on the model it's in a mottled beige/grey that just looks odd and this runs right the length of the ship. Bizarrely the top speckling/aztecing is the same colour but when it's condensed into such a small area there's no doubt it's giving off brown tones.

At the front of the secondary hull we do have the deflector dish, here rendered gold rather than a yellow that was seen on screen. I'm also questioning the colouring of the Captain's Yacht in its under-saucer dock because it's definitely in contrast to the regular edition version.

Onto the warp engines. These are more a replica of the versions that appeared on the E in Insurrection and Nemesis when they were slightly extended hence part of the reason this is something of a "cobbled together" final product.  The design of these pieces is excellent while the finish is a bit more questionnable.

For one, the striping on the pylons is slightly sloppy with the edges of the grey and black lines frayed in places. The bussard collectors are strongly featured and Eaglemoss have utilised their translucent plastics to open up the warp grilles along the top of each nacelle. To the rear there is some nice greyed inset detailing and of course the ship registries at the tips.

Tragically though, collectors will get to see just how those blue elements atop the warp engines are connected since they are pegged from the top in four distinct points. Rarely do we get to actually and obviously see build issues on these craft yet this is one that does stick out in a very glaring position.

In the magazine we focus heavily on First Contact with both the work that went into creating a design for the upgraded Borg and the introduction of the Borg Queen taking centre stage. It's a good read and completes the package by keeping close to the focus of the product which always gets thumbs up from me.

Overall construction on the Enterprise-E is pretty decent and there's a lot of weight to the front. The saucer and the upper "spine" section of the engineering hull are metal here with the remainder in plastic. I was actually surprised just how heavy this one is. Genuinely I want to love this model and also the E itself but the more I look at it, the more I'm not convinced by the design. In turn this might be affected by the paint job that makes it more brown than grey. That warp grille issue also bugs me to be honest and I'm not sure I can see past it.

The details on the A actually worry me less than they do here and while Eaglemoss definitely have stepped their game up from the regular mini version, it still feels a long way off an accurate edition of the Sovereign Class from any angle or movie.

Fans will want this one in their collection because of its screentime and significance but beware disappointment.

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