Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Official Starships Collection: XL Discovery x2

Why review one XL model when you can do two and get to compare before and after at the same time?

Yep, we're back with another Eaglemoss review and this time it's two for one. Not only are we looking at the XL USS Discovery NCC-1031 as seen in Discovery seasons one, two and a bit of three but the refit Discovery NCC-1031-A from the 32nd Century.

Amazingly there are a ton and more differences between the two and not just down to those questionable detached nacelles. Let's plough straight in to this double dose of Disco dissection.

SImplicity is definitely the word when it comes to the original design of the Crossfield Class with a hint of aztecing from the paintwork but overall a very flat, composed and subtle finish to the hull. That allows for much better panel definition on the ship with some tonal changes front to back but also providing a steady consistency of look. In the show space is, obviously, a lot darker and the model allows an appreciation of the lighter tones used for the brown-tinted colour scheme.

It's also a very blocky ship. The hull is a sharp triangular shape, the primary hull a duo of crisp circles while the engines are two overly long sticks. There's nothing glamourous about the Discovery. The shape is basic, functional but Eaglemoss have still managed to shoehorn in some decent detailing.

But what is noticable here is the prominence of the windows and some of the more distinct stripes that adorn the secondary hull. It's a very, very clean recreation of the lead ship with even the bridge portholes marked out. The saucer is pretty strong as well, supported only by the neck piece and the four small struts from the outer to the inner ring. 

Incredibly this thing looks more gorgeous in the flesh than it does on the TV with a great attention to the striking lines and angular body shape. She's also light on decals with only registries on the saucer top and bottom to the front with two more even smaller (only spotted on the photos!) to the port and starboard as they were on the original Enterprise.

Discovery also carries some lovely edging detail along the sides of the engineering hull. Both the impulse engines as well as the grilles on the leading edge are distinctly marked out with Eaglemoss even managing a slight recess in the bodywork which a smaller scale doesn't account for. 

To the front the deflector dish is a bit hotch-potch. It's absolutely stuck on to the frame and sticks out with the antennae then protruding even further. If the edging benefits from the size up, the deflector dish hasn't faired any better with the probes looking way thicker than they should.

Stretching into the mid-distance from either side of the triangular body are the two lengthy warp nacelles. Discovery certainly emphasises these in comparison to the side of the other hull sections. They retain the same minimalistic panelling but even with the slim design both length and width-wise, Eaglemoss have crammed in a set of translucent blue elements along the edges and also the blue bussard collectors to the front. These could have been a paint on job as we've seen on a few other occasions over the years but the move to actually combine pieces here speaks of a push for a more premium product..

The stretched nacelles do have a lot of flexibility towards the tips which is to be expected since they are 100% plastic but they are finished well. As for the construction, the Discovery is a well-built piece carried by that solid metallic secondary hull and neck which links all the extremities together. You do of course need a ridiculously deep shelf to sit her on!

The magazine chooses a safe path reflecting on the design of the Crossfield class as does the edition included with the -A refit. 

Now for that comparison against the season three upgrade.

A more recent release, Discovery-A marked the first of Eaglemoss' attempts at mastering the detached nacelles issue and they're probably hit it in the only way they could - by adding in more transparent plastic elements. More on that, of course, in a bit but let's start at that saucer section.

For anyone with even a hint of OCD, the Discovery-A, especially when lined up beside it's previous version is a visual overload. The flattened surface of the original is replaced with a textured surface with a dulled paint finish completely changing the look of the starship. It's also wonderfully finished with a slightly worn feel which manages to capture the metallic nature of the beast. 

Worse perhaps is that the decals for the registry are almost indistinguishable from the hull patterning. Gone also are the four smaller struts securing the inner ring to the larger outer and also replaced is the squared off nek section leading from the bridge down to the secondary hull. This is a massive design revision in which only the basic shapes of Discovery have been retained. Those leading edges on the secondary hull are less blocky but still keep their blue grilled segments. 

It's very easy to get drawn into the changes here and not look at the model in perspective. Eaglemoss have got this one down to a tee and lining the before and after up, the two are almost identical in size.

I love the recessed deflector dish of the -A, the cutaway sections from the rear of the secondary hull and the more sweeping majesty of the upgrade that marks the leap of 1000 years in technology. The impulse engines are now slightly reshaped and the shuttlebay appears to have narrowed but this remains instantly recognisable as the series' lead ship.

When boxed in the newer style collectors case, Discovery-A is a rare kit form. Coming in three separate pieces along with connectors and stand, the ship only really comes together once you've pulled everything out. The two engine clasps fit perfectly to a set point on the nacelles which means you don't have one poking out back more than the other and that they also line up identically with the main hull. Further note; the engines are very, very light and flexible - but not too much!

That section again as with the original is metal with the two engines in plastic as well as the rings of the primary hull. As you can also see from the pictures, the -A has a much smoother look to its underside and loses the angular pod look behind the deflector dish  while also seeing the bussard collectors on the warp engines enclosed. 

Here there are no translucent elements just paint striping in a very light blue. Gone too are all the window ports that were raised on the hull of the original and painted in where required. This version eliminates that as well as those distinctive light grey hull stripes and adds weathering to the hull plating that lifts this beyond the flat scale of its 22nd Century overcoat. 

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting a great deal to come from this one because of the notoriety of the plastic engine clips if nothing else. However I've been pleasantly surprised by a ship which has some incredibly intricate surface patterning and easily an increased amount of attention to the fineries. Adapting the design cannot have been easy - as we see from the magazine - but the result is far more spectacular than you might expect.

The visual differences between the two are considerable and so it's well worth getting hold of both. Having them on the same scale is also a plus point. Of the two, the -A is by fat the most interesting to look at - but definitely don't discount the original.

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