Friday, 28 March 2014

Behind Enemy Lines: Eaglemoss Tackles Adversaries


It was always clear from the start that once you discount the multitude of Enterprise's, the Starships Collection would have to delve into non-Federation territory and particularly vessels belonging to opposing forces.

In fact, the last "title" ship was back in issue nine (USS Defiant) if you don't count the recent special on the JJ-Enterprise. Already we've had Klingons, Borg and Romulans which means that Deep Space Nine's Big Bad's are conspicuous by their absence. Not now however as Issues 13 and 14 cover two of their most prevalent enemies with the Dominion and the Cardassians. 

The Jem'Hadar battlecruiser is a heavy, heavy beast with probably the most solid feel of any ship yet to feature in the range (and I'm including issues 16 and 17 which we've already reviewed). The build quality is absolutely superb although it is slightly shiny due to the majority of the ship being made from metal. The extremities here are the plastic sections - fuel pods, cargo bay and upper ion and impulse engine (tail) sections but for once they're very, very solid. There's no wiggle or bend which is a significant improvement over the nacelles on models such as the refit Enterprise or on the USS Reliant

(CB)
Just be a bit careful however as it's got some nice sharp points reinforcing that these aren't toys and most definitely better placed on a shelf - preferably a high shelf away from prying fingers. While admittedly my son (he's two) has had his hands on Voyager this is one he's going nowhere near.

The colouring is excellent and having both a physical and CGI model to refer to have been a big benefit here. The thing that gets me is that on the page it's a a shade more purple than silver but  It's origins and design as something that would provide more of a threat than the smaller,  nimble Jem'Hadar fighters provides a great insight to some fairly odd designs that didn't make the grade.

The focus section talking about the development of the Dominion as the anti-Federation also reveals some fascinating information that originally a larger group of races was intended to be on a par with their Alpha Quadrant peers however time, budget and scope meant a tighter window on the Founders,  Vorta and Jem'Hadar. The images accompanying the text aren't anything new but this does seem to be building up into quite an extensive background resource to fill out the pages. 

Straight and true in all respects -
not my model then! (HA)
Given that there have been a chunk of books over the year I'm beginning to believe that there won't be much head scratching over even the more oddball issues down the line when it comes to finding relevant content. One thing through, don't dedicate a section to Neelix or Porthos.

Issue 14 adds to that Deep Space Nine universe with the Egyptian-influenced Cardassian Galor class.  Chalking up a ton of appearances through The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine it has to be classed among the more unusual designs to feature. Unfortunately mine is even more unusual with a wonky tail-fin (managed to bend this straight) and a slightly off-centre head piece which makes it look like she's looking to the right for traffic. For note the image to the left is not mine!

Coming after the metallic solidity of the Jem'Hadar battlecruiser it's a face palm moment if ever there was one. I like the ship but these two things are a real blow with not even 20 issues under their belt. It's also has only one single coloured plastic section - the main deflector on the front which is in red - and also isn't set flat in the hull. 


(CB)
That's nothing against the Eaglemoss team who have tried to recreate this as faithfully as possible. The shame is that it's not that accurate either. The hull detailing noted in the magazine around the temple-like structure is absent and the underside seems awfully plain in comparison to both the top and also the images in the magazine. Colour-wise she's also a different shade to the one in the magazine. Inconsistencies certainly reign with this one. I've included an image of my model here to show the underbelly's lack of detail - also not the off-centre head section.

If we look back, the strengths of the series have been where Eaglemoss has been able to work in metal and in big chunks. Doing fiddly nacelles and blue plastic venting is an unavoidable factor but it does detract from the good points. She's nicely balanced and, hallelujah, sits well on the stand. Maybe I should just be happy with these improvements over all the other stuff we've mentioned? I may just superglue that Warbird in place y'know and call it quits.

How about the magazine? Usual fare really but there are some great pics in here especially the opening shot on the Ship Profile section which not only reinforces the colour but also the detail missing from the underside. Interestingly we get a profile of Gul Dukat rather than the creation of the Cardassian people that you might have expected (I did) and goes some way to providing a satisfactory overview of just who he was from start to finish. At times I did warm to the character and reading this certainly refreshed my knowledge albeit in very brief form. It even brought home the fact that Deep Space Nine really is all about opposites in every respect - and not just the Mirror Universe.

Designing the Galor Class is probably one of the best behind the camera sections yet, really getting Rick Sternbach's vision and the path that led to the final model. This is not just a simple designed and built journey as its physical creation was a very detailed process, perhaps more so than actually imagining it in the first place. Watch out for the unexpected image from Voyager and when you do, try and remember what actually appeared on the screen....

CB
Rounding of this trio of our missed issue reviews is my favourite of the three which just bangs home just how many great ship designs featured in VoyagerUSS Equinox.

For those in the know the Nova Class name at the least has been banded around since the early 1990s as a suggested replacement for the Galaxy Class however the ship from the Voyager two parter can trace it's origins back to the early design suggestions for a little known ship over on Deep Space Nine called the Defiant

The top of the primary hull is cast from metal and detailed well with windows, phaser strips, registry, the sensor array as well as the unusual recessed bridge which is one of the remnants from that pathfinder project. Turn her over and even the orbital shuttle, the Waverider has been clearly marked out. It's a great finishing detail that helps the Equinox stand out a bit more. Even the nacelles are nicely decalled and the whole thing is a pleasure to see slotted onto her stand. 



CB
So you're waiting for the grumble aren't you? Well OK, the sprue flash is still attached to the nacelles and they haven't been cleaned up very well at the joints when you look underneath but I'm almost prepared to forgive them as she's still a good display piece. Could we also have had her battle damaged perhaps as portrayed in the magazine to add that element of "realism" to the ship? Maybe that would have been time consuming so let's step away from the super nitpicking!

There's a lot of little extra facts and figures about the Equinox dotted through the magazine this time and it's a welcome surprise as this, like Dauntless in issue 17 was a one story ship that never saw another outing thus limiting the data available to fill pages. For the discerning collector I can confirm that the numbers on the lifeboat hatches DO match the ones that are featured on the plans - oh and definitely worth mentioning that the colour of the ship pictured matches the model. Full marks. 


While key appearances is a foregone conclusion before you even get to the back page I'm not sure if Voyager's journey back to the Alpha Quadrant really warranted an entry here. Admittedly the Equinox story was to give us the "what would have happened if..." notion and a comparison article would have well-rounded the story of Ransom and his crew. 

Notably now we've dropped away from talking about filming a lot of the models as a separate section, combining it instead with the building and design aspects of the story which leaves room for other "human interest" pieces if you will such as more backstory and character related material which is fleshing out the series and allowing it to explore more facets of the franchise with some relation to the vessel in question.


What really bugs me at the moment with this collection is that I truly want to be ecstatic over every single model and magazine because there's nothing like it and nothing has ever come close to getting it this right. The trouble is I always feel just a step away from perfection. I should be satisfied with the ships, the attempt to nail each one and the fact they are hand-painted, well presented, boxed and delivered. It's like being given an unopened box of Quality Street only to find that (in my case) it's 75% full of coffee creams - really happy...but not just there....

Moving away from chocolate related analogies, due to our erratic writing the next two under the spotlight will be the Bajoran Solar Sailor and the USS Stargazer due for April and here they are...

With Australia now being added to the list of countries stocking the Collection it's worth a drop by the site if you're looking to order back issues. Currently issues one through to six and nine are out of stock as well as the JJ-Enterprise. The Deep Space Nine special is now (after a long time) showing as back in stock as is the USS Excelsior which should please +Mark Thwaite who has been waiting for these for an absolute AGE.

Taking a ganders over at the Entertainment Earth site is always a good call and now they're showing images of everything up to issue 24(!) and we've included these below just to keep you all in the loop. Clearly we have to advise that these are likely to be suggested and not the final artwork. As yet there's no model image for issue 24, the Xindi ship but you can still see the cover at least.




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Magazine covers and model images for issues 20 - 24 from Entertainment Earth

Issue 18 and 19 images from startrekstarships.com


Model shots attributed to CB (Clive) and HA (Hayley) from SKoST archive

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