Friday, 13 October 2017

Roman Connections: The Official Starships Collection Bonus Edition USS Aventine


Just as we’ve got over the excitement and loveliness of the USS Titan, Eaglemoss land us with a second starship from the Star Trek Expanded Universe with the stunning, slimline USS Aventine.

Purely a creation of the literary universe both this and the Titan have enchanted collectors in the last month or so and although she’s one of the smallest creations to come out of the fabled blue box and plastic packaging, NCC-82602 is a killer. 

One thing that’s apparent from the off is the size of this replica. She’s not much different in weight and size to the equally slim-lined Sovereign Class but while that was a cluttered mess of detail to some extent, the Vesta Class USS Aventine is a much more planned and less frantic result. 

As always, let’s start at the top and work our way aft and down. 

For once it’s a Federation starship that avoids the standard two tone grey colour palette instead opting for three main colours. There’s a duck egg blue azteced in with a light blue grey for the majority of the two hulls and engines yet there is a rather striking black arrow that cuts a swathe down the centre of the saucer. It’s a dynamic paint scheme that isn’t evident on any other Federation starship and it makes a bold statement but isn’t out of place. What makes a difference to the overloaded Sovereign Class is that the aztec colour shades don’t contrast sharply and the introduction of the third only helps to alleviate the number of colour changes in such a small space. 

Similar to Voyager in form and using tech that the smaller ship brought back from the Delta Quadrant, the Aventine is named after one of the seven hills surrounding Rome. It has that distinctive forward sensor platform at the front of the primary hull (like Voyager) that sits just in front of the tiny ship registry. Take a close look at that upper hull surface though and you’ll be amazed at the detail - teeny recessed lifeboat hatches, pinpoint painted phaser strips. There is just so much colour and surface variation just on the saucer and that’s not even mentioning that Eaglemoss have managed to include a lot of almost invisible white window markings around those phaser strips and towards the back of the upper hull.

At the rear there’s a similar landing strip for shuttles as to the one on the back of the USS Titan. The colour scheme of the two blue shades covers everything to this point with the strip markings cutting a clear line on the hull.  What impressed me here is that Eaglemoss have really finely detailed the Aventine and it looks glorious. The initial shock of the size is easily overcome with the attention this craft has received in its final form. 

The secondary hull benefits from the 24th Century Starfleet policy of ‘no neck’ becoming more of a rear extension to the saucer. Unusually its the belly of the ship and not the upper saucer that's metal and that might be the main reason it looks so much better up top; the plastic affords much more flexibility when it comes to detail.

That underside is just as meticulously detailed with the full aztec print covering the hull and only broken by another black central section.  Now if you refer to the magazine, the different colours reflect different densities of armour so you have to assume that the black sections around the bridge and you would suspect the quantum slipstream drive/engineering must be the most dense. Close inspection does show these dark sections to be around critical systems.

As with the top, there are the RCS thrusters in yellow marked around the saucer plus more lifeboat detail and very tiny ship registry. The main and only downside to this stunner is the stupid blot painted main deflector. Its just a blob of blue and really stands out as an infuriating touch when you take into consideration the larger picture and the stunning paintwork that has been afforded to the rest of the Aventine. It also omits the metalwork section which fits across the bottom and spears to the centre; it's just a damn ugly blemish for such a great ship. For note the deflector seems to be a plastic insert into the lower metal hull which is a very unusual Eaglemoss feature.

The precision on the rest of the paintwork, deflector aside continues out onto the warp engine pylons which bear not only the fine lines of dorsal and ventral phaser banks but also some very well finished impulse engines. The finish on the Aventine really is incredible given the size and to have phaser banks, engines and lifeboat hatches marked out this well is unprecedented. The windows are aligned and out on the warp engines themselves the venting panels are absolutely identical on both. The side grilles are missing completely but with her being so small it really would be nothing more than a fine line which, if you wanted, you could fill out with a felt tip pen and a steady hand!

Stand fitting for her is a comfy grip around the saucer impulse engines with a slight tilt forward to glide her into place. It's a standard amidships pose for the Aventine but she looks mighty fine even with such a thin profile - just be sure to put her towards the front of your shelves or you might lose her...!

In the Aventine magazine we have three sections all focused on this literary starship. First and foremost and very useful for those collectors who don't dive into the novels, is a section devoted to the "in universe" life of the ship from its development as a testbed for quantum slipstream tech as well as experiemental weapons and that thickened armour. Following on from this extremely short section are six pages dedicated to digital artist Mark Rademaker and the work that he put in to develop the Aventine after he'd produced the USS Spirit for the Ships of the Line calendar series. 

Mark had his work cut out to produce a ship that - as we see here - is the same size as the Enterprise-E and was required for the cover art of the Destiny book series. This is a great and in depth piece tracing the origins of the Aventine from concept through sketch and into the digital realm, even noting that there might have been some further changes had Mark known it would be around as long as it has been!

Finally we have Imagining the USS Aventine which tells the story of the Vesta Class starship from the perspective of the man who introduced it, David Mack. Originally just intended as a ship for the Destiny trilogy, the Aventine turned out to be a popular addition to Star Trek and is still speeding around the galaxy nearly a decade later. 

The USS Aventine is a fantastic model and the magazine with it is just as impressive, adding a lot of very useful background and a lot of information that you just won't see in the Encyclopedia - in fact you're only ever going to get a glimpse on Memory Beta. Very, very happy with this one and I'm sticking it right next to the Enterprise-E as a fine example of how Eaglemoss can produce a quality starship on a very small scale. Top marks (but make it a bit bigger next time huh?!).

Fan of the Aventine? Which other starships from the expanded universe should make the bonus editions?

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