26 April 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D

As mentioned in a previous post, Eaglemoss have brought their Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection to Australia and it begins, guns blazing with a beautiful representation of the Enterprise -D, hero ship of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Official Starships Collection Issue 1
The Magazine
First thing I noticed with the magazine was that it doesn't appear to be that 'big' with regard to the number of pages. However, I had to admit I was very impressed with how it's all presented. Pages are mostly black with a simple white, sans-serif font keeping the feel very modern. Layouts are nice and uncluttered making information easy to find and follow.

Non-subscribers get their ship and magazine 'presented' on a large cardboard span with a slot for the magazine and a place for the ship's box to sit. Having seen Issue 2 in newsagents recently, this appears to be the norm while subscribers receive theirs without the card backing - leaving the magazines to the mercy of Australia Post - like trusting a Ferengi to mind your gold-pressed latinum.

The Enterprise -D is probably the most well known and covered starship to bear the prestigious name and so, fitting all of this information into the magazine would probably have been problematic for the Eaglemoss team. What we end up with is a fairly nice, if a bit simplistic balance of information - I say simplistic for die-hard Trek fans who may be looking for a bit more. I'm happy to say that I did learn some new stuff though, from the 'making of' section in particular where some new concept sketches are shown that I have not seen in other literature.

Areas that look at the ship's history are very light again, glossing over some major events but as said, with seven years of television and a feature film of events - just how do you summarise that into a single issue?

From my point of view, I think there is a decent balance of information and from what I could see there were no glaring errors in the information that was presented. So I think the magazine is still a winner here.

USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D detailsThe Ship
There have been many miniature versions of the Enterprise -D over the years. I still have a Galoob version lying around from when the series first aired in the late 80's. Galoob's diecast version had the ability to separate the saucer. My brother had the larger scale Playmates light-up and Transwarp (which could be transformed into the All Good Things... dreadnought) versions, Micro Machines and so many more... so Eaglemoss certainly had their work cut out for them entering into a pretty saturated market for this ship.

Eaglemoss have likely produced one of the most detailed versions of the Enterprise -D with the aztec pattern on full show and all the hull details and markings. It's an impressive piece considering the scale. My one main issue is that the name printed on the rear saucer near the main shuttlebay doesn't read 'ENTERPRISE' as it should, instead it reads (something like) 'INTIPARISU' - not sure why - and it seems there was a batch released with this error, while there are some with the proper name out there. I wouldn't mind sourcing a more accurate version, but the font is so small, it's negligible for most. The rear shuttlebays in the engineering section aren't correctly sized either (they appear too symmetrical on the model) and a concern for some fans might be that the ship can't be separated - but there are few versions out there that do. Galoob being one, and there was a Micro Machines version (for Star Trek Generations), but most of the others are permanently connected. In any case, the Eaglemoss model is a model and not a toy and I doubt many fans will take issue here.

The display stand is sturdy and supports the main hull and saucer. They're also apparently numbered, if you can make out what the alphanumeric characters on the base actually mean! The ship itself isn't too heavy, but this is when you realise that not much of the ship is actually diecast metal. Aside from a portion of the saucer section, the rest of the ship is plastic, including the entire engineering hull. Translucent parts in the warp engines allow for a nice effect when held up to the light.

Enterprise -D from rear, with glowing nacelles

Still, this is quite a beautiful recreation of the Enterprise -D that it's definitely worth the introductory price being charged. It also sets the bar fairly high for the future releases...

Overall, I'd say the Enterprise -D is worthy of a 9/10. It's early in the game but this is a wonderful model. It would probably score full marks if the printing error didn't exist and the shuttlebay's were represented more accurately - but I can be quite picky about such things!

For a final pic, here's the Eaglemoss model alongside the Galoob version from 1987. They're comparable in size and I'm actually more surprised at just how detailed the Galoob version was with the etched details. I should note mine has been modified slightly with paint to highlight the engines and phasers.

Eaglemoss vs Galoob Enterprise -D

22 April 2014

B5 Review: Conflicts of Interest, Rumors, Bargains and Lies & Moments of Transition

Season Four continues with Garibaldi's life taking a turn and Delenn returns to Minbar to sort out the mess in the wake of the broken Grey Council...

Conflicts of Interest
Garibaldi and WadeGaribaldi and Sheridan's differences come to a head and Michael is recruited to get an informant past security, but this is not any ordinary informant.

Garibaldi is recruited to look after an inbound traveller to the station, who turns out to be his former love interest Lise. Garibaldi focuses on the job at hand and finds out that Lise is married to one of the most powerful men on Mars, CEO of Edgars Industries who appears to be involved in some medicinal experiments involving telepaths.

Sheridan calls on Susan to be the anchor for the new 'Voice of the Resistance', to combat ISN's propaganda from Earth. She goes to Epsilon III to get help in boosting their signal so their broadcasts can reach more colonies and bumps into a new, old face.

I often forget the importance of this episode. It is pivotal to having Garibaldi employed by William Edgars and the rift between himself and Sheridan seemingly well and truly beyond repair.

Rating: 7/10

Rumors, Bargains and Lies
Religious casteDelenn and Lennier head to rendezvous with Religious and Warrior caste representatives in an attempt to end the fighting on Minbar. Meanwhile, Sheridan hatches a plan to bring the League worlds onboard with getting them to consent to the Whitestar fleet patrolling their borders.

Delenn attempts to work with Neroon to stop the fighting back on Minbar, while both have to fend off their own disloyal caste members in the process - Lennier thwarts a plan by the Religious caste to end all their lives as they believed Delenn would surrender to Neroon. However, whatever ideas Delenn and Neroon have, their motives remain unclear by the end of the episode.

Meanwhile, Sheridan has a good day as his plan comes together by doing almost nothing at all and getting everything he wanted from the League ambassadors.

This is a good middle episode where everything and nothing is happening at the same time. I was in the UK when this episode first aired over there in 1997 (Australian broadcasts were much further behind) and thankfully this episode was safe enough to watch without revealing any major spoilers that the previous and following episode in sequence might have.

Rating: 6.5/10

Moments of Transition
The Starfire WheelDelenn chooses to surrender to the Warrior Caste in order to stop the fighting as Neroon returns to Minbar to meet with the Warrior Caste leader Shakiri. Meanwhile, Bester visits Babylon 5 to offer Lyta a deal.

The conflict on Minbar is brought to an end and Delenn confronts Shakiri at the Starfire wheel on Minbar as was tradition in the past before the founding of the Grey Council. As Shakiri falters for all Minbari to see, Delenn proves that she would sacrifice herself for her people. Neroon restores honour for the Warrior Caste as he attempts to save Delenn from burning in the Starfire wheel, leaving Delenn in charge of creating a new Grey Council to lead the Minbari.

Lyta has been having trouble finding an income or a purpose after the end of the Shadow War as Bester offers her to represent the Psi Corps again, in name only, on the proviso that he gets to examine her body and her alterations after she has died. She initially refuses and looks to Garibaldi for help under his employ with William Edgars.

The episode finishes with Ivanova bringing terrible news of an unprovoked event happening at Proxima III under President Clark's orders. The news prompts Sheridan that it's time to make a move against Earth.

Rating: 8/10

From here, Season Four returns to action and the battle for Earth is about to begin...

03 April 2014

Trek Preview: The Official Starships Collection

It's been a while since I've done a Trek Review and I've been thinking of digging it up with the upcoming release by Eaglemoss Publishing of Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection. I've already covered (a long way back) my interests in sci-fi and that should be pretty obvious from all the sci-fi content that's filled this blog in recent years - but more than anything with sci-fi, I've always loved the ships.

A few years ago, there was a Star Trek magazine release titled the Star Trek Fact Files, which my Dad subscribed to. This covered all nuances of Trek-lore, from alien races and their homeworlds, to the ships to individual episode reviews right up to the beginning of the series Enterprise. Since moving out, I've inherited the 19 volume set but more often than not I'll always be flicking through the starship sections!

The Official Starships Collection started in August 2013 with releases in the UK and Ireland. It has since continued to expand to the US, Canada and Germany and has finally reached Australia! I've been following their developments via Facebook and the blog entries from The Trek Collective which have been providing up-to-date information and reviews on ships as they're released (in the USA where they're based). The idea is simple; each issue concentrates on a single ship from the Star Trek universe with detailed information on exterior, interior, technical information, orthogonal views and even the drawing board concepts that saw the ship become reality. On top of that, each issue includes a diecast, hand-painted model of the ship being covered.

As a collector myself and having built many starships through my childhood, this is fantastic. There are some great opportunities to have all of the Enterprise's together (again) in awesome detail, while also adding ships that have never officially been realised in model form, like the Akira and Prometheus, or alien ships such as the Valdore or the Bajoran Solar Sail ship. The selection looks quite extensive (view the first 40 and the 'specials' at The Trek Collective), although I have noted from the preliminary lists that there's no ships exclusively from the Original Series (no pictures of the original Enterprise so far) yet the nuTrek ship from J.J. Abrams reimagined universe will make an appearance as a special release.

I've already signed up for my subscription and am looking forward to the first issue arriving soon - particularly since I just spied Issue 1 in the local newsagent with the famous Enterprise -D from Star Trek: The Next Generation which looks like it's a great start to the series.

Source: The Trek Collective

I guess I'm hoping to review each issue here and geek out a bit. I'll see how it goes. Many of my blogposts have been held up recently due to being too busy and having too many things to juggle in life.

The other thing I'll need to consider is where I'll end up putting all these wonderful ships! I've already seen some impressive photos of peoples collections. It's quite exciting.