25 October 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - USS Thunderchild

With this issue, Eaglemoss brings us one of the most popular designs of the latter 24th century Starfleet, the Akira class.

The Magazine
While the title tells us that this issue is about the USS Thunderchild (never actually named on screen), it instead takes a good look at the Akira class in general.

Details on just how well armed and capable this ship is are presented and illustrated with detailed images and sketches from the ships development and creator. The Akira is a carrier and heavily defended although this was never fully realised on screen. The Akira was introduced in Star Trek: First Contact and got to show off some of its impressive capabilities in its quick appearance battling the Borg and would reappear many times throughout Deep Space Nine and even Voyager.

The interesting sections of this issue again deal with how the ship was designed including some really detailed sketches from designer Alex Jaeger. There's also great insight into how the ship was created in CG and it's use on screen and for the shots used in the magazine itself. They also don't miss the fact that the Akira was such a well received design that it served as the inspiration for the NX-01 that would be used in the series Enterprise.

This issue is filled with the sort of information you want to see and read about from a starship collection, although you will still notice that after reading the opening summary, most of the text accompanying the images in the rest of the magazine will merely repeat the same information. However, I think Eaglemoss have done really well here.

Rating: 9/10

The Ship
While there are some model kits out there of the Akira, Eaglemoss are likely the first to release a pre-built version. I'm a big fan of the Akira design so this is one of the more anticipated releases from the collection.

Much like the USS Reliant from the previous issue, the Akira is a compact and solid ship in model form. For a ship that probably hasn't had that many close ups on screen, the detail of the model appears adequate with the striping and markings accurate to what we saw in First Contact, to the fact the starship name wasn't actually printed on the hull and also the typo in United Federaion of Planets along the catamaran hull.

The upper side of the ship is fairly detailed and the engines include the usual transparent plastics. The underside of the ship suffers a little bit with less detail apparent and unfortunately the yellow Starfleet pennants are extremely misaligned from the red pinstripes on the sides of the lower hull. 

The stand connects behind the saucer section in between the catamaran hull.

The model is a great representation of the popular design, I just wish a bit more attention went into the hull details, particularly underneath. 

Rating: 7/10

Light-up Borg Cube (Subscribers Gift)
Since we're reviewing the Akira, which was designed for the battle with the Borg cube in First Contact, why not also review the light-up Borg Cube subscriber gift as well?

This 'night-light' would certainly look at home among the other ships from the Eaglemoss collection due to its size but also lacks much of the detail we've come to appreciate from the fortnightly models. There's not much weight to the cube and the green light emits through plastic sections around the hull. The level of detail is extremely flat, especially when compared to the recently released Borg Sphere. Rumour has it that the Borg Cube will get its own model and accompanying magazine some time in the near future.

20 October 2014

B5 Review: Phoenix Rising & The Ragged Edge

Phoenix Rising
The telepath crisis reaches a tipping point and Garibaldi takes the opportunity to settle a score with Bester.

Unfortunately, Bester isn't quite done teasing Garibaldi as he reveals he has planted an Asimov inside his brain meaning Michael can't do or allow any harm to come to Bester.

The telepaths that have taken to violence continue their campaign which leads them to Medlab and taking Franklin, Garibaldi and others hostage - as foreshadowed at the end of Season Four.

Byron finds a way out and diffuses the situation, offering to surrender to Sheridan with those who had taken hostile action. Agreeing to this and informing Bester he can't interfere, it all ends badly when Bester shows up and shots are fired. In a blaze of glory, Byron and the others take their own lives than be taken back to the Corps.

This episode wraps up the telepath crisis and the first half of the season. We also get a glimpse that things may start going badly for Garibaldi as he takes to drinking following his inability to deal with Bester. How will Lyta be now that she has lost Byron and all that she went through with the other telepaths?

Rating: 6.5/10

The Ragged Edge
Another shipping lane attack results in a potential witness that Garibaldi attempts to meet on the Drazi homeworld. On his return to Babylon 5, G'Kar finds himself being looked at as a religious figure.

Things go badly for Garibaldi when his contact is attacked and the witness is killed. Not helping the situation is Michael's return to drinking which has affected his usually cunning abilities. 

On the station, G'Kar and Londo have returned and instantly notice the Narn population acting differently around G'Kar, finding out that the book he had been writing had been taken from his quarters and reproduced for mass distribution on Narn. They believe it will outsell the Book of G'Quan, turning G'Kar into a religious icon!

Meanwhile, Stephen receives a message from Earthdome offering him a new opportunity that will take him away from the station.

We are slowly piecing together pieces of the puzzle with this episode, or at least watching the crew piece together who is involved in the shipping lane attacks. There is a hint that Garibaldi's problems are only going to worsen from here and we have to wonder at what cost?

Rating: 7/10

17 October 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - USS Reliant

In this issue, Eaglemoss bring us the famous Starfleet ship that was commandeered by Khan in 2285.

The Magazine
Being the 'villain's ship' for a single movie, Eaglemoss have done a fair job of filling this issue with information about the design of the Miranda class USS Reliant. Much like the Excelsior issue it concentrates on the named ship rather than the different ships of the same class we have seen throughout Trek history. Where it does mention some of the other ships in the class, there is a mistake in noting the Bozeman as Sisko's ship instead of Saratoga.

Unlike the Romulan Warbird and Borg Sphere issues the magazine has managed to stay away from information on Khan and his augments and the Genesis Device, creating a more complete feeling issue dedicated to the subject.

My main nitpick would be that certain bits of information, like those referring to the "rollbar" appear to become repetitive throughout the bodies of text and image descriptions. There's some good information provided in the Designing the Ship section as well as details of how it was filmed for its movie appearance.

Magazine Rating: 8/10

The Ship
The Reliant model is a decent scale, comparable to the Enterprise NCC-1701. The big difference is that Eaglemoss have gone that little bit further with wonderful hull detailing and the Aztec patterning on show.

Hull markings are wonderfully reproduced and the details around the rollbar are well done. In fact, the aztec details provide us hopefully with a preview of what the Enterprise 1701-A may look like when that is released.

Like others, there are some nice touches with the transparent nacelles. Due to the ship design it feels quite compact and solid as a model.

Model Rating: 9/10

09 October 2014

B5 Review: In the Kingdom of the Blind & A Tragedy of Telepaths

As the telepath situation deteriorates on Babylon 5, Londo and G'kar reach Centauri Prime and things seem amiss...
In the Kingdom of the Blind
Londo and G'Kar make it to Centauri Prime where they find a darkness has come over the Royal Palace. Byron sets out his plan to secure a world for his people.

It's noted that some Alliance shipping lanes are being attacked by an unknown party.

On Centauri Prime, Londo anxiously awaits a meeting with the Regent. In between, he does catch up with an old friend who disappears in the night and comes face to face with another assassination attempt from Lord Vole, who'd rather Londo was out of the picture. Londo sees another figure in the darkness, and after meeting with the Regent, realises something severely is wrong and can't quite figure out what is going on in the Royal Palace.

On the station, Byron has had his people shadow the Alliance ambassadors and uses them to gather their deepest secrets. In an address to the council, he threatens to reveal their secrets if their request for a home world of their own isn't met.

This episode is a bit of a welcomed break from the concentration on the telepath story, while it still is there, we get to see other events developing and a new darkness coming.

Rating: 7/10

A Tragedy of Telepaths 
Byron loses control of some of the telepaths on the station forcing Lochley to take a desperate step while Londo and G'kar reunite with someone long forgotten.

With most of the telepaths sealed up in their commune, a breakaway group take up arms and begin forcefully pushing for what they're after. Lochley is forced into a position where she seeks Bester's help to get them off the station.

The Brakiri and Drazi ambassadors on the station butt heads when debris from each is found at the scene of recent attacks on their shipping lanes. Taking up defensive positions against each other, Sheridan steps in with the Whitestar fleet, enraging both as they feel their rights have been infringed upon.

On Centauri Prime, G'kar and Londo find Na'toth, a forgotten prisoner in the deepest cells within the palace. She'd been imprisoned for two years, since the bombing of Narn. The two manage to free her and get her on a transport back home.

The title gives away the focus of the story but events are beginning to unfold with relation to the Centauri and the attacks on the shipping lanes. The opening and closing scenes dealing with the attacks, give a bit of the game away - but no one seems to know anything about it...

Now that there is a hostile group of telepaths out there, are we edging closer to the events depicted in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars?

Rating: 6.5/10

06 October 2014

Trek Review: Official Starships Collection - Borg Sphere

The first ship in the collection from Star Trek's most lethal enemy arrives and it's not cube shaped! It's the Borg Sphere...

The Magazine
I was wondering what colour they'd go with for the Borg and while green is an obvious choice, I figured since it had already been used for the Romulans that they may have gone another direction. In any case, that's hardly worth picking on - but something I noticed :P

Following the usual layout and format that I like about the Eaglemoss publications, the Borg Sphere is covered in detail, certainly as much detail as I think could have been afforded, but that leaves the magazine with a few blank pages and it's obviously not worth doing plan views of something that is spherical! So, the remaining pages are filled with information about the brutalities of assimilation and designing the Borg Queen, who used this ship in its first appearance in Star Trek: First Contact.

This is similar to the Romulan history provided in the D'deridex Warbird issue and takes away slightly from the ship that's being covered - but, as mentioned, due to the common elements in all Borg ships, it's difficult to see where any more information could have been provided about the sphere in this issue.

The Design section is interesting as always, but there is no section about filming the model.

The 'tense' of the magazine changes again with the sections about the ship dealing in the present and those on assimilation changing to past tense. Something I remember noting in the Romulan issue as well.

Rating: 7/10

The Ship
The Borg Sphere is definitely the right overall shape but I wonder which particular version this is based off. From the images provided in the magazine, it definitely isn't the First Contact version.

The miniature appears too 'regular' with the Borg patterning, particularly at the polar hemispheres, which is odd considering the magazine makes specific mention of how random the ship's appearance actually was. Yet, when looking at the model, it at least looks distinctively Borg.

Those looking for an extra level of in-depth detail of the Borg latticework may be disappointed though as all of the details are moulded lightly into the surface with the paint doing much of the detailing work. It's a great effect, with the random green splashes around the surface and at both 'polar' ends.

Being a Borg ship, there's no markings or details specifically worth looking for and I would say Eaglemoss have done a reasonable job recreating the ship. It comes in a different box from all the previous releases due to its different size and sits easily enough atop its stand.

It's not the most popular Borg ship but it is a decent rendition. It will be interesting to see if Eaglemoss will release a Borg cube to this level of detail in time - I'm assuming they will, but the scale of it will be a little off when sitting among the others in this collection I imagine.

Rating: 7.5/10