Friday, 18 April 2014

A closer look at Hallmark's 2014 Star Trek Keepsake ornaments

Hallmark have released their 2014 "Dreambook", their catalogue of Keepsake Christmas tree ornaments. Following the same format of the past few years, there are three Star Trek decorations this year: A starship, with light effects, which this year is the USS Vengeance. A figurine in the Star Trek Legends series, with Mr Sulu joining the crew this time. And a TOS diorama with sound effects, which this time depicts Spock and the Horta from The Devil in the Dark. Here's the Star Trek page from the Dreambook:


Hallmark have also, already, put up the product pages for each ornament on their website. The Vengeance and Sulu pages include new big images of both. The Horta scene doesn't yet have a new photo, instead using the old concept art, but you can hear the soundclip the ornament will play if you visit the page. Here are the images of the other two; doesn't the Vengeance look amazing!



Thursday, 17 April 2014

Q drops in on nuTrek, and other comics news

July is looking like it's going to be pretty exciting for Star Trek comics. io9 have announced issue thirty-five of the nuTrek ongoing series will be the first in a six part story featuring Q! io9 spoke to the series' writer, Mike Johnson, about The Q Gambit, who revealed a few details about the story, including what it is that draws Q to the new timeline:
At first: curiosity. A beloved Trek character from the original timeline makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of the story (issue #35) and tries to convince Q to leave the new timeline alone. But Q can't resist a new sandbox to play in and cool new toys to play with: toys like Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Ultimately we'll learn that there is something unique to the new timeline that affects Q directly, although he would rather the humans not know what it is.

Johnson also revealed that this will take place at the leading edge of Q's personal timeline, so all the Q adventures we already known from the prime-timeline have already occured from his point of view. Johnson also talked a little about Q's take on nuKirk and Spock:
Q is intrigued by Kirk's refusal to accept no-win scenarios. It drives him a little crazy, actually. Spock is more of a puzzle for Q given that he is only half-human. For Kirk and Spock, Q presents a challenge on an order of magnitude beyond what they've encountered in their still-young careers. Nero and Khan were dangerous, but neither had control over space and time the way Q does.
Also recently announced for July is the first ever all prime-series crossover comic, Flesh and Stone, which IDW have now posted a slightly longer description of in their press release:
Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone, written by longtimeStar Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton, takes place at a Starfleet medical conference, which is crashed by a deadly metamorphic virus. The EMH and Doctors Beverly Crusher, Julian Bashir and Katherine Pulaski (with some help from Leonard McCoy and Phlox) join forces in a race against time to find a cure - only to discover that the answers lie in another place and time! The clock is ticking and only the medical officers of Starfleet can save the day.
And as if that's not enough excitement for one month, July will also see the release of issue two in John Byrne's New Visions photo-comic series. Byrne recently posted a few panels from that issue on his forums:
One of the little things I've started doing -- part of the whole "characters appearing even tho they don't have dialog -- is spotting various guest stars into the backgrounds. People who played a character on one episode, and then were gone. For instance, in the second issue is a short backup that has a three panel appearance by Marla Magivers. It takes place before the Khan story, so I figured she'd be wandering around somewhere!


Chris Ryall also recently posted a preview from one of the photo-comics on his blog. This page has a different sort a guest star, with Gabriel Rodriguez, the artist of IDW's Lock and Key series, appearing:


Back on Byrne's forums, Byrne also gave some details on the eventual omnibus edition of the New Visions comics: The first omnibus will contain three of the double-length issues, including the first photo-comic, which was released as a stand-alone annual. That issue is also set for a reprint to coincide with the publication of issue one of the ongoing series, and will have a rebranded cover, putting under the New Visions banner.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Drex Files: NX-01, Enterprise class

Enterprise NX-01, rendered by Rob Bonchune.
For the second instalment of the Drex Files in Exile I thought it fitting to have a good look at what is perhaps Doug Drexler's most significant contribution to the world of Star Trek, his great starship design, the NX-01. This file gives us a good look at the final NX-01 model, built by Pierre Drolet, with Doug guiding us through some of the details via orthographic views produced by Eden FX. So here's Doug on the NX-01:
I had a field day detailing out the NX, and every nook and cranny is accounted for. Pierre Drolet did an incredible job implementing them in this high rez build.
I added details that I hoped would allow for cool ideas later on, if and when the opportunities presented themselves. But I had to be cautious about obvious details to the ship that were not approved, because they could get me into trouble. Yes, The chain of command was heavy on Enterprise. Herman Zimmerman, our stalwart production designer was once balled out because I labeled a nacelle as a nacelle on a framed blueprint in the drydock observation room. He was told that it wasn’t a nacelle until the front office said it was. So I tucked gear behind doors and hatches, and then wrote up notes “suggesting” the vessels potential.

The dedication plaque refers to the class as NX (This was a request from on high), but according to naval tradition, the first ship of a new contract is what the class is named, so Enterprise class. My main mission was to inject as much of the original Enterprise into this ship as I possibly could, and I made sure that the basic dynamic between the saucer and the nacelles was the same. To a person with a sharp eye, the NX-01 is loaded with TOS Easter eggs

This is an unusual render of the Enterprise in that there is a lot of ambient light. It really shows off the panel detailing. Like Andy’s “D”, every panel was designed and fitted painstakingly to the function and form of the ship. All sections have their own distinct personality and are not simply cloned and repeated. It was designed by someone who full well knows how close you guys like to look, because I’m one of you. Something you probably never heard before, is that the nacelle struts were originally much finer, like the TOS ship. Dan Curry thought that they didn’t look like they could support the nacelles, and that it looked silly. All due respect to Dan, but that is one of the things I loved about the TOS ship. It suggested a technology beyond our own. On the original show, the nacelles defied gravity. I was sorry when the TMP shp heavied them up. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks great. Just not what I wanted for the NX. Ok… look at the struts, notice that there  is a tapered fairing on the leading edge. Those were the original struts, well…  a  little heavier than that. A third more. But everything behind that was add on. I emphasized that front fairing so that in some light conditions it would be all you would see, and feel more like my beloved TOS Enterprise.
Continue after the jump for many more views of the NX-01, and more of Doug's notes on the design:

Flesh and Stone, medical crossover on the way from IDW

There's something special on the way from IDW in July, a new one-shot crossover comic, featuring all the regular doctors from all five Star Trek TV series! Here's how StarTrek.com describe the forthcoming adventure, Flesh and Stone:
When a lethal metamorphic virus strikes a Starfleet medical conference, Doctors Beverly Crusher, Julian Bashir Katherine Pulaski and the EMH join forces -- with assists from Dr. Leonard McCoy and Dr. Phlox -- to save the day.

This crossover is happening with the support Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, who are promoting their competition to encourage the development of a real-world tricorder-like device. As XPRIZE's Rob Hollander, told StarTrek.com:
While XPRIZE is currently catalyzing a future where a Tricorder-like device is a common household item, we are thrilled to have inspired this parallel Star Trek story centered around the use of the Tricorder, further blurring the line between science fiction and reality.
The story will be written by IDW regulars Scott and David Tipton, with art by the Sharp Brothers, who also produced the cover. Scott Tipton commented on the comic:
There aren’t very many ‘firsts’ left in the world of Star Trek, so when IDW and XPRIZE came to us with the opportunity to team up all six of Trek’s doctors for the first time, how could we say no? The tricky part is how to get them together, since some of them are separated by about two hundred years. How does it happen? You’ll just have to wait and see…
That's not the only first here. If I'm not forgetting something, it's not just doctors; this will be the first comic to feature all five TV series, and indeed the first to feature Enterprise characters for (presumably) more than a single panel!

Review: The Official Starships Collection #10 - Borg Sphere

Issue ten of The Official Starships Collection was the Borg Sphere. The first Borg ship in the series, this model is very different to what has come before, giving Eaglemoss some unique challenges making what is probably the most intricately detailed model in the series so far.


At first glance the Borg Sphere is possibly the least interesting ship in the Starship Collection's line-up, being quite literally a sphere. But Eaglemoss have clearly gone to great lengths to make sure this model is anything but dull, having the detail-packed surface represent the ordered chaos of Borg design in all its glory.

There are layers of detail in this model that give it, at the same time, a uniform finish across the entire ship, but also something that is surprisingly lacking in repetition or symmetry. The panels, pipes, gratings, and whatever else make up the surface of a Borg ship, are formed in intricate detail from the molds, with the various paint finishes further bring them to life.

As far as I can make out there are four paint effects on the Sphere: A black or very dark grey under-colour gives the signature Borg darkness, with metallic grey finished across the entire ship then picking out the molded details. There are also several patches of green, with bright white centers, which gives the impression of the distinctive glowing sections we expect on Borg ships - I was a bit sceptical when I first noticed this effect in early photos of the model, but in person it definitely works, really giving that Borg glow. Finally there are also very small details in blue, just picking out tiny sections all over the ship; these are so subtle they are almost unnoticeable, but really help make the ship seem a bit more complete by adding a bit of variety to the finish which otherwise could be quite monotone.

Despite all the details on the surface, these have not really been used to hide where different parts of the model have been put together. All the joins are straight-forward curves, but are remarkably unnoticeable; this is probably one of the most seamless models in the collection. As usual the model is a mix of metal and plastic components. The metal sections make up the caps top and bottom, while plastic panels fill in most of the model around the sides. There are four panels, each making up an equal quarter of the ship, and each with completely unique detailing. You really have to look very closely to make out the edges between the side panels, but the join to the top and bottom is more obvious because both components form perfect circles - It would have been nice is these cap pieces could have had more irregular edges to hide that join among the surface details.

Those circular elements are the only bits of the model I feel don't entirely work. The concave detail at either end of the Sphere is probably it's most distinctive, most obviously designed part of the otherwise just busy looking ship. On both the physical and CGI model these areas feature segments, which come together finger-like around the depression at the center. On the model seen on-screen these are not uniform segments, they have distinct and different heights and widths, which makes this part of the ship look really interesting. In contrast, on the Eaglemoss model the segments are exactly equal all the way around, in an odd contrast to the lack of repetition elsewhere on the model. The detail in the depression is also a bit distracting, a very visible spoked ring which seems just slightly too strong a shape amongst the generally busy design.

Aside from that particular part of the ship though, this model is really quite remarkable. If Eaglemoss apply the same impressive level of detail to other Borg ships in the Collection then the Borg fleet is going to be pretty amazing.

Continue after the jump for more on the model, a look at this issue's magazine, and a review of the subscriber bonus Borg Cube too!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Book bits: Acts of Contrition cover, Foul Deeds blurb, and more

Loads of books news! Starting with the look at the cover for Kirsten Beyer's next Voyager novel, Acts of Contrition, which features the USS Voyager (still pretending she hasn't had a refit) in slipstream, looking all awesome. StarTrek.com posted this:


Acts of Contrition, the second book in a three-part story which started with Protectors, is out in October. Before that, the first two books in the new Seekers series are on the way, which don't yet have covers. The cover artist, Rob Caswell, posted a test cover he did, while waiting to work on the real things. So here's a hint of the flavour of things to come with Seekers. Rob's previous cover designs for an imagined series, The Seekers, actually inspired this new series; you can see that cover series in my previous report.

Later in the year we've got a TOS movie era book on the way from Greg Cox. Foul Deeds Will Rise is set shortly after The Final Frontier, and Simon and Schuster have now released a new blurb revealing the link to a TOS episode:
An all-new Star Trek novel, set in the popular and blockbuster Original Series movie era!

2288. The U.S.S Enterprise-A is on a vital peacekeeping mission in a remote solar system beyond the boundaries of the Federation, where two warring planets—Pavak and Oyolo—are attempting to end years of bitter conflict. Crucial peace talks are being conducted aboard the Enterprise, even as Starfleet weapons inspectors oversee the disarmament process. Losses and atrocities on both sides have left plenty of hard feelings behind, so Captain James T. Kirk has his work cut out for him, even as he unexpectedly runs into a disturbing figure from his past: Lenore Karidian.

Twenty years ago, the deadly daughter of Kodos the Executioner tried to kill Kirk, but she has since been declared sane and rehabilitated. Kirk wants to give her the benefit of the doubt and a second chance at life, but when a mysterious assassination threatens the already fragile peace process, all clues point toward Lenore–and the future of two worlds hangs in the balance.

Continue after the jump for more books news, including the first details of new books, schedule changes, and behind the scenes treats:

Latest Wizkids miniatures games

Wizkids have announced a new expansion for their Fleet Captains Heroclix miniatures game. Following the original Federation and Klingon set, and the previous Romulan expansion, the Dominion will become the fourth faction in the game.

The new addition is expected in August this year, and will apparently include twelve new Jem'Hadar, Breen, and Cardassan ships (although the most prominent Dominion ships have already appeared in Wizkids' Tactics and Attack Wing games, so I'd anticipate some mold reuse). Like the previous Fleet Captains releases, these will be unpainted miniatures, and judging by the solicitation image, they will be a charmingly menacing shade of lilac. The miniatures come with ten sub-decks of ten cards each, ten encounter cards, and twenty-five espionage mission cards. Here's how Wizkids describe the expansion:
Victory is life! The Dominion seeks to conquer the Alpha Quadrant in this expansion set to Star Trek: Fleet Captains. The Dominion fleet brings together the forces of the Cardassians, the Breen, and the Jem’Hadar led by the Vorta and the Founders. This expansion set also introduces a new Saboteur sub-type: Shapeshifters!

Star Trek: Fleet Captains – Dominion allows for up to four factions to play in an expanded Star Trek: Fleet Captains experience! The battle for the Alpha Quadrant begins NOW!
While you await the arrival of the Dominion, Wizkids' Attack Wing game continues to expand with regular waves of single ship additions. Wave four is out this month, and is an all Delta Quadrant assortment; including the USS Voyager, Borg Sphere 4270, Species 8472's Bioship Alpha, and a Kazon Nistrim Raider. Here's what they look like all packed up:


Continue after the jump for a look at the contents of each pack:

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Epic environments from Into Darkness concept art

I recently came across the website of Nathan Schroeder, a member of the art department on both of the nuTrek movies. His site includes galleries for many of the films he has worked on, including the X-Men films, Pirates of the Caribbean, an aborted Battlestar Galactica movie, and many more.

For Into Darkness he appears to have been focused on scenic design, where he worked on the look for Qo'noS, Earth, and the Nibiru volcano. I've picked out a few of my favourites from his portfolio here, including a Blade Runner-esque take on Qo'noS, and a busy future Earth full of organic forms. You can see much more on Schroeder's site.


For the first nuTrek film, Schroeder's work was focused on the design of Spock's ship, the Jellyfish. Continue after the jump for a few of my favourite concepts for that design, or again, make your way to Schroeder's site to see a lot more.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Star Trek Live in Concert coming to the rest of the world

Last year the first tracks from the Into Darkness soundtrack made their premier in Switzerland, at an encore performance at a special screening of Star Trek (2009), where the soundtrack was performed live by an orchestra. As a UK resident I was thrilled when it was announced both nuTrek films would be getting the same treatment at the Royal Albert Hall in London, in now a little over a month. But there's good news for those of you in other parts of the world too, as the Star Trek Live in Concert experience is now on the way to the US and Canada, as well as making a return visit to Switzerland.

Continue after the jump for details of all the venues (as reported by StarTrek.com), plus some clips recorded at the Switzerland concerts last year, to keep you entertained while you wait for a performance to appear near you:

Latest TNG bluray details

Coming in June is season six of Star Trek: The Next Generation on bluray, along with a stand-alone release of the two-part episode Chain of Command. TrekCore recently posted details of contents of those releases, including news of the new extra features.

Alongside the twenty-six episodes of the season, the centrepiece of the set will be a new three part documentary with cast and crew interviews, Beyond the Five Year Mission – The Evolution of Star Trek: The Next Generation. TrekCore reports this will include coverage of the launch of Deep Space Nine alongside the ongoing production of TNG, and features on guest stars.

As usual the previous DVD extras will be included, alongside episode promos, and a new gag real. There will be deleted scenes from the episodes Time's Arrow, Part II, Relics, True Q, Ship in a Bottle, Face of the Enemy, Tapestry, Birthright, Part II, The Chase, and Rightful Heir. There will also be the following new audio commentaries:
  • Relics, with Ronald D. Moore and Mike and Denise Okuda.
  • Tapestry, with Ronald D. Moore and Mike and Denise Okuda.
  • Frame of Mind, with James L. Conway and Jonathan West.

Continue after the jump for details of the Chain of Command release: