Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: The Official Starships Collection #6 - USS Voyager

Out in the UK a month or so ago, and due in a couple of weeks in the US, is issue six of The Official Starships Collection, the Intrepid class USS Voyager. Here are my thoughts on the model and magazine, as well as the subscriber "gift" Enterprise-D dedication plaque which I also got with this issue's shipment:

I really like this model; with the arrow-head design just making it look like its always going somewhere, I find the most irresistibly swooshable ship of the series so far. However it does have a couple niggling issues that stop being quite as impressive a model as most of the others in the series.

The biggest downside of the model is the odd inconsistency between the top and bottom. The top side of the saucer, and the upper spine of the engineering section are the metal component of this model. While the underside the saucer, the rest of engineering, and the nacelles are all plastic. The plastic parts of this ship are amazing! Every panel line, phaser strip, escape pod and hatch is very finely molded, with painted sections further picking out details. In contrast the upper metal sections of the ship have quite ill-defined edges on the molded details; it seems almost out of focus in comparison. Even with the same sort of detailing picked out with the painted sections, the paint just doesn't look as good on the less defined surfaces. That's not to say the metal parts are bad per se; if the whole model had that finish it would still look like a very good model of the USS Voyager, but the plastic sections are just so much better, the contrast is quite jarring. I find it particularly odd, when Eaglemoss have already demonstrated on other ships that they are capable of producing very fine details on the metal parts of their models.

The other unfortunate detail in the construction of this ship is the join between the metal and plastic components. Eaglemoss have generally been really good when it comes to hiding joins; if you're looking for them you'll be able to find them, but they're normally quite discretely placed. It's not worked as well as usual with one join on Voyager though, which has quite a noticeable zig-zag on either side of the engineering hull where there is a notched step in the metal section. It's a a problem common to many renditions of Voyager over the years; the flowing curved shape of Voyager is not especially forgiving to the limitations of molding techniques. From many angles this isn't an especially noticeable detail, but it is quite obvious from the side.

While certainly not the best ship in the series so far, it's still a really good model overall. It's also really sturdy; thanks to Voyager's design being a bit less spindly than the other Starfleet ships so far released, the model overall feels a lot more solid, and a lot less like you're likely to snap a bit off. Which also helps with that excellent swooshablity it has.

I've only owned one other model of Voyager before, a tiny snap-together Revell model kit. This model is a huge improvement on that little ship, but how does it compare to other renditions of Voyager? Well, at a similar scale we have many of the usual suspects: Johnny Lightning and Furuta have both released similar sized models before, while Hallmark have done a comparable Christmas decoration. As best I can tell, Eaglemoss have once again topped them all, with much more carefully created details; the features on all the other comparable sized models seem to be much more exaggerated.

The Johnny Lightning version does have one notable edge: It features moveable warp nacelles, so you can recreate Voyager's warp-jumps. Eaglemoss have noted before that adding such features would make the models more expensive, so I'm willing to accept a well made model in place of a play-function. It undoubtedly looks better too, models that include moveable nacelles (Johnny Lighting, Playmates, and Micro Machines) all had to compromise the design of the ship in order to accommodate the hinge mechanisms.

Another Johnny Lightning release of Voyager includes landing gear, which is fun, but not something I'd want sticking out permanently.

Other than a well-made model kit, this version of Voyager is undoubtedly the best to be released so far. Looking around at those previous releases, they're all pretty expensive on the secondary markets now too. With DST not exactly enthusiastic about releasing a new large toy Voyager either, if you're a Voyager fan, this is a model you need to get!

Continue after the jump for a few more photos of the model, plus a look at the magazine, and the subscriber dedication plaque.

The magazine does a good job compressing Voyager's seven year journey into a four-page summary in the "Ship Profile" section. It does so while pointing out features of Voyager and the Intrepid class, in a ship-focused manner befitting the series, which I appreciate. Voyager has quite a few unique features, such as the variable geometry warp nacelles, and the ability to land. These are both noted in insets on the orthographic views spread, leaving the two-page highlight section to deal with the Aeroshuttle.

In a section amusing labelled "Hidden Feature", we are introduced to the Aeroshuttle, and shown how it would have launched from Voyager if we had ever seen it do so, with some nice renderings. An inset notes how we never did see the shuttle on-screen, although doesn't offer any sort of rationale. The rest of the article however goes into some detail on the specifications and capabilities of the ship. I liked this section not just because it dealt with a more obscure bit of Voyager, but because they were willing to add in some non-canon information and thus give us a bit more than we could take from just on-screen information - I hope they feel confident enough to expand on other subjects in a similar way as the series progresses.

The design section is, as ever, a informative and interesting read, with an enjoyable range of behind the scenes artwork and photos that explain the evolution of Voyager's design. A particularly effective selection of art in this issue demonstrates how the design of Voyager changed from the earliest concepts to the ship we all know.

I didn't find the selection of images in the "Filming the Ship" section quite as insightful, but the article, explaining the history of the physical and CGI models used to portray Voyager, was as good as ever.

This issue was exactly what I've come to expect, and always enjoy in the series: A good balance of in-universe and production information, giving a general overview of the ship, and just enough uncommon information to keep it engaging for even the most die-hard trekkie.

With this issue I also received by second subscription "gift", a reproduction of the Enterprise-D's dedication plaque. It's quite a weighty slab of something, I guess some sort of resin maybe. I'm more excited about the next two subscription gifts, which are both model ships, but if you like you're props/set decoration I'm sure this is spiffy.

If you'd like your own copy of the USS Voyager, it is available to order from these fine retailers:, Things From Another World, Entertainment Earth, Forbidden Planet

For all my previous reviews, the latest information, and a listing of all the ships in the Starships Collection, see my index page.


Andy Johns said...

Nice review, pretty spot on. I had the same paint issue on the top half of my voyager. I then saw one in a newsagent and it looked much crisper so I bought it. I think there were issues painting this model and it's something that eaglemoss need to keep an eye on.

8of5 said...

Thanks :) I did wonder if it was a hiccup in my particular model, but after looking at lots of other people's photos of the ship posted on The Collection's Facebook page and such, it seems they all exhibit the same inconsistency.

At least having such an active fanbase feeding back will hopefully mean Eaglemoss take on board when we don't think they've done as well as they could of, and do indeed eye a closer eye in future.

Nick said...

I'm definitely glad that this line is being produced and I can't wait to see some of the more obscure ships be produced... that said, the finer detailing on the initial ships has a lot left to be desired. The wrong font was used for Voyager's markings, the 1701-D's shuttlebays and impulse engine are incorrectly proportioned, the Defiant's pennants are backwards, and it looks like the Excelsior too has inaccurate hull markings. It only bothers me because they're $20 a pop and they'e making a big deal about how they used the actual CGI models as reference.

Hot Wheels-style molds combined with the Eaglemoss paint jobs would be awesome.

nwg said...

I really need to re buy this model. I have no issues with how it looks but mine has pain missing around the registry and top of the bridge which just makes it obvious.

Fox said...

This is very disappointing. The paint job is awful.

The benefit of a smaller ship is that the details are comparitively larger. There's no excuse to have such poorly painted details on the upper saucer.

Compare the windows on the top metal saucer of the Voyager to the windows on the metal saucer of the Enterprise-D, and the difference is staggering. It's like they didn't even try this time.

8of5 said...

Nick: Agreed on the Defiant pennant, cant understand how that slipped through! Overall though I think the detailing is excellent; tiny hiccups on brilliant models in comparison to the generally cruder interpretations of ships available previously are acceptable to me.

Fox: I agree the contrast is, odd, but I wouldn't go so far as saying Voyager is awful. The top is still a reasonably good finish, just not the very high standard of other parts of the ship, and other ships in the series.