Thursday, 31 January 2013

New partially cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey from DST

Diamond Select Toy's first alien ship in their range of Star Trek starships, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, has only just started to appear on collector's shelves. Expected sometime down the line is a HMS Bounty variant, with landing gear. But now it seems they've been using their Klingon guile to work on another variation, which is available right now! Exclusive to Action Figure Xpress is the partially cloaked Klingon Bird-of-Prey, made with translucent plastic, which makes it very glowy when the lights are on. Here are a few images:

 

And here's a video of all the light and sound effects:



You can even get it for free, if you spend $70 on a certain selection of stuff AFX have designated part of a promotion (though that only runs until February the 4th, so get your socks on).

DST also recently updated their ship dates again. Here are all the Star Trek items expected from February onwards:
Also on the way from DST, but not currently on their ship date list are:

Tasha Yar returns to celebrate Star Trek Online's third birthday

Star Trek Online is about to celebrate it's third birthday, and to mark the occasion they have a new feature episode, Temporal Ambassador; with the Tholian's time travel tampering somehow involving the Enterprise-C and the return of Tasha Yar, voiced by Denise Crosby. PC Gamer have released this trailer:



As you might have noticed the trailer ended with a tease of something Romulan in the works. Could this be the long discussed launch of the Romulans as a third playable faction? The URL given there doesn't appear to be active yet. UPDATE: The site is now up, but just shows the logo for now, the mystery continues!


PC Gamer also posted this infographic about STO's milestones, with such bewildering statistics as there being more than two million captains now playing the game, and some four billion tribbles floating about in the online-verse!


The third anniversary also sees the release of two new ship classes for the game, the Ambassador class for the Federation, and the Kamarag class battle cruiser for the Klingons. Both are to be available with systems that reflect their relatively dated origins in the game's timeline, as well as retrofitted versions upgraded to 25th century tech-levels. The Star Trek Online blog posted these images and descriptions:

 
The U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-C) was the most famous Ambassador class starship ever commissioned by Starfleet. It was destroyed in battle in 2344 while protecting the Klingon colony on Narendra III from a Romulan attack, and all hands were presumed to be killed in action. This valorous sacrifice bought the Federation several decades of peace with the Klingon Empire.

Ambassador class vessels were later used in the Battle of Wolf 359 and throughout the Dominion War.
 
The Kamarag class was first designed in the mid-24th century, but only a few prototype vessels were built. After problems were found in the ship's power transfer systems, the design was shelved. Empire engineers later created the mighty Vor'cha battle cruiser.

Now that the Klingon Empire and its allies are looking for new ships, a team at the Ty'Gokor shipyards has revisited the Kamarag class. Its power problems were easily solved by modern EPS systems, and the Kamarag was reimagined as a mid-sized vessel that can be tougher than a Bird-of-Prey but more maneuverable than a Battle Cruiser.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness featurette

Continuing their association with Star Trek from the tie-in promotions from the 2009 film, Esurance are back, this time using a Facebook app rather than a website, to deliver some Star Trek Into Darkness promotional goodies. If you like them on Facebook you can enter a competition to win tickets to the US premier, turn yourself into a Vulcan with their "Vulcanizer", and download some walkpapers, icons, and the poster. They have also added a behind the scenes featurette - It's basically just the trailer with a few comments from J.J. Abrams, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana. But there's nothing unappealing about that, huh:



They're promising more content in the lead up to the film. Last time around that included an online mini-game, featuring their mascot, Erin Esurance, on a mission to rescue Keenser on Delta Vega.

Latest Star Trek curiosities from Westland Giftware

Westland Giftware have updated their website with listings of several new Star Trek products, which should soon be joining their eclectic range. The new items include the latest addition to the troupe of weird Star Trek things shaped like the USS Enterprise; a Star Trek perpetual calendar, with the month display occupying a could-be cargo container slung between the Enterprise's warp nacelles:


Another presentation of the Enterprise comes in the form of Westland's latest Star Trek salt and pepper shaker set. This third salt and pepper Enterprise comes coupled with a Romulan Bird of Prey (previously she's been available with a Klingon D7, or shuttlecraft):


Continuing another ongoing line, Doctor McCoy is set to join Kirk and Spock as the latest bust in Westland's range of Star Trek cookie jars. I guess he's ready for storing your bourbon biscuits (I suspect Kirk prefers a hobnob. Maybe Digestives for Mr Spock?).


Also on the way is Westland's third Star Trek snow globe, this time featuring a Starfleet delta:


And finally there's something new in the form of two trinket boxes, featuring Spock or Kirk in deltas on the lids, with suitably matching catch-phrases on the container:

New details for Star Trek video game

Yahoo have recently been allowed a preview of the forthcoming Star Trek video game, allowing them new incites into the content and style of the game. They gave this overview of the story in their report on the preview, which (assuming they've not confused the term galaxy) seems to give a new extra-galactic origin for the Gorn:
As the game opens, the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to investigate a space station under duress. The station has been tasked with research on the New Vulcan colony project, developing a new home world for Spock’s species, whose home planet was destroyed in the last film.

But as Kirk and Spock explore the station, they learn something has gone very wrong. The Starfleeet commander in charge of the station has attempted to exploit a risky new technology that has ripped open a wormhole in space, which serves as a doorway for the invading Gorn, a violent and imperial species first seen in the 1967 episode “Arena” from the original Trek TV series.

The “Arena” episode is one of the most beloved of the original series. So, the Paramount team was careful about updating a classic villain. However, the Gorn is nearly as well known for the dated rubber costume worn by actor Bobby Clark. Miller and his team set out to update the Gorn, creating no less than 15 different species of Gorn, including brute fighters, cunning team leaders and even a female Gorn that leaps off of walls to attack unsuspecting players.

When Spock performs a mind meld on one of the captured Gorn we also learn some fun and exciting details about their backstory as a merciless race of marauders that have conquered their own galaxy through endless war.

During that mind meld sequence the player controlling Spock is forced to take part in the Gorn’s hostile actions, including the cold-blooded murder of the Vulcan commander aboard the space station; a man who served as Spock’s mentor.
The report also expands on the different experiences players will get playing as either Kirk or Spock:
Kirk and Spock experience events in the game through their own personal points of view. Those experiential differences affect the larger aspects of the game including combat techniques and approaches to problem solving. During away missions, Kirk can call in an airstrike from the Enterprise, while Spock is able to deploy his famous Vulcan pinch move.

The unique perspectives also carry down to how other, non-player controlled characters interact with the player. Yes, that means the same female alien character hanging out in the Enterprise hallways will flirt with Kirk but largely ignore Spock.
And reassures peace loving trekkies, it's not all played with phaser in hand:
And for anyone concerned that a new Star Trek game would be just be another mindless, shoot-em-up, there are several pleasant layers to the game that should please more cerebral gamers. For example, the tricorder plays a significant role in the game, allowing players to thoroughly investigate their environments in a technique that evokes Batman’s “detective mode” in the popular “Arkham” series.
Concept art from the game, shows characters jumping though space
They also noted some details of game play: Two levels will feature orbital skydiving, and there is also an opportunity to fly the Enterprise:
In co-op mode, one player fires the ship’s lasers while the other is in charge of deploying the photon torpedoes.
They also mentioned references to new interpretations of TOS stories:
In one of the most entertaining levels we saw, the game’s developers merged two famous episodes from the original series, during which Kirk and Spock are forced to battle each other to the amusement of their new enemy.
Perhaps the most exciting note for me though regarded the game's soundtrack:
They even brought in Academy Award winning composer, and frequent Abrams collaborator, Michael Giacchino and his 100-piece orchestra to create an original score for the game.
Hopefully we'll get an extra Star Trek soundtrack release out of this too!

The Star Trek video game will be out in April, giving you enough time to play what is apparently a 15 hour narrative, before the release of Star Trek Into Darkness. Pre-orders of the game come with a bundle of additional weapons and uniforms (details of which you can find on my previous report):

Latest from the Deck Building Game

Since I last mentioned Bandai's Star Trek Deck Building Game, the TOS edition has been released, and this month a TOS themed gaming mat is due to join the collection. It will look like this:


Bandai have also recently announced the game will soon be officially distributed in Europe, and indeed it has now appeared for pre-order on Forbidden Planet. They are expecting all three card sets in February, though don't currently offer any of the mats.

Completist players who haven't been able to attend events where various promo cards have been distributed, or didn't manage to get them through pre-order bonuses, will be pleased to know many of the cards offered so far are now available to purchase through the BoardGameGeek Store:

New bluray covers, and things to come

Amazon UK have added listings for TNG season three and the stand-alone release of The Best of Both Worlds on bluray, revealing cover art for both titles:



Both are due at the end of April, so I'm sure other retailers will be putting up pre-orders for them soon as well. In other bluray news, TrekCore recently ran a seven-part interview with TNG extra features producer, Robert Meyer Burnett, who talked at length about the work going on in the production of the extra features for the TNG and Enterprise sets by himself and Roger Lay Jr. He also had new regarding TAS:
There are plans afoot to bring The Animated Series to Blu-ray, and I have an idea that would be crazy to pull off, but if we could it would be really interesting.
My dream crazy TAS extra feature would be a whole new episode, made using the TOS cast voice recordings made for the cancelled video game Secret of Vulcan Fury. *fingers crossed*

Burnett also elaborated on what to expect in season three, and further along with the TNG project. Continue reading after the jump for highlights of what's to come in season and beyond:

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Latest updates from Laser Books

Last summer I reported on Laser Books' return to publishing Czech translations of Star Trek novels. After a pause in their output for a couple of years they had prepared a packed line-up, catching up on many of the recent series. Alas after getting a couple of books out last year they had some complications.

Next book on their schedule was kicking off their run of Enterprise books with Kobayashi Maru. Laser had thought they would then continue with the Romulan War series, having reserved the rights to do a translation, but as their editor, Albert Balatka, has explained to me, that was when things got tricky - It turned out in the intervening time another publisher, Baronet, had secured the rights to the Romulan War duology. Baronet and Laser have since decided to work together on the Romulan War books. So now Kobayahi Maru (Kobayahi Maru) will be coming from Laser this month, and Romulanská Válka: Pod Krídlem Dravce (Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing) follows in February, with Romulanská Válka: Ti, Kteří Celí Bouři (Romulan War: To Brave the Storm) due to follow in May.

Laser Books have changed the cover design of Kobayshi Maru since I last posted their artwork. Here is the new version by James Schejbal:


Balatka told me they intended to have Trip disguised as his Romulan alter-ego Cunaehr on the cover. That doesn't seemed to have happened in the end, but they did do a very rough mock-up of that sort of thing for a promo image they posted on the Czech Star Trek books Facebook page:


The cover for Pod Krídlem Dravce (Beneath the Raptor's Wing) is much the same as the original US version, although they have altered the back cover, allowing them to add in a Romulan Bird-of-Prey:


Balatka also sent me over a full cover for the already released Černý král (The Red King). Aside from changing the red king to the black king in the title and art work, they have also made the back cover the same colour as the spine, and plan to continue this treatment with further books in the Titan series (the original US ones all have a blue coloured back covers, until Synthesis, which also adopted the spine and front cover colours):


Another book that was intended for last year but is currently held up is Smrt v Zimě (Death in Winter). Balatka is hoping to be able to include the Titan short story Improvisations on the Opal Sea: A Tale of Dubious Credibility, which was originally published in the Tales From the Captain's Table anthology. That desire has set back the release while Pocket Books work out if they're allowed to include the short story with Death in Winter.

Beyond that they intend to complete the release of the String Theory trilogy with book three, Evoluce (Evolution), and then plan to get the novelization of Star Trek Into Darkness out in time for the Czech release of the film in June.

After Into Darkness they will be continuing with the release of TNG, and Titan, working their way towards Destiny.

Trexels, Star Trek pixelated

CBS have been building up a nice little collection of Star Trek stylised sub-brands in recent years. I've looked QUOGs several times before, and recently collected up the uses of their new crew renderings. I've yet to examine perhaps their most stylised take on Trek though, Trexels.

Trexels are Star Trek characters, ships, and settings, presented in pixelated form; the Trek of vintage video games. Michael DeFelice, who worked for CBS on several Star Trek design projects, describes them as follows in his portfolio:
The array that Trexels has to offer will identify to the Star Trek fan while feeling fresh at retail. This bold style gives off a look of a retro video game with the bright and quirky pop of comic book art.
Trexels appear to have arrisen as an art project by John Martz, who, with Koyama Press, offered a fine art print featuring 235 characters, which was released in 2010:


A little while later CBS seems to have picked up the idea and have released at least two further posters, now with the Star Trek font (and CBS copyright notes) added on. There's a collection of TOS characters:


And a condensed history of Star Trek. The labels on this one should please Trek-lit fans, as they used the names of the Federation Presidents and foreign ambassadors established in the novels:


As with all CBS's image collections these are also starting to crop up in other forms. So far there are at least three T-shirt designs from Trevco. The TNG crew on the bridge:


The TOS crew exploring a strange new world:


And fully embracing the computer game style, press A to transport:


This could be just the start though, the portfolio of Michael DeFelice that I mentioned earlier also features concepts for applications of Trexels to all sorts of things. My favourite is the big phaser shirt, very cool:


DeFelice's portfolio also features designs for interiors and ships that have yet to appear anywhere. Have a look at those after the jump:

Friday, 25 January 2013

IDW omnibus covers

New covers have appeared for some of the forthcoming omnibus books from IDW:

Beginnings, book four in their Classics series, uses the same artwork as the previous release of the same book by DC. I expect the artwork will be used on the final IDW book, although anticipate the titles will be changed to match the same format used on the previous books in the Classics series:


The paperback version of the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes is identical to the previous hardcover edition, which itself was a reuse of the issue 1/promo art for the series:


And the John Byrne Collection cover has appeared with the titles arranged a bit differently from the recent solicitation version. Commenting on his forum Byrne noted this might not be the final placement of the titles, and also noted there may be some embossed and glazed parts to the cover. I hope this layout is more indicative of the final form than the solicitation version, it looks neater:


Cross Cult updates Typhon Pact covers, again

A couple of days ago I posted what I thought were the final covers for Cross Cult's German translation of the original Typhon Pact series. But it seems they weren't quite done. They have now released higher res versions of the rest of the series, and the cover for Nullsummenspiel (Zero Sum Game) has its third version of Ezri. They've also fixed an error in swapping the uniform collar colours for Ezri and Bashir.


I suspect either Nullsummenspiel or  Feuer (Seize the Fire) will change again, as the most recent version of the Feuer cover features the shoulder of Ezri seen in the second version of the Nullsummenspiel cover. I think this most recent portrait of Ezri is the best version so far, so am hoping this is the final one!

Cross Cult also posted larger versions of the final (maybe) covers for Bestien (Rough Beasts of Empire), and Zwietracht (Paths of Disharmony):

 

As they previously did with the Destiny and Crucible cover art, they plan to make the tetraptych of the series available as a poster print at a convention, and then online.

And we're back!

Well I'm not sure exactly what happened there, but my blog seems to have been down a few hours. In fact my entire google account seems to have been affected (I just had great fun verifying my way back in via mobile phone). As far as I can tell everything is back to normal. But if you notice anything not working please do let me know!

Should I for some reason appear to vanish again any time, you can find out what's going on via my Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr. I certainly don't plan to disappear by choice any time!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Allegiance in Exile excerpt

Simon and Schuster have posted an excerpt from David R. George III's soon to be released Allegiance in Exile; the first novel in this year's run of TOS books. Here are the first few paragraphs of chapter one:
The red turbolift doors glided open with their characteristic squeak, revealing beyond them the circular enclosure of the Enterprise bridge. Captain James T. Kirk stepped out of the cab onto the raised, outer deck of the compartment. An olio of familiar noises rose to greet him: the background twitter that accompanied the operation of the main viewscreen; the feedback chirps emitted by control stations; the quiet, sporadic dialogue of the personnel present; and the slightly reedy sound of voices transmitted over the intercom. Beneath it all, binding it together, the low-level thrum of the impulse drive suffused the space.

Kirk stopped for a moment to take in the scene and observe his frontline command crew, all of them already at their positions. The captain normally arrived on the bridge before any of them, comfortably ahead of the start of alpha shift. Upon waking in his quarters that day, though, he’d tarried through his dawn routine, slowed by a heavy wistfulness.

But I didn’t feel that way just this morning, Kirk thought. Really, his pensive state of mind had arisen the night before. As he recorded the final log entry for the day, he realized that the stardate marked the end of his fourth year aboard Enterprise. That time as a starship captain had proven not only the most satisfying of his professional life, but also the most fulfilling from a personal standpoint. It unnerved him to consider that he’d already put eighty percent of Enterprise’s five-year mission behind him.

Moving to his right, toward an opening in the railing that rimmed the lower, central portion of the bridge, Kirk passed Uhura where she crewed the communications console. The lieutenant had served as a member of the ship’s senior staff for virtually the entire voyage, and although there had been some flux in personnel assignments and the command structure near the beginning of the mission, a similar constancy had held true since that time for most of his officers: Spock doing double duty as exec and the head of Enterprise’s science division, Scotty as chief engineer, Sulu at the helm, McCoy down in sickbay as chief medical officer. Even young Chekov had to that point manned navigation for three years.

As Kirk padded down from the outer ring of the bridge to its inner section, he shifted from reflecting on the reliability and longevity of his command crew to the interpersonal relationships that had grown among them. He felt closer to the members of his senior staff than he had to any other group of people he’d ever known; in important ways, they had become like a family to him. It gave him pause to wonder where they all would be a year and a day from that moment.
You can read the rest of the chapter on Simon and Schuster, where you can look forward enjoyable musing over 22nd century Vulcan exploration policy, and the introspective inner monologue of Captain Kirk, before the crew prepare a landing party in a close to the chapter that pleads you to launch into the TOS opening titles sequence.

STO Vesta class

Some time ago now Cryptic introduced the Vesta class to Star Trek Online. I didn't get round to reporting it at the time, so felt it was long over due a mention! STO's launch of the Vesta class came in three flavours, with two new variant designs coming along side the original Vesta. The game designers had fun pulling all the minor details mentioned in Destiny out into technologies to play with in the Onlineverse, as they explained in a blog announcing the new ships:
For those of you who have been following the progress of the Vesta, this line of ships has been a long time in the making. Our ship artists, Jeff Miller and Adam Gibson, have worked for some time to capture every detail originally envisioned by Mark Rademaker, and we think you will be very pleased with its appearance. But the ship model is not the only detail we wanted to get right. The “Destiny” novels focus on the U.S.S. Aventine commanded by Captain Ezri Dax, a ship that was was key in defeating the Borg in the novel series. Simply put, this ship has a pedigree and we wanted to make sure we accurately represented its rich history and lore in as much detail as possible.

Designing the Vesta’s capabilities was a bit of a challenge. We spent a lot of time researching its specs and reviewing the novels. It was important to us that fans of the “Destiny” novels felt like they were commanding a Vesta class starship. But let’s face it; the Vesta is a technological marvel with every factory option known to Starfleet. It even has Intrepid-style landing gear! In game terms, the ship is a little over-powered. So the challenge was to bring to life as much detail as possible without breaking the game.

We first needed to decide what kind of ship the Vesta was. It’s big like a cruiser, it has cannons like an escort, it has a hangar bay stocked with a fleet of Runabouts like a light carrier, and it has advanced sensors and technology like a science vessel. We settled on it being a Science Vessel, but we decided to make a new class of science vessel. The novels classify the ship as a Multi-Mission Explorer, so we decided to call the entire line Multi-Mission Science Vessels.

The original Vesta class is described as follows:
The Multi-Mission Surveillance Explorer: Vesta Class features a bonus Science Console slot, and bonus Auxiliary Power. The Vesta Class also comes equipped with a Sympathetic Fermion Transceiver universal console. The Sympathetic Fermion Transceiver creates a large Fermion Field around your ship. This field will continuously repair you and your allies’ hull and shields while also providing a buff to Starship Particle Generators.
Vesta class with fermion field
I've not managed to track down orthographic views of the STO Vesta, but the original Vesta designer, Mark Rademaker, did send me these orthographic views of his model ages ago, which don't appear to have ever made it onto the site. So have a close look at these views, the orthographic images created for the feature on the USS Aventine in the Star Trek Magazine a couple of years ago:


The first variant is named in honor of our first Vesta hero ship, the USS Aventine:
The Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Explorer: Aventine Class features a bonus Tactical Console slot, and bonus Weapon Power. The Aventine Class also comes equipped with a Quantum Field Focus Controller universal console. The Quantum Field Focus Controller can reroute main power to the Deflector Dish and fire a high intensity Quantum Field Focus Phaser through the Main Deflector.
Aventine class using the quantum field focus phaser
The excellent The Jefferies Tube blog posted orthographics of this sleek variation:

 
 

The final variation is named in honor of Mark Radermaker:
The Multi-Mission Strategic Explorer: Rademaker Class features a bonus Engineering Console slot, and bonus Shield Power. The Rademaker Class also comes equipped with a Multidimensional Wave-Function Analysis Module universal console. Multidimensional Wave-Function Analysis Module can create a Multidimensional Graviton Shield which protects you from control effects such as Gravity Wells and Tractor Beams. It can also repel close targets and reflect the damage of weapons that deal kinetic damage such as torpedoes.
Rademaker class with multidimensional graviton shield
Again The Jefferies Tube blog posted orthographics of this wider version of the class:

 
 

There are also several features common to all three classes in the Vesta family. Keep reading after the jump to find out more: