Friday, 21 February 2014

Triple Tri-nacelle Enterprise-D Review

The third subscription extra with Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, is the first of two model ships offered just to subscribers, the USS Enterprise-D, All Good Thing... version. That is the one with three nacelles. Inspired by that extra ship with an extra nacelle I thought I'd throw in a couple more models in this review too. So as well as the Eaglemoss version, I'll examine the much larger Diamond Select Toys model, which was most recently reissued last year, and the Playmates "Transwarping Enterprise" from the 90s.

Eaglemoss

I'll start with the most recent, and smallest of the three, the Eaglemoss rendition. As you might have guessed the case would be, to create this extra model, Eaglemoss have taken their Enterprise-D model, which was the first issue of the series (see my previous review), and added the extra components to make the refit design. Overall then the model is to the same very high standard as the regular Enterprise-D, with crisp molded and printed details, included an extensive and intricate aztecing print which makes the small model look very detailed.

The extra details on both surfaces of the saucer, and the third nacelle support, are new parts added on top of the existing model, with the printing on the underside of the saucer amended so that the registration fits around the new phaser cannon. The top sides of the nacelles have been swapped out for new parts which incorporate the extra section on top of each nacelle, and the entire top/back section of the engineering hull also appears to have been exchanged for an alternate part which includes the extra fins at the base of the nacelle struts.

The new elements of the design which are molded into replacement parts of the ship are obviously slightly better integrated into the model than those simply stuck on top. But generally those parts are pretty good too, with the only noticeable gaps showing where the big phaser canon rests against the underside of the saucer - You can only see any gap at all if you look directly side-on though.

If I have one criticism it's not the model at all, that's excellent, it's the fact it is only a model. I would have really liked this model to have come with a magazine, like the other ships in the series, to give us some technical details of the Enterprise-D refit, and maybe show some of the ideas bounced around in developing this different take on the familiar ship. Alas as a bonus model, the model is all we get.

Continue after the jump for more photos of this model, and a look at the other two renditions of the All Good Things... Enterprise.





Diamond Select Toys

Next up, the Diamond Select Toys' version. This take on the ship was originally released in 2009, and last year was reissued as part of DST's recent efforts to get most of their ships available again. Like the Eaglemoss model, the DST version builds the extra details of the All Good Things... Enterprise on top of their everyday Enterprise-D. That's a rather more challenging prospect for DST, as they also had to work additional electronics to light up the third nacelle along with the existing two, and design the phaser cannon so is can be split, because this model also features saucer separation.

In terms of detailing, it's remarkable how close Eaglemoss and DST's models are, given the vast difference in scale - The Eaglemoss model is 14cm long, while DST's is 43cm. Given the much larger size, the DST model is able to include details that are too small for Eaglemoss, such as printing around the edge of the saucer, and a few more windows. It also features molded panel lines all over the ship, which are not represented on the Eaglemoss version.

DST's model deals with aztecing very differently: Rather than a printed pattern over the hull, it features a network of fine raised lines. These very effectually give a subtle aztecing effect from a distance, catching the light quite nicely to give the impression of many small panels. If you look at the them really closely they're less convincing because you can see past the trick of the light and are just observing an odd tangle of lines on the hull. Personally I prefer the printed aztecing, but the DST version still works pretty well.

DST's approach to the extra refit components is very similar to Eaglemoss', with most added on top of the regular Enterprise-D model. There are fewer parts swapped out for modified alternative, both the fins and extra nacelle details are stuck on top of the normal parts beneath. In fact the only swapped out part is the captain's yacht on the bottom of the saucer, which is replaced with a new dome which has the phase canon molded onto it.

The most fun parts of the DST model are the play features. It has a series of sound clips, activated by pressing down the bridge, which play with light effects in the nacelles, impulse engines, deflector, and bridge dome. DST have swapped out the standard sounds for recordings of Admiral Riker, so it fits the episode perfectly. If you just want to see the lights in action without any sounds, there is an extra button on top of the engineer section which lets you turn them on for constant display.


The model is also the only one of the three to feature saucer separation, using REALLY strong magnets to hold the saucer to the engineering hull. There are custom sounds that play when you separate and reconnect the saucer, and the separated sections also continue to have their own light effects. The model also comes with two stands to allowed you to display the separate sections. When the ship is whole the second stand can be stored within the base of the main one, which is pretty neat.






Playmates

The final of the three is one of the oddest model Star Trek starships ever designed. The Playmates version of the future-Enterprise goes under the exciting name "Transwarping Starship Enterprise", and features a transforming effect that lets you have the ship as either the normal Enterprise-D or the refit design. It also has a pretty exciting box:


This is the model ship I longed for as a child, and did not get. With years of nostalgic desire, and a pretty low opinion of the quality of Playmates' ships, I was expecting to be underwhelmed when I final got this, but actually it's a pretty decent model of the Enterprise. Certainly it doesn't even come close to the level of detailing on the other two examples above, but the molded details are pretty good, with all the panel lines and windows marked out. There are very few printed details; just the phaser strips and main colours on the nacelles. There are more details available however, it's just that you have to apply them from a sheet of stickers - These supply all the various markings on the hull. With a very loose guide on where to apply them supplied, I used the box art as a indicator as well, and still struggled to figure out where to put some of the insanely tiny ones. There are sixty to apply all together, and getting some of the small ones where you want them is arduous. The final look, following the guide, is not quite accurate, but looks much better than the blank ship, even if you can obviously see they are stickers. The limitations of a 90s toy I guess, and one much more firmly aimed at the mass market rather than just older collectors that DST and Eaglemoss are aiming at.

To fit all the extra parts for the transforming action, the saucer is a bit chunkier than normal, and there's a slight hunchback at the back of the neck. Never the less in normal mode it still looks like a reasonable model of the Enterprise-D


What this model is all about though is transforming. There are no less than twenty-four different moving parts that you need to fiddle about with to make it happen. Here she is with everything splayed open:


And here's the transformation in action:


It's a pretty fiddly process, but lots of fun, and I think pretty amazing you can hide a whole extra nacelle inside the saucer. There are lots of compromises to the model to allow it all to happen, with visible flaps and hinges all over the place. But really, that's not what you dwell on when you've got this, or if you do, it's only to marvel at how it all works. Most of the transformations are pretty stable once you've moved them into place. The only exception is the middle nacelle, which sits on a support made from four different folding and sliding parts; consequently it's a bit prone to unfolding is you swoosh the ship upside down!

At 28cm long, this is a bit smaller than Playmates' other Enterprise-D models, and it also sacrifices any light and sound features that other ships Playmates made tended to have. But that comes in exchange for the transformation feature, and I think that more than makes up for it.





There have been at least four other future-Enterprise models: From Hallmark, Johnny Lightning, Furuta, and Micro Machines. All smaller scale models. I feel three versions of one ship is are quite enough though! Besides, Eaglemoss' versions of ships are almost universally the best for their scale, and looking at these other versions, I think that's certainly this case with this ship too.

Of the three above, is there best one? It's hard to say, as they're very different models. The Eaglemoss and DST ones are quite closely matched in terms of detail; what DST can add from being bigger scale I feel Eaglemoss makes up with by having such a good aztec print. If you just want a display piece, either DST or Eaglemoss are excellent, so it's just a matter of your preferred scale (and willingness to subscribe to The Official Starships Collection, as the only way to get hold of this bonus ship from Eaglemoss). The Playmates version meanwhile is just a bit bonkers; if you want a fun toy then it's your ship, but otherwise it's miles behind the others. It's playability that probably gives the DST model the edge in the end though, it's magnetic saucer separation is just too much fun.

For reviews of other ships in The Official Starships Collection, and all the latest news and previews, see my index page.



2 comments:

Byron Followell said...

The Playmates version looks to be a re-issue of an older model. I have one pretty much identical to it, that works exactly the same way from about twenty years ago. I can't see that they've changed much.

Of course, it was never meant to be so much a model, as it was a toy, hence the difference in quality.

8of5 said...

The Playmates one Is the older model, I tracked down a new one to compare it with the others :) And yep, as I said, it's a toy compared to the other more collector orientated models.