Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Review: Star Trek Pop-Ups

I love pop-up books. I only own a few, but they are probably the most frequently visited in my library, and the ones I like to show to friends. So I was delighted to learn I would be able to enjoy another thing I love in pop-up form, with the release of the new Star Trek Pop-Ups book. Continue below for my thoughts on this newly released book.

The book is huge, the largest Star Trek book I own, at 31x34cm. It also has a curious padded cover, which makes it a bit squishy to hold. Inside there are seven two-page spreads of pop-ups, designed by Courtney Watson McCarthy, plus another pop-up-free pair of pages providing an introduction. The book covers all the prime universe live action series, with ships and characters representing ordinary and extraordinary takes on Star Trek. The text of the book by Paula Block and Terry Erdmann (not credited in the actual book, but widely listed by online book sellers), is written from a real world perspective, with the introduction giving an overview of Star Trek, and each page then giving behind the scenes stories that led to the creation of the particular scene being brought to life in the pop-up.

The first spread in the book is a celebration of the original USS Enterprise, based on The Corbomite Maneuver, which means the beautiful remastered version of the First Federation ship Fesarius gets to feature as the bright yellow backdrop. A couple of the Fesarius' orbs also pop out with the Enterprise. The Enterprise is boldly presented as a fully 3D model, rather than just a flat image standing up-right - an ambitious decision given all the rounded shapes on that ship. Some of the pop-ups work from all viewing angles, some are better off seen just from the designed viewing angle of the book - The latter is true of this spread, but it looks fantastic from that angle, and the way it unfurls as you open the pages is quite delightful; it makes the Enterprise seem so alive.

The next spread is also TOS based, giving us the Kirk in a pile of tribbles scenes from The Trouble with Tribbles. This is technically the simplest pop-up in the book, made from several layered images that are made 3D with a single fold. But it's also one of the most effective renditions; the layers of tribbles give a really nice sense of their abundance.

The third pop-up takes us into the movie era, and is probably my favourite of the book, featuring the Klingon Bird of Prey swooping under the Golden Gate Bridge, from the end of The Voyage Home. Like the Enterprise, this has a very satisfying animation as you open the pages, and works even better here, as it seems the Bird of Prey is flying towards you, with its wings adjusting as you open. The delicate layers of detail in the background bridge make the whole scene seem very real too.

The Next Generation is represented by the Borg. This particular spread can be viewed from any angle, with a Borg Cube fully realised in 3D; it's quite an impressive feat of paper engineering. The Cube is well detailed; it is in fact two cubes, one within the other, with cut out details giving some sense of the dense detail of the Cube with more visible on the interior cube. There is also a slightly metallic looking print finish to all the pipes and panels, really bringing those details to life. The scene could risk being a little dull, but there's a nice surprise, a secondary mini-pop-up hidden behind a panel, which when opened up, reveals the Enterprise-D!

Deep Space Nine is of course represented by the station, specifically based on Call to Arms, with the station being swarmed by Jem'Hadar and Cardassian ship. This is an incredibly complex arrangement; the station itself is made of three different layers, with many more around it filled with ships, which spring up from panels built upon panels; there's even a Jem'Hadar fighter flying between the arms of the station. Due to the way the station is constructed it looks better from a particular angle, but it's quite fun examining the the scene from other points of view, to see how all the ships are projected.

I feel there isn't nearly enough Captain Proton stuff out there, so I'm delighted that Voyager's representation in this book is based entirely on Bride of Chaotica! The main focus of the spread is Doctor Chaotica's Fortress of Doom - It's a reasonable representation of that gloriously retro design, but I feel the least impressive of the pop-ups in the book, it just doesn't have the same magic as many of the others. The spread is redeemed by another of those hidden mini-pop-ups though, in this case giving us a little version of Satan's Robot, complete with its curved barrel body.

The final spread gives us the Enterprise NX-01, launching out of spacedock; an inspired decision, as the Enterprise does indeed launch forward towards you as the pages open. It's also another the spreads that is really interesting to examine from a technical point of view, as much of it is pulled together by long tabs, that pull the various parts of the Enterprise and the the dock into shape.

So overall a pretty satisfying book! The spreads that have some sense of animation when you open them (the Klingon Bird of prey, NX-01, and NCC-1701) are by far the most satisfying. The Borg Cube spread is also impressive and enjoyable as a fully 3D scene from any angle, and the tribble pile is a surprisingly effective representation of the scene.

The large format of the books means that the pop-ups within are quite impressive in scale, although the smaller bonus pop-ups on a couple of the pages were real highlights too.

I really hope this book does well, as my mind spins with all the iconic Star Trek scenes that could be excitingly brought to life in pop-up form - I want a sequel already!


daddytodd said...

Did this ever come out? It looks like Amazon still hasn't shipped any copies. Well, they haven't shipped MY copy, anyway.

8of5 said...

It's definitely out in the UK. Not sure what's going on in the US though, the Amazon listing has gone dead for some reason.