Wednesday 20 November 2013

Review: The Official Starships Collection #4 - Enterprise NX-01

Out this week in the US is the fourth issue of The Official Starships Collection, the Enterprise NX-01, which was released a few weeks ago in the UK. Continuing from the brilliant model of the Klingon Bird of Prey in the previous issue (see my review), the NX-01 really impresses, I think it's probably the best model in the series so far.

Of Eaglemoss' ships so far I think this ship probably has the highest proportion of metal parts; the nacelles are the only plastic parts in the entire model. As more ships in the series have been released, I'm generally coming to expect the metal portions of the models to have slightly softer edges than the plastic detailing - But this time around the metal sections are very finely detailed, with the molded hull panel lines perfectly scaled to bring out the detail without overwhelming it (in contrast to the rather strong lines on the earlier 1701 refit model).

What really works for this model is the balance of molded and printed detailing. There is an intricate aztec print across the entire ship, using a metalic paint that is just subtly different from the underlying silvery hull. This looks especially effective when swooshing the ship, as light moves across the surface highlighting different sections of the print.

I would speculate part of the reason this is such a good model is that the reference CGI model for the NX-01 is probably one of the most detailed available to The Collection of any of the ships. It seems like they've gone to no small effort to take full advantage of that resource; comparing the model to the orthographic views on the Ship Profile pages of the magazine, just about every little detail of the plating, and the various systems dotted about the exterior of the ship, can be found on the model.

The stand for this model is also particularly elegant and unobtrusive, slipping neatly into the back of the saucer.

Considering Enterprise has generated very little in the way of tie-in products compared to the other series, there are surprisingly numerous options available if you want a model of the NX-01. The only other one I own is the much larger Art Asylum model. The larger scale of that version does mean it has some areas of smaller scale detailing the Eaglemoss version cant squeeze in. But on many other areas of the ship this new smaller version is actually more detailed, with tiny printed markings around the cargo and shuttle bays for example, which are completely missing from the larger version. Where I feel the Eaglemoss model really has the edge is that lovely subtle aztecing, in stark contrast to the almost leopard-like appearance of the dark aztecing on the Art Asylum version.

There are several other smaller scale models of the NX-01 available, including Hot Wheels, Johnny Lightning, and F-Toys versions. But as is becoming increasingly clear as this series progresses, the Eaglemoss versions of any given ship at this scale tend to be the most finely finished. Looking at images of the other smaller scale renditions, that appears to be as true as ever with the NX-01.

Continue after the jump for more images of the model, and a look at the accompanying magazine.

Following the usual format, there is a mix of in-universe and behind the scenes features in the magazine. We get the usual brief history of the ship, and orthographic views, and this time the Classic Scene section looks at the Enterprise launching from spacedock, comparing it to the similar scene in The Motion Picture. I found that particular choice for a feature a bit dull, especially when considering how thought out the design of the NX-01 is; I feel they could have given us something a little more in depth. Given the significance of the warp five engine, a feature on that part of the ship would have been nice. Which also highlights something missing here, unlike previous magazines in the series, there is not a single interior image of the ship (all the other issues have at the very least pictured the bridge). Given the incredible production design on Enterprise it seems such a missed opportunity to not highlight some of the sets.

The behind the scenes section of the magazine continues to be the highlight. Although I feel quite familiar with conception of the NX-01 design, from the sort of things Doug Drexler has posted online over the years, it's great to see it brought together in print. Visual highlights this time include an example of one of John Eaves early concepts for the NX-01, and a nice deck-by-deck plan of the major rooms/sets within the Enterprise.

Where as the ships in the previous issues of the magazine had a history of different physical and CGI models to write about, the NX-01 was just CGI. So instead of the usual Filming the Ship section, this issue has spread highlighting Drexler's refit design for the NX-01, as featured in Ships of the Line 2011. I feel it would have been good for those unfamiliar with the refit design if the orthographic views had been pictured as well as the calendar image, but it's great to see the refit being used none the less.

With this issue of the magazine I also got my first subscriber "gift", a binder to keep the magazines in. I actually prefer to keep magazines loose in boxes, as I find them easier to flip through that way, but I'm sure this is a perfectly adequate storage solution for others, if they like their magazines held this way. It's a pretty simple design on the outside (could have gone to town with a nice ship schematic or something?), with a system of pins to hold the magazine in place.

If you'd like your own model NX-01 and magazine, 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.

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