Tuesday 3 December 2013

Review: The Official Starships Collection #5 - Romulan warbird

Out this week in the US, while around for a few weeks in the UK already, is the fifth issue of The Official Starships Collection, the D'deridex class Romulan warbird. As one of my favourite starship designs in Star Trek, this was an issue I was particularly looking forward to, and I wasn't disappointed.

What a beautiful little model this one is, it really captures the the interesting mix of characteristics in this ship; the overall very organic feeling shape, with the hard lines of starship hardware, that somehow flow perfectly into each other. That impressive ability to combine elements of design seems to work for the mixed components of the model too: I believe the top, wing (?), is all metal, carrying forward into the head. The bottom feels like plastic, as do the nacelles, the back inside portions of the head, and underside of the neck. But the finish to the outside surfaces of both wings is so carefully matched that you can only really tell that by touch (as the metal is cooler).

The outer surfaces of the ship have a sort of mottled impressionistic paint finish, which gives the impression of detail, without having to specify details not present on the actual on-screen model. This finish seem to be based on the CGI model textures, which are very similar, rather than almost glowing-edged panels lines on the original physical model.

The inner surfaces of the ship don't have the same texturing, they're just a flat green. Aside from the junction with the wings and nacelles, there are only a few angles where you can see the contrast of the finishes, most of the time the inner-wings are obscured by outer parts of the ship. All over the the head, and back the entire length of the neck, there are tiny rows of yellow dotted windows, which give the warbird its impressive sense of scale. There's also a very fine little Romulan crest at the top of the head.

Of the series so far the warbird probably has the least effective stand, I find it quite prone to slipping off. It works fine for display purposes of course, it's just when being moved that it's not as secure as other ships. On the flip side the stand is so far back on the ship that it's often barely noticeable; the warbird has a real sense of floating, that the more ship-hugging stands of the other ships don't benefit from.

As I've observed with other ships in this series, I feel the Eaglemoss ships generally have an edge when compared to previous model ship releases; they are more accurate and more finally finished than almost everything that has come before. I think that is true of the warbird to a greater extent than any ship in the series so far. Considering this is the most widely seen Romulan design in all of Trek, and one of the first new ships introduced in TNG, there are surprisingly few previous releases. The only vaguely comparable previous warbirds (in scale) are the Applause and Furuta miniature models, and the Hallmark Christmas tree decoration, and all are pretty crude in comparison to the elegant detailing of this new model. If you want a beautiful model warbird, this is the one to get.

Continue after the jump for a few more images of the model, and a look at this issue's magazine.

There is a slightly bigger bias to behind-the-scenes coverage in this issue, so the in-universe section doesn't have the usual two-page highlight section (focusing on a notable scene or feature of the ship), just the usual four-page historical overview, and two pages of orthographic views.

Four pages are given over to "Introducing the Romulans". When I first flipped through the magazine my reaction to this was disappointment; this is the most prominent Romulan design, surely there is more to be said about the actual ship, leaving such filler for later more obscure ships that need it? Well, I still largely think that, however, the article is actually really interesting: It gives an overview of the Romulans from the production point of view, detailing how they were developed over the course of TOS, TNG, and DS9. As an enjoyable article, I'm not too upset about its inclusion, but do remain a little frustrated at what is missing as a result.

The highlight as always is the design section, which looks at how Andy Probert created the warbird, including highlighting his Ships of the Line 2011 image which realised his early idea for a vertically orientated design. The "Introducing the Romulans" article eating up pages means there is no room left for the usual "Filming the Ship" section. One can only imagine what lovely photos of the studio model might have been presented had that section made it into this issue.

If you'd like your own copy of this brilliant warbird model, it is available to order from these fine retailers: Amazon.co.uk, 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.


Brandon's Blog said...

I think the whole concept of making all the various ships from Star Trek was a great concept from Eagle Moss.. this is the first issue I've seen where enough context for the magazine is an issue.. The Romulan Warbird has been around since season 1 of TNG.. If they don't have enough information on just the ship to fill this issue, imagine when they get to the confirmed obscure ships such as the USS Dauntless.. With that being said I don't think most people are buying these for the magazines hopefully.

8of5 said...

Wholly agree on the concept, aside from the novels, this is probably my favourite ever Star trek product.

I'm not generally too concerned about there being content for the magazines, because they can always spin it out a bit wider than the ships, as they have done with this Introducing the Romulans piece.

Taking the Dauntless as an example, they could easily make a big deal out of slipstream drive, going on to detail Timeless. Or even stretch it as far as a feature on the Aventine (although I'm dreaming she'll get her own issue some day), they've already set a precedent for including non-canon stuff from Ships of the Line.

My concern is more about when they choose to do that stretching. I think for this issue, it wasn't necessary. There's loads to say about the warbird in-universe and the real world. I enjoyed the Introducing the Romulans article, but I wish it hadn't been used in this issue!

Anonymous said...

Quote 8of5: "this is probably my favourite ever Star trek product."

I'm right there with you, mate. It's exactly what many of us have been looking for, for eons. So cool!

Great pics and reviews at the Collective, cheers. I've linked the MA article to it, hope that's kosher.

Yeah, the mag is superfluous, to me, anyway. I'm all about acquiring those ships for my collection. Mwa-ha-ha!

FYI, dunno if you intentionally skipped them but there are 6 crappy 1/64 Hot Wheels Trek cars and trucks coming soon. Pics at MA or T-Hunted.

Fox said...

Do the windows on the "spine" protrude? They look like the protrude.

Looks really sexy. You're in the U.K., I take it? I'm a bit miffed I have to wait so long for my warbird here in the U.S., but that's tempered somewhat by the fact I'll be getting Voyager at the same time.

Warbird looks so very sexy.

God, I love Eaglemoss.

8of5 said...

Darth: More than happy to be pointed to from Memory Alpha, thanks!

While I agree the magazine is not the primary draw, it has been offering some interesting content, and I'd like to hope it can continue to do. It has a rare opportunity to give us both universe and real world coverage of ships that the generally quite narrowly mainstream focus of the occasional non-fiction book we get these days gives us.

And I had not spotted those cars! Thanks for pointing them out!

Fox: The windows do protrude slightly.

As for waiting in the US. Well, that's just a quirk of the publisher being British based I'd think. The majority of Star Trek products are made by US companies, so normally it's those of us in the rest of the world that have to wait all the time! You're doing better than everywhere else in the world though, they've still not announced when its going to start in Canada/Australia/mainland Europe/etc

Fox said...

Well, I just got mine today. Is it really accurate to the model? I feel like it's too tall... the forward profile--the lines of the wings--bow upward, and I'd always thought those angles were symmetrical.

8of5 said...

Looks ok to me, especially in comparison to other versions of the ship, which often seem to have shorter necks.

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