Monday, November 18, 2013

Issue #3, Klingon Bird-of-Prey, and Issue #4, Enterprise NX-01

Knoxville Fleet Yard is operational

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Knoxville Fleet Yard, a collection blog covering the Star Trek Starships partwork magazine by Eaglemoss, Ltd.  The magazine is published bimonthly (or fortnightly, if you prefer), but as a subscriber I get two issues together once a month.  Therefore, this blog will update monthly, with each post covering two issues.

I had hoped to begin with issues #1 and 2, but there's some irregularity with the mail, and the first package to arrive contains issues #3 and 4; so we'll begin in medias res, as it were.

Issue #3, Klingon Bird-of-Prey

Each issue consists of two parts: the actual magazine, and a model of the ship, seen below.

I'm writing this having given the magazine only a cursory flip-through, but it looks interesting.  Going by these two issues, it looks like each magazine is going to follow the same format of five articles: the first, named after the ship ("Bird-of-Prey," in this case) and second, "In Action," have in-universe information on the ship, its technology, and its operations.  There are some interesting details here, but much of it is familiar to Trekkies like me.

Moving on to the third article, "Designing the Ship," we get to what is, in my opinion, the real meat of the magazine.  True to its title, "Designing..." is all about the behind-the-scenes process of designing the ship, its inspiration, and the thought process that went into it.  Lots of really neat information here; I didn't know that Leonard Nimoy, who directed Star Trek III in addition to playing Spock, actually instigated the need for the Bird-of-Prey design.  The characteristic movable wings are actually inspired by the image of a bodybuilder flexing his biceps downwards, giving the Bird-of-Prey an aggressive profile in attack mode.

The fourth article, "Filming the Ship," is all about the technical details of the model and the techniques used to shoot it.  Again, there's lots of good stuff here.  The original shooting model of the Bird-of-Prey was fifteen inches long by thirty-six wide, incorporated motors to raise and lower the wings so they could be filmed in motion, and was eventually auctioned off at Christie's in 2006, where it fetched $250,000.  Amusingly, to film a fleet of Klingon ships in the Deep Space Nine episode, "The Way of the Warrior," the VFX team used Hallmark Christmas ornaments, which were cheap enough to be destroyed without needing to damage the main shooting model.

Finally, at the back of the magazine, is "On Screen," a one-page summary of the ship's main appearances and some trivia.

Overall, the magazine is everything that could be hoped for, considering that the real draw is the model.

On that note...

I'm really very impressed with the model.  It's highly detailed, with lots of little greebles, and the painting is top-notch.  As seen in the scale photo, the Bird-of-Prey is just about 5¼ inches from wingtip to wingtip.  It's quite substantial and well-made, partly of metal and partly of plastic, and not really fragile at all.  Mind you, I won't be throwing it about, but it seems like it will stand the test of time.

The base is surprisingly heavy for its size, which I'm also very pleased with, as it makes the model less likely to tip over.  The stand attaches to the rear of the model without the need for extraneous hole or cavities, and so doesn't interrupt the design at all.  It's clear that somebody put real thought into this, and I'm very happy with that.

This is the first time I've dealt with Eaglemoss, and my impression is overwhelmingly positive...  with the exception of the difficulty getting the first two issues.  To be fair, I really cannot say that this is their fault, though.  Hopefully it will be resolved soon, and I'll be able to post what should have been the first installment of this blog.

Issue #4, Enterprise NX-01


 I have to say, I am completely on board with the idea that the NX-01 looks far too advanced for the time period she supposedly occupies in the Star Trek timeline.  The combination of the round warp nacelles and the sleekly curved saucer make her look far more like a transition from the original NCC-1701 to the Excelsior-class, than like a predecessor to Kirk's Enterprise.  That's just my feeling, though, and should not in any way be taken as a slight on Eaglemoss' excellent model.

Like issue #3, the magazine starts out with in-universe talk about the ship's history and place in the Star Trek canon, before moving on to "Designing the Ship" and "Filming the Ship."

"Designing..." is particularly interesting to me, as it lays out a lot of the (to me) wrongheaded thinking that went into the NX-01.  The most damning element is a production sketch by concept artist John Eaves:

"John Eaves started the design work on the NX-01 and explored
various ways it could be made to look like an earlier version of Kirk's ship."

Now, I don't know Mr. Eaves, and certainly have no wish to malign him.  I just can't wrap my head around his thought process here.  If anything, this sketch reminds me most strongly of the Sovereign-class Enterprise, NCC-1701-E.  The aerodynamic (spatiodynamic?) curvature, the steeply-raked neck between the primary and secondary hulls, all speak to me of a late-24th-century design rather than a mid-22nd-century one.

Bah, I'm rambling.  Getting back to the actual magazine, the articles about the initial design and proposed evolution of the NX-01 are legitimately interesting, well-written, and accompanied by very cool images.  As I've been writing this, I've also been flipping through the magazine, and I've discovered that the article listed in the contents as "Filming the Ship" is actually titled "Becoming the Enterprise NX-01.5."  This is about designer Doug Drexler's idea that, as Star Trek: Enterprise progressed, the NX-01 would have been refitted on a regular basis, eventually acquiring a full-size secondary hull quite reminiscent of the NCC-1701.  The CG image accompanying this is quite lovely, depicting the refitted NX-01 in the shipyard and looking much more like the experimental forerunner to Kirk's Enterprise.

Moving on to the model:

Again, I'm extremely pleased.  It's a nice size, with wonderful detailing and an excellent paint job.  Like the Bird-of-Prey, the NX-01 model is about 5¼ inches in her longest dimension, and comes with a nice heavy base and a stand that clips on without interrupting the model at all.  The only way I could be more pleased with these models is if they had functional warp drives.

Yes, 5¼ inches is the perfect size for flying around the house, making warp-drive and phaser noises with my mouth.

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