|Character Design||Alex Jaeger|
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
This toy requires three Triple-A (AAA) batteries (not included) to operate the electronic lights-and-sound feature. There are two battery compartments- one on the underside of the saucer, and the other on the bottom of the Engineering hull. Both compartments require a Philips head screwdriver to open/close.
In the year 2233, the Federation starship U.S.S. Kelvin was quickly destroyed after encountering a massive unidentified vessel which purportedly appeared from out of a lightning storm in space. Only 800 members of the crew survived, including civilians. This single event would change the course of the future forever…
25 years later, two young men met at Starfleet Academy on Earth- the human James T. Kirk, a survivor of the Kelvin disaster with a taste for adventure, beautiful women, and cynicism; and Spock, a brilliant half-human, half-Vulcan ridiculed by his full-Vulcan peers all his life for having emotions. Destiny would draw these two and many others together for the first time aboard the United Federation of Planet’s newest exploration starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise, as she answered a distress call coming from the planet Vulcan. The Enterprise arrives late to find the rest of the Starfleet ships assigned to the rescue mission quickly exterminated by the Romulan mining ship, Narada- the same one which had destroyed the Kelvin decades earlier! The rescue mission fails as the Narada successfully destroys Vulcan, and the Enterprise is forced to retreat without Captain Pike, who is now a hostage. With Spock in command, he disagrees with Cadet Kirk’s rash and illogical actions, and abandons him on Delta Vega. Once landed, Kirk coincidentally comes across an older version of Spock from 154 years in the future, who explains that both he and the Narada fell through an artificial black hole and were transported into the past. The elder Spock tells a stunned Kirk that it is his destiny to command the Enterprise and he must force his younger self to give that up. Using a jury-rigged ultra-long-range transporter designed by a disgruntled Montgomery Scott, Kirk arrives back on the Enterprise, and forces Spock to relinquish command. The Enterprise’s crew formulates a plan to both ambush and destroy the Narada now in orbit over Earth, and rescue Captain Pike at the same time… thus fulfilling their fate to boldly go where no one has gone before.
The U.S.S. Enterprise (registry number NCC-1701) was completed on Earth in 2278CE for the United Federation of Planets, and thus falls under the authority of Starfleet Command. She was commanded by Captain Christopher Pike during her shakedown cruise, and was later by James Kirk after the Narada incident when Pike was promoted. Though acting as Starfleet’s flagship, she usually does not regularly have a flag officer attached to her. She is 718m-long (2367ft), and features two warp engine nacelles suspended just above her primary hull. A large four-level shuttle bay is placed just aft of the warp engine pylons, and can hold dozens of multi-mission shuttlecraft. Despite being designed for peaceful deep-space exploration, she is armed with a forward dual-tube photon torpedo launcher, and eight phaser banks are spread across the hulls. Her multiple matter/antimatter drive reactor cores- located in the Engineering Hull behind & below the saucer section- allow her to greatly exceed the speed of light up to Warp factor 9. To better facilitate its use when traveling at sub-light speeds, the navigational deflector dish on the front of the Engineering Hull can retract.
All of the Enterprise’s on-board scientific divisions fall under the purview of Commander Spock, while Sickbay is headed up by chief surgeon Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and her chief engineering officer is Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.
In redesigning the future of the Star Trek franchise, the film’s director, JJ Abrams, said of the Enterprise that he wanted a “hot rod” look, while preserving the designs from the classic 1966-69 TV series (aka ‘The Original Series’ or TOS) by Art Director Matt Jefferies (RIP). This version of the Enterprise, designed by famous effects house Industrial Light and Magic, would become a mish-mash of both the TOS design and the refit version designed primarily by Andrew Probert seen later in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979), and so incorporates details and shapes from both- large saucer, cylindrical secondary hull & warp engine nacelles, and all four parts connected by narrow-profile pylons. This is because the Enterprise seen in the movie “Star Trek” is from an altered timeline, and so would have different technologies available to it.
(According to official-though-non-canon materials, this version of the Enterprise would have been launched 13 years later than the one appearing in the classic series- catching this one up with the refit seen in the first movie; though with the bridge crew being assembled latter as well due to the altered time-line of the new movie.)
This set comes pre-assembled, and includes a transparent-blue ABS display stand shaped in the Starfleet Command arrowhead logo. A ball-and-socket at the top connects to a hole in the bottom of the toy, allowing it to be turned in almost any direction without losing its balance.
(The first few times I inserted it, I had to force it a little, but afterwords it became easier. It looks fragile and I do wonder about that, but it will hold the ship sturdy. …Of course, I’m sure that in the long run the friction connection will wear out.)
The U.S.S. Enterprise (back) is 14½” long, the diameter of the saucer section makes it 7” wide, and it is 3 2/5” tall, and perhaps weights only two pounds. It is constructed entirely of ABS plastic- most of that being light gray, and minor amounts of transparent-blue and –red. Paint applications range from light gray to match the plastic’s tone for masking, dark and regular grays, and black for printed lettering & windows; very small paints apps include yellow and red.
. . .
The Primary Hull, or saucer section, is more reminiscent of the one seen in the movies for the dome sections on top and bottom. However, unlike all of its [successors], there are only windows featured along the outer edge of the hull, rather than also across the top and bottom of it. (The exception may be the glass viewscreen on the Bridge, but it is not clearly defined on this toy.) The patterns of windows along the edge are reminiscent of those from the ST:TPM version. The Bridge on top, lower navigational dome and phaser array locations also resemble TMP’s. Unlike all versions, however, the Enterprise’s name and ship registry number do not appear anywhere along the bottom of the saucer section. The small red sub-light-speed impulse engine vents appear directly at the back of the saucer section, above the neck. The dual-tube photon torpedo launcher, though taken from the TPM version, appears much smaller here- merely a small tab at the front of the neck now as opposed to being the base of it. The neck itself extends far further backwards now, ending between the warp engine pylons.
The Secondary Hull, or Engineering section, was usually portrayed as a long tube that narrows towards the back, with a large navigational array/dish at the front, and a shuttle bay at the back with clamshell doors which retracted to the sides. While the secondary hull remains circular in forward profile, it is more teardrop-shaped from a side view. However, the secondary hull is almost devoid of windows unlike all other incarnations, and seems to lose continuity with itself by not having grid-like lines like those found on the saucer section. (Indeed, the only visible lines are the narrow gaps between the plastic pieces, so that doesn’t count.) As I mentioned earlier, the bottom of the saucer doesn’t have the registry number or name of the ship on it. However, the secondary hull has the registry number below and behind the transparent-blue navigational deflector array dish. Though the dish can extend & retract from the Engineering hull, the one on the toy is fixed in place. As no big surprise, considering the size of this toy, the shuttle bay doors cannot open. (Alas, alas- that was one of the more impressive moments in the movie, in my opinion. It really gives you a sense of the scale of this new Enterprise, and showed that she was far larger now than Gene Roddenberry’s original version, which was the size of a modern-day aircraft carrier- about 230m long.)
While warp engine pylons come in all shapes and sizes across the generations, for both versions of the early Enterprise they were always straight and narrow when viewed from a forward profile. While the refit ver. had pylons which angled backwards away from the secondary hull, these new ones do just the opposite: angle towards the secondary hull and get narrower at the nacelles; and they are now slightly curved when viewed in profile. But there are still sets of vents along the back of each pylon, a trait which disappeared with later ship designs. The nacelles themselves retain that same long cigar-shape from the TOS ver.- with circular vents at the back, vane-like projections on top near the back, and dome-like Bussard collectors at the front- but now the overall shape of the nacelles has a much larger area at the front. Additionally, while the TPM ver, had long black striped areas on either side of the nacelles [presumably out of which warp drive fields would flow], those same dark strips have been moved to a singular one beneath the back-third of each nacelle. While the registry number is now much larger along the outboard of each nacelle, the inboard area has a golden Starfleet arrowhead emblem. For the film’s version of the Bussard collectors, they are now a light blue as opposed to the traditional red, but still have moving mechanisms within (movement which is not recreated on the toy). The other significant change is that, when at warp speeds, the circular vents at the back of the nacelles- which were only ever on the TOS version- now glow as if venting smokeless exhaust.
To activate the special effects, there is an On/Off switch on the bottom of the Engineering Hull behind the battery compartment cover.
The activation button for the sound effects is the blue dome on top of the Bridge. Areas that light up- though not always all at the same time- are the Bridge dome, display lights across the top of the saucer, navigation dome on the bottom of the saucer, navigational dish, impulse engines, Bussard collectors, and nacelle vents at the back. (The plastic is thin enough that all the already-bright LED lights easily shine through it!) The lighting patterns used are variable depending on which sound effect is being played. The speaker is located on the bottom-right side of the saucer section, and is sufficiently loud and clear-to-understand.
- [Spock]: Captain, Engineering reports ready for launch. (…and then the sound of the Enterprise going to warp)
- Red Alert klaxon
- [Kirk]: Maneuvering thrusters, Mr. Sulu.
- [Kirk]: Arm phasers. Fire everything we’ve got! (…and then three separate sounds of phasers firing)
The voices heard are those of actors Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) speaking lines as recorded in the movie, and the sound effects are also the same as those from the movie. (I’ll vouch for that statement!) The sequence of effects will play randomly each time the Bridge button is pushed. They can interrupt each other, though they do not overlap or repeat; holding down the button changes nothing.
I will not give my opinion on this new interpretation of the classic ship here (see the video for that), but I will say that this is a faithful recreation physically: the sound effects are good and clear since they are straight from the film, the plastic is sturdy and doesn’t droop or wiggle under its own weight, and the LED lights are very bright. That’s it- that’s all the good there is, right there. Oh, and the warp nacelles & pylons have no visible screws, so props there. Now, on with the not-so-good…
- I know that the ship is light gray (referred to in-house as the “Aztec pattern” for its muted, angular-looking rainbow qualities under different kinds of lighting) and that is fine (though I would have liked basic white for the toy). But what bugs me is the other two shades of gray used. While some plain gray areas are used in raised or detailed sections, where it is added to non-marked areas is where it fails. Whereas in the film the contrast is obvious (again why I’d have liked the toy in all-white) it blends in too easily, and most non-detailed apps go unnoticed or look like errors (ex: the base of the warp engine pylons).
- The second thing about the paint apps is the low quality-control and application- there are wavy lines, ticks and scratches on almost every single paint app, save for printed lettering. Hell- I found the partial fingerprint of a factory worker (or a wipe-away cloth?) smudged in light gray on one of the warp nacelles!
- Couldn’t they have added some paint to denote the glass viewscreen…?
- Next up is construction. While trying to make a toy with no visible seam lines is always challenge, it gets downright bad in places like the impulse engines, and warp engine pylon- and neck-mounting points- flaws in the molds can be seen, unclean lines that waver oh-so slightly. And the parts were molded in such ways that I thought they could have been done differently to try to hide those lines better.
- I know that’s kinda required, but it is annoying to have that official Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notice along the bottom of the saucer.
- Was I let-down that the shuttle bay didn’t open up? Ehh… not really. For the toy’s size I can see how that would have been a challenge to pull off successfully. What I do have to pick at, though, is that the navigational dish couldn’t extend or retract. A subtle movement in the film, but nonetheless it could have been easily accommodated with a little extra effort.
- Though the stand looks pretty nice, I do honestly worry that it could break at that top point. Perhaps instead of screwing it together, they could have used posts that would separate if too much pressure was applied…? On the other hand, the ball-and-socket arrangement was pretty sweet compared to some dumb old peg-in-the-hole method. But that it balances well is a testament.
- Though the bright LEDs are appreciated, I don’t see how they could avoid the light leaking through other than to make the plastic thicker, and that could have jumped up the price a bit. But what really annoys me is that their lighting patterns are weird- for example, they light up the impulse engine when the warp engine sound goes off, and the warp engines & navigational dish flicker when weapons fire. (BTW, couldn’t they have either installed a red LED or painted the torpedo launcher up a little?) Next movie, let’s try for a lighting effect where it’ll just sit there fully lit for about half a minute without sound effects so that YOU can fly it around and make your own effects.
I know that this is supposed to be a kid’s toy rather than directed at collectors, but some of the workmanship that went into this doesn’t seem as strong as some of Playmates Toys’ past Star Trek lines. Perhaps all of this is due to the worldwide financial strains in 2009, and the lower quality was due to lower price-per-unit manufacturing for cheaper marketing. I don’t know, and cannot say with certainty. Indeed, for as big as the box was, I was expecting it to say “Some assembly required”: meaning it would have been a kick-ass 22” long! Boo-yah bitches-! Woo!! …Yeah, that didn’t happen- it came out to just a measly 14½”, which pissed me off. I would say that the $30 price tag is accurate. Though the TOS and TMP designs are among my favorites, I cannot give this toy a glowing pass just because it is the first Enterprise I have ever owned. (Did I say that out-loud? Oops… ^_^;). If you’re introducing your young kids to Star Trek, this’ll do fine, but for me the remake U.S.S. Enterprise gets a “meh”.
|Posted 18 July, 2009 - 01:01 by EVA_Unit_4A|