U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D
|Name||Star Trek TNG Enterprise D Ship|
|Character Design||Andrew Probert (1985)|
|Toy Design||Art Asylum|
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
In the 24th Century, the United Federation of Planets has continued to expand and remain both a strategic and political power in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. Encompassing over 8000 light-years of space, some 150 native intelligent species (including humanity) are Federation members, contributing to prolonged and mutual peace, justice, and harmony. Starfleet Command (based in the city of San Francisco on Earth) remains in charge of expanding and protecting the boundaries of the Federation as well as continuing its primarily humanitarian and ambassadorial roles, while keeping other non-allied species at bay such as the Romulan Star Empire, Cardassian Union, and the Ferengi Alliance. Since the signing of the Khitomer Accords nearly 80 years earlier, the Klingon Empire has become less hostile towards the Federation, though the peaceful relationship can still be tested at times.
Starfleet’s newest flagship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D (the fifth Federation vessel to bear the name), is a Galaxy-class starship dispatched on an extended mission of solitary deep-space exploration, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
The U.S.S. Enterprise (registry number NCC-1701-D), like all her previous namesakes, is a long-range exploration vessel. The new Galaxy-class starships are considered the pinnacle of decades of technological development by Starfleet, featuring breakthroughs in warp field physics, deflector shield resistance, hull design, construction materials and methods, environmental control, computer advancement, weapons progression, and sensor efficiency. The Galaxy-class is also something of a radical experiment in ship-board life. For the first time ever, immediate members of crew-members’ families (including young children) are allowed to live aboard, experiencing adventure in a way never possible before. As such, a Galaxy-class starship is considered by some to be a mobile, living city-in-space, now powered not just by its advanced matter/antimatter warp reactor core and nuclear fusion generators, but by the support and love of those close by. Incorporating a large civilian population (many of whom serve in professions of their own which can contribute to the mission of the ship at times, such as botany, geology, and some technology research fields) is a breathtaking accomplishment in starship design, although some question the validity of putting non-essential personnel aboard such powerful vessels in direct danger during hostile action or other unexpected situations that could potentially put the ship at risk. The knowledge that the Galaxy-class are some of the most advanced and powerful starships in two quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy, however, can easily push some of those fears aside.
Previously considered only a one-time emergency procedure, Galaxy-class starships are in a unique position of being able to separate themselves into two halves where need-be. In the past when a starship’s warp core threatened to explode, the saucer-like Primary Hull could be disengaged and operate under its own power to escape to a safe distance from the massive explosion. While a new emergency system allows the warp core itself to be disconnected and ejected though an explosive egress hatch on the bottom of the Engineering Hull, for tactical reasons the saucer separation-idea was carried through, but now can be reversed just as easily by the crew within minutes after a threatening situation has been resolved.
U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
With the exception of the Navigational Deflector Array on the front of the Engineering Section, any transparent plastic, and the display stand(s), all surfaces have been painted or have had decals pre-applied.
No assembly needed out of the box (though you may want to check the three AAA and three LR44 demo batteries). Both battery compartments will need to be opened so that the two halves can be switched from Try Me Mode to the standard Play Mode. Note: there is no dedicated On/Off switch anywhere on the exterior of either Section.
Additionally, five tiny plugs have been included in the box, which can fill the display stand holes along the bottom of both Sections. (I will never use the pegs on mine because, well… how the hell do you get them out of there!?)
The Saucer Section is held tightly to the Battle Section via built-in magnets hidden across the top of the neck, so removal and reassembly is very easy, with three small immovable tabs to make sure everything lines up correctly once she is recombined. (Since the gray of the hull has been painted on, I fear that over time, when removed and reattached, the tabs will scratch the paint…)
A multi-part display stand is included. Once the Enterprise is clipped on, the ball-and-socket joint allows for flexible posing. Because the Enterprise-D can perform a saucer separation, however, the display stand actually splits apart as well to reveal a smaller stand within! This way, both the Saucer Section and Engineering Section can be displayed separately at the same time.
Unlike some of Diamond Select Toy’s previous Starship Legends releases (specifically their four TOS U.S.S. Enterprise sets), extra large hull pieces are not included to swap out so that the holes for the stands can be hidden.
Anytime the Bridge dome atop the Saucer Section is pressed, several colored LEDs activate in pre-programmed sequence, accompanied by a selection of sound clips taken directly from the television series. The blue Navigational Deflector Array, red Main Impulse Engine, and paired red Bussard Collectors are always on regardless of which audio clip is playing. However, both the Bridge dome and Warp Engine Nacelle grilles pulse on-and-off with the syllables in the clips.
The following clips are always played in this order, with the only voice heard being that of Captain Jean-Luc Picard [actor (now Sir) Patrick Stewart]:
- “Open a hailing frequency. This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”
- “Energize” (followed by Transporter beam sound-effect)
- “Scan for life-forms.”
- “Shields up. Red Alert” (followed by Red Alert klaxon sounding two times)
- (Weapon-firing alarm, followed by sound-effect of a ship-mounted phaser charging and firing)
- “Make it so.”
- (Sound of the Enterprise going to warp speed)
- “Tea- Earl Grey, hot” (followed by computer acknowledgment chirp and sound of a food replicator working)
- “Dispersal pattern Sierra… and fire!” (Followed by computer chirp and sound of multiple photon torpedoes being fired)
- “Transferring command to the Battle Bridge.”
- (Low engine rumbling sound)
- “Continual fire, all phasers!” (Red Alert klaxon heard in background at same time, then sound-effect of multiple Phaser shots)
- “Damage report!”
- “Warp nine, engage!” (Followed by sound of the Enterprise going to warp speed)
- “--and to make sure that history never forgets the name… Enterprise.”
Additionally, when you separate the Enterprise, you will hear Captain Picard say-
- “Prepare for emergency Saucer Sep[aration]” (followed by the sound of the docking latches releasing)
-and when re-attaching, the docking latches-effect will play again.
When the Saucer Section is separated, only the highlighted effects listed above play. The Engineering Section has no speaker or unique audio/visual effects of its own.
Also, if you press and hold down the Bridge dome button for five seconds, all of the audio effects will play once in the order listed above.
As a bonus, if you press down on a small gray button along the lower spine of the Engineering Section, all the lights in the set will turn on, but no sound will play. This way, the Enterprise can be put into a Display Mode with its lights running continuously until you press it again! (Just remember that they’re on; there is no automatic cut-off timer, so it will run until the batteries dry up hours later!)
Finally, the Saucer Section can be removed in Display Mode and the lights on both Sections will remain on. Whether separated in Display Mode or not, the saucer’s own two Impulse Engines will momentarily turn themselves off until after an audio clip finishes playing, and then turn back on.
Though my father was able to experience “Star Trek: The Original Series” back in the late-1960s, I got my bug from his continued enthusiasm and then eventually the feature films from 1983 onwards. (Ironically, I never got the chance to see TOS with my own eyes until 2009!). Then, despite average ratings for the films (it was really a niche market they were aiming for, after all…), series creator Gene Roddenberry got his second shot in 1986 to do it right with “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. With a far larger television budget this time, and the unusual advantage of already having a ravenous pre-established cult fan-base in place, Roddenberry was able to finally express his ideas to a larger audience. While still taking place in the same universe, TNG was a more serious story set about 80 years in the future after TOS and all of the TOS-related movies (“Star Trek…” I through VI), which allowed for a clean slate, but then it was able to reference much of the earlier work as historical fact. Star Trek as a whole, unfortunately, has never been quite able to reclaim the pop culture status it enjoyed during the run of TNG… Getting back on topic, I was hooked at an early age, and the ability for the franchise to sustain itself for so long means it has stayed with me throughout my entire life. (Not that I have a problem with this, of course!)
On CollectionDX, Star Trek is my “old school”.
I remember that I got just a few toys from TNG’s initial run- some 3.5” first-season figures of Captain Picard and Commander Riker (actor/director Jonathan Frakes), and a 6” die-cast metal Enterprise-D (which, by the way, actually used designer Andrew Probert’s original pale-blue colors rather than the typical gray-hull colors we saw on TV). I had an Enterprise toy! (Well… I also had a 3” die-cast and PVC refit-Enterprise, but the nacelles kept breaking off, dammit!) Sadly, the metal hooks needed to keep the saucer attached broke off early, so I always had to hang onto it in strange ways. Later on, I had wanted a larger light-and-sound-equipped Playmates Toys version of the Ent-D because it was a gigantic 16” toy(!), but sadly that never happened.
Then, in 2008, I became aware of the cheap-but-good-quality replicas being made by Art Asylum and Diamond Select Toys. Having never really been a model maker (I tried a few times when I was younger, but lacked resources by sinking it all into Power Rangers, Transformers, etc…), this was the opening that I had been waiting literally decades for, and you know what? IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.
DST’s version is more-or-less exactly the same size as the [four!?] 16” toy version(s) that Playmate Toys made, which in my opinion is a perfect scale (1/1500?) to put the words “big toy replica” together. It’s big enough to see the details and express the massive size of the ship, while still being lightweight enough to be carried in one hand (as kids tend to do with their toys as they fly them about the house). Make no mistake, however, that the set being reviewed here is absolutely NOT a toy. It is unquestionably a collector’s item specifically for sitting on a shelf and being looked at.
The biggest giveaway is that entire ship has been painted! Not just the phaser strips, transporter emitter pads, escape pod hatch doors, and hundreds of viewports, and other innumerable details, but every single surface you see has been painted. The exceptions to this being the parts that glow- warp engine grilles, Bussard collectors, Impulse Engines, and Nav Deflector. In a word: amazing! That being said, one major detail that was omitted- and a lot of people (including myself) have complained about- was that none of the viewports on the front/sides of the neck were included. While panel lining was stamped on, it is not nearly that stark on any other Ent-D replica, model, or even in the series itself. Now, DST did correct this problem with their release of the same-scale upgrade version of the ship seen in the series-finale episode, “All Good Things…”, but the problem there was that it was mostly covered up by some of the hull changes that occurred with that alternate-future timeline version of the ship. (Additionally, some online fan sites have produced unauthorized custom-made decals that you can apply to the neck of this set to correct the problem if you wish.)
Speaking of detailing, there are two words that make any Trekkie go absolutely weak in the knees when they think about starship replicas relating to any Enterprise: “Aztec pattern”. What is this? When the refit-Enterprise debuted in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979), one of the ways that director Robert Wise and the special-effects team made the ship look “realistic” was to add a vague layer of patterned lines across the entire hull to replicate the seams between hull panels during construction. (After all, these ships aren’t built in one piece!) These lines and patches were referred to during the filming model’s construction as the “Aztec pattern”, and the name stuck. Since then, every single Starfleet ship has had some type of construction-panel hull layer added to it. To do so takes an enormous amount of work, even with the advent of CGI, but it is one of those many sick little details that Trekkies crave and lends just that much credibility to the science-fiction aspect of the franchise. Ladies and gentlemen: this set has the Aztec pattern! To differentiate it visually on this set from the deflector shield grid (which is a whole other animal), the Aztec lines have been raised rather than carved into the plastic or painted on. While not visible unless under close scrutiny, even having the pattern present is just that much more jaw-dropping!
Something else that the Playmates Toys’ replicas never attempted was the saucer separation; a feature usually reserved only for models that required assembly. Now, not only can a big representation of the ship separate easily (I doubt the magnets will weaken much… unless you drop it, in which case the whole thing will break), but the Saucer Section carries its own independent power source for lights and sound, AND the replica is ‘smart’ enough to know when it’s separated or not! Now, this comes at two separate prices, both of which are also common complaints from collectors. The first is the single white LED inside the Bridge dome is sooooo bright that it even leaks through the painted plastic! The other, which is more common among some of DST’s other audible Star Trek products, is that, even though the voice and sound effects are all genuine copies to the TV series, they play at either too high a pitch or too slow. (The consensus among customers seems to uncover two distinct versions: high-pitched, or plays too slow. Mine happens to be the higher-pitched one…) For the most part, I can ignore the pitch of the sound effects, but that LED under the bridge is just ridiculous. (You’d think there was a method DST could use to turn down the intensity of the LED bulbs during manufacturing…)
As to the selection of audio clips, I think they are fine, but I kind of miss the multi-button approach Playmates Toys used in their first version of the ship. While having no less than 17 sound-effects taken directly from the series is awesome, I kind of wish I had a little more choice is which one played next instead of being limited by having just one button. Oh, well.
I really liked the compacted display stand- having one stacked inside the other is simply brilliant. I do wonder, though, how long the friction in those ball-and-socket joints will last to keep the combined vessel upright…
I actually wrote out a really long conclusion about nostalgia begging me to get this replica, but I decided maybe I’ve said enough. I give my highest recommendations for this set! The Starship Legends U.S.S. Enterprise-D is a beautiful centerpiece to any sci-fi collector’s shelves, and will make any Trekkie drool on the spot. Just… don’t give it to any kids, and don’t drop it, okay?
|Posted 14 December, 2010 - 02:45 by EVA_Unit_4A|