Just a head’s up, peeps, Wednesdays are going to be all about Star Trek for the next few months. If you don’t share my borderline obsession with this franchise then I’m so, so sorry. And I don’t just mean because you’ll be bored here on Wednesdays, but because you’re missing out on a rich and wonderful universe. I’ve got a lot of figures to get through, from various scales and series, but before that I’m kicking things off with a look at a Starship that I have wanted on my shelf for a long, long time. Diamond’s Starship Legends line and me have had our share of ups and downs together. From the dismally disappointing “Wrath of Khan” Enterprise reissue to the works of art that are the Enterprise-D and Bird of Prey, this is a line that I want to collect like crazy, but I’ve been burned and so I approach it cautiously. Today’s purchase is only my fourth ship in the series, but my overwhelming excitement at finally owning the NX-2000 had me throw caution to the wind and buy this baby as soon as it was available. My friends… The Great Experiment… Excelsior!
The box is right in line with releases over the past couple of years. It’s a blue box with the Classic Star Trek logo. The front and top panels has a window so you can see a good piece of the dorsal section of the ship and there’s a cut out with a “Try Me” button that repeats a single phrase and gives you a little taste of the lights. Excelsior arrives all in one piece, with no assembly required. All you have to do is pop the stand together, plug the ship onto it, and your good to go. I can still remember seeing Star Trek III in the theaters and my reaction to seeing The Excelsior. It was amazing to see a brand new Starship design and one that looked so much more futuristic than The Enterprise. The Constitution Class Refit will always be my first love when it comes to Federation ship design, but there’s something about The Excelsior that looks totally badass. The Constitution Refit is every bit the noble explorer, whereas The Excelsior resembles nothing less than a streamlined battleship. I always squee’d a little whenever this class ship made a cameo on The Next Generation and it’s fun to scrutinize the design and see how it influenced the design of the Galaxy Class Starship. Diamond has already had the Star Trek VI version of this ship (NCC-2000) out for a little while now, but I was holding out for her original appearance. Not only for the pre-commission registration number on the hull, but more importantly for the sound clips!
The back of the box features a pretty big inaccuracy in that it shows the Star Trek VI version of the ship rather then the one in the box. Hell, it even lists it as the NCC version on the top, The biggest visible differences are the registry markings and the nacelles, which light up on the NCC version, but not on this one. I’d cry foul at this, but considering the ship comes in a window box, it should be pretty obvious as to what you are actually getting. There are quite a few other differences between the two ships, and since I’ll probably be picking up the NCC version eventually, you can stay tuned for the inevitable comparison feature!
Straightaway, I’ll just say that this is one gorgeously executed ship. It only took a few moments of inspecting it to recognize that this is one of DST’s good ones, with hardly any major QC issues to speak of. It’s kind of sad when I have to start out by pointing that out. It should be a given when buying a $50 collectible model, but as I’ve already pointed out, Starship Legends is a line of highs and lows and DST’s QC is not always where it needs to be. Anyway, the sculpt here captures the unique profile of the Excelsior splendidly and at about 18″ long, this is a beast of a ship, that really tested the limits of my toy-shooting area. The warp nacelles are beautifully aligned and even the way the ship is assembled excludes the possibility of those unsightly gaps that were apparent in my WoK Enterprise. I also really dig the coloring on this piece. The official pics show the ship with a crazy blue tint and mint green accents, but in hand, the coloring is spot on perfect and the details are applied with care. Let’s start off with a closer look at the saucer…
The hull doesn’t have the same hyper-detailed sculpted aztec pattern as the Enterprise, but I don’t think the screen version did either. As a result, you get some deep cut panel lines and concentric circles radiating out from the bridge and an overall cleaner look. The blue and grey patterns that form a horseshoe around the bridge look great as does the neatly printed NX-2000 and U.S.S. EXCELSIOR on the top of the saucer. The last four letters of Excelsior are a little off of alignment, but I’m really nitpicking there. The windows are mostly just painted on, but look fine.
You get a similar layout on the bottom of the ship. There’s a ring running around this side of the saucer with a complex blue pattern. It’s here where the only real paint flubs can be seen. The pattern looks a little smeared on the left hand side. Yeah, I’d rather the ship be perfect, but if this is the worst there is, I’m really OK with that. Everything else looks sharp and beautiful!
The ribbed neck features the two photon torpedo tubes on the front and the recessed deflector dish that is thankfully cast in clear plastic features just a blue ring around it. You can also see the ship’s only other QC problem and that’s a little scarring to the hull right above the deflector dish. I’m just chalking this up to battle damage, even though it was a brand new ship.
The detailing on the sides of the hull are all printed and that includes both the “racing” stripes and the windows. The blue ring around the top of the hull and the blue panels at the bottom look great. There are some notable screw caps on either side of the deflector dish, which are rather obvious, but still better than having to look at exposed screws. You also get the lower secondary torpedo tubes just in front of the Starfleet emblems and “racing stripes” just as a reminder that this thing was built to handle itself in a fight.
Diamond did a beautiful job printing the patterns onto the dorsal section of the secondary hull. It all looks really crisp!
The nacelles look absolutely gorgeous and the alignment is great. I’ll also take this time to point out the debate over where the Shuttle Bay is actually located on the Excelsior. I always assumed it was the recessed cavity under the secondary hull, but the silver segmented area on the tail of the ship sure look like they could be bay doors. It wasn’t until recently that I heard the theory that the recessed cavity under the secondary hull is where the original failed Transwarp Drive might have been situated and has since been removed from subsequent Excelsior Class ships. In my research, I have found images of the Main System Display indicating the Shuttle Bay is indeed recessed under the ship, and that’s good enough for me.
Moving on to electronics! The ship comes with batteries installed so all you have to do is switch it from trial mode to regular mode. Let’s start with the lights. Excelsior has four light points: The dome on the impulse drive lights up blue, the half-dome near the rear of the ship lights up blue, the deflector dish lights up blue, and the two impulse engines light up red. All the lights here are crazy bright LEDs that are quite visible even in a well lit studio environment. They also burn my eyes if I stare at them for more than a second or two. Impressively enough, there’s almost no light bleed through the plastic to speak of. If you want to just enjoy the light show you can hold down the bridge button for a second or two and they will all come on until you press it again. On the other hand, if you want to hear the SFX too, you can just keep pressing the bridge button to cycle through them all. That goes something like this…
Yes, a big reason as to why I wanted this version of the ship was so that I could get the voice clips of Starfleet’s biggest douchebag, Captain Styles, who seemed way too eager to take Kirk down a peg. The selection of clips is great, but there are two missing that I really wish had been included: “Kirk, you do this and you’ll never sit in the captain’s chair again.” and “If he thinks he can get away with Warp Drive, he’s really in for a surprise.” I also wouldn’t have minded a clip of Kirk referring to the ship as The Great Experiment. But what’s here is still fantastic, and the entire sequence with the engine’s failing (complete with flashing lights) makes up for anything that’s missing.
I should also point out that while the stands in this series have been worthy of much scorn, this ship’s stand is actually somewhat improved. Rather than relying on just one side of a triangle to support the model, it now features two, which adds a bit of stability and doesn’t look nearly as cheap. There’s a cylinder that plugs into the bottom of the ship, which then plugs into a ball joint and while I’ve had mixed results with this set up on previous ships, between cracking and just being loose, the system seems to work just fine here. Also, the base is sculpted to resemble the Starfleet insignia worn in the movie.
It’s a shame that buying these ships has to always feel like such a gamble, but in this case it’s one that paid off. I would easily rank this release up with the best of the Starship Legends line, including the Enterprise-D and Bird of Prey. In fact, my satisfaction with this ship will probably have me gunning for another one soon, but I have yet to decide on which one. Still, with all that having been said, at fifty bucks, this is pretty expensive for what you get, especially when you consider that the QC can be wildly inconsistent. On the other hand, Star Trek toys are pretty slim pickings these days and I’m mighty proud to finally be able to put this great ship from Star Trek III on my desk.