It’s Wednesday, it’s been a tough week for me so far. So how about I pour a drink and we take a day to enjoy some Starship Porn! I’ve gassed on a plenty about my love for the Excelsior Class Starship. For more of that you can look back at my review of Diamond’s Starship Legends NX-2000. Suffice it to say, as a kid I was blown away by the reveal of The Excelsior in Star Trek III. You have to realize that before The Next Generation, we only got hints and illustrations about Starfleet’s other Starship Classes. The Reliant in Star Trek II was pretty much it, and that one borrowed heavily from the Constitution Class Refit’s design elements. The Excelsior was so new and so fresh and yet still so Star Trek. It was never going to replace that PERFECT Connie Refit in my eyes, but it was still pretty damn cool. We saw it numerous times in the spin-off series, and it finally got its true moment to shine in Star Trek VI under the command of Hikaru Sulu.
And it is indeed the NCC-2000 from Star Trek VI that Eaglemoss decided to base this model on. Yeah, I would have preferred the NX, but that’s fine. This release is part of the special XL releases, which means this ship measures about ten inches long, making it about twice the size of Eaglemoss’ regular ship releases. It’s constructed of both plastic and die-cast metal giving it a nice heft. The model comes in a fully enclosed box with the ship nestled between two bricks of Styrofoam. There’s no assembly required, other than putting it on its stand, so let’s get this beauty out of Space Dock and give her a shakedown cruise.
I consider myself to be fairly familiar with this design, having lusted after it in books and various other models, and I’m immediately impressed with what we got here. The design lacks that certain noble poetry of the Constitution Refit and instead strikes me as being more technical in her angled struts and diminished profile. It’s a design from the future’s future, intended to look more advanced than the Connie and it does indeed. But that doesn’t make it prettier in my mind. Sleek? Yes. Prettier? No. But who’s to say I can’t love both ships, eh? As with the Enterprise XL model, the Excelsior features a die-cast saucer, which does make it a bit front-heavy, but it also makes it feel like a quality piece. The plastic warp nacelles are a little bit springy on their struts, but they are straight, parallel and look great.
The nacelles on this version got a bit of a redesign from the NX version, possibly from when they scrapped the Transwarp Drive, and they now have flared platforms at the ends. The vanes that bisect the nacelles, as well as the top cut-outs, are cast in a translucent blue plastic, which can catch the light rather nicely at times. The Deflector Dish is also cast in the same plastic, and while it’s a little harder to get it to catch the light because it’s recessed under the hull, it’s still capable of some nice light reflection.
I remember being very impressed by the aztec patterns on the XL Enterprise, and you get more of the same here. The Excelsior’s pattern is a little less subtle, but I think that’s in line with the screen appearance. You get some nice paintwork around the platform that connects the bridge to the Impulse Engines, including some blue-gray panels and the rather Egyptian-looking gold striping that makes up the horseshoe around this platform. The top surface of the Secondary Hull is painted gray with some additional applications around the vents on the connecting struts. The ventral section shows more blue-gray paint and a lot more of the rather busy aztec patterns.
The saucer features deep cut panel lines and a down-slope to the edges, with concentric rings painted in blue along the slope. Six thrusters are placed around the edge, each one outlined in red and painted yellow, and we get a similar deco for the five sets of phaser banks placed around the horseshoe. The ship’s name and registry is printed with crisp lettering and framed by a pair of red stripes that circle back to the rear of the saucer. The saucer’s undercarriage reveals more of the same, only with a wide blue circle about three-quarters of the way in from the edge and the emergency landing gear panels also painted blue. Finally, the cluster around the Lower Navigational Dome is really pronounced on this ship and that’s reflected on this model.
The sides of the Secondary Hull features the lettering “Starship U.S.S. Excelsior” and “United Federation of Planets” along with the delta and a set of racing stripes. The stout neck connecting the Primary and Secondary Hull is black and segmented and includes the two recessed Photon Torpedo tubes.
From the aft view, we can see the compartment in the Secondary Hull. I’ve seen so many back-and-forth discussions over what this thing is. Personally, I always assumed it was a Shuttle Bay, but I’ve also heard that in the NX version it was supposed to house the Transwarp Drive. Perhaps, it was repurposed for the Shuttle Bay after the ship underwent changes after being commissioned. Most blueprints I’ve looked at seem to suggest this to be the case. Either way it’s one of those rather distinctive features of this ship’s design.
The model includes a display stand, which does a fine job of holding the ship without obstructing too much of it from view. The base is made of die-cast metal and it has a felt bottom. so there’s no worries about it toppling over. Clear plastic arms grab the ship from the back of the saucer to suspend it. It’s designed very well in allowing the ship to be picked up and put back without a fuss. My only worry is that the friction will cause some paint wear over time if the ship is removed and replaced from the stand too many times.
As I’m sure I mentioned last time, I wasn’t immediately sold on these XL models when I first saw them advertised. At about $75 a pop for a model with no lights or electronics of any kind made me wonder how much value I was getting for my money. But after getting a ship like this in hand, it’s easy to see where that money goes. It may not have the flashy lights or voice clips and sound effects of Diamond’s ships, but these are still superior in every possible way. The size of the ship is just big enough to allow for the kind of detail I’m looking for, yet small enough that I can display several of these in the space required for just one of the DST Starship Legends. The attention to detail is fantastic, the paint work and printed lettering is excellent, and it just feels so satisfying to hold in my hand and maybe even woosh around the room a bit. But I suppose the best endorsement I can give is that while the Excelsior here was only my second XL Starship, but I’ve picked up at least half a dozen since then. And I’m excited about sharing each and every one of them here in the future!