As I mentioned last Saturday, the fine folks at Diamond Select have taken pity on those of us who missed out on their Starship Legends line by reissuing the ships with some minor tweaks and refreshed packaging. I was quick to jump on board and pre-order the “Wrath of Khan” Enterprise and the “Next Gen” Enterprise-D. I’ve got a little while to wait on WoK Enterprise, but 1701-D showed up at my door this week in a giant slab of a shipping box. I’ve been jonesing after this thing for a long while now, so I couldn’t wait to get her inside and open her up. This is a big ship, there’s a lot to talk about, and there will be some bumps along the way, so sit tight and engage your inertial dampeners…
The huge window box is actually not quite as big as the Bird of Prey’s package, but it is deeper. It’s the same style of blue cloudy star field deco only this time you get a shot of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, with arms crossed, staring out approvingly at you, as if to say, “Well done on buying this ship.” That makes me happy. After all, deep down don’t we all really just want approval from Captain Picard? The Star Trek logo is in “The Original Series” font with “The Next Generation” below it. Wait… they can’t do that… can they? I’ll confess the mixing of the two generations looks weird, like it’s a knock off package or something. The front panel of the box is cut out to show the bulk of the ship, while still hiding the two pieces of shit stands in the lower right corner. There’s a “Try Me” hole in the window so little bastards can run down the batteries when they see it at their local comic shop. The back panel of the box shows a shot of the model with a couple of paragraphs on the series and the ship. It also seems to take great pleasure in chronicling the fact that the mightiest ship in the Starfleet, the Flagship, was destroyed by a small rogue Bird of Prey after Picard gave Riker the keys and Troi crashed it into a planet. Cue Picard Facepalm.
The ship is packaged fully assembled. You just have to clip the wire ties to get it off the tray, and that’s where the fun starts. I honestly didn’t expect to have anything bad to say about this thing, and yet we’re going to start off with one major annoyance. As expected, the ship comes packaged in “Try Me” mode and to get the full effect of the electronics you need to switch it over to “Play Mode.” Unfortunately, the switch is inside the battery compartment on the bottom of the Star Drive section. Some may argue that’s a good thing because the ship doesn’t have a switch exposed on it anywhere, but it didn’t bother me so much with the Bird of Prey. Anyway, this situation sent me scrambling throughout the house to find one of my tiny screwdrivers, which by now I should keep in a very prominent place, but I can never remember where I left it. After about ten minutes of swearing under my breath and rummaging through every junk drawer and catch-all I have in the house, I got my hands on it only to find that I couldn’t budge the screw. Diamond obviously used some kind of self-sealing stembolt (Right? Get it?) to secure the hatch down. I went back to searching until I turned up a pair of vice grips so I could get enough torque and break the seal on the screw. After that it was easy. I also noticed the super shit batteries they put in here, so I’m going to have to go get a couple of packs of the best AAA batteries I can find for the Enterprise and Bird of Prey so they don’t shit battery goo all over the inside of my precious ships. But wait! We’re not done yet! You also need to take off a second battery cover on the top of the Saucer Section right over the main Shuttle Bay and flip a switch under it in order to get the Saucer Separation SFX to work. Yes, the Enterprise is also powered by three additional button batteries in the Saucer. This cover is slid back by inserting a thin implement into a notch and pushing back. It’s a jarring ordeal because I had to apply just a bit more force than I was comfortable with. Keep in mind, as annoying as this all was, it’s just something to deal with during the initial unboxing and not something that’s going to really spoil the enjoyment of the model once you’ve done it. Ok, now that I’ve put everybody to sleep with exciting battery talk, let’s look at the ship.
I was expecting a lot of detail, but I’ll confess the finished sculpt still exceeds my expectations. The Enterprise-D has a lot of surface space, and every bit of it is covered with panel lines. I mean, damn, you can practically see every single plate of tritanium-duranium alloy that went into the hull’s construction. The Escape Pod hatches are sculpted, the ridges on the Shuttle Bay doors, even the little docking hatches on the sides of the Torpedo Bay launchers. If Art Asylum left any details out, I sure as hell can’t find them. There is a little more assembly seaming on this ship than was evident on the Bird of Prey. It’s mostly noticeable along the aft edges of the ship and where the back of the neck meets the front two pieces. They aren’t terrible, but worth mentioning.
The paintwork compliments the sculpted detail wonderfully. Every window is painted onto the ship’s skin from the random windows of crew quarters to the line of panels that runs across the wall of the Conference Room and even the viewports of Ten Forward. The Escape Pod hatches are painted tan and you’ve got a darker grey on the Shuttle Bay doors and the Phaser Array strips. The lettering is all crisp and hugs the hull better than what I remember seeing in the test shots. Of all the tiny details, I think the one that impresses me the most are the tiny scoring lines that run along the perimeter of all the Phaser Arrays. Holy shit that’s cool!
The Saucer Section is secured to the Star Drive Section with some of the most insanely powerful magnets I think I’ve ever seen in a toy. Separating the ship is as easy as pulling them apart. When you go to connect them up again, the magnets will aggressively grab at each other and do the rest. Connecting and reconnecting the two sections give you a sound and light show, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. Obviously reconnecting the two halves of the ship will lead to rubbing on the surface so I’ll probably avoid doing it to excess. I’ll point out here that Diamond stamped a bunch of large type copyright information inside the area where the Saucer Section connects to the neck. It’s annoying and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there on the original release.
The Enterprise comes with two display stands and they are the biggest pieces of shit I’ve ever seen. They’re basically the same style of thin, opaque plastic pieces as the one that came with the Bird of Prey, only these feature the ball joint under the connection points and are sculpted with the Starfleet “Comm Badge” style insignia. They look cheap, but that’s not the problem I have with them. While the Bird of Prey used a fixed connection that works perfectly, these stands use ball joints and they work well until you manipulate them a couple of times and then they fail miserably. The ball joint just can’t handle the weird weight displacement of the ship and it constantly wants to drop the ship forward onto the Saucer Section. They will work fine if you want to pose the ship in an upward climb, but forget about getting it displayed parallel to the surface its standing on. You see those two side shots of the ship? Well, the stands won’t do that anymore. Hey guys, what the hell is the point of a poseable ball joint if it can only hold the ship in one position??? I’ve tried gumming it up with blue tack, which didn’t work. I may try some nail polish next.
So two stands? Yes, The complete Enterprise displays on either stand by plugging it into the hole closest to the Deflector Dish. You can also display the Enterprise separated by plugging the smaller stand into the middle hole of the Star Drive section and using the larger stand for the Saucer Section. While I doubt I’ll ever display the ship separated, it’s very cool to have this option. The instructions show a plug that can be put into the hole of the Saucer Section to cover it up when you are displaying the ship as one piece. It’s a great idea, but sadly no such plug was included in my box.
Ok, let’s talk electronics and we’ll start with the lights. By pressing and holding the concealed button just below the main Impulse Engine on the Star Drive section, you can put all the lights into “Display Mode” and they’ll stay lit until you press it again. You get red LEDs in all three Impulse Engines and the front of both Warp Nacelles. Blue LEDs light up in the front Deflector Dish and in the strips around the Warp Nacelles. The lights are all bright and gorgeous, particularly the fronts of the Nacelles. There’s one more light, a white Bridge light on the top of the Saucer Sections dome. Alas, this one bleeds through the paint and plastic around it quite a bit. I can sort of convince myself that the light bleeding through is just the light reflecting off the hull. Yeah… sort of.
The sound effects and voice clips aren’t quite as loud and clear as the Bird of Prey’s SFX, but they’re still pretty good. The sounds and voice are activated by pressing the top dome of the Saucer Section and the lights will come on when the sound is activated. One thing I do not like at all is the way the blue Nacelle lights blink to match the speech or sound effect. It’s just like the lights on the top of a Dalek when it talks. What is the point of this, Diamond? WHY? At least all the lights don’t do it. The sounds and voice clips play in the same order and if you hold the button down it’ll run through everything in one long sequence. All of the voice clips are from Captain Picard himself. Here’s what you get…
- “Open a hailing frequency. This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard.”
- “Energize.” [Transporter SFX]
- “Scan for life forms.”
- “Shields up! Red Alert!” [Red Alert SFX]
- [Phaser Alarm. Phasers Firing.]
- “Make it so.”
- [Warp Drive Engaging]
- “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.” [Replicator SFX]
- “Dispersal pattern Sierra and fire!” [Torpedoes SFX]
- “Transferring command to the battle bridge.”
- [Impulse Flyby]
- “Continual fire, all phasers!” [Phaser Alarm. Phasers Firing]
- “Damage report!”
- “Warp 9, Engage!” [Warp SFX]
- “Let’s make sure history never forgets the name… Enterprise!”
I could have done without the Earl Grey quote, but I adore the way the sequence ends with Picard’s memorable battle cry from “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” The weapon sequences are so awesome that I really wish there was a way to select them specifically to avoid the following scenario: “Hey, wanna hear the Enterprise-D kick some ass?” “Sure!” “Ok, here we go.” [pushes button] “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot!” “Oh…”
Separating the Saucer section plays, “Prepare for emergency saucer sep” and engages the lights and sounds. Reconnecting plays the sound of the moorings locking down. Very cool!
If it sounds like I’m nitpicking the Enterprise more than I did the Bird of Prey, well that’s because I probably am. The Bird of Prey didn’t have as many issues. Besides, this is the goddamn Enterprise after all and I’m going to hold it to higher standards. My issues with some of the electronic SFX are fairly minor and in one case (the lights flashing in time to the voice) just a matter of personal preference. The stands, however, are just poorly executed and considering this is the second time this ship has been released, they should have been fixed. I’d much rather have a stand that gave me less display options but actually worked well. I would even have been willing to pay a little extra for a ratcheting stand. In terms of the ship itself, however, well it’s absolutely gorgeous. I love it so much that even with all the other hiccups, I’m still so very glad that I finally own it. When you consider what the old Playmates Enterprise-D goes for these days, picking up this Diamond version is a no-brainer. At $70 shipped, it’s just worth every penny, horrible stands and all! Now if only I can find a place to display it so I don’t have to put it back in the box.
And that’s going to wrap me up for this week. Tomorrow is my day of rest and I’ll actually be continuing to clean out and organize one of my bottomless toy closets. Next week is going to be a complete run of some of the stuff I find so it should be an interesting mish-mash of who knows what!