Monday, January 19, 2015

Toy Review – Star Trek Starship Legends USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D from Diamond Select Toys

The Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation is 642.5 meters long. That’s crazy. It’s friggin’ huge. That’s over twice as long as the original Enterprise.

Let me put this in layman’s terms for you:

If you had a stick that was a meter long, you’d need six hundred and forty one more of them, plus another one that was half a meter long, to run your sticks the length of the Enterprise. And good luck laying sticks down in a straight line in outer space.

Side Note: I stole that whole concept from a Dennis Miller bit where he explained the national debt.

I am still in the midst of my TNG re-watching/catch-up on Netflix; about halfway through the sixth season. I just finished “The Face of the Enemy”, which was really good. Overall I feel like there have been more good episodes than bad, and most of the bad ones involve Alexander or the Holodeck.

I think the badness of episodes that revolve around Worf’s asshole kid is self-explanatory. I think I don’t care for Holodeck episodes because I feel like if you want to tell a story that takes place in 1930s New York, maybe you go and write it for another show. Also, it’s not like “The City on the Edge of Forever”, where the original crew actually went to 1930s New York and there were stakes. This is fake New York, where nothing that happens matters.
And yeah – I know that these are all about character development and exploring different themes and blah, blah, blah. I’m just trying to nail down the reason that most Holodeck episodes annoy me.

But that’s really neither here nor there, because the Holodeck has nothing to do with today’s review, which is of one of the things from Diamond Select Toys that’s too nice to be a toy but too fun to be a model and too affordable to be a replica.

DST’s Starship Legends line has been going strong since 2002, with the initial release of the Enterprise NX-01 from Enterprise. The first one I purchased was the Wrath of Khan Enterprise and I was very impressed by the features and the materials used. The same goes for the next one, the Klingon Bird of Prey. They’re beautiful, highly detailed pieces that are worth every penny of the price.

The Starship Legends series has, so far, seen the release of every major iteration of the Enterprise as well as a few other vessels. Out of what’s currently available I most want the First Contact Enterprise. As far as what has yet to be made, I (and likely most other collectors) and anticipating the USS Reliant. I can’t imagine there’s a much higher profile non-Enterprise ship than that. Not in Starfleet’s fleet, anyway.

Due to its size and features, the TNG Enterprise was a little pricier than other releases. I had the barest moment of hesitation when ordering it and if I hadn’t been in the thick of my Netflix binge I might have balked a bit more. But my level of TNG fever made this a must-have.

It was first released in 2009 and was reissued in 2013. I have a great deal of admiration for the fact that DST keeps these in circulation according to demand rather than letting snipers profit hundreds of dollars per unit. I’d pay good money to see the look on some dirtbag scalper’s face when he sees that DST is reissuing some item that he’s sitting on dozens of. 
 
First Glance

Each of the Starship Legends comes in a neat cut-out window box. They look nice in the box, but are beautiful once you get them out. This Enterprise is no exception. Not only can you see all of the detail much more clearly once its unboxed, the sheer size of the thing is much more apparent. 
 
You might notice that the box pictures aren’t on my usual purple starfield. That’s because my son and I couldn’t wait to open it up and check it out. 
 
Packaging

It’s so simple, but the idea to cut the window of the box in the shape of the starship inside was ingenious. It gives the box itself a lot more character than a square window or a flap, and it also highlights the starship inside. It feels like they want to show off the product.

There is a well-written bio on the back that covers not only this Enterprise, but the history of the franchise. 
 
Looks

Aside from the Starfleet markings and the little black lines – are those windows, or what? - every bit of detail on this vessel is sculpted; every port, panel, and protrusion.

The plastic is rigid and durable. I’m not saying this thing would survive a drop from six feet to concrete, but it feels sturdier than a lot of toys I’ve bought in the past couple of years. The translucent portions on the nacelles also seem a little tougher than that sort of plastic tends to be. Over the years I’ve seen so many parts like that end up cracked from being tapped or hit just the wrong way. These pieces don’t feel that brittle to me. Time will tell, I suppose.

Obviously the proportions of this starship are correct in relation to itself, though it is not in scale with the other Starship Legends. It would have cost three times as much if it had been. While I do love proper scaling within a line, I understand limitations. I’m perfectly happy with a Millennium Falcon that’s only a little longer than my X-Wings because I don’t want a Corellian freighter the size of my couch. The same applies to this Star Trek line. Plus, if you looks at the media the replica ships that tend to be sitting around in offices and whatnot tend to be same-sized rather than scaled.

All of the lines are well defined and clean. Once you get up close it’s really staggering how much is going on with this sculpt. The base color doesn’t highlight the fine details, but they’re really impressive:

DST went to great lengths to create something that really feels true to the Enterprise. I particularly like the depth of the ridge that runs around the outside perimeter of the saucer and the secondary hull. It could have just been paint, but it’s a nice trench. It gives the profile a lot more character. It’s also present on the connection point for the saucer section.
The paint is applied precisely across the whole vessel. All of the markings and panels and whatever else got an app are so clean and well-placed it’s incredible. It’s such a well done deco that I can’t even picture there being slop or an off-center app.

The one issue I have with this Enterprise is the paint on the main deflector dish array. It looks perfectly fine with the lighting off, but once you activate the lights some minor spots become apparent. It’s not a big deal and it doesn’t bother me too much. It only stood out because the rest of the ship is so flawless. 
 
Accessories

The Enterprise comes with two stands – a short one and a taller one. They’re molded from rigid black plastic with enough give to not scare you when you’re assembling them. The bases are Starfleet Insignia, which is common throughout the line. The point of attachment is a peg mounted on a ball joint so that the ship can be angled.

Either stand can be used in any of the three peg holes on the ship – two on the secondary hull and one on the saucer section. 
 
Fun

For a big piece of plastic shaped like a stove element, this thing is a lot of fun.

There are seven light-up elements on the ship. They don’t provide enough illumination to photograph in the dark (not for an amateur like me, anyway), but they are bright and look nice. There is a button on the top of the secondary hull to activate the lights which, if pressed all the way, will leave them on. The button on top of the saucer section also activates the lights, but in concordance with the sound.

There are several different sounds, each sampled from the show. Here’s a video:


They sound okay in the video, but great in person. I like the selection and I feel like they hit all the major points you might consider essential. You can press the button once to hear one selection or hold it down to hear them all in one shot.

And, as you saw, the saucer section separates from the secondary hull. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to discover this. I didn’t know it when I bought this and it was a thrill to realize there was a clear seam there and then to pull the saucer off. It was an even bigger thrill to realize that the saucer is held in place by powerful magnets (how do they work?), thusly eliminating other more unsightly means of attachment. Pegs or latches could have made the connecting portion of the secondary hull so ugly that it wouldn’t be worth displaying. I can totally imagine just never taking the saucer off due to poorly engineered connection points. But DST were ingenious and devised a method that minimized anything that might mar the sleek looks of the Enterprise D. The only things there are the electrical connectors that power the lights on the saucer.

This starship is so much fun. I have to pick it up every time I see it. Whether it’s to activate the lights or sounds, pull the saucer off, or just fly it around for a second. This is a fantastic toy. And durable enough that I’d let my seven year old son play with it unsupervised (not his friends, though).

Overall

Since I opened the box I have spent more time looking at and playing with this starship than any toy since 2013’s Castle Grayskull. It’s a gorgeous recreation of an icon of my youth. If you have any love for Star Trek: The Next Generation, you owe it to yourself to hunt down this excellent DST release.

5 out of 5

I feel like I’ve been doling out too many perfect scores lately. Maybe it’s my optimistic outlook and general good mood about 2015. Maybe there have just been some darn good toys coming out. Either way I think I need to make a conscious effort to review something questionable soon.

In the meantime, why not treat yourself to an Enterprise and treat Needless Things to a little payola?:





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