Eaglemoss is a UK partworks publisher, partworks being a periodical publication that’s distributed with some kind of included goodies with each issue. Among other things, Eaglemoss publishes “figurine” partworks based on Doctor Who and The Walking Dead, but for Star Trek, they latched onto a truly under-represented cast of characters: the ships of Starfleet and numerous other fleets patrolling deep space.
The ships, almost always made of die-cast metal, aren’t cheap – two of them are shipped each month at a cost of $20 each – each included with a magazine detailing both the in-universe and real-life production histories of each design. In many cases, especially with vehicles from Enterprise and the recent reboot movies, this is the first time that these ships have been made available in any kind of physical form.
A handful of times each year, the schedule is punctuated by a Special Edition vehicle, produced at a larger scale than the typical monthly fare. Here’s a little secret: there is just no way I can divert $40 per month to little spaceships. But one or two times a year, I might be able to spring for one of the Special Editions.
And that’s the case here with the NX-01 Refit, a vehicle whose status in the Star Trek universe lies somewhere between “officially canonized” and “not really officially canonized”. The image of this radical reinvention of the NX-01 Enterprise has been seen by fans for years, dating back to one of the (more-or-less official) Ships Of The Line calendars, and later picked up by book covers for novels extending the story of Captain Jonathan Archer’s Enterprise beyond the show’s truncated four-season run.
What’s so radical about it? The NX-01 Refit sports a new engineering section, with its own larger deflector dish, extending the graceful lines of its warp engine struts into something that looks like the midway point between Archer’s ship and the Constitution-class Enterprise of the original series.
It’s a beautiful addition, and the accompanying magazine reveals that the ship’s designers had always had this extension in mind, since the flexibility of CGI meant that the show was not beholden to a pre-built library of stock effects shows, as every prior Star Trek series had been. The NX-01 could even – gasp! – show signs of damage from one episode to the next, whereas prior Trek series had to hit the reset button, leaving the ship looking the same at the end of an episode as it appeared in the beginning. Blow up Deep Space Nine’s Defiant? Don’t worry, there’ll be another Defiant ready in a couple of weeks, with the same registry number, not even suffixed with an -A, because we can’t afford to not use the shots we already have in the can.
Fans can take issue with Enterprise all they like; in various places and in several ways, the show is both better and worse than it’s generally remembered. This is a physical artifact of what we might have seen in the fifth season: a beefed-up Enterprise, ready to sail into battle against a Romulan Empire that’s no longer too shy to show its hand.
As great as the model looks on my shelf, it’s a pity we didn’t get to see it on screen. With its die-cast construction, it’s got some real heft; the stand is weighted as well, so there’s no overbalancing to worry about once the ship is mounted in its stand.
A word of warning – just because you see the words “die-cast metal” doesn’t mean that this vehicle can be crash-landed like my old partially-metal Kenner Millenium Falcon. The components are weighty, but their assembly is on the delicate side – this ship is meant to remain docked to its support stand.
Though it’s perfectly permissible to fly it around the room a few times, carefully. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.