The Las Vegas Star Trek convention continues here for another day, which means we’ve got even more Trek news to share out of the biggest event of the year!
Our friend Ben Robinson, captain of the Eaglemoss Official Starships Collection model line, hosted his yearly panel on the fan-favorite starship fleet at STLV today where he revealed a number of new details on plans for the ongoing collection… including some new announcements on the highly-anticipated Star Trek: Discovery vessels!
We caught up with Ben to talk about his plans for Discovery, the Kelvin Timeline, and the continuing voyages of the Official Starships Collection as we look ahead to 2018.
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TREKCORE: What’s new to discover in Star Trek model starships, Ben?
BEN ROBINSON: Well, we’re announcing today the Star Trek: Discovery ships – we’ll be doing one a month; the idea is that they’ll start [for subscribers] in the first quarter of next year. They’ll be larger than the first series; more of a specialty size, 7 to 8 inches like the [current] specials, to try and keep the prices under control.
There will be more than enough ships to get us through  until, we hope, there is a second season. I’m not sure if I can say how many ships there are, but there are a LOT of ships in Discovery.
TREKCORE: Just from the trailers, there’s easily five or six ships we’ve already seen.
ROBINSON: Well we know now there’s a war – that involves a lot of ships, on both sides.
TREKCORE: But the main hero ships – the Shenzhou and Discovery – are in your plans?
ROBINSON: Mm-hmm. [Nods]
TREKCORE: What about some of the other ones featured, like the Europa or the Torchbearer ships?
ROBINSON: I don’t know exactly which ships we’ll be able to do yet, as [the VFX team] is still finalizing – but we’re getting a lot of cooperation and excellent reference [files].
We’ve already made the physical tooling for the Shenzhou and Discovery models, but the final paint and textures are still being tweaked. We’re hoping that if all goes smoothly, we may be able to start producing those ones before Christmas, and then the whole subscription itself will start around the time comes back for the second half of the season.
TREKCORE: So, like a January timeframe.
ROBINSON: Yeah, there are a lot of logistical things that have to be overcome, and we want to make sure that it’s a continuous one-a-month [release schedule]. But we need to wait a little bit to get the stuff before we know that we can achieve that.
TREKCORE: So the Star Trek: Discovery digital team is feeding you the files directly?
ROBINSON: The effects have been done by Pixomondo, and they’ve been supplying us every possible preparation [tool]… I mean, I’m getting files that are dated yesterday!
TREKCORE: Do you find that to be different from how you’ve received reference information for the ongoing line of models?
ROBINSON: Yes – there was no real process for archiving the models on the previous shows. It was something that happened, and there was a VFX team, [often] a third-party company, and [the files] were never sent back to [the studio].
TREKCORE: It was interesting when you mentioned on stage the other day that all the digital models from Star Trek: Insurrection were not saved, to your knowledge.
ROBINSON: Yeah, and basically how the whole thing worked was that there was no archiving process. [The files] weren’t even held by anybody on the movie’s FX team – so like Ron B. Moore, or Gary Hutzel, they didn’t have copies of the models; they were held by the [effects] vendor.
So the models were at Eden FX or Foundation Imaging or whoever, and while people kept some copies, fortunately, and there are people who have archives of them, there was no formal process to get them back to [Paramount].
We do have renders from the time, so there is reference to construct [the Insurrection ships], but we keep hoping that someone’s got a copy of [the original files] somewhere. But in that particular case it’s more complicated – even if someone had a copy of them, no one has the software needed to open the [files]!
TREKCORE: Getting back to the Discovery ships, that will be a separate subscription from the ongoing Official Starships releases, correct?
ROBINSON: Yes – it will be offered, obviously, to everybody who is already a subscriber, we’ll be in touch with them to see if they’d like to add this.
TREKCORE: Do you have an idea yet of the price point for the Discovery subscription?
ROBINSON: We don’t have that information yet; but the idea is to keep it roughly the same as [the current subscriptions], but rather than getting two ships a month you’ll get one larger one.
TREKCORE: For the regular subscription, the UK and US release schedules are offset by a few months…
ROBINSON: They’re getting closer to each other – and for Discovery, that will launch in the US and UK at the same time. I don’t know what our plans are for Germany – our other major territory – or Japan, but our first plan is to launch in our English-language markets, with Australia that normally follows shortly after.
TREKCORE: And the magazines to go with the ships, as well?
ROBINSON: That’s the plan! I don’t know what will be in them, yet, but I know there’s a lot of concept art.
TREKCORE: Yes, they’ve certainly showed a lot here and at Comic-Con in the Discovery gallery, and John Eaves featured more Shenzhou art on stage Friday morning.
ROBINSON: I haven’t been asking for the artwork until I need to – but that’s going to happen very soon.
TREKCORE: We’ve talked a lot about your new plans for Discovery, but what about the continuing Official Starships line of models? You’ve got the first three large-scale Enterprise models out — the NCC-1701, the –D, and the –E, with the NX-01 coming later this year — but what’s next?
ROBINSON: The idea with those is that we’re doing them as a series. There was a lot of interest in having the real hero ships at a larger scale, but while we there was some concern that people already had them [as the smaller editions], we’ve sort of put our toes in the water and those first few have gone well.
There’s now a likelihood that we will do a dozen or so of the hero ships — all the Enterprises, the Defiant, Voyager – at that larger size.
TREKCORE: The Enterprise-B and -C as well?
ROBINSON: Slightly depending on sales, but that’s the plan!
TREKCORE: What can you tell us about perhaps doing the Enterprise-A from Star Trek Beyond?
ROBINSON: There’s an issue there – it’s not so much getting the reference material, but that it’s not seen in a lot of detail in the film. Although it obviously exists in detail [as a digital model], we don’t know what the state of there being a next [Kelvin Timeline] movie yet.
ROBINSON: Many people assume there will be one, but the filmmakers have [hinted] that ‘Well, we might change it, if and when we get to the next movie.’ So for now we are holding until we know.
That doesn’t mean it will change, doesn’t mean it won’t change, it just hasn’t been decided yet.
ROBINSON: But the other thing we are doing – as a bit of a departure – is starting to do concept ships. On top of the regular series, because these are not canon, we’re doing Andy Probert’s original Enterprise-C, we’re doing Matt Jefferies’ version of the Enterprise designed for Star Trek: Phase II.
We’re also doing Rick Sternbach’s original USS Voyager that got built as a study model, and Rick’s been supervising the construction of that one.
TREKCORE: Are there other concepts you’re targeting?
ROBINSON: For now; we’re trying to stick to Enterprises – I tweeted out a photo of the Enterprise ringship, so that’s nice, and new, and different.
— Ben Robinson (@BenCSRobinson) April 14, 2017
How's this? pic.twitter.com/Ss1eLMvvWm
— Ben Robinson (@BenCSRobinson) May 30, 2017
TREKCORE: And from the novels, you have both the Titan and the Aventine on the way too.
ROBINSON: Yeah, that’s an interesting experiment which I hope will go well; they should be out in time for New York Comic Con in October – and if they go well, a lot of people have expressed interest in the Odyssey [from Star Trek Online]. I’m sure there are other ‘soft-canon’ things that people would like, and if this works then there’s every reason to think that we would do them.
TREKCORE: A lot of the literary fans would really like that; they’ve been hoping for the Titan for quite a while.
ROBINSON: They have – those ships have a tight following and there are a lot of people who love them, and designers Sean Tourangeau and Mark Rademaker have been very keen to help.
TREKCORE: Anything else on the way you can tell us about?
ROBINSON: There are more specials we’re doing – the Klingon destroyer from the 2009 film’s Kobayashi Maru simulation… and the Kobayashi Maru itself.
We also have the Star Trek Beyond version of the Enterprise, which we expect for the first half of next year.
TREKCORE: You’re working on a Kelvin Timeline shuttle set, too, right?
ROBINSON: Yes! All four shuttles.
TREKCORE: And which shuttles are you including in that set? There’s the shuttle Kirk is born in…
ROBINSON: Yes, and Pike’s shuttle; there is Scotty’s shuttle from Star Trek Into Darkness, and one more as well.
TREKCORE: Well, there’s the one Kirk and McCoy took to the Enterprise in the first film…
ROBINSON: Yes. The thing that’s interesting is that when you go through the films, there are four basic different shuttles, but there are lots of different variations, all very similar but just a bit different – wings out, different color schemes – but there are four actual designs. It’s taken me a while to work that out!
TREKCORE: And aside from the K-7 Station already on display, are there plans for any further starbases? I don’t know how it would happen – but how about Starbase Yorktown?
ROBINSON: [Laughs] I don’t know how we could do anything that would look remotely satisfying for that! But I think it’s extremely likely we’ll be doing Spacedock.
There’s also another set of Designing Starships books coming; the next one focused on the Kelvin Timeline movies this year, the next one set for next year. I have a massive collection of Deep Space Nine concept art that wasn’t released in previous magazine issues.
TREKCORE: How many ships is the Official Starships series now projected to?
ROBINSON: Well, we’re approved out to 130…
TREKCORE: Plus the larger specials, plus the Kelvin ships…
ROBINSON: Yeah, plus, plus, plus! That also doesn’t include the shuttle sets or the new Discovery series – and I’m optimistic that by New York Comic Con we should know whether we are doing any more issues past 130. I think it’s extremely likely we will, the question now is just how many more.
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Also revealed at STLV were several new additions to the upcoming regular Official Starships Collection line: the USS Curry (from “A Time to Stand,”) the Freedom-class (from “The Best of Both Worlds”), the Ferengi freighter from Enterprise‘s “Acquisition”, Captain Bateson’s USS Bozeman, the Hirogen holoship from Voyager’s “Flesh and Blood,” and Kasidy Yates’ SS Xhosa freighter from Deep Space Nine.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we’ve got more detail on the forthcoming Star Trek: Discovery starships, and everything else coming down the line from Eaglemoss – so come back often to TrekCore to stay up to date!