We’re back with another look at the recent subscriber releases from Eaglemoss’ Official Starships Collection, and today it’s a look at issues #106 and 107, the Kazon Raider warship from Star Trek: Voyager, and the attack-mode, wings-down Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and beyond.
The Kazon Raider is, like the recently released Vidiian Warship, vastly overdue – by at least 70 issues. Cleverly spreading those key ships across the range does keep interest and means those waiting for specific ships or collecting from one series are kept on their toes but it does feel like these should have been a lot earlier.
The Raider is actually one of the smaller Kazon ships and shouldn’t be confused with the significantly larger Predator-class ships that the Delta Quadrant baddies also operated (notably seen in “Caretaker” and “Basics, Part I”). This is a much smaller, more manoeuvrable ship and is also one of the most distinctive designs, I think, in Star Trek history.
On first inspection this is one small ship – and it’s also very front heavy with that drooping beak as well as the whole top section being metal. The whole ship bears a brown, sandy, dusty sort of paint job and it screams out for a bit of dirt washing because you know that the Kazon would never have maintained these ships in such pristine condition. In fact the only time it would have looked like this was in dry dock.
While it is instantly recognisable, this is one of those ships that doesn’t “do” it for me from the off and coming to review it I find myself terribly uninspired by it. That’s a shame because of it’s importance to Voyager’s early years for one and secondly because it’s been such a long time coming.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual model is decent enough but there’s no real pizzazz here. You can admire the curves and the lines from the nose to the stern and especially at the business end there’s some lovely layered paneling detail as well as – surprisingly – windows and inset colouring that’s actually in the right place (looking at you, USS Jenolan) and accentuates that base brown.
Those little blips of colour from windows and from the yellow of the engines to the rear are essential to bringing the Raider to life just as much as the pointed, dangerous look of the hull. Even the addition of the Kazon emblem on either side of the hull.
The top of the ship doesn’t really have any really fiddly bits on it — and by that I mean mechanical parts, exposed circuits and the like that we’ve seen on many other craft. It’s a lot more enclosed with more subtle finishing details perhaps only with the recessed bodywork on the sides showing any real “depth” to the ship.
The plastic section here encompasses only the underside and the wing-type appendages to the centre and the rear. If we’re going to talk bland then this is perfect fodder because there is a horrible lack of detail. Of course, this can be blamed directly back to the original model from which Eaglemoss referenced, but there’s just nothing to get excited about when you flip the Raider over.
There are a few winglets on the rear fins, a minor piece of engineering detail to the centre which is recessed back slightly into the hull but that really is it. The problem is that the Kazon Raider looks too perfect. There’s not enough panel lining on here, it’s just too smooth and refined to make it “believable” as a representation of the Kazon craft.
It bugs me to hell because even the drooping proboscis at the front looks sad and lacking in true depth and detail; it feels like a model three-quarters complete. Probably one that will go towards the back of a shelf and I have hopes that the Predator-class Kazon ship will come out a lot better.
The included behind-the-scenes magazine is full of great reference material that the less-than-stellar Star Trek: Voyager Companion book was lacking. Offering some great coverage of the Raider and it’s operational history under both the Trabe and the Kazon, the magazine does well to tie in the craft’s episodic appearances. There are some excellent insights into the Kazon here, which are well worth adding to your library.
I remember back in the day that a lot of people called for the Klingon Bird of Prey to be offered out in its attack and landed formations. I genuinely didn’t think that either would be included in the full run but might have ended up as an online exclusive. I was wrong because as part of the main run, we have the seminal Klingon craft with it’s wings down.
First introduced to the Official Starships Collection all the way back in 2013 in the wings-up flight mode, the Bird of Prey needs no introduction — but I’m finding it very hard to get excited over a ship that has only a change in wing configuration from its earlier version.
As you might have noticed, we seem to be seeing a few more of these altered models or variations on a theme, like the Miranda-class variants Reliant, Saratoga, and the upcoming USS Bozeman, the Bajoran Freighter and Smuggler’s Ship, the “Endgame”-edition Armoured Voyager… but while most of those are different in fairly significant ways, this one really doesn’t give much more than the original.
For all intents and purposes, this model is almost a carbon copy of the ship from 2013, with only a few more raised details on the surface of the bridge module and some mildly cleaned-up areas around the design, which does mean there has been at least a slight update in four years — but not much.
The grime and the paneling continues back along the short neck section to the main body where you do notice the windows have been painted on rather than marked somewhere near to recessed holes as we’ve seen elsewhere. Again, there’s nothing new here. Along to the rear the detail there does feel a little more refined but there’s very little to call between this new version and the issue three original.
Even at the back the gap in the engine block to slot in the stand is identical although I did think the clip fed in a lot more easily this time around.
Underneath the detail continues in line with the first version with all the mechanics you would expect to be in place right there. Their definition does leave a bit to be desired but again there does seem to have been a slight clean-up when it’s come to the finishing touches. On the counter though, there’s still no definition as to the landing leg panels or ramp – the underbelly is horribly still devoid of detail.
Of course the number one difference here is the fact that the wings are down. First seen dropping to pick off the Merchantman in The Search for Spock, it’s an iconic feature of the Klingon ship and, begrudgingly, it’s nice to have it represented. Along with the Enterprise, it’s probably one of the most famous and instantly recognisable vehicles from the franchise.
The wing panel feather detailing is replicated precisely from the first version and you can make out how the two have been constructed. It’s down to the two shoulder sections being different. These are the pieces which move the wings into place and with the Attack Formation version they are, stating the obvious, larger.
The grille system that interlocks and closes to draw the wings up is very clearly cut although the front of the shoulder blocks lacks any kind of definition between the two moving sections rather it’s just a plain and simple grey slab. For all the detail and effort in all the other parts surrounding this wing mechanism it just seems wrong for this, for the second time, to be lacking that finishing touch.
Talking of that lack of completion, which seems to be a running theme this round, what about the underside of the Bird of Prey? Well, it is absolutely identical when it comes to paint scheme even down to the asymmetrical reddish tinted sections on the inside edges of the wings – they are 100% the same which confirms that only the shoulder sections here are significantly different across the two variants.
Luckily the magazine is a completely fresh wedge of material. Initially the overview covers the differences between not just the K’Vort and B’rel types but also the variations internally that were evident between every single Klingon Bird of Prey.
It also goes as far as exploring the times in which the different versions were in use (including the rarely mentioned D12) and what outward changes there were to be spotted – and there were a few due to circumstances! An excellent choice here to do rather than the standard plan views is the inclusion of a list of notable Birds of Prey from The Search for Spock right through to Martok’s IKS Rotarran in Deep Space Nine.
Covering not just their onscreen stories, this section does, in part, make note of some of the changes that were made due to difficulties with models and the significance of the chosen craft in the franchise. There are some cool new CG pics and a few sketches are a welcome site, like a set of images from Star Trek VI’s storyboards.
The next pair of subscriber ships I’ll be checking out is the Cheyenne-class USS Ahwahnee which fought at the Battle of Wolf 359, and the Borg Queen’s diamond-shaped vessel, as seen in “Dark Frontier.”
Watch for my review of these two ships soon!
Clive Burrell is lead editor at Some Kind of Star Trek.