Review: Enterprise NCC-1701
In the scope of things, Star Trek is not my favorite franchise. I have more affinity for Star Wars, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Lord of the Rings, and a half dozen other universes.
But, like all geeks, there's a soft spot in my heart for the crew of the USS Enterprise. I used to watch repeats of the original series with my dad, then new episodes of Next Generation when that started airing. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I should admit I like the idea of Star Trek a little more than I like the show, itself. It's importance from a historical standpoint can't be overstated, and, along with The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits it belongs in a small club of early science fiction shows which actually have some intelligent content to them.
And, in moderation, I certainly like watching the show. But, in large doses, I find the conventions a bit tiresome. Star Trek has always tread a thin line between social science fiction and hard science fiction. Most of its more recent incarnations have felt somewhat awkward, trying to modernize the conventions while still paying homage: in the end, neither was really achieved.
Every series has had some great moments on the way, but, at least in my opinion, nothing has ever bested the original. There's a simplicity to the premise and design that just works. Oh, I have nothing against the cultural anthropology of Next Generation or the space-noir of DS9. Heck, I even think Enterprise had some great ideas (particularly in its second season), and was canceled far too soon. The only series I never connected with was Voyager, and that was largely due to the characters.
Appearance: 6 out of 10
I went back and forth on this one, but I think this score is about right. Overall I really like how this looks, but there are some problems; most minor but a few big ones, that pull the score back. At a glance, the ship looks great: the proportions look right, and there's absolutely no doubt that this is, in fact, the ship from the original series. The printing is all sharp and easy to read, and the windows look good.
So. Why not a better score?
First of all, the level of detail is less than you'd like. While the ship looks good, it's far simpler than what was on screen. They've dropped a lot of extra lights and simplified the lines. Take a look at some pictures of the original model and you'll see what I mean. I understand this is a relatively small toy and that some streamlining was necessary, but I feel like they could have fit in a bit more complexity.
Next, there's a red smudge on the side of the ship caused (I'm assuming) by a painting mishap. It's not a big deal, and nail polish remover would probably get it off, but that's a hassle.
Packaging and Extras: +1
The box includes the dreaded "Try Me" feature, which makes me wonder how long my batteries have left. It displays the item well enough, but I can't help but suspect a few of these must have had their plastic windows give in, causing damage. At least it's easy enough to tell before you buy. Here are the graphics, in all their glory:
So, not bad, all things considered. I'm not usually a big fan of packaging, but these are actually quite well designed. Not that I care, mind you: this could have come in a paper bag and I'd be just as happy. Even so, credit where credit's due: someone took the time to do this right.
In addition to some technical instructions and an advertisement, you get two "accessories." The first and most interesting is the base. They've gone with something that's elegant and intriguing, but deeply, deeply flawed.
good poses, you have to make sure you don't overdo it; otherwise, the Enterprise is going to crash and burn (see Star Trek III: The Search for Spock for reference).
On top of this, the piece connecting mine to the ship is slightly cracked. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it doesn't get worse over time.
I don't want to make it sound like the base is a lost cause - it's still cool and usable - but you're going to want to take your time and make sure you're not asking too much of it. When I first saw it, I was certain it would be worth a bonus point, but time has proven me wrong. Space ships are generally assumed to come with some sort of stand, and, for all the thought, this one doesn't work well enough to justify a bonus. It's a great idea, and with heavy materials and better quality control, I think it could have been exceptional. As it is, I'm considering putting it aside and holding this up with wire. In which case, I'll probably be grateful for the second extra.
In the ridiculously-unnecessary-but-still-welcome department, we have an alternate battery cover. You see, the peg-hole that connects to the stand is contained in the battery cover. So, in case you want to hang your Enterprise, they've given you a second cover without the hole.
I have it so I'll probably use it, but... it's kind of funny. The peg hole is actually fairly small and unobtrusive as it is. On top of that, there's still the screw hole and the panel outline, so it isn't as if this somehow makes the bottom perfect.
I'm grudgingly handing a single point for this extraneous addition, but only because I was tough on the appearance.
Play and Display: +2
A lot of this bonus is due to the fact that the lights work as well as they do. Of course, the lights are only part of the action feature: lets discuss.
The top of the saucer functions as a button: press it and you get flashing lights and one of eight sound effects. They've got a few lines from Kirk in here, along with phasers, photon torpedoes, transporters, the "red alert" sounds, and engines. The sounds are fairly loud and clear, though I'd have loved to get some music from the opening or lines from other characters... but now I'm just getting greedy.
If you hold the button for a few seconds, the lights turn on until you press it again. As the pictures show, the lights are fairly bright and quite cool. In addition, they're not static: the orange engine lights "pulse" and the red/green side lights blink. Sure, I'd have loved to get a few more (I REALLY would have loved for the window lights to glow), but that's just me being unreasonably greedy again. I can't even make it through a single paragraph.
For all my whining, I should add that the ball jointed base does give you some great options, as long as you've got somewhere stable to set it down (you don't want to risk dropping this from a high surface, after all).
The quality of the lights alone are worth at least a point: these are hard to miss. Between the sounds and the jointed base, I think a second point is called for, as well.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 9/10
This is one of those things that's really on the boundary between toy and collectible. On one hand, it's a little simplistic to be a "collectible", and there are certainly more expensive offerings for those who are looking for a higher quality piece. On the other hand, a kid would probably break this in a day (it certainly feels fragile), so it's not really a toy, either.
This is really something for those in the middle. People... like me.
And, I have to say, I'm having a lot of fun with this thing. The lights and sounds continue to amuse me, and, while I wish there'd been a bit more detail added to the ship, It's still going to look great on the shelf.
Originally, FAO Schwartz was asking $45 for this, which feels a little steep. Thirty-five strikes me as far more reasonable. Of course, I got lucky and found this at twenty. Not too shabby, if you ask me.
If you've got some free time, be sure to stop by The Middle Room, my blog exploring all things geek. I could have mangled that last line into a Star Trek joke; take it as a sign of respect for your intelligence that I chose not to.