A lot has changed over the years. My hairline, my waistline, the number of bills I have to pay. But not my deep and abiding love for Star Trek: The Next Generation. A unique occasion has arrived to compare what’s probably the very first piece of TNG merchandise I ever shelled out money for, to the most recent addition to my collection…which are nearly the same size.
On the left, we have the Enterprise 1701-D from the Eaglemoss Star Trek Starship Collection. Eaglemoss is a UK published specializing in collectible “partworks” – magazines with goodies. Those signing up as subscribers to the Starship Collection get two $20 models a month, each with magazines detailing the histories of each ship both on-screen and off. That’s an awesome idea…and way too rich for my blood. But I did avail myself of a recent sale on Eaglemoss’ site to pick up a couple of additions to my own Starfleet.
On the right, we have my very well-worn die-cast metal Enterprise 1701-D, released by Galoob in 1987 alongside the earliest episodes of TNG’s first season. Now, given that I was a teenager when both show and ship arrived, you’d think this ship would have occupied a place of honor on a shelf somewhere, but no – full disclosure: it has been flown around many a room, virtually every place I’ve ever lived, and has almost as many battle scars as my old die-cast Kenner Star Wars ships. It is much loved…and it’s 30 years old this year.
It’s easy to see that there are worlds of difference between the two – advances in paint application and manufacturing abound over a three-decade time period. The Eaglemoss Enterprise has much more precise detail, down to the hull-plating “aztecing” that many a modelmaker (or admirer) obsesses over. The clear bits that are supposed to be glowy? They’re clear and, if you hold the Enterprise up to a light source, glowy.
The Galoob Enterprise is nothing to sneeze at. Yes, there are visible screws, and much of the detail is part of the mold rather than part of the paint job. But the amount of detail that’s there is impressive and accurate. It’s also worth noting that a lot of the Enterprise’s legendary “aztecing” wasn’t present in the earliest days of the show: it couldn’t be seen until a new four-foot model was constructed for filming roughly halfway into TNG’s on-air lifespan. The bluish-gray of the 1987 Enterprise reflects what we saw on screen.
Oh, and the Galoob Enterprise can separate its saucer section – the Eaglemoss Enterprise can’t do that, full-stop. (Which is okay – saucer separation happened three whole times in nearly 200 episodes, four if you count the save-our-skins maneuver in the movie Star Trek: Generations; spoiler: it didn’t save the ship on that occasion.)
Eaglemoss’ model is equipped with a display stand that seems, well, a little on the delicate side. The ship is also on the delicate side: the saucer and main body are a lightweight metal, but the engines with their transparent components are plastic. This Enterprise would probably suffer critical damage if dropped. It’s meant to spend its time flying on a display shelf. The Galoob Enterprise has no stand – you’re on your own there – but has obviously survived some rough flying. It’s a hefty die-cast metal with no plastic.
A Galoob Enterprise in good condition will probably set your Starfleet fleet-building budget back a few credits, especially if it’s still in the package. The Eaglemoss model will also do this, but you get a much more delicate (but also possibly more accurate) model out of the deal. If you plunk down money for the subscription, there’s also a lot more where it came from; Galoob’s toy license for TNG was short-lived, and its die-cast Enterprise flies alone.
The good news is, they’re both the same beautiful ship.
If you’re not flying it past the camera or just your face and making whooshing warp drive sounds, what’s a little Enterprise for?