Star Trek 40th Anniversary Original Series Enterprise


"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Big Guido is back, and he's reviewing my kind of space ship - take it away, BG!

As Captain Crawford noted in his review of the Diamond Select/Art Asylum 40th Anniversary Captain Kirk with Command Chair, when it comes to Star Trek, he is an Original Series kinda guy. The same sentiment holds true for BigGuido. There is just something about the original series that has a certain magic to it that none of the other incarnations of Star Trek has managed to capture. Guido thinks it may have something to do with the other Treks trying to be waaay too politically correct. As such, most of the Captains came off as sort of, how should we say, wimpy. Kirk took charge, kicked copious butt and ravished any space babe that came within sensor range. Kirk was the King Leonidas of Star Trek; the kinda guy you would be honored to die along side of in battle. Out of all the Captains that have skippered a starship named Enterprise, Guido would serve under only one: James Tiberius Kirk.

BigGuido has collected all things Star Trek ever since He was a LittleGuido. The height of Guido's Trekmania was during the days when Playmates Toys (The house that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® built) had the Trek license. The first series of Playmates figures hit retail in the fall of 1992! Those were some great days for all things Trek. Guido still looks back on them with fondness. Playmates held the license for seven years and made some serious bank in the process.

Things were going great for the toyline when suddenly, someone in the Playmates marketing department decided that the line needed a little stimulation…something to stir up interest in the consumer base that just wasn't consumin' enough…as usual, this was the beginning of the end.

Playmates screwed-up their massively successful run with the Trek license with the infamous 1701 debacle. Known to collectors as the "1701s" the release consisted of a limited production run of 1,701 of three figures: Tapestry Picard, Tasha Yar from Yesterday's Enterprise, and Barclay from Projections. 

Collectors of the Playmates' Star Trek line were diehard completists by nature. Manufacturing three popular characters in a limited edition of only 1,701 units pissed-off the Trek line's devoted consumer base to no end. These three figures were going for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market. Only the wealthiest collectors or those willing to max out their credit cards got one. 

Playmates tried to make-up with their alienated customers by releasing the three non-serial numbered figures in a boxed set. Instead of mending fences with the completists that had already quit and sold-off their collections, they only succeeded in pissing-off those devoted few who had dropped precious bank to acquire the elusive figures. Man, NO ONE was happy with Playmates. From that point on, it seemed they could do nothing right.

Playmates managed to further alienate collectors (Are you listening, Hasbro?) by switching from 4.5" scale figures to 6" scale figures with the First Contact movie line. The 6" scale figures didn't last very long. Poor sales of the 6" scale figures and a tidal wave of negative customer feedback resulted in Playmates switching back to the 4.5" scale. Finally, a smart move on Playmates' part, but it was too little, too late…and as Guido has seen time and again, you must never underestimate the sheer idiocy of a toy company marketing department. 

Playmates' marketing gurus finally succeeded in burying the Trek line by reintroducing the "limited-edition chase figure" marketing concept that had served them so well with the "1701s" faux pas to their re-launch of the 4.5" scale figure assortments. This was the final nail in the coffin for the Playmates Trek toy line. The Playmates run with Star Trek finally folded on September 17, 1999. The Trek toy license would lie dormant for the next two years.

Art Asylum finally picked up the Star Trek action figure and toy license in 2001, in hopes of cashing in on what was initially anticipated as a major jump-start for the Star Trek franchise — a little show called "ENTERPRISE". Ewwww…Guido gets quesy just thinking about that show. Enterprise is to Star Trek what the movie "Stayin' Alive" was to "Saturday Night Fever" — the sequel/spin-off that should never have been made. If anything put the Star Trek franchise into V-fib, it was Enterprise. Guido believes it almost caused Art Asylum to go Code-Blue as well. Luckily, a feisty trauma room intern named Diamond Select Toys (DST) showed up with a crash cart. After grabbing the paddles and pumping a few joules into Art Asylum, DST was able to resuscitate the Trek line. AA's alignment of Diamond Select Toys is probably the only good thing that came out of their involvement with Enterprise. 

Over the last few years, the Art Asylum/Diamond Select Toys partnership has managed to crank out Star Trek related toys that have been, for the most part, superb. The series of action figures have been exceptional, but what has really been AA/DST standout for Guido is the "Starship Legends" line. Previous releases in the Starship Legends line have been the NX-01 Enterprise, from Star Trek: Enterprise; the NCC-1701-A Enterprise, from Star Trek Movies IV-VI; and the NCC-1701-E, from Star Trek Movies VII-X. each of these toy ships were on a par with high-end display model versions at a very reasonable price point. When Guido heard that the folks at Art Asylum/Diamond Select toys were going to produce an Original Series U.S.S. Enterprise in the "Starship Legends" toy line, he was overjoyed. Guido's expectations were quite high given the quality of the previously released starship models. So, the question is, does the original series Enterprise meet the mark or does it pull a Star Trek III and burn-up on re-entry? Read on…

NOTE: Seeing as how this isn't an action figure review, the usual MWC approved review format doesn't really work here. The Enterprise review will follow the same format Guido established for an earlier review he did of the Product Enterprise die-cast Eagle Transporter from Space: 1999. The review categories are as follows:

1.) Packaging
2.) Sculpting/Accuracy
3.) Paint/Decoration 
4.) Operational Features
5.) Base/Accessories
6.) Quality/Durability
7.) Value
8.) Fun Factor
9.) Overall 

Packaging - **
The package design for this release follows the same basic format of previous releases in the Starship Legends line: A basic corrugated cardboard window box with said window being die-cut in the general shape of the featured starship as seen from the dorsal (topside) view. Guido is not a fan of this format because it limits one's ability to study the model to ascertain the quality of the paint apps and decorations. Guido has so far opened two of these models of the classic Enterprise and the paint has been disappointing on both — more on that in the paint/deco section. The package graphics are quite bland in Guido's opinion, featuring the Star Trek 40th Anniversary logo, a passable illustration of TOS Enterprise and not much else. The back panel art of the box is actually more engaging, but a tad too busy. The good news is that the box is pretty sturdy and should serve well in keeping the enclosed toy from being damaged in transit to your humble abode. Another high point of the package's design is the ease with which the Enterprise can be set free from it's vacuum formed inner plastic tray. Simply snip (Guido's days of untwisting are behind him) two twisties and you're flying free. The downside to this inner packaging is the necessity of cutting loose the heat mounted plastic tray in order to liberate the base components and the socket-less alternate battery compartment cover — major sad face here!

Sculpting/Accuracy - *
This is an area in the Enterprise review that Guido originally thought would have received the coveted 4 star treatment, based on AA/DS's previous releases in this line. Instead, Guido feels he is being charitable awarding 1 Star to this effort. Guido knew something wasn't right with this sculpt before the toy was removed from its box. The proportions for the various ship sections are all off. Guido went to the web and did some research and wound up finding several good sites that had the dimensions of the actual 11 foot filming miniature of the OS Enterprise currently residing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Here is how the AA/DS Enterprise measures up to the filming miniature:

Star Trek: The Original Series U.S.S. Enterprise 
11 ft. Original Shooting Miniature (OSM) Specifications:
Length, overall: 11 ft./132 in./335.28 cm
(Full size Enterprise proposed length: 1,056 ft. Shooting Model is at 1:96th scale)
Diameter, saucer section: 60 in/152.4 cm.
Length, engine pods: 72.25 in./183.515 cm.
Distance from centerline to centerline of engine pods: 38 in./96.52cm.
Length, secondary engineering hull (sans deflector dish): 49 in./124.46 cm.
Height: 32 in./81.28 cm

Guido is using the diameter of the saucer section of the AA/DST Enterprise as the base to set the scale standard for the following comparison of the toy to the shooting miniature's dimensions; i.e. the scale of the saucer section is the scale to which all other ship section measurements must conform. If the Saucer is 11.083% of the size of the shooting miniature, then all other measurements should scale down to the same percentage. 

Art Asylum/Diamond Select Toys Classic 40th Anniversary Enterprise (2007)
Length, overall: 15.1 in./38.354 cm. = 11.439% of OSM
(To be in scale with saucer: 14.63 in./37.16 cm.)

Diameter, saucer section: 6.65 in./16.891 cm. = 11.083% of OSM

Length, engine pods: 8.4 in./21.336 cm. = 11.626% of OSM
(To be in scale with saucer: 8.007 in./20.338cm.)

Distance from centerline to centerline of engine pods: 4.85 in./12.319 cm. = 12.763% OSM
(To be in scale with saucer: 3.547 in./9.009 cm.)

Length, secondary engineering hull (sans deflector dish): 5.4 in./13.716 cm. = 11.02% OSM
(To be in scale with saucer: 5.431 in./13.795 cm.)

Height: 3.45 in./8.763 cm. = 10.78% OSM
(To be in scale with saucer: 3.547 in./9.009 cm.)

Some of you readers probably think of this as just an exercise in ultra-geekdom, but as you can see from this comparison, the AA/DST Enterprise is really whacked so far as scale is concerned. The toy looks like the Enterprise, but it just doesn't look RIGHT. Guido could forgive this if this release were a mass market toy produced by the likes of Hasbro, but this is a specialty market product, produced by a company that is known for its dedication to producing quality sculpts and replicas. The inaccuracy of scale on this model is just magnified by it being part of a line that has been lauded for its overall excellence and is compounded even further by being dubbed as the product released commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek. UGH! 

As a final note on the matter of scale, Guido went ahead and checked the 1995 Playmates release of TOS Enterprise. Guido found it to be far more accurate than the AA/DST version. It was within .125% of an overall 13% scale of the original shooting miniature. The only place it failed to keep within spec was in the distance between the engine pod centerlines, which was a tad too wide. This could be in part due to the looseness of the model's engine struts when attached to the engineering section. The warp engines tend to droop a bit because of this.

This is the most mass-market looking starship sculpt AA/DST has fielded to date. It is quite sparse on sculpted detail. What little detail there is, appears very soft and in inaccurate in several areas when compared to the OSM. Of special annoyance is an ugly mold tooling defect that appears around the topside port running light on the saucer section. There is a sunken rectangular area around the running light that just shouldn't be there (see photos). 

Previous Starship Legends releases have been exquisitely detailed. Great efforts were made on the part of the designers and engineers to conceal screw holes and seams. This is not the case so far as TOS Enterprise is concerned. There are numerous ugly screw hole plugs that are haphazardly inserted and sloppily glued into place. These plugs can be found on the undersides of the saucer section and engine pods as well as on the starboard side of the engineering section. These plugs look terrible, especially on the underside of the saucer section. Art Asylum was able to engineer the Enterprise-A in such a way as to avoid these plugs, why weren't they able to do the same on this version of the Enterprise?

Another sculpting puzzle pertains to the engine pods/warp nacelles. The grid work on the inner-side of the nacelle where the handle-like intercooler assembly is attached is merely a paint application and not a sculpted grid work. The same holds true for the rectangular grids on the inner-side of the engine struts. This is quit disappointing and makes the model seem cheap. Even the Playmates release of TOS Enterprise had these details sculpted in. Guido is not sure what the folks at AA/DST were thinking when they opted for these paint apps instead of sculpted detail.

There are a myriad of other inaccuracies Guido could expound upon, but Guido has already belabored the point. This sculpt of the Original Series Enterprise is a major disappointment for Guido and is not anywhere near the benchmark Art Asylum/Diamond Select Toys set with their previous releases in the Star Trek: Starship Legends toy line.

Paint - 1/2
All Guido can say about the paint and decoration of this model of the Enterprise is, "What the (expletive deleted) happened?!!" The Enterprise is painted a solid flat medium grey with little to no other paint apps other than window details. There is a darker grey paint used on the impulse engines and on a couple of sections of the Warp engine nacelles as well as the two "landing struts" on the underside of the saucer section. All in all, it makes for a very bland model. No effort was made to weather the hull or indicate hull plating details via the Aztecing pattern used on the Constitution Class Starship, U.S.S. Defiant in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly " or the current CGI Enterprise appearing in the digitally revamped OS Star Trek. The orange bussard collectors have a really shoddy red paint deco on them. The deco seeks to emulate the rotating strobe bussard effect seen in the show. Frankly, it just looks cheap, and it doesn't help that Ol' Chang slopped some super glue into the orange dome when he was attaching it to the engine proper. Guido much prefers the sculpted solution Playmates Toys used for their version of the bussard collector. When Guido sets this Enterprise alongside the previous releases in the Starship Legends series, he honestly has to say it just doesn't fit in — this ship doesn't appear to be from the same toy line.

The decoration of the model falls way short of the mark as well. AA/DST must have switched to a cheaper manufacturing vendor for the production of this model. Many of the markings are misaligned and off center which is just further evidence of a cheaper supplier using older manufacturing methods and inexperienced/cheaper labor.

The most bizarre deco error is the most prominent. On the top of the saucer section, the font size of the letters "ENTE" in the middle of the ship's name, "U.S.S. ENTERPRISE" for some unknown reason is at least 2 to 4 points smaller than the rest of the letters — this is inexcusable. Also inexcusable was the decision to split the engine pods in half along the 0° horizontal axis. This split causes the red and yellow Star Fleet pennant and ship's registry number to be split in half horizontally. The pennant and registry number appear to be applied to the two halves separately. This must be the case, because the first sample of the Enterprise Guido opened had the two horizontal pennant/number segments offset/out of register by nearly 1/8th of an inch! 

Operational Features - ****
This is the one area in which this model of the Enterprise shines over all other releases. The lighting effects on this model are terrific. Depressing the bridge module activates them. An individual, high quality sound effect and/or Captain Kirk line is activated in sequence each time you depress the bridge module. The bussard collectors (orange domes) on the engine nacelles light up and pulsate. The bridge dome lights up a nice bright white, as does the planetary scanner dome on the underside of the saucer section. So bright in fact, they could probably be used as a makeshift flashlight in a pinch. The port and starboard running lights also light up and blink. The blinking speed is a tad fast, but Guido can overlook this foible. 

The feature that really snags the four star award for AA/DST is the ability to have the light effect run continuously. Simply hold down the bridge module for five seconds and the lights come on and stay on until you depress the bridge module again. This is a feature Guido has been wanting since the days of the Playmates starships. It seemed silly not to be able to turn the lights on and leave them on for display. The folks at AA/DST finally delivered the goods! Great job guys!

Base/Accessories - ***1/2
The 40th Anniversary comes with the same base as the AA/DST release of the Enterprise-A. This was a really nice base, but many folks complained of breakage. To address this issue, AA/DST incorporated a new ball jointed mounting post socket. Guido will speak more on this in the Quality/Durability area of this review. A welcome return is the socket-less alternate battery compartment cover, which allows one to display the starship as a hanging model without a large hole in the bottom of the engineering section. This accessory was painfully missing in the previously released Enterprise-E. Thanks for bringing it back, guys!

Quality/Durability - 1/2 (Initially 1 ˝ Stars, but down graded.)
As Captain Mike noted in his review of Command Chair Captain Kirk, quality control seems to be slipping over at AA/DST so far as the Star Trek license goes. 

Overall assembly of the model seems a bit shoddy, with issues involving paint, decoration, sculpt, scale and assembly. There was quite a bit of glue slop on both of the examples Guido opened. The first model Guido received came out of the box with the base-mounting socket broken. The socket cap literally crumbled when Guido tried to attach the base to the model. This damage obviously occurred in production process and Ol' Chang managed to slip it past the inspectors so as to not get docked on his piecework quota. Guido contacted DST via their customer support email and they were quick to respond and ship out a replacement once they received a "proof of life" major body part from the defective model. 

It broke Guido's heart to do it, but Guido broke off a warp engine and dropped it in the mail. The model Guido received back came with its base intact, but the paint was vastly inferior to the one Guido broke. This does not make for a happy Guido and thus the score suffers accordingly.

The overall durability of this model seems fairly good for a display model, but Guido doubts it would last very long with your average crumb cruncher. Unlike AA/DST's previous releases, the engines are permanently attached and Guido can see these getting easily busted off by Little Emilio and his ilk. This is definitely a display model and not a kiddie toy. Parents, consider yourself duly warned. 

One effort that has been made by AA/DST to up the durability of this line is the addition of a socket swivel mounting post to the ball joint at the top of the base's mounting mast. Guido has read a number of horror stories concerning breakage issues with the bases from the previously released ships. This socket is apparently an answer to those complaints. It seems to work quite well, but looks somewhat clunky to Guido. It isn't nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the previous socket solution. Guido never had any issues with the previous bases and is of the opinion that most of the breakage was probably due to ham-fisted consumer pilot error.

UPDATE: During the photo shoot for this review, Guido noticed that the socket mount seemed to be loosening up the more it was adjusted. Upon closer inspection, Guido discovered several cracks in the post mount plastic casing that actually fits over a rubbery insert, which the original base ball joint pops into (Please make note of the photo showing the cracks in the new cap that is set along side the crumbled bits of the cap that came with Guido's original model.). These cracks were not there when Guido received his second Enterprise. Guido attempted some repairs and reinforcement to the cap, but Guido has his doubts as to how long this will last. Apparently the cap is too thin and brittle to take the stress exerted upon it when adjusting the pose of the model. NOT A GOOD THING. In trying to correct one breakage issue, it appears the AA/DST has created another. As a result of this discovery, Guido is revising his score to ˝ Star in this review category.

Value - **
Most online stores are selling this disappointing entry in the Starship Legends line for around $40.00 U.S. If you pay this much or anything over $30.00 (not including shipping) U.S., slap your face until your ears bleed and be happy you are seeing more stars circling your noggin' than the 1 Value Star this price point deserves. If you pay $24.95 plus shipping (which ended up with a total cost of around $32.00 U.S) like Guido did, award yourself 2 Stars and a thrifty nickel.

Fun Factor - **
Little Emilio would probably have a great time with this until it broke into two to twenty pieces. At said moment, there would be much wiping of tears by Mrs. Guido and inserting of earplugs by BigGuido to protect his already damaged hearing from the Little E's copious gnashing of dental appliances and blood chilling shrieks of despair. From a collector's standpoint, the defects in this toy just quash a lot of the fun and enjoyment one would otherwise get from it. The one saving grace fun wise is the sound and lighting effects, which is top notch!

Overall - **
Guido is being generous in awarding this lackluster effort on the part of AA/DST 2 stars. The only reason the 2 stars are given is in response to the superior light and sound effects that are incorporated into this model of the classic U.S.S. Enterprise. Guido hopes that AA/DST will revisit this version of the Enterprise in the future and correct the mistakes they made. They need to go back to whoever was manufacturing their previous releases or fire them if they were responsible for this debacle. Guido would sooner pay $10.00 more for a quality model than get schlock at a lower price point. 

Packaging- **
Sculpt - *
Paint/Decoration - 1/2
Operational Features - ****
Base/Accessories - ***1/2
Quality/Durability - 1/2
Value- **
Fun Factor - **
Overall- **

Where to Buy -
Guido got his original from Final Destination Collectibles. Replacement for defective ship came from Diamond Select Toys.

Figure from the collection of Norm Dapito.

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