I'm a huge fan of Diamond Select's Star Trek ships. With astounding attention to detail and impressive show accuracy, they set an intimidating standard for Trek ship replicas. Tragically, DST doesn't have the license for the 2009 and 2013 Trek movies but Hot Wheels has stepped up to the plate with a line of mid-sized replicas. Let's check out the most recent wave featuring the Kelvin, Vengeance, and Bird of Prey from nuTrek, as well as the Excelsior from the classic movie era.
This is the second or third wave of Trek ships from Hot Wheels, but it's the first I've decided to collect. The ships are all in the 6" range, with the Bird of Prey the shortest at 5" long and the Excelsior the longest at a little over 7" long. There isn't any attempt at making things to-scale, which is good for your display because it gives each ship the same visual weight. Still, wouldn't it be great if at least one toy line tried to make ships to-scale? (Although in this case, maybe it's for the best considering how much of a debacle the size of the new Enterprise has become.)
I bought these ships from my favorite online shop in a case of four for $50, which comes to $12.50 each. That's a great price, but I suspect they'll get up to $15 in brick and mortar stores. Each ship isn't equally cool though, so I'll have to rate them separately. We'll start with...
USS Excelsior (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Here we have Captain Sulu's ship from Star Trek VI (not from STIII because the registry is NCC instead of NX). I love the toy's look because it's so colorful, but you might doubt that the colors on the Excelsior model were this saturated. It's difficult to tell for sure from screen caps; the Excelsior had a bluish tinge in much of Star Trek III and VI that obscured the colors, and the Voyager episode Flashback doesn't help much either. But let's not turn this into another Han Hoth blue/brown jacket debate. The model did not have a blue hull, as evinced by auction photos of the model. In fact, those photos show that the colors on the Excelsior model were somewhat highly saturated, making the coloration of this toy accurate.
There isn't any "aztecing" on the hull, but the sculpted detailing makes the ship visually interesting. And the paint apps are super-sharp. From what I can tell, the saucer section and the top of the stardrive are die cast metal, but the rest is plastic.
USS Kelvin (Star Trek 2009)
Next up we have the Kelvin, George Kirk's ship from the 2009 movie. This is a nifty little ship with lots of fun detailing and weathering in the saucer section (the weathering doesn't continue on its underside, though). The sculpting of the stardrive section is really nice, although the lack of paint apps makes it seem flat. I really dig the ship, but it needs some paint washes to make the detailing pop on the shelf. As with the Excelsior, the saucer is die cast metal and the stardrive is plastic.
USS Vengeance (Star Trek Into Darkness)
This was the ship I was most looking forward to getting. Sure, the Vengeance in the movie looks like it's straight from a video game, but it's so different from what we've seen before that I'd love to see more to really analyze it. Unfortunately, this model captures nothing of what makes the movie ship cool.
There isn't any sense of the absolute enormity of the ship here. Maybe the relatively small 6" scale isn't effective at conveying its size, or maybe there isn't anything to indicate scale, like a window or a traditional bridge. Regardless, it just isn't working.
The other thing that isn't working is the aztecing. What's the deal with that pattern? It makes the toy look cheap, like the pattern is just a decal is printed onto the ship. From the (admittedly few) pics I've seen of the Vengeance, the pattern isn't nearly that regular. The absolutely gorgeous (but just a smidgen out-of-budget) model from QMx features a pattern that's regular but much more intricate. It's ludicrous to expect this toy to even come close to the quality of that model, but the point is that the pattern on the toy looks awful, while the pattern on the ship in the movie doesn't.
From what I can tell, the construction of the Vengeance is like the others: die-cast saucer, plastic stardrive.
Klingon Bird of Prey (Star Trek Into Darkness)
In contrast to the Vengeance, the Bird of Prey was the ship I was least anticipating. I just hated the design in the movie. Unlike the Vengeance, the Bird of Prey looked like it was straight from a video game, but in a cheesy, cliched way.
But this toy makes me actually like the new Bird of Prey. There's a lot of detailing here that I missed in the movie, like the weird bug-like engines in the back. Also, it has a little play value, as the wings can pivot up or down and rotate side to side. It's much cooler than I expected.
The body of the ship looks like it's primarily die-cast, while the wings are plastic.
Overall, I'm pleased with the Hot Wheels Star Trek replicas. Sure, I'd prefer Diamond Select to make nuTrek ships because they'd be bigger and better looking, but since DST doesn't have the license, it's either these ships or nothing. And they're good enough to hold my starship obsession for at bay... for now, at least. Let's hope they re-release the nuTrek Enterprise in the next wave, though. My display just won't work without it.