Back from the Yards: Gameprints Repair of the 12″ USS Zuikaku

Back in March 2018, when Gameprint & Cryptic started to offer personalize printed Star Trek Online ships, looking exactly how your ship looks in-game. I, like many other Star Trek Nerds, most likely giggled like little school children (come on admit it, you did 🙂 ). So,with the new service being offered. I ordered my flagship, the Tier 6 Fleet Intel Assault Cruiser USS Zuikaku, flagship of the 101st fleet.

Several weeks went by, and in early May 2018, one day the package arrived. I was so excited, as I had been dealing with a lot of things in my personal & work life. Having the model arrive, was a bright spot on an otherwise bad period.

Little did i realize, that i would be most likely one of the first orders, who would experience a major break of their model.

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Needless to say, I was crushed. Barely able to take one photograph before I reboxed everything, and contacted Gameprint to let them know what had occurred, and to also request a repair.

I also informed Reddit/STO, one of the main community locations for discussing Star Trek Online. Thread in hand, I let them know what had occurred

The support I received from them was great. I also got support from the main Cryptic Community Manager Ambassador Kael who contacted Gameprint. In an effort to ensure that this would never happen again to anyone else.

Several days went by, and I organized with Gameprint to have my ship sent back to be repaired. After I turned down their initial offer of them telling me how to conduct the repair myself. It took several weeks to get the package sent off. However, that was no fault of Gameprint or their delivery company. But more the fault of my local delivery company who delayed the send back by 2 weeks.

And so, ship sent back. I waited….

Repairs Underway

June became July, and I communicate back and forth with Gameprint with periodic e-mails requesting updates as to the repair. Then, on July 25th, a new e-mail came in. This e-mail, made me both excited, and worried at the same time.

We are working on your ship at this moment and we managed to cut your ship in half (sound scary but don’t worry she will be fine simple_smile)
We have reprinted the bottom half in tough resin. The modelling team just finished gluing and cleaning the ship. Now it’s in painting.
The phase “cut in half” doesn’t make any ship captain feel good at all. But I trusted the Gameprint team to get the job done.
Then two weeks later, I was informed the ship had been repackaged, and was on her way back to me.
Ship return & Review
A week later, the USS Zuikaku returned home. As one could expect. I was worried. Scared that unboxing her again would show another massive failure or break. Like the USS Reprisal mentioned in another blog, she was extensively protected. One could say over protected. But considering the cost, and the model and customer target base. I was glad.
It also seemed, that the USS Zuikaku incident may have been the trigger for a completely new way of packaging and sending ships to clients. If that hypothesis is true, then I am OK with what happened.
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Ship unpacked, and she looked beautiful. The one slight issue was a slightly bent nacelle. But considering the width of the nacelle struts even in resin (1mm thick, if that) I am not surprised the weight of the nacelles might have caused a slight “bend”.
A better angle, shows the slight “bend” of the nacelle.
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As you can see, the bend is pretty slight. The nacelle in question that is bent is on the port side of the second picture. The nacelle pylons still feel like they are flexible and can bend and twist. This does not surprise me, even considering that they cut my ship in half, some sections would still need to be flexible in order to have some give.
This is especially true, that while the model is light, the nacelles themselves considering their location and supporting pylons are still a heavy load.
Now, Gameprint mentioned that they cut my ship in half. However, I seriously cannot tell where that occurred. The repair (at least because of my paint job selection) is so well hidden, there are no clues to its probable location.
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Considering how she was returned, a slightly bent nacelle is something I am more than willing to live with.  The timeframe from when Gameprint received my ship, to when the repair was completed seems to be 1 month. But considering how busy Gameprint have been with all their orders, as well as the seriousness of the damage, that timeframe is more than understandable.
Conclusion
I have to say, Gameprint really did their best to ensure my issue was resolved. Additionally, they were pretty responsive when i requested updates about the repair status, as well as requesting updates about what they could do for me regarding options to fix or replace the USS Zuikaku. Or, alternatively the return of the money i paid.
I also didn’t go into detail regarding how this ship looks compared to my in-game USS Zuikaku. This was because this blog was more about the repair & support, than the ship herself.
Thanks to all the Reddit/STO community & especially Ambassador Kael of the Cryptic team for their support and assistance with getting this resolved.
Now the USS Zuikaku is back home, I am going to ensure I have a quiet period. However, knowing this ship, I basically know I am going to be back in trouble again within a week. This ship just seems to attract trouble.
I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

Clear All Moorings: Gameprint’s 12″ Artisan Starship Unboxing

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Mrs Koppenflak came home from work today with a surprise for me. A big fat brown box with lots of Polish post office markings on it. After a long trip half-way around the world, and months after the order was placed, my shiny new model of the USS Reprisal had finally arrived.

Was it worth the wait?

Among the first to pick up a ship from Gameprint was Foxman86, who is an associate editor on this blog. Unfortunately, his ship – the Zuikaku – did not survive the trip from Poland to Australia unscathed.

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Oh dear. This made me extremely nervous, as I’d already placed my order and was faced with very similar geographical challenges. It’s entirely possible that Gameprint has altered their packing since the very unfortunate incident above, and thank Spock for that, because these models are not cheap.

Let’s get the obvious benchmark out of the way. This is how Reprisal appears in Star Trek Online:

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One very traditional Yorktown class cruiser. And I’d have her no other way – the original Odyssey model by Adam Ilhe and Cryptic’s Adam Logan (now a developer at Bungie) was a wonderful evolution of the Enterprise lineage, and the Yorktown – a further development of the design by Thomas Marrone – in my opinion took the few niggling bugbears of the design and turned it into something really special. As far as my ship is concerned – let’s face it, if you’re going to get a model of the Enterprise-F, you don’t want to stray too far from tradition.

Let’s get started…

Packaging…

Ho Mama. Is this thing secure or what? The ship arrived in a big brown shrink-wrapped box, which contained about a kilogram of packing beads, which were protecting a big black, fancy Gameprint case, (which itself was nicely bound in bubble wrapping) which in turn contained high density foam, cotton wool, and a very securely padded starship that was bound by satin ribbon and foam paper to the bottom of the cut-out foam. Some peace of mind, then! I was already feeling good about this.

Ship arrived in one piece, safe and sound. I don’t think I had a lot to worry about on this. I showed Foxman the packaging before writing this, and he seemed quite convinced that Gameprint had dramatically improved just how they were shipping these out. Significant care was taken in getting this ship out to me.

The Ship…

Typical of 3D prints and other made-to-order casts, Reprisal is printed in resin, which is notorious for deformations that are caused as the material sets following printing. This was my second concern. There have been numerous reports in the community of models arriving with splayed or drooping nacelles and pylons. I’ve built model ships and have been in tabletop wargaming for over 20 years, so I’m more than accustomed to this phenomenon. That said, the print is remarkably clean. There is absolutely no trace of ‘scan lines’ that are so typical of many 3D printers, and while there was some minor bowing in the port nacelle (slightly visible in the last photo above) this was very easily corrected after getting out a hair dryer for two minutes and gently warming the pylon.

It’s a common problem with many Star Trek models that getting nacelles that are parallel and in alignment is difficult. So I’m pleased to say Reprisal is very tidy indeed:

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Second thing I checked was the surface detail. Based on the photos I’ve seen from others so far, it’s been difficult to determine just how good the bas relief and surface detail is on these models. It’s impressive just how much relief Gameprint has managed to get into this model, and says a lot about how good the translation process between Star Trek Online and Gameprint’s production line really is. Check this out.

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Every hull plate, every window, every lifepod and phaser array has been rendered crisply without a trace of flashing or visible stepping from the printing process.

This is one very clean model. I’ve uploaded most of these photos at 4k resolution so you can get a feel for the surface finish.

The underside, too – an area of 3D printed models that is sometimes lackluster – is very cleanly resolved and detailed.

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So what about size?

As advertised, the ship is exactly 30cm (12″) long from the end of the nacelles to the very tip of the prow. Here she is between a 1:1700 Bandai USS Enterprise-E and the Eaglemoss USS Enterprise-D.

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The Details…

There is a lot to love. I admit when I hit ‘submit’ on the ship order that I was curious to see whether Gameprint’s artists would actually attempt to replicate Cryptic’s lovely Type 7 ‘Aztec’ pattern when they painted the ship, but realistically, that was always a long-shot.

The paint work on the model is great. Individual hull plates are distinguished in a tasteful two-tone grey, while a dark charcoal picks out her secondary trim. The artists have clearly used a combination of primers and airbrushes to apply most of the base colours as the paint coatings across most of the hull are nice and thin, and under a microscope (or zoom lens) you can just make out the ‘orange peel’ pattern that you typically get from a spray gun.

Pennant lines, trim and other details are picked out nicely by hand-painted brush strokes and they even resolved my simplified fleet logo on the bow astonishingly well for this scale – freehand, no less! Yes, really. Here’s the stylised version:

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And here’s the bow:

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For an insignia that’s barely 4mm wide across the hull, that’s incredibly good!

That photo brings me nicely to the next point: hull markings.

The artists have used printed decals to pick out the ship’s registry in all the appropriate places. There is a little bit of bleeding on the name ‘REPRISAL’ above the registry number, but this is relatively minor complaint that I can live with. You can very faintly make out the edge of the decal markings in many places, but it’s been very well finished using microsol solution to reduce the tell-tale outline of the decal paper and secure it well to the surface of the model. For those non-modellers out there: that means they are not moving any time soon, and won’t slide free from surface contact with the hands.

The blending job on the simulated lighting around areas of detail such as the ship’s flood lights, impulse engines and bussard collectors is similarly very smooth. While I suspect the flood light was achieved through masking and airbrushing, I cannot tell whether hand brushes were used in other areas.

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Engine ports and other ‘glowing’ effects are topped in a high-gloss varnish to pick them out and give them a glass-like finish that works well, though that does mean that the sins of the surface smoothness are laid bare. The contours between impulse engines and their housings, or warp grilles and the nacelles, are not perfectly smooth – likely from where the enamel’s inherent viscosity has dried unevenly between the seams. Again, though, the glassy look is great and suits the style of the model.

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The free-hand line work around some of the Starfleet pennants is very fine, and clearly not achieved with decals. As far as I can tell, the only places where decals have been used are in places where numbers or names are printed onto the hull. While we’re are it – the bridge itself is a lot of fun, and is packed with little attentions to detail. The entire dorsal hull looks wonderful.

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The Verdict…

The big question is: Is it worth the price? I was fortunate enough to order the ship during the introductory price period in April, but factoring in the shipping and the exchange rate (about 75 cents to the US Dollar) this was not a cheap buy, and it’s only gotten more expensive since then.

As models go, this one is definitely on the high-end of cost. The Bandai Enterprise-E shown earlier in this article was a fraction of the cost of this ship, and as a Star Trek model it is hard to say with a straight face that the better part of what is now $500 US is a sum of money that I would part with again.

How much you’re willing to pay to have a permanent keepsake of your favourite Star Trek Online ship is going to be a very personal decision. I have played STO almost continuously since late 2010, and the vast majority of that time has been with the USS Reprisal.

Depending on what you want, the offerings from Eaglemoss for an Odyssey or Vesta may suit you just fine. Or alternatively, Gameprint now offers much more affordable full-colour 3D prints which aren’t going to be quite as detailed or as nicely finished as their artisan pieces.

The bottom line is: I am glad I bought this model, and I think I would have regretted it had I missed the introductory price point.

I will, in all probability, be ordering the less-expensive 3D models from Gameprint in the future. I will provide an update when that happens.

Until then, clear skies, Captains!

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