A Call to Arms Star Fleet - Review of the Federation reinforcements set
I picked up squadron box #7, Federation reinforcements, at the Game Expo in Birmingham.
It contains five Federation ships, a Federation Class Dreadnought, a Kirov Class Battlecruiser, a Chicago class New Heavy cruiser, a Kearsarge class New Light Cruiser and an Ortega class War Destroyer. In ACTA: Star Fleet this totals 1025 points, enough for a small fleet and if a blister of say, 2 battle frigates was added, or a Manta Ray Class Fast Cruiser, enough for a tournament fleet of 1250 points.
The Star Fleet background diverges from the standard Star Trek background being based on the Original Series and the Animated Series - which is captain Kirk era. As a wargame it has a large scale conflict between the Federation, and its allies, and the Klingons, Romulans and the Klingon ally, the Lyrans. As a large conflict unfolded, called the General War (eventually engulfing 8 empires/races), races designed cruisers and destroyers to be built quickly and removed much of the scientific and exploration equipment (the Federation cruiser having absolute tons of labs, for example). The Klingon D5 and D5W are lovely ships, and I'll add them to my plog soon done in my Klingon green scheme. This box provides the Federation New Heavy Cruiser, New Light Cruiser and War Destroyer.
The ships come in ziploc bags inside a small box with a picture of painted and assembled ships on the front, with five bases. It retails for £30.
New Heavy Cruiser pieces
New Light Cruiser pieces
War Destroyer pieces
I've decided to do a pretty in depth review. I'll go over each model in turn, giving descriptions and pictures of it assembled.
Kearsarge Class New Light Cruiser
This is a three part kit, consisting of the saucer/hull and two engines. As you can see from the picture, the saucer panels are deep enough that undercoating and a couple of layers of paint will not obliterate them.
On the saucer there was a thin moulding line on the rim of the saucer and a small moulding lug just offset from the centreline, also on the rim of the saucer. A little quick knife work and a few passes with the emery board and that was cleaned up. On the engines there was a couple of spill tabs, a thin mould line around each piece, and the front of the warp nacelle needed the cylinder coming out of the nacelle tip to be flattened off at the bottom. At the other end, a little knife and emery work required to round off the nacelle exhaust/whatever it is.
Taking my time with this and writing the write up so far took me twenty minutes, so this is not a time consuming process for someone with reasonable modelling experience. It's not suitable for small kids if you are using craft knives, but you could do all the clean up by snipping or twisting off the spill tags and then using an emery board. If you're doing this with kids, and they're too young for you to teach knife safety to, then you can take the emery board option.
Assembling the model is dead easy. On each engine there are two little nubbins, one offset from the other, which fit two corresponding dips in the rear of the saucer with the sort of precision you get from computer designed and prototyped models. Dry fit it just to check. I put two tiny dots of liquid green stuff and a reasonable sized portion of super glue then press the two pieces together until the green stuff is holding the superglue until they both set. I generally leave models I've glued together for a little while and do something else so it is solid when I glue the next piece in.
As you can see from the assembled model the nacelles are closer together than most Federation ships and aren't on pylons set away from the hull. This gives the model a more predatory, sleeker and aggresive feel. The constitution is a pretty ship, but the war cruisers/destroyers are warships and plain about it.
You can clean and assemble this ship in ten minutes if you were quick about it, though I took my time because I wanted to get it perfect.
Ortega Class War Destroyer
This is a four piece model. Cleaning up the saucer there were two small moulding lugs either side of the front of the saucer, a faint mould line just under the top edge of the saucer going round and a little bit of flash around the engine block. I trimmed the lugs and flash down with the modelling knife, and neatened it up with an emery board.
The engines sprue consists of two top engines and a bottom engine.The two top engines, as you can see from the picture, have a quite thick connection to the sprue. I clipped them off, then used the clippers to reduce as much of the connecting material without taking too much and making it hard for me to round them off. A minute with the emery board on each, and the warp nacelles had nice rounded fronts. There was a thin mould line on each engine and a tiny piece of flash at the end (which I'm going to have to call the exhaust, sorry if I'm wrong and causing tears of anger to roll down a hardened fans face).
The bottom engine was the most problematic. This is attached to a small but thick pylon with two nubbins that match two dimples in an inset box in the bottom of the saucer. This is about 1mm too wide on either side to slot into the box. I used the craft knife to trim the bottom 1-2mm of the pylon so that it sat neatly in the inset and the nubbins and dimples lined up and neatened it with the emery board.
Before assembly I dry fitted the pieces to confirm they all fit. I started with the bottom engine, and used a couple of half pin head sized pieces of green stuff and superglue to attach it, as seen here.
For the two top engines there are nubbins and dimples. If you want a ship you can play hackey sack with you can do a small drill and pin here to make sure the join is absolutely solid. I used a pin head amount of liquid green stuff that I put between the nubbins, and then a small blob of superglue on each nubbin. On the top left engine one of the nubbins was slightly too big, so a little trimming with the craft knife and it fit together perfectly. Press the pieces together until they hold on their own.
Chicago Class New Heavy cruiser
In the background this is an enlarged Kearsarge Class designed as a heavy combat unit. It gains a small secondary hull and extra warp engine, making it a four piece kit. For those who love painting the windows on their ACTA ships, there are a fair few on the secondary hull.
On the saucer, again two small moulding lugs at the front and a faint mould line around the rim of the saucer. On the engines the warp nacelles need rounding off at the front and the exhaust, and the mould lines scraped or filed off and a couple of pieces of flash removed.
Dry fitting the pieces together, there was a little infill in the holes where the main engines joined the saucer. I took a pin vice drill and a 2mm drill bit and drilled these out, but as this took about a minute it didnít bother me. However, with my drill out I remembered how butter fingered some of the people I game with are, and pinned the two larger engines to the saucer. To avoid issues I placed the pin in the small nubbin on one side and the large nubbin on the other. While thinking of models previously dropped or knocked over, I pulled the engines off the NCL (which did take a bit of force) and pinned those as well.
The smaller underslung engine was glued into place with a couple of tiny blobs of liquid greenstuff to help seal it.
The model didnít take long to build, and apart from drilling out the holes for the nubbins there were no issues with the casting. As I pinned the model anyway it made very little difference to me.
Re: A Call to Arms Star Fleet - Review of the Federation reinforcements set
Kirov Class Battlecruiser
In the Star Fleet background this is as big as a cruiser hull gets. Battlecruisers are the complete package in SFB and ACTA: Star Fleet. They can squash any enemy cruiser, provide good command abilities, and while not as sturdy as a dreadnought, can take a lot more punishment than a cruiser.
Cleaning up the model there were a couple of small moulding lugs on the saucer and some tags on the engines, engineering hull and deflector dish. Cutters and an emery board dealt with this, and a craft knife and the emery board again dealt with a little flash and the mould lines. There was some infilling on the hole for the deflector dish, but as it took me longer to change the drill bit in my pin vice drill to the 2mm bit than it did for me to drill it out I donít regard it as a major issue.
On the warp nacelles at the front there was a little pitting on one and an almost invisible amount on the other. These would probably have been filled by paint when the model is painted, but as Iím making these models for display and demo games and Iím putting extra effort in to make sure if I take pictures of them they suck because of my poor photography skills, I filled them in with very small amounts of liquid greenstuff. I put these to one side to dry before I made sure any excess greenstuff was removed.
While that was drying I tidied up the deflector dish and attached it to the engineering hull (again, green stuff and superglue). I dry fitted the saucer and engineering hull. While this isnít necessary again my mind flashed back to the time someoneís Bloodthirster got knocked off a table at the club. I decided to put a small pin in the Ďneckí of the ship as well the two nubbins and groove that the impulse engines sat in. I placed it between the impulse engines and the hole closest to them on the saucer, where it was thickest. I then dry fitted the engines. The booms for the warp nacelles have tabs that slot into the engineering hull, giving a solid join. One of these holes was a little shallowing, and a minutes drill work was required to deepen it so the boom was flush with the hull.
A little green stuff and super glue, and the engines were attached to the engineering hull. I then added green stuff and superglue to the nubbins and pin on the neck of the engineering hull and attached the saucer, holding it in place until it had set.
The battlecruiser was harder to assemble than the new series ships, and the lessons learnt between the design of the first wave of Federation ships (dreadnought, battlecruiser, heavy cruiser, strike cruiser, fast cruiser, old light cruiser, battle frigate, frigate and police ship) and the second wave (new heavy cruiser, new light cruiser, war destroyer, new fast cruiser) and obvious and have made a significant difference to the ease of assembly.
Federation Class Dreadnought
The flagships of the Federation fleet, dreadnoughts pack massive firepower onto a tough hull, able to bring 10 phaser-1s and 6 photons to bear on a target they have centrelined.
I already have a dreadnought from my fleet box. Iíll assemble a second one for colossal fleet battles, but all subsequent dreadnoughts I get from squadron boxes Iíll swap for other ships or sell on.
There are two small moulding tags on the saucer and one on the shuttlebay on the engineering hull. Each of the warp engines had a small amount of pitting in the nacelle, and I fixed this before moving on to clean up the engineering hull and saucer. Again it was a quick job, and I left it to dry in the sun.
The hole for the deflector dish was a little too shallow. A few twists with the 2mm drill bit and it was fine. There was a little flash on the spine of the engineering hull and a little on the bottom. Underneath it required more delicacy to get rid of, as a number of small details run along the bottom of the hull. With the engineering hull cleared up, I cleaned up the deflector dish and attach it.
Due to the weight of the model, and worries about damage due to rough handling, I opted to pin the engineering hull to the saucer and the saucer warp engine by putting two pins the the two nubbins on the engineering hull that contact the saucer warp engine. The two warp engines that connect to the engineering hull have nubbin/hole arrangements to make the join more secure. A bit of judicious filing was required to make sure the engines fit snugly, and then they were glued into place.
Hereís a picture of the completed squadron box. I found the new ships much easier to build than the dreadnought and battlecruiser, but nothing stretched my modelling skills in any way, and Iím an adequate modeller at best.
For £30 this is a complete fleet, and adding the Manta Ray class fast cruiser brings it up to tournament points level. Iíve played a few games of ACTA: Star Fleet now and have enjoyed it, and now Iíve got a Federation fleet as well.
I would recommend the set for people into space wargames or people into Star Trek and gaming. The rules do give a very Original Series feel to it. Itís an alternative to Squadron box #1, and the ships are easier to put together (you also get more points of ships in this set). It is almost an exact points match for the Klingon squadron box, which comes in at 1010 points. Iíve painted a big chunk of my Klingon fleet, and these beauties will be next on my painting table.
The squadron box can be found here:
Last edited by Ben; 30-05-2012 at 20:54.