Collector’s Cabinet: Mass Effect Normandy SR-1 Ship Replica from Dark Horse

There’s nothing quite like owning physical goods, but they can be expensive, and shelf space can come at a premium.  Every Wednesday Hardcore Gamer picks a premium collectible from our cavernous swag vaults and tells you whether it’s worth a spot in your Collector’s Cabinet.

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When you get down to it, the Mass Effect series is really all about personal expression. Okay, that’s not entirely true – when you get down to it, the Mass Effect series is really all about Garrus Vakarian and Mordin Solus – but personal expression plays a big part in it. You define what your Shepard looks like, how they play, what decisions they make, and the order of Garrus and Mordin in their party (or you could choose other party members, I guess). One of the coolest ways the games let you express yourself is in the ability to pick out décor for Shepard’s chambers on the Normandy. You aren’t given the breadth of options for this that you’d see in, say Wildstar or Animal Crossing, but you do have your choice of fish for your fish tank and mood music for your sexy times.

Speaking as a figurine nerd, my personal favorite bits of décor are the model ships that Shepard can collect in his travels. These models represent various iconic spacecraft from the ME universe, ranging from reapers to battlecruisers to, of course, the Normandy. I’ve always wanted to put those ships on my own shelves. Thanks to Dark Horse, I can. The Alliance Normandy SR-1 Ship Replica is part of a series of die-cast model spacecraft released by the comic publisher over the last few years. The line mainly includes ships from the Alliance fleet, though a Turian Cruiser was released this year, and if you have a lot of money to burn there’s an 18 inch replica of Sovereign for the taking.

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Commander Shepard’s prototype stealth frigate is a very sleek ship indeed. Though its relatively flat components make it appear deceptively small, its long, tapered hull and curved design give the impression of a predator ready to pounce – across light years if need be. Dark Horse’s mold of the ship captures this well, with plenty of details like panels and vents. It’s definitely comparable in quality to the die-cast cars and planes you see at hobby shops (though naturally without the same articulation). Unfortunately, though the decals on the ship are of high quality, the paint job doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

To be fair, the Normandy’s detail work is half-decent – specifically the port half. For some odd reason, the starboard side of the ship (at least on the model I was provided) is noticeably inferior. Lines that should be straight are wobbly, paint bleeds to a distressing degree, and there are even scuffs and cracks where metal shows through. It’s particularly bad on the underside of the ship, where the paintwork (particularly the metallic paint) is rough and uneven, and an unsightly white ring wraps around the hole for the model’s stand.

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As for extras, the stand is more or less it. It’s a nice stand, to be sure, made to look like the alliance crest, with foam feet to keep it from scuffing your furniture and a metal rod to hold the ship aloft. It’s a nice improvement from the boring black ovals of some of Dark Horse’s previous replicas (like their Normandy SR-2 from 2011), but it doesn’t do much to make up for the flaws with the model it supports.

The Normandy SR-1’s issues are problems with production, not design. Should you purchase your own model you may find none of these issues present – though since it comes in a windowless box you won’t know until you open it up. It’s a shame, because the model itself is rather nice, but it seems like Dark Horse needs to work out some bugs on their assembly line. Even so, it makes a nice display piece for hardcore Mass Effect fans, and it looks fine at a bit of a distance. If you’re going to buy the Normandy SR-1, I’d suggest investing in more ships so that people can admire them as a fleet, rather than individually.

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