Thursday, November 3, 2016

BEN STILLER LETS HIS TREK FAN-BOY FLY, OWNS UP TO OWNING THE ORIGINAL GORN AND MORE!

I broke my hand a couple of months ago and I am finally able to type once again. I've been away for far longer than I would have liked but I hope to get back into a more regular cycle of stories now that I'm on the mend.  – D

Nerds are everywhere today, including the hallowed halls of Hollywood. Comedic actor and film-maker Ben Stiller has been known as a Trek fan for many years, having even been given a small cameo as a Romulan in 2009's Star Trek. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Stiller recently appeared on Nat Geo's "Startalk" where he admitted to host Neil deGrasse Tyson that he was not only a life-long Star Trek fan, but that he also owned some key props and costumes from The Original Series.


Stiller first confesses that he owns a copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual which establishes some major Trek cred. After all, only die-hard fans actually have the book, right? But then he goes on to mention that he used some TOS goodies as props in his movie Tropic Thunder.

In Matthew McConaughey's character's office, a couple of iconic things can clearly be seen – if you're looking at the right place. Check out the lower right of this screen grab:


That's right: a Gorn head! And not just another copy, no, sir. That's one of the two original Gorn heads created for the TOS episode Arena! But wait – that's not all. Later in that same scene, another piece of familiar Trekabelia can be seen right smack in center screen


Yep. Spock ears. Season 2 versions, according to Stiller. He bought both items at auction along with a pilot episode Spock tunic. No idea which pilot he was referring to – The Cage or Where No Man Has Gone Before – but either would do nicely!

To top it off, though, Stiller says that no less than Leonard Nimoy himself spotted the ears in the movie and spoke to Stiller about them. After admitting that, yes, they were real Spock ears, Nimoy asked for Stiller's address. He then sent Stiller another set of ears from The Motion Picture. A personal gift of Spock ears from Nimoy himself. It doesn't get any better than that. And you can see in Stiller's face that he was truly moved by the gift, as would be any true Trek fan.

What else might Stiller own? Who knows? But he's definitely on my radar from now on.

LLAP

Don

HERITAGE AUCTIONS OFFERING "BACKGROUND" WRATH OF KHAN MAROON JACKET. EXCEPT THERE'S NO SUCH THING.

Every so often, a so-called "Monster Maroon" uniform as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan comes to auction. As a fan of these great pieces, I look forward to these with particular anticipation. Usually they are the real deal because they are incredibly difficult to fake and a knock-off sticks out like a sore thumb.

Which brings me to this offering from Heritage:

Heritage's Maroon uniform Jacket (click to enlarge)
Looks, cool, right? Here's the accompanying text:

"An Extra's Jacket from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Paramount, 1982. Red cotton, collarless, black and gold piping, gold-metal emblems attached on shoulder strap, chest and cuffs, no labels present; likely worn by an extra as it's similar but not identical to the uniforms worn by the main cast members."

So it is "similar but not identical to the uniforms worn by the main cast members". Which makes it, by their definition, at least, an "Extra's Jacket", which totally makes sense except for one thing. There were no "extra" or "background" versions of the officer's jacket in these films. Every jacket we ever see is a full-blown version, identical in materials and construction to those worn by the main cast. How do I know that? Because I know more about these pieces than just about anyone alive (go HERE to see what I mean). I have done exhaustive research over the years. I have owned many specimens, both main cast pieces and background pieces. I know many others who own various specimens and they have shared their insights with me. I have a database that has tracked every version sold over the last fifteen years. They all have one thing in common – they are all made the same way with the same level of detail. In short, they are all "hero" versions. There is no secondary, lower-level "background/extra" version for one simple reason – money. When Wrath of Khan was made, the production was under very tight budgetary constraints. So very few actors outside of the main cast even wore the officer's maroon uniform. Those few that did, show them to be identical in every way to the main cast versions because they are on screen with the main cast so they had to match.

The shoulder straps on all production pieces, for instance, were all the same design. Heritage's is different and doesn't even have a clasp! A background piece shouldn't be as elaborate as, yet different from, a production piece. That makes no sense. It has a different gold braid. Why? It's thicker and gaudier. Why? And in the dozens and dozens of straps and jackets I've seen over they years not a single one was missing the clasp. Not one. In the image below, the far right shot shows an actual extra's strap (from Wrath of Khan). This is the only extra ever seen on the bridge throughout the film, and only one of three extras shown wearing a maroon in the entire movie. Note that it has the clasp and the thinner, darker gold braid.


The heritage piece is described as being cotton, which would have stood out like a sore thumb against the wool versions worn by everyone else. The wrists on production pieces all show the same trapunto (or quilting) detail with stitched rings in all cases (the Heritage piece has none). The admiral wrist braid was of two particular designs, neither of which match the Heritage version.

No production piece has ever been missing the quilting detail on the arms. But Heritage's is.
So, in short, while the Heritage version appears to be a WOK jacket at a glance, it quickly falls apart under scrutiny. Their main claim of "extra" usage is not supported by the facts, but is a claim commonly used to support a piece because, as such it wouldn't have to match the "hero"versions. Very convenient, and unprovable as it is circular logic – "It's a background piece that you can't see very well, which is why its details are different and you can't confirm it because it's, you know, always in the background". Riiiight.

I say there were no "extra" versions, ever, and that supposition is supported by years of research, not guesswork. If someone has information to the contrary, by all means please pass it along to me. I live to learn.  But I think I'm on pretty solid ground here.

I contacted Heritage with my concerns and this was their reply:

"Dear Mr. Hillenbrand,

Please see attached photos where background actors are wearing similar jackets to the one Heritage is offering in our upcoming November 12th auction.  I’ve spoken to the consignor of this piece and he obtained it directly from Paramount Studios a number of years ago. He’s “in the business” so it makes sense he would have this costume piece. It is not a fan made piece as you speculate below.  It is actually quite well-made and detailed if you could see it in person.  It was worn by one of the background actors probably in the scenes I’ve attached here – it was not worn by one of the main actors and is not a “hero” piece.  Hopefully this addresses your concern.

Best,
Margaret Barrett
Director / Entertainment & Music"

The scene she refers to is this shot from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home :


The only problem with that theory is that several of those maroons shown were later sold at auction and were the same as all the other versions. They were no different from the main cast uniforms in any way. And we know that they reused jackets from earlier films over and over so that they didn't have to go to the expense of making new ones, especially for bit players. All trek films had super-tight budgets. These are facts, not guesses.

Regarding the Paramount mention, it's actually possible that this is a Paramount copy created for things like the old Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. They created copies of many Starfleet uniforms and various aliens for those venues. Perhaps this is one of those. It would actually explain the missing clasp. I suspect there might be Velcro under there in place of the clasp which is commonly used on theater costumes to make them easy to take off and on. But who knows?

So here's the bottom line on this piece. It is either:

1. A rare, never-before-seen "extra" version which has never, ever been shown or proven to exist

or

2. It's a very nice (though inaccurate) copy.

Guess which one I'm going with? I'll let you decide for yourself as to whether or not this piece is what they claim. But here's some additional food for thought.

This piece has been up for auction for weeks and has not garnered a single bid, despite have a very low opening number. If this were real, I know of any number of people who would be hot after it, myself included! Yet there it sits, languishing in loneliness. Which is what it deserves, after all. Heritage needs to up their game, especially on something as simple as this. It makes them look like fools in this writer's opinion.

Don't be fooled by fools.

LLAP

Don

Thursday, September 29, 2016

SINCE CBS DIDN'T GIVE US A 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, LET'S WATCH THE 25TH AGAIN

While it was nice to see a couple of Star Trek 50th Anniversary shows appear on History Channel and The Smithsonian Channel, there was no "official" celebration on CBS and Paramount, the actual owners of Star Trek. In light of that, let's watch the 25th Anniversary special that was originally broadcast on September 28, 1991.

It was a simpler time!


LLAP,

Don

Thursday, September 15, 2016

TOM HANKS SNUCK ONTO WRATH OF KHAN SETS BECAUSE HE'S TOM HANKS

Everybody's favorite actor, Tom Hanks, is also a Star Trek fan as evidenced by his various Trek insider comments over the years. Here's his latest where he talks about his "greatest day in Hollywood":

LLAP

Don

Monday, September 12, 2016

CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE OF THE ORIGINAL SERIES: A FIVE-FOOT ENTERPRISE CAN NOW BE YOURS.

If you've always wanted a really big version of the original Enterprise, well, you're in luck!

A number of years ago, a company named Custom Replicas created a huge model of the Enterprise. And by huge I mean it was 66 inches long! That's roughly half the scale of the original filming model which was 11 feet long. Only a handful of these models were assembled, painted and finished, and one of those is now available. Click on the photo, below, to see this baby in all its glory!


This will soon be sold at auction (more to come as details are known). Keep in mind that these things were incredibly pricey to begin including the cost of the original model, having it built and wired for light, then painted and put on display. It is beautifully detailed and looks like it could take off for the stars at warp 9!

This is a really cool piece that I hope will find a good home with another devoted Star Trek collector. When the auction details are known, I'll post a follow-up. I'm not involved in this transaction in any way. I'm just a fan of this great model!

LLAP.

Don


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

MY OBSESSION WAS BORN FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY. HERE'S WHY IT STILL MATTERS.

Star Trek was born on September 8, 1966, with the airing of the first ever episode "The Man Trap". Now, I'm not one of those people who claim that the heavens parted and their lives changed forever after that first hour of Star Trek was over. There's a good reason for that: I was simply too young to watch it, let alone be moved by it. No, my obsession didn't start until years later when I could actually think and read and stuff like that. Star Trek hit me right between the eyes when I discovered it being shown every afternoon at 6 on my local Kaiser Broadcasting station (Channel 61, Cleveland!) in the early seventies. While my parents watched Cronkite, I watched Kirk. And watched, and watched and – well, I'm still watching!

Why is a fifty-year-old TV show meaningful today? First of all, it's still relevant because of the simple fact that everybody knows what Star Trek is. Even after half a century, it endures. The longest period of time between Trek productions was the 10 year stretch between the original series ending in 1969 and the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in December of 1979. (I'm not including the short lived Animated Series from 1974 as it was not a traditional live-action show). After that time, no more than four years passed without a Trek series or film being produced. It's an unprecedented achievement with no other TV show in history even coming close to Star Trek's staying power.

That staying power has been fueled by one key thing: Star Trek is, at its best, a story about ideas. Sometimes it's big ideas (the end of the universe!) and sometimes small (the love between mother and child). And that's the beauty of Trek. It's not just telling the same story over and over (Law & Order, anyone?). It's about opening new doors, looking into corners that are rarely, if ever, peeked at and shining a light onto new possibilities. It can be alternately heavy (The Motion Picture) or light (The Voyage Home), big ("Best of Both Worlds") or intimate ("The Inner Light"). Great and awful (too many of each to name).

Star Trek typically tells its stories through the lens of family and how that family comes together in a moment of crisis to move things to a safer ground. Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Picard, Data and Riker. Sisko and his crew, and on and on. Our heroes are challenged, then rise to meet said challenge through ability, intelligence, guts and having that most undefinable of qualities, The Right Stuff. Sometimes they win, sometimes they don't. But it's almost always a positive, forward-looking outcome which is refreshing in this age of stories about darkness, evil and How Bad Things Are. In an ever-increasing pessimistic world, Star Trek has always strived to show the best in humanity.

We need that optimism now more than ever.

With that in mind, there's a new Trek coming our way next year. It's called Star Trek Discovery, a name that evokes the very best of what Star Trek can be. You know the drill:

"...to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldy go where no one has gone before."

Let's hope this new Trek lives up to its distinguished pedigree.

Happy Fiftieth, Star Trek. May you continue to Live Long and Prosper.

Don

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"STAR TREK DISCOVERY" WILL HAVE FEMALE LEAD – SET 10 YEARS BEFORE ORIGINAL SERIES

Star Trek Discovery, the new Trek series due out in January from CBS, will have a female lead according to Showrunner Bryan Fuller speaking at CBS's Television Critics Association press event. Interestingly, the lead won't be the ship's captain, but rather will be a lieutenant commander.


A unique point of view

This will be the first time any Trek has moved away from the POV of the ship's captain. “We’ve seen six series from captain’s point of view,” he explained. “To see one from another point of view gives us a richer context.” Who will fill the role has yet to be determined. “It’s about who’s the best actor,” he said. We're going to delve into something that was for me always very tantalizing and to tell that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy," Fuller said . "For her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself."

Set 10 years prior to The Original Series in the Prime Universe

The show will NOT be set in the movie universe as created by JJ Abrams for his film series (THANK GOD!). It will take place ten years before Kirk, Spock and company set out on their Five Year Mission. That's far closer than I thought it would be. On a related note, Fuller mentioned that he loved the character of Amanda Grayson, Spock's mother who married the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek. Amanda was played by the great Jane Wyatt in the TOS episode "Journey to Babel" and in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Does that mean the character will actually appear in some way? Will a young Spock appear? Holy crap!

Gay characters will exist

Fuller, a gay man himself, stated that "Absolutely we’re having a gay character ." That element is one of the last taboos to be broken by a Star Trek production and it's long overdue. “What can we say about diversity in every role,” he added. “We’ll probably have a few more aliens than you typically have on the show. We wanted to paint a picture of Starfleet where we’re going to have new exciting aliens and also new imagining of existing aliens,” Fuller said via Entertainment Weekly.

A new visual style?

Fuller addressed the nature of a story that takes place 10 years before another show made in 1966 (TOS). "We can redefine the visual style,” he said. “We get to play with all of the iconography of those ships and that universe. Since we are doing this series in 2016 and all of the other series have been produced [at a time that] isn’t as sophisticated as we are now with what we can do production-wise, we’re going to be reestablishing an entire look for the series — not only for the series, but for what we wanted to accomplish with Star Trek beyond this series.”

This, frankly, confuses the hell out of me.  If you change the style, then this is not actually set in the Prime Universe, but one similar. If you change the visuals, you change the story and the universe in which it takes place.

This sounds like a defacto reboot. And I'm all for that!

LLAP,

Don

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TV'S NEWEST TREK HAS A NAME – STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – AND A NEW SHIP TO GO WITH IT

Little has been revealed about the upcoming CBS Star Trek show that will debut in January. At long last we've finally been given something concrete. Revealed at Comic-Con 2016 by Executive Producer Bryan Fuller, below is a glimpse of the show's featured ship. Take a look and we'll talk.



Here's my take.

First off, the title is in keeping with the last three Trek shows which were named after their ships (or station). "Discovery" is also in keeping with Star Trek's Mission Statement: "explore strange new worlds..." and all that. So it works on many levels.


The ship we see features a design that was created way back in the late 70's by designer Ralph McQuarrie of Star Wars fame. McQuarrie was hired in 1977 to design a new Enterprise for a Trek film that never got off the ground called "Planet of the Titans". Small cardboard study models were made of two of his designs and these models made very brief and very minor appearances in later Star Trek productions, but no detailed models for featured use were ever made so this makes the first-ever use of this design in any significant way.

Concept models of McQuarrie's designs


Renderings of McQuarrie's take on a new Enterprise
Keep in mind that at the time of their creation, no other Enterprise had been designed. These were a decade before Next Gen and 2 years before The Motion Picture.

McQuarrie's spacedock design is clearly seen in the new footage



Even if you don't know McQuarrie or his work on Star Wars, you can definitely see the influence of such things as the huge Star Destroyers – designed by McQuarrie for George Lucas – at work here. And while I've always found these to be interesting approaches, I have always thought the proportions were not very elegant. The huge triangular secondary hull dwarfs the saucer. The engines seem too insignificant.

In short, this design is butt ugly, in this fan's opinion. So I think it's unfortunate that they went to this particular well for a ship design to be featured heavily in a new production. It's my opinion that no featured ship should be blatantly unsophisticated. This seems to be just that.

Here's stills that show how they interpreted McQuarrie's design into a finished form:





There are some significant differences. The basic proportions of the saucer to the secondary hull are changed to create a larger overall saucer size which I think is a good thing. The engine size has been upped as well.

But the overall take-away for me is that this seems to be an intentionally crude ship design. The cages over the engine domes are almost steam-punkish. The engines lack any real sense of grace, at least from the limited angles we are given. And when combined with the music, this ship has an almost Klingon feel to it, mostly because of the triangular hull's forward-thrusting engines.

I'm not crazy about it but CBS has stated that this is a concept piece so hopefully it will be finessed (improved) a bit. A lot. A whole lot.

As for what the trailer actually tells us about the show, we actually get a few hints with some detective work.

First off, there's the aforementioned crudeness to the design. Is it meant to evoke an early era of Starfleet design, ie: before The Original Series? Perhaps.

Then there's the ship's number, 1031. That puts it well ahead of the Enterprise's 1701 registry number, again pointing to a pre-TOS setting. The ship's name features the "USS" designation which was not used in Star Trek: Enterprise, a show that was set a century before TOS. So, if we put it all together, the clues point to this being set between Enterprise and TOS. Exactly when is anybody's guess at this point. So I'll do just that and guess that it is squarely between the two eras so as not to crowd one or the other in its story-telling.

Fuller reiterated that the show (which will be abbreviating DSC) would not be episodic in nature, but would be structured “like a novel,” telling stories “chapter by chapter” across episodes. He also stated that it would take place in the Prime Universe, ie: NOT in the JJ Abrams film universe. Hallelujah!

As for the quality of the show, that is totally unknowable at this point. We'll have to hope that with people like the great Nick Meyer and Bryan Fuller on board that it will be a voyage worth taking.

Let's hope!

LLAP

Don

Monday, July 25, 2016

"ALL STAR TREK" TAKES FANS DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH ALL FIVE TREKS BACK-TO-BACK

H&I (Heroes and Icons, a network I never heard of until recently) now has the rights to all five Trek shows and began showing them last night in what they have dubbed "All Star Trek". They showed every first episode of every Trek show back to back (and will continue showing all five shows daily). And while everything past TOS will require two nights to complete the first episode showing due to their two-part nature, it was nonetheless an amazing experience that I just happened onto. I was channel surfing when I came across the opening of "Man Trap" in all its 60's over-saturated-color-goodness. I started watching and didn't stop for five hours!


There were so many things that struck me as I went from one era of Trek to the next (yes, I even watched Voyager and Enterprise!). An almost overwhelming sense of nostalgia hit me with every new show until I hit Enterprise. I think it's just too recent to evoke those types of feelings. The older the show, the stronger the emotions were. A sense of time and place swept over me with each version. With TOS I was suddenly a young teen discovering Trek in syndication like millions of others. TNG came along a year before my son was born and Farpoint evoked strong feelings of that point in my life. I remembered waiting for it in high anticipation. DS9 came along the year I went into business. Voyager (which I've never been connected to) was simply a twenty-year-old show and so still evoked feelings of that era. It was a shock to me when I made the realization that it actually started in 1995. I had never thought about it being that old. Enterprise was simply Enterprise.

The main take-away I got from the experience was something I always knew but never understood with such razor-sharp certainty: TOS was the best-realized of all the shows from the get-go. All the others chose to do the "origin" thing where we see the crew meeting each other for the first time and getting to know each other in a gradual way as we the viewers did. But TOS started out – amazingly! – with fully-realized characters. They were in the midst of their five year mission and everyone already knew everyone and were comfortable with each other's abilities. There was an instant familiarity from the very first scene and it informed the show from then on. BTW, I realize "Man Trap" wasn't the first show shot (it was the third if you include the pilot). But even so, with just those two other stories under their belt, Star Trek was fully-realized almost instantly.

It's long been my opinion that the first two seasons of every show thereafter were the weakest of the their respective runs. I gave up on Voyager and Enterprise after their first two season because, for me at least, they were just too mediocre. What struck me about seeing both Farpoint and Emissary was the power of the leads. Without Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks, I can't help but wonder if those two shows would have survived, let alone flourish. Stewart especially had the power to take ho-hum stuff and make it interesting. Without that strong hand at the helm (pun intended) I think the shows would have floundered given the mediocrity of their writing in the early going. To this day I still can't watch "Code of Honor" or "Justice" (or ten others I could name!) even with Patrick Stewart!

It's a fascinating experience to move through forty years worth of Star Trek in one sitting. I highly recommend it! Check out the details at H&I's website:

All Star Trek


LLAP

D

Friday, July 22, 2016

STAR TREK BEYOND: THE MISSING SCENE

For me to see it, Star Trek Beyond will need a key scene right at the beginning that I'm pretty sure doesn't exist. It would go something like this:

Please drop me a line if I'm mistaken and this scene is ACTUALLY THERE!!

LLAP

Don

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: THE TOS ENTERPRISE RESTORATION IS COMPLETE!!

The newly-restored Enterprise model is now in its new berth! Here's the details from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

The Enterprise model, a genuine television star of the 1960s, now rests in the south lobby of Milestones (near the Independence Ave. entrance) in a new, state-of-the-art, climate-controlled case. From the center of the Hall, the restored Enterprise rests with its camera-ready side on full view. Walk around to the back to see the less-decorated port or left side, where the wires bring power to the internal lights and motors. The model’s internal lighting has been replaced with modern LEDs, which will come to life at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm local time each day. An interactive touchscreen attached to the case allows visitors to learn more about the model, Star Trek, and the Museum’s long interest in imagined spaceflight.

She's a beauty, all right, and now in a true place of honor:



More to come!

LLAP,

Don

Sunday, June 26, 2016

FANTASTIC ORIGINAL SERIES LIRPA FROM "AMOK TIME" IS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK. AND IT'S THE REAL DEAL.

Starting June 29 and going on for three days, Profiles In History's Hollywood Auction 83 has some staggeringly cool and rare props and costumes going all the way back to the 60's and The original Series. One of the most amazing of these offerings is a prop familiar with all fans of TOS – the Vulcan Lirpa as seen in the classic episode "Amok Time".

The claim is that this is one of the two actually used in the filming of the episode. Does that claim, hold up? Let's check it out.

Here's the main shot of the prop that Profiles is selling. Be sure to click on it for the large version with plenty of detail.


Usually, with any piece offered from TOS, it's super-tough to truly authenticate it unless it comes from the estate of someone like Gene Roddenberry, Matt Jefferies, Leonard Nimoy or Robert Justman. Even then, you have to be careful because things get mixed up over time.

In this case, though, authentication is a pretty simple matter because the piece can speak for itself, something that is incredibly rare for any Trek piece. Because of the size and nature of the prop, its details are easy to see both now and in an amazing still image from its original use back in 1967. The blade was made from aluminum, though it was blunted to avoid any real carnage. But it looks very deadly in use in part because the blade is burnished in a realistic way. And that burnishing tell us everything.

Check out this still from the actual episode, especially the Lirpa's blade:


Notice that it has lots of great detail because it's so large and prominent in the shot. This is something that is almost unheard of with most Star Trek props. You hardly ever get a close-up of a Phaser or Communicator and those were used throughout the show's three-year run. But here's a prop that was only used in a single episode, yet we get this amazing image for reference.

So let's now look at them side-by-side and see what we can see:


I took the image from the episode and inverted the tones – lights become dark and darks become lights. I did this because, due to the nature of metal objects, lights and darks are purely a result of the angle of the camera and the lights. By inverting the values, we can see what the tones would look like with lighting similar to what Profiles has used. And the results smack you across the face.

The various burnished areas show a high degree of matching. Since it was undoubtedly done by hand with a random outcome, any kind of match would be hard to manufacture. The details are not just similar but exact. Keep in mind that it's had almost 50 years to pick up additional nicks and flaws. I think the photo evidence is very conclusive – this is the Lirpa held by William Shatner back in 1967 as he sparred with Leonard Nimoy on Desilu's sound stage.

That's freakin' amazing.

That said, I'd like to be clear about something. I've never inspected this piece first hand. And it's impossible to say that its not a reproduction done specifically to fool the eye. But I've seen and held a lot of props over the years and this match seems way to organic and perfect to be anything else but genuine, in my opinion.

This makes this piece one of the rarest and most amazing finds in Star Trek collecting history. A couple of years ago the long-lost Phaser Rifle from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" came out into the light, much to the delight of fans everywhere. This piece is much like that.I have no idea where it's been for 49 years, but I'm very happy to see that it has survived, and in very good condition, too.

The word "rare" get overused these days, especially regarding Star Trek. But this is one time when it's definitely not hyperbole. This sucker is super-amazing-to-the-nth-degree-rare.

Did I mention it's kind of unusual?

Check out the entire catalog here:

Profiles Star Trek Auction

LLAP.

Don

AT LAST AN AXANAR INSIDER TELLS ALL: ALEC PETERS WANTED TO USE AXANAR TO BREAK INTO OFFICIAL STAR TREK FILM-MAKING DESPITE UTTER LACK OF EXPERIENCE

This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.

In a staggering turn of events, Christian Gossett, the director of the Star Trek short film "Prelude to Axanar" did an interview with The G & T Show and spilled the beans on just about everything regarding the Axanar Production, most significantly how it started and where things went wrong.



Here's a few highlights which demonstrate the staggering hubris and stupidity involved:

Creator/producer/writer/actor Alec Peters wanted to to be hired by CBS and/or Paramount to create real Star Trek. Despite having ZERO experience in the film industry, Peters wanted to somehow create something that would demonstrate to CBS/Paramount how great he was at producing, all while being funded by donations to his vanity project. That "calling card" would become Axanar. According to Gossett, Peters wanted to be like Rick Berman, the producer who was in charge of all things Star Trek throughout its heyday of the nineties. The arrogance of such a thing is jaw-dropping.

Gossett brought in the pros. Gossett brought in the professionals that made "Prelude", most of whom were unpaid and left after being exposed to Peters and his ego. In one significant example, Peters replaced production designer Scott Cobb via a Facebook post, rather than talking with him directly. What a class act. Gossett wanted to stress to those that support the Axanar project based on "Prelude" that most of the people who made "Prelude" happen are gone. At 18:48

What started as a collaboration became a dictatorship. Once the money started coming in, Peters started changing everything despite having no producing experience. Since he held the purse strings, no one could do anything about it. So they left. 24:35

Peters constantly insisted that he was in touch with CBS. Gossett says that Peters repeatedly assured him that he was in touch with CBS and had their blessing for the overall production as well as for things like selling Axanar Coffee, a fund-raising element of the production. There is no evidence that this contact was a fact, and much to suggest it was a blatant lie.  At 26:38

Gossett didn't want the sound stage. Gossett saw no reason to do any type of sound stage build, insisting that a rental was the thing that made the most sense. A rental would have kept the budget lean, contrary to the bloated budget that has now been enacted. That budget now takes the crowd-funded cash and wastes it on monthly rent rather than putting it on-screen.

Peters didn't want to put raised money on-screen. The Vulcan Scene is the only scene that has thus far been shot for the Axanar feature film and was done after Gossett left. But Gossett says that, before his departure, Peters wanted him to shoot it, but on a very meager budget, despite the fact that the crowd-funding had brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Gossett, the intent of that shoot was to raise even more money.  At 31:30
The "David and Goliath" comparison needs to be redefined. Axanar supporters are constantly evoking a "David vs. Goliath" scenario with themselves cast as the victimized David figure. But Gossett's take was that Axanar was Goliath with all other fan films as the underdogs.  At 49:00

As a result of their "Goliath" standing, the new draconian Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines are a direct result of Axanar's grandiosity. "Prelude to Axanar" was directed by Gossett for approximately $100,000. The Axanar feature film, however, had a budget that exploded as money poured in based in the quality of "Prelude". And as that budget exploded, the production and everything about it got bigger. And that, Gossett believes, is what got the studios' attention.

One of the important takeaways from this interview is the fact that Gossett does not turn on the nasty in any way. He presents the facts as he knows them but leaves any sort of character assassination out of it. Mr. Peters, on the other hand, has proven time after time to be the King of Character Assassination. The difference in tone between the two could not be more pronounced.

Thanks to Mr. Gossett for going on the record. It confirms a lot of things that people have been talking about while shedding light on the entire process that he was an integral part of.

LLAP,

Don

Saturday, June 25, 2016

50TH ANNIVERSARY STAR TREK AUCTION DELIVERS STUNNING OFFERINGS! (HAH! GET IT? STUNNING?)

The Shat's Captain's uniform!!
"Holy crap!"  Not too sophisticated, I know, but that's all I could think of when I saw the catalog for an upcoming auction of Star Trek items.

"Holy, holy crap!"

With Star Trek's 50th Anniversary fast approaching, there's going to be a lot of Trek in the news over the coming months. But nothing will excite collectors more than the upcoming Profiles in History Hollywood 83 auction that is featuring an amazing assortment of Star Trek props, costumes and production materials going all the way back to the original Star Trek itself. There have been some great auctions over the years but this one delivers what has to be the most exclusive array of truly rare pieces ever.

The exclusivity starts with no less than uniforms from both Kirk and Spock: Shatner and Nimoy-worn uniforms dating back to the original series. But as amazing as that sounds, it's just the start. Here's some additional highlights:

A red Uhura uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols

A gold Chekov tunic worn by Walter Koenig

A red Yeoman Rand uniform worn by Grace Lee Whitney

Nurse Chapel's blue medical uniform worn by Majel Barrett

Romulan uniforms from the classic "Balance of Terror"

Numerous guest star costumes

A deadly-looking Lirpa used by none other than Kirk himself from one of the greatest episodes, "Amok Time"

Klingon costumes from "Day of the Dove"

An amazing collection of props from "Wrath of Khan"

And on and on...

There's also plenty of items from later Treks as well including an assortment of Next Gen uniforms (featuring a Brent Spiner Data uniform!), costumes, props and even prototypes. Whatever your  favorite Star Trek version, there's definitely something for everyone.

You can find the complete catalog and bidding info here:

Profiles In History Hollywood Auction 83

Check it out!

LLAP

Don

Friday, June 24, 2016

CRAPPING IN THE SANDBOX: HOW ALEC PETERS AND AXANAR RUINED STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS FOR EVERYONE ELSE

Disclaimer 1: This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.

Disclaimer 2: I've been called a "hater" of Alec Peters. It's true, but then I hate all narcissistic douchecanoes (thanks Wil Wheaton!) who threaten my life, so...

Dear Mr. Peters: be careful what you wish for.

One of the key elements that Mr. Peters and company have bemoaned during the on-going Axanar litigation was the lack of specific guidelines for Star Trek fan films. For decades, other fan film productions did just fine playing in the Star Trek sandbox without said guidelines, with one even getting tacit approval from CBS/Paramount with their production, providing they didn't cross the line into commerce.

The First Rule of Star Trek Fan Films: Don't Make Money.  Second Rule: See Rule Number One.

While this may seem like common sense, apparently Mr. Peters and Company didn't understand that rule. I guess common sense is a rare commodity inside the echo chamber that is Axanar. But, just to make sure going forward that everyone – no matter how dense they might be – understands the rules, CBS and Paramount have now quantified them (found HERE). When all the elements of these guidelines are taken together as a whole, there's only one production that violates every aspect: Axanar. So there can be no doubt that these new rules were written specifically with Axanar in mind. All fan films break some of these rules but, up to now, they didn't shatter them. Only Axanar breaks them all. Breaks them, spits on them and then wipes their ass with them and sets them on fire. And that sucks for all the other fan productions who have tried to play nice in the sandbox for years but are now subject to these new draconian regulations that will cover all productions, all care of Mr. Peters and Axanar.

Make no mistake. Breaking Rule Number One is the equivalent of crapping in the sandbox. And if my own toddler memories can be relied upon, when you crap in the sandbox, everybody gets covered in shit.

The folks at Axanar would have us believe that they weren't doing anything that other fan films haven't been doing for years. That is a blatant lie that only the stupid would promulgate.

For those not in the know, here are just some of the main highlights of Peters'/Axanar's sandbox crapping:

• Raised over $1,000,000 in the name of Star Trek via crowdfunding

• Used some of that crowdfunding to build a for-profit studio

• Paid himself (Peters) at least $38,000 (that we know of)

• Sold unlicensed "Axanar Coffee" (no, I'm not making that up!)


• Sold unlicensed Axanar model kits

And on and on. Without exception no other fan film production ever did any of these things.

The basic fallout from all this is found in the first of the ten new guidelines:

"1. The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes."

The take-away here is that the most Star Trek any group can ever produce in the future is 30 minutes worth of story, period. No on-going stories, no episodes, no nothing beyond 30 minutes. This means that every existing Star Trek fan production is obsolete because they have already produced more than the 30-minute limit. They're done.

All thanks to Mr. Peters and his colossal ego. Contrary to what he and his rabid followers would have you believe,  this is not about huge companies smothering the little guy. Not at all. Rather, this is about a narcissist whose reach exceeded his grasp. He wanted to exploit the property of others for his own personal gain and he got caught. It's no more complex than than that.

Here's a list of known fan productions that can thank Alec Peters for his efforts on their behalf:

Star Trek: Ajax, Ambush, Anthology, Constellation, Continues, Dark Armada, Excelsior, Farragut, Hood, Intrepid, Lexington, Melbourne, New Voyages, Pegasus, Phoenix, Potemkin, Renegades, Starbase Studios, Valiant, Yorktown

ALL of these productions made their contributions to fan films without raising the ire of CBS/Paramount. Then along came Axanar and crapped all over their efforts because Peters couldn't keep his own ego in check.

Well played, Mr. Peters. Well played. I'm sure you are Mr. Popular with the fan film world today.


LLAP,

Don

Monday, June 6, 2016

I'M BEYOND "BEYOND": WHY "STAR TREK BEYOND" WILL NEVER MAKE A DIME OFF OF ME.

Over the last several months I've been completely overhauling a house. "Renovation" doesn't quite cover it – it's more like "a rebuild from Hell". It's kept me a way from this Blog for far too long and I hope to slowly remedy that, beginning now. Thanks for hanging in there!

Many years ago I read a book called "All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek". It was a tongue-in-cheek look at how Star Trek's stories can be used to solve many of life's basic conundrums ranging from treating people fairly to keeping your phaser dry. Little did I know that one of Star Trek's key lessons would teach me about... Star Trek. Specifically, when to stay away from Star Trek.

The piece of insight to which I refer comes from the classic Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", wherein Scotty gives a piece of advice that has stayed with me all my life. After being duped by a fake distress call, he ignores a second one, sagely stating "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!" This insight into human nature has helped me time and time again throughout life. And so it will again in dealing with the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Beyond is the third film of the "reboot" made in 2009's Star Trek which was produced and directed by Lost creator and lens flare aficionado JJ Abrams. In that film, we were introduced to an alternate universe version of the Star Trek we all knew for decades. It had all the classic characters – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc. – but they weren't quite what we knew from the earlier incarnation. And not in a good way, in this fan's opinion. And because those first two films used up all my good will – and patience – I refuse to give in to the temptation to give these film-makers another chance. For me, it's really just another opportunity for people who make, what is in my opinion, fundamentally bad films in general – and bad Star Trek films specifically – to make another buck off of me without delivering anything beyond overdone space battles that ultimately signify nothing but their inability to write a decent script.

Throughout the first two "reboot" films, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) we are given an all-new back-story to James Kirk which defines the direction for these movies. Instead of the smart and highly-competent starship officer which we were first introduced to in the original TV series, we're given a character who inexplicably goes from drifter to Starfleet cadet to First Officer instantly, simply because the plot needs it. There's ZERO logic to it – it simply happens. And that is, in short, the problem with the rebooted universe. Everything happens because the plot needs it to happen, not because it makes sense. Nothing makes sense!

"Flawed" should not mean "stupid"


I'll use the character of Kirk to illuminate the differences these new movies have introduced, much to my chagrin.

Throughout the run of the original series and the films that were based on that series, we're shown a Captain James T. Kirk (to me, Real Kirk) that could be obsessive ("Obsession"), selfish ("The Motion Picture"), impetuous (you name it), and arrogant (you name it, again). In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, his disregard for regulations opens the Enterprise to attack by Khan in the stolen Reliant. As a result, Real Kirk's ship is in tatters and crewmen are killed. It's one of the few times were Real Kirk's decision-making has lead to dire consequences. When he realizes what his actions have done, Real Kirk tells Saavik, "you go right on quoting regulations!" as a mea culpa. This is in stark contrast to the Reboot Kirk who makes one bad decision after another but faces no consequences. In Into Darkness Reboot Kirk's decision to let Khan out of the brig specifically results in the deaths of at least hundreds and probably thousands of people in San Francisco when the Enterprise falls out of the sky. Yet, he apparently gets no blame and keeps his command. We have no idea why. In that same film, Reboot Kirk also gets upset with Spock for telling Starfleet about his violation of the Prime Directive so that Spock could be saved. Apparently, he expected Spock to lie! Real Kirk would have assumed Spock would of course tell the truth and he, Kirk, would stand by his actions and accept responsibility for them. Real Kirk, for all his flaws, is a decent, honest man. Reboot Kirk is child-like, none too bright and is not deserving of his position.

Unrecognizable (silly) characters


Unfortunately, Kirk is not the only character to get tweaked. For some reason, Spock and Uhura become The Bickersons, a romantic couple that can't seem to keep their relationship issues to themselves. During a particularly dangerous mission, Uhura launches into a diatribe about how Spock is such a lousy boyfriend. Note to writers: having a female character rant about her boyfriend during a moment of danger is not showing us an empowered woman. Quite the contrary. In the original series, Uhura was always portrayed as a highly competent professional, not a love-sick teenager. Stick to that example, please!

Another unrecognizable character was Khan in Into Darkness. And by "unrecognizable", I mean  literally unrecognizable! The character made famous by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalb├ín was suddenly portrayed by the whitest of white guys, Benedict Cumberbatch. It made no sense whatsoever, but in a film that showed no ability to make sense, it fit right in.

Plots that make no sense (See? I told you.)


Both reboot films suffer from a total lack of common sense in their respective story-telling. While in command of the Enterprise, Spock decides that a rebellious Kirk needs to be banished to a harsh moon instead of simply being thrown into the brig. Why? Because it was a way to get Kirk onto a harsh moon for an action sequence after which he could meet Spock Prime who also just happened to be banished on the same moon. Wait, what? That makes no sense? No shit.

Then there's the "magic transporter", a plot device contrived to get characters from point A to point B that is, IMO, so incredibly stupid because going forward it negates the very basis of Star Trek – the need of a ship to go from place to place. It's used in both films, and the second time is even worse – ie: dumber! – than the first!

Add in crazy, blood-thirsty Admirals who have a model of their super-secret starship sitting right out in the open in their office, "magic Khan blood" that apparently cures death from that moment on, a super-smart Khan who can somehow design 23rd-century weapons of mass destruction but can't figure out how to thaw out his buddies frozen in their 20th century sleep units. He can even design a missile around them but can't wake them up! Riiiiight.

Don't get me started on the plot contrivances that yielded a mini "Wrath of Khan" redo with Kirk and Spock switching places in the story. "Contrived" doesn't begin to describe it. "Crap" does, though.

Enough is enough.


When the Harrison character in Into Darkness eventually revealed himself to be Khan, something snapped in my head. JJ Abrams had insisted that lily-white Cumberbatch wasn't playing Khan. Cumberbatch, himself, had insisted that he wasn't playing Khan. Only he was. But Khan COULD NOT look like Benedict Cumberbatch! He couldn't SOUND like Benedict Cumberbatch! That would just be stupid, right?

Correct. And so the straw that broke the camel's back snapped in my head and I no longer gave a damn about what happened in this silly, stupid piece of shit movie that was Star Trek In Name Only as far as I was concerned. It all played out in one silly action sequence after another, none of which made sense in any way but were simply woven together to get lots of things to go "bang" and to show pretty lights and explosions. It was the movie version of jangling keys in front of a baby. They don't require content, either.

I won't be missing out


I can hear you now. But, Don, you might miss out on a great movie!!" you're no doubt saying. But that's not possible, in this writer's opinion. There's a doctrine that states that fruit of the poisonous tree is tainted. And so it is with Star Trek Beyond. Any story that is based on the characters we've seen so far holds no interest for me. For me, it is not possible to have a good Trek film based on a Kirk that doesn't deserve his position and has displayed such poor judgement over and over. In short, it features characters that I just don't care about.

It can't be good since there are magic transporters that negate the need of a starship altogether and magic blood that has conquered death itself. The first time you see the Enterprise, ask yourself this: since they have the magic transporters, why is there an Enterprise at all? Will there be a line of dialog that explains those universe-shaking concepts away? I doubt it.

Given the way the first two films have gone, I can only imagine what piece of magical technology will be created to help the plot in Beyond. A Magic Tricorder that can tell the future?

If only that were a stretch.

I'll save my money. And my sanity.

LLAP.

Don

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"STAR TREK – HORIZON" FAN FILM SHUTS DOWN AT STUDIO "SUGGESTION", PROVING NOT ALL FAN FILM MAKERS ARE IDIOTS

In a surprising turn if events, "Star Trek – Horizon", a Star Trek fan film production set in the "Enterprise" era, is shutting down according to its creator Tommy Kraft. In a Facebook posting on Wednesday, Kraft had this to say:

"BREAKING NEWS: “STAR TREK - HORIZON" SEQUEL, "FEDERATION RISING", SHUT DOWN.

Earlier today, executives from CBS reached out to me and advised me that their legal team strongly suggested that we do not move forward with plans to create a sequel to Horizon. While this is a sign of the current climate that we find ourselves in with Star Trek fan films, I want to personally thank CBS for reaching out to me, rather than including us in their ongoing lawsuit against Axanar.

It was conveyed that the reason CBS was reaching out to me was due to the legal troubles stemming from the Axanar case. Again, CBS did not have to reach out personally. The message I received felt more like they were giving me a heads up before we got too involved in another project, rather than a group of angry executives swinging a hammer.

On behalf of myself and Ryan Webber, my co-writer and co-producer on Federation Rising, we appreciate your initial support and are saddened that we cannot bring you what we believe was a fantastic feature film. However, rest assured that Ryan and I are committed to continuing our storytelling partnership with an original project. We also welcome other fan productions and fan film lovers to join us on this new venture.

While we initially planned to debut our Kickstarter for Federation Rising this Saturday, we hope that you will instead stand with us as we announce an original sci-fi project that Ryan and I have been co-developing in addition to Federation Rising. We’re incredibly excited to tell you about this completely original story that follows the ideals set forth by Star Trek that Ryan and I have been such huge fans and admirers of our entire lives.

Please stay tuned for this Saturday’s announcement.

- Tommy Kraft, "Star Trek - Horizon" creator"

This gracious statement from Kraft stands in stark contrast to the defiant tone taken by Axanar. The now-on-hold Axanar production was clearly warned by CBS in this statement last August which appeared in TheWrap:

“CBS has not authorized, sanctioned or licensed this project in any way, and this has been communicated to those involved,” a representative from the network told TheWrap. “We continue to object to professional commercial ventures trading off our property rights and are considering further options to protect these rights.” (Paramount did not return TheWrap’s request for comment.)"

This statement was clear and specific. But instead of taking it as a warning, the Axanar production chose to ignore it, resulting in the lawsuit that was filed against them in December. They could have taken the same path as Horizon has chosen – one of understanding and appreciation. But that would have made too much sense, apparently.

To Mr. Kraft and his production team I'd like to state that you're a class act and your decision is totally understandable – and sensible. Perhaps other productions will take heed of your example.

How this will affect other productions like "Star trek Continues" and "Star Trek New Voyages" remains to be seen. But I think it is highly unlikely that these larger profile productions will continue as they have if a relatively small one like Horizon was specifically warned. We'll see.

LLAP.

Don

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

SEATTLE'S EMP MUSEUM'S NEW EXHIBIT "STAR TREK: EXPLORING STRANGE NEW WORLDS" OPENS IN MAY

The Star Trek Exhibit will include key costume pieces from TOS
The EMP Museum (formerly the Science Fiction Museum) in Seattle will be returning to its roots with a new Star Trek-themed exhibit appropriately called "Strange New Worlds". This will kick off the museum's celebration of Star Trek's 50th Anniversary. Here's what they have to say:

"Discover the beloved series all over again in this fully immersive experience, featuring more than 100 artifacts and props from the five Star Trek television series, spin-offs, and films, including set pieces from the original series like Captain Kirk’s command chair and the navigation console (on display for the first time to the public); Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy original series costumes; and the 11-foot U.S.S. Enterprise filming model from Star Trek: The Next Generation."

For more info, visit the EMP site at:

EMP Star Trek Exhibit

LLAP,

Don

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

REVIEW: WILLIAM SHATNER'S "Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man"

When I heard that William Shatner was writing a memoir about Leonard Nimoy, the cynic in me said "Bill must need a paycheck". After all, he had half a century to write such a book. Why wait until the subject is gone to make it so? And, over the years Mr. Shatner has made it clear that he'll do anything for a buck ("Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", anyone?). So when I received my copy, I realized I had to put my own preconceived notions aside and let the book stand or fall on its own.

It's important to take the title into account. From the first page it's clear that this is not a biography of an individual, but the recounting of how that individual's life intersected the writer's. Because of that, Shatner intertwines elements about his own life (though to a lesser extent than Nimoy's) in the telling of Nimoy's story. In this case, that is a very proper thing to do, for without knowing how the two men led their individual lives, we'd have little understanding of how and why they would first come together as colleagues and, eventually, as friends. 

If you're a long-time Star Trek fan and reader of Shatner and Nimoy's past memoirs, there's very little new material regarding their early days. And very little new material, period, at least from a nuts and bolts "these are the facts" perspective. Been there, read that. But where this book shines is that, for the first time that I know of, the narrative is exclusively about how these two men became attached – first by fate and then by choice – for almost half a century. Each had played some role in the others' memoirs, but only as one of dozens of other players. Here the focus is specific and laser-tight.

It's interesting to see Shatner acknowledge that his own self-image was perhaps not as accurate as he once thought. In the past, Shatner has admitted to having being oblivious to the needs of others. And so, in relating various stories, Shatner gives us the sense that his friend Leonard sometimes gave him a very honest take on his past behaviors and how they affected those around him, and not always in a positive light. 

The book is filled with various interplay between the two over the years and is laid out in a roughly chronological way. Shatner and co-author, David Fisher, show no real ability to consistently connect to the material on an emotional level with a couple of exceptions. When Shatner relates a conversation with Nimoy in 2001 and quotes the actor as saying "You're my best friend", you'd have to be made of stone to be unmoved. So, too, as Shatner tells the story of his third wife's battle with alcoholism that would eventually lead to her death and Nimoy's steadfast support for his friend – an understanding that could only have come from an alcoholic like Nimoy, himself – we get a stark, honest look at one of the worst moments in Shatner's life. His friendship with Nimoy was one of the few rocks upon which he could lean. 

But the most interesting – and strangest – part of the book comes at the end when Shatner basically tells us (spoiler alert!!) that despite their deep friendship, the two hadn't spoken since 2011 because, for some reason unknown to Shatner, Nimoy stopped speaking to him. Shatner claims to have reached out to Nimoy several times to no avail. He also claims to not understand the basis of the problem. It's interesting to note that the last time the two saw each other was for the production of a German Volkswagen commercial in 2014, just a few months prior to Nimoy's death. Despite mentioning this event, Shatner tells nothing about how the two related to each other during the shoot. Surely the subject would have been broached, right? But no insight is given and we're left to wonder "what the...??".

While an imperfect story, "Leonard" should nonetheless be considered a must-read for Star Trek fans who, like me, grew up with these two wonderful actors and their iconic characters who took us, boldy, where no man had gone before. We'll never see their likes again, and any insight into these individuals is well worth the effort.

LLAP.

Don

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

EXCLUSIVE SHOTS OF THE ENTERPRISE IN HER SMITHSONIAN DRYDOCK

On January 30, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum held their annual open house. It was a special day for Star Trek fans, of course, since one of the items on display was the original Enterprise model from the 60's as it awaits its impending restoration. Friend of the blog and Star Trek fan extraordinaire John Simmons was in attendance and has kindly shared some of his exclusive shots with us. Click on each photo for much larger versions.

Dismantled in preparation for its upcoming restoration, the Enterprise was lovingly laid out in pieces for attendees. All photos courtesy of John Simmons.
Engine nacelles with the light module that resulted in the "warp effect" under the domes. Note the Shuttle Bay doors in the center.
A better shot of the impulse engine add-on (lower left) and the engine domes.
The secondary hull with the front assembly removed. The skin's inaccurate heavily weathered paint job will be removed and restored to its original simple texture.
Aft end of the nacelles showing the domed caps. The secondary hull front piece is sitting just behind it with the iconic saucer sitting between.
Side of the primary hull showing the same exaggerated weathering as on the secondary hull.
More detail is shown on the nacelle front opening. It looks like rather crudely carved wood because that's exactly what it is!
The museum displayed this graphic as an overview to attendees.
Thanks to John for recording and sharing the amazing experience of being in the presence of the one and only original Enterprise!

LLAP,

Don

Friday, January 29, 2016

THIS SATURDAY CATCH A GLIMPSE OF A TRUE RARITY: THE DISASSEMBLED ORIGINAL ENTERPRISE MODEL AT SMITHSONIAN

Spread out in pieces on a work table, the USS Enterprise sits as if on a flat space dock, its parts carefully laid out around her iconic saucer awaiting the Starfleet engineers to complete their final assembly. But this is no fictional shipyard, but the real-life Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The old girl has been to hell and back but she's finally getting the long-awaited refit she deserves. That's right – the original 11-foot-long shooting model of the legend that started it all – the USS Enterprise NCC 1701 – is in for repairs and will be on display this Saturday during the annual Open House at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center on Saturday, January 30. She's been taken apart, prodded, analyzed and measured, all toward the goal of stabilizing the model and returning it to its appearance from August of 1967, during the filming of the episode The Trouble with Tribbles, which marked the last known modification of the ship during the production of Star Trek.

Ready for restoration to inspire whole new generations.
This isn't the first time the model has undergone restoration. The last time was in the early nineties and lead to a controversial outcome. Instead of being given a freshening that would have reflected her true appearance in the studios of Desilu, someone thought it would be a good idea to "idealize" her and gave her an overly-detailed, totally inaccurate paint job instead. To this fan's eye the outcome was not pretty and should never have been called a "restoration" as the original appearance was never "restored". This time around things are apparently being done differently and the goal is a TRUE restoration – make her look like she actually did during original production almost a half century ago.


The final painting of the Enterprise model will begin in April, using newly discovered reference photos from an appeal to Star Trek fans in the fall. That appeal garnered all sorts of images that haven't been seen in decades and will aid the conservation process.

For a full report on the process and more photos, visit the Smithsonian Natioanl Air and Space Museum page.

LLAP!

Don

Friday, January 22, 2016

"BEST DAD EVER" BUILDS TOS BRIDGE PLAYSET FROM SCRATCH FOR SON

This is the coolest thing I've come across in a long time and I had to share it. A guy named David Weiberg built a complete TOS Bridge Playset for his 8-year-old son, a budding Star Trek fan. It was created in the same scale as the old 5-inch Playmates action figures. Amazingly enough, with all the toys that Playmates made back in the 90's, they never made this playset!

Below are some shots of his amazing creation. It was made with wood and plastic and a lot of patience.

You'd swear you were on-set! All photos: David Weilberg
He began with basic wood construction building modules – just like the original shooting set:


He then moved on to the center command section:


And the all-important viewscreen:


All parts were then rough-assembled to check fit:


Everything was then filled, sanded and primed:



Next – building and painting the iconic chairs:


Then came the rails made from plastic:


And final paint:


Next came the super-critical client review:



Graphics creation:


And application:

And completion!

Notice his son's multi-level approach!
This is an incredibly cool and – let's face it, charming – piece of Star Trek-inspired love. I hope his boy has fun with it for years to come!

You'll find the entire build overview here:

Star Trek Bridge Playset

LLAP!

Don