Saturday, August 31, 2013


This story is about the recent overhaul of the original Galileo shuttlecraft prop from Star Trek, built in 1966. Here's my first-hand account of the prop prior to auction,

Trek prop geek Will Smith at the Johnson Space Center in Houston
at the unveiling of the refurbished Shuttlecraft Galileo
Will Smith is a Star Trek geek. No, not THAT Will Smith. The one I'm talking about is a contractor in Florida. He builds buildings by day and other things – Star Treky things – by night. Case in point, Will was recently called upon by the then-owner of the Galileo Shuttlecraft prop from the original Star Trek to help recreate a key piece for the old girl. A so-called "busy-box"(a high-tech-looking opening in the rear of the shuttle that was seen in several episodes) was needed for the project. Here's Will's story about how he recreated a piece of Star trek tech:

WOD: Will, you're the closest thing that I know of to being an expert on the Galileo outside of its original builders. Tell us a bit about your interest in and passion for the shuttle.

WS: Thank you for the compliment; I do have a great passion for the Galileo.  I have been interested in just about every aspect of the original series since it first aired.  When I first saw the episode “The Galileo Seven” I fell in love with the shuttlecraft and have been documenting it since. I actually have notebooks that date back to the early 1970’s with sketches and drawings I made from watching the show on TV. 
Will' s scratch-built studio scale Galileo model – 22 inches of detail.

In the mid to late 1970’s I was briefly involved with a gentlemen who was interested in buying the Galileo (I think it was going to cost $5,000 if I remember correctly) but he was a bit of an unusual character and nothing ever came of it. With the advent of DVD's and the internet, information on the Galileo has become easier to find and in 2006 I was able to put my research to use. I built a studio scale version of the Galileo which is still one of the favorite things in my collection. I have continued to collect every scrap of information I can find on the Galileo.

WOD: Your model is not just studio scale but studio accurate as well. So how did you then become involved in the BIG Galileo project?

WS: I got involved via an email from Adam Schneider, the owner. He knew of my research on TOS computer props and wanted to talk to me about building some stuff for the Galileo interior. At that point in the project some thought was given to having part of the interior completed (the computers on the back wall, chairs, etc. – the stuff that could be seen from the open main hatch). We discussed aspects of the project and had an immediate rapport. After several conversations I submitted a proposal to do the entire renovation.  I was (by far) the high bidder but I let Adam know that I still wanted to be involved if possible. The interior finishing idea was discarded, but it was then decided that the detailed area in the back that Spock and Scotty worked on in various episodes would be a cool thing to have. So I was asked to build the “busy-box” inside of the rear access panel. I was thrilled at the opportunity to contribute something that would actually be part of the completed Galileo.    

WOD: I'll bet. Of course, you were in pretty good company weren't you? Who were some of the other contributors?

WS: The list includes Gary Kerr, Doug Drexler, Mike Okuda, and Ed Miarecki, along with others who provided the renovation team with information and opinions on the Galileo. All of our initials are now on one of the access panels on the side of the Galileo. 

The pre-renovation Galileo looking a bit forlorn.
WOD: Very cool. That's some amazing company with which to be associated! You didn't actually get to see the Galileo in-person before you started your project, though. How did that work?

WS: I based my proposal on detailed photos provided by the owner, our discussions on the scope of the renovation and my knowledge of the Galileo. From the beginning it was obvious that only the structural parts of the Galileo would be used; the wood and pressboard were too far gone to attempt to salvage. The rear end was going to be totally rebuilt and I was given the size of the access hatch which in turn I used to size the different elements within. 

WOD: How did you approach your piece of the shuttle?

WS: I approached my part of the project as I do everything else – with tenacious research.  I know that without a good plan it is impossible to have a good result. I studied every single frame in every episode that showed the rear compartment. There are only two episodes that show the internal area inside the rear hatch. Not surprisingly there are differences in the arrangement and components between the two episodes. 

Scotty works his magic in "The Galileo Seven"
The same panel with different details in "Metamorphosis"
In “The Galileo Seven” the compartment was more cluttered compared to what we saw in “Metamorphosis”, so I took the best bits of each one. For instance in “The Galileo Seven”, on the back right side there are two black cylinders strapped to the back but in “Metamorphosis” the cylinders are red and do not have the ugly strapping seen in the earlier episode. The red cylinders looked much better and are seen in the close-up so that is what I used. Another element seen in “Metamorphosis” but not in “The Galileo Seven” was the lighted vent at the bottom.  The problem with the “Metamorphosis” version was that they removed some of the conduit in order to get a good view of the explosion for the camera but this made the compartment more open and less interesting. Using only the “Metamorphosis” version for this project would have the result of the compartment looking too bare. I felt that blending both versions made the box look more interesting so that's what i went with.

WOD: So walk us through your execution.

WS: Using screen caps and the known size of the hatch as a reference; I scaled off the sizes of the internal elements and pipes then did a 1:1 scale drawing of the interior compartment.  I wanted to make sure that the compartment would be as accurate as I could make it based on the two episodes.  During the scaling and drawing process it became pretty obvious that I was on the right track because the sizes of the pipes were coming out at standard sizes; always a good sign!  That was the most time-consuming part but frankly very enjoyable for me; – I love doing that kind of analysis. Once the drawing was complete it was a simple matter of just building the unit.

Will's conceptual drawing.
The interior of the hatch has a lip that protrudes inside so my component had to slide over the top of the lip and still fit in the area inside the Galileo around the steel frame.  Needless to say the interior of the box dimensions were critical. The box itself was made of ¾” wood with the back being ¼” plywood.  The original compartment appears to have been made from masonite so I painted the box with Rustoleum “Rusty Metal Primer” which was a close match to the original masonite color.

I made the bottom lighted vent out of aluminum stock and used white and red acrylic inside to defuse the light at the vents holes as was seen in “Metamorphosis.” For the lighting I used cold cathode tubes and they look beautiful but since I’m not sure how the Galileo will be displayed, this effect may never be seen.

The box starts out with glowy stuff.
There is really nothing remarkable about the conduit. I used grey PVC of various sizes and some metal conduit as well. I opted not to paint the conduit but to leave it the natural grey colors even though there was some variation from what was seen on screen. I wanted to make this component as maintenance free as possible and didn’t want the paint to flake off in 20 years. The hardest part of the pipes was getting the bends to match what was seen on screen. I identified all of the colored bands that were on the pipes and duplicated those but also added a few more to cover some of the conduit joints so that the cracks wouldn’t be visible. Again these small details would not be seen on TV but they would in person so I added some extra colored banding.

The details start to come together.
In “The Galileo Seven” the  cylinders on the right appear black and can barely been seen.  They also appear to be attached quite crudely with exposed straps so I went with the “Metamorphosis” version. For these I used anodized red aluminum cylinders – water bottles. In the “Metamorphosis” version these have either a silver or gold strip around the top; it was impossible to tell so I went with gold because it looked better. These were attached by screws from the back of the unit and also glue. Since this was going to be shipped to New Jersey and then trucked to Houston; I wanted to make sure everything was securely attached.

On the original we see all kinds of circuit boards on the interior of the hatch but also in “Metamorphosis” we can see a blue circuit board in the upper left side.  It is barely visible and hard to see so getting the details correct was impossible. For this I went with a blue ASUS motherboard and modified it by adding some colored tape, greeblies and a bunch of resin buttons courtesy of Tim “Tektrek” from the The resin bits helped hide the motherboard origin but also gave it that TOS look.  

The finished box prior to installation.
In “The Galileo Seven” above the right hand cylinders we see some sort of circular thing that appears to be a dark wheel of some sort but it was impossible to see any detail at all. In my replica this area was void of detail and sticking a wheel in there would look horrible under close scrutiny so I opted to do something different there.As homage to TOS I used some orange Plexiglas and a couple of split conduit and made a greebly that I thought would look like if came from TOS.  I covered the split pipes in black and silver and hopefully it looks futuristic and like it belongs there.  

Another element I added was a couple of aluminum cover plates on the inside with some various notations from TOS. The thought being that you could remove them to have access to something behind them. I also added some small resin buttons and lights just to add some detail. 

WOD: So you built this much the same way the original would have been built – by using easy-to-find, off the shelf materials and then using them creatively. It looks perfect!

WS: I was very pleased with the way that it turned out and I got a very enthusiastic response from the owner so I think we were both happy with the final product. In truth I don’t know that any of the interior that I built will be seen; it all depends on how the Galileo is displayed. But at least we will know what’s behind the hatch!
Will and his installed creation at the unveiling in Houston.
WOD: Well it would certainly be a cool detail to have open for viewers to see. Especially with the lights on! How was it installed? 

Ready for Scotty to go to work.
WS: The guys who did the renovation installed it. I shipped it to them and apparently it slipped right into place; no problems. I think it got to them the morning that was doing an interview so it was installed and ready by the time it began. I was somewhat relieved when I saw it installed.    

WOD: Could you sum up the experience for us?

WS: Finally seeing the Galileo properly restored is a dream come true and I commend the owner for taking on the project. I think the renovation team did an excellent job and since the Galileo will be permanently displayed indoors at the Johnson Space Flight center, she should never again suffer the fate that she has endured for nearly 50 years – that of being stored outdoors. The renovation team really went the extra mile and in truth the Galileo is in better condition now then when she was delivered to the TOS set. Having her on public display at the JSC is just so cool!  Since so many astronauts and engineers were influenced by Star Trek, it seems a fitting place for the Galileo. For my part it was a real pleasure working with the team. It was a perfect partnership!
The finished Galileo on display at the Johnson Space Center.
WOD: Tell the readers a bit about your TOS Graphics site. 

WS: One thing that separated TOS from other shows was that the instrumentation appeared believable as a working piece of equipment not just some random flashing lights. As a lover of that aspect of the show, I have documented many aspects of TOS in great detail, including all of the bridge displays and control panels. I had thought of writing a book but I think it would only sell a dozen copies! I recently did new accurate graphics for the decal sheet of the AMT / Round 2 re-release of the TOS bridge model kit so at least something has come from my efforts. I will continue to update the site with new information until I die which hopefully will be a LONG time from now!!! You'll find it at TOSgraphics

WOD: Thanks for that. I can't tell you how impressive your work on the Galileo is, Will. It really looks like it just came off the original set. And to have a piece on display in perpetuity must be a very satisfying experience. Thanks for sharing your expertise with fans everywhere. 

WS: Thank you for the opportunity to share the building of the Galileo busy box. It was a blast to create!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Last August a group of die-hard Star Trek prop and costume collectors got together and started a new forum dedicated to their passion. And so The Star Trek Prop Room was born. We've just celebrated our first anniversary together with a renewed vigor and I want to invite other like-minded collectors to check out the forum for themselves. Here's what you'll find:

A community of nice, honest collectors who have a good time sharing their interest in Star Trek props and costumes. Our members are a diverse lot from around the world. (And did I say nice and honest?)

Knowledgeable and informed members who represent a wealth of information on every aspect of Trek. Have a question? There's bound to be an answer from our Trek-heads.

Examples of props and costumes from every incarnation of Star Trek since the beginning. You're sure to find members who share your interests – from Kirk to Klingons, or tricorders to tribbles, you'll find it all. The image above features some of the amazing pieces owned by our members.

A Marketplace open to all members with no strings attached.

No "levels" of membership or fees. Everyone is equally-valued. No one is "more equal than others".

No drama. No egos. 'Nuff said.

So if you have a love of screen-used Star Trek – and hey, who doesn't?!? – give the Prop Room a shot. Whether you're an old hand at collecting or just getting started, you're bound to have a good time.

You'll find it here:  The Star Trek Prop Room

And as always, LLAP.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013


This week's Clapper is from the great third season episode, "Requiem for Methuselah", a story that featured a five-thousand-year-old man who had evidently been a number of famous men throughout history. Exactly how he pulled off that feat was kind of left up in the air. Kind of like this clapper shot. It shows our three main characters in various states of unreadiness. Nimoy seems to be eating something while Shatner is apparently bored with the whole thing. Only De Kelley seems to be ready for the scene to begin. "Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not an actor!"

Clapper info: December 2, 1968 / Scene 26A / Take 3.



Wednesday, August 21, 2013


If you're a reader of WOD, you know I hated/despised/loathed "Star Trek Into Darkness". Well here's someone who summed up my reasons perfectly! It's like they're inside my head!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013


This week's clapper comes from one of my all-time favorite TOS episodes, "The Enterprise Incident". The episode is only the second time we ever saw the Romulans in TOS and the plot is centered on the now-familiar Trek device, a "cloaking device" – the machine that renders a ship invisible to detection by an enemy. Call it "Trek stealth". The episode features a female Romulan captain, Spock hitting on said female captain, Klingon ships being used by Romulans (the Rom ship model had been lost), and more.  Oh, and the cloaking device itself was actually a reused prop from an earlier episode, the mysterious Nomad spacecraft from "The Changeling". It would again be repurposed in Season Three to create Flint's M4 robot in "Requiem for Methuselah".

The clapper shot shows our intrepid chief engineer Scott using one of his 23rd century super high-tech tools that just so happens to look a lot like a clear plastic ruler.

Clapper info: June 21, 1968 / Scene and take are unknown



Friday, August 9, 2013


I’ve recently been taken to task by the consignor of the Star Trek TOS Phaser that was recently offered up for auction by Profiles In History auction house (read my story HERE). 
And by “taken to task”, I mean he called me “malicious, intellectually dishonest, misleading, unfair, mean-spirited, lacking character, without honor” and “a bully” on the RPF forum. And that was in a single thread.

It’s my own fault. I have a diabolical talent – I can read and write the English language. That’s right – I’ve been called a “hater” because apparently I’m not illiterate. 

Here’s the sentence from the Profiles catalog phaser copy that is the source of the trouble: 

“This fiberglass mid-grade pistol phaser is perhaps the most extensively researched TOS prop that we have ever auctioned, with all of its major features and numerous subtle contours in its design painstakingly screen-matched to several late 2nd and 3rd season The Original Series episodes including “Assignment: Earth”, “Spock’s Brain”, “Plato’s Stepchildren” and “The Cloud Minders”

As the title says – don’t shoot the messenger because, yes, that’s actually one sentence. And therein lies the nature of the problem – because it is so poorly written, you have to tear it apart to figure out its meaning. I came to the conclusion that the copy was claiming multiple screen-matches for the phaser. Especially since this text was accompanied by photos showing the features and episodes in question. But just to be sure, I asked the opinion of several others.

I write for a living, and when I have a language problem, I go to my wife, an English teacher with more than 30 years of experience under her lovely belt. I asked her to read the copy in question and tell me what it meant. She’s not well versed in my hobby so she was a blank slate. Perfect.

She peered at the paragraph-sized sentence and then looked at me in horror. “Don’t shoot the messenger,” I said. She reluctantly read through it, and then read through it again. And again. And again.  “This is awful. It's the very definition of a “comma splice”, she said.  A comma-splice is a sentence that would best be understood if it were two separate sentences. “I’d give it an F”, she added.

She then started to break it down on a piece of paper by using a tool of her trade – the sentence diagram (I kid you not!). Her scratches soon became gobbledlygook to me but after a few minutes she had her answer. Since the consignor likes to use diagrams and such – however confusing – to tell his story, I thought I’d take a page from his book. Here’s a cleaned up version of what she ended up with:

This shows how much my wife really loves me.
I know, right? THIS is a sentence? A poor one, but yes, it’s a sentence.

She explained thusly: “This sentence means ‘This phaser has been extensively researched. It has features and contours that have been screen-matched to four episodes’ ”. 

To further simplify: “It has features screen-matched to four episodes”. 

This is not open to interpretation. If you asked 12 English scholars what the sentence meant, you’d get a unanimous interpretation because a subject is a subject and an object is an object. 

So now we have to decide on what these specific words mean. They are self-evident to me, but apparently not to the consignor so here we go:

“Features and contours” can mean any form, shape, part or detail that makes up the phaser. 

“Screen-matched” means, in prop collector parlance, a specific piece can be matched EXACTLY to a scene through small defects or features that could only be unique to that piece. This is not my own personal definition but is one recognized universally throughout the hobby. Google it for yourself. Screen-matching a prop is extremely difficult, but not impossible. It is a super-charged term and one of the highest proofs of authenticity possible. 

So according to the above breakdown, the text means that this phaser was physically and specifically used in 4 different Star Trek episodes, by virtue of it having been screen-matched by Profiles in all four. 

But that claim is wrong. It can be screen-matched to ONE episode, which is still very cool! It’s enough to confirm screen-use, which is an incredible thing, and good enough, in my opinion, to say the phaser was likely real.

But the consignor feels Profiles does NOT make the “four episode” claim. He says the text "relates to the verification of design characteristics”. And that since later copy contradicts this earlier copy, it can't mean what *I* think it means. Huh?

What I THINK he says it means is that “features on this phaser look like features seen on phasers in various episodes.” See how easy that was? No convoluted wording, no murkiness, and NO CLAIMS OF SCREEN-MATCHING. The term "screen-matching" is nowhere to be found. And if that is indeed what Profiles MEANT, great – then they should have said that. The fact that they didn’t is not my fault. I have no psychic powers that permit me to read intent – I have to stick to the literal meaning of words.

And because of this convoluted B.S., I am scum for soiling the good name of Profiles, and, by extension, him. 

So here’s the question: how do YOU read it? Is my viewpoint so egregiously wrong and (apparently) dangerous as to trigger the extravagant rantings of the consignor? Does my analysis make me malicious, intellectually dishonest, misleading, unfair, mean-spirited, lacking in character, without honor” and a “bully”? (BTW – the name-calling was all one-sided, which makes calling me a bully especially poignant.)

To my mind, the consignor’s reaction is like that of a petty, whining schoolboy who didn’t get his way on the monkey bars. To extend the metaphor, I hope he takes his ball and goes home. But I’m not betting on it.

It’s important to keep in mind that, in the final analysis, I concluded that there was a screen-match to one episode and that the phaser was probably real. Furthermore, I stated that while it COULD be a fake, I didn’t think it was. But that wasn’t good enough for the consignor. By not agreeing with EVERY claim Profiles (and he) made, I was trying to undermine the authenticity of the piece, according to him. And so the rants began. NINE of them in one forum thread!

In a world where everything from Louis Vuitton handbags to Dutch Master oil paintings– AND STAR TREK PROPS – are forged, it would be irresponsible and stupid of me to take a look at some photos and declare it 100% authentic. To fault me for taking that stand is truly absurd, fundamentally shortsighted and just plain dumb. But this illuminates the differences between me and a lot of self-appointed “authorities” out there: I don’t claim to be omniscient, and I despise those that do. And here’s a news flash: saying it MIGHT be a fake is not saying it IS a fake. Asking people to judge for themselves should not be a crime.

This is not the first time this type of thing has happened. I’ve been accused of undermining past auctions because I didn’t swallow the company line whole. But I will always steadfastly assert that with big claims should come big proof. In this case, I actually agreed with the consignor. But I didn’t agree ENOUGH.

With this consignor (as well as some of his cohorts), it is apparently not possible to have a simple disagreement on things. If you disagree – however well grounded your reasons – you’re not only wrong, you’re evil. The mind-set is apparently one of infallibility on their part – any disagreement is heresy and will be dealt with as such. And so I'm malicious, etc.

They also have the ego to think that the only reason I write about what I do is so that I can attack them (because, again, any time I don't agree, it's an attack). How self-absorbed do you have to be to constantly put yourself in the center of the universe? When a Star Trek piece has an asking price of a hundred grand, I don't care who owns it, I'm going to write about it. Read the masthead – it's what I do!

The bottom line is that I don't hate these people. Far from it, as hatred requires caring about them one way or the other. I do pity them, though. Going through life expecting everyone to agree with you on everything and to kiss your ass at all times must be exhausting. I got over that when I was four. Apparently this type never will.

By the way, the consignor also accused me of accusing Profiles (and him) of being dishonest. He says the meaning of the copy is as clear as a bell and no reasonable person could interpret the copy as I have unless they had diabolical intentions. I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself whose analysis is "intellectually dishonest". IMO, the text is written so poorly that Profiles was either incompetent or deliberately misleading. I can't say which. But I can say that words have meaning. If you want to change the meaning, choose better words.

One last thing – two pieces of advice.

To Profiles: hire a copywriter who writes English as a first language.

To the consignor: don't shoot the messenger. And learn how to read.



Friday, August 2, 2013


Actor Michael Ansara as the Klingon Kang in 1968.
The Original Series introduced the world to a race that would become synonymous with Star Trek: The Klingons. And no one played a better Klingon than actor Michael Ansara who died yesterday at age 91, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Ansara played the Klingon Kang in the classic TOS episode "Day of the Dove" and reprised the role twice more (some 30 years later) in Deep Space Nine. Though the Klingons only made four appearances, they would forever be defined as THE single greatest foe of Star Trek's Federation, and in my opinion, Anasara's portrayal of Kang became the archetype for all future Klingons. His deep baritone voice gave him incredible presence and gravitas, befitting a great, swaggering foe of the crew of the Enterprise.

As a kid growing up in the sixties, Ansara was a common sight in favorite shows of mine like "The Man From UNCLE", "Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea", "Lost In Space", "Daniel Boone" and tons of others. I'll always remember his hilarious take as the Blue Djinn on "I Dream Of Jeannie". He was a regular guest star on TV up to the '90's, after which he did voice work for cartoons like "Batman Beyond" until 2001.

So Rest In Peace, Mr. Ansara. Thanks for many great hours of fun from me and all your many fans.



Thursday, August 1, 2013


This week's Clapper is from the very first episode of Star Trek to ever be broadcast, "The Man Trap". This is the climactic scene where Nancy the Salt Monster (hey, you can't make this stuff up) is killing our intrepid Captain Kirk. The phaser in the foreground is wielded by none other than Dr. McCoy.

Clapper info: June 24, 1966 / Scene 129 / Take 3.