Thursday, December 31, 2015


This story references the current controversy and lawsuit surrounding the Star Trek Axanar project. You can get more info HERE.

Axanar head honcho and Donald Trump impersonator Alec Peters has posted a defense of his position on Facebook. He talks about a lot of things, but none more important than the nature of the project, itself:

"Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek’s devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That’s all we’re trying to do here."

Star Trek fan creations do indeed have a long history, going back to the 70's when Star Trek first exploded during its initial syndication. Ravenous fans created "fan-zines", publications created by fans for fans. These Zines would feature all sorts of things about Star Trek, especially fan fiction – amateur writers offering up their version of new Trek stories. These were truly a labor of love, being crudely produced on typewriters and mimeo machines (ask your parents) at the expense of the creators.

Fast forward a few decades and that same spirit manifested itself in fan-created video productions. Again, these projects were truly home-made and financed quietly and behind-the-scenes by those involved.

But then, something new happened: crowd0funding. A "fan film" production called Star Trek: Renegades did a crowd-funded campaign and raised over $365,000 over a three year period. Over the past two years, the fan production Star Trek: New Voyages raised about $115,000. And neither of those entities have thus far been sued by CBS or Paramount. What those entities actually do with their money is unknown to me.

These two precedents no doubt inspired Peters to pursue his Axanar Kickstarter.
"Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios," Peters said. "We’re not doing anything new here."

Except that, by Peters' own admission, they ARE doing something new here. Whereas fan films are supposed to be created by volunteers and funded out of pocket by their creators, Axanar didn't do that. Instead, they asked for money – in the name of someone else's property – and made $1.1 million from crowdfunding, an unprecedented amount. And that $1.1 million wasn't about simply buying some plywood for sets and some fabric for costumes, oh no. It was about paying salaries. And, salaries equal income in the name of Star Trek. And, perhaps most notably, $1.1 million was three times the amount of the next closest project, Renegades.

Here's the "rough budget" for the first Axanar kick-starter of approximately $600,000:

$ 182,000      Sound Stage building rental (12 months & deposit 1/15 – 2/16)
$ 12,000        Warehouse rental (9/14-1/15)
$ 37,200        Construction Dept. Salaries
$ 32,000        Stage Floor
$ 12,000        Sound proofing Doors
$ 20,700        Set Construction Supplies
$ 5,000          Equipment Rental
$ 22,000        Office Renovation
$ 15,000        Make Up (Pre-Production)
$ 8,200          Vulcan Shoot
$ 59,000        Production Team salaries
$ 54,000        Construction Team salaries
$ 6,000          Insurance
$ 5,000          Crew meals
$ 18,000        Camera/editing equipment
$ 22,000        Perks (60,000 patches)
$ 2,000          Perks (CD)
$ 2,500          Legal Expenses
$ 1,500          Phone
$ 1,800          Internet
$ 2,000          Music
$ 1,500          Backerkit Fees
$ 32,000        Kickstarter Fees
$ 35,000        Amazon Payment Processing

Notice the word "salaries". Those line items account for over $150,000 that was paid to individuals. That's not love, that's commerce.
ADDENDUM (added 1/2/16):

Apparently there was a later report that was only shared with donors. This info was posted on

1099 $17,420.00
Alec Peters $38,166.57
Diana Kingsbury Deferred till 2016
Robert Burnett $5,000.00
Curtis Laseter $9,800.00
Salaries $48,042.31

Right there is about $100K worth of salaries with the lion's share going to Mr. Personality, himself.

What else is different with Axanar compared to other fan films? Let's let Peters tell us himself:

“It’s not a traditional fan film, and doesn’t have those limitations with it,” he told TheWrap. “Although we fall under the fan movie, we’ve tried to make the product as good as coming out of the studio.”

And there's the lie. A fan film can't be done that's as good as something from a studio, period. But a PROFESSIONAL film can approach it. And that's what Axanar is, a professional film made by paid professionals, not by unpaid volunteers. How do we know for sure? Peters puts it right out there, himself:

"This is no fan film, this is a professional project," Peters has said. Repeatedly. He kind of writes the CBS and Paramount brief himself.

So let's not be fooled by this "love letter" crap. If there was no money to be made, there would be no project.



Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Knowing Alec Peters (big kahuna of the Star Trek Axanar project) as I do, I know he'd normally be thrilled to be mentioned in the same story as Paramount and CBS in both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. However, being mentioned as the subject of a lawsuit brought on by those two entertainment giants is probably not what he had in mind.
I know – I'm mixing my franchises!

Merry Christmas, Mr. Peters!

For those of you that have been under a rock, here's the skinny according to Variety, io9 and The Hollywood Reporter.

1. Mr. Peters created a story called "Axanar", based on the original Star Trek series.

2. Mr. Peters decided to create a "fan-film" version of his story.

3. Mr. Peters insisted that he had CBS's blessing for the project.

4. Mr. Peters raised in excess of $1.1 million through crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

5. CBS and Paramount file suit in federal court (on Christmas Day) seeking an injunction against the film and asking damages for “direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.”.

That the Axanar project uses copyrighted material is not in question. Any story set in the Star Trek universe, by definition, uses copyrighted material. What is at issue is the permissible scope of said project – or the scope, presumably, of any "fan-based" Star Trek project for that matter.

According to The Wrap, here's where things stood back in August:

"Peters said he and his team met with CBS last week but the network didn’t offer any specific guidelines concerning what his crew can and cannot do — the network simply told him that they can’t make money off the project."

So with no actual approval, and a warning not to make money, Peters went forward. Here's what his on-line pitch said, in part:

"While some may call it a 'fan film' as we are not licensed by CBS, Axanar has professionals working in front and behind the camera, with a fully-professional crew — many of whom have worked on Star Trek itself — who ensure Axanar will be the quality of Star Trek that all fans want to see."

"Professional", meaning "paid". So Peters freely admits that individuals and companies will be making money off of Axanar. Which is in direct opposition to being told by CBS that they can't make money off the project. I'm sure Peters will cite the idea that no actual profit will be declared at the end of things. Which is all well and good, and yet over $1 million will be in various pockets. Call it what you will but a lot of people will get paid by exploiting a property they don't own.

Let me play Devil's advocate for a moment. By Axanar's way of thinking, there are any number of ways to make money off of Star Trek without getting one of those pesky (and costly) licenses. Here's two scenarios at opposite ends of the spectrum:

I'm a graphic designer and illustrator. I could create a portfolio of 20 Star Trek illustrations and set up a Kickstarter to fund my work. For a $20 donation, say, a donor would receive a printed copy of the portfolio. I would pay myself and my printing company for services rendered – like Axanar pays its people for their services – at the rate of $20 per unit. I'd get paid, the printer would get paid, but no actual "profit" would be declared. But if I sold a thousand units – er, excuse me... if I had a thousand DONORS... my print company and I are collectively ahead by $20,000 despite no profit being declared.

Small potatoes, I know, but how about this? What if a studio didn't bother buying the rights to Star Trek but proceeded with a Kickstarter in which they raised $50 million? The studio would then proceed to spend the money on making the film – paying actors, crew members, CGI artists, etc – up to the $50 million mark. The Kickstarter donors would get a copy of the film on DVD – their "gift" – and the film would have no actual "profit" since they spent every dime on production. All 500 million dimes.

By Peters' figuring, either scenario would be perfectly acceptable.

Except that they wouldn't be, would they? Because as soon as a project is not funded out of pocket (like most Trek fan films have been so far) but rather by going to the public and asking for money in the name of a property one does not own, that project crosses a line. A very clear line that most non-lawyers can instantly grasp but one that Peters, with his law degree, apparently cannot. Income is income, period.

What does Peters think? In his own words:

“CBS has a long history of accepting fan films,” he said. “I think ‘Axanar’ has become so popular that CBS realizes that we’re just making their brand that much better.”

"So popular"? According to the Axanar Kickstarter and Indiegogo pages, 16,039 people have contributed money to the Axanar production. Out of the tens of millions of Star Trek fans around the world, 16,039 represents less than 1% of the fans out there by anyone's reckoning. Yet Peters' ego leads him to think that his project is so important that it is "making their brand that much better". Peters must really suck at math, alas, because one percent doesn't mean much of anything. And the 1.5 million views Peters touts? Views aren't approvals. They're just views. I "viewed" Into Darkness and hated it.

It's worth noting that despite Peters' law degree, he once sued a detractor and lost because apparently he didn't know that others were allowed to voice opinions different from his. You, know... that whole hard-to-understand First Amendment thing. So when he insisted that CBS was just groovy with a Kickstarter, anyone with half a brain should have questioned that opinion. If you are one of the "Doe defendants" referred to in the suit, you should have gotten different counsel.

So now there's a lot of money at stake. The suit asks for $150,000 in damages for each of the four infringements they claim, for a total of $600,000. They also ask for "reasonable attorney's fees", which will probably be big bucks so I can't help but think that we all know where that $1 million+ that was raised will end up.

I know a lot of people will actually side with Peters as the underdog and see the giant corporations as slapping down the little guy. Needless to say, I don't see it that way. I think Paramount and CBS are sending a very simple, specific message:

If you want to make a buck off of our property, get a license like everyone else or leave our stuff alone.

After all, ask yourself how you would feel if you owned something and someone ripped it off without asking or paying for the privilege? 

And then ask yourself this: how profound must ones' arrogance/stupidity be to think that they were going to get away with a project of this size? IMO, the only surprise anyone should have is that it took CBS and Paramount this long to respond.

Here's the complete complaint:

Alec Peters is screwed

And here is Peters' on-line assurance from August that everything was just great:

Alec Peters explains it all



Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Any Original Series film collector wants a piece that the Big Kahuna – Captain Kirk, himself – wore in his travels across the stars. But, frankly, I had resigned myself to never having one. But then an unexpected opportunity came along and the rest, as they say, is history.

All of the components of this ensemble have William Shatner tags, including a large Western Costume tag inside the jacket. The tag's number, combined with the jacket's color and details indicate that this was originally made for "Wrath of Khan" and modified for later use by other actors. 

The gold Admiral's braid was removed and the skirt was lengthened in the style of the later movies. It features the classic maroon styling complete with white lining, an element almost exclusive to Shatner and Nimoy costumes as it defines "command" level rank. It includes a white turtleneck and wool pants – both with Shatner costume tags – and a production made belt. It is finished with production rank bands and pins and, of course, a metal Starfleet badge.

Shatner wore this style of uniform beginning with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan through Star Trek: Generations. There's only one template for captains in Star Trek – William Shatner's James T. Kirk. And then they broke the mold. 

For more on maroons, see my complete collection at:

Wrath of Dhan Maroons



Monday, December 28, 2015


Like half the world, I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens (some spoilers ahead). Unlike much of that same group, however, I attended it with a great deal of trepidation because of its director, JJ Abrams. That concern stemed from the fact that I had yet to see an Abrams movie that I liked and had seen several I disliked and/or hated. This did not bode well for me (cue Vader's March).

Imagine my surprise, then, when I left the theater with a smile, rather than the scowl that usually accompanies an Abrams movie. While the movie was far from perfect – as many have pointed out, it's really a rehash of earlier Star Wars films rather than an all new story – as a remake it was pretty good. Most importantly, it was true to the nature of Star Wars and its well-established classic characters. While more originality would have been welcome, at least he didn't shit on what had come before.

Vader vs Spock byrhymesyndicate
Which brings me to the Star Trek part of this story. It's long been my belief that Abrams did indeed shit on Star Trek in both of his turns at the helm with Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. And most excessively in the later. Please understand that I don't think he was the head of some evil plot to destroy Star Trek, but rather that he did what he did out of plain ignorance – ignorance of both Star Trek and good science fiction movie-making. As a result, unlike Star Wars, he gave us a Star Trek that lost its original vision.

For instance, in Star Trek, he gave us a James Kirk that rose to his position as captain of the Starship Enterprise, not by any sort of hard work, perseverance and competence (as the original Kirk did), but rather through dumb luck. In a moment of crisis, Captain Pike takes the untried Cadet Kirk and, for some inexplicable reason, promotes him to First Officer. With no experience. NONE. Why? Because the plot needed it to happen, despite the total lack of logic in that decision. So instead of creating an actual reasonable impetus to promote him, we get – nothing, because creating a plot that makes sense is hard and definitely TOO hard for JJ and company. This approach would rear its ugly head again and again throughout JJ's Treks. And one of the most egregious ways that approach would manifest itself is through the total disregard for actual science in science fiction. Again and again, JJ would make the impossible happen by creating a piece of technology – no matter how silly or stupid – that would fix the problem at hand and (most importantly) MOVE THE PLOT ALONG, LOGIC BE DAMNED. Magic Transporters. Magic Khan Blood. The Enterprise as submarine. The Enterprise as helicopter. A mining ship that can destroy Starfleet. Red Matter that does...something...

What Abrams and company never understood was that Star Trek is rooted in science fiction. And not "Lost In Space" sci-fi but TRUE science fiction, wherein an event has to somehow be plausible within the extrapolated scientific limits of the real universe it inhabits. Transporters can't have an infinite range. Starships can't navigate in a planet's atmosphere (don't get me started about Voyager). Someone's blood can't cure death, and on and on. Over the years and different incarnations, Star Trek would often stretch the science (sometimes past the breaking point), but at its best, it never ignored it.

Star Wars, on the other hand has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction. Oh, I know it takes place in space and has all the trappings of science fiction, but that's all it has – the trappings. It's actually a fairy tale set in space. There is not one thing in Star Wars that acts as it would in a "real" world. The Death Star somehow moves through interplanetary space despite having no apparent means to do so. No engines are shown, no "jump" capability is hinted at. It simply lumbers along... because it does. X-Wings move through the vacuum of space like it was air – because it's cool. The Force manifests itself in the physical world as if by magic – because it IS magic! And it's incredibly fun! But it ain't science.

And that, in a nutshell, is why JJ Abrams should stick to fantasy (Star Wars) and leave science fiction (Star Trek) alone. Fantasy is easier in that it doesn't require any knowledge of science and how the universe actually works. You can have magic sword fights and call them light saber duels. You can have a magical ship and call it the Death Star. You can have magic powers and call them "The Force". And you never, ever, EVER have to worry about how any of that would actually work in the real world. Because it couldn't. And it doesn't matter.

But it ALL matters in real science fiction because it is SUPPOSED to be grounded in reality. Here's what the great Arthur C. Clarke had to say on the subject:

“Science Fiction is something that could happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen, though often you only wish that it could.”
– Arthur C Clarke.

Apparently, JJ Abrams does not understand this basic concept. Which works in his favor for Star Wars, but most definitely does not work in Star Trek.



Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Welcome to Part 3 regarding various problems with Star Trek Into Darkness. Here's my disclaimer to all those that liked the film: good for you. I didn't. 

Continuing with the never-ending list of Into Darkness's WTF moments, we'll look at an early plot point in the film: saving the primitive alien race from the volcano going "boom" in their backyard. To save said race, Spock is lowered into the maw of the deadly volcano wearing a special suit that will protect him from the splashing magma and severe 3000 degree plus heat (insert your own "Spock vs. the Volcano" joke here). Why? Because he's carrying a device that will somehow neutralize the volcano and stop its apocalyptic eruption. That device's name? The Cold Fusion Device! Why? Because apparently it makes the hot magma cold and fuses it solid! Get it?

Spock screams for better writing.
Yeah, me neither.

Cold fusion is actually a theoretical nuclear reaction that would occur at, or near, room temperature instead at temperatures found, say, inside the sun. So while it's not actually cold, it's relatively not as hot as the sun, hence, "cold fusion". What it is NOT is a theory about a process that would turn hot things cold. It's like saying a hydrogen bomb would use water because, hey – water has hydrogen!


Look, I know Star Trek has always had a love/hate relationship with actual science. That whole "sound in space" thing is one of the great conceits that Star Trek uses in every incarnation. Then there's that time in Next Gen where they encountered "cosmic strings" that looked like – you got it – stringy bits of energy. What should they actually have looked like? Nothing! You can't see them! If they actually exist, that is/ And they would interfere with the ship because – oh, never mind. Or that whole "Great Barrier" thing that was at the edge of the galaxy ("Where No Man Has Gone Before"). Or was it at the center of the galaxy (Star Trek V: Let's Find God)? Either way, there's no edge to the galaxy. It just kind of fades away.

But for the most part, Star Trek has always tried to at least give lip service to science and use it in "it will be possible in the future" kinds of ways that didn't throw facts out the window. I can't think of another single instance when any Star Trek borrowed the name of a scientific theory and then dumbed it down to mean something totally different like Cold Fusion.

It's worth noting that Into Darkness was made by the same fine folks that brought us the 2009 Star Trek film that featured things like:

Red Matter – an all-purpose McGuffin that can apparently fill any plot hole!

Romulus was destroyed by a supernova that was not in its solar system – so the Romulans would have had at least several years to get away from it!

The Magic Transporter (see earlier story!)

Ejecting the warp core to escape a Black Hole. NOTHING escapes a Black Hole!

Brrrrr. I need some Hot Fusion.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Welcome to Part 2 regarding various problems with Star Trek Into Darkness. Here's my disclaimer to all those that liked the film: good for you. I didn't.

In 2009's Star Trek, we're shown something called a "transwarp transporter", a really super-special transporter than not only allows transport to a destination that is light years away, but a destination that is also a starship moving at warp speed that is light years away. To me, this was, and still is, one of the dumbest plot devices to ever appear in any Star Trek incarnation. It basically gives the transporter a near-omnipotent range and in so doing removes limitations that help give stories any meaning. If a device can do anything, what's the challenge? The Magic Transporter negates any.

Flash-forward to 2013's Into Darkness. Instead of leaving the The Magic Transporter on the heap of bad ideas, director JJ Abrams doubles down on it and makes the entire plot of the film hinge on the device. But just to make matters worse, he gives it an almost infinite range as it transports "Khan" from Earth to the Klingon homeworld of Kronos in the blink of an eye. Instantly. Bam.

That is such a bad idea on so many levels, with the most important being the sheer impossibility of such a thing. A transporter than can work over hundreds of miles is already a stretch. But the transporter is a long-standing conceit of Star Trek that was invented to simply get our heroes from the ship to a planet in a hurry – it was cheap, production-wise, for a 60's TV show. Over the years, transporters have done all sorts of weird – and sometimes dubious – things. But to say that a device that can fit into Khan's little aircraft can instantaneously send someone half-way across the galaxy is just stupid science and a contrivance that takes the place of decent story-telling.

Lameness aside, there's another big reason that you'd never want to introduce such a technology into the world of Star Trek. Simply put, if you have a transporter that can do that, you don't need Starships. The Enterprise and all its sisters have just become obsolete! But, of course, starships are at the heart of Star Trek, so they'd never do away with them, right? Of course not! Which is why you shouldn't introduce something that would render them useless!

The Magic Transporter is the perfect metaphor for the story-telling throughout Into Darkness, which can be summed up as this: force the plot to go where you want it to go, however stupid the reason. There's more examples of this beyond The Magic Transporter, of course, and I'll be talking about them in future installments.



Monday, December 14, 2015


First off, let me get this out of the way: this is NOT one of those "Star Wars versus Star Trek" things. While Star Trek is my first love, Star Wars also holds a place in my heart that's near and dear. I see no problem in appreciating them both.

Now, on to the task at hand. Earlier today, Paramount unexpectedly released the trailer for Star Trek Beyond after someone in Germany apparently leaked a version on-line. It was supposed to come out with The Force Awakens, but is now available all over the web. In case you've missed it, here you go:

What we're given is a head-banging look at the new tale complete with the Beastie Boy's Sabotage (also used in the 2009 Star Trek) pounding away. It feels more like a teaser than a trailer because while there's a lot of sound and fury, there's little that tells us what the story is about. It reads a lot like a Fast and Furious trailer which just goes to show that that's what you get when you hire a director that's known for Fast and Furious movies.

As a tangent to that F&F heritage, the strange new worlds in Beyond apparently have motorcycles for some reason. Very Earthly-looking motorcycles. Will a later extended trailer feature a certain 1970 Dodge Charger? We can only hope.

The trailer shows a lot of explosions, a lot of fighting and a lot fast-paced action. And if the Enterprise didn't make an appearance, we'd be hard-pressed to know what the hell we were looking at. This is totally unlike any Star Trek trailer ever seen before, that's for sure. And while I don't want Star Trek films to be lost in the past and not set a new tone going forward, I think to totally sever it from the past – as this trailer surely does – is a huge mistake.

I hate this fucking trailer.

So what does this have to do with the various Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers? Simple. When I saw the first TFA trailer, I knew exactly what I was looking at and had an instant connection to Star Wars. The music, the visuals, the characters – they all said "Star Wars" to me. I quickly felt enveloped in a familiar place that I wanted to know more about. And this happened despite my absolute distrust of the director. The film might be a piece of crap, but the trailers are promising, at least, with a nice mixture of characters and action.

The Beyond trailer did the exact opposite for me. It has no connection to the past and has a rather obnoxious presentation of the future. It strikes me as STINO: Star Trek In Name Only. In other words, it's just like the last two Trek films, the first of which I didn't like very much and the second of which I despised.

Regarding Star Trek, Paramount seems to be preoccupied with the latest fads in movie-making. Beyond looks like a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy and the aforementioned F&F movies. Both of those things are very good with what they do. I'm a huge fan of Guardians, for instance. But they're not Star Trek. And the round peg of Star Trek shouldn't be shoved into the square pegs of other franchises.

Why? Because Star Trek is its own, unique thing. But that thing is apparently something that Paramount doesn't want. Star Trek is about ideas, first and foremost. Action is fine as long as it supports an interesting, compelling story. Unfortunately, in the past films – especially Into Darkness – the plot seemed to be nothing but a contrivance to connect action scenes together. Is Beyond cut from the same cloth? It's impossible to tell with this new trailer, but from my point of view it doesn't look promising, it doesn't look compelling, and it really doesn't look like Star Trek.

Not to this guy, at least. We'll see.



Wednesday, December 9, 2015


All Star Trek fans were saddened by the loss of Leonard Nimoy in February. For and old-time fan of The Original Series like me – and of Leonard Nimoy's Spock in particular – the loss is a palpable thing.

But now there's a new book coming out about Mr. Nimoy and the source might be a bit surprising. The title says it all: "Leonard: My Fifty Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner". Here's what the publisher has to say:

"In this powerfully emotional book, Shatner tells the story of a man who was his friend for five decades, recounting anecdotes and untold stories of their lives on and off set, as well as gathering stories from others who knew Nimoy well, to present a full picture of a rich life.

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner first crossed paths as actors on the set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Little did they know that their next roles, in a new science-fiction television series, would shape their lives in ways no one could have anticipated."

This can only be an interesting read about two of the keystone players in Star Trek lore – from one to the other. You can pre-order at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I look forward to what should be an enlightening read.

Amazon Pre-order

B&N Pre-Order



Sunday, December 6, 2015


Welcome to my new series wherein I'll be dealing with the various problems with Star Trek Into Darkness. Here's my disclaimer to all those that liked the film : good for you. But I HATED it for being the piece of shit that it was. In my opinion.

In a recent interview in Variety, Star Trek Into Darkness producer and writer Damon Lindelof said this:

"When we did Star Trek Into Darkness for example, we decided that we weren’t going to tell people that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Khan. And that was a mistake, because the audience was like, "We know he’s playing Khan." That was why it was a mistake."

Now, let me be clear here: technically, he is correct. Hiding Khan's identity was indeed stupid on several levels. But the far larger "Khan mistake" can best be shown visually.

When the first JJ Abrams Star Trek film's cast was announced, it told us that he was looking for direct contemporary counterparts of the actors from the original Star Trek series. So much so that Karl Urban seems to actually be channeling DeForrest Kelley! Here's the main cast with their counterparts:

It was obvious that whatever racial "type" the original actor was, Abrams was looking to emulate that. A black character like Uhura, for instance, was to be played by a new black actress. Sulu was to be played by a new Asian-American actor. Scotty would have his familiar Scottish lilt, and be played by a caucasian actor. Spock HAD to look a lot like the original character as played by Leonard Nimoy and on and on. Why was this necessary? Because, according to the script of the 2009 film, these characters ARE THE SAME ONES SEEN IN THE ORIGINAL SERIES, albeit in a different timeline. And, in the case of Spock, the original and new versions would be side by side on camera. So it was imperative that they look and sound similar or the conceit wouldn't work. For instance, had Kirk been played by a Chinese-American actor, the illusion would have been shattered. So ethnic consistency was adhered to.

Let's now fast-forward to Into Darkness. We're introduced to a character identified as John Harrison, a British character played by the whitest white man ever, Benedict Cumberbatch. However, as the film unfolds, we're told that, in reality, this guy is actually none other than (drumroll please) – KHAAAAAAANNN! Yes, THAT Khan, the character played by tan-skinned, accented Mexican-American actor Ricardo Montalban in the original series episode "Space Seed" and, most famously, in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

So, for some reason, in this timeline, we are to believe that FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON, Khan has suddenly changed nationalities, accent and skin color. It's important to remember that Khan was supposed to be an Asian-born dictator who once ruled over the Middle East and much of Asia and that in this new timeline, he's STILL THAT GUY. But where Montalban's Hispanic origins and accent gave him an air of exotic possibilities – a reasonable stand-in for an exotic Asian character given the standards of the day – Cumberbatch's Khan gives us none of that. In fact, with his light skin and perfect British accent, Cumberbatch gives us the ANTI-KHAN – a character who could not possibly be the Khan we met before.

Did he get plastic surgery? We're not told. Did he change his accent for some reason? Ditto on that. In short, having Cumberbatch play Khan was like having Anne Hathaway play Uhura. Picture that, please: we meet a lily-white female character who introduces herself as Jane Smith, only to later reveal to us that she's actually... Lt. Uhura! The SAME Uhura from the original show! Would you accept that? Of course not!

While I was not thrilled with the film up to that point, it was at the very moment that Cumberbatch uttered the line "my name is Khan" (in his perfect English accent) that I checked out. I was done.

You might as well have painted the Enterprise magenta and had Alf show up as an alien – I could not have become less invested in the rest of the movie if I tried.

I want to stress something here. I LOVE Benedict Cumberbatch as an actor. I think his Sherlock Holmes has become the definitive version of our times. But in this case, he was simply miscast.

So after setting the rules for us – these are the original characters but in a different timeline – the writers of Into Darkness said "forget that" and pulled the rug out. And expected us to not notice!!

I noticed. And many, MANY others did as well. So, Mr. Lindelof, your mistake wasn't hiding Khan's identity, it was totally miscasting the role!

Stay Tuned for more!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Recently, there's been a Star Trek VI-style Assault Phaser on Ebay that has been identified as "screen-used". It was originally priced at $3950 and didn't sell. It was then dropped to $3250 and still didn't sell. It's now been relisted at $2500. Here's one of the item's auction photos:

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a replica and a production-made screen-used piece. But because this prop is so well-documented in its various versions, this time it's an easy call to make. Unfortunately, it's my considered opinion that this is definitely NOT a screen-used piece but rather a replica made by someone named "Wakal" about 15-20 years ago. Owners of Wakal pieces have informed me of this along with shots showing their identical nature. Also, I own a screen-used hero-style fiberglass version and have also studied the background solid resin versions of this prop over the years. Here are the key "tells" – details that identify it as a replica.

1. No interior detail under the cutouts. There should be a "corncob"-textured piece inside the front cowling that should be visible through the cutouts. Here's a comparison of the auction piece and a screen-used piece:

There's something in there but it's not remotely correct. The Wakal did not come with this detail.

2. Excelsior Tag on the handle base is incorrect. On the left is the auction piece and on the right is a shot of a screen-used piece from "The Art of Star Trek". The piece shown was supplied by Greg Jein, the propmaker who actually worked on the film and made these props:

The auction piece appears to have a plastic plate while the screen-used is an etched metal plate. Also, the Starfleet emblem is reversed out incorrectly and the order of the ship's name and number are transposed. It exactly matches the Wakal.

3. LED detail on back cowling is incorrect. The screen-used versions were flat translucent plastic. The auction piece shows a definite ribbing and appears to be painted.

4. The description says it is "solid resin" but has a sliding cowl and supposedly a removable magazine. The resin pieces were background dummies and weren't detailed in any way – they were solid monolithic pieces. The fiberglass heroes (detailed pieces for close-ups) had a different mix of details and were hollow. The trigger shown is neither a resin version nor a fiberglass hero. But it does match the Wakal.

5. The small Phaser-1 exactly matches the Wakel version.

6. The various details on the sides of the body appear to be molded in place. That would have only happened on the static resin background pieces which would not have had any moving or removable parts.

Here's a shot of a Wakal replica (top) from collector Ethan Williams (thanks Ethan!) compared to the auction piece (bottom). Ethan's is an Enterprise version but they are the same otherwise. Note the name plate's details, the ribbed cowling detail (painted a different color) and the P1 match.

I think this shot is conclusive when taken with everything else. It's my opinion that this was cast from a true production-made piece (an opinion confirmed by others who own Wakal pieces) which is why it is so accurate in many key ways. As for the differences, most replica makers actually build in differences ("tells") so that their version could not be confused with an actual screen-used piece or any other replica. I believe that to be the case here.

The bottom line here is that it matches the Wakal replica in every way. It matches a screen-used piece only in general ways with key differences that show up in no other screen-used piece.

The piece comes with a COA from "Globo Associazione" based in Trieste, Italy, and states that it came from "Paramount Pictures Props/Costumes Department" and was "bought directly from Viacom". If that's true then somebody ripped them off because it's my opinion that this piece never saw a film studio.

Bottom line B: if this piece were real, I would have already bought it! It would easily be worth the asking price. But it's not.

As always: caveat emptor!



Sunday, October 4, 2015


I have been taken to task by the consignor of the Spock Parka for not revealing the original source of the piece and how it was originally identified as a "hero" piece, ie: a piece worn by Leonard Nimoy. While I don't think it will help his case (quite the opposite, in fact) in the interest of fairness I want to honor his request.

The piece was originally auctioned by Julien's auction house back in 2010. The Parka and a number of other 2009 Star Trek pieces were auctioned off with the proceeds being donated to two worthy charities. Here's the original auction information taken directly from the Julien's site:

The important thing that the seller wants people to take away from this is this wording:

"...and worn by Leonard Nimoy."

That is Julien's saying that this piece is an authentic costume worn by Leonard Nimoy himself.  This is not being disputed by me. What IS being disputed by me is the accuracy of that statement in that we now know that there is not s SHRED of evidence to support that statement and a TON supporting it's inaccuracy.

Apparently the seller does not want us to go beyond whatever Julien's said and look at the facts of the piece itself. It has a label which states "Stunt". Not "Nimoy", but stunt. What this means is simply this: Julien's was mistaken. It's really that simple. But the current seller wants you to forget about that aspect and he's using the original wording to justify his actions.

Let me put this into non-movie costume terms.

If you ordered a red shirt and got a blue shirt, would you assume that red was blue? Or would you assume the supplier had made a mistake? Furthermore, a few years later, would you try to resell that (wrong) blue shirt and call it red? That would be either stupid or dishonest, right? If you wanted to resell it you'd simply call it a blue shirt and everyone's happy.

Except in this case the blue shirt (the "stunt" version) is worth a few thousand dollars while the red shirt (the "Nimoy" version) is worth about ten thousand dollars more! But to those in the know, red is not blue.

And the seller is definitely in the know, in my opinion. How so? Keep in mind that he is well-versed in film memorabilia collecting. As soon as he received the parka I think he knew the exact implications of that simple word "stunt". At that point he had two choices:

1. Keep the piece with the understanding that Julien's made a mistake but that he had a nice stunt Spock piece and a charity made some money


2. Send it back to Julien's for a refund as the piece did not meet the description as stated. Remember that what's written in a piece trumps everything else without specific proof to the contrary. If Julien's could not prove the "worn by" statement, they should never have made the claim. And if they COULD prove it, it was incumbent upon the buyer to get that proof so that it could accompany the piece in perpetuity.

The consignor obviously did not return the piece. Neither did he get any proof. But he apparently wanted the next generation of buyer to not realize what "stunt" means (which we now know is: "not Nimoy"). I think he was hoping to sell it to an unsophisticated buyer who would simply accept the "Nimoy" claim without any actual proof to back it up. And that is apparently what has happened.

So there's the whole story. Mr. Consignor, if I have any of my facts wrong, please let me know and I'll adjust accordingly. As for my opinions, well – those are mine and you don't get to vote on those.



Saturday, October 3, 2015


This past week, auction house Profiles in History held their latest Hollywood Auction. The catalog was quite a tome: over six hundred pages of movie memorabilia ranging from posters for silent movies to a shooting model from Star Wars that sold for $375,000 – quite a chunk of change for a 16 inch model seen on screen for about thirty seconds total! But, that, as they say, is show biz.

For Star Trek collectors, this auction had a few items of interest including original series Spock and McCoy tunics from 1967 as well as one of the last pieces ever worn by Spock on-screen – a winter parka from the 2009 Star Trek film. And as great as those 48-year-old pieces were, it's the parka that is at the center of my story.

Here's the piece in question:

Photo: Profiles in History
And here's the description taken word-for-word from the Profiles auction:

1621. Leonard Nimoy “Spock” parka and gloves from Star Trek. (Paramount, 2009) Original knee-length futuristic parka. Constructed of gray leather with matching fleece lining. Faux fur lines the unique fly-trap cuffs and quartered collar,  which is reinforced by rigid substructure allowing the wearer to fold the collar segments up to form a helmet shaped hood using unique magnetic catches. Featuring Velcro front closure and integral aluminum belt hooks at the hip of the garment. Retaining internal bias label, with typewritten, “Costume design by Michael Kaplan” with handwritten,  “Stunt”. Accompanied by Spock’s unique gray leather gloves with faux snakeskin accents. Worn by Leonard Nimoy as “Spock” during the majority of his screen time in the film when marooned on Delta Vega. Originally donated by Director J. J. Abrams and family to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund and Student Veterans of America. (estimate) $15,000 - $20,000

Sounds cool, right? A chance to own one of the last pieces of wardrobe ever worn by the late Leonard Nimoy in his legendary role as Spock. It's any Spock collector's dream piece. And, sure enough, one lucky Star Trek won the piece with a bid of $16,000 which actually means they paid about $19,000 because of a "buyer's premium" that gets added to every win. So the winner paid $19,000 for a Leonard Nimoy Spock piece!

 Or did they? Because there's something very wrong with the description. It says:

"Worn by Leonard Nimoy as “Spock” during the majority of his screen time in the film when marooned on Delta Vega." And, of course, the item's actual title states:

"Leonard Nimoy “Spock” parka and gloves from Star Trek"

So this piece was was specifically used by Nimoy in the movie, right? But hold on because the listing also says this:

"Retaining internal bias label, with typewritten, “Costume design by Michael Kaplan” with handwritten,  “Stunt” "

This is nothing new to collectors of movie wardrobe, of course. Internal labels can be found regularly in many pieces and are used to keep track of the multiple, identical versions of a given costume piece. This parka, for instance, probably had at least three copies – two for use by Mr. Nimoy and at least one for use by a stuntman. Hence the handwritten "Stunt" on the label which designates this parka for use by a stunt double. But a stunt double is definitely NOT Leonard Nimoy.

Now, this gets a little tricky so bear with me.

So the label says "Stunt", but the description says "Leonard Nimoy" and these would normally be two contradictory claims. A "Stunt" wouldn't be worn by the star, but a star's coat might become a stunt version after the star is done. But the label doesn't say "Leonard Nimoy" as would a piece of wardrobe made for Nimoy that would later be used for stunt work. It ONLY says "Stunt". Which – based on how such things are done with wardrobe – probably means that this piece was assigned   exclusively as a stunt piece and was never worn by Mr. Nimoy. If it was for Nimoy's use it would say "Nimoy" or nothing at all. But it would NOT say "stunt"!

But if there's even a chance it was worn by Nimoy, how would you prove it? By doing what is called "screen-matching" – finding small unique details – a flaw, a tear, a stain, a pattern – something that is unlikely to be (or impossible to be) replicated on another copy– and matching those details to versions actually seen on screen. I have to tell you that, while screen-matching is possible, it's really REALLY difficult to do because usually there's just not enough detail captured on film to allow for it. You need super-sharp, high resolution images to see the kinds of details needed and that's usually just not possible. And even when it is possible, there's no match because there are always multiple versions of a piece and it's just dumb luck when yours is the one on-screen.

But, as luck would have it, it just might be possible to do it with a Spock parka because it has several things going for it:

1. It has a grain pattern which, like a fingerprint, would be unique to each copy

2. It's a medium color which means details stand out better than on light or dark colors

3. Nimoy has several close-ups while wearing a parka, and close-ups are the only thing that work

So with all that going for it, it might be possible to take the catalog image (which is nice and sharp) and screen captures from the film (which are also pretty sharp) and compare them. And that's what I assumed the seller of the coat had done. They had a stunt piece that they thought might be a Nimoy piece so they researched it and – bam! – they found a match!

Except that they didn't. How do I know? Because I did a comparison myself in Photoshop using every close-up in the film and came up with nothing. In every case, each coat Nimoy wears in the film itself looks different from the version sold. I can find a number of details on the auction piece that should translate to at least one of the screen uses, but I found NO MATCHES at all.

Let me put in a sidebar here regarding my own experience with screen-prop/costume comparison: I've done a lot of it over the years. I'm a professional graphic designer so I know all the tricks there are to getting detail out of an image and how to find things that can't normally be seen. But keep in mind that the vast number of times one tries to screen-match something, the screen-match tells us that the items DON'T match far more often than they DO match. As I said earlier, it's really hard and really unlikely. (For more about screen-matching go HERE).

In this case, without a solid, proof-positive screen match of several specific, totally unique details, I can't see how anyone could, in good conscience, call this a piece that was definitely worn by Leonard Nimoy.

Here are my conclusions:

1. 99% of the time when something is labeled a stunt, it's just that: a stunt

2. To prove star use, some specific, provable link has to be made to said star –  a scene from the film or a PR photo of the star with the piece in question are really the only ways to establish such proof.

3. No proof was offered by the seller or by Profiles and I, myself, cannot find anything remotely worthy of being called a screen-match. To the contrary, the evidence points to specific non-matches.

It should be noted that the seller, an experienced Star Trek collector, is seasoned enough to know that a claim of use by Nimoy without specific proof of that claim, was questionable at best. And yet, he put the item up for sale at Profiles anyway. Did Profiles take it upon themselves to call the piece a Nimoy without the seller's knowledge or consent? If so, the seller – known to his fellow collectors –  had weeks between the release of the Profiles catalog and the actual auction to clear things up. But he said nothing publicly so he tacitly approved of their description through his silence.

And as a result, someone is now the proud owner of the most expensive Spock stunt piece of wardrobe ever sold on the open market. $19,000!! Easily triple (or maybe quadruple) what a stunt-only piece would have fetched!

Well done, Mr. Consignor.

Well done, Profiles in History.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

NOTE: Please see my next article for some additional information requested by the consignor of the piece in question.



If anyone can offer real proof that this piece is indeed a true Nimoy piece, by all means, please contact me. All I'm ever after are the facts and if I've missed something, I want to know. But it needs to be incontrovertible proof, please!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Here's even more shots of some of the great pieces that will be up for auction from Propstore next week! You won't find these high-rez shots in the catalog. All images courtesy of Propstore.

Up first, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it's the "damaged rollbar" model part from the USS Reliant:

For the DS9 fans, here's a fantastic version of Sisko's "First Contact" style Captain's uniform:

Of course, where Sisko goes, Dax is soon to follow:

Here's something super-cool – a "First Contact" Spacesuit later used in Voyager by Chakotay. Check out all the great detail:

 To go along with that spacesuit, how about a hero EVA rifle complete with lights from "First Contact"?

From the Next Generation, it's the Good Doctor's Starfleet uniform and lab coat. Worn by Dr. Crusher herself, this is the definitive look for the character.

From Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, here's an amazingly detailed prototype of the enormous Spacedock facility. The model is almost 18 inches tall and comes complete with a custom-built stand.

And wrapping things up, from "Enterprise", here's T'Pol's Vulcan uniform in all its form-fitting glory:

That's it for me but you can check out all the details on these and other great pieces from Star Trek (and other properties) by clicking here: PROPSTORE.

Good luck at the auction!



Thursday, August 27, 2015


Next up in my coverage of Propstore's great Star Trek offerings is an amazing opportunity to actually own a model of one of the Starship Enterprise incarnations created for production. It's the seldom seen Ambassador Class model made by model-maker extraordinaire Greg Jein for what is surely on everyone's Top Five list of the best TNG episodes – "Yesterday's Enterprise".

Don't be fooled by the name on the hull. The Enterprise-C model was later reused as the USS Yamaguchi for the Deep Space Nine opening episode "Emissary" as one of the ships that engaged the Borg at the Battle of Wolf 359 and was destroyed. But only on screen, of course. Between its original use and "Emissary", the model was also modified to be the Zhokov in the TNG Ep "Data's Day", and as the Excalibur in "Redemption Part II". It was modified a bit along the way and was even considered for use in "Star Trek: Generations" but ultimately did not appear (which is too bad because that movie needed all the help it could get – even from a model).

Here's some shots that don't appear in the Propstore catalog featuring some great close-ups showing the construction details (click for larger images). All photos courtesy of Propstore.

Here's the details from the Propstore description:

"The starship model is made of resin with internal fibreglass reinforcement and an array of styrene rib detailing running across the hull and nacelles. The shuttle bay at the rear of the ship is exposed revealing internal cabling. The model has a blue and grey paint finish with additional blue and faux gold detailing on the nacelles and deflector dish. White appliqué panels are applied on the saucer as part of the Yamaguchi transformation.

Red and black Starfleet decals are applied to the exterior of the vessel. The Excalibur’s registration number “NCC-26517” is applied on the underside of the saucer dish and a decal displaying the name “Excalibur” is applied beneath the shuttle bay. Decals with the number “NCC-26510” and the name “USS Yamaguchi” have been applied across the top of the saucer with “NCC-26510” decals on the port side of the nacelles.

Internal lights are fitted across the saucer, hull and nacelles with lights fitted behind transparent red plastic diffusers on the nacelles and the rear of the saucer. Additional lights run through the body of the starship to replicate the look of lit windows, all of which are powered using a cable running from the saucer section of the ship.

Well-used in the Star Trek saga, certain decals have come away or show wear from use and age, with the model exhibiting minor cracks and wear to the paint finish. The model is presented on a custom made, poseable display and remains overall in very good condition. The piece was originally sold in CBS-Paramount’s 2006 40 Years of Star Trek auction. Dimensions: 65 cm x 110 cm x 41 cm (25 ½” x 43 ½” x 16 ¼”)

As this item contains electronic components, every effort has been made to describe them accurately; however no guarantee or warranty is made as to functionality, lifespan or safety of those components. It is entirely incumbent on the new owner to satisfy themselves as to their safe use and maintenance.


A beautiful piece of Star Trek artistry and history all in one item. The model originally sold at the 2006 Christie's auction for $48,000. The ask here is approximately $60,000 (plus the buyer's premium) so it won't go cheap, that's for sure. But something this important in Star Trek lore shouldn't go cheaply, right?

Check out the entire Propstore catalog for yourself HERE.

More to come!



Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Continuing our coverage of the upcoming Propstore auction, here's the next incredible piece: an Original Series Uhura dress! I'll let it speak for itself:

Amazing stuff, right? Here's the official scoop from Propstore:

"Uhura's (Nichelle Nichols) Starfleet dress from sci-fi television series Star Trek. This dress was
worn exclusively by Uhura in The Original Series’ second season and is believed to screen match to episodes “Return to Tomorrow,” “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” “The Ultimate Computer” and “The Omega Glory,” based on the placement and stitching of the Engineering Division patch and rank braids.

The dress is made of red velour with a black ribbed fabric collar and features original faux-gold rank braids on both sleeves, indicating the rank of Lieutenant, with a Starfleet engineering patch made of reflective faux-gold material with black embroidery affixed to the left breast along the collar line.

Made using the distinctive diagonal stitching first seen on red dresses in the second season and uniquely tailored for Nichols in the role of Uhura, the dress has a concealed zipper running along the left hand side and a set of small snaps on the collar, with the Starfleet patch partially secured with Velcro to allow easy access during wear.

Acquired directly from Paramount in the early 1990s, the dress displays some light signs of wear and aging from use and years spent in storage. However, the piece remains in excellent condition.


Like the Spock tunic, this came straight from Paramount. According to Propstore COO Brandon Alinger, "we obtained this from a source who had a high-level business relationship with Paramount and obtained the costume as part of a deal with the studio." Man, that's a source I'd love to meet.

The dress appears to be in astoundingly good condition. Some pilling seems to be happening but given the type of fabric these were made from (the polyester didn't come until Season 3) and the piece's age, it's very little.

So Propstore is offering not just one amazing TOS piece, but two: Spock and Uhura, together again. Don't miss your chance. And stay tuned for more!