Tuesday, August 29, 2017


One hundred years ago, a force of nature was born named Jacob Kurtzberg, who millions of comics fans would come to know as Jack Kirby. If you don't know who he is, shame on you! One of the all-time-greats, Kirby, along with Stan Lee, began to build what we now know as the Marvel Universe with Fantastic Four #1 in 1961. He would go on to co-create dozens of well-known characters for both Marvel and DC. He was one of my favorite story-tellers and I owe him a lot!



Monday, August 28, 2017


In the aftermath of the announcement that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan will be hitting theaters for its 35th Anniversary (check out FATHOM EVENTS), the great man and creator of Wrath of Khan himself, filmmaker Nicholas Meyer gave an exclusive interview to our friends over at Borg.Com. Don't miss the excellent two-part story!



Tuesday, August 22, 2017


This is one of a multi-part series of stories regarding a research project covering original series Star Trek Tricorders and Phasers. An overview of the project can be found HERE

Ah, the Tricorder. That amazing machine that instantly told Captain Kirk (and us) just what the heck was going on 300 meters ahead of wherever the heck they were. Unlike most TOS props, the Tricorder was actually a story-telling device, meant to inform the audience of some piece of information that would otherwise not be available. They served the same purpose as "sensors" did on the Enterprise – they gave us the skinny on something.

Wah Ming Chang's original Tricorder sketch
Star Trek creator and producer Gene Roddenberry came up with the concept for story-telling purposes. But for the actual design and execution of the prop, he turned to special effects artist Wah Ming Chang whose work on 1961's "The Time Machine" won an Oscar. Wah came up with the basic design that is now familiar to everyone. After getting Roddenberry's approval of his sketch, he went on to build two highly detailed "hero" Tricorders for the show. Later Trics would be copied from these first two.

It's important to note that much of what we know about Tricorders stems from the four known surviving examples that are now in various collector's hands. Each survivor has been visually matched to an on-screen version, sometimes in minute detail. But while the survivors tell us a lot, they also leave huge gaping holes in the Tricorder story. How many of each kind were made? When did they come about? Why were different versions built? Each of these questions will be answered in depth in future posts. But we start here with a brief overview of all the Tricorder examples. Future installments will be getting down to the nitty-gritty on each of the styles mentioned here.

In our research we discovered that there were four different types of prop Trics:

One of two Hero Tricorders built for TOS

1. Heroes – "Hero" refers to any prop meant to be seen close-up. It is built to look as sophisticated as possible so as to sell the idea of reality. Two of these highly detailed props were created. Built at the beginning of the show for Season 1 and modified in Seasons 2 & 3.

2.  Fiberglass – Three copies were made of these simplified versions meant for longer shots and stunt use. Introduced partway through Season 1 with the episode "Arena.

Fiberglass versions

3. Leatherettes – A second type of detailed version meant for close-ups and general use and named for the faux leather used on their exteriors. Two copies were made. Not seen until Season 3, these became the new de facto Heroes, perhaps the original Heroes were too beat up by Season 3, or perhaps they were deemed too cumbersome. Whatever the reason, though, these became the Trics usually seen throughout Season 3.


4. Stunt  – A crudely made version used for – what else? – stunt use. Only one was known to exist. This type only appeared in early Season 1 episodes like "Miri" where they obviously didn't want to risk damaging the expensive Heroes. Until the Season 1 episode "Arena", the show apparently only had the two hero props to work with so the stunt was built. This filled the need for a heartier version that could sustain abuse until the Fiberglass versions came along for "Arena".


So there's our overview. Coming up next, I'll be getting in-depth with the Hero Tricorders and spill the beans on everything known so far. They were the first Trics made, of course, and had quite a convoluted history of use. Trek prop fans won't want to miss it!



PLEASE NOTE: if readers have additional information we want to hear from you! Anything that adds to the research is appreciated. And, if we have something wrong, by all means, let us know.

Friday, August 18, 2017


There's an amazing website out there that does what no other resource has ever achieved. It's called HeroComm and it has made a science out of researching the various communicator props that were used back in the original Star Trek TV show (TOS) of the sixties.

The folks who worked on this project used the scientific method which meant that every theory had to be proven through thorough research and testing of ideas. The ultimate resource for them was the original episodes themselves. While the Communicators were in most episodes, they were usually hidden from view in an actors hand or the camera was just too far away for us to see any real detail. But every once in a while, magic would happen, and we got a fast glimpse of a Communicator close up and suddenly a unique mix of details could be seen. By poring over every moment of every episode in which a Communicator was shown, insights that had been previously hidden were brought to light. A total of ten props were identified – two "hero" versions with internal moving parts and eight "dummy" props that only had an openable lid.

All of this amazing research has been a boon to fans of TOS props. Many, many fake Communicators have been offered for sale over the years and until HeroComm came along, many of those fakes were accepted as being the real thing. But with this information available to all, anyone can read the research and decide for themselves if that piece that was supposedly bought from George Takei in 1978 is actually real. Hint: it isn't!

I have personally availed myself of this information many times over the years and have found it invaluable. There's one problem, though. As amazing as HeroComm is, it only focuses on (naturally!) Communicators. But in TOS circles, the Comm is only one of The Big Three Props, the other two being the Phaser and the Tricorder. What I longed for was a resource that was equal to HeroComm but with the emphasis on those other two great props.

As luck would have it, I've been a long time member of a Star Trek prop forum called the Trek Prop Zone (TPZ). The TPZ's membership includes what is simply the most informed group in the world when it comes to TOS props. These people make astounding copies of every type of prop ever seen in Star Trek over the past 50 years! They are painstakingly thorough in their research and execution and as such, the TPZ is the natural place to find the information I sought.

Since the TPZ's inception more than ten years ago, a crapload of research had been done on Phasers and Tricorders. The problem was, it was all over the place, in dozens (hundreds?) of individual threads and was so dispersed that it was virtually impossible for one person like me to cull the needed info from the past. So I approached TPZ owner Kevin Hanson with my idea of using all the TPZ's resources – both the members themselves and their great content – to create what we now call HeroTricorder and HeroPhaser. He was on-board enthusiastically and we commenced the project.

I'm kind of a nut for research and it was my job to spearhead things but I was in no way "in charge". I simply put things in motion and the members took it from there! Over the next couple of years, dozens of members would add to the slush-pile of information on every aspect of both types of props. We would painstakingly sort through every theory, claim, cliche and wild guess to figure out what was true and what was conjecture. We challenged every past preconception and had one mantra: a theory had to be proven to be accepted.

As you might guess, that lead to several passionate conversations ("the removable data disk" theory comes to mind!) but everyone was very civil and open-minded and we were all trying to do the same thing: figure stuff out. It was a lot of fun (Hey, we're prop nerds! Get over it!) and we uncovered an amazing amount of data that surprised each and every one of us in some way. We followed the information to wherever it lead, and it was never in a straight line.

Over the upcoming months, I'll be sharing all of our Hero research on this blog. You might have noticed that the HeroComm site has information regarding Tricorders and Phasers, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I'll be sharing our methodology and research with in-depth stories that will explain exactly how we know what we know.

First up will be Tricorders (all four kinds!) followed by Phasers (too many kinds!) so stay tuned.