What did AMT get for building the Galileo? And just how much does a shuttlecraft cost?

You may have heard that model company AMT built the shuttlecraft Galileo exterior, the interior set and the miniature used for filming in exchange for the right to produce one or more consumer kits, but many sources are vague or incorrect about which models came out of that deal. As I wrote in an early post on this site: “Some sources say the deal was to produce the Klingon D7 model, others say the Enterprise; Matt Jefferies’ brother Richard claimed in his book Beyond the Clouds that the deal covered both the Enterprise and the Galileo models.”

Even Richard, however, was fuzzy on the specifics because, according to Desilu documents from 1966, AMT’s Galileo construction work netted it the right to produce only the Enterprise model kit.

A photo of the box for the 1983 AMT Star Trek Enterprise model
The 1983 reissue AMT Enterprise

A memo from Edwin Perlstein, Desilu’s Director of Business Affairs, dated August 2, 1966, informed producer Bob Justman that the licensing deal had been finalized. 

I have confirmed with Don Beebe of AMT that they will be proceeding to build the Galileo Seven exterior and interior and will try to deliver by a deadline date of September 6 for the interior and September 12 for the exterior. 

As I indicated before, our deal was consummated because we offered and they accepted the U.S.S. Enterprise as a model deal.

A September 1967 article in Popular Mechanics identifies Beebe as the manager of AMT’s Speed and Custom Division in Phoenix, where the Galileo interior and exterior were constructed. The shooting miniature was probably built there as well.

$24,000 for a shuttlecraft

A separate letter from Perlstein, also sent on August 2, 1966, communicated the details of the agreement to Lou Mindling of Licensing Corporation of America, which handled official Star Trek licensing. 

Perlstein said AMT had set the construction cost of the Galileo exterior and the interior set at $24,000. AMT would build those and the shooting model and pay LCA royalties of 5% plus a $3,000 advance. 

In a separate deal, AMT would also be permitted to sell Galileo model kits. That deal was worth a royalty of 5% of sales, with 60% going to Desilu and the rest to LCA.

Union considerations

The letter then gets specific about the final assembly of the Galileo, as that work needed to be done by union members.  

Because of the Local #44 problem, the hardware such as seats, instrument panel, etc. will be unassembled and will be assembled at Desilu by Local #44 personnel. This cost of installation by Local #44 employees will be absorbed by Desilu.

$650 for the shooting model

A follow-up letter from Perlstein to AMT’s Beebe on September 14, 1966, adds the interesting fact that AMT estimated the cost to build the shooting miniature at $650. It also stated that LAC had dropped its request for a $3,000 advance on the Enterprise sales.

One million model kits

More than a year later, we get a sales update in a memo from Bob Justman to Gene Roddenberry. Writing on October 19, 1967, Justman said of the Enterprise kit:

I have it on reliable information that the “STAR TREK” Model Kit will sell more than a million copies within its first year of production… All I know is that the machine which turns out the plastic parts for the kit goes continually 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and AMT is rushing another machine into production, so that they can keep up with the demand.

The original Enterprise kit hit shelves in 1966, before the show even premiered but, despite also having the rights to the Galileo, the shuttlecraft kit was not released until 1974. I do not know the reason for the delay, but Justman was probably correct when he said in that same 1967 memo that “My personal feeling is that pretty soon AMT will be sorry they did not undertake the Galileo Model Kit.”

The misconceptions around the licensing specifics are, admittedly, minor details, but these documents are an interesting glimpse into the very early days of TV and movie marketing. In so many ways, Star Trek and its fans forged a path that other franchises would follow. 

Justman ends his memo with a lament that would be validated a decade later by the success of the Star Wars toys:

Just imagine what aggressive merchandising could have done for the show and for the studio!

Postscript

Doing some reading for this piece, I discovered Memory’s Alpha’s AMT page had misspelled Perlstein’s name as “Pearlstein.” I have corrected that.

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