The 40th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan got me thinking about my Khan collectibles. Probably my favourite are the big 5×7 cards made by FTCC in 1982. Cards that size are a rarity; SciFi Hobby made an In Motion TOS set and there were some box toppers but I don’t think there are many other 5×7 cards.
(Quick aside: I own the full set of the In Motion cards but I don’t love them. They are gimmicky and the motion thing doesn’t work that well.)
The Khan cards are impressive simply because they are big. Also, the production run was limited, so not too many collectors own these. Having said that, the quality is middling. Registration errors in the printing means the colour layers on a number of the cards did not line up accurately, and the backs feature only a monochrome version of the movie logo. No trivia, interesting stories or even movie quotations.
It’s odd to me, then, that StarTrek.com says “Fantasy Trading Card Company’s owner Mark Macaluso was a respected, pioneering figure in modern trading card collecting. FTCC had built a reputation for making quality cards…” That is not proven out by my set. Still, I really do like these, especially because there were not a lot of photos from the film available in 1982. That was the year Pocket Books gave us the high-contrast, washed-out, black-and-white The Wrath of Khan Photostory.
Here is the full set of the 30 FTCC cards. Click any image to scroll through larger versions.
The registration error is most evident on cards 21, 26 and 28.
The Primrose Confectionary Co. of Slough, Bucks (Buckinghamshire), England used to sell candy cigarettes to kids, back when that was not considered wildly inappropriate. The company packaged cards with those sweet treats, including a 1971 set of 12 based on Star Trek. I love these because the text on the back of these “stamps” has only the loosest connection to the actual show.
Here are all 12 of the Primrose Star Trek cards. (Click the photos for a larger view.)
The funniest bit about the text on the back is that you would expect it to either be accurate or completely made up, yet all are a hybrid, with most pairing an actual episode name and maybe a planet with some nonsense about the plot. Also, none of the episode names are capitalized. My favourite stories are:
- operation annihilate, in which Dr. McCoy is for some reason drifting in space around the planet Deneva
- man trap, when a derelict ship in orbit around M-113 almost killed Captain Kirk
- the meteor storm near Omicron Ceti III (plucked from This Side of Paradise) that knocked out the Enterprise for “3 sibons of time.”
It’s also amusing that the rewording of Kirk’s opening narration on card 11 corrected the famous split infinitive.
The cards were printed on thin paper and measure 6.4 x 3.4 cm. Sets are fairly rare but, at time of writing, the London Cigarette Card Company has all 12 for a very reasonable £12. That same seller wants £720 for the A&BC set from 1969, which is good news for me and one other collector I know, as we both own that set.
Richard Matheson’s The Enemy Within was a good story. Gene Roddenberry made it great.
The episode we see on screen is a thoughtful examination of human duality, of the balance between the positive and negative impulses and qualities that make up humans. We learn that we cannot function without this balance.
That central meaning was missing in Richard Matheson’s story outlines and in his first draft script. In those versions of the story, the “double,” as the second iteration of Kirk is called, is evil but there is no explanation of why, while the “good” Kirk is essentially unchanged except that both are physically weak, as if their strength has been halved. There is even the suggestion that the two have lost mass in the split, an idea that Roddenberry and others dismissed as the Kirks would then have to appear physically smaller on screen.
Matheson submitted his first story outline in early April 1966, with a revised version delivered about two weeks later. His first script was dated April 25. On April 26, Roddenberry sent a memo to Matheson with a number of suggested improvements. The most interesting one, and the idea that absolutely elevates the story, is that both Kirks have suffered a loss. He wrote:
…we should begin to suggest that the real Kirk has been changed by all this too. Deprived of the negative side of his career, he must begin to lose some of the strength that positive-negative gives a man. Decisiveness would be one of the first things he’d have trouble with.
Important, however, his intelligence would tell him something is wrong and he would struggle against all of this. He would know intellectually that his commanding of the ship demands balancing the safety of many against the safety of few, etc.
We see this idea play out exactly as Roddenberry suggested halfway through the screened episode, with the “good” Kirk talking to McCoy and Spock while the other is strapped to a bed in sickbay:
Spock: We have here an unusual opportunity to appraise the human mind, or to examine, in Earth terms, the roles of good and evil in a man. His negative side, which you call hostility, lust, violence, and his positive side, which Earth people express as compassion, love, tenderness.
McCoy: It’s the Captain’s guts you’re analysing. Are you aware of that, Spock?
Spock: Yes, and what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? We see indications that it’s his negative side which makes him strong, that his evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength. Your negative side removed from you, the power of command begins to elude you.
Kirk: What is your point, Mister Spock?
Spock: If your power of command continues to weaken, you’ll soon be unable to function as Captain. You must be prepared for that.
McCoy: You have your intellect, Jim. You can fight with that!
Roddenberry’s examination of what it means to be human is far more interesting than Matheson’s take, which towards the end of his story was closer to a monster hunt.
Input from NBC
Stan Robertson was an NBC executive and the Program Manager for Star Trek. While typically an annoyance to the producers, he often had good ideas. That was not the case with this episode, however.
His June 10,1966 memo, written four days before the cameras rolled on Enemy, offered feedback that would have ruined the episode. He wrote to Roddenberry:
We would further suggest at this time:
1. That there be frequent intervals during the telling of our story in which we make it clearly understood that the “Alter Ego” is not the “real” Kirk, but only a manifestation of some technical failure in the Transporter device which caused “unexplained” changes to occur in anything passing through.
2. That we minimize or eliminate completely the weakness in the “real” Kirk, such as the failure of his ability to make command decisions in the face of the appearance of his “Alter Ego”. We would think that, confronted with this great challenge, he would rise to greater heroic heights, be more definite, the complete antithesis of the “Alter Ego”.
3. That there be a definite resolution in the story of the “Alter Ego”, clearly indicating that he is dead and gone for all times. Further, that what has occurred could have happened to anyone and does not necessarily indicate that the negative qualities, as materialized in the “Alter Ego”, are the secret inner cravings of our hero.
This is the opposite of everything Roddenberry was trying to do with the episode and would have drained all meaning from it.
But the worst bit made it through
The Enemy Within is a great episode of Star Trek — except for the bit at the end. In the final scene on the bridge, a smirking Mr. Spock makes a grievously inappropriate comment to Yeoman Rand. Shortly after she is almost raped by her captain, the first officer suggests to her that “The imposter had some interesting qualities, wouldn’t you say, Yeoman?”
That same message was included in Matheson’s story outline, except this time he put the offensive words in Rand’s mouth. Kirk has just said that he needs his “darker side” and that “The challenge is to master that side, wishing neither to destroy it nor to flee from it.” He then asks Rand “Isn’t that right?” to which she replies:
“Yes,” she answers. “It would be a shame to destroy it.” Is that a twinkle in her eye? “It has some very interesting qualities.”
Both versions of this scene are just gross. Roddenberry’ understanding of character and the conviction he showed in ignoring NBC’s notes elevated this episode. If only he could have also ditched this misogyny.
Sci-fi novelist and Star Trek uber fan Robert J. Sawyer got me thinking recently about the Engineering section on the original NCC-1701 and its sister ships. On his Facebook page, Rob made an excellent point:
Ever wonder what that forced-perspective thing behind the grill in Engineering is supposed to represent?
There’s really no doubt; it’s canonically answered in THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE. Scanning the one in the identical Engineering Room aboard the ENTERPRISE’s sister ship, the U.S.S. CONSTELLATION, Scotty refers to it as one of the impulse engines.
The relevant dialog:
KIRK [in the Constellation’s Auxiliary Control room]: “Scotty, where’s that power?”
SCOTT [crouching in front of the forced-perspective set component and scanning it with his trident scanner]: “Coming, sir. If I push these impulse engines too hard in the condition they’re in, they’ll blow apart.”
I can’t argue with Scotty. The dialogue is right there. But I always figured that section of Engineering was the warp core, a horizontal version of the vertical design we see on the Enterprise D and the Voyager. The core in Star Trek: The Motion Picture seems to be a hybrid or transitional design.
And that belief was supported by Enterprise, which suggested horizontal warp cores were an early design, later replaced with vertical alignments.
Also, the lit conduits visible in this later scene from The Doomsday Machine look like the ring-shaped pipes on the D’s warp core.
It is possible, of course, to explain away the dialogue in The Doomsday Machine. Perhaps Scotty was scanning the warp core when Kirk called down and his comment about the impulse engines was unrelated to his specific location at that time. Or (likely the real reason) director Marc Daniels thought the shot would look good against that section of the set, and didn’t wonder if the placement made sense.
But the thing about adhering to what is seen on screen is you have to adhere to it.
And the location fits
The proposition that the equipment seen in The Doomsday Machine is not the warp core is supported by the relative locations of Engineering and the impulse engines. While the placement of neither is specified on screen, The Making of Star Trek (which I consider to be just slightly less authoritative than the screened episodes) has this to say on page 171:
The primary hull is 417 feet in diameter and is 11 decks thick through the middle. Designed to operate separately from the rest of the ship, the saucer therefore contains all elements necessary for independent operation.
Propulsion for the primary hull is provided by impulse power. The impulse engine section is located at the bottom rear end of the saucer. Headquarters for the engineering division is also located in the same area, as are main engineering control facilities plus sufficient repair, storage, and other facilities to service the primary section when detached from the stardrive sections of the vessel.
That seems definitive: main Engineering is adjacent to the impulse engines. Also, fans who grew up in the 1970s saw this proximity in the Star Trek Blueprints by Franz Joseph and on the diagram printed on the AMT Enterprise box.
Those sources are not canon but they agree with The Making of Star Trek.
Which means Scotty worked in the saucer section
When I first started watching TOS, I figured engineering was in the secondary hull because the warp engines attach to it. But a few years later I studied the Making of and the blueprints as if I had to sit an exam on them, so I learned better.
But I never connected that scene in The Doomsday Machine to the impulse engines. Thanks, Rob.
But wait a minute
A friend in Trek, Subcommander Tal on Twitter, also made a good point, in response to this piece: at the end of Day of the Dove, the entity flees Engineering and exits into space at the forward end of the secondary hull. That shows Engineering is in the secondary hull.
The red circle is where the entity exits the ship. The yellow circle is the entity itself.
But, again, there is evidence on the other side. In the same episode, just after Mara leaves Engineering to sabotage the main life-support couplings, we see her walking down a curved corridor — which means Engineering is in the saucer section.
And I recently watched The Paradise Syndrome for the first time in a while (and I was surprised how little I liked the episode). Scotty looks towards the maybe warp core and reports to the bridge: “I can’t give you warp nine much longer, Mister Spock. These engines are beginning to show signs of stress.”
So the canon sources do not agree, and I think that means TOS fans can justifiably hold to either location for Engineering and can also choose whether that pulsating bank of equipment is the warp core or the impulse engines. My rule has always been that what we see on screen is the final word and that collectibles like the Star Trek Blueprints, the novels, and the model kits — beloved though they may be — are not reliable sources. However, I have always made an exception for The Making of Star Trek; as I said above, I consider it only a half step down from on-screen proof.
So now I don’t know where Engineering is. Locating it in the secondary hull still makes sense to me, but I also know that almost all the people who made TOS great were gone by the third season and that, in contrast, The Making of Star Trek was written at a time when the creative people were not only present but still had the energy to really care about the show. That book clearly states Engineering is in the primary hull and gives a good reason why those control systems are there: “Designed to operate separately from the rest of the ship, the saucer therefore contains all elements necessary for independent operation.”
That is logical and perhaps takes precedence over what we see in the haphazard third season. Perhaps.
I noted on Twitter and Facebook recently that McCoy does not do well in the cold. He tells Spock to “Leave me here!” after collapsing in Sarpeidon’s ice age in All Our Yesterdays and succumbs to the frigid waste of Rura Penthe in The Undiscovered Country with a “Leave me, I’m finished!” to Kirk.
More than one person replied to those posts with a variation on “Well, he’s from Georgia.”
But that’s one of those truisms that fans repeat but for which there is no on-screen confirmation.
The closest we get is McCoy’s reference to a “Georgia-style mint julep” in This Side of Paradise, but that is hardly definitive. It’s possible to like Scotch without being Scottish.
We almost got to see McCoy speak proudly of his birthplace in the episode Spectre of the Gun. The final draft shooting script for The Last Gunfight (as the episode was still called) had McCoy visiting with Doc Holliday over a dental patient in Holliday’s barber chair. McCoy blocks the man’s pain using a pressure-point technique Spock taught him and pulls the tooth using a pair of pliers. Holliday is impressed and the two chat briefly, revealing both were born in Georgia. McCoy specifies Atlanta as his birth city.
That exchange was written by Gene Coon (under his Lee Cronin pen name) in a script dated May 9, 1968, but revisions and polishes followed from Arthur Singer and Fred Freiberger and we never got to see the scene.
We do know that the producers thought of McCoy as a “gallant southern gentleman” born in Georgia. The third revision of the Star Trek Writers/Directors Guide (the show “bible”), dated April 17, 1967, contains the following character description:
It is interesting to note that the previous version of this document, dated August 30, 1966, does not mention Georgia at all.
His birthplace is also given as Georgia in The Making of Star Trek. (Thank you to my friend-in-Trek Karl Tate for pointing this out.) The book is semi-canonical, as it did have Gene Roddenberry’s blessing. Here is its character description, which draws heavily from the 1967 guide:
So, is McCoy from Georgia? Officially, we can’t say as it was never stated on screen. But fandom has long thought so, and there are behind-the-scenes supports for that.
I recently bought myself a 32-inch Polar Lights Enterprise — and she is glorious.
I have been collecting for a long time, and while there are items of memorabilia that I greatly covet — like screen-used props and any items directly related to Wah Chang or Matt Jefferies — there are not many TOS collectibles that I want and do not own. However, one gap in my collection has vexed me for many years: I did not have a large Enterprise model. I’ve wanted one since Master Replicas announced its supersized 1701 in 2004, but that big ship came with a big price tag — US$1,200 — and I didn’t have the money.
My other option — buying the original model kit from Polar Lights — was also a no go. That kit will produce a beautiful screen-accurate ship for those with a lot of time, experience, and modelling and painting equipment, but sadly I lack all of these. There are experts who build models on commission but, again, the prices are prohibitive. You’re looking at about US$1,000 to assemble and paint the model, plus another US$600 if you want lights added. And that’s on top of purchasing the kit and lights.
So I was thrilled when Polar Lights unveiled its “Prebuilt display model 1:350 scale.” It looked great in the promo photos and the US$450 list price is a bargain by comparison.
To light or not to light
The only thing that held me back was that this model is not lit, so I asked my friend Robert J. Sawyer for advice. Rob (who appears here and here on this site) is a gifted novelist and a TOS uber-fan. He owns the Master Replicas 32-inch Enterprise, which has lights and spinning Bussard collectors, but Rob pointed out that he rarely flips the switch on these as both the lights and rotation motors have a tendency to burn out, and they can’t be replaced. He also made the astute observation that the MR model was designed to look best when lit, while Polar Lights optimized its model for an unglowing state. He had already put in his order when we spoke.
Smart guy, Rob. I bought my ship and he was right. I do not miss the lights.
The assembly is a little scary
The model is 1:350 scale, which gives you a finished length of 32 inches or 81 cm, the same as the model kit or the MR version. (Why 32 inches? Hold on; we’ll get to that.) It’s billed as “prebuilt” but that is slightly misleading, as what you get is not a meter-long box but a smallish carton containing four sections plus the deflector dish. These are then snapped together by you.
And that process, let me tell you, is nerve-racking. The fit of those pieces is tight, by necessity, so assembly requires some amount of force. I was worried the whole time that I would break a connector or an entire segment. The instructions advise that a little work with a nail file might make the pieces slot together easier, and I did this and it did help.
The price of glory
The cost here is good by comparison but still not inconsequential. The best price for US buyers seems to be US$450 directly from the manufacturer. I got mine for C$550 from Toronto model shop Wheels and Wings. Buy local when you can. I did not have to pay for shipping or worry about Customs duties at the border.
That was part one of the outlay. Part two was a new cabinet and a lamp, so she could be displayed properly. And I had to reconfigure a section of my autograph wall around the ship. So, I sank about a thousand bucks and many hours into this project, and I could not be happier about that.
Some Enterprise history
The Enterprise was first made manifest in a four-inch wood and cardboard prototype by Matt Jefferies. The final version was the 11-foot hero ship that currently resides at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. But when you watch The Cage, the ship on your screen is the smaller interim version built by Richard C. Datin. It would also be seen in later episodes when stock footage was used. It is the length of that model that inspired both Master Replicas and Polar Lights to make their ships 32 inches.
But here is some deep-cut Star Trek knowledge: both companies are a little off. Datin died in 2011 and in 2016 his son, N. Datin McDonald, self-published The Enterprise NCC 1701 and the Model Maker, an account of his father’s career. He prints many of his father’s notes, including this: “Taking a ruler, the overall length from the leading edge of the primary hull to the aft end of the nacelles is 33 3/4 inches.”
She looks great in my Star Trek room
I wrote early in the life of this blog that the Franklin Mint 25th anniversary Enterprise “may be my favourite” model. I am going to revise that post, as the Polar Lights ship is easily the most accurate and beautiful in my collection.
I bought a lamp just to shine on my new ship, as I said above, and I added one fun refinement that I recommend to all like-minded fans. I plugged the lamp into a smart plug and named it for the ship. So, when I walk into my Star Trek room, I tell my Google Mini “Turn on the Enterprise” — and the light hits her.
It makes me happy every morning.
Because the Enterprise is on my mind right now, I also wrote short articles on seeing the 11-foot model at the Smithsonian in the ’80s and on whether there should be lines on her primary hull. (Spoiler: not really, but kind of.)
Writing about my new Polar Lights 32-inch Enterprise model reminded me of an on-going debate in Enterprise circles.
Should the primary hull have radiating lines on the top and bottom? The Enterprise is usually depicted with these grid lines, meant to represent the plates used in the ship’s construction, but the original models — both the three- and the 11-foot versions — had none.
Take a look at these early publicity shots with the three-foot model. No grid of lines.
Similarly, no lines were visible when the 11-foot model was first delivered or in this early production photo.
However, the hero model now on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum certainly has lines on her primary hull.
And screen-accurate replicas from both Master Replicas and Polar Lights include these, as on my new model.
These lines were added to the 11-foot model some time after its construction, according to the guy who built the three-foot version and supervised the construction of the hero ship.
That model maker was Richard C. Datin. His son, N. Datin McDonald, includes many of his father’s notes and recollections in his book The Enterprise NCC 1701 and the Model Maker. From that book, about the 11-foot Enterprise:
There was a discussion prior to the April 1996 remodel about the aging and the grid lines, and somewhere along the way the Enterprise did take on a weathered look, together with an indication that the surface of the ship’s primary hull was composed of panels as represented by faint lines drawn on the hull when my father delivered it. He seems to think it was accomplished by the art department personnel prior to the “Tribbles” episode. “It never showed any weathering whenever I repaired it or remodeled it, and the grid lines did not appear on the original Matt Jefferies drawings, but they do appear on subsequent ‘original’ drawings that have been published in the past.”
Later in the book, Datin is quoted again:
“The original model was smooth and didn’t show any lines or marks except for the lettering and numbers. The Smithsonian had scribed lines to indicate panels, changing the character of the whole model.”
Discussing both models, Datin also said:
“The painted surface of the models, as delivered for both pilots and the first and second seasons, was as plain and dull as requested… For the third season, the Enterprise took on an aura of age, an effect created by a studio artist. And at some point near the end of its run, someone rendered the grid to simulate a paneled surface.”
Modern model companies have taken the later weathered look with the grid lines to be the “real” appearance of the ship, and that position is as valid as any other. Or you can take the look Datin created as authoritative, considering he built the models for Matt Jefferies. Either is just as “real” — and we see both on screen.
I’ll give Datin the last word on this, and then you can decide for yourself:
“To describe the current appearance of the ship as ‘original’ is inappropriate. Perhaps ‘original’ to convey that the basic design stems from the original series, but not original in the sense this is how it appeared when the series began in 1966.”