• Revisiting the FTCC cards for Khan’s 40th anniversary

    Revisiting the FTCC cards for Khan’s 40th anniversary

    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.

    Gallery 1

    Gallery 2


    The registration error is most evident on cards 21, 26 and 28.

  • Trektennial News 14: NCC is not Naval Construction Contract, plus a Q&A with Kelley

    Trektennial News 14: NCC is not Naval Construction Contract, plus a Q&A with Kelley

    Star Trektennial News was the second semi-official newsletter published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. The complete run of these publications includes:

    Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman

    Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett

    Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable.

    Here are highlights from issue 14, published in 1976.

    The cover of the newsletter, showing a drawing of the fortress from the Star Trek episode The Cage.

    The second issue of the revamped newsletter offered a movie update and a solid interview with DeForest Kelley. Sadly, subscribers did not also receive the required magnifying glass.

    The cameras will roll on July 15

    This edition opens with the exciting news that the first movie, called Star Trek II in the newsletter, will begin filming on July 15, 1976. “The studio has set this date and they are getting anxious to get rolling on the film! Now, all we need is a script!”

    That must have been a significant barrier, as principal photography on The Motion Picture actually started more than two years later, in August of 1978.

    The contest over NCC

    Readers were promised a regular contest in the last issue but, sadly, it was the trivia question “What do the letters N.C.C. on the hull stand for?” The thing is, there is no one answer to this, and the explanation provided by the newsletter is inconsistent with what Matt Jefferies said later.

    The newsletter answer:

    …the letters grew from Gene Roddenberry’s and Matt Jefferies’ brains — “N” was adopted by the United States around 1928 as the letter identifying that country; “C” came into use at that time also and stands for “Commercial” and the third “C” was purely for aesthetic reasons — Matt and Gene thought two “C”s looked good. Navy Curtis Craft was not allowed, because, after all, the Enterprise is not a Navy Curtis Craft. We also didn’t allow Navy Construction Contract.

    Jefferies later told the BBC a slightly different version of the origin story, and I take this answer to be definitive:

    NC, by international agreement, stood for all United States commercial vehicles. Russia had wound up with four Cs, CC CC. It’d been pretty much a common opinion that any major effort in space would be too expensive for any one country, so I mixed the US and the Russian and came up with NCC.

    It’s interesting that editor Susan Sackett specifically says NCC does not stand for Navy Curtis Craft. If you Google NCC you will see that explanation posted widely, and the idea was obviously around even in the mid 1970s. Here is a modern example of this story from the Memory Alpha discussion boards:

    According to both “The Making of Star Trek”, and the second season writers’ guide update, NCC officially stands for “Navy-Curtis Craft”, referring to the fact that the design and construction of the cruisers was a combination of the Navy’s and Curtis Industries inputs. Curtis Industries is (will be) an industrial ship-builder located in San Francisco that has fulfilled many Starfleet-bid projects. The Navy was responsible for transporting the components into low Earth orbit, and assembling the ship in space.

    This is not stated in the TOS show bible and if it is in The Making of Star Trek, I cannot find it. 

    Wikipedia gives yet a third version and includes the Naval Construction Contract idea that Sackett specifically ruled out.

    The ship’s NCC-1701 registry stems from NC being one of the international aircraft registration codes assigned to the United States. The second C was added because Soviet aircraft used Cs, and Jefferies believed a venture into space would be a joint operation by the United States and Russia. NCC is the Starfleet abbreviation for “Naval Construction Contract”, comparable to what the U.S. Navy would call a hull number.

    All of which means this was not the best trivia question to select. 

    This issue asks for the best artwork, with prize packs in four age categories. Those efforts are promised in the next issue. 

    Good luck reading the DeForest Kelley interview

    Sackett offered a lengthy Q&A with DeForest Kelley that is almost unreadable. Not due to the writing or the content but because, inexplicably, she ran it on one page in a miniscule font. It was a bizarre decision. Skip the fan poem above and run the Dr. McCoy interview over two pages.

    I had to scan the interview and then zoom the image on my screen just to make the words legible. Here are the best bits.

    Which fan letters do you answer?

    I answer letters that appeal to me — if there’s something that touches me, something that specifically gets to me, that I feel is important, and I do get letters like that occasionally. People seem to divulge their unhappy lives and I get letters telling me that the character I portrayed had been a source of inspiration to a young boy with someone in the family who’s ill, or what have you. I get a great deal of mail from people who have had tragedy in their lives. A mother with an 18-year-old son who’s paralyzed from the waist down, both became tremendous fans, he had received a lift from my portrayal and that I meant a lot to him — would I please drop him a note — that kind of thing. I receive gifts, and oddly enough I receive a lot of love letters. Most of them are fantasy types of things. I have one girl who writes to me who calls me “Trees.” It took me a while to put that together. I guess “DeForest.” She writes beautiful letters, very poetic. Others are out and out love letters from teenage girls. Then there’s a girl in France who sends me socks and handkerchiefs and chocolates and ties.

    Do you accept these gifts?

    Well, if the sock fits…

    What did you do to support yourself in the early years between acting jobs?

    The first year I was out here I was really just a beach bum. I love the beach, and I did as little as possible. I worked in a seaside hospital in Long Beach for a few days a week to make enough bread so I could stretch out on the beach. Then I ran an elevator in Long Beach, and then I got a job in the shipyard, and oil fields. I roughnecked for Richfield Oil, and I worked for Bethlehem Steel. I was working at Bethlehem Steel in the daytime, I was getting up at 6 in the morning, getting home about 5 in the afternoon, rushing to the theatre at night and doing a play every night. Very little sleep. 

    How do you feel about conventions? Do they tend to unnerve you?

    Well, in the beginning I had a situation happen to me here in Los Angeles. The situation was exaggerated a great deal. It was a bit harried, and it was my first experience with a convention. I went out at the request of Gene Roddenberry. He asked me to go to this hotel at the airport for a couple of hours, and I did. After I’d done a panel with Ted Sturgeon and some people…they took me to an autograph room. There were stacks of books that I had never seen before on Star Trek — I didn’t realize there was all this stuff. And there was a huge table that ran the length of the room. Carolyn was with me and we were behind the table and I was signing. The crowd was a bit disorganized and the table began to move, moving back, and I looked at all these people. I had never really been subjected to that many people in that kind of circumstance before. I thought “My God!” They managed to stop it and they got me out. I walked out of there really kind of wrung. It was a hell of a way to start conventions. 

    R-rated Majel

    The poster from the 1976 movie Drum.

    The newsletter concludes with a list of conventions and appearances for the main cast, along with a note that Gene Roddenderry Jr. (Rod) had fled a TV commercial audition. “He took one look at the waiting room of children and ran out crying ‘No doctor! No doctor!’” 

    Sackett also told readers that:

    Majel Barrett will appear in the forthcoming film “Drum” — but don’t plan on seeing her if you’re under 17. Majel says it will definitely be rated R!” 

    IMDb, however, does not list Barrett in the 1976 film Drum, which is not a big loss: it’s pretty much a sex and violence exploitation film. Here’s the trailer.

    Click here to read other articles in this series.

  • Cigarettes for kids – and 12 wild Star Trek cards

    Cigarettes for kids – and 12 wild Star Trek cards

    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.

    The company also produced cards based on Superman, Dad’s Army, Joe 90, The Beatles, Bugs Bunny, Laurel and Hardy, Popeye (its most famous line), and a bunch of others.

    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.

    An A&BC card

    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.

  • The best part of The Enemy Within came from Roddenberry

    The best part of The Enemy Within came from Roddenberry

    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. 

  • So, where is Engineering?

    So, where is Engineering?

    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.”

    Scotty is seen crouching beside the back wall of Engineering, holding a trident scanner.
    The Doomsday Machine

    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.

    The Enterprise D's vertical warp core.
    The 1701-D
    The warp core of the refit Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which seems to have both a vertical and horizontal section.
    The Motion Picture

    And that belief was supported by Enterprise, which suggested horizontal warp cores were an early design, later replaced with vertical alignments.

    The warp core in Star Trek: Enterprise was horizontal, as it seemed to be in The Original Series.
    The Enterprise NX-01

    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.

    The Doomsday Machine gave us a good look at the lit-up machinery at the back of Engineering.
    The Doomsday Machine

    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.

  • Inside Star Trek 12: meet the gaffer, learn a little about Paris

    Inside Star Trek 12: meet the gaffer, learn a little about Paris

    Inside Star Trek was a semi-official newsletter, published under the guidance of Gene Roddenberry. This connection gave the writers access to the actors, production crew and sets.

    I own the complete run:

    Issues 1 to 12: Inside Star Trek, edited by Ruth Berman

    Issues 13 to 24: renamed Star Trektennial News, edited by Susan Sackett

    Issues 25 to 31: again called Inside Star Trek, edited by Virginia Yable.

    Here are highlights from issue 12, published in the summer of 1969.

    This is the last issue of the initial newsletter run and the last to be edited by Ruth Berman. It offers interesting information for production nerds like me but it is also clear from some of the content that Berman just needed to fill pages. 

    Juniors, Seniors and Babies with Star Trek’s gaffer

    The best part of this issue is a column written by George Merhoff, the gaffer who started on The Corbomite Maneuver and stayed through to Turnabout Intruder. The gaffer is the chief electrician on set and is in charge of the lighting crew. 

    Merhoff shared a bunch of interesting behind-the-scenes facts.

    • Planet sets were 150 feet long, 100 feet wide and 36 feet high, and occupied an entire sound stage.
    • The curtain that formed the sky on distant planets measured 225 feet wide and 30 feet tall and was made to be the “whitest white Matt Jefferies…could find.”
    • Jefferies could choose from about “90 hues” to tint the sky.
    • Up to 150 “lamps” (lights) were rigged on catwalks 30 feet above the floor or on rolling platforms.
    • Fully lighting a planet scene consumed more than one million watts of power.

    Merhoff also ran down a list of insider terms for the lights he used. Asking for a “Type 450, 225 ampere Molarc” was cumbersome, for example, so this light was called a Brute. 

    Babies, Juniors, Seniors, Soft-Eyed 10Ks, Hot 10Ks, 150s, Brutes — all are somewhat descriptive of the size and light output of the unit… You can probably guess that a Midgey is smaller than a Baby but larger than a Dinky Inky. 

    [One] “fill” light containing two 1,000-watt pear-shaped lamps…is wider than it is high — and is called a “Broad” for obvious reasons. There was little confusion associated with the Broads until a neat little unit containing one 1,000-watt lamp was introduced to the industry. Now, calling for a Big Broad or a Little Broad is much too wasteful of words and too unimaginative to be tolerated. An electrician at Warner Brothers…was working on the same show as a small, attractive hairdresser named Betty Lou. Betty Lou was small [and] the slang term for a woman is broad — and the confusion was resolved. If you call for a Broad, be prepared for a 2,000-watt Broad — but if you want its smaller 1,000-watt counterpart, call for a Betty Lou. 

    A vintage studio light on a stand.
    A Baby Brute Molarc 4611, circa 1965, from eBay

    He then explained that he and the crew would often have to construct “gimmicks” —  “almost anything that is not standard lighting equipment. It must be made to do a special job for which there is no available unit.”

    So, when confronted with the problem of getting a green light of at least 400 foot candles on Doc McCoy’s face during open-heart surgery on Spock’s father [in the episode Journey to Babel], the light comes from the surgical enclosure housing the patient and that allowed no more than two-and-one-half inches in depth. We “gimmicked” two small housings of aluminum, each containing a 50-watt quartz lamp — and McCoy turned properly green.

    A screencap from the Star Trek episode Journey to Babel, showing McCoy leaning over the biobed, operating on Sarek. His face is illuminated by green light.

    The antimatter chamber in engineering was another challenge. 

    No one was quite certain really what should happen — but it was agreed that energy and heat were certainly associated [and] that it should be illuminated with warm light… So we gimmicked it with just under 100 red and amber dichroic spot lamps — and had only to vary the ratios of red to amber to get just the effect of matter-antimatter fusion.

    These are fascinating production details, and from this moment on I will know that Betty Lou is not a Broad. 

    A really basic Matt Jefferies overview

    Berman published a good piece on art director Matt Jefferies in issue 4. She revisits that topic here in her last issue, but this article is only a rudimentary overview of what art directors do. There are two good bits, as told by Jefferies.

    Most art directors can turn to a reference book when they run into difficulty. On Star Trek, we had to design and build everything from scratch. Where do you find a blueprint for an antimatter engine capable of driving a ship the size of the Enterprise?

    Before we even started our preliminary sketches for the [Enterprise], I met with Gene Roddenberry, executive producer and creator of the show, numerous times. We hung drawings, sketches, and photographs of current and projected space rockets and vehicles all over the office walls. Along with these, we had clippings from the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon comic strips. We had to avoid duplicating either of these areas… We spent better than four months building the model ship and the interior sets. There wasn’t a button or a panel in it that wasn’t there for a logical, functional reason and based on scientific research and projection of what is now being done within the area of space travel.

    We also learned Jefferies typically had “seven to 10 days to come up with everything needed for an episode, including props.” 

    That’s about it. It’s interesting that Berman felt she had to tell readers that Roddenberry created Star Trek. I know there was a lot less information available then, but if you chose to read this newsletter then surely you know stuff like that.

    I wanted more from Paris

    Leonard Nimoy went straight from playing Spock to donning the many costumes worn by The Great Paris in Mission: Impossible, filmed across the Paramount lot. Apparently, someone named R. Dyan R. got to visit the set with two friends “to see LN” and that sounds like an interesting story but the newsletter only gives us one paragraph on it. 

    A close-up of Nimoy as Paris in Mission: Impossible. He looks very 70s.
    From double o section

    Online sources list the writer as R. Dyan, so it is likely that the second R. is a typo, but who was this person and why did Dyan have access to the set? Was this person a journalist, a friend of the producer, or a passerby who somehow got past the gate? 

    More perplexing is why we got so little about this visit. According to the paragraph: 

    The topics we discussed ranged from the demise of Spock, whom he politely mourned; the new character, Paris, which LN thoroughly enjoys doing; LN’s new pet shop, a subject of great interest to us all; actors and their parts, including our own personal experiences; and other miscellaneous subjects too numerous to mention.

    Too numerous to mention? No no. Mention them. And tell us what Nimoy said about this critical transition in his career. Also, LN? Who calls people by their initials? 

    We have actually watched Star Trek

    The last article, a summary of the main characters, is also weirdly basic. We are told that Sulu is “mixed oriental in ancestry,” that Uhura is “an intelligent and lovely girl,” that Scotty’s accent “betrays his ancient roots,” that McCoy is a “warm and gallant southern gentleman” and etcetera. It occupies a page of the newsletter — which was clearly the goal in writing it — and tells you nothing you don’t know if you’ve watched even a couple of episodes. And it does not even mention Chekov, even though the navigator is on the cover. 

    Issue 12 closes with a list of answers for the crossword that appeared in issue 11. Here is my article on that. There is no mention that Star Trek has been cancelled, no notification that this is the last issue, and no thank you to the readers. The newsletter was relaunched in 1976 by Susan Sackett under the title Star Trektennial News, and I will cover those issues. 

    I have sometimes been critical of this publication when it is obvious that little time was put into some issues, but overall these are a hugely important resource. Inside Star Trek was at its best when it gave voice to the production people who contributed so much but are almost unknown to fandom. I had never heard of Merhoff or wondered how the reaction chamber was lit, but I learned about both in these pages. Thanks for that, Ruth. 

    Click here to read other articles in this series.


    R. Dyan hints in that paragraph that he/she/they is an actor, but a search on IMDb turns up nothing relevant.

    Postscript the second

    The sign on Leonard Nimoy's Pet Pad, Nimoy's pet store in the late 60s and early 70s.

    The San Fernando Valley Blog has a good write-up on Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad. This photo is from that page.

  • Is McCoy from Georgia?

    Is McCoy from Georgia?

    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.

    A scene from the Star Trek episode All Our Yesterdays. McCoy has just collapsed in a snow storm and Spock is about to help him.

    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. 

    A scene from the Star Trek episode This Side of Paradise. Dr. McCoy is sitting under a tree, mint julep in hand.

    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.

    A page from the script for the Star Trek episode The Last Gunfight.

    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.

  • One big ship: the new Polar Lights NCC-1701

    One big ship: the new Polar Lights NCC-1701

    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 Star Trek Enterprise model from Polar Lights, looking gorgeous in profile.
    The Star Trek Enterprise model from Polar Lights, looking gorgeous from slightly above.
    The Star Trek Enterprise model from Polar Lights, looking gorgeous in a three-quarter shot.

    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.

    The three-foot model of the Enterprise, as seen in the episode The Cage.
    From The Cage
    The cover of N. Datin McDonald's book Model Maker.

    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.)

  • Should there be lines on the primary hull?

    Should there be lines on the primary hull?

    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.”

    I recently wrote about my Polar Lights Enterprise and about my long-ago visit to the 11-foot model.