The definitive source for information on collecting screen-used Star Trek props and costumes

Star Trek Props.com The Internet's premier source for information on collecting Star Trek props and costumes, as well as coverage of all major Star Trek auctions from the famous 2006 Christie's Star Trek auction, through the It's A Wrap Star Trek auctions on eBay and the Propworx Star Trek auctions. Star Trek Props is the best source for information of collecting original, screen-used props & costumes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Interview with Star Trek Legend Rick Sternbach, Part 2


Part 2 of our interview with Rick Sternbach by journalist Joe Munoz.

Which starship design is your favorite “child”?
At the moment it’s a toss up between Voyager and the Klingon Attack Cruiser Vor’cha. The Vor’cha was a brand new Klingon ship to follow the D-7, a fabulous design, Matt Jefferies made us look at things in a whole new way back in 1990.
The producers wanted a new Klingon ship because the D-7 had been seen a lot. It’s one of those situations where I rubbed my hands together and said ‘Oh Yeah, oh yeah, this is great, let’s do this!’. It was one of the first complete ships I got to do for the series…the smoothest design cycle was for the Vor'cha. I seem to recall Rick Berman looking at a sketch in a production meeting and saying, "What's not to love?"

The Vor’cha has a very aggressive look, almost like a snake in mid-strike. What was the inspiration?
The Vor'cha was something of a synthesis of the original D-7, Nilo Rodis' Bird of Prey, the updated battle cruiser from the features, and a healthy dose of Starfleet styling, given as there was something of a détente in effect at the time. I'm sure that the Klingons will eventually rework the ship and go back to the dark green hull coatings.
You’ve designed an amazing array of weapons. Which stands out to you most?
My favorite weapon, even though it’s not as elaborate as the Klingon disruptor, is the third series phaser for Next Gen. Rick Berman asked me to redesign the one that used to be called the “Dust Buster”. I had a great time with that one. I also got to do some of the alien weapons, sort of the alien of the week pistols, the Voyager compression phaser rifle was a lot of fun.
What’s your process in designing a weapon?
Doodles, lots and lots of doodles. Sit down with a nice fresh marker and some blank paper and start doodling. Some of the equipment I took cues from things being done with the wardrobe. If (costume designer) Bob Blackman was coming up with a police uniform for an alien culture I would tailor the weapon to work with that style. It would be silly to have a stiff, hard-edged culture and a swoopy looking piece of hardware. I would sit down with the prop masters and we’d talk. Sometimes because of budgets, weapons were recycled, reused, reworked, cut up with a hacksaw and put together a different way.
How about the communicators?
Oh, everything starts with doodles and transitions to more finished pen and ink drawings and finally 3-D renders. We didn't have that last step in the late 1980s, so things like the com badges stopped at the marker-colored drawing stage. A few different communicator devices were sketches, from handhelds to wrist units, but Gene Roddenberry suggested it just be the Starfleet emblem. The shape was simplified, and we came up with ideas for actor gestures and the background tech. At the time of the initial designs, I wasn't completely aware of how small and simplified Gene wanted everything to go, but it all got worked out.

Another one of your signature creations is the intricately detailed floor of the Romulan Senate Chamber in Star Trek: Nemesis. This wasn’t just a floor with a cool look, it was also a nod to original series.
If you look at the original series, the episode “Balance of Terror”, on one of the long monitor shots, when Enterprise is near the Neutral Zone, they showed Romulan outposts and Federation outposts on opposite sides of the Neutral Zone, which made a slight s-curve. Beyond the fact the Romulan Senate floor was supposed to look like marble or granite, the design was rather like a Yin-Yang symbol, like the monitor shot. Without really bashing people over their heads with the idea, it came from the original series and really symbolized the separation between the Romulan Empire and the Federation.
Over the last two years, Paramount and CBS, through It’s a Wrap Hollywood, have auctioned off more than 10,000 items from their Star Trek warehouses; uniforms worn by starship captains, starship models, Klingon skulls, phasers, LCARS panels, even space plasticware. What are your thoughts on auctions like these?
While it would have been nice to establish some kind of Trek- or general SF-oriented museum to display and maintain some of these miniature and prop and wardrobe items, I'm glad to see that they're going to fans and collectors who have had a genuine interest and devotion to the franchise. (Writer’s note to collectors: As a hobby, Sternbach also auctions some of his original Trek design drawings and small props on eBay.)


What TV shows get your fan blood pumping?
I gotta’ be honest, I’m a huge Stargate fanatic. Aside from the fact that a lot of our guys ended up on their show, including Bob Picardo, aside from that, they do Star Trek very well. I don’t mean that in a snarky way. They learned, they understood what makes a fun, semi-serious, science fiction show. There were a number of very forgettable space science fictions shows and films, like, Space Ranger, I think it was. You’ve got all the standard elements, space ships, astronauts, aliens, and for some reason they didn’t click. What they did with the Stargate concept was brilliant. The idea of a gateway to another star system is as old as science fiction, but what they did with the idea was tremendous.
What are your current projects?
I'm creating new astronomical art using various digital means, producing 3-D physical planetary models, and offering decals for historical spacecraft through my company, Space Model Systems, Inc. It's a really niche market, but between the academic and public outreach and hobby sectors, it seems to be cultivating a bigger audience.
If you could have a Romulan Ale with any of the actors from any Trek series or film, who would belly up to Quark’s Bar with you?
I’d enjoy having a beer with Levar Burton or Bob Picardo because they really get it, what these designs are about, the science behind it.
Actually, I'd add Robbie McNeil and Tim Russ to that bunch, seeing as how they're all into the science and appreciate the wonders of the universe. And I'm pretty sure most of them use Mac computers. Tim's also an amateur astronomer. My kind of folks.
Who’s your favorite captain?
I'd say Picard. Knows what has to be done and gets it done.
Are we alone in this universe? Will we ever develop a true warp drive to find out?
We're probably not alone, though distances and times when civilizations flourish or disappear will likely keep us from ever communicating. The chances that there are multiple civilizations existing out there at any one time are high, but as I say, we're isolated. Will we ever develop warp drive? Never say never, but I think it's unlikely. We will probably develop a propulsion system to get us maybe 10%-50% of lightspeed, but even that range would span a very long time, with no guarantee we'll ever meet anyone else.
The Jefferies Tube was named in honor of TOS art director Matt Jefferies. What piece of space hardware would you like your name attached to?
Heh. Maybe the furnace that bakes warp coils to perfection.
Will we see another Star Trek series on television?
Probably. It's a rich universe with great potential for characters and new stories. Anyone who says Star Trek is tapped out isn't thinking cleverly enough.

Final question; something that has been the topic of many a term paper, late night debate and occasional bar fight; Ginger or Mary Ann?
Mary Ann. Say, this isn't one of those Facebook quizzes, is it?

An Interview with Star Trek legend Rick Sternbach, Part I

By Joe Munoz

Rick Sternbach, the artist who, along with a handful of others, shaped the look of the 24th century for Star Trek, found his inspiration four centuries earlier.

“I grew up in the 1950s when nothing was in orbit,” says Sternbach, Senior Illustrator for ST:TNG, Voyager, Deep Space 9 and illustrator for three Trek films.

“Every chance I had I’d go to the school library and head right for the space books. I read about how we would fly in space long before it happened. I looked at paintings by Chesley Bonestell, Mel Hunter and Jack Coggins every chance I had.”

The books spun tales of adrenaline-laced, rocket propelled adventures. The paintings were of spacesuited astronauts hiking across the craggy surface of the moon; or of a single sleek rocket ship resting on four fins, nose pointed spaceward, positioned for take off from a strange planet.
For a kid in the '50s, that fueled the imagination. “Those paintings and books like ‘The Conquest of Space’, that was it for me,” he says.

In the 1960s he joined a rocket club founded and run by an actual rocket scientist, G. Harry Stine. “He also wrote science fiction and is the reason I understand space technology; liquid rocket propellant engines, how to make airframes,” says Sternbach.

Combine that with an imagination and work ethic that surprised even his Trek bosses (Bob Justman once asked if he stayed up all night thinking of new creations), mix in amazing artistic skills Sternbach inherited from his architect father, and you can see how he was destined to design the starships, weapons, communicators, even Ferengi funerary containers, that Trek fans love.

Rick recently took some time to speak with StarTrekProps.com’s Joe Munoz.

First off, thanks for taking time to speak with us. What do you think of the passion fans have for Star Trek more than 40 years after it hit the small screen?
It doesn’t surprise so much as simply impress me. It confirms the fact that Star Trek is an enduring story that draws people in. That success was the result of a lot of different elements coming together. Gene Roddenberry wanting to tell that kind of story, “Wagon Train” in space. There were interesting characters, stories that were relevant to events happening at the time, interesting space hardware. It was a new take on things we’d actually seen since the '30s. In one respect Star Trek is really no different than the space operas of the 1930’s like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

Your designs, whether as complicated as a Federation starship or as “simple” as a Vulcan razor, are always crisp, clear, unambiguous, as if you’ve drawn something that sat right in front of you. I understand you attribute this gift to your father.
My dad was an architect back in Connecticut. I got all my drawing skills from him. I got a lot of my early knowledge about machines from him. We started with steam locomotives, how to build structures. If you know how a steam locomotive works, you can pretty much figure out...how other machines work.

It’s a long way from steam trains to starships…
I grew up at a time when space flight was just starting to happen. We didn’t have shuttles going up every other month. My elementary school class saw Alan Shepard become the first American in space. We watched John Glenn on a big black and white TV. We were sending up one person at time, very tentatively. It was an exciting time. I heard about the plan to get us to the moon and in July of 1969 I ended up at the Cape. I got out of high school got on a plane and went to Florida. I was 12 miles away from the launch pad. You could see the thing go up. I went back the next year for Apollo 13 and I went back for Apollo 17.

How did you become part of the Trek Universe?
I got to work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture partly due to a meeting with Gene Roddenberry four years earlier. He came to Yale University, which was 10 minutes away from where I lived. I called his office when I heard he was coming to town with a screening of The Cage and I asked if we could meet up. By that time I’d done a lot of illustrations for science fiction and astronomy magazines so I had some professional chops already. He invited me back to where he was staying and we talked for two hours. He really wanted to get into a second series or a feature film but it wasn’t happening.

Didn’t Stars Wars make it easier for ST:TMP to become a reality?
When Star Wars hit the screen no one really understood the impact it would have. It sparked this boom in science fiction films. Star Wars had a direct effect on Paramount deciding to make Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They realized it could be a moneymaker.

As Senior Illustrator for ST: TMP you (along with Graphic Designer Lee Cole) created, among other things, the control panels we see throughout the film. How much planning went into that?
Background stuff is usually business for the actors to keep busy, but as we know now, primarily because of what Mike Okuda has done with that art form, the control panels and the display of technical information have become a big deal. It is an art form; it is an ergonomics thing. It becomes central to what humans do to interact with their spacecraft.
On the first film there was a particular set of stylistic decisions that went into making control panel art. That’s something Lee Cole started. She worked on the B-1 bomber on very similar aspects. She understood, being from the technical side of things, what would go into the control panels.
But we also had to make certain adaptations for a Hollywood production. If we simply put a lot of very tiny complicated data displays on a screen that nobody could see, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense.

You were tapped for Star Trek: The Next Generation after your work on ST:TMP. Was it a bit intimidating since TNG was the first to follow the original Star Trek?
When we got to Next Gen, we were cast with re-inventing a lot of what the original series had done. It was such a time jump into the future that those of us in the art department had to come up with more advanced looking sets, more advanced props and more advanced ship hardware. We saw it as a fun challenge.
Okuda and I had countless little get-togethers for pizza, for noodles. We sat down and just babbled all the stuff we could think of regarding displays, regarding technologies. How does warp drive really work? They hinted at it in the original series. Yes, they got lectures from NASA in the 60’s but they didn’t delve into it. Where does the power get generated? Does it go anywhere? How do warp nacelles actually make things move? They never got into it in that kind of detail. We did. But, we also understood, writers don’t have to know all this. We would teach them enough of it that their stories would make sense. If we got into a technological jam in the episode we could help them fix it by the end of the last act.

Elements like the Structural Integrity Field and Inertial Dampers apparently came out of those techno-talkfests.
Not only did those add a little technological buzzwords, but behind the buzzwords were very plausible, rational concepts dealing with structures in space. We looked at the possible science behind this stuff. Can you warp the space around a ship using a strange new alloy juiced by a plasma fire? Can you stiffen up the structure of a ship by juicing it with some other flavor of energy? Can you put up any kind of a field around a ship? A lot of it is grounded in real science.

Using “real science” as a basis must have drawn in some sharp fans who understood the principals behind the fiction you created.
We’ve had any number of people who have come up and said things like “I got into high energy physics because of Star Trek” and that makes me feel real good.

What was your biggest challenge on TNG?
Coming up with designs that fit the requirements of Star Trek plausibility, plus a cool factor that guided me on any new ship, any new piece of hardware. It was a challenge to come up with all the crew equipment, all the ships, but at the same time, it was a heck of a lot of fun. Looking back we were reinventing, reexamining and making a bit more possible a lot of the stuff we have in our shirt pockets now. Apple computers has nothing on me with this “touch pad” thing. We came up with that first!

But Next Gen can’t take all the credit. A lot of that stuff was already visible in a more primitive form in the original series. The communicator was a definite influence on Motorola’s mobile phone. That is an established fact. As for PADDs, Kirk would sign off on an electronic tablet, those things were there.
Also, on Next Generation real life developments were getting close to us and we were working hard to stay ahead.
In the design cycles we went through a lot of sketches. Producers would look at them, prop makers would say ‘we could make this one pretty easily, this other one would cost a lot more.’ The sketches went back and forth, the little notes from producers went back and forth and we hit upon an established set of designs that stayed pretty much through the end of Voyager.

Did any of your favorite pieces not come to fruition?
If there was any design I wish I could have done more with, there was one version of Voyager that was a little chunkier, a bit more militaristic. I think it would have made a perfectly good Voyager, but producers wanted a little curvier space ship, which was fine by me. When I put them side-by-side, they both make decent ships.

Was the choice guided by the fact this was the first starship captained by a woman?
Probably not, though the curvier design was requested by producer Jeri Taylor in a direct conversation with me. It's likely that the more smoothed-over hull was discussed among all the producers and chosen over the more angular version.


Were there challenges in Voyager you didn’t deal with in TNG?
I can't say the design challenges were much different. Voyager was something of a continuation of the TNG experience in that we had all the same basic items that needed designs, like ships, props, sets, and so on. If anything made me scratch my head, it could have been how to evolve the designs in interesting ways. Most of the newer shapes and colors seemed to come in the last couple of seasons.

In Deep Space 9 your creative skills were put to the test pretty quickly.
It was getting the station itself conceptually together and working for everybody. The initial design of the station was more akin to an offshore oil platform. A lot of the descriptions coming from the early writers were somewhat vague. We weren’t sure if the station was an ancient construct taken over by the Cardassians or if they’d built it. Some of the early descriptions were all over the map. It was alien looking but they couldn’t exactly tell us how it looked. That was up to us. We went a few months of sketches and doodles and cardboard models and just trying to hit upon some solid object that would say “this is Cardassian and it’s this big station”.

How did the final design come about?
For all the slight head butting I’ve done with Rick Berman over 15 years, he was absolutely correct in saying, ‘look this has to be a shape every kid in the country can draw with a couple of lines’. So I said ‘a hub will work, lets put a ring around the outside, lets put some pylons in’, and slowly it started to come together. Some intermediate designs were just…terrible! Berman said, break the hoops. As soon as the full hula-hoop shapes were broken, we’re like ‘Oh My God, that’s alien!’ Everything else fell into place after that.
I went to a meeting on the East Coast and I was doodling on the plane non-stop, doodling windows, fusion generators, plasma conduits, antennas. All this stuff had to look like Starfleet never touched it. It had to have a totally different aesthetic.

Part 2 to come shortly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Romulan Costume at Screen Used

I have spoken of Screen Used Props before as they are one of the few legitimate and truly well respected prop and costume dealers out there. Well this time they have a Romulan Costume for sale. For some unexplained reason though, they have broken up the costume and are selling the belt separately. Still, the prices are right and there were inexplicably few of these costumes sold by IAW (who probably sold them to Martin form Germany!).


The costume is distressed but has a holster. I am not sure who the actor is, but I am sure a little research on Memory Alpha will tell.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Voyager Prototype Model for Sale

One of the prototype models of the Starship Voyager is up on eBay, though both the price and terms are a bit off.

This is one of the prototype models created for the voyager before it was given the baby-nacelle look of the final version. I am not sure of the provenance of this model, but Anthony from the Star Trek forum tells me it is real.


However, the price is insane. The opening bid is $ 25,000 and it has a reserve! This was listed previously with a $ 100,000 price tag. So this seller has no clue. This model is MAYBE $ 10,000. Many screen used models went way under $ 10,000 at Christie's, so to think a prototype is worth more is not realistic.


Also, this seller demands a wire transfer. This is against eBay rules and makes you think twice about buying anything from this seller as you would have no recourse if the deal went south.

Finally, this seller does not have the best feedback and a PayPal dispute was previous opened against him.
Anyway, it is interesting to check out:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Klingon Wall Panels for Sale


Dave Miklosko, a well known collector in the Star Trek and general movie prop collecting community, and an upstanding member of the Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Forum, has a pair of very cool Klingon Wall Panels up for sale.

It is a good deal and I highly recommend it!

Here is the description as originally posted by IAW and available in the Star Trek Auction Archive.



STAR TREK: ENT “ENTERPRISE-STYLE KLINGON SET DRESSING LOT”

A lot of two pieces of set dressing similar to those featured throughout Star Trek: Enterprise. One of the items is believed to be a Klingon PADD (Personal Access Display Device) communicator; brown, in roughly the shape of a Capital-P, featuring numerous hexagonal buttons where it would be held, red and gold-colored detail, a matching, perforated “screen” in the middle, and is distressed as all Klingon items are, for effect. The second item is an irregularly-shaped, resin-cast, rusty-brown, device that is also believed to be a communicator and features multiple, black rubber “buttons” with Klingon iconographic symbols, gold and matching brown-colored “buttons”, a smaller, rectangular, “screen” in the middle, what is supposed to be some kind of mechanism in the upper right hand corner, and unused strips on the back for attaching it to a wall or set. The first item measures approx. 9 X 5 inches with a negligible height and the second item measures approx.8.5 X 5 X 2 inches.


And Dave's added info:

Comes with the original IAW COA.


Asking $350 shipped in the USA. Will ship internationally for an additional charge. PayPal is accepted from VERIFIED accounts with CONFIRMED addresses ONLY! Questions to me at; miklosko@pacbell.net


Good Hunting!

Alec

Sunday, April 5, 2009

IAW lists background costumes.

IAW has listed 6 background costumes to go along with the Alamo model they listed earlier in the week. I think this is pretty telling. Martin probably didn't want the Alamo model because of its size, and he has enough background costumes so that he didn't take those.

I will not be surprised if this is all we have to look forward to....Martin's rejects! :-)

Time shall tell, but I don't think we will see any interesting costumes or props in the future. IAW is just cleaning out Martin's leftovers.

Alec

Friday, April 3, 2009

DS9 "Alamo" Model on eBay by IAW

Well, I am not sure I consider one auction a "return" to auctioning for IAW. But a 10 day auction of the well known "Alamo" model was put up on eBay by IAW last night. Obviously Martin didn't want this item, as it is HUGE.

Sadly, and typically, IAW didn't mention ANYTHING about the size or construction of this item.
Seriously, this is why Colin was critical and unappreciated by IAW. Colin never would have let this auction go up with such a crappy and inadequate description.

How big is this item? I mean, what a basic piece of information and IAW can't even tell us? How many miniatures are included? Is the Travis figure included? What is this made of?

Just plain sloppy.

From eBay:


A hand chased scale model of the famous 1836 Texas Alamo battle sight. A one of a kind production model fictitiously made on screen by Miles O'Brian in the episode "The Changing Face of Evil".


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New IAW Auctions?

Supposedly IAW will start listing more auctions this week. Two questions come to mind....

1) What is left after Martin bought most everything.

2) Who will write the descriptions with Colin let go?

I guess we will have to wait and see.....

Alec