28
May
09

A day with Martin Bower


When I was a kid there were very few things that would drag me into the house when there was so much exploring and playing to do outside. My dad was an Arizona Highway Patrolman and we lived in little HP homes and trailers all across the state. A little place called Black Canyon City was my favorite of all the towns we lived in.  This was my home from age 5 to 8 and an awful lot of incredible things happened there, and mostly my love for space and sci-fi. The first moon landing by Apollo 11 took place while there and I didn’t leave the TV for two weeks!!!! when we weren’t landing on the moon we would race home after school to watch a local show called Wallace and Ladmo, then Star Trek, and one of my big favorites “Stingray” I was so enthralled with the models in that show that i tried to make a stingray sub out of a block of wood and some old soda bottles,,,,, well with how it turned out I would have never gotten a job anywhere as a modeler.!!!  A few years went by and a new show called Space 1999 was on. It aired every Saturday at 6:00 in the afternoon,,, the worst time to stop what you were doing outside to come in for an hour but I would without fail for the life of the show!!! Again the model and VFX stuff was my focus of the show,, A few years later,,, Alien hit the screen and finally there were names in the credits to who built these incredible models,,, Martin Bower was the one I saw and as time went on more of the subject matter got printed into books and Mags.  Before “Star Wars” came out the only Sci Fi source available to me was Starlog magazine, and after “SW” the sci-fi info floodgates were open!!! I found out more about  through these mags and especially the books on Alien. I found out that Martin was responsible for all the models I was a fan of from those early years of kid-dom!!!! It was incredible to discovery the  awesome career this man has had and it is clear by what you see on the screen that every model is a masterpiece of incredible skill and talent. His work covers so many genres and styles, from TV and puppet shows to the hard core heavy movie miniatures!!  Simply incredible, how fun to get paid to do what you so love to do. As we all know  by the mid 90’s CG was killing off the practical model shops and this incredible art form was passing on into obscurity. Models are still used to this day in films but not as regularly as it once was. Many of the miniature giants have gone on to open shops to create models for collectors. Martin Bower has carried his passion and incredible talents to doing just this. Some of my favorite creations that Mr. Bower has created are the stingray, the modified Brian Johnson Eagles, the Hawk,  and all the alien craft from Space 1999, the good ship Ajax from  Flash Gordon,,,( What Flash Gordon Alivvveeee-ah, Dispatch the good ship Alex to bring back his  Boowdeee!!! ), the Nostromo from Alien, the shuttle from Outland, and his awesome models from his take on War of the Worlds. I owe a lot to Martin and to Greg Jein. If it wasn’t for these guys I probably would still be a produce clerk in a grocery store in Arizona, HAAA!!! Thanks guys and to everyone visiting the blog today there are a lot of photo’s and a link to Martins page, If you get the bug to see more head on over to his page and get ready to spend a good part of the day!!! Like  the on going Cobb and Goldsmith posts I’ll keep putting up Martins work as I find it. Tomorrow is the day of Kitbasher girl, get ready to meet a very cool young modeler!!

wow my two hero's Greg Jein and Martin Bower!!!

wow my two hero's Greg Jein and Martin Bower!!!

http://www.martinbowersmodelworld.com/

here he is Martin and the yellow version of the Nostromo.

here he is Martin and the yellow version of the Nostromo.

this thing is so huge!!! I had no idea how much so until you see these pics.

this thing is so huge!!! I had no idea how much so until you see these pics.

incredible,, wish they would have kept this color,, Love it!

incredible,, wish they would have kept this color,, Love it!

awesome!

awesome!

it's not a miniature it's practically full size, HAAA!

it's not a miniature it's practically full size, HAAA!

what an awesom image Thanks Ron Cobb, martin Bower and the model crew and to Simon Deering for this one

What an awesome image Thanks Ron Cobb, Martin Bower and the model crew and to Simon Deering for this one

this is brilliant,

this is brilliant,

Martins work on display at Wonderfest two weeks ago

Martins work on display at Wonderfest two weeks ago

well it's called a miniature, but it's a huge one!!!

well it's called a miniature, but it's a huge one!!!

so cool!!!

so cool!!!

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48 Responses to “A day with Martin Bower”


  1. 1 deg
    May 28, 2009 at 6:13 am

    My word, the sheer size of the Nostromo, eh!

  2. 3 Don
    May 28, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Wow! It seems that I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Bower and never knew it. I, too, was one of those Space: 1999 watchers – only for the FX, of course! His site is overwhelming – he’s built one of my all-time faves, the 2001 Orion. His is a dying art, unfortunately.

  3. May 28, 2009 at 6:20 am

    My god its huge! (No puns please)

    That model is way biiger than I imagined, I thought it was about half that size. He has a real talent there with those models, its a shame fewer and fewer people make models these days. Although I love CGI, I’ll always prefer my real life model ships that I can touch! :-)

    • 6 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 6:23 am

      It is staggering the size of this one,,, I had no idea either until I saw this picture!!!

    • 7 DeanneM
      May 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm

      Suricata, my first thought on reading that first comment was, “That’s what she said!” :)

      My 2 cents for the day….

  4. 8 Tallguy
    May 28, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Wow, John. You’re making me homesick, and I still live here! I never got to see Alien at the Capri (or Star Wars – until 1993), but I saw Empire, AlienS, and Jurassic Park, as well as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (in SENSOROUND). I was also at the final showing at the Cine Capri – Titanic. As we left the theater they were tearing the seats out. 11 years ago, wow.

    As I will say over and over, I loves me my CG, but to see these models, bigger than life, is really a treat. Thanks so much for the posts. Are you going to do a Derek Meddings post?

    • 9 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 6:37 am

      did you also watch Wallace and Ladmo, and World Beyond???? I was also at that final screening and tried to snag some of those seats,,only got a hand full of the tile from under the ticket booth window, and a complete set of the blue prints,,, I should make a model of that old theater!!!

      • 10 Tallguy
        May 28, 2009 at 6:49 am

        Yes, I watched Wallace and Ladmo. And to this day I can hear Stu Tracy intoning “The Wooooorrrrrld Beyond-yond-yond-yond”. That’s where I saw all the Godzilla movies the first time. (Hmmmm, two hour movie, hour and a half time slot, commercials…)

        Model of the Carpi – Oh, YES PLEASE! I can’t even find any decent pictures of it, to tell you the truth. But you have to do it with the original high backed seats. The ones everyone had to sit up to see over to read the subtitles. :)

  5. May 28, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I’ve never heard of him, but it seems I’ve admired his work since I was a kid as well. I didn’t really like Stingray as a series much, but the ship herself was a great design, as well as those bad guy fish subs. I was always curious how they did the effects. Was it really under water or was there a tank of water between the camera and models? Or neither? I loved Space 1999, though! It was a bit like Star Trek, but instead of being set on the Enterprise it was… on the space traveling moon. :) Any shot with the Eagles launching got me excited. Very nifty design.

  6. 13 creativedistractions
    May 28, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Nothing compares to using models over cgi. I remember when Alien came out and from what I saw as a kid, with the model’s twinkling lights helped make this model seem so big. This goes down as an all-time fav sci-fi model in my book. Hell, all of the models and sets from the Alien trilogy were so cool. Thanks for this John. :)

  7. 14 Max
    May 28, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I have a memory that channel 12 had Space 1999 on at 5 and the Muppet show was on at 6.
    I was lucky enough to have won 2 Ladmo bags, and many fond memories of that show. You need to visit the valley, there are a couple of permanent exhibits of the Wallace and Ladmo show in town.

    I saw the Alien exhibit in LA back in 79, those models were incredible.

    Do you remember Ladmo’s Clubhouse?

    • 15 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 7:57 am

      you won two LADMO BAGS!!!! you dog!!! Your right about the times,, the first season was at 6 and then second season was moved back so the Muppet show could have the six o’clock hour. I have become good friends with Wallace and we talk often,,, here is a site that will keep you busy with nostalgia for a long time.. enjoy!

      http://www.wallacewatchers.com

      • 16 Max
        May 28, 2009 at 9:21 am

        I know it well, here is a related site.

        http://www.legend-city.com/

      • 17 DeanneM
        May 28, 2009 at 12:27 pm

        Two sites I’ve enjoyed perusing at length!!

        Max, you better watch yourself or I might beat you up for one of those Ladmo bags!

        If you’re on Facebook, there are groups for us poor slobs who never won one, or in your case, just a W&L fan. ;)

        I must admit that I caught the Muppets, but wasn’t even aware of Space 1999. Probably because we had one TV and five kids, me being the youngest, if someone else wasn’t watching it a show I was out of luck!

      • May 28, 2009 at 2:26 pm

        I’ll have to check out those sites. My oldest son still won’t give up modelbuilding entirely for CGI when he is animating. My other son just loves building things like replica props.

        Watched Wallace and Ladmo probably longer then you back when they were in black and white. We lived three blocks north of Christown and often spent the summer Saturdays at the Christown Fox movie theater (later became Harkins, now gone as the Light Rail has taken over that corner) for their appearances there. Got a chance to spend some time at Legend City with Wallace’s daughter, Carrie, doing some of the rides together. My siblings and I grew up with them and then my two sons got on the show when they were young and got Ladmo Bags. I still have the tape of that show and made David Stipes watch it because my feeling is if you are going to live in Arizona, you have to know about Wallace and Ladmo. Remember Ladmo Drive-Ins? I think at the time it was the only place you could get an Icee.

      • 19 DeanneM
        May 28, 2009 at 2:32 pm

        Oh, wow! Awesome memories, DCook!! I remember hearing about all the old shows and Ladmo drive-ins from my brother and sister. I wish I had those memories!!

        I was born at Phoenix Baptist right down the road from you and lived at 31st Ave and Bethany for 20 years. :) I remember a lot of fun stuff in Christown’s early days, like the big orange Ferdinand the bull who’s head was as big as me! :D

      • 20 johneaves
        May 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm

        DC!!! what great stories!!! go to this link and you’ll have a ball!!! You tou deanne, n Max!!!

        http://www.chris-town.com

      • May 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm

        Deanne M.,
        I know exactly where Phoenix Baptist is. I grew up in that whole area. Had a high school bowling league (Washington High) right across the street (the more I bowled, the worse I got). Christown wasn’t even built when we moved there. We used to hang out at Christown in the summer a lot (mall rats of the day). Do you remember the Lucky’s Grocery Store on the corner of 19th Ave and Bethany Home?

        John,
        Where are you getting all these links? How fun! I didn’t even know they existed. I remember the day Christown opened, we were in Kingman coming back from vacation and it was front page news. My mom was really glad we were there because she didn’t want to deal with the traffic.

        Max,
        Thanks for the Legend City site. My son always ask me about it when we are out that way to the Phoenix Zoo. I forwarded the link to him.

      • 22 DeanneM
        May 28, 2009 at 5:12 pm

        DCook, I remember Lucky’s! Legend City was THE fun thing to do, and Arizonans could deal with the heat even in the middle of summer. :) I wanted to go on the last weekend they were open when Wallace and Ladmo were going to do their last show, but the insane idiot that I married didn’t grow up here and took me to everything else on my list I wanted to do but *that* on our first date. I should have known the marriage wouldn’t last, huh?

        I remember going to Phoenix Municipal Stadium for the ball games when I was little and hearing the Legend City train whistle going by behind us. I think I was more interested in poking my head over the fence at the top of the bleachers to try to get a glimpse inside Legend City!! That was a magical area for me, with the Zoo, the ballpark, Legend City, Papago Park and my favorite riding stable all right there near Van Buren & 56th St (back when there was nothing much else out there!).

        Okay, John said he’ll have a Wallace & Ladmo day, so I’ll try to curb my enthusiasm until then. :D

        Martin Bower Day continues!!

      • 23 Max
        May 28, 2009 at 10:38 pm

        Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, He He, Ho, Ho…
        John,
        I was surprised to find the Christown website a while ago. I grew up not to far from there, Central and Missouri area. I watched Star Wars on it’s second release at the UA theater(3 times in one day, nobody cared). Before spectrum it was known as Crack-Town.

        I was born at St. Joseph in 67, so I can’t say much before that. But my family has been here since the middle WW2. My mother used to ride her horse down Central.

        I remember Ladmo’s on Bethany Home, they had the Ladmo’s food stand at the State Fair for years. There was another Ladmo’s in Mesa for a while(I never went there). The last time I saw Ladmo he was driving his van in Tempe, we were passing him, and when we saw him driving, “It’s Ladmo, It’s Ladmo!” we started waving like we were half our age(then 17-18). Of course he waved back with a huge smile. That really made our day.

        When I was in Cub Scouts we got to go to see a taping of the show. Sadly I don’t remember much of that, except the studio(KPHO 5).

        I don’t know what happened to the Ladmo bags, now I wish I did. I won the first one at the state fair(in the 70’s), it was funny because Wallace’s directions would have put the Ladmo bag in my mother’s lap, the guy saw me and dropped it in my lap. I did win another one, but I don’t remember much about it.

        You welcome , DCook. I did web searches and was surprised what was out there. I thought I would have to go to the AZ Historical Society to find anything on LC.
        They had a bunch of stuff around Legend City, The Phoenix Wax Museum, the full size buggy track, go-carts, the Castle Boutique(Sorry, I couldn’t help it), of course the Zoo, Botanical gardens, Papago park, there was so much in that area.

        Great to know John you help keep W&L out there. Those guys were a true class act. I’m am waiting for you open up one of these blogs with…

        “Did you know…?”

  8. May 28, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Even though I love CGI (duh) I wept inside a few years ago when ILM completely did away with their physical model departments in favor of strictly doing CGI. Sure, CGI is wonderful, building models is faster, less messy and you can easily clone and modify a model to make another model. However, there’s still something to be said for those guys like Martin Bower and Greg Jein (one of my heroes also) and those wonderful hand-crafted models that they spent so much time and effort on. It’s a lost art and it’s definitely sad to see it go.

  9. May 28, 2009 at 8:00 am

    johneaves

    MY brother,,, wish we would have been a part of these golden days!!!

    Indeed brother, but plenty of fun days ahead as well, eh. ;)

    Was cool to see Martin’s table and models. He was not there the two times I stopped by. Did you get a chance to talk with him per chance?

    Oh, and BTW, I kept meaning to ask you: How did that TV interview go after your presentation? Was that for a local news program or something?

  10. May 28, 2009 at 8:07 am

    We had The Ray Rayner Show in Chicago as our morning kids show, and Creature Features as our Sat-Nite monster movie program-show.

    They never showed The Creeping Terror though! Finally found that gem on regular late-night local ABC programming. I counted four different edits over the years (about ten) of catching it on TV by diligently and meticulously checking my TV Guide listings each and every week for “films of interest” aka monster and sci-fi total geek-fare film, eh.

  11. May 28, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Ray Rayner was a great show. I remember just before The Empire Strikes Back came out they showed a few segments of the movie for a couple of days.

  12. May 28, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Yep! I remember that, xfozzboute! Ray announced it that week, and I was waiting on edge right up til’ Friday morning! I recall the fight between Luke and Darth being shown.

  13. 29 Matt Wright
    May 28, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Wow huge detailed stuff :-) I guess maybe they should be called “mediumatures” rather than miniatures?

  14. 31 Big Will Cox
    May 28, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I have always been a big fan of Martin’s work, especially on Space: 1999. Thanks for posting this.

    • 32 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      remember the episode called Dragons Domain???? that one was a feast of cool Martin models!!! and a pretty darned scary creature too!

      • 33 Big Will Cox
        May 28, 2009 at 8:35 pm

        Yeah, I remember “Dragon’s Domain”. It scared the crap out of me as a kid, and yes it was a treasure trove of great modelwork from Martin. One of the cool things about Space:1999 that I never picked up on until years later was how Martin incorporated the design of the Eagle’s nosecone section, with the 4 recessed black areas, into other Earth vessels shown throughout the series, like the Ultra Probe from this episode. It gave the show a great visual continuity.

  15. 34 Snafu
    May 28, 2009 at 10:50 am

    I was too young to get Star Trek (TOS) here in Spain, but there was this day I fell sick and, watching TV after dinner, I discovered Space:1999!

    I used to leave an audio cassette recorder besides the TV to try to record some episodes in audio while I was at school. A few years later, the full series was re-aired at more reasonable hours. I was in heaven. Getting an Airfix Eagle was top priority.

    That series defined SciFi TV for me. I wouldn’t discover Trek “properly” until ST:TMP (and, even so, that made me sort of a strange Trekkie. TMP as your first Trek experience can be a bit unorthodox. And it can turn your supergreeblied spaceships worldview upside down).

    • 35 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 12:19 pm

      wow I hear that tape recorder story so much,,, so glad we all did he same things to capture those incredible times!!

  16. 36 Tim Earls
    May 28, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Um, John? Brian Johnson designed the Eagle. He was a great ship designer as well. If you want to go back further, Derrick Meddings and Mike Trim who did the designs and models for Stingray, Thunderbirds, Capt. Scarlet and UFO are my idols. Derrick Meddings went on to do many of the James Bond movies.

    • 37 johneaves
      May 28, 2009 at 11:10 am

      I know I know!!!! I fixed it!!! Always knew Brian designed the Eagle but Martin did all those modified engines and pod haulers for the 2nd season,,,,, I was a writt-n fast so my readers digest version from this Morning text has been corrected,,, thanks Tim!

      • 38 Tallguy
        May 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

        Well, speaking of not-so-miniatures: I was just reading that Derek Meddings’ tanker from The Spy Who Loved Me was SIXTY FEET LONG!

      • 39 Tim Earls
        May 28, 2009 at 2:16 pm

        Sorry, John. I must have missed it. And I misspelled Derek’s name. :-( I have a great book by Mike Trim and I’ve been meaning to get Derek’s book as well. I’m glad you got to meet Martin. An extraordinary talent. Much like you, John!

      • 40 johneaves
        May 28, 2009 at 2:29 pm

        hey there Tim, thanks thanks again for catching my blog holes!!! HAAA!

      • 41 Tim Earls
        May 29, 2009 at 4:53 am

        For some reasaon “blog holes” sounds rude. :-)

  17. 42 DeanneM
    May 28, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I like coming here and finding out all sorts of things I haven’t been exposed to mixed in with so much great stuff I’ve loved for a long time.

    I’m amazed by this guy’s career and prolific body of work!! Oh, to have known what I know now back then. *sigh* It’s obviously been a labor of love, I mean just look at all the care and attention to detail!! Scrolling down revealed one amazing pic after another.

    The link to Martin’s site revealed too much great stuff to look at, so I’ll be checking back there. Thanks for all this new stuff, John!

  18. 43 Matt Boardman
    May 28, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Ahhhh…always nice to come over here and learn something new. Thanks for the piece on Martin, John! I’ve been a fan of his work, but never knew it was him. Nice to put face to model (which wouldn’t be too hard to literally do with these babies! They’re huge!!)!

  19. 44 HeidiM
    May 28, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Hi John! It is Deanne’s daughter here! Giving a shout-out for Black Canyon City!
    I love that place dearly.

  20. May 29, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Superb post, the guy is a legend ! He’s one of the reasons I do the lottery, if I ever won I’d be getting Martin Bower to build me Studio Scale replicas of some of my fave spaceships !!! :)

  21. 46 FSM-1
    June 2, 2009 at 4:43 am

    Fantastic post! I love all of the retro work you show and especially like the narratives. I remember many things the same way you do, The Moon Landing, Starlog, many of the early days
    of Sci-Fi and trying to scrounge for any tidbit of information on SFX. Thanks for the article / post and all the rest. I really enjoy coming here and reading through these threads and flashbacks.

  22. June 23, 2009 at 4:42 am

    I’m part of the team helping to produce Bowerhouse, a series of magazines highlighting Martin’s work with text and pictures from the great man himself. Issue 3 is nearly ready for publication and issues 1 and 2 are available from SFM:uk in the UK, CultTVMan in the USA and Hobby Link Japan in Japan.

    You’ll spot a top corner of one of the publications in the shot of the moonbus (above).

    Just thought I’d make you all aware of this publication!


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