history in the making


historical image

historical image



Here is a shot from Star Trek history!!! Three of the original series model makers stand by the 11 foot Enterprise on Providencia Ave. in Burbank california. What a great shot, especially having the hands that built the model standing by their beautiful craftsmanship.


25 Responses to “history in the making”

  1. March 31, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Great photo. I wonder if the guys had any idea that they had just built the most famous model ever to appear on TV.

  2. 2 BorgMan
    March 31, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Pretty cool shot, and very iconic indeed. Have these guys build any other models as well?

  3. March 31, 2009 at 2:38 am

    http://www.startrekman.us/pages/2/index.htm (that’s the site of Richard Datin’s son, AFAIK)

    “Richard Datin (left) takes delivery of the 11-foot version of the Enterprise in December of 1964 as its modelers, Mel Keys and Vern Sion, look on. Built for Datin by Volmer Jensen’s model shop in Burbank, the assembled 225-pound space ship model awaits its move crosstown to Anderson’s Hollywood studio on Fairfax Ave”

    • 4 johneaves
      March 31, 2009 at 10:32 am

      Thanks!!! I knew if I put this picture up someone would know who the modelers and what the back story’s were

    • 5 Robert Minnes
      July 31, 2009 at 6:10 am

      Datin was also the original builder of the 3ft model, which for all intents and purposes served as what we now call a studymodel. Due to timerestraints he was forced to subcontract the 11ft model to Volmer Jensen. Datin also build the hangardeckmodel and the K-7 spacestation.
      For a long time he has been ignored as the original builder of the Enterprise and it has taken him a long time to finally get credited for it.
      An indepth interview with Richard Datin can be found in “Cinefantastique” Vol.27 No.11/12, p.64-68 where he provides more detail on his involvement with TOS

  4. March 31, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Oh, and yes, they did build other stuff. Volmer Jensen himself was an aircraft builder (and the company presumably still exists in some form: http://www.volmeraircraft.com/volmer.html), and another Google search suggests they also built the UFO for “The Invaders”, an 1967 ABC scifi show: http://home.earthlink.net/~peredhil/_PAGE2/Page2.html

  5. 7 DeanneM
    March 31, 2009 at 3:59 am

    Pretty cool, indeed. Not only is it a great shot of another 1964 beauty and her creators, but it gives such a great time perspective…look at the great early ’60s cars behind them. This photo feels like a time capsul reminding us how much Star Trek was ahead of it’s time.

    I just planned on peeking at the blog to see if anything new was here, but I always find something I just have to comment on. 🙂

    Harry, thanks for the link with a little more historical info…I hadn’t seen any of this before.

  6. 8 doubleofive
    March 31, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Can you imagine being those guys in 1964? “Here, build us an 11-foot long, 225-pound ship for what amounts to ‘Wagon Train to the stars’.” I don’t think they knew they were building “the most famous model ever to appear on TV.” I’m sure to them it was just another job for another crazy TV guy. Scifi was never taken seriously until Trek, I’m sure they thought it was going to be another kid’s show (much like most of the British crew who worked on the original Star Wars).

    I would love to hear what they were thinking while they were building it, and how they felt 3 years later when fans cared enough to write letters to NBC to keep it flying.

    • 9 DeanneM
      March 31, 2009 at 4:22 am

      I bet they were thinking “War of the Worlds” or “The Day the Earth Stood Still” sci fi thriller type stuff. Yes, they must have been pretty proud to see the fan support!

  7. 10 Lou
    March 31, 2009 at 5:00 am

    I love it!

    The most sophisticated piece of 23rd century technology was built by a guy in overalls named Vern (or was it Mel?)

  8. March 31, 2009 at 5:24 am

    I’ve always loved that picture… and really enjoyed when we went down to that same spot… to see where it all began. Do you have the pictures you took that day?

    I think it’s about time for another pilgrimage there… and a visit to the “House of Meat” LOL

  9. 12 swhite228
    March 31, 2009 at 5:57 am

    To get an idea how the ship was built and lit check out the photos of it being restored for the Smithsonian here:

  10. 13 Freak
    March 31, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Man it really shows that it was a different time, it almost like a little child Innocence’s.

  11. 14 Jonathan Burke (TrekBBS' Praetor)
    March 31, 2009 at 6:13 am

    What always strikes me about this picture is just how big the Enterprise is. As a kid, which wasn’t that long ago, I always assumed the model was small – maybe two feet long – and probably hung on strings. True, there was the three-footer, but I thought that’s all there was – a tiny model.

    Boy, was I wrong. It’s incredible that the magnificent eleven-footer is 45 years old!

  12. March 31, 2009 at 7:06 am

    OMG! sO beyond cool, THANKS JOHN!!!

    Look at that massive bridge eh.

    Can you imagine? What a day!

    Look at those sweet rides along the street too!


  13. 16 Jonathan Burke (TrekBBS' Praetor)
    March 31, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I see, hm, two ’63 Galaxies, a ’57 Chevy, a ’63 Impala, a ’64 Impala…

    Ooh, I wonder who drove the red Plymouth behind Datin’s head? It’s Christine! Agh! 😀

    • 17 johneaves
      March 31, 2009 at 11:01 am

      Wholly cow it is Christine!!!! somewhere there is a bigger picture of this that shows the sign for the Providencia motel that is about two doors down on the right side of the street. that’s how Doug daren and I found this place. Ironically one street over from this place is Artcraft plating where all the Enterprise models that were seen in the glass case in First Contact were gold plated. I made it a point to round the block and take a picture of the OS Enterprise there… it almost got smashed by a wild maniac driver,,, thank goodness I had my scatter gun hanging in the back of my pick up window if he had!!!

  14. March 31, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Swhite, those Smithsonian restoration photos are amazing! Thanks! 35 years as a Trek fan and I never knew the old girl was made of wood. Kind of lends an irony to Kirk’s nostalgic musings about the days of wooden sailing ships.

  15. 19 FSL
    March 31, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Very nice photo. The model is huge! I guess it really helped with getting the ship to look big on screen with all the shots of the model swooping past the camera.

    Never thought until this photo that the bussard collectors look like headlights on cars.

  16. March 31, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Hah! The original Enterprise was built at the San Francisco yards by – Mel and Vern! That’s priceless. Great photo of a great moment in Trekory.

  17. March 31, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    “Hey! You can’t park that thing here!!”

  18. 22 LarryN
    April 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Hey John–

    Well, I’m getting back online after traveling, and I was just about to pull the IDs for that famous photo from our Communicator #132 feature by Bill McCullars when I see that xxx beat me too it, off the Air & Space plaque.

    Still, here’s some more info: the date is Dec. 29, 1964. Volmer Jensen himself took the photo; his Production Models Shop was at 104 E. Providencia, for all you locals (let me in on the second trip; I’ve meant to go by myself ever since we ran this!) Mel Keys (at right) is Jensen’s son-in-law. It had been a rush job all around. And Datin’s records show it took well over three weeks, and cost @ $3,000….!!

    And if you didn’t know, Desilu had Anderson on-lot, who then hired Richard Datin’s co. to do the original Big E, who then turned to Jensen’s shop in a time crunch. And all in the Trekland family: Richard Datin is the father of Cruise Trek’s Charles Datin.

    Cool stuff, Johnny–keep it coming!

  19. 23 LarryN
    April 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Oops, sorry Harry–didn’t mean to “xxxx” you out! 😀

  20. 24 johneaves
    June 15, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    thanks for the awesome extras about the crew and those great photo’s!!!!

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March 2009

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