the golden Enterprise

Hey all and Happy Friday!!!! I have to say it has been great fun going through the old boxes of art and photos to put up on the blog here!!! Sure is a lot more stuff in my garage than I thought I had, and even some secret treasures that I really forgot about.  I found a cup of snow from the North Pole (Santa Clause 3), Dilithium Crystals and snow from the Andorian planet’s surface (Enterprise), and too many other things to write about this morning.  The big finds were the cases of Gold Enterprise’s from the last three TNG films. They all still look really good for the amount of abuse they got on stage. 

Here’s the story of how these golden eggs came to be on First Contact:

Herman Zimmerman and I were talking about the observation lounge and how they were going to have to sculpt an Enterprise E profile to go with the half carvings created for the Ent. D.  It was one of those things that in the back of my mind I said: “If we could do those gold ships differently, we could make full size models and have them gold plated!!”  The only thing is, I said it out loud as I thought it… Herman looked at the broken half sculpts on the floor and then looked at me and said that he loved that idea and asked when could I start making them….We laughed and then the massive stress and joy of this new project was what I felt next!!!  We were still heavy in the designing phase of things, and these models had a pretty severe deadline.  This was before eBay, so I went and scoured the hobby shops all the way from Los Angeles to PHX Arizona to find any and all kits of the Enterprises.  What was available then was the Enterprise A, a TOS Enterprise that was too small so I opted to get the cutaway version that was substantially bigger, and the Ent. D.  That left the “B”, “C” and the new “E”.  For the “B” I grabbed one of the Playmates toy which was a good scale.  For the “C” my friend Nelson tracked down a beautiful Garage kit that, too, was a good scale.  For the “E”, I had just finished making a big 28 inch study model for the producers here in LA and for the model guys and gals up at ILM.  It was almost too big, but there was no time to sculpt another one so it had to do.  Herman asked for 3 of each ship because we were now going to have the smashing of the case scene.  In the end, we wound up making 6 of the “D’s” and about 6 or 7 of the “C’s” because it was the one that all the glass would fall on top of.  Getting them all built was a huge challenge because the kits are just awful to work with, and most of the seams were huge and the choice of part lines put large, deep lines through what should be a clean surface.  The Enterprise A was the worst because it has this kinda wood texture on every inch of the ship, so I wound up filling every line and sanding it smooth to make the finished gold plating look like an Oscar.  Time was short, so the smooth look only happened on the TOS, A,C, and E.  The rest were as is.  To expedite, I made one master of each ship, molded them and then made solid resin castings.  The ships were very heavy and after the plating was complete, they felt like solid blocks of gold.  Jim and Dan are the two guys that run ArtCraft Plating, and they did an awesome job with the gold plating of the ships…they get all my business, and I recommend them to anyone that has something they need plated in any kind of metal or finish!  Herman was getting tense with the deadlines, and my in and out of the office juggling routine between art and models made it even more difficult when things were due by the end of every day, but in the end everything worked out fine. The models turned out gorgeous once mounted and they were hit with those Halogen jewelers lights built into the case. Mike Okuda made great little plaques for each ship that really made the whole display sing!  The saddest day was when they filmed the smashing scene, and it was brutal to watch the models get hit with rifle and glass!!!  Oh well, that’s what they were made for, HAAA!  Anyway, here are some pictures of the golden babies for you to enjoy!!!  Have a great weekend.


the Enterprise-C from a garage kit.

the Enterprise-C from a garage kit.

from the outside looking in, set pieces from TNG were used to make this set.

from the outside looking in, set pieces from TNG were used to make this set.

playing around with the fish eye lense.

playing around with the fish eye lense.

the Playmates "B"

the Playmates "B"


the "B", "C", and "D"

the "B", "C", and "D"





the enormous "E"

the enormous "E"


The elegant TOS Enterprise!!

The elegant TOS Enterprise!!

mounted on the set minus the case doors

mounted on the set minus the case doors

22 Responses to “the golden Enterprise”

  1. 1 ety3
    June 26, 2009 at 9:02 am

    OK. Since you insist, I’ll take one of them off your hands …

    The gold “plating” is lovely.

  2. June 26, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I remember seeing the ships get smashed in FC for the first time and thinking to myself “I’ll bet someone put some time into those models only to have them smashed”. I never thought they were sold resin casts, too fun!

    The “D” as the only one that looked enough like the AMT kit that I noticed it outright (but then I am truly a model dork who would notice a detail like this). Always wondered about the “E”, it looked the most out of place and unlike any of the existing model kits.

    Cool background info on this story!

  3. June 26, 2009 at 9:25 am

    What a great background story. The Gold finishes look amazing in your photos.

    I too often wondered about the poor model builder that built these up only to see them get smashed. The “B” was the one I wondered about, I had the Playmates Toys version and never connected the two.

  4. 4 evil_genius_180
    June 26, 2009 at 9:31 am

    “You broke your little ships.” 🙂

    I love that scene. Especially since, of course, he broke his ship, the Enterprise-D (and the C but that’s not the point.) I gotta agree with Christopher Doll, I always figured someone spent some time on those just to smash them. But I didn’t know back then that you smart guys in Hollywood made several of each model when doing things like that so that you still had at least 1 good one left at the end of the day (in my defense, I was only 17 at the time. ;))

    Those models are gorgeous and I’m glad you found them and snapped some photos. It’s really nice seeing them all closely because we don’t see them that close in the movie and I too am a model nut. I love making models, looking at models, playing with models, you name it. (model starships are nice too. ;)) Anywho, thanks for sharing. 😀

  5. 6 DeanneM
    June 26, 2009 at 9:43 am

    These are just so gorgeous!!! It pained me to see the devastation in the movie, even knowing there were probably a number of them! It didn’t occur to me that you would have to watch and cringe at your creations being battered and broken.

    These are very pretty, shiny little models that had me wishing it was my display case full of them. 😀

  6. 7 the bluesman
    June 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Such is the biz. When I was working in the theatre, we built a huge gorgeous two stroy library set for My Fair Lady..it was a beautful burgandy victorian looking set witha curved stairway
    and a fireplace. It took a month to build and a couple hours to come down during the strike after the show was over.

  7. 9 Lt. Washburn
    June 26, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Great work on those. I thought they looked great compared to the lumpy half sculpts from the show. I remember being really glad that the idea of having ships in the obs lounge was brought back.

    Can I ask why the table was changed? Was it just to draw more difference between the D and the E sets? Although I really like the underlighting that a lit table gives (made all those Ten Forward scenes really great looking) I thought it made the table look less cool than the black glass version from the series.

    By the way, can you talk about recreating the TNG sets from These Are the Voyages (if you were involved)? Despite the issues that others, and myself had with aspects of that episode (I actually like most of the ideas behind the episode, but would have made certain changes), I freaked out when I saw all the TNG sets rebuilt. I grew up on TNG and that thrilled me. There were obvious problems getting a 100% match on certain things, but the extent that was done, and was right, was impressive.

  8. June 26, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Ooohhh… interesting to know the story of those models from FC. Some years ago we were having a discussion over at the Flare forums about the ships on display in the Observation Lounge in Nemesis. Do you have the story of those ones, too? We were trying to figure out what kits had been used for them…

    And you comment about “the saddest day” reminds me of a strip in MAD magazine where some guy builds a hugely detailed battleship only to have it later destroyed during the filming of a war movie, with tears in his eyes… it’s the tragic story of modelmakers working for Hollywood studios, most of the time their work isn’t supposed to survive the filming!

    • 11 johneaves
      June 26, 2009 at 12:33 pm

      There were 12 ships in the Nemesis version of the Observation Lounge. I was asked to make more of the same in addition the Voyager, Excelsior, Grissom, Reliant, the space shuttle STS-1, and the aircraft carrier CV-65, to equal 12 ships total. I made them all but somewhere some how the original 6 models were just duplicated on either side of the view screen. I;ll put up some new pictures in a moment. My first Movie was Top Gun and we spent months making all scales of the F-14’s and the F-5’s only to take them to set one day to watch the VFX crew throw them off of a 100 foot man lift and on fire. It was all over in less than an hour and we built more with big red and tear-filled eyes!

      • 12 Scott D
        June 26, 2009 at 8:04 pm

        Psst, the Space Shuttle Enterprise is called the OV-101. 😉

        And boy, mentioning Top Gun drove me crazy them using F-5s. They should’ve worked with the Air Force and borrow F-15s and mimic them as real MiGs. (Too bad the F-16Ns didn’t enter Navy use until a few years later, that would’ve been a cool scene too.)

  9. June 26, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    *innocently* So, why no NX then? 8)

  10. 15 barriesuddery
    June 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    What happened to the ones that weren’t broken?

  11. 18 George
    June 26, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    This is impressive. Can you post a side-by-side comparing the First Contact room/ships to the later room/ships?

  12. June 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I’d love to have that Golden Ent-C, love the Ambassador class. Great to see such wonderful pictures, there was so much going on at the time these were on screen I never appreciated how beautiful the models were.

  13. 20 FSL
    July 5, 2009 at 1:54 am

    I thought that scene was nice, especially with Lily picking up a broken off nacelle.

  14. 21 Craig
    July 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Where’s the NX-01?

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June 2009

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