Saturday, July 22, 2017


Oh, the haters gonna hate. Not me.

There's a very interesting line about "preconceptions".




In the Star Trek: Discovery trailer that was released a while back, one of the many surprises was a new take on a spacesuit for the series. To say that it was a departure from anything seen so far in Trek is an understatement.

Whoa! Now THAT is new! And not only is it unlike any other Star Trek suit, it's really unlike any movie or TV spacesuit, and that's a tough thing to do these days. It's worth noting that spacesuits in Trek go all the way back to the original series. Most later incarnations had a version of their own .

TOS suits seen in "The Tholian Web" / CBS
The Motion Picture suit / Paramount
Picard and pals in "First Contact"
Enterprise-era suits
What's interesting to me about all these different versions is that there's really no carry-overs from one to the other. They are all unique in their design and totally different from each other. They're also versions of a very basic suit. With the exception of The Motion Picture version, none had any kind of flight capability (though I wasn't much of a watcher of Enterprise so I can't say for sure regarding that one). But the new Discovery version definitely has the capability to move independently through space which can make for some very cool uses in its future.

This week at SDCC17, CBS had this new suit on display in all its glory.

image: CBS
Now that's amazing looking! FWIW, up to now my favorite Trek spacesuit design was hands down the Motion Picture version. But this one might take its place one we get to see it in action.

I'll add the now-familiar acknowledgement – I KNOW this is apparently too advanced if it takes place before TOS. Well, apparently this is both a prequel AND a reboot! Once you accept that, all things are possible. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

Frankly, I'm psyched to see this baby in action. It's sleek and sophisticated and interesting. In short, it's cool!

Can't wait.



Friday, July 21, 2017


At long last, after getting a few fleeting glimpses of the props and costumes created for the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, the wait is over. CBS pulled out all the stops at San Diego Comic-Con with big displays of all the different pieces that we'll be seeing in the new series. And the pictures don't disappoint!

First off let me address the 800 pound gorilla in the room: I know a lot of fans are having fits of apoplexy about the look and feel of Discovery. That's because they're locked into fitting this into existing Star Trek lore. To them, I say this: don't. Liberate your minds from old. See this series for what it is – a reboot of the Star Trek franchise. But CBS says it's ten years before Kirk and Spock, huh? Well, apparently they aren't quite the Kirk and Spock we know. Once you accept that, all things are possible. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, right? Pretty sure I heard that somewhere.

And now, back to our story! Let's start with the basics. Phasers! Click for larger images.

Image on left care of Jonathan Frakes himself! Greg Jein, right image.
Now THAT, my friends, is a PHASER! It has the overall form of the classic Original Series original complete with centered handle and small Phaser 1 attached at the top. There's a few nods to the original's details as well with the emitter nozzle, rear fins, and side dial. The grip is much more like an Assault Phaser from the TOS movies but that's fine by me. This looks sleek and hefty, like a Phaser should.

The emitter nozzle has an interesting detail – three different-sized emitters. Some have said it looks like an old-time movie camera (it does), but more importantly it emulates the nozzle from the Laser Pistol from the first Star Trek pilot made in 1965, The Cage.

both images: CBS 
I've read where some have called this a bunch of details from other phasers thrown together. I could not disagree more. Yes, it takes inspiration from the past, but in elegant ways, in my opinion. I think it uses the best of the past to create a more sophisticated version of a familiar prop.

Next up is the ever-present Communicator. This design is based on the TOS original, emulating what Kirk and Spock used on landing parties and are instantly identifiable as such.

left: / Right: CBS
Like its inspiration, this version features a gold flip antenna/lid, a circular center detail and three buttons. The lid detail was taken from the Communicators used in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan rather than the TOS design, and since I think it gives it a more robust look so I applaud the choice.

As for that center section, it apparently does stuff that we've never seen before. Lookee what's inside:

image: CBS
Very nice. The Comm will give some type of detailed information. Cooool. To round out the traditional Landing Party set is the Tricorder:

left: / right: Wah Ming Chang
This is definitely based on the original TOS design but with a much larger screen. The bottom part is much like that of the Tricorder seen in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock but the overall proprtions are also reminiscent of a 1960 Philco Portable TV thought to be the inspiration for the original prop.

left: Richard Coyle  /  right: unknown
The large screen and overall boxiness is very much like the old Philco. The screen has a major upgrade from past versions with live info being displayed. No good shot is available yet but this gives us an idea of what to expect:

image: CBS
The last piece of Starfleet hardware shown at SDCC is a Phaser Rifle. This was an item seen only in a single episode of TOS though later Trek versions all had their own versions that were extensively used.

top: / bottom: Heritage Auctions
While there's few obvious crossover elements, one detail did make the cut. The original's three tubes appear to be emulated in the new rifle. The forward handle is also present but that's about it. The scope is similar to those seen on later rifles. The TOS version was very "rag-gun-y" so it's not surprising few elements could survive.

So that's it for Starfleet tech. Check out part 2 for more from SDCC.



Monday, July 17, 2017


You know the old saying – the more things change, the more they stay the same. That could have been written specifically to describe Star Trek fans. They're always bitching about something, amiright? If it's not The Motion Picture, it's Star Trek V. If it's not Insurrection it's JJ Trek. OK, so some of those are worth bitching about. So it's no surprise that the new show, Star Trek Discovery is garnering its share of nay-sayers. For a show that has yet to broadcast a single episode, it has truly brought out the best in Trekdom. Darrin Bell, creator of Candorville has summed it up masterfully.

Now, it may come as a surprise to many who are either not old enough or may simply have convenient memories, but no version of Star Trek created more bellyaching than Star Trek: The Next Generation back in 1987.

"What? Surely you jest?! My beloved NextGen was the source of unrest at its inception?" Yes, princess, the much-loved second Trek to the stars, the one that created a golden age of Star Trek and made like a zillion dollars for the studio was not well-loved upon it's premiere. I myself uttered such intelligent musings as "Geez, they named the android Data? Really? Well, that sucks!"

You name it and NextGen got hit with it. Who can forget:

"Where's Kirk and Spock?"

"That's the Enterprise?!? THAT'S NOT THE ENTERPRISE!!!"

"Wait, the captain is a bald Frenchman played by an English guy I never heard of?!"

"What's a 'Spiner' ?"

And the always favorite:


Ah, such erudition. Those were heady days!

Now, if we simply replace a few words (very few!) you get today's trashing of Discovery:

"Where's Kirk and Spock?" (Or Picard and Data or Sisko and Dax or...)

"That's the starship?!? THAT'S NOT A STARSHIP!!!"

"Wait, the main character is a black chick played by a black chick I never heard of?!"

"What's a 'Shenzhou' ?"

And since some things never change:


So we've been there and done that. But instead of learning from history, we are, alas, destined to repeat it. Every. Damn. Time. Because over the last thirty years, every new Trek incarnation was greeted with a shit-load of negativity before airing a single episode! Just like today.

It's human nature, apparently, but I find it more than a little ironic that a show that has as one of its base tenants the concept of "infinite diversity in infinite combinations" can generate so much close-mindedness, unenlightened tunnel vision, and a fair share of misogyny with a bit of racism thrown in (it's 2017, after all).

For what it's worth, I'm not a fan of all forms of Trek. While I loved TNG and DS9, I was less enthralled/indifferent to Voyager and Enterprise. And I despise JJ Trek because JJ Abrams.

That said, I plan on doing what I've done since learning my lesson with NextGen: keep an open mind and hope for the best. And then will I actually watch the damn show before judging it!! And if it sucks, only then will I bitch. You betcha. But I'm going to give it a chance.

Your mileage may vary. Especially if you're already bitching.



PS: IMO, it took TNG two full seasons to actually become good. I still consider most of Seasons 1 & 2 to be unwatchable.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Star Trek Discovery was finally given a release date this past week. Part of the announcement consisted of this little poster:

It's very nice and all, but my favorite take-away is the little image of the ship. Up to now all we've seen are these shots:

Kind of a "Soviet-looking" starship, ie: inelegant. But then we have the new shot. Does it reflect an updated version?

Maybe it's just the lighting and speed effects but I think this has a sleeker feel to it. And we can see that the secondary hull has a definite TOS Klingon-ish shape to it.

Coincidence? We'll have to wait until September to see. But I hope this latest image reflects a cooler-looking Discovery than we've seen up to now.



Sunday, June 18, 2017


The latest Profiles In History Hollywood auction is coming up on June 26. It's a three day affair and features a ton of very cool Star Trek items. One of those items has been consigned by none other than me, Your Humble Blogger, so I thought I'd give a little extra insight into the piece since I'm intimately familiar with it.

The item in question is a Klingon "Pump-action" Disruptor Pistol from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Here's the listing as shown in the PIH catalog:

Here's the deal: while they made a zillion (OK, a few dozen) each of Klingon Beak-nosed Disruptors and Death Sting pistols, the Pump-action Disruptor falls onto the other end of the spectrum. As far as I know, they only made two, and only one ended up on camera. As luck would have it, that version is the one in the auction and has been screen-matched to the only scene in which it was used, which makes it the only screen-used Pump-action Disruptor in existence. How's that for rarity?

By now you are no doubt wondering what the heck is the significance of this piece. Why was it even made if it was only used once? And why was it never used again?

I can answer the first question readily enough. The piece was made at the behest of Star Trek VI director Nick Meyer. Meyer wanted to see a Klingon weapon that actually did something rather than the very static (ie: no moving parts) standard sidearms used up to that time. He turned the problem over to the prop department with one instruction: make it do something. Thus, the pump-action element was added. The intent was that the user would pump it like a standard shotgun before firing. What this movement was supposed to actually do is anyone's guess. After all, loading a shell is not needed in an energy weapon so...  ??

I got nothin'. And apparently the prop guys had nothin' as well as the piece was limited to the use of General Kerla as he held it on Kirk and McCoy in the Klingon transporter room. The distinct painted weathering can clearly be matched to General Kerla's piece (thank you, Blu-Ray!). Alas, we never get to see a pitched battle with a squad of Klingons pumping their way through battle with these babies! More's the pity.

General Kerla keeps an eye on Kirk and McCoy.
So it was definitely used in Undiscovered Country.  But tons of movie props and costumes were re-used in the various TV shows that followed the films. Death Stings and Beak-nosed Disruptors showed up literally everywhere in Star Trek over the next two decades. But no Pump-action pistol is ever seen. Why is that?

I think I have the answer and it comes from the source of the prop – Don Hulett, the prop-master on Star Trek VI. For some reason, Mr. Hulett ended up with a number of Trek props in his possession long after production had wrapped. I've owned several pieces over the years that came from him – including this piece. So if Hulett took the only two Pump-action pieces ever made and sat on them for a number of years, that would explain why they are never seen again.

Until this auction, of course. With this auction, one lucky buyer will own a very cool, very rare piece of Star Trek history. And unlike most Star Trek props and costumes, it will be one of a kind – the only one to ever be seen on film!

You can find everything you need about the auction here:
Profiles In History Hollywood Auction.

Plan on bidding? Qa'pla!



Friday, June 16, 2017


In yet another example of trying to fish for suckers, there's an Ebay auction going on for those with more money than brains. The listing can be found here:

TOS Phaser Prop

As is usually the case with such things, it is short on details but long on photos. The reason for that is obvious. There are no details to be given so the photos are meant to give the air of authenticity. But, while there's an odor wafting from this auction, it ain't authenticity. Here's what you'd need to know before buying any such piece.

1. Where does the piece come from?

2. How does it compare to known examples?

Let's tackle the origin issue. The seller, one "afteredengallery-beacon" states that this was sold by Profiles in History back in 2000 and has a Certificate of Authenticity from someplace called "Sterncastle Collectibles". That's all well and good but what does that really tell us about the piece? Only that an auction house was willing to sell it back in 2000 for a cut of the profits and that a place that nobody ever heard of was willing to print out a spiffy COA on a desktop printer.
I can make a Certificate of Authenticity that says monkeys fly out of my butt. That would be as useful as this piece of paper.
What it does NOT tell us is anything about the actual origins (known as provenance in the hobby) of this piece. In other words, how did it get from the studio to the owner? Yes, it filtered through an auction house but so what? Back in the nineties and early 2000's, several auction houses were taken in by good fake copies of Star Trek original series (TOS) props ranging from this type of Phaser 1 to all the usual suspects – Tricorders and Communicators as well as full-on Phasers. This was a dark time before the internet had caught up to all the info that was out there and so fraudulent pieces could thrive and be sold in the marketplace without red flags. But once known examples were analyzed and their details presented online, it was realized that the vast majority of these TOS pieces that had been sold at auction were, in fact, fakes.

That is why it is so important to be able top track a piece back to the studio. If that can't be done, it puts a high probability of fake-ness on any TOS piece. Provenance is everything when it comes to these pieces.

As to how it compares to known versions, the quick answer is "not well". While at a glance, it certainly looks like it could be the real-deal, upon close inspections things quickly go south. Here's why. Take a look at the shots in the auction.

Oooooh. They certainly have that old-timey grunge look to them, don't they? They look very much like a crude hand-made prop from the sixties. Of course, that's the whole point, so there's no surprise there. It's when we look at the details that the facade of authenticity cracks.

First off, it's important to know that there were various types of props made for various uses.

1. The "hero" props were made for close-ups and featured moving parts and details that added to an authentic look.

2. "Mid-grade" props were made to be used in most scenes. They would be in the hands of the landing party or the security team. While they had some detail, it was just enough to fool the camera from a distance. They had no moving parts and simplified details.

3. "Stunt" props were usually made of rubber and were simple, solid castings. These were used for action scenes or if an actor was far from the camera. They had some basic, painted-on detail.

The piece in question would fall into the "mid-grade" category as it has no moving parts or details but is not a simple stunt version.

Here's how the auction piece stacks up to known, authenticated pieces.

NOTE: It's important to mention here that this authentication was done by many people who know a great deal about the original pieces and not by me. I heartily concur with their methods, however, and I stand by their educated, informed opinions.

Take a look at this image with the auction piece on the left and an authenticated piece on the right:

This metal detail piece is known as the "crispy" to prop aficionados, and is made from a thin piece of metal that is stamped with a pattern. Note that the "real" phaser's pattern is distinctly a diamond pattern while the auction piece is, well... something else. But whatever it is, it definitely does not match.

Next up is the center part of the phaser:

On the auction piece we see a stud in the center which is generally thought of as the "trigger" as that's where the actor's thumb would usually rest. The problem here is that the mid-grades had no stud. Only the detailed hero piece had that detail as seen in this screen capture from an actual episode:

You can just make out the red stud behind the wheel. You can also see all the additional detail that is not present on a mid-grade (and not present on the auction piece).

And speaking of the wheel, the auction piece has crudely etched ridges while real props have specific machined fluting, another detail that doesn't match.

I also don't think the over-all shape is correct but that's too tough to call from photos like these. But since every other detail doesn't match, the shape is a moot point.

Based on these known facts, it is my opinion that this piece is not, in fact, an authentic TOS prop. For what it's worth, if I thought for a moment it WAS real, I'd have hit the $5,000 "Buy It Now" button immediately. Five grand would be a bargain for such a piece!

Which brings me to my last piece of evidence – that price of $5000. That's a sucker's price, in my opinion, designed to be attractive to an unsuspecting fan who thinks they're getting a bargain. It's a price that tells me that the sellers themselves do not think it's real because if it was, they'd be selling it for ten times that price (the seller told me herself that she knows a real piece is worth more!). And since no mere replica or fake is worth $5000, it confirms my theory of being a sucker price. Why else would you price it at that level?

So, alas, this is yet one more example of another fake TOS prop coming into the marketplace. It sucks but what can we do? It does have some positives, though, in that it definitely reinforces the true rare nature of an actual authentic TOS piece.

Maybe next time? We can only hope!