As a kid and young teen I got into model building for a while. I built a model of the Saturn V Apollo launch vehicle along with its large moving gantry. I built several aircraft models, including the X-15 supersonic jet rocket.
During my early twenties, my college years, I didn’t build models. There just wasn’t the time as well as the muse. But then in my late twenties and early thirties I was re-bitten by the bug. At that time my favorite models were various Star Trek ships.
When I make a model, I want to do more than what the kit has in it. I want to personalize it, extend and expand it. In the Star Trek series of models, one kit had three small space craft from the original tv series: The Enterprise, a Romulan Bird of Prey, and a Klingon Battle cruiser. Each craft was about six inches in length. Due to their small size, there was not a lot of detail work required. I did not want to put them on their simple stands. Instead, I purchased several long metal rods about the diameter of a pencil lead. I arranged them at varying lengths. One about three feet long, one about two and half feet, and the third about a foot and a half. I hung the model space craft from these rods, and hung the rods from each other, creating an intriguing, wide but shallow mobile.
Another craft I built was a Klingon D7 Battle cruiser from The Next Generation series. This was a large model, about eighteen inches in length. Again, I did not want to just stick it on a stand. Instead, I carefully “crashed” it. Using my model building techniques, I cut and burned parts of it and used various model building components to build decks and floors inside the opened areas of the hull. After very careful detail painting, I coated the entire thing with several layers of clear acrylic paint. The crashed cruiser was then sunk as the center piece of my aquarium. There it stayed for years. I still have the same ship, though the aquarium has become a terrarium. Moss and plants now grow over the crashed vessel. The terrarium tank by the way, was originally a prop on the movie, The Return of Swamp Thing.
Another model was the Enterprise NCC 1701 D, The Next Generation series Enterprise. This was a rather large model, something more than two feet in length. Again, I avoided the default display and devised a method using fishing line to suspend it from the ceiling. The line was so thin and transparent compared to the model’s size it was virtually invisible. This model has 600 lifeboats and 2662 windows, each of which was individually hand painted. I enjoy making every detail look as close to perfect as possible.
That model got the attention of a friend at the time, who happened to be working for the Columbia Planetarium and Science Museum. He asked if I could build a smaller version, as well as a version of the Space Shuttle for the Planetarium. The photo is of the shuttle that I built and that was displayed for several years.
There wasn’t a lot that I could do to personalize the model. But still I found a way. The model came with two astronauts in EVA suits. The model design had them standing in specific locations in the cargo bay. I wanted to provide a feeling of weightlessness to the viewer. In the end, I had one astronaut holding up a huge beam and the other floating and hand walking across the Space Station module that is in the cargo bay. In the photo, these things are very small. The astronaut holding the beam is inside the bay, toward the front, in the right-hand quarter, he is hard to see. The one hand walking over the module should be clear.
Okay, my spaceships have never made it into space. But I have built spaceships.