USS Enterprise D
4' Filming Miniature
Original 4' USS Enterprise D filming miniature
Right at the end of 2020, I was given the incredible opportunity to get involved with a HUGE project. Whilst swiping through my Facebook news feed, a post from The National Film & Sci-Fi Museum caught my eye. The trustees of this brand new museum were asking for help to bring some of their rare items to life, so they could be put on public display. I almost swiped past the post, but the attached photos caught my eye. They showed 2 rough, raw and dusty parts of a large unbuilt model - the huge saucer of a very famous Starship, and it's unmistakable star-drive section. As soon as I saw the raw saucer part I knew exactly what it was, and what it represented, immediately. These parts were not just a large scale, fan-made reproduction of my favourite starship. They were authentic casts, from the original production moulds that produced the 4' filming miniature of the USS Enterprise D, from Star Trek: The Next Generation!
One of photo's that got my attention in National Film & Sci-fi Museum's social media post. I recognised that this part was identical to the original (see comparison photo opposite)
The original filming model's upper saucer, being prepped by Greg Jein's team
I was amazed that these raw casts even existed and couldn't believe that the museum was offering someone the chance to work with them! Their goal was to turn these decades-old, raw, dusty fibreglass parts into a faithful recreation of the original 4' filming miniature. This was a HUGE deal! Not just the physical size of the model, but the chance to handle authentic casts from the original production moulds! I was green with envy towards whoever ended up being lucky enough to land this incredible opportunity, having assumed that the museum (and these EXTREMELY rare casts) were somewhere in the U.S, and that I had zero chance to get involved. I was wrong in that assumption. As I continued to read the post I realised that not only was the museum based in the U.K, it was less than 30mins from where I live! My jaw was on the floor. As you might've noticed looking through this site, I'm very familiar with the Enterprise D to say the least, having built plenty of scale models of it for myself and other collectors over the years. It's my favourite ship in sci-fi! I didn't hesitate any longer. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I threw my hat into the ring, offering my services in any way, however small, to help bring this project to life. I wasn't confident that I'd be lucky enough to be involved, but it was worth a shot!
2 weeks later and I was sitting at my desk, pinching myself, staring at those EXTREMELY rare casts. Born from the same moulds as the starship I'd watched on TV my whole life. There they were. In my house. In my hands! Against all odds, I had been picked for the project and was entrusted to create a fully functional 4' filming miniature of the Enterprise D. Only the 2nd to ever exist. A true twin to the original, in every sense of the word. To say I was excited (and more than a little intimidated!) would be quite an understatement!
I want to say a very heartfelt and sincere thankyou to Jason Joiner, and all of other trustees of the National Film & Sci-Fi Museum, for giving me this opportunity and trusting me with this project.
NFSFM's raw cast of the upper saucer
NFSFM's raw cast of the secondary hull / stardrive section
NFSFM's raw cast of the lower saucer
NFSFM's raw casts of the keel plate and lower nacelle pylon wing
A project of this magnitude has to be broken down and tackled in several stages, each requiring a huge amount of work.
1 - Refurbishment
Due to their condition, it was decided that the raw parts should be refurbished as accurately and sympathetically as possible, then moulds made to create new casts for the actual build. The original parts could then be preserved in the museum archives. In general, the parts were in good shape and had faired quite well over the years, but there were some issues to correct due to several factors (age, mould mis-alignment during casting etc.) A lot of work was required to get the parts into a suitable condition for moulding.
2 - Mould and cast new parts
Moulding parts of this size would require a lot of silicone rubber and strong mother mould shells. These shells would be made of fibreglass to ensure their longevity.
3 - Fabrication of an internal armature
The cast parts are only the outer skin of the filming miniature and would be attached to an internal armature and skeleton structure, made from lightweight aluminium and clear perspex (plexiglass). The armature would need to be extremely strong and stable, and able to withstand the weight and stresses of supporting the finished miniature for years to come. All of the internal electrical and lighting elements would also need to be designed around this structure.
4 - Construction
Construction of the miniature would progress alongside the armature fabrication. The finished model would be a fully functioning filming miniature (possibly with multiple mounting positions and access panels) with an extensive lighting system to replicate the original 4' model used during filming as closely as possible. Several parts of the model were not procured by the museum - both warp engine nacelles, the main bridge module, main deflector dish, saucer impulse engines and all 3 shuttle bay doors. These parts would need to be sourced from originals or fabricated.
5 - Paint and graphics
The final stage would be to decorate the surface of the model with paint detailing and recreate the complex 2-tone "aztec" pattern that was seen all over the surface of the ship. The hull markings and graphics would also need to be sourced from original sources or fabricated. The goal being to recreate the original as closely as possible.
Each stage of the project will be documented as much as possible. Please click on the drop-down menu above to see each stage in detail. The pages will be updated as/when progress has been made.