Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Model of Klingon "Bird of Prey" Makes Cover of National Magazine and Special DVD Movie Release


Back when I had more time in my life, I dabbled with a bit of miniature scale model scratch-building. I've always loved plastic model kits.

One day, after seeing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, I was talking with a friend and mentioned that I would really love to have a scale model of that Klingon Bird of Prey hanging from the ceiling, but at the time there were no plastic model kits available. I already had an interest in scale models, knew quite a bit about materials, concept modeling, and prototyping from my degree in Industrial Design. I had the time, so my friend said, "Why not just build your own scale model to hang from the ceiling." Well, that was it, I was off and running.

Original Klingon Bird of Prey miniature designed and built by Industrial Light and Magic -
being measured by my friend Jamie.
Original Klingon Bird of Prey miniature designed and built by Industrial Light and Magic - being measured by my friend Jamie.

I took reference photographs of the actual miniature models used in the Paramount movie, since they were on display at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (where part of the movie was filmed), I created my own scale construction drawings, gathered up some tools, in about 6 months I had done it. I had designed and made my own accurately detailed scale model of that cool Klingon Bird of Prey. Of course the original models in the film had a wingspan of about 48". Mine was about half that.

Working drawings of the model's main body
produced from reference photos and other resources.
Working drawings of the model's moveable wings
produced from reference photos and other resources.
A friend suggest I tell the story of the project, submit it to FineScale Modeler magazine. I did, and they were very excited to accept it. I now had to send the model itself to Wisconsin so they could photograph it—How-to article on "scratch-building" a scale model of a space ship from the Star Trek movies.

Rear Section Detail
The finished model - 24" wingspan
Here is link to a PDF of the original article published in FineScale Model Magazine (2.3 MB).
After I originally published information about this project on my website in 2002, I was contacted by a DVD production company contracted by Paramount Studios to produce a Collector's Edition DVD of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. They asked me if they could use the "blueprints" I created for my model for a feature on the DVD bonus disk. Needless to say, I obliged. I was compensated of course, but the thrill of having my own work featured in an original Paramount Studios production was amazing.


Here is a clip from the original video on the Star Trek IV: The Voyage  Home Collector's Edition bonus disk. The sequence isn't very long, but it is still awesome to me!