Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Classic to be Reborn

An ambitious project? A chance to see one of the true screen greats reborn for a new age and the enjoyment of fans?

Paul Olsen has a plan - to build a replica of the original movie USS Enterprise refit by the very men who helped bring her to life in 1978 for The Motion Picture.

The model used for the film series - from it's encounter with V'Ger right up to The Undiscovered Country (same model different registry) - is now in the hands of a private collector and Paul, who was responsible for the iridescent pearl paint detail on the original filming model, is spearheading a project to raise $3million to make a new eight foot starship from scratch by the original MAGICAM team.

There are a few stages to the fundraising with the first $24,000 required to set the public relations machine in motion. That's the first three months of this 14 to 16 month goal and after that the physical build can start. Paul, already has a book on the subject of building the stunning original and it's just one of the perks available if you are willing to help fund this great project.

The 1701 Rebuild  project could easily be a classic adventure story - a lost artifact, the reunion of the team that created it and the journey to return it to the public domain after all this time. Should make a movie - but for now making the replica will have to suffice (like that's not the best thing EVER!).

I got the chance to find out more thanks to the wonders of modern communications technology (ok, the internet) to discuss what has to be the most gorgeous USS Enterprise ever constructed - Eaglemoss take note, this is how you do a refit Constitution Class.

"It will be a faithful, exact replica... with modern materials and electrics," explained Paul. "We'll be able to do some detailing inside the hull and have that baby light herself completely to knock the socks off everyone who sees her. Richard Taylor will design her display...and with him let loose, it will be a breathtaking knockout."

Paul attended the 2012 Destination Star Trek and his experience there led to his writing of the Creating the Enterprise book to document the story of the construction of the ship from The Motion Picture. That book then led to Paul ocean-hopping and brought him back in touch with both designer Richard Taylor and starship builder Jim Dow. They did some homework and found that the original had been sold privately some time ago and from there the 1701 Rebuild project was born.

The team are working to Richard's original drawings and will be starting from scratch exactly as it was done the first time. "It's been two years, several thousand hours and about $20,000 spent so far...two trips to LA...going down blind alleys...a LOT of work." noted Paul who is based in London. He has also brought on board Mark Stetson who was involved with the building of the original movie model and Boyd Crompton who many readers may know from TrekWorks both of whom add a lot of model-making expertise to the Rebuild.

Perhaps it's putting it lightly that even at this stage there's been a lot of work as Paul also directed me to five hours worth of reading and viewing material. How you can see this and more we'll come to shortly but what I can say is that even the fraction we got to see documents the full journey from convention appearance through to where we are now.

While you would expect this team to have been involved in the construction of other notable ships from the movie series you'd be surprised to know that aside from designing some of the effects for V'Ger, the Enterprise was the only model they were involved with. Saying that though, there's one that he would have liked the chance to build; "I loved the Bird of Prey...but really, to have been given the keys to the Enterprise and told it was up to me to finish her off for her debut was more than anyone could ever want."

Fans have responded well to the project and can help by spreading the word and, if they can, donate funds to boost the work. "Spreading the word [will] hopefully get others to become Prime Movers (project backers) so I can put the package together to raise the big money - a few dollars each from a million fans will do it. Once I have all the Prime Movers I need, it will be a done deal because I'll then be able to reach people all over the world through mainstream media, as well as the net." said Paul. 

Prime Movers will receive different types of perks dependent on their contribution from $15 to $500 as we're more than familiar with through platforms such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo which are springboards for fan projects such as Axanar and The Red Shirt Diaries. Among those items is a copy of the Creating the Enterprise book which helped light the spark for this daring and potentially $3 million project as well as photographs, copies of the original movie decals, access to exclusive material and interviews (some of which we got to see as a preview!) with the trio which reveal how they constructed the starship back in the late 1970's and for higher levels of donations a visit to the workshops where the model will be realised.

Jim Dow with the original model (photo courtesy of Paul Olsen)
As Paul discusses in his video introduction though, this new ship will be built with state of the art techniques and be even better than the original which, we are led to believe, is in a terrible state after being used for six movies and taking a pounding at the hands of ILM.

One other perk that Paul did mention was the Prime Mover sculpture which will sit with the finished model on display; "We will design [it] with all Prime Movers' names engraved on it---either Richard or myself will design it...or maybe both of us. That will travel with Enterprise everywhere so fans all over the world can pay homage to those who helped me in the beginning. They will become part of Star Trek history, and rightfully so."

I'm liking the vision here - the concept, the big dream to make something so iconic and recognisable be given a new lease of life using the most up to date methods possible. Over the next two years we intend to follow the path of the project as they gather funds and begin to piece the movie NCC-1701 together. I suspect one of the points that will be levelled is why would you want to see the movie Enterprise when the original TV series ship is going to be restored for the public to see at the Smithsonian? Well I for one am more of a fan of the movie refit and through the precise construction of this model - from the original plans - we will have a chance to see a missing piece of the Star Trek story as well as get to know what techniques have changed in model building in the last 35 years. In a sense it's a homage and an experiment rolled into one.

This will be the 1970's Enterprise perfected with the advances of 2015 tech which in a lot of ways is very fitting that she should be given this honour and chance at a second life for fans to wonder at once again.

You can get involved now with the 1701 Rebuild project by clicking over to the main site HERE.

Would you want to see this gem from the movies? Let us know below!

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