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The Original 3' Star Trek Enterprise Model Has Been FOUND!


RickR

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It is the original 3 ft model used on the original pilots and series (you can tell when it's the 3 ft model when there is no internal or nacelle lighting).  Stolen from Gene Roddenberry in 1978 (he loaned it out to a special effects firm, but it was never returned)...never to turn up again until now in this e-bay auction. 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/256276685400

Here's a pic in Gene's office:

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And here's a pic from the auction

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At this point, it is unknown what is going to happen with this.  I imagine lawyers are involved.  Stay tuned, as this is really exciting news for Star Trek fans.

Edited by RickR
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I'm guessing here, but I doubt the person who originally stole it back in 1978 was the one putting it up for auction.  Because the person who stole it is probably a senior citizen, if not dead by now.  Also the thief had to know it's value and that putting such an iconic piece of Americana online would attract unwanted attention.  Now it could very well be part of an estate sale by a family member, who knows.  But yeah, it's interesting.

Sorry, but I had to re-orient the photo, it was driving me nuts.

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It will be fascinating to learn the backstory here.  Judging by condition, it looks like it was hidden away all these years.  In an attic, garage, or basement.  NOT on display by a big collector, that's for sure.  Maybe the thief didn't really understand what they had.  Or maybe they were too afraid to have it out on display.  

My imagined theory is that an old uncle died, and the nephew inherited a house full of stuff.  The asking price of $1000 tells me they had no idea what they had. 

Thanks for fixing the orientation.  I fixed it before posting, and it shows correctly on my computer...but uploading it here shows it the wrong orientation again. 

 

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14 minutes ago, RickR said:

It will be fascinating to learn the backstory here.  Judging by condition, it looks like it was hidden away all these years.  In an attic, garage, or basement.  NOT on display by a big collector, that's for sure.  Maybe the thief didn't really understand what they had.  Or maybe they were too afraid to have it out on display.  

My imagined theory is that an old uncle died, and the nephew inherited a house full of stuff.  The asking price of $1000 tells me they had no idea what they had. 

Thanks for fixing the orientation.  I fixed it before posting, and it shows correctly on my computer...but uploading it here shows it the wrong orientation again. 

 

Yeah, something is up for sure, the item has been taken down.

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Just now, - Ω - said:

Yeah, something is up for sure, the item has been taken down

I meant to mention this.  The auction was pulled down almost immediately. 

I'm fully theorizing here, but I imagine it will need to be returned to the Roddenberry estate.  From all the books I've read, Gene had all the paperwork that proved Paramount had gifted this model to him.  It had been loaned out to a special effects firm that was working on Phase 2, never to be seen again. 

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20 hours ago, - Ω - said:

I'm guessing here, but I doubt the person who originally stole it back in 1978 was the one putting it up for auction.  Because the person who stole it is probably a senior citizen, if not dead by now. 

You're not thinking 4th Dimensionally. The thief is likely a member of the Q Continuum. Possibly a Ferengi. 

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An update from Rod Roddenberry on Facebook.  I'll copy/paste the text here:

 

Hello friends. To cut to the chase, people have been asking me about the 3-foot Enterprise model for the past few weeks... I've prepared a formal statement, as it's difficult to respond to everyone individually. Feel free to share, as well as the documents attached, and the link to the Roddenberry Archives and our efforts for preservation, at the end of the statement.

Onward! ~ Rod

"Along with much of the Star Trek community, I was excited and pleased to learn that the original 3-foot filming model of the Starship Enterprise appears to have been discovered after being missing for decades (pending full authentication). I can confirm that I am now, through an intermediary, in contact with the individual who possesses the model.

This prototype played a key role in the visualizing design of the famous television starship during Star Trek’s early development in 1964. Once the show went into production, the model was actually filmed in numerous visual effects shots seen throughout the life of the original Star Trek series, along with a larger, 12-foot model that is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I am convinced that this prototype model holds immense significance for Star Trek and its 58-year history. From its creation in the mid-60s until about 1977, the model was in the possession of my father, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Unfortunately, it went missing after being loaned out during the production of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Beyond its physical value, the greater significance is this prototype Enterprise model really represents the underpinning ideas my father imbued into the series. That we are clever, resilient and can learn from our mistakes. We can and will move beyond archaic belief systems. And once we truly embrace the infinite diversity all around us, both in form and idea, we will then take those next step into a prosperous and unlimited future.

Guided by this principle, one of my primary goals over the past decade has been to locate, recover, and digitally archive significant Star Trek materials and artifacts through the Roddenberry Archive project. The intention would be to scan it in the finest detail for the Roddenberry Archives and after rigorous scrutiny make it available to the public. Furthermore, I firmly believe that a piece of such importance should not be confined to any private collection. This iconic artifact should be enshrined along side the 12-foot shooting model at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where it can serve to help tell the story of television history, the history of space exploration and ultimately, a beacon of hope for the future.”

Roddenberry Archives: https://home.otoy.com/roddenberry_archive_may2022

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On 11/1/2023 at 9:01 PM, RickR said:

It will be fascinating to learn the backstory here.  Judging by condition, it looks like it was hidden away all these years.  In an attic, garage, or basement.  NOT on display by a big collector, that's for sure.  Maybe the thief didn't really understand what they had.  Or maybe they were too afraid to have it out on display.  

My imagined theory is that an old uncle died, and the nephew inherited a house full of stuff.  The asking price of $1000 tells me they had no idea what they had. 

Thanks for fixing the orientation.  I fixed it before posting, and it shows correctly on my computer...but uploading it here shows it the wrong orientation again. 

 

It does look like it needs some minor corrections and refurbishment, but it's actually in quite good condition. I am impressed.

Edited by DegasElite
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9 minutes ago, sramirez2008 said:

It’ll be nice to see them together at the Air & Space Museum. 

100% agree.  I wasn't expecting this, but I hope it turns out to be true.  I've seen the bigger model at the Smithsonian (before the most current refurb) and it is one of those things that is astounding to see in person.  Seeing them together would be even better.

Last night on H&I, they had the episode titled "Requiem for Methuselah", a season 3 episode that is the very last episode that used this 3ft model on screen.  I stopped dinner prep to watch that part of the episode very closely, just because it was so interesting to see the model in its prime.  

 

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I know it isn't entirely related, but here is an interesting article from Smithsonian Magazine regarding the 11 ft model and some detailed pics of the restoration:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/air-space-museum/2024/06/10/get-a-closer-look-at-the-star-trek-enterprise-model/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_term=6102024&utm_content=new

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