Saturday 19 November 2011

Build the Enterprise, the part-work that never was

A couple of weeks ago Rick Sternbach mentioned a new, but cancelled, part work magazine, and shortly after one of my readers pointed me towards a sample from that project. Since then I have been in contact with Rick Sternbach, who gave me this summary of "Star Trek: The Next Generation - Build the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D":
Deagostini Japan produced seven test issues full of model parts, blueprint sheets, and color loose leaf booklets that behaved like the previous Fact File pages. There were supposedly 100 issues planned, at the end of which the reader would have all the parts required for a hollow ship hull and all internal decks, all for a subscription price of roughly $1500.00. The blueprints were all "new and improved" over the set drawn up in 1994. New hardware bits were sketched up by me and produced as CGI renders in the UK; a lot of the things seen only as line art in the TNG tech manual would have been fully fleshed out, plus new equipment added from various decks, and there was more than enough to fill 100 issues.
The model is huge, and really quite remarkable; you get a detailed external hull, which is hollow, containing clear plastic deck plates each printed with the internal blueprints to build up the entire ship, inside and out. It's lit too, with windows so the lights can shine through, or when you take off the hull to reveal the interior deck plates, you get an impressive glow. It could even be displayed with the saucer seperated. You can see this amazing model in the commercial for the series:

Rick also pointed me to a blog post by Tim Leng, who was working on this project after a long history working on the Star Trek Fact Files and the various spin-off projects that followed. Tim explains the full history of the project on his blog, include how the project was all new, rather than recyling the Fact Files content:
And rather than just pull text, images, and artwork from the Fact Files (which by this point had only just finished its run in Japan), they asked that everything to be used in this new project be newly generated.
Tim also explains the really sad reason why the whole thing has been shelved:
What's really upsetting about this is that there's little - nothing, really - wrong with the product; what was mainly responsible for the product failing was that we launched it in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan back in March. After experiencing something like that, people understandably just weren't in the mood to start buying into a collectible magazine/model series. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In total seven issues of Build the Enterprise went on sale, and we'd completed work on a further four before it was shut down.
Had the series gone ahead it would have produced a six-hundred pages in a hundred parts, housed in four binders, plus the model, and a hundred nearly-A1 blueprints in their own box. The magazines included brand new cover artwork by Gabriel Koerner and Rob Bonchune, and clean versions of that art, without the titles, were included as the inside back cover of each issue. Here are the covers for issues one, two and six:


The interior text and images included contributions by Michael Okuda, as well as all the work done by Rick Sternbach, and new CGI renderings of all sorts of stuff from inside the Enterprise-D.

The part work was to be divided into six parts:
  • Tour of Deck – A deck by deck guide to the Enterprise, explaining the layout of every deck; which rooms and technology is on each.
  • Critical Systems – Technical details of the Enterprise’s systems, and coverage of critical elements such as how the crew works.
  • Apparatus – Technical guides to equipment on the Enterprise, such as torpedos, lifeboats, the captain’s chair, and tricorders.
  • Mission Logs – An episode guide, but given as a history of the Enterprise with a technology focus; exploring which systems were used and how, from episode to episode. There would have been one page per episode, plus a history of the Enterprise’s construction, and filling in the gaps between episodes, such as what repairs would have been necessary.
  • Star Trek Memories: New and archive interviews with cast and crew.
  • Step by Step: The guide to building the model.

On top of all that, if you had subscribed to the magazine, you would also have got a model of a Klingon Bird of Prey, to scale with the Enterprise.

Tim has posted a four video flip through of the first issue. Part one, embedded below, gives a general overview of all the elements in the series. Video two takes us through the first issue of the magazine, video three looks at the first issue parts of the model, and video four shows off the first set of blueprints.

So all-in-all this looks like it would have been outrageously amazingly, and is a huge loss to the techy trekkies out there. But fear not, there is a glimmer of hope the print element of the project could still find its way to us, as Rick also told me:
We believe there is a chance to use the art materials in a new publication
I'm still hoping that might manifest in time for TNG's twenty-fifth anniversary next year.

Continue reading after the jump to see the box art for issues two to seven of the test run published in Japan (the issue one art is at the top of the article).

All of these come from a Japanese blog, which also posted the magazine covers above. If any of my Japanese readers have scans of the other magazine covers or interior pages, please do get in touch.




Anonymous said...

This is so great! Thank you for following the link to Rick Sternbach! This is such a brilliant project. Dream not of today!

And thank you for this blog!

Tim said...

Hi - thanks for bring some more attention to the project; it's always nice to hear some positive feedback (especially after it was axed!).

If you'd like to know anything more about Build the Enterprise feel free to give me a shout - I'm happy to share what I can about it. I may also have some page layouts somewhere if you're interested in taking a look at them.



Anonymous said...

Wow. Any chance of the model itself becoming available as a single product?

8of5 said...

Tim and Rick have both suggested to me that the print material might find another life; but not really talked about anything else happening to the model. So I'd guess not. Rick has one though apparently:

@dreamcatcherdesign2020 said...

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon and boldly go!

Ps. Can u send me them on

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