Attention all you Star Trek fans out there: A piece of the iconic TV show’s history, missing for more than 45 years, has been found.
The 3-foot-long wooden model of Starship Enterprise 1701 (no bloody A, B, C, or D), belonging to series creator Gene Roddenberry, has been located after allegedly disappearing in 1978 when Roddenberry loaned it to a production company for the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
According to the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry–who played nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi, and the voice of the computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager—the model was “historical and quite priceless,” and either Gene forgot to get it back or it was not returned after the production of the first movie.
The model reappeared last week on eBay, with a starting bid of $1,000. According to multiple online news outlets, it was allegedly found in a storage unit, but when it was learned that the model might have been stolen from Gene Roddenberry or at the very least not properly returned, the auction was taken down. The seller then reached out to Rod Roddenberry, Gene’s son, about returning the item to the family.
About the Model
The model was built by Hollywood scale-model maker Richard C. Datin Jr., a subcontractor for the Howard Anderson Company. The wooden model made its first appearance in the original TV pilot episode “The Cage” filmed in 1965. The footage from that episode was later retooled into a two-part episode, “The Menagerie.” The model was also used for publicity shots when the show was picked up by NBC in 1966, as well as being utilized for production shots since computer-generated imaging (CGI) was still decades away.
- READ MORE: The Aviation Roots of ‘Star Trek’
In addition to the 3-foot-long Enterprise, Datin is credited for also making the ship’s shuttlebay, a Class F shuttlecraft, and Deep Space Station K-7, featured in the fan-favorite episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”.
Along with creating one of the most successful science fiction franchises in entertainment history, Gene Roddenberry was a decorated combat pilot during World War II, flying 89 B-17 missions in the Pacific theater. After the war, he briefly worked as a pilot for Pan American World Airways. He died on October 24, 1991, at the age of 70.