Watch: Adam Savage Explores ‘Star Trek’ USS Enterprise Model & Busts Myth Of TNG Enterprise-C Model

The original 11-foot-long filming model of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Original Series has been part of the Smithsonian collection since 1974. In 2019 it was removed from display while the National Air and Space Museum was being renovated, returning to display last month. While it was being stored Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame had a chance to visit and examine the model in detail. Savage also visited with another model going up for auction that was originally sold as the USS Enterprise-C, but it turns out there is more to that story.

The original Enterprise is no myth

This week Adam Savage’s Tested Channel on YouTube posted a 36-minute video where he gets a closer look at the original Enterprise model inside the Conservation Lab at the Smithsonian. The tour was guided by Margaret Weitekamp, Ph.D, the department chair of space history for the Smithsonian. Savage’s tour includes some real close looks at the details on the model as well as a look inside the model, including some X-Rays.

The model is again available to view at the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. You can learn more about the model at the museum at airandspace.si.edu.

This Enterprise was a myth

A couple of weeks ago Savage was in London for a Propstore Auction of entertainment memorabilia that included another Star Trek filming model, this time the USS Yamaguchi Ambassador class from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first Ambassador-class ship was the USS Enterprise-C for the classic TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” The model going up for auction earlier this month was originally identified as the Enterprise-C model when it was sold at auction by CBS in 2006 for $48,000. However, as covered in the following video, it was later revealed the original Enterprise-C model showed too much battle damage from “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and so a different model was used in later episodes as the USS Yamaguchi and USS Excalibur, even though the shipping crate from CBS still has “Enterprise C” on it.

The official auction listing offers more detail:

A USS Yamaguchi and Excalibur light-up model miniature from sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. This miniature of the Ambassador-class starship was built to serve as two Federation ships, including the U.S.S. Excalibur in the Season 5 episode “Redemption II” and the U.S.S Yamaguchi which appeared in the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The saucer top is currently marked as “U.S.S. Yamaguchi NCC-26510”, and the rear of the model is still marked “Excalibur”.

The model is the same design as the Enterprise-C and was made from the same moulds as the Enterprise-C model but was ultimately not used as an Enterprise.

The model sold for £68,750 ($81,733) by Propstore earlier this month.


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Memory Alpha says otherwise re: the 1701-C model.

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Ambassador_class_model

I’m sure Memory Alpha will update their site, if it hasn’t already.

Does anyone know whatever happened to the largest A model (the movie model Probert built for TMP, and then was used in the previous films)?

Please tell me that they did not auction that off to some rich dude in Silicon Valley?

I think Jeff Bezos has it. I heard it was on display in the lobby of his rocket company.

Sickening if true. No single individual should own such an iconic symbol. It too belongs in the Smithsonian.

I don’t like Bezos much, but aren’t most of these models privately owned, since they keep auctioning everything off?

Correct. A large chunk of everything Paramount owned as of 2006 was auctioned off by Christie’s as part of the ‘It’s a Wrap!’ auction. The 8-foot Refit Constitution-class model was one of them, and one of two lots (the other being the 6-foot Enterprise-D model, which amusingly still had some battle damage from Generations on it) that had the highest price. There were no restrictions on who could bid IIRC, and Bezos is a known Trek fan, so it’s not surprising he put in a bid or two.

What IS sad is that it hasn’t been restored in any way since the work that was done to prep it for its final outing in Undiscovered Country, and it isn’t in any sort of protective case (there are pictures of it floating around the internet). I would think with the amount of money he has, Mr. Bezos could commission a resto of some kind for it.

So short sighted.

A proper Star Trek museum would be amazing, but I do wonder if it would be sustainable as a business in LA. The Experience in Las Vegas did well enough but wasn’t so popular in its last days that the plans to movie it weren’t allowed to quietly fizzle. Ditto Doctor Who, which had a good run for its interactive/museum brick and mortar offering, but the appetite for a new venue after the lease ran out wasn’t strong enough.

Obviously I’d love to have seen them try for a Trek exhibit rather than auction off so much (especially since they did so about 3 years before I had a proper disposable income for bidding on anything.)

(especially since they did so about 3 years before I had a proper disposable income for bidding on anything.)

Ah, so you’re just jealous that the Enterprise isn’t hanging in your living room ;-)

Painfully jealous, yes!

A Trek Museum is likely an impossibility. I saw a video on stewardship of warship museums, generally they threw out that to stay viable, in addition to whatever endowment support they may have, it also took about a quarter million paying customers annually to remain viable. Granted, a Trek Museum isn’t going to have to be drydocked every twenty years to scrape off the barnacles and get a coat of paint, but if these props/sets auctions are any indication, it’ll cost some bucks to acquire these pieces and keep the displays fresh. The second time I saw The Experience, it was a “meh” moment. Been there, done that.

Yeah. It would probably have to be something either a super wealthy person runs at a loss or a Paramount venture featuring what they still possess, and so much of the good stuff they’ve already sold. Either way I just don’t know that there’s enough of us to make it profitable.

It belongs in a museum.

Indy

So do you!
– the Man in the Panama Hat

Probert did not ‘build’ the model for TMP. The model was originally designed by Joe Jennings and Michael Minor, and built by Magicam. It was then considerably modified before shooting
by Doug Trumbull’s company, with input by Probert.

Actually, the Jennings/Minor team are responsible for RELIANT’s exterior.

So far as I can tell, Minor modified the Matt Jeffries update for Phase 2, which was what Don Loos originally got half built before it went to Abel’s company, at which point Richard Taylor and Probert modified that design. Then there were changes made to that by Trumbull and the bridge area got refined after an a/c unit dripped on the original saucer and ruined the wooden superstructure.

I heard it is in the lobby of Blue Origin in Seattle. Don’t know if anyone can just walk in and gaze at it. Want to try next time I’m in Seattle.

I saw the refit Enterprise model a long time ago. It was part of traveling Star Trek exhibit that went to science centers and museums around the country. It’s too bad they ended up selling it and the rest of the models and props, because these things should be enjoyed by the fans…. Also, I was surprised how blue the Enterprise model was, as it didn’t present that way on the screen.

This is awfully cool. Last time I was in DC sadly, it was not out for viewing. I need to time these things better.