STAR TREK WEEK
There are many aspects of the television show Star Trek that have become iconic but is there anything more identifiable than the starship Enterprise? This self-published book by N. Datin McDonald gives some background and historical reference to the building of the original Enterprise model(s) used for the filming of the Star Trek television series. N. Datin McDonald is the daughter of Richard C. Datin Jr who was the model-maker who built the original Enterprise.
McDonald has access to Datin’s files and supplies, which is immensely helpful for the dedicated Trek fan who is always looking for a new piece of information or support. However, when you are working on a project in the mid-to-late 1960’s – purely as part of your everyday job – why would you ever think to save every scrap of paper or drawing or model scrap? At the time Datin was working on the Enterprise, he had no reason to suspect that the television show would have such incredible success 50 to 60 years later. We are fortunate, though, that Datin is able to provide the reader-fan with copies of memos from Gene Roddenberry at Desilu Studios, as well as copies of invoices for his work.
The gems here are copies of the original Matt Jefferies (designer of the Enterprise) drawings as well as drawings which include Datin’s notes about the project. Datin also had the wooden nacelle domes that were removed and replaced with plastic domes with lights behind them for the later seasons.
While we today have access to free online fonts, it was a different story in the 1960’s and seeing a sheet of decals with the numbers and lettering used on the model was oddly satisfying for me.
For those, like myself, who appreciate all television/film model-making, and not just Star Trek related, this book does offer a few more nuggets of previously unseen model-making. I really enjoyed the photos and information about Datin’s work recreating the Petticoat Junction train and town. Having watched that show as a youth, I was familiar with it and had no idea that it wasn’t a full-size location.
I am not a big train enthusiast, so Datin’s work on model railroads did not appeal to me as much, but it did provide some insight to Datin’s interest in models.
As mentioned at the top, this is a self-published book and McDonald is clearly not a writer or particularly comfortable putting a book together. The narrative rambles a lot and she repeats things a few times which is unnecessary. Sometimes it felt like, “Oh, I just thought of this, let me write that down” which is that rambling nature I’m referring to. It’s a bit too bad that there wasn’t a strong editor hired to help put the book together.
I was a little disappointed to learn that Datin struggled to get recognition for his work as the Enterprise model-maker. I was not aware of this and found it disheartening. His offers to turn over his information to the Smithsonian, spurned because his only proof that he worked on the original model were the memos and timesheets he managed to keep, was quite sad. Those additional pieces of authentic Enterprise are pure gold-pressed latinum to a Star Trek fan.
Looking for a good book? N. Datin McDonald’s memoir/biography of her father and his work on the Star Trek Enterprise model. The Enterprise NCC 1701 and the Model Maker is something every hard-core Trek fan will want to, and should, read.
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The Enterprise NCC 1701 and the Model Maker
authors: N. Datin McDonald and Richard C. Datin Jr.
publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
paperback, 174 pages