A journey into the vast empty spaces in the corporate mind of a model kit company
before they bailed on American workers and moved to Mexico
|I was asked by AMT/ERTL to create a special cover for a special Star Trek model kit called Legendary Space Encounter. It was to be a diorama, with special fiber optic lighting in the space ships. They wanted me to paint a separate background nebula for the diorama backdrop, but they were unwilling to pay for it, so I suggested that I paint four elements. The three ships would be painted on blank backgrounds and the nebula would be a larger piece. Above is a composite of the way I intended the final art to look. The next image below is what they did to the cover to screw it up. Argh. This was just the begining of their screw-ups. Read on...|
When the art director contacted me, he asked me to do a painting of the USS Enterprise and two Klingon Birds Of Prey, all from the original series. Being a fan of the show, I imediately spotted the first suspicious mistake. There were no Klingon Birds of Prey until the movies came out many years later. There was a Romulan Bird of Prey, so I described the ships to figure out that what he really wanted. It turned out that he wanted two Klingon Battlecruisers. So I asked him for details about how he wanted it laid out, but he couldn't give me any.
I found out on publication that they were trying to do a scene from an Original TV episode called "The Enterprise Incident." The Enterprise gets surrounded by three Romulan Battlecruisers using Klingon design. What a mess. Yes, the Star Trek show was a bit kooky here as well. They had done somehow lost their Romulan Bird Of Prey studio model and had to shoot the scenes with the Klingon model instead.
Well, had I known when they hired me what it was supposed to be, I would have been able to influence them, but who knew they would also take a good composition of how I told them to place the ships and ruin that as well? I take great pride in getting details right. For some reason that I can't figure out, ERTL seems to have a compulsion to get the details wrong. Even when ya give it to them right, they will go out of their way to make it wrong. Do yourself a favor. Don't buy this kit. This company has been making the Enterprise in model kit form ever since the show was on the air. You would think that by now they would get it right, but no, they even put the elevator to the bridge on the front of the bridge instead of the back, where it belongs. It looks like a big clown nose! Online reviews mention some of the other physical issues with the kit. In the TV episode there were supposed to be three Klingon style Battle cruisers, but despite the high price on this kit they only bother to supply you with two. Not that it saved them many pennies. The ships are really small!
Wasn't that bad enough? No, not for AMT/ERTL, where quality is an accident. You would think with a nice background painting designed to be in proportion to their diorama sheet that they would just use it as intended, but instead, they felt some bizare need to take the worst possible cropping. Then they decided to change the colors of the Klingon/Romulan ships to green and purple. You know, if they would have told me it was about the Enterprise Incident episode I could have refrained from adding the KLINGON emblems, but DUH! That they left in!
Below are the three ships done individually for the cover. After the work was returned by the client, I painted backgrounds onto the panels:
8X10" Acrylic & Alkyd
8X10" Acrylic & Alkyd