Original Star Trek Prop Discovered After Nearly Half A Century

By Britta DeVore | Published

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A piece of Star Trek history has been returned to its rightful home after being missing for almost five decades. According to Flying, a precious 3-foot-long wooden model of Starship Enterprise 1701 has been found after going missing in 1978. First, in the hands of series creator, Gene Roddenberry, the model was thought to have gone missing after Roddenberry kindly loaned it to a studio to help further along the filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

A Wooden Model Starship Enterprise 1701 Emerges Decades After Disappearing

Star Trek Enterprise

All of these years later, the piece of Star Trek memorabilia found its way to the place where all collectibles inevitably end up – eBay. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the actress behind nurse Christine Chapel in Star Trek: The Original Series and the voice behind the computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, announced the stunning revelation. According to Barrett-Roddenberry, the early crafting of the Enterprise is truly a piece of the franchise’s history which she called, “quite priceless.”

The Prop And Other Trek Property May Have Been Stolen From Gene Roddenberry

gene roddenberry

The reason behind why and how it never found its way back into the hands of Gene Roddenberry is up for debate but it’s believed that the model either simply slipped his mind or just wasn’t handed back over once filming was complete. There’s also a theory that the Star Trek memorabilia was stolen from Roddenberry as it ended up in a storage unit before finding itself on the e-commerce site.

The Model Was Found Selling On eBay For $1,000

On eBay, the Star Trek relic made its re-entry into the world where it kicked off bidding at $1,000. But, when it was discovered to be more than what meets the eye, the seller took the item down and reached out to Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod Roddenberry, to ensure that it made it home. 

The Model Dates Back To The Very First Star Trek Episode

star trek phaser

A timeless piece of not only Star Trek franchise history but also a marker of how the industry was before the takeover of computer and CGI technology, the model was crafted by Richard C. Datin Jr., a well-known scale-model maker in the biz. First taking flight in 1965, the model is tied in with the show’s very first episode, “The Cage,” making it just as connected to The Original Series as names like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner

A year later, in 1966, when the series was officially picked up by NBC, the model was used in publicity shots to spread the word about the new sci-fi show. It would long stay in the hands of the creative team behind Star Trek: The Original Series as the model was their go-to piece for production shots. It’s more than likely that any fans of The Original Series have seen the model whether they knew it or not.

The Enterprise Model Has Been Returned To The Roddenberry Family

sexiest Star Trek Starship

While we now have the technology to make ships, battle scenes, and other worlds larger than life, the Star Trek model points back to a simpler time when craftsmanship was put directly into the hands of a human. Of course, that isn’t to say that what the folks behind computer animation and CGI do now isn’t just as impressive but it’s still cool to see a relic from before the technology boom. We’re happy to hear that Gene Roddenberry’s Enterprise model is safely back where it belongs.