Recasting a Sci-Fi Icon: The Classic STAR TREK® Communicator

The following images and text are a compilation of posts I’ve shared on a couple of the major prop replica chat boards over the past year or so. These postings were designed to document the creation of our limited edition, classic STAR TREK Communicator Prop Kit. One of the things that make this kit special is that it was created with the benefit of two original screen-used Communicator props. What I wanted to accomplish with this documentation was to show how well the kit’s components match the original pieces used as reference, as well as to share the techniques used to create them. If you have any questions, or would like to sign-up to have a kit reserved for you, please e-mail me at: jlong1@socal.rr.com If signing-up to reserve your kit, please put “Reserve My Comm. Kit” in the subject line, and include your contact info, as well as the number of kits you would like to reserve (limit six please.) Thanks, and enjoy! John Long


Hi guys-been too busy to post much lately, but thought I'd pop-in to give you an update on the Comm kits. As most of you know, I had already created a prototype for the kit based on my documentation of Greg's two screen-used Comms a few yaers ago. I had pretty good reference from that examination, even wrote an article for the Star Trek-Communicator Magazine about it. However, a few weeks ago Greg allowed me to take those same two Comms backto my shop, and actually use them to generate the tooling for the kit! Pretty cool huh? Finally a totally accurate Comm kit cast directly off of the real thing! As promised, I have been photographing the entire process so I could share it with you.

The two screen used communicators

*In my best Gleason* Humina humina humina :LOL I think I was more excited to see these the second time around. These pieces are just so cool!

The disassembled screen used communicator used to create the kit tooling

The fact that one of the units is in pieces makes it absolutely perfect to use in the creation of the kit. This allows me to measure inside and out, every single little detail.

Screen used communicator front shell

There is definitely all kinds of very interesting stuff to be learned from a close examination of these shells.

Screen used communicator rear shell

Here's a close-up of the interior of the bottom shell.

Screen used communicator

It was my goal to replicate perfectly every single, subtle little nuance of this prop. I want this kit to be as close to owning an original as you can possibly get. So, with the owners permission I actually used the shells as a mold to generate the tooling for the kit.

Screen used communicator

To create an exact duplicate of the original vacuumform bucks, I mixed-up a special RTV Silicone and poured it into the back of the shells. The whole process including which materials would be used had to be carefully thought out, with the intent being to maintain the dimensional integrity of the original prop.

Screen used communicator top

Perfect!

Now we're ready to make our mold. More to come O.K., poured the mold, and the first actual "rigid" tooling. This could not have turned outany better. The detail is amazing. For someone who is as into this stuff as I am, it was almosta spiritual experience to finally see exactlywhat Wah's original bucks looked like. Now Ineed to fill-in the area at the top where theepoxy was in the original top shell. I will also"clean-up" only those details that were not partof the original tooling. For example, where there was glue in the shells, that translated into thecasting as a negative. this does not want to beleft, as it would appear as a dent on the finishedshells.

Hi Guys-I finished the tooling, and did the first fewtest-pulls. I'll show you that process later in the fulldocumentation I'm working on but in the meantime, I thought you might get a kick out of seeing some shells.

Kit shells

Kit shells

Kit shells

Kit shells

I'll take some better pix over the weekend (in daylight.) I'm kinda working graveyard on these right now, and the lights in my shop aren't the greatest for taking pictures. That aside, I'm thrilled with how these turned-out! All the neat little hand-made quirkiness of the originals was perfectly duplicated in these "re-casts". I'm pretty excited about this-it's just so cool to be able to bring an accurate kit of this iconic little prop to us Communicator fanatics! Cast from an original...

Kit prototype

Thanks guys! Here are a few more pix. The replica shells aren't quite as shiny as the originals yet (that will come with handling them) but you can get a pretty good idea of how well they match the set I used to generate the tooling.

Kit lid (left), Screen used communicator lid (right)

Screen used communicator bezzel (left), kit bezzel (right)

Screen used communicator shells (left), kit shells (right)

Screen used communicator shells (top), kit shells (bottom)

Kit shell (bottom), Screen used communicator shell (top) NOTE: inside details are identical

Kit prototype

Kit prototype

Re: Shrinkage

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (bottom), kit shell (top)

Screen used communicator shell (bottom), kit shell (top)

Screen used communicator shell (bottom), kit shell (top)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Screen used communicator shell (bottom), kit shell (top)

Screen used communicator shell (bottom), kit shell (top)

Screen used communicator shell (top), kit shell (bottom)

Screen used communicator shell (left), kit shell (right)

Thanks to pyxl spending a good chunk of his weekend helping me, we'll have a super-cool flyer to hand-out at the Grand Slam next weekend :)

Hi guys! Too busy to post much lately, but just thought I'd pop in and say howdy. Kits are coming along nicely. By this time next week, I should be up to my eyeballs in metal parts! Here's a little teaser

More to follow...John Long Finished-up over 800 of these little beauties today!

I thought long and hard as to whether or not I should put the screw holes in the mid-plates, but decided not to limit the builder by doing so. Some of the originals have the shells more-or-less centered, while others were oriented toward the bottom of the mid-plate. Also, by letting you put the screws where you want, itgives you the opportunity to place the axle and hinge assembly in the position you like best. This too varied on the screen-used props (see below.)

Screen used communicators

...More to follow

 

Hi guys. As you can probably imagine, I've been busy working away on these Comm kits for everyone. Well, we're almost there. In fact I should have the shells formed, and the instructions finished within the next two weeks. Then we'll just be waiting on the boxes to come in. The way things look right now, I should have kits available in abou three weeks. In the mean time, I thought I'd share some progress pix.

Here are all of the "antenna" wires-formed, and ready to go!

...A few thousand screws, Even this detail had to be perfect. Fortunately I was able to get the very same style brass machine screws as were used on the original props.

Here are the control panels. We were able to do them in the exact same, super-thin gauge aluminium as the originals. I'm not sure how Wah managed to do them out of this gauge material by hand, but we had to laser cut them. Boy did they turn out cool.

Bag O' solid brass axles

.

And of course the all important, perforated brass antenna. These just had to be done exactly right. I've never really seen this part nailed on a replica before, and I was determined to make this a part I could really be proud of. The funny thing about this part, is that it's quite a bit different than most people think. In fact, once you get your kits, you'll likely look at the antenna and say, "is this right?" Then (not unlike the Hand Phaser kit) you'll build it, take some pictures, and go "WOW that totally is what this thing is supposed to look like!" BTW, for anyone who is worried about soldering the antenna to the wire, I am going to share a little trick with you that makes this a breeze. Seriously, it only takes a couple of minutes to do a beautiful job on this, and you'll never be intimidated by the thought of soldering your own Communicator again. Speaking of which, there were a couple of little "handmade" variants seen on the original props, and I will show you what they are, and how you can easily customize the look of your antenna a bit if you choose to. Below are a couple more pix of the antennas.