By David Weiner
I miss having model spaceships hanging from my ceiling.
In my childhood bedroom during the ’70s, I had several STAR TREK AMT models dangling by a thread — literally. The U.S.S. Enterprise, with the Galileo shuttlecraft next to it, was by the bedroom window. A Klingon Battle Cruiser was making its way to confront it, while a Romulan Bird of Prey (with a particularly tricky decal that would wrinkle and rip) de-cloaked under my central light fixture.
In another corner, the “Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship” stood out due to its glow-in-the-dark exterior (non-toxic!) and additional dangling Scout Craft (I was especially proud of that rig I put together). Although I knew that ship was never actually in STAR TREK (a model previously introduced as the Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser in 1968 before its 1976 rebranding), how could one resist anything glow-in-the-dark, with an additional craft to play with?
I never had the K-7 Space Station, but believe me, I was always on the lookout for it at various hobby shops and on the toy shelves of Woolworth’s.
It’s important to note how amazing the box art was for all of these models. That’s what inspired this particularly memory piece. That’s what grabbed you initially, and made you temporarily forget that you had to spend a good several hours detaching parts and shaving down edges, gluing, painting, adding decals, and then having to wait for it all to dry — praying that it would not fall apart. I can’t tell you how many times I had to prop up the Enterprise nacelles with books to prevent them from collapsing under their own weight until the glue dried.
These were trying times for a kid. But worth every memory.
Snap-together models really were a game-changer when it came to opening up my velcro wallet. Looking at you, “Snap-Tite”!
If it could hang from my ceiling, I built it and hung it. I was particularly proud of my SPACE: 1999 Eagle that dangled precariously over my bed — and my head. And I also had that cool Spindrift ship from Irwin Allen’s LAND OF THE GIANTS, which reminded me of the miniaturized vessel used in FANTASTIC VOYAGE with that nifty view-dome on top.
Add glow-in-the-dark stars and planet stickers to the ceiling, and you had a vibrant galaxy of starships slowly twirling in the breeze in your domain.
Although I coveted them, I never bought the cool Mr. Spock model (“Star Trek’s Most Popular Character”!) in which he’s firing his phaser at a three-headed snake-creature on an alien planet, or the Enterprise “Command Bridge.”
I did, however, buy the U.S.S. Enterprise Exploration Set. You could build a phaser, communicator and a tricorder, scaled down for kiddie-sized hands, and run around your own back yard as if you were a member of the Enterprise landing party. Problem was, these things were kind of brittle, and it was extremely hard to wait for the glue to dry when you wanted to race outside and play with them — resulting in smudgy seams and sticky fingers.
Besides, my Remco STAR TREK utility belt covered all that. I used the Exploration Set pieces to lend to a friend when they’d come over to play.
Of course, we haven’t even touched on the Revell, Monogram, and Aurora models I made — Frankenstein being my first — or the many cool dinosaur ones (I pretended that the Styracosaurus was my pet dino for years).
Or the STAR WARS custom vans I snapped together, the funny cars, the battleships, the airplanes, or the CHARLIE’S ANGELS pink custom van that I had to have — even though I was a little bit embarrassed by it.
Memories of these models even prompted me to buy an updated Enterprise and hang it from my kid’s ceiling in his room, just for old times’ sake.
Why no STAR WARS X-Wings, T.I.E. Fighters or Millennium Falcon hanging from my ceiling? No BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Vipers or Cylon Raiders? No BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY Thunderfighters? By that time, I was more interested in funneling my hard-earned allowance towards pre-made plastic spaceships that I could play with over and over again — and not destroy so easily.
Which models did you make/display back in the day?
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