Trek’s Largest Fleet: Collectible HERO Spaceship Collection
It all started about 25 years ago when he responded to an ad. An editor needed someone to work on something called “fact files”. They had to be a great writer, a dedicated worker and know a lot about the “Star trek” franchise. Ben robinson took the job.
At the time, Robinson was known as a highly respected freelance writer. Today he is the real Commander-in-Chief of HERO Collector’s Spaceship Collection, the high-quality model series of “Star Trek Universe”. There are now over 300 models in the collection, with more to debut soon.
Through his passion and knowledge of Trek, Robinson has become one of Trek’s go-to people when it comes to the history of ships and their design and has even helped collect drawings and schematics of long-lost ships. Robinson’s journey began with the “Star Trek Fact Files“, which most US-based fans probably don’t know.
âThe Fact Files was not released in the United States,â says Robinson, who logged on to Heavy over Zoom a few weeks ago from his home in England. âIt was a sort of full-fledged encyclopedia. I always tell people it was kind of like ‘Alpha Memory‘ on paper.”
The collection of spaceships
Robinson says the team producing the “fact files” thought it would last around 96 issues, but they printed over 300 in total. Through his work on âThe Fact Files,â which was written as if it should be read by someone living in the âStar Trek Universe,â Robinson dived into ship design. They commissioned illustrations and original artwork to give readers more depth on the ships movies and shows.
“The Illustrated manuals are basically ‘fact files’ material, and get a more modern design and a slight upgrade, âsays Robinson. “At the time of writing, the shows were still going and things were coming up that we didn’t know.”
After “The Fact Files” ended, Robinson and his team worked on a new post, which American Trek fans may be familiar with – “Star Trek: The Magazine. âThis publication lasted four years and each issue was over 100 pages. Eventually, the magazine also ended.
âWe were always on the hunt for the next ‘Star Trek’ thing,â Robinson said. He says the company tried action figures first, but quickly realized they would have to make ships. Through his work on “fact files” Robinson has had an excellent relationship with special effects houses, creating computer graphics (CG) models for the various Trek shows.
âThis meant that our models would be as precise as possible because they would literally be the same thing that was used to take the shots you saw on screen,â Robinson said.
UK TV Commercials
Outside the United States, Robinson’s company, EagleMoss, created TV commercials that showed the design and the quality of the vessels. They had some success with the Marvel and DC action figures, which were on sale in comic book stores. But for âStar Trek,â Robinson and his team decided to showcase their ships at conventions rather than comic book stores. The folks at EagleMoss thought they would only sell a few ship collection subscriptions.
âWe sold 400 followers in that first weekend,â said Robinson. “And we’ve never looked back.”
Since that first show nine years ago, Robinson and his team have created nearly every ship that has seen screen time in every movie, show, and even the animated series. the USS Cerritos from “Star Trek: Lower Decks” is even part of the massive collection of HERO Collector.
Robinson says there are only a few ships that have yet to achieve “model status.” One of them is the Wadi ship, seen on “Deep Space Nine”. He says the Wadi Ship will soon be added to the fleet. He says they are also working on the Straleb security vessel and a few variations of this design.
There is one design that EagleMoss didn’t and maybe never will – the Narada. It was the Romulan mining ship featured in “Star Trek (2009)”. Hot Wheels released a small version of the Narada, but this model is much simpler in details compared to anything in the Starships collection.
âThere’s nothing in the middle to give him the physical integrity he needs to make a model,â says Robinson. “This is a real problem that we cannot overcome.”
Even though Robinson had contact since the CG era of the âStar Trekâ production design, there have been nearly 25 years of Trek ships that were created with practical effects. These models were sometimes converted to CG, especially for “Deep Space Nine”, but some were not.
Paramount was then kind enough to send Robinson and the team high-resolution photographs of these older ships, so the team could recreate them. But surprisingly, Jean-Luc Picard’s ship was the only one of these practical ships not to have been remade in CG.
âThere were Galaxy-class ships during the Dominion War, but they were in the background and it wasn’t a big deal,â says Robinson. The Enterprise-D, which starred in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, was created by the famous designer Andrew Probert.
The Enterprise-D model of EagleMoss
Robinson says part of his job is to collect and organize the ship design records, but working with newer designs is a whole different thing. The new ships created for “Discovery” and “Picard” are often so detailed and complicated that his computers at EagleMoss cannot open the files sent by CBS.
âVisual effects have gotten really fancy and you need a really big computer to render. [the ships], says Robinson. He says he and his team need to simplify the ship design files to work with them and convert them to the format to create the final real-world model.
Looking back on the collection, Robinson is proud of the work he and his team have done over the years. The high quality standard set at the start of the series has continued throughout. Robinson says that while this is true, he’s still learning about âStar Trek,â the fandom, and the franchise. He notes a situation at the start of the Starships collection as an example.
âOne of the things you realize is how different the colors are from episode to episode,â says Robinson. And even the difference between watching the remastered ‘Next Gen’ episodes versus the [standard definition] those.
âThere are a lot of factors that go into making the ship look what you think it is,â says Robinson. âIf you look at the physical model of the Fighter Jem’Hadarâ¦ It’s very colorful. There are a lot of purples and blues on it.
The Jem’Hadar model
âBut when you see it on screen, it’s pretty much money,â says Robinson. âI wanted it to be a paler version of these colors but still silver. And it was a real success. But I remember talking to Gary Hutzel, who is unfortunately no longer with us. He was the effects supervisor for most of DS9â¦ more than anyone.
“He said that [the JemâHadar fighter] was so colorful because it made it easier for them to control it when they were composing it for visual effects, âsays Robinson. âThey made the color disappear when they were composing. “
âYou have to know the people involved to understand the processes and know why it was so,â says Robinson. âI hope the reason people responded as well as they did to ‘Star Trek’ ships is that they are all feeling pretty good. You just kind of go, ‘Oh, that looks good.’ It’s believable, and it’s an art as much as a science, I think.
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