Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First Look at Leonard Nimoy's Spock in Star Trek

Paramount has just released an exclusive version of the new Star Trek trailer through Ain't it Cool News. The new edit features a brief look at Leonard Nimoy's long awaited return as Spock. To check out the new trailer head on over to AICN.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Star Trek: The Worst of Both Worlds

Feeling deeply disappointed with all the latest Trek comics from IDW I decided to spend some time revisiting some of the older DC Comics adventures from the 80s and 90s.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover how well so many of these storylines hold up. One of my favorite tales from the Star Trek The Next Generation comic series was published as a 4 part extravaganza leading up to the book's 5oth issue.

The story aptly titled "The Worst of Both Worlds", shows us what might've happened if the Federation had not been able to defeat the Borg during the battle of Wolf 359 in the TNG 2 part episode "The Best of Both Worlds". During a mission that takes Picard and company back to the scene of their past confrontation with the Borg, a mysterious anomaly sends the Enterprise to an alternate universe where the events of Wolf 359 played out differently and the crew was never able to rescue Picard from his Borg captors. Locutus and the Borg proceeded to defeat Starfleet at Wolf 359 and then made their way to earth where they have assimilated a great deal of humanity and turned Starfleet headquarters into the central hub of operations for their hive.

Since Picard is still Locutus in this alternate universe, the Enterprise crew in this reality is led by Captain Riker and his first officer is none other than the two timing Commander Shelby, whom you might recall tried very hard to take over Riker's position in the "Best of Both Worlds". She's still up to her old ways, but she's even more aggressive since things have gotten pretty desperate for these people. Shelby is planning a mutiny behind Riker's back and could potentially jeopardize a last ditch effort by him and the crew of the prime universe Enterprise who have agreed to help him in a risky attempt to retrieve Locutus from the Borg.

This is a big plot driven epic that works so well simply because it never looses sight of its characters. Some very effective scenes feature alternate universe Geordi unable to work alongside prime universe Data since in this reality the android was destroyed in the fight against the Borg, and Geordi can't deal with the pain of seeing an alternate version of his long gone friend. Another highlight is a subplot with alternate universe Miles O' Brien who has lost both his wife Keiko, and their daughter Molly to the Borg. When he comes aboard the Enterprise from the prime universe he gets to see the family he lost alive and well. Their presence drives him to a desperate act in the final issue of the tale. Things get even more exciting when the crew infiltrates Starfleet command where we get to see a lot of Borg action. The sequence features various panels filled with Borg drones working on their human victims.

The artwork is top notch and writer Michael Jan Friedman has a pretty good understanding of these characters. This tale could've easily been filmed as another two part cliffhanger for the show. The only thing that would have made that impossible is the scale of the story, which would have been impossible to achieve on a TV budget. The great thing about the comic book format is that the writer has no budgetary limits imposed on his creativity. This tale utilizes the format perfectly and there is nothing here that makes you feel you are reading something that doesn't hold up to its source material.

If you are just as disappointed with IDW's Trek related books as I am then I highly suggest you stop spending your cash on those and instead pick up GIT's Star Trek Complete Comic Book Collection on DVD where you can find the entire DC Star Trek TNG run along with every Trek comic ever published (excluding the IDW stuff). You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Playmates toys returns to the final frontier...

One of our all time favorite toy lines here at the Nostalgia Factory is Playmates' Star Trek Universe collection which ran from the early to late 90s. This toy line was massive and it covered all the shows and most of the movies. Not only did we get some great looking action figures but we also got role playing toys, ships, and even playsets. For 2008's Star Trek relaunch Playmates toys is back as the master toy licensee for the film. Today multiple online retailers, including the fine folks at big bad toy store revealed the full lineup from Playmates and many have already started taking pre-orders. The first wave of toys should be available in late March, even before th film hits theaters, with a second wave in September to coincide with the film's DVD release.

Here's a breakdown of some of the plastic goodness we'll be getting:

3.75" Action Figure line: These are sized just like the Star Wars, G.I.JOE, and Indiana Jones action figures. They include multiple points of articulation and accessories. The first batch includes:
  • Kirk in Enterprise outfit
  • Spock in Enterprise Outfit
  • Prime Spock (Older Spock played by Leonard Nimoy)
  • McCoy in cadet outfit
  • Sulu in Enterprise outfit
  • Uhura in Enterprise outfit
  • Pike in Enterprise outfit
  • Nero
  • Chekov in cadet outfit
  • Scotty in Enterprise outfit
Ships and Playsets: The ships will feature lights and sounds and will each come with a display base while the playsets are for use with the 3.75" action figures. The initial assortment includes:

  • Starship Enterprise
  • The Narada (Nero's ship)
  • Enterprise Bridge Playset (with Kirk action figure included)
  • Transporter Room Playset (with Scotty action figure included)
Playmates will also be releasing two lines of deluxe figures. One at the 6" size and another one at 12". The role playing accesories asortment will include a communicator, tricorder, phaser, phaser tag game, communicator walkie talkies, and utility belt. We're very excited about these and can't wait to see some images soon. In the meantime let's look back at some classic commercials from Playmates earlier Trek products. Set a course for the mid 90's...Engage!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New and upcoming Trek gear...

A big part of Star Trek fandom is collecting memorabilia from our favorite shows and films. For some fans its comic books and action figures, for others autographs and authentic props, and for a few its pretty much anything and everything Trek related.
As we get closer to the May 8th release of the new film more and more items will be hitting the marketplace. It seems we've had a bit of a Trek merchandise drought over the past six years or so, but things are looking up. Here's a look at some of the items available now and a couple of others to keep an eye out in the coming months.

The Star Trek complete comic book collection from GTI is an amazing item and a must have for any fan. It includes every single Star Trek comic book ever published (with the exception of the current IDW series) in convenient PDF file format. There are literally hundreds of issues here covering every TV show and most of the movies. I've had this for a few days now and can't even begin to tell you how much fun I'm having revisiting some of my favorite stories as well as finally getting to read tons of issues I was never able to get my hands on. For less than 50 dollars you get over 500 complete issues. When I say complete I really mean it. These even have the original ads and letters sections from each issue. Highly recommended.

All 79 episodes of the original series remastered are now available on DVD featuring all new visual effects and a ton of clean up and audio remixing. The image quality on these episodes is stunning. Many fans have been pissed off about the new visual effects sequences, but as long as the classic episodes are still available with their original opticals I don't mind the tinkering. The first season was released on High Definition on the HD DVD format right before its demise. Paramount has not announced any plans for a Blu-Ray release, but it can't be far off. In the meantime all 3 seasons are available on standard definition DVD and they look glorious.

Remember those old Mego dolls (I mean action figures) from way back when? Well Emcee toys has brought them back. Perfect replicas of the original figures have been released featuring the crew from the USS Enterprise and some of their most dangerous foes. They come in vintage styled packaging with a resealable clam shell, so you can take them out to explore strange new worlds and then pack them up again for display. A replica of the original bridge will be released in January.

Just in time for your next away mission comes the phaser and communicator 2 pack from Diamond Select, featuring two highly detailed replicas you can play with. These are just way too much fun to keep sealed away. They feature tons of lights and sound effects straight from the show's sound effects library.

If you have a friend or family member who is just getting into Star Trek (and after the new film comes out I'm sure many of us will) then this might be the perfect gift for them this holiday season. If you are a long time fan there's nothing new here for you, but for the uninitiated this is the perfect companion as they begin to make their way through the Star Trek universe. Think if this as Star Trek for dummies. Tons of images and quotes from multiple episodes and movies accompany all the text with a very clean layout.

The Star Trek PEZ collector's set includes PEZ dispensers featuring the entire crew of the Enterprise from the original series. You also get a bonus dispenser featuring the ship itself.

Coming Soon:

Next month Round 2, will be distributing several previously released starship model kits under the AMT and Polar Lights brands. First up will be a re-issue of the classic AMT 1/650 scale model of the TOS USS Enterprise, featuring a new more accurate mold. It will be available in either a box, or metal tin.

This replica of the original series tricorder has awesome written all over it. Should be as highly detailed as the Phaser and communicator already released by Diamond Select. It will also feature lights and sounds straight from the show. Available in December.

The fine folks at Art Asylum and Diamond Select have delivered some of the best looking Trek accessories and ship replicas ever. Continuing their line of space craft from the Trek universe they will be releasing the USS Enteprise-D from Star Trek The Next Generation featuring lights and sounds straight from the show and including various lines of dialogue by the good captain himself Jean Luc Picard. Available early 2009.

Even though Star Trek 4 was one of the highest grossing Trek films ever it never saw a line of action figures produced. Art Asylum and DST will soon be filling that gap in our collection with their upcoming release of Kirk and Spock as seen during their visit to 1980s San Francisco.
Available Spring 2009.

Also in 2009 expect a full line of figures and accessories inspired by the new film courtesy of Playmates toys, as well as a 4 issue comic book prequel from IDW, a line of radio controlled flying ships from Tyco RC, Scene it and 20 Questions games from Mattel, and much more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Star Trek Enterprise - Guest Editorial

The Nostalgia Factory presents a special look back at Star Trek Enterprise courtesy of our newest contributor...

Star Trek Enterprise: An appreciation

For decades Star Trek fans have watched the multiple voyages of the starship enterprise as it explored strange new worlds and new civilizations. The 23rd and 24th century were the time periods we Trekkies got used to seeing our beloved adventures take place in, so it was no surprise that many fans reacted negatively to the news of a new Trek series taking place only 150 years in the future.

As the Trek mythology states Zefram Cochrane makes first contact with the Vulcans in the year 2063 and as a result humans begin to pick themselves up after years of wars and struggles, taking their firsts steps towards achieving their full potential as a species.
Vulcans begin to help humans along, but in a way they also hold them back, that is until the year 2151 when Captain Jonathan Archer begins his mission aboard the first starship Enterprise with an attempt to return a stranded Klingon to his homeworld of Kronos.

Season one cast picture.

Most Trek fans shrugged off this series because it was too different from what they were used to seeing. If they hadn’t given up on the show so quickly they might have noticed just how much fun this series truly was, and it might have lasted longer. One of the many complaints is that the first two seasons were full of planet or alien of the week episodes. That is true, but first we need to remember that the entire original series follows an alien or planet of the week type structure. And most of The Next Generation follows that same style. Only Star Trek Deep Space Nine had long story arcs and themes during its entire run, and many fans critisized it for doing that, so I don’t know why most trek fans talk so much crap about Enterprise. There are many great episodes in season one and two that explore the 21st century as well as many classic races from the original series.

Fan favorite Jeffrey Combs as the Andorian "Shran".

The Andorians have never been better thAn in Enterprise, and who doesn’t enjoy seeing Jeffrey Combs playing Commander Shran, or his use of the phrase “pink skin”. The show even made connections with the fan favorite film First Contact and showed us Starfleet’s first encounter with the borg. That was hardcore Star Trek fan service right there!

The Borg make an appearance thanks to a clever plot device utilizing story elements from Star Trek First Contact.

Space travel is relatively new to humans in this series so seeing a simple comet up close makes the crew stand up in awe, and so did I when I saw these scenes. Other Trek shows took space travel for granted. In the Next Generation era humans are so technologically advanced that very few things can be considered a threat. In Enterprise the ship has no shields, and can only travel at warp 5. This gives the series a much higher sense of danger and keeps us at the edge of our seats during the epic space battles.

The great Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer.

Season three was a season long arc that had the enterprise lost in one of the most dangerous regions of space. The ship was purposely stuck in a volatile area known only as the Delphic Expanse. A race known as the Xindi are being manipulated by creatures from another realm who want to modify our space and make it habitable for their species. After receiving false evidence from these creatures the Xindi become convinced that Earth will attack them in the future, and so they send a probe that kills seven million people on earth. These deaths and the horrors of the expanse practically change every character in the show. It’s mind blowing to see Captain Jonathan Archer deal with his inner demons. He’s pushed to the edge by forces that no human could have ever imagined.

The smallest member of the crew, Archer's dog "Porthos".

Archer is forced to make some tough moral decisions and as a result becomes a more conflicted character. Commander Trip also suffers a family loss during the Xindi attack, which sends him closer to T’pol and unfortunately into one of the most awkward and useless romances in Trek history (remember Worf and Troi, anyone?). Crappy romance aside season 3 had some of the darkest and most intense episodes you’ll ever see from a Star Trek series. Many of these stories rank high up there with the Dominion War episodes from DS9. The season kept us at the edge of our seats as the mystery behind the Xindi weapons builders was slowly revealed.

But the real treat of this series was its fourth and sadly last season. Enterprise finally realized its true purpose, to be a prequel story to every other series. The fan service we got in season four still surprises me as I look back. The mirror universe in the 21st century, classic creatures such as Gorns and Tholians, the beginnings of Section 31 from DS9, Colonel Green from TOS, even Orion slave girls!!!

Brent Spiner (TNG's Data) as Doctor Arik Soong.

My personal favorite moments included Brent Spiner playing Arik Soong (ancestor to Noonien Soong -- the scientist who created the android Data from Star Trek The Next Generation), and seeing a rogue group of augments try to bring about a new eugenics war. If the reference to Khan and the botany bay ship from the original series episode “Space Seed” didn’t make you scream then you sir are no Trekkie -- you listening to me readers!!!! And hey they finally explained why the Klingons from the original series had no ridges (aside from budgetary limitation I mean). Enterprise ended up becoming an amazing show that showed us the first steps toward the Star Trek Universe we’ve come to love. Every time I see Archer’s speech in “Terra Prime” I get up and applaud along with the humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and all the other species that were present that day...the day when the quadrant took its first steps towards the creation of the United Federation of Planets. The show was entertaining, full of great actors and compelling characters. Viva Bakula!!! It also boasted the best Trek TV special effects. It still saddens me that we only got four seasons. The show deserved so much more respect from Paramount, and from Trek fans everywhere. Hopefully true fans can now enjoy it on the Sci-Fi Channel and on DVD. This is a Trek show that can not be ignored any longer. I just hope one day audiences can come to appreciate this show for what it truly is... a great science fiction series and a strong enough Trek show that can stand right next to TNG and DS9 with pride.

Top “Trekkie” moments from season 4:
By: The Nostalgic G.

With the arrival of new Executive Producer and show-runner Manny Cotto during the show’s fourth season Enterprise began to really give fans of the franchise what they had been expecting all along. A long time Trek fan himself, Cotto set out to deliver. Here are the coolest things he did for fans everywhere.

The Gorn returns!

- New life and New Civilizations - One of the things we love about Trek are the alien species. During Enterprise’s fourth season we got to see a lot more of the classic species first seen in the original series. Some highlights included The Gorn ("In A Mirror Darkly”), Tellarites (“Babel One”), Orions (“The Augments”, “Bound”) Romulans (“United”), and Organians (“Observer Effect”).

- Beam me up Emory – In the fourth season episode “Daedalus” we get to meet the man responsible for the creation of one of Star Trek’s most interesting pieces of hardware, the transporter.

Captain Archer visits the planet Vulcan in a 3 part storyline.

- Epic storytelling – The show began doing multiple episode arcs during year four featuring epic storylines like the Vulcan inspired trilogy of episodes (“The Forge”, “Awakening”, “Kir’Shara”) that introduced us to the Syrrannites, a zealous Vulcan sect that believes in — among other Vulcan taboos at the time— the practice of mind-melding. Syrrannites follow a corrupted form of the teachings of Surak, the father of Vulcan logic who is considered the most important Vulcan who ever lived.

A Klingon undergoes a painful transformation in the episode "Affliction".

- What’s that on your forehead? – One of the coolest sequences ever in the history of Trek has to be the alteration of Klingon foreheads in the episode “Affliction” as a result of their attempts at creating genetically enhanced warriors by utilizing human Augments DNA.

- Eugenics Wars redux - The historic 3 part event that connected Enterprise with not one but two major elements from Trek mythology featured the return of those genetically engineered bullies from the eugenics wars as well as the introduction of Doctor Arik Soong -- great grandfather to Data's creator. The moment when Soong admits the pitfalls that come with genetic manipulation and realizes that cybernetics may be the next great scientific frontier to focus on is truly priceless as fans get their chance at seeing the spark that leads to the initial steps in the creation of our beloved android.

- Brave new world – The events that lead to the creation of The United Federation of Planets are presented in multiple episodes throughout the show’s final season. We are also treated to a very emotional sequence in the episode “Terra Prime” when Archer gets to address representatives from all the species that will soon form this historic alliance. A true love letter to everything Star Trek is about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Star Trek First Contact: A look back...

"You're all astronauts, on some kind of Star Trek".

-Zefram Cochrane, April 4, 2063

In the mid 90's Star Trek had truly become more than just a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. Paramount Pictures, the owners of the Trek brand, had been able to turn the venerable franchise into a well oiled machine, affectionately referred to by many at the studio as "the family jewel".

By 1995 there were two shows in production airing new episodes on a weekly basis as well as a plethora of ancilliary products such as novels -- which would often make it to the New York times bestsellers list, comic books, toys, and a new multi-million dollar attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton christened Star Trek: The Experience. There was even talk of developing an Imax film combining real world science with various elements from the Trek universe. The Star Trek machine was unstoppable. Paramount was happy.

After the box office success of Star Trek Generations and the continued support of the multiple television series by fans all over the world Paramount knew it was time to move forward with a second film featuring the cast of The Next Generation. This time the TNG cast would be on their own. It was time to really prove themselves on the big screen.

Logo for film's cast & crew shirt by Doug Drexler.

Around February 1995 producer Rick Berman, guardian of the Trek universe since Gene Roddenberry's passing in 1991, approached writers Ron Moore and Brannon Braga about writing the next big screen adventure. The writers who had previously written multiple hours of Star Trek The Next Generation as well as the last theatrical installment; Star Trek Generations, were concerned about taking on the task after having dealt with a never ending list of requests from the studio during the development of Generations. They were both pleasantly surprised when Berman informed them this was an open book. The only mandate from the studio was to make it a Next Generation adventure.

Screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ron Moore during filming of their on screen cameo for the film's holodeck sequence.

Relieved by the prospect of writing a Trek film without all the limitations the studio forced on them in the past they quickly began throwing ideas around. Berman felt it was time to do a time travel story. Moore and Braga wanted to bring the federation's most feared adversaries to the big screen -- the Borg. It was the perfect opportunity to do them justice by being able to take advantage of the benefits of a film's larger budget and expanded shooting schedule.
The writers quickly married Berman's suggestion of time travel with their ideas for an all out Borg invasion story.

Conceptual art for the redesigned Borg drones by Ricardo Delgado.

The Borg had attempted to assimilate the earth before on various storylines during The Next Generation. The federation had always managed to stop them -- barely, and with many casualties such as in the classic two part episode "The Best of Both Worlds". It seemed logical to the writers that the next attempt at assimilation by the Borg would be to undermine starfleet by defeating the earth even before there was a federation. If the Borg had never been able to assimilate earth in the present it was time for them to go back in time to a point where humanity was at its weakest, when they would offer no resistance.

Conceptual art for the Borg Queen by Ricardo Delgado.

According to the writers the first task in crafting a story was figuring out what time period the Borg would travel back to. For a long time the writers considered the Italian renaissance since that was a period when a lot of scientific discoveries were being made. Mankind was coming out of a dark age and into an age of enlightment. Many ideas surfaced including that of having the Borg take over a medieval castle and the crew of the Enterprise battling them without the use of any technology. At this point the writers started calling their outline for the film with the name "Star Trek: Rennaissance".

More conceptual art for the Borg Queen.

I.L.M's conceptual design for the Borg Queen.

Costume designs for the Borg Queen by Deborah Everton.

According to Ron Moore they quickly realized telling a story in this period would have to include too many elements which could've seemed too removed for the audience such as having the characters running around in tights. After thinking of all the other periods that had been explored in past episodes featuring time travel stories Moore and Braga realized that the early 21st century hadn't really been explored on the show. It seemed ideal for the Borg to travel to the most technologically advanced time with the least resistance. According to Trek cannon this period also featured humanity coming out of a dark age, after the effects of a third world war, and stepping into a sort of a rennaissance thanks to the development of warp drive by an eccentric scientist known as Zefram Cochrane. The first warp flight completed by Cochrane ends up getting the attention of the Vulcans who realize humanity might finally be ready for first contact with beings from another world so they decide to pay earth a visit. That contact eventually leads to the formation of starfleet and the Federation. According to the writers what's at stake in this movie is Star Trek itself. If the Borg stop Cochrane from completing his warp flight the Star Trek universe would never come into existence.

Cocept art for the new Enterprise bridge (note the "Star Trek: Resurrection" working title)

The writers soon went to work on an initial draft of the script with the working title "Star Trek: Resurrection", after the name of the town where Cochrane is building his warp vessel and where most of the film's action would take place. The title was soon abandoned as 20th Century Fox announced their upcoming Alien sequel would be titled Alien: Resurrection.
This draft also featured a character called Ruby, a photographer who resides in the town of Resurrection whom Picard ends up developing a romantic relationship with during his time on the surface. Also Cochrane spends most of the story unconcious after being hurt in the borg's initial attack and its up to Picard alone to complete the warp flight while at the same time battling a local militia. Riker returns to the Enterprise and its up to him to lead the fight against the Borg onboard the ship.

Multiple costume designs for the planet based sequences by Deborah Everton.

In this draft of the script the USS Defiant blows up in space during the space battle with the Borg early on in the film. Interestingly enough the Defiant was specifically designed and built to battle the Borg according the the Deep Space Nine episode "The Search". The ship finally gets its chance in this film. Its destruction was quickly changed due to the fact that the Defiant was still in use on a weekly basis on DS9.

The Defiant in action.

After handing in their first draft Patrick Stewart informed the writers how the relationship between Ruby and Picard didn't seem realistic. He also made note that Picard should be aboard the Enterprise dealing with the Borg instead of on the planet's surface. Picard's previous experience with them made for great drama if he was given the opportunity to face them again.
Changes where made based on Stewart's suggestions and the writers both agreed that the storyline truly bagan to make sense after implementing such changes.

Director Jonathan Frakes on location with actor James Cromwell (Zefram Cochrane).

With a script well on its way it was time for Berman to find a director. It was decided to go with someone who knew Star Trek and had previous experience with the Next Generation storyline and its characters. By the summer of 1995 it was announced that the role would be filled by Next Gen actor and director Jonathan Frakes, who by then had already directed 12 episodes combined of TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

Deborah Everton's design for the new E.V.A. suits.

With a 45 million dollar budget, the highest of any of Trek film at the time, production began on April 8, 1996. Other trek veterans returning included Production Designer Herman Zimmerman (TNG, DS9, Star Trek Films 5-7), and Make Up designer Michael Westmore, who'd been responsible for creating every alien creature seen on Trek since the Next Generation Pilot. Already an academy award winner he would go on to get another nomination for his work on First Contact.

Academy Award winning make up artist Michael Westmore poses with some of his creations.

Providing the film's stirring score would be one of the greatest film composers of our time and also a Trek alumni; Jerry Goldsmith. Visual effects would be handled by ILM, the company responsible for many of the best looking visual effects in Star Trek and film history.
The first week of the 12 week production began inside a missile silo in Green Valley Arizona. Production moved for two weeks to Charleston Flats, a popular campground site in the Angeles National Forrest that was dressed as the town where Cochrane has built his missile complex. Originally referred to as the town of Resurrection in the first draft of the script and now changed to Bozeman, Montana.

Lilly Sloan and Zefram Cochrane.

Joining the TNG cast for these scenes were two of the most respected actors to ever guest on Star Trek: James Cromwell playing Zefram Cochrane, and Alfre Woodard playing Lilly Sloane, his friend and partner in the Phoenix mission. The character of Lilly had its roots in Ruby from the original draft of the script. Also joining the cast at the location was fan favorite Dwight Schultz as Reg Barclay, the lovable yet highly unstable engineering officer seen in multiple episodes of the Next Generation. It was Jonathan Frakes idea to incorporate the character into the film as well as cameo appearances from other Trek actors such as Patty Yasutake (Nurse Alysa Ogawa), Robert Picardo as the Holographic Doctor. Early on word spread around Hollywood that the filmmakers desired to lure Tom Hanks, a trek fan himself, to play the role of Cochrane. This didn't go on for long since Hanks was too busy shooting his directorial debut "That Thing You Do!" to even consider the idea. Before moving to Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood for the remainder of the shoot the crew got one more night of location work at the former art deco Fred Harvey Restaurant at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles where Picard would face off the Borg in a holographic environment taken straight out of one of his Dixon Hill crime novels.

The soveregin class USS Enterprise - E, designed by John Eaves.

The final nine weeks of production were completed at Paramount where 5 massive soundstages were used to house the sets for the all new USS Enterprise-E.
Under the direction of production designer Herman Zimmerman illustrator John Eaves and graphic artist Mike Okuda designed the recently commissioned sovereign class vessel.

Alice Krige as the Borg Queen.

South African actress Alice Krige joined the cast for this final leg of shooting with her portrayal of the seductive and deceitful Borg Queen. In one of the most exciting reveals of any character in Star Trek history the queen's torso is lowered into her body and soon released from its restraints as she begins to move around engineering and confront Data about her plans all in one shot without any edits thanks to the magic of the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic.

The FX team at ILM also built multiple models and miniatures of the new Enterprise-E, it's escape pods, as well as the Borg cube and its escape sphere. The film featured the highest number of FX sequences of any of the previous Trek films with a total of over 200 opticals.

I.L.M.'s newly built model for the USS Enterprise - E.

For a scene featuring the Borg taking control of the Ship's deflector dish Herman Zimmerman designed one of the biggest sets ever in the history of the franchise. A recreation of the ship's hull and deflector array the size of a football field was built on stage 15 at Paramount for this key scene where Picard and company try to override the Borg's modifications to the dish.

Principal photography wrapped on July 2, 1996 and one of the first tasks for the publicity department at Paramount was the creation of a teaser trailer for the summer movie season.
Work on the teaser began before photography was completed on the film and way before any effects shots had been delivered. This forced the studio to use shots from TNG episodes such as "The Best of Both Worlds" and "All Good Things...”. Even a shot from Star Trek: Voyager made it onto the trailer. The trailer made its television debut on E news daily as well as other entertainment magazine shows.

E news daily also gave fans a first look at production on the film with a quick interview from actor Neal McDonough, who was portraying the newest member of the Enterprise crew: "Lt. Hawk". In the interview McDonough revealed how this was a dream come true for him, having grown up a trek fan. No footage from the film was revealed in this E news segment.

Neal McDonough as the ship's new helmsman: Lt. Hawk.

After completing an assembly of the film director Jonathan Frakes realized that he needed more Borgs in the film in order to truly give audiences a sense of the gravity the situation the Enterprise crew was facing. The Borg had taken over most of the ship, but the most amount of Borg they had on screen at any given time was usually less than 10. After seeing some of the film Paramount agreed to provide Frakes with the necessary funding to shoot more Borg drone inserts including one of the film's most effective shots were a group of drones enter a completely darkened sector of the ship with starfleet officers in retreat and all we can see of the approaching menace is their red lazer beams pointing at their human targets for assimilation.

It was now time for the great Jerry Goldsmith to return to the podium and conduct the recording sessions for his score to the film. Goldsmith, a veteran of multiple Trek films, had recently won the Emmy for his theme to Star Trek: Voyager. For this latest adventure in the final frontier he brought along his son Joel Goldsmith to assist in the scoring chores. One of the most memorable elements of the film would turn out to be Jerry's new main title theme, a sweeping, and highly stirring composition that opens the film and is revisited during the film's finale. To underscore the Borg, Goldsmith composed a menacing metallic march with a combination of ethereal synth textures. His theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture -- which went on to become the theme to TNG, is also utilized in various cues as well as the end credits, while his famous Klingon theme (also from The Motion Picture) was used to underscore Worf's heroics throughout the film.

Legendary film composer Jerry Goldsmith visits the set.

On October 6, 1996 fans all across the U.S. were treated to a live broadcast on UPN celebrating Star Trek's 30th anniversary. "Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond" not only featured the biggest assembly of Star Trek actors ever on the same stage, it also featured a quick glimpse at a scene from First Contact. A clip of the Borg Queen's sinister seduction of Commander Data closed one of the show's segments.

On November 11, 1996 during the television broadcast of the Deep Space Nine Episode "Let he who is without sin..." a 2 minute preview of First Contact was broadcast featuring more clips from the film as well as a quick interview with Jonathan Frakes. By then with only 11 days to go till the film's release Paramount's ad campaign was in full swing.

Television commercials for the film could be spotted multiple times a day, especially during prime time. This was the height of Trek's popularity and fans all over the world were ready to experience the Trek film that was gathering the most buzz since "The Wrath of Khan".

Teaser poster for Star Trek First Contact.

First Contact boasted one of the biggest promotional campaigns of any of the Trek films. Months before the film's release posters and billboards featuring the teaser art for the film began to show up in all major markets. Theatrical one sheets and cardboard stand ups went up in theaters everywhere. Pocket books and playmates toys were some of the first licensees to begin flooding stores with First Contact merchandise. Pocket books issued a hardcover novelization of the film's storyline featuring a behind the scenes look at the making of the film and 8 pages of stills. An audio book and paperback edition of the novel (without the behind the scenes chapter) followed, accompanied by a line of young adults books. Some of the young adults titles included a movie storybook, a book focusing on the character of Zefram Cochrane titled "Breaking the Barrier", and a book focusing on the Borg Collective.

Pocket Books novelization of the film.

Pocket books' assortment of books for young readers.

If you walked into any toy store or even department stores such as Walmart and Target you'd find an entire section devoted to Trek toys right next to that holiday season's top toy lines such as Disney's 101 Dalmatians. Playmates' line included a series of very detailed action figures. At almost seven inches tall each of these figures featured even better sculpts than Playmates' previous offerings, which were already some of the best sculpted and detailed figures in the market at the time. A series of 9 inch collectible figures was also part of the collection.

The Enterprise E, the Phoenix, and the Borg Sphere also hit toy aisles as highly detailed ships with lights and sounds straight from the film. Playmates also released a role play phaser blaster with the new design from the film.

T-shirts, caps, mugs, collector's pins, and even hockey jerseys also hit stores such as Suncoast, Comic Book shops, TV shopping channel QVC, and the official Star Trek fan club catalog.

Marvel comics soon issued a comic book adaptation as a mini series and as a trade collecting all the individual issues. Trading cards in the Wide Vision format also hit stores. A parody of the film was featured in MAD Magazine. The parody was based on one of the early drafts of the script and utilized many of the elements that got cut from the final draft which never made it onto the film.

A stroll down your local grocery store would reveal such goodies as First Contact chocolate bars and Kellog's cereal boxes with First Contact and Star Trek 30th Anniversary packaging.

You could even find a line of bath and hygiene products featuring the Borg and the new Enterprise-E at your local pharmacy. Even Citgo gas stations partnered up with the film by putting together a national TV spot promoting the film and their gas stations. NASCAR racer Michael Waltrip drove the #21 Citgo/Star Trek First Contact car during that year’s Winston Cup. Fans could also buy a die cast bank in the shape of the Citgo / First Contact Nascar car at select locations.

First Contact bubble bath, lip balm, and more.

Days before the film's release the reviews began to pour and critics reaction to the film was unanimous. Reviewers were praising First Contact for being the first Trek movie that audiences could enjoy even if they weren't Trekkies or Trekkers.

"A smashingly exciting sci-fi adventure that ranks among the very best in the long-running Paramount franchise".
-Joe Leydon, Daily Variety

"Blessed with clever plot devices and a villainous horde that makes the once-dread Klingons seem like a race of Barneys, First Contact does everything you'd want a Star Trek film to do, and it does it with cheerfulness and style".
-Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"Under the suave direction of Jonathan Frakes, who also plays the Enterprise's second-in-command, the movie glides along with purpose and style".
-Richard Corliss , Time Magazine

"By the time Worf (Michael Dorn), knocking off a slimy attacker, growls a Schwarzeneggerish ''Assimilate this!'' we've already done so, with pleasure".
-Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"Two thumbs up, way up."
-Siskel & Ebert

The film had its gala premiere on November 18, 1996 at the Famed Graumman's Chinnesse theater in Hollywood. The event was a charity fund-raiser for Amnesty International, afterwards a huge bash was thrown across the street at The Colonade, a Hollywood night club at the time which no longer exists.

In the following days multiple talk shows featured the cast from the film including appearances by Patrick Stewart on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Brent Spiner on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Theatrical one sheet for First Contact.

Finally on Friday November 22 Star Trek: First Contact opened in theaters all across the U.S. to the biggest opening weekend box office receipts of any Star Trek film, even beating out the previous record holder Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. Proving that Trek fans are amongst the most tech savvy members of the viewing audience the official site for Star Trek First Contact reported more than 5.7 million hits on the film's opening day, nearly twice as many as the 3 million hits reported for the Independence Day website on its opening.

First Contact merchandise was flying off the shelves as the holiday gift giving season went into full gear. A few weeks after the U.S. debut of the film European audiences got their first look on December 6 with the Royal Premiere for First Contact at The Empire Theater in London. Cast and crew were joined by such guests as Prince Charles at the event. The film quickly went to the top of the box office world wide breaking records in top international markets such as England and Germany.

As of 2008, First Contact holds records for the highest worldwide gross of all the Star Trek movies made to-date (over $150,000,000), as well as for highest 1st-weekend gross (over $30,000,000). The film has a 91% fresh rating on rottentomatoes.com based on the accumulated reviews for the film and is still regarded by trek fans everywhere as the best of the TNG era films.

International Poster for First Contact (United International Pictures).


- In the early outlines for the film, the character of Lt. Hawk is referred to as being gay. Further appearances by the character in some of the novels revealed his full name to be Sean Hawk. The novels also introduce the rest of Hawk's family, who all hail from the Mars colonies, as well as his Trill partner Ranul Keru.

- A miniature replica of the Zefram Cochrane statue is kept by Captain Jonathan Archer in his quarters aboard the NX01 on Star Trek Enterprise. He used this statue as a weapon in a third season episode, stabbing a Xindi reptillian on the chest with it. James Cromwell reprises his role of Zefram Cochrane in "Broken Bow", the two hour pilot for the series.

- Actor Jeff Coopwood provided the voice of the Borg in the film. His voice was digitally layered multiple times to create the collective voices effect.

- The story titled "Suicide note" and included in the Next Generation anthology book titled "The Sky's The Limit" takes place after the events depicted in First Contact.

- A potential origin for the Borg Queen is presented in one of the stories in tokyo pop's star trek manga volume one.
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