Monday, May 14, 2007

My Favourite Movie Spaceships

Ships are always referred to as 'She' but I suppose this is the one ship that truly was a female ship. Nell was designed and built by James Cameron for the Roger Corman produced Battle Beyond the Stars in 1980.The ships exteriors were designed and built first but the interiors were just going to be generic sets for each ship, it was Cameron who designed the interiors to hopefully compliment the exteriors.

The 'Valley Forge' and it's sister ships the 'Berkshire' and 'Sequoia' were based on the Expo Tower at the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, Japan. The actual miniature was 26 feet in length and used over 650 army tank model kits for detail. I've always loved the film since I was a kid, so I was very disturbed in the late 70's to find footage from Silent Running showing up in Battlestar Galactica with shots of the 'Valley Forge' been attacked by Cylon Raiders.

The Dropship from Aliens is another James Cameron design, both Ron Cobb and Syd Mead had a go at designing it, but the final look was based on a rough model that Cameron put together himself to show the basic layout and form. I suppose you could argue the fact that the Dropship isn't so much a spaceship in the true sense, but we do see it travel into space to and from the Sulaco.
The ship that almost never was, most Star Wars fans know the tale of how the original Pirate Ship owned by Han Solo was going to be a much longer vessel, a miniature that ILM made for the ship later got re used as the Rebel Blockade Runner after a crew member commented how it looked a lot like the Space 1999 Eagle Transporter, so the cockpit and Radar dish were removed and a knew ship was designed for them, which became the Millenium Falcon that we all know and love. Also at one point the Millenium Falcon was going to fly upright once in space and the cockpit was going to rotate so the cockpit crew were sat at the top of the ship, nice idea but glad they scrapped it.

Discovery is a spaceship that really has stood the test of time design wise, especially where the interior detail is concerned, the control panels, HAL's flat screen monitors all still look very high tech even in this day and age. Discovery and other ships from 2001:A Space Odyssey were the first miniatures used in films to ever really use plastic kit parts to add detail, the original studio miniature was a whopping 54 Feet in Length, with a smaller 15 foot version built for the long shots.

My favourite of all the Star Trek 'Enterprise' ships, this was designed by Andrew Probert for 1979's Star Trek:The Motion Picture and is a refit of the ship seen in the original Star Trek series, love the sequence were Scotty shows Kirk the ship in the Drydock, fabulous sequence and superb Jerry Goldsmith music.

Designed for Star Trek 3:The Search for Spock as a Romulan ship, this was meant to have been stolen by a group of renegade Klingon's lead by Commander Kruge. Later during a script rewrite it became a Klingon Ship.The ship was designed by ILM visual effects art directors Nilo Rodis and Dave Carson.
Designed by Ron Cobb for the film The Last Starfighter the Gunstar has been a favorite of mine for some time, and for a CG ship done in 1984 the look of it still holds up pretty well today. It has a similar feel to Babylon 5 Starfury in that the outer engines have attitude thrusters.

Another Ron Cobb design is the Scoutship Dark Star from the John Carpenter SF Comedy also called Dark Star funnily enough, this was said to have been designed initially on a napkin whilst they talked over ideas. The interior of this ship has a bit of a Tardis thing going on, as in the interior is certainly bigger than the exterior. I've always loved Talby's observation bubble on top of the ship.
Always one of the coolest sounding spaceships the Tie Fighter is probably my favorite of all the Star Wars fighter craft, I much prefer this to the Tie Interceptor that was introduced in Return of the Jedi, the Tie Bomber seen in The Empire Strikes Back was a neat design as was Vader's own Tie from Star Wars but this one has always seemed to have something special, plus the Tie Fighter pilots had cool helmets.

Ok that's ten ships, but just bubbling under as a fave of mine is Cowboy's ship from Battle Beyond the Stars with it's confederate flag and it's cargo section that it hauls, oh yeah and George Peppard as Cowboy. The front hull body above and below the cockpit windows are from the Tamiya model kit of the British Quad Gun Tractor The ship lands upright on it's four engines once it's droppedc the cargo section.


allen said...

Love em, love em all. The first one you posted, the Cameron ship, always caught me off guard because it was the first ship with breasts... documentary guy posted a teaser on our blog with the footage he had and some stills from the's worth a look...

TimeWarden said...

Interesting list, Andrew, and I love your new blog-header!

Going back a generation, I'm fond of the Dalek Saucer in the second Peter Cushing Dr Who film, even though we never see it in space, but the one for which I have the most affection is the Zero X craft from "Thunderbirds Are Go!", the first and best of the two feature film spin-offs.

Michael G Clark said...

What about Peter Cushing's police box?

Dark Star is great, didn't know the craft was a Ron Cobb design though. He's my hero!

paulhd said...

Ah, Silent Running, those robots never fail to make me cry.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Allen,there's not enough spaceships with breast in my opinion !
Yeah the Dalek ship in the Peter Cushing films was a cool design.
Michael, Ron Cobb is a brilliant designer and has a new website that he's slowly adding stuff to.
Paul I blub like a baby when that Robot gets lost in space and he's talking to the other two.

Steve said...

Ah. The Millennium Falcon. Coolest ship in the galaxy. Though I did like Boba Fett's Slave. And I must admit a liking for the ARC fighters in the most recent Star Wars outing.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Oh great Steve you had to mention the prequels, now I have to take one of my funny red tablets the doctor prescribed !! :)

Moonwatcher said...

Great selection of ships. Regarding the Valley Forge and her sister ships, did you know that there are 5 other ships that you hear get mentioned but don't see ? These are the Yellowstone, Acadia, Blue Ridge, Glacier and Mojave.

Michael G Clark said...

Hi Andrew,

I'll go check out Cobb's website, cheers.

Dylan said...

Great post Andrew. I never knew that the battle Beyond the Stars ship was Cameron until you mentioned it. As soon as you know tho it makes total sense it has the same silhouette as most of his designs still a nice and unusual look though.
I know they were heavily influenced by Starwars ships but I've always liked the original colonial vipers from BSG, a really cool and compact look to them. Another fave is the Liberator from Blake's 7.

DanO said...

awesome post!
i LOVE 'Battle Beyond The Stars" (bury him with a warm meal) because as a kid there had to be some character you identified with. I forgot all about the space ships until now.