The Enterprise and Other Ships

I don't know when my obsession with the original Star Trek show and movies began. Legend has it that it was the only show that could pacify me as a baby. But the first real memories of Star Trek that I have came from the original movies, that is, the ones I saw (3, 4, 5, and Generations). I've already talked about my early love for Star Trek 3 as a film, so it's time to explore my fandom a little deeper... (as "deep" as an 8-year-old boy was capable of going, that is).

What I loved most about Star Trek was the ships. Maybe it was because I was already into real ships and used to say I wanted to be a "ship captain" when I grew up, or maybe I was already into Star Trek when I used to say that, I can't remember which, but those two facts were true about me as far back as I can remember. I used to draw these ships in kindergarten even, and all of them contributed to my collective life enjoyment and over-active imagination for so many years afterwards that I'd be lying if I said it still wasn't true.

In any case, I loved the USS Enterprise, the good old NCC-1701, pre-op yes, but especially when it got its slick make-over for the movies.  I loved that blue eye-like deflector on the front of the ship, the little lit windows around the saucer, the spotlights illuminating circles on the hull, the stern "engines" (or "nacelles") jutting out the back, and namely everything else about it. I loved the ship so much I used to imitate its basic shape with my fingers (middle and thumb forming the stern nacelles, index forming the "neck"), and would just fly my hand around making warp sounds forever in a day. If anything looked futuristic, smooth, or plated with neon lights (like in Star Trek 5), I used to just call it "the Enterprise." Anything with a round shape was "the Enterprise." I once glued a bunch of plastic cups together in an "Enterprise" shape, and even that was "the Enterprise." Mom's old Buick Century became an "Enterprise shuttle-craft" once I stepped in. If we stopped off at Home Depot, well, that was just the Enterprise's dry dock. The very word "Enterprise" meant nothing to me beyond "cool-ass star ship."

Klingon Bird of Prey
Star Trek 3 may have been my favorite film just because it was the first time we get to see the other kinds of ships out there, including the downright awesome Klingon Bird of Prey. This bad boy was a kid's imaginary "finger ship" dream come true, with its neck and wings, making it a whole lot easier to make with your fingers (by turning the "finger Enterprise" upside down that is). First of all, it was green, and it had phaser canons on its wings and big intimidating "football shoulders" built right into it. I loved how the wings went up and down like a bird... low for attack mode and up for speed. And being Klingon, the ship could cloak! The Reliant from Star Trek 2 did have a slow macabre menace to it as it skirted around, but the Bird of Prey was just all around badass. Swooping down with a roar, blasting its enemies to pieces and speeding off in a huff, it was straight up gang-banger. It was like something out of the Ninja Turtles, and for the first time in Star Trek, actually "looked" alien.

Science Vessel Grissom
Then there were a few other ships that left some impression on the 8yo me, such as the defenseless science vessel Grissom, the so-called "state of the art" Excelsior, and the new Space Dock. First of all, everything about the Grissom and the Excelsior looked 80's, but in a good way. The Grissom looked like the equivalent of the 80's "econo-car" in space... small, cheaply assembled, and fitted with a hydraulic hatch on the back most likely. On the other hand, The Excelsior looked like a bulky 80's home computer, very sophisticated and showy with all its fancy new features, but you knew it was probably buggy as all hell and wouldn't work at all, or that nobody could understand how to make it work. It was the equivalent of an over-sized 80's minivan in space: heavy, expensive, and easy to break. Maybe people were just scared of new technology back in the 80s. And then there's Space Dock, which was just a giant mushroom in space, but a stunning one at that.

USS Enterprise D
I'll mention TNG only because it was on television (even if I wasn't particularly interested in watching it). Following the trend of most good things Star Trek related, TNG actually began in the 80s and carried that smooth/bulky 80s aesthetic right through its entire run in the 90s. I never really liked the chunky "cruise ship" look of the Enterprise D, although it was the toy model I used to play with, four sound effects included (lasers, photon torpedoes, warp speed, random explosions). For some reason you could pop the plastic nacelles off the Enterprise D model toy even though the ship couldn't separate like that on the show. And even if they lit up whenever you hit the button for the torpedo sound, I still would've taken a toy Enterprise or Enterprise A any day.

Looks like I've exposed the extent of my dork-hood fandom once again. Oh well.

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