The History of the Excelsior Class Studio Models

by Alexander Hartmann and Bernd Schneider

7,5ft ILM Physical ModelCGI "Generations" Model3 ft "Flashback" ModelCGI Digital Muse Model

 

Our article lists all models (miniatures and CGI) of the Excelsior class that appeared on screen and identifies modifications to the models.

 

7,5ft ILM Physical Model

designed by David Carson and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, built by Steve Gawley and Bill George

Original appearance as USS Excelsior NX-2000

This is the initial appearance of the model, as built for "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock". Design features: large bridge dome, round rear end shuttlebay, one impulse dome behind bridge, light blue hull details.

Modifications for USS Hood

No physical modifications were made for the TNG guest ships. All labels were changed to USS Hood NCC-2541.

Two shots of the Excelsior studio model reappeared in several TNG episodes, in different compositions. The first is the one of the Hood approaching the camera in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" (here together with the Enterprise-D and the planet in the background).

According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (3rd edition), the stock footage used in "Preemptive Strike" was supposed to be USS Cairo. This note was removed for the 4th edition.

Modifications for USS Repulse

The saucer top was relabeled as USS Repulse NCC-2544, the rest still remained labeled as USS Hood NCC-2541. No physical modifications.

The second frequently used stock footage comes from TNG: "The Child", showing a side view of the ship. Another shot from "The Child", a top view as seen from the Enterprise-D shuttlebay, never appeared again. But this shot may have been the reason to relabel the saucer top, although we can't see it in the episode.

Modifications for USS Excelsior NCC-2000

This is the first physical modification of the studio model. Several alterations were done: smaller bridge dome to reflect changed set, angular forward section of shuttlebay, two impulse domes, slight modifications to paint job, other minor changes.

All labels were changed to USS Excelsior NCC-2000.

Modifications for USS Melbourne

All labels were changed to USS Melbourne NCC-62043. No physical modifications.

Modifications for Enterprise-B

This is the second physical studio model modification. Alterations: wider body around deflector, bussard collector and nacelle winglets, additional impulse engines, dark angular shuttle bay (different design), lighter paint job with cyan hull details, other minor changes.

All labels were changed to USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B.

Modifications for USS Lakota

All labels were changed to USS Lakota NCC-42768. No physical modifications.

This is the last appearance of the miniature. The model was auctioned off in 2006 and added to the collection of ScienceFictionArchives.com.

 

CGI "Generations" Model

built by ILM (digitalization of Enterprise-B filming model)

Appearance as Enterprise-B

"Star Trek Generations" is the only appearance of the model. It was only used for the Nexus scenes.

 

3 ft "Flashback" Model

built by Greg Jein

Original appearance as USS Excelsior NCC-2000

This is the first appearance of the 3ft model. It was created because returning the Enterprise-B back to Excelsior (as seen in "Star Trek VI") was deemed impossible. So a new model was commissioned at a smaller scale.

There are minor differences in details and in the paint job between the two physical studio models. Only one miniature was built with lighting, but Jein used the mold to create an additional 12 miniatures for sale in 1997.

Appearance as USS Malinche

This appearance incorporates no physical modifications to the miniature.

The ventral saucer was most likely still labeled as NCC-2000. It is unlikely that any other label was changed for the episode as the ship only appears in one scene, even though the Star Trek Encyclopedia provides NCC-38997 as the ship's registry.

Further appearances on DS9

No physical modifications. Most likely no labels were changed either.

The Excelsior had several background appearances on DS9, using the 3ft miniature. Possibly they were filmed while the 3ft model was rigged for the Malinche shoot in "For the Uniform", to create stock footage. There's a very small chance that these could be reuses of the AMT kit used in "Way of the Warrior", but it seems unlikely as the 3 ft model was now available.

The ventral side of the Excelsior in "By Inferno's Light" most likely still reads NCC-2000.

Modifications for USS Frederickson

No physical modifications, but the label was changed to USS Fredrickson NCC-42111 on the saucer top. The rest most is likely still labeled as Excelsior NCC-2000.

Battle damage markings were added all over the hull. The label change may have happened long before the episode was shot and the only specific change to the model for this episode was the addition of the phaser burns.

This is the last appearance of the 3ft model. After 1997, the model was changed back to Excelsior NCC-2000 for official use at exhibitions.

 

CGI Digital Muse Model

built by David Lombardi (digitalization of the Jein 3ft model)

Original appearance on DS9

The ship was assigned the wrong registry (instead of NCC-2541 or NCC-42296, the ship was given the Lakota's registry of NCC-42768). VFX supervisor David Stipes confirmed a later appearance in the battle of Chin'toka, again with the wrong registry.

Modifications for USS Valley Forge

The changed name and registry were readable on screen.

Modifications for USS Frederickson

Name and registry were (barely) readable on screen.

Assuming the CG model was mapped using photos of the 3 ft studio model, these photos most likely were taken after the 3ft model had already been relabeled as Fredrickson. Later appearances of the CG with a visible name/registry could also be USS Fredrickson NCC-42111 (top saucer) and NCC-2000 (bottom saucer).

Background appearances

Background ships often bore no name or registry, but reused the model (such as seen on the image from "Tears of the Prophets").

Side note For official uses, the model was decommissioned and replaced by a build by Ed Giddings. It was first featured in the Fact Files publication in 2002. The 2013 Eaglemoss miniature is based on this model. Yet its only use for a live-action production was "Borg Invasion 4D" at the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas in 2004. Giddings later also provided a CG rendition of the Enterprise-B for use in licensed work, and as the basis for the miniature in Eaglemoss's Starships Collection Enterprise.

 

See Also

Size of the Excelsior Class

Starfleet Ship Classes A-K

 

Credits

Some screen caps from TrekCore.

 


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