Star Trek World
by Bernd Schneider and Thorsten Schumacher
The Star Trek World Tour took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, from December 5th, 1998 to January 2nd, 1999. The exhibition moved to Wien/Vienna in summer 1999 and finally went to Singapore on December 6, 1999. The main attraction was a tour of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. Several sets of the legendary (and maybe still most popular) series Star Trek: The Next Generation had been reconstructed for this purpose, including main engineering and bridge. The World Tour also encompassed an area to meet aliens, a museum with Star Trek props, a merchandising area, a cinema and a "holodeck".
We visited the Star Trek World Tour on Friday, December 11th, 1998. It was strongly recommended to book in advance and reserve a flight aboard the Enterprise. The admission fee via online reservation was DM 51.90 per adult person. The World Tour being much more expensive than previous exhibitions, our expectations were accordingly high. Please read about our impressions and opinions in the following.
The Entrance Hall
Bernd: Well, the entrance hall was decorated with some Star Trek World Tour banners. I would have preferred UFP flags.
Thorsten: I agree.
B: What did you think about the visitors?
T: Almost entirely young people. I think we were among the oldest, maybe except for parents attending their kids.
B: I think this is symptomatic for Star Trek in Germany. Adults are usually not interested in science fiction, but only in "serious" stuff...
T: ...such as football (=soccer). Remember the bawling fans in the stadium next to the exhibition hall?
B: Really serious. I think we should write an article about this topic.
T: Contra football enthusiasm?
B: Pro Star Trek!
B: There were also a number of people speaking Dutch, from the Netherlands or Belgium.
T: Anyway, most visitors were German, and most of them were teenies.
B: Remember those oral announcements in stumbling English?
T: Better we don't try to reproduce them here.
B: We could enter the Enterprise-D sooner than we expected, 15:00h instead of 16:00h.
T: But we had to wait a while, since the visitors were divided into groups of about 12 persons who could board in periods of 6 minutes.
B: And then I saw the sign saying "Photographing is strictly prohibited".
T: Actually, I saw it first.
B: Anyway, this was the greatest possible disappointment. We had come to visit this ship, and now we could not document it.
T: So I had to hide the camera in my bag. But I was ready to shoot a photo anytime no one was watching us.
B: A Klingon woman was running around and warned us not to board a Federation starship.
T: Well, she was aware that it's Galaxy class, and you know what usually happens to these ships after a few years in service: warp core breach.
B: The Earth Operations Center was not an original set.
T: However, it was well-done. And you watched the galactic chart all the time instead of the Starfleet girls with their perfectly fitting uniforms who ran the show with video sequences.
B: Whom? Actually, I did study the chart very carefully, since I could not take a photo of it. I think it can be regarded as quasi-canon.
T: Or semi-canon?
B: Or only pseudo-canon? Anyway, the chart was a bit unusual, since it showed the galaxy from the galactic south pole, so the Alpha Quadrant was in the upper left corner. Federation space was rather small, but the often mentioned 10,000LY diameter could be correct.
T: What about the alien territories?
B: Hmm. According to this chart, the Romulan and Klingon Empires are larger, or supposed to be larger, since only part of their boundaries were marked. Also these two territories are not directly adjacent to Federation space, but they are thousands of light years apart. I can't believe that. Moreover, Bajor and Cardassia seem to be closer to the Federation than the Klingon and Romulan Empires.
T: By the way, all Starfleet personnel, in particular the female officers, had perfectly fitting uniforms.
B: Now that you say it... but let me continue with the Tholian Empire which was also featured, at the far end of the Alpha Quadrant.
T: *sigh* It's hopeless. Next, we went to the transporter room where a guy explained some facts about Star Trek.
B: Star Trek for very beginners.
T: We should be glad Q (John de Lancie) and his son interrupted the blurb, when they suddenly appeared on screen.
B: Very impolite.
T: Actually Q wanted to show Q Junior his favorite primitive species.
B: Very impolite.
T: And then he seized control of the tour and arranged for the transport.
B: Of course the transporter room was not completely authentic...
T: ...because 12 people had to be transported simultaneously. Actually, they closed one door, flooded the room with roaring sound and flash lights, and then opened the door to another room, ...
B: ...the transporter room of the Enterprise. I remember the transporter officer. She had a nice plait.
T: Welcome back, Bernd.
B: Main engineering was well-done. Only the additional railings on both sides of the pool table were a bit annoying. I don't know what they could be useful for.
T: Main engineering was great! Some controls on the pool table were actually working.
B: And the main systems display featured the hamster, the duck, the Porsche and the DC-3.
T: When the engineer started explaining the function principle of the warp core, I tried to hide in Geordi's office and keep my camera ready for a shoot.
B: Unlike you I did listen carefully. After all, she could have made serious errors in explaining warp drive. I was relieved when she stopped talking just before she could tell everyone that false theory of warp drive bending space, not subspace.
T: Actually, she was interrupted by Q.
B: Q obviously doesn't like our "flashy starships", as he put it. And he could not help demonstrating how primitive Starfleet ships are...
T: ...by initiating an antimatter containment failure *grumble*. I was just about to shoot the photo when the Starfleet personnel began running around, trying to fix the problem, and my chance had passed.
B: I must admit, they were well-trained. The situation could have been ridiculous for the visitors, however, they acted credibly and used correct technical terms.
T: And they had perfectly fitting uniforms.
T: Of course, our evacuation failed because the turbolift wasn't working.
B: And Q said "kiss your universe good-bye".
T: Fortunately, Q stopped his game, and the warp core breach alert was terminated.
The above pictures are courtesy of Danny Evenwel who was more daring and disobeyed a direct order from Starfleet Command not to take photos.
B: In the turbolift you could finally take your photo, not a very good one. The bridge would have been much more exciting.
T: Indeed. The bridge was great.
B: But small. Much smaller than it appeared to be on screen. I read in The Art of Star Trek that the TNG bridge is only insignificantly larger than the TOS bridge. Now I believe it.
T: The LCARS monitors were partially functional, and the typical murmuring sound was there as well.
B: Q received us again, this time on the main screen. And Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) was supposed to assist us in Q's puzzle.
T: Q's favorite human being.
T: Favorite victim! Besides, isn't it inconsistent that Riker is aboard the Enterprise-E while the Enterprise-D is still in service?
B: Well, Q obviously arranged a time travel.
T: However, despite Riker's help the poor little visitor boy pushed the wrong button on the OPS console, whereupon Q threw the ship to the Delta Quadrant where a Borg cube was already waiting.
B: *with very low voice* We are the Borg. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Surrender you ship. Resistance is futile.
T: Are you o.k. again?
B: Nice sound effects. They simulated the travel to the Delta Quadrant with sound traveling from the front end to the back end of the bridge.
T: Better and certainly cheaper than shake the bridge.
B: The bridge won't shake if Q moves the ship. He has to care for the SIF and IDF at transwarp or whatever speed he accelerates, unless he wants to destroy the ship.
T: However, the boy then pressed the correct button, and the ship was sent back to the Alpha Quadrant.
B: Unfortunately. I would have liked to see some Borg drones entering the bridge and assimilating the crew.
T: And be assimilated yourself?
B: Well, not really.
T: Unfortunately, the show was over and we had to leave the bridge. No time to sit down in the captain's chair. Only time enough for a shot of the bridge through the door.
B: I can understand that photographing would have disturbed the tour that was strictly organized. Still, they could at least have offered some photos of the sets for sale.
T: Well, there was the official souvenir magazine.
B: Forget it! I recommend everyone to save the DM 15,-. The magazine only depicts well-known publicity shots of the series and a short Star Trek lesson for beginners. Nothing specific of the Tour and nothing that is in any way new.
T: Could it be the aliens were surprised we survived the trip on a Federation starship?
B: Maybe the Klingons were surprised indeed. Did you like the aliens?
T: I can't say I like Ferengi, especially not since DS9: "Profit and Lace" *shiver*. However, the Ferengi at the World Tour looked really great. Not only was the mask well-done, he was also very small, perfectly suited to portray a Ferengi in a Star Trek episode.
B: And he demanded five bars of latinum for a photography, a real Ferengi indeed.
T: Well, you did not really try to lower the price.
B: But you did.
B: You told the Ferengi I were Brunt's son-in-law.
T: Well, I did.
B: Apart from the irrefutable fact I would never be interested in a Ferengi woman *shiver*...
B: and that Brunt, FCA, is a slimy worm,...
T: I agree.
B: ...the Ferengi then increased the price to ten bars.
T: Well, Brunt is an illustrious person.
B: Anyway, we did get the photo for free because I was the only non-Ferengi to know Rule of Acquisition #286.
T: That is?
B: I won't tell anyone. After all, this could be mistaken as canon fact and cause severe inconsistencies.
T: Inconsistencies? Help!
B: The Romulan was for free from the very beginning.
T: And you insulted him by comparing him to a Ferengi.
B: Seems no one in the galaxy likes the Ferengi. I should take this into account next time.
T: You're fast to recognize this.
B: The situation with the female Klingon warrior was a bit embarrassing...
T: ...because she recognized that you were occupied with "primitive Earth stuff", trying to insert the film into the camera.
B: Well, I handed it to you so you could take a photo of her crewmate, but the Klingon does not fit very well into the picture. Do you always cut off peoples' heads?
T: Well, that guy was some 2m tall, and I was standing just in front of him.
B: I see. Is it true you were scared, I mean only a little bit?
T: I only told him my camera was not a weapon. And he answered: "If this were a weapon, you would be dead now." Actually, this is the best possible answer for a Klingon.
B: A real Klingon indeed. I told him we were only scientists and that we had great respect for warriors. Maybe I should have omitted the "only".
The Merchandising Area
T: Then we walked to the merchandising area.
B: Do you agree that all the items were unusually expensive?
T: Well, look, it's called Ferengi Bazaar and look who's standing beneath the sign.
B: I was a bit disappointed, since there were relatively few "serious" items, mostly it was stuff like toys, bad-fitting uniforms *grin*, make-up kits, masks...
T: You should admit you wanted to buy a Data mask *grin*. Come on, no one's listening...
B: This is my website. I can censor it anytime.
T: Peace. I won't mention it again. However, I was looking for a comm badge, to be precise, a Federation comm badge.
B: There were comm badges: Klingon and Bajoran.
T: And the Federation version was not available, of course *sigh*.
B: I don't know what the Ferengi Bazaar looked like at the very beginning of the World Tour, but I have the impression they mainly want to sell off shelf warmers like the Playmates Phoenix toy and other less attractive items.
T: At least they had some fiction books at reasonable prices.
B: However, the non-fiction books such as the Encyclopedia were rather expensive. And the new DS9 Technical Manual was not available.
T: I thought you wouldn't buy this flaw collection?
B: Well, I must have it to comment on it. Maybe some facts are correct.
T: I guess the title is correctly spelled.
B: Isn't it spelled "spelt"?
T: I'm a literate, not a dictionary.
B: The squeaking Tribbles for DM 25,- were among the most attractive items.
T: You should have terrified the Klingons with the Tribbles.
B: Good idea, but too late. Now for the truly valuable items. I think you liked the NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-D models by Franklin Mint as much as I did.
T: I really did, I mean, I actually did like them. Are you really sure the bridge is not in scale with the rest of the ship *grin*...
T: ... and isn't it true the hull surface looks great, with all details reproduced...
T: ...and don't you think DM 650,- is a reasonable price for such a great work of die-cast?
T: But you'd prefer the life-size Locutus #039 of 500 for DM 15000,-.
B: You know, as a university employee, I have easily so much money left, and occasionally I was just looking for a coat stand.
T: You should admit you were disappointed because they didn't have AMT model kits.
B: This probably saved my life. I would not have endured the stress again building such a kit.
T: Ambassador *grin*!
T: At least we saw some studio models in the museum.
B: However, it seems all the items were exactly the same as in the Star Trek Exhibition in Köln two years ago.
T: Agreed. Nothing new here. At least we could take some photos this time.
B: Well, we all know the Constellation-class USS Valkyrie, although no one knows where this particular ship was featured.
T: Look, it's not hanging upside down this time.
B: This model is the ultimate proof the Constellation is more than 300m long. If you take into account that the saucer top and bottom as well as the nacelles are exactly the same type as of the Constitution...
T: ...except for the rear nacelle tips. I like this discussion, but we should not bother our readers with it. By the way, do you really think anyone reads this?
B: Do you think anyone reads these lengthy boring economy reports in the newspapers?
T: Let us continue with the museum tour. You didn't like the huge Enterprise-A model.
B: Well, I would like it if it were more detailed and if the colors of the bridge, the RCS etc. were correct.
T: There's nothing like the Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". Did you know they filmed on location? I mean, it's not really a model, but they built an actual full-scale starship?
T: The type 7 shuttlecraft and the travel pod are great as well. Why did they cover the name of the shuttle and what about the strange kinda letters beneath the window? They are the same on both sides.
B: No idea. Wait - maybe they veil the name because it is in some way inconsistent and it is not supposed to be a canon fact.
T: Can you read the number? If it's shuttlecraft 10, it would be the Hawking.
B: However, the strange letters do not say "Hawking".
T: Then there is the travel pod. Well-detailed. Only Scotty and Kirk are missing inside.
B: They used the same travel pod in three films, with the same number each time. I don't like this idea.
T: Let me guess: number 5. For once they maintain consistency, and you keep complaining.
B: The next picture shows the "Edo god" from TNG: "Justice" *ponders about the direction TNG would have taken if those people had actually killed Wesley*...
T: ...which is also the Lysian Central Command from TNG: "Conundrum". An inconsistency?
B: Well, the "god" had fluorescent illumination, while the latter looked like a "real" space station.
T: Where was the space station on the next image featured?
B: I think it's the particle source from TNG: "The Quality of Life", unfortunately I don't remember the label on the show-case. Maybe someone who knows better can correct me if I'm wrong.
T: And there is Morn! Looks like he is just about to speak.
B: He always looks like this. I didn't expect this image to be so great.
T: Besides, you can see the tables in the background that explain the history of Star Trek. I must admit I didn't pay much attention to them.
B: Nor did I. Actually, only series and episodes were explained, but Star Trek is much more than a bunch of episodes.
T: I agree. After all, the exhibition was planned for people who are not necessarily Trekkers. They could have visualized the history of Star Trek in a much better way. Maybe this would have been useful even for people who think they already know everything.
B: For instance, with a time chart along the long corridors. Or a starship chart.
T: All ships to scale?
B: To which scale?
T: Better look at the Borg alcove. It is made of plastic mould parts.
B: And a lamp-shade.
T: Actually, most of the props turn out rather primitive if you look closely. Not only the TOS props.
B: Well, there were some TOS props in the exhibition, 60's style.
T: But the difference to recent props is not so significant as one might think.
B: Agreed. The TOS tricorder didn't work, nor does the TNG version.
T: But it's blinking and beeping.
B: Well, if you as a technically challenged humanist think this should be the only function...
B: I'm sorry, this was my revenge for the Data mask. By the way, why does the TOS PADD have buttons on it? Wasn't it just a gray writing recognition board?
T: Think of adaptive user interfaces. Maybe they already existed in the 23rd century.
B: Like on the 24th century version.
T: However, this 24th century PADD is very simple. It's not even beeping and blinking, and has only some letters printed on it. Even the switch is made of paper.
B: No progress since the sixties...
T: Of course we tried to sit down in the captain's chair.
B: But a security guard watched it all the time.
T: But that guy did not even wear a Starfleet uniform.
B: Nevertheless he had to be taken seriously.
T: The chair looked so worn-out, it wouldn't have mattered if we had tried it out.
B: That's true.
T: The cinema wasn't very exciting. They only showed the usual trailers for TOS, the movies, TNG, DS9 and Voyager.
B: The same trailers as in the recent Star Trek Exhibition. Star Trek for very beginners. And, moreover, the trailers suggest Star Trek only consists of fist fights (TOS), phaser shooting (TNG) and space battles (DS9 and Voyager). However, after all they also showed TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds".
T: Probably the best possible choice.
B: I love BoBW, too. But we only heard it, since we were standing in the queue waiting for the shuttle flight in the flight simulator.
T: For more than 30 minutes.
B: You suggested it.
T: O.k., it was my fault.
B: You mean you didn't like the flight?
T: It was shaky, but the shuttle flight didn't have anything to do with Star Trek. Nevertheless, somehow the scenery was familiar.
B: Yeah, we destroyed the Death Star!
T: *whistles the Darth Vader theme*
B: Gladly, the Force was with us.
T: *continues whistling*
B: Actually, it was some trash video game resembling Star Wars.
T: Intentionally resembling Star Wars.
B: I think it wouldn't have been so difficult to develop a Star Trek flight. Nowadays, the hardware (flight simulator) is much more complex and expensive than the software.
T: By the way, how did the World Tour holodeck work? You couldn't help running around and trying to figure it out.
B: The construction is quite simple. The real Starfleet officer is standing behind an oblique semi-transparent projection plane. The projection is accomplished with a simple video projector hidden above the stage. It appears as if the real person and the projection were in the same plane. However, everything was only two-dimensional. No sign of hologram technology.
T: Unfortunately, I didn't succeed to take a clear photo of it. Anyway, the effect was nice.
B: Yet simple.
T: But efficient.
B: Yes, sufficient.
T: There was also an area with some internet terminals. Did you really want to sit down and surf a bit? You can do that every evening.
B: I just wanted to create bookmarks.
T: I see. You mean http://www.uni-siegen.de/~ihe/bs/startrek/.
Thorsten: Lifes what you make it. So is the World Tour. Of course there was room for improvement, for example in presenting the Star Trek timeline so that a non-experienced visitor could more easily see the consistency (without which no inconsistencies were possible) within Star Trek. As a Star Trek fan you can still concentrate on what youre interested in and ignore what you already know. Since chances to see real props are quite seldom in fact, one should not complain about an opportunity, even if its not that spectacular at the first view. And whats so bad about merchandising anyway? The secret behind enjoying this is the art of listening. I do not intend to excuse any bad exhibition by saying this (and the World Tour is not bad anyway). But try to imagine music you love. It will reach your heart no matter how bad the reproducing sound system actually is. No exhibition, so bad it may be, can ever even touch nor do any harm to the very idea of Star Trek.
Photographing the sets of the Enterprise-D was not permitted and thats a pity, because the reproduction is great. Thank god theres always something happening before some Starfleet officer trying to explain some specs gets the chance to tell too much things hurting the ears of my friend Bernd. So the only thing a little disappointing in my view was that there were no places were you could get in touch which those who like Star Trek the way we do. I was looking forward to the possibility of intercourse, but there was no chance.
Well, my trying to lower the price for that pic of the Ferengi were rather foolish, I know. I had better provided self-sealing stembolts instead. Yeah, and that huge Klingon really scared me. He looked as if he would love to practice a little Klingon martial arts with me as a punch ball.
No need to say that the uniforms were exactly fitting.
Bernd: The tour of the Enterprise-D was great, yet much too short. Unfortunately it was not possible to have a close look at the sets, and photographing wasn't permitted, either. This is a pity, since the set builders did a really great job, not a single familiar detail of TNG was missing. The rest of the World Tour was not much different from previous shows and exhibitions and it was a bit disappointing. I would have expected to see some props or starship models for the first time, in consideration of the expensive admission fee. The merchandising showed an obvious lack of authentic items, that is, items directly related to the TV show or the World Tour and not only with "Star Trek" printed on them. Most sadly, no souvenirs of the Enterprise-D sets in the form of photos or postcards were available.
I was also a bit frustrated about the way Star Trek was presented. I agree that the tour of the Enterprise-D should be taken as pure fun, and after all, I did enjoy it very much. However, the rest of the World Tour was neither fun nor information. Only the very basic facts were explained on screens or tables, if at all. Long corridors would have been available for the presentation of Star Trek history (on screen and behind the scenes), a starship chart, bios of the main characters, a tribute to Gene Roddenberry or other features. This would have facilitated orientation for non-experienced visitors, and for Trekkers it could have been a source of information or incentive for discussions. However, it did not become obvious that Star Trek is much more than just a compilation of battle sequences from various episodes and movies showing on screens all over the exhibition hall.
After all, the uniforms were perfectly fitting (according to Thorsten).