Variations of the Ferengi Shuttle
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
A detailed miniature of a Ferengi shuttlecraft was built for TNG: "The Price". At the first glance, it seems like this model remained exactly the same in all later appearances. However, there are some dissimilarities, not to mention the very different interior sets used in the various episodes. Here is a list of the shuttle appearances in chronological order:
1. TNG: "The Price"
2. TNG: "The Perfect Mate"
3. DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"
4. DS9: "Prophet Motive"
5. DS9: "Little Green Men"
6. VOY: "False Profits" (supposed to be the very same vessel as in TNG: "The Price")
7. DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi"
8. DS9: "Profit and Lace"
9. DS9: "The Emperor's New Cloak"
In addition, we could see just the hatch docked at Deep Space 9 and parts of the interior of a supposed Ferengi shuttle in DS9: "The Nagus".
TNG: The Price
The cockpit window of the shuttle model is transparent, and we can see two seated figures from outside, corresponding with the shuttle's two pilots. The full-scale interior consists just of two chairs (the Romulans and Ktarians are fond of these chairs too!) and a console with one control globe. The set is very crammed and there is a wall only about one meter behind the chairs. It is possible that a small storage compartment is located there, but we must shave off at least half a meter from the overall useful length, because the vessel's rear end is indented and moreover the aft engines are located in the rear wall. The overall height of the interior may be just sufficient for a small Ferengi to stand upright, but rather not for other adult humanoids. Anyway, the small cockpit set corresponds well with the outside view of the shuttle. Compared to the Federation Type-15 shuttlepod the Ferengi type looks somewhat larger, but not more than around 6m long.
Close to the aft end of the miniature there are four hemispherical structures on the port side, whereas there is just one on the starboard side. A protruding rectangle near the center of the side wall is a structure that can be found only on the starboard side. These slight differences between port and starboard are consistent in all appearances of the shuttle, at least as far as we could see both sides (they are not reproduced in the Fact Files). They will play a role in the following because occasionally we are shown a mirror image of the shuttle so this observation doesn't hold true.
The Ferengi shuttle in "The Price" has an impulse engine with two blue exhausts in the rear wall, plus a wide red engine-like light near the bottom of the rear wall. The latter seems to belong to a warped warp engine like it can be found on the Ferengi Marauder too.
TNG: The Perfect Mate
When showing the Ferengi shuttle, this episode uses exclusively stock footage of the miniature from TNG: "The Price". There is not much to say about it, except that damage was added to the starboard side to comply with the requirements of the screenplay. Since no interior was visible and we don't see how the engines look like anyway, we can easily assume that the shuttle is the same type as in "The Price".
DS9: Rules of Acquisition
The external shots in this episode enable a better look through the transparent cockpit windows into the Ferengi shuttle than previously in TNG: "The Price". There are no obvious differences in the outer look between these two episodes. The interior, on the other hand, was significantly altered for this second appearance. The set is overall more detailed now, there is a clearly visible hatch at the aft end, there are new seats and now two of the typical Ferengi control globes instead of one. Although the cockpit looks entirely different, it still seems to be of about the same size as in "The Price". We only wonder if the quite solid hatch, which is not as close to the seats here, leads out directly into space or rather to a now smaller compartment that we presumed existed in the TNG episode.
Only as a side note, there is one take of the shuttle in orbit with the two dummies inside, but at the time in question Quark and Pel are still down on the Dosi homeworld. The figures are perhaps not easy to remove or no one bothered to do that, and we can assume that they are still wearing the clothes from "The Price".
DS9: Prophet Motive
"Prophet Motive" shows the spacious cockpit for the first time as it will reappear in most of the following episodes with the Ferengi shuttle. It is noticeable that the rear portion of the interior with the hatch is the same as in "Rules of Acquisition", but the rest is newly arranged. With something like a corridor at the aft end instead of just a meter space behind the pilots' seats the interior must have grown in longitudinal as well as transversal direction. Mai'hardu can be seen entering from the port side, so the actual entrance hatch is not the one visible straight ahead. The interior also seems to be higher, considering that Mai'hardu is at least 2m tall, as opposed to the small Ferengi, and can still almost stand upright. There are schematic diagrams of the shuttle visible on a display inside, but these don't really give away its interior arrangement.
The round hatch at the aft end of the shuttle interior cannot be the one used to enter the shuttle, so we are free to assume that it leads to a cargo hold or an engine room. It looks exactly like the exterior of the actual access hatch as it can be seen through the docking corridor on Deep Space 9 (if it were one and the same hatch, its structure should be flipped horizontally when seen from the other side). The latter take was obviously shot after just ripping off the hatch from the rear of the shuttle set and putting it into the existing airlock set. We can presuppose that the hatch used on the sets is not functional.
The outer surface of the shuttle in this episode is essentially the same as in the previous appearances. There is one important difference, however: The transparent windows are gone, and are now opaque in matt black. This may be a means to conceal the shuttle's supposed larger size. In addition, the illumination of the engines was revised. The impulse exhausts are now orange, and what we think may be the warp engine (the wide light) is yellow. This may be an intentional modification, just a negligence or a change of mind based on the supposition that the engine colors should be the same as on the larger Ferengi Marauder.
Finally, there is one shot of the shuttle within the wormhole where the model is mirrored. The four small bumps of the port side appear on starboard here. This may have allowed to use stock footage of the wormhole after filming the shuttle from the left side.
DS9: Little Green Men
The spacious cockpit set of "Quark's Treasure" is the same as in "Prophet Motive". In addition, we can see a viewscreen inside the cockpit that doesn't really match with the window as it is visible from outside. A storage compartment was explicitly mentioned in the episode, and we can safely assume that on a trip of several days or even weeks from Deep Space 9 to Earth the crew wouldn't spend all the time together in the cockpit (although this seemed to be convenient enough on various other occasions where shuttles without crew quarters and even without a restroom were used).
The shuttle's cockpit windows are blinded like already in "Prophet Motive". But there is one significant modification to the miniature: A small pod was added to the top, where there previously used to be just a rectangular recessed structure. This pod, however, is missing on the photo of the shuttle in the hangar that the Air Force general holds in his hands. Moreover, the photo is flipped, once again showing the four bumps on the starboard side although these should be on port. As the hangar number and the flag are correct, we can't blame the guy who developed the photo for the flipping. However, we may posit that the US Air Force personnel who attempted to examine the shuttle may have managed to remove the pod, and if only temporarily for the photo. Alternatively, the pod may be a retractable sensor array, which could conveniently explain why few large shuttles have the pod and most of them not and why it can even vanish from one and the same shuttle.
Finally, we can see that the engine glow was returned to the original blue/red configuration as in "The Price". Perhaps someone in the VFX department did his homework, even though the look of "Quark's Treasure" is now inconsistent with the equally sized shuttle from "Prophet Motive".
VOY: False Profits
The shuttle in "False Profits" is clearly intended to be the very same that vanished through the Barzan Wormhole in TNG: "The Price", a couple of years prior to the Voyager episode. For that reason, the pod of "Quark's Treasure" was removed (actually it will never be added again), and the window is clear here. But there are significant differences that can't be simply explained away in that the two Ferengi may have made modifications. The option that they could have simply purchased or built a new shuttle doesn't exist anyway because the episode made it a crucial point that the two Ferengi were stranded on a pretty primitive planet all of the time.
The most noteworthy change was made to the interior. The new set is anything but crammed, it is at least as big as in the DS9 episodes and even sports an arc as a separation between the cockpit and the corridor on the aft that looks a bit like an engineering section here (in an atypical green - did they meet the Borg?). The arc may have been taken from Ishka's apartment on Ferenginar. The question arises why the existing shuttle set of DS9 wasn't used in "False Profits". Maybe the DS9 set could have even been slightly modified moving the rear hatch closer to the chairs, trying to reproduce the cockpit from "The Price". But this opportunity was wasted.
Moreover, the engines are red and yellow much like already in DS9: "Little Green Men", but quite unlike they used to be in "The Price".
DS9: The Magnificent Ferengi
This episode features the same large cockpit set as previously in "Prophet Motive" and "Little Green Men". Like it was possible in "Little Green Men" too, we can see the shuttle's viewscreen. It looks like a transparent window because it obviously shows the interior of the shuttlebay while the shuttle is still inside. On the other hand, even this may be a projection because the windows are blind on this version of the miniature (again consistent with the roomy interior).
Once again we can see characters vanish in or emerge from the corridor at the aft end where there must be additional rooms and the actual entry hatch of the shuttle.
An interesting size comparison is feasible because there is a shot of the Ferengi shuttle inside one of the shuttlebays on Deep Space 9. The Ferengi vessel including the fork on the front end occupies about 47% of the overall length of the shuttlebay lift, whilst a 23m long Federation runabout of the Danube class takes up roughly 60%. This gives us 18m for the Ferengi shuttle, three times as long as the small version we know from the "The Price".
The engines are blue and red, respectively, just like in "Little Green Men". Finally, we are presented a decent starboard view in "The Magnificent Ferengi" that unmistakably shows that the four small bumps are not on the actual starboard side. We took this very image to correct the starboard side view as it can be found all over this page and in the Starship Database. Looking at this starboard take and the straight port view from "The Price" we can't help the impression that the shuttle was stretched longitudinally in "The Magnificent Ferengi", either intentionally to corroborate that it is indeed a bigger vessel or accidentally while composing the visual effects.
DS9: Profit and Lace
Some stock footage of the parked shuttle from "The Magnificent Ferengi" is taken for this episode. But when the docking area on DS9 comes into view, the hatch opening looks totally different than in the already familiar Ferengi shuttle set. Even the color, a rather Cardassian-like beige, is different here. There is no plausible explanation, neither for the Art Department not using the existing Ferengi hatch set, nor for the different look of this particular Ferengi shuttle.
DS9: The Emperor's New Cloak
We move on to the last showing of the shuttle. What we are supposed to see in the episode is the Mirror Universe version of the Ferengi shuttle. Unsurprisingly its interior is much the same as in our universe since "Prophet Motive". Once more we can witness how people are walking through the corridor at the aft end, this time also from starboard when Brunt gets something to eat from there during the journey. So the size is obviously supposed to be the same as in our universe.
The takes of the shuttle in space include some stock footage from "Little Green Men", thus showing the large version with a black cockpit window. This explains why the pod which was always missing after the latter episode is in place again. We can also see that the four bumps are not on the port side where they ought to be. The simple reason is that the take was flipped. On a take newly produced for the episode we cannot make out a pod. There are two blue engines and a red one at the aft end. This complies with most appearances in our universe, although it really doesn't play much of a role.
DS9: The Nagus
No shuttle exterior was visible in this episode which was the first to feature the Great Nagus Zek. Therefore we can't say for sure which type of shuttle Zek was using before he obviously switched to the familiar large Ferengi shuttle. Maybe it was the large Ferengi shuttle already back then. We can see a narrow corridor that may be located where we have seen people emerge from frequently. Still, the door to open space (or to the docking port on Deep Space 9) has window insets and doesn't look anything like the small round hatch on other, later versions of the shuttle. Neither of the two is visible on the shuttle miniature anyway, just as it is a mystery how most ships can be boarded not using the transporter, most prominently the Defiant.
Ferengi shuttles appeared at different sizes and with a variety of interior arrangements. However, we can minimize the number of different types or sizes if we take into account the following:
- The shuttle from "The Price" definitely didn't grow until "False Profits". The larger cockpit must be an error to be ignored. The same may apply to the changed engine color of this shuttle.
- There is no need to assume that there are different types just because stock footage or mirrored takes were used. This is especially true in the case of the photo in "Little Green Men". The pod may be missing sometimes on the larger shuttles because it's modular or retractable.
- The blind windows as seen from outside consistently goes along with the spacious interior, so this combination should always be the same variant.
Correlating the known interior sets and the known exterior appearances we are left with two shuttle types of different sizes (and slight sub-variants, indicated by the different interiors of the same size and by the engine colors). The larger shuttle is 18m long, the smaller one 6m.
Here is a table with our findings at a glance:
|Supposed ship type||Episode||Interior||Windows||Pod||Engines||Mirrored|
|TNG: "The Price"||Very small||Transparent||-||Blue & red||-|
|VOY: "False Profits"||Very large||Transparent||-||Red & yellow||-|
|TNG: "The Perfect Mate"||-||Transparent||-||-||-|
|Entirely stock footage from TNG: "The Price"|
|DS9: "Rules of Acquisition"||Small||Transparent||-||-||-|
|DS9: "Prophet Motive"||Large||Black||-||Orange & yellow||Yes, partially|
|DS9: "Little Green Men"||Like in "Prophet Motive"||Black||Yes, mostly||Blue & red||Yes, partially|
|DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi"||Like in "Prophet Motive"||Black||-||Blue & red||-|
|DS9: "Profit and Lace"||-||Black||-||-||-|
|Some stock footage from DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi"|
|DS9: "The Emperor's New Cloak"||Like in "Prophet Motive"||Black||Partially, due to stock footage||Blue & red||Yes, partially|
|Some stock footage from DS9: "Little Green Men"|