Starship Modeler (masthead)

Other Sci-Fi Vehicle Reference


Science fiction films have been around almost as long as movies themselves. From the Cavorite Sphere, to the rocketships and saucers of the fifties' and on to the exploration vessels and warships of today, vehicles of all types have been important parts of sci-fi on screen. Quite often, they've been been more the stars of the show than the actors....

From time to time, we obtain permission to display images that don't fit in our other reference sections. This page, therefore, is dedicated to displaying images of interest to sci-fi modelers that aren't found elsewhere - either on our site, or others.

The sections below are divided up by film/show. All renders are courtesy of "Friends of the Alliance"; other photographs are courtesy of individuals, as noted. These images may not be reproduced or redistributed/reposted by any means ... so don't even ask.

Thanks to Chris St. John, Dustin Draggist, Mark Disckson, and Olivier Cabourdin for helping get this section started.
{Starfury's ancestor]

IMAGE:© 1983 Universal/Lorimar


[Flying Turnip?]

Image: Sony Entertainment © 1997

Image 1: Port side, bow.

Image 2: Port side, middle.

Image 3: Port side, stern

Image 4: Starboard side, bow.

Image 5: Starboard side, middle.

Image 6: Starboard side, stern.

5th Element. 1997's big-budget epic told a tale of Good-vs-Evil in the not too distant future. Even though it boasted state-of-the-art effects, cool hardware and a couple of big name actors, it was not a favorite of critics or movie goers.

The Fhlosten Paradise studio model, shown here, was seen at the "Salon de la maquette" (model show) in Paris, in April 98. It is a 2+ meter long model painted in metallized royal blue with shade of dark blue for the panelling effect. Only the left side is completely detailed, including the name of the liner ( written back to front, which unfortunately cannot be seen in these photos). The right side, less detailed, displays three circular holes. Two are for the support structure while filming and one for the electric wires bringing power to all the interior lights.

Photos courtesy of Olivier Cabourdin.


[VFX by Rythm & Hues]

Image: Columbia Tristar © 200

Image 1: Starboard side

Image 2: Cockpit area, port side

Image 3: Looking down the port side

Image 4: Mid-section, port side

Image 5: Main gear (port)

Image 6: Tail

Image 7: Engine pod (port)

Image 8: Exhaust grille on the tail

Image 9: Rear view, sstarboard side

Image 10: Engine exhaust (starboard side)

6th Element. This was another big budget Ah-nold project that boasted state-of-the-art effects and a couple of big name actors, but was not a favorite of critics or movie goers. It did have cool hardware, though, including the 7,000 pound Whispercraft™, a blend of high-tech materials covered with a poly-composted fiberglass finish and fitted with a computerized dashboard and working rotoblades. Designed by Ron Cobb, ("Alien," "Babylon 5") the Whispercraft was modeled after a military prototype being worked on today. It was designed to function as both a rotor-driven craft and a canard fixed-wing craft (although the mock-up could spin its rotors it couldn't actually fly).

Photos were taken at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying and are courtesy of Ken Robbins.

Image 11: Closer look at that engine exhaust

Image 12: Cabin door, starboard

Image 13: Cockpit "dashboard"

Image 14: Front view

Image 15: Nose gear

Image 16: Cockpit framing

Image 17: Engine intake (port) and underside of rotor hub

Image 18: Under the port side engine pod

Image 19: Cabin door, port side

Image 20: Access panel


[Enroute to LV-426]

Image 1: Top/front of Sulaco, forward of upper railgun.

Image 2: Dorsal railgun - built from turret of a M60A2 model.

Image 3: Side view of dorsal railgun.

Image 4: Ventral railgun and hangar (partially open).

Image 5: Center of the ship.

Image 6: Bow area.

Image 7: Perspective view of "prongs".

Image 8: Prongs, from behind.

Image 9: From the right rear.

Image 10: Close-up of the bow.

Image 11: Top of bow.

Image 12: Hangar (?) under bow.

Image 13: Another hangar door, this on the side.

Image 14: Ventral railgun.

Image 15: Bottom/front.

Image 16: Another hangar door underneath.

Image 17: Close-up of ventral railgun.

Image 18: Area just forward of railgun.

Image 19: Surface detailing, center of ship.

Image 20: Spine under the top gun, center of ship.

Image 21: Underneath, back by the spine that just out just in front of drive section.

Image 22: Surface detailing, towards rear of ship.

Image 23: Another cannon emplacement.

Image 24: Dorsal "fin" at rear of ship.

Alien(s) Series Inspired by IT! THE TERROR FROM SPACE (one of the best sci-fi horror flicks of the fifties), ALIEN became a genre classic in the years since its 1979 release. The series also . The movie not only made Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver famous (and gave James Cameron his start), it set entirely new parameters for sci-fi films, and began a series of films that formed a tight trilogy covering a span of over two decades. Unlike ANY sci-fi film before it, "ALIEN" was dark, gloomy, claustrophobic and most importantly, dirty and unglamourous. The hardware and vehicles have a realism derived from functional, ugly designs

The USS Sulaco is a multi-role space vessel that carries Ripley and comrades back to the doomed LV-426 colony in Aliens, the second movie. Syd Mead, Ron Cobb, and James Cameron were the major contributors to the vehicle designs in the film. The Sulaco was patterned after a modern-day submarine for its basic shape, and lent that shape to the pulse rifle. The filming miniature now belongs to Bob Burns (photos are from the collection of Mark Dickson).

Image 25: Section near circular structure, rear of ship.

Image 26: Same section, from underneath.

Image 27: Center/rear of ship, upper surface.

Image 28: Circular structure, underneath, starboard side.

Image 29: Same area, closer look.

Image 30: Same area, from above/right.

Image 31: Closer look at the detailing.

Image 32: Same area, looking at small fin on top of circular structure.

Image 33: Details in the crevices around that circular structure.

Image 34: More details, looking aft.

Image 35: Just forward of the circular structure, topside.

Image 36: Overall view of that area.

Image 37: Upper fin, from above.

Image 38: Detailing between the "petals" covering drive section.

Image 39: More detailing, top side.

Image 40: Panelling, drive section.

Image 41: More detailing, center of drive section.

Image 42: Engine exhausts.

Image 43: Closer look. Note ladder.

Image 44: Exhausts, from the side.

Image 45: Side view of entire ship.


[Just add banana .....]

Image: MCA Universal/Amblin
Entertainment © 1989

Image 1: The real vehicle, from the first movie.

Image 2: The model used in filming the second movie.

Image 3: Another (rear) view of the model.

Image 4: Lighting test using the model.

Back To The Future This immensely successful trilogy started in 1985 and went on to become one of the top grossing in history. At it's heart was the tale of an average teen and his mad scientist mentor trying to make the world right. Besides Marty and Doc, the other major character was the DeLorean that 'Doc' Brown converted into a time machine.

Photos from the collection of Mark Dickson.


[Geez, looks familiar, huh]

Image 1: Galactica's name. (95 kb)

Image 2: The studio model was also dressed as the Pegasus. (35 kb)

Image 3: Side view of the sponson. (33 kb)

Image 4: Topside, looking forward. (71 kb)

Image 5: Deatiling on the top of the engines. (60 kb)

Image 6: Topside, looking aft. (55 kb)

Image 7: Directly overhead. (50 kb)

Image 8: Oblique view, showing some of the side details. (64 kb)

Image 9: Underside of the forward section. (47 kb)

Image 10: Oh, that's gotta hurt ... (677 kb)

Image 10: The studio model was huge!. (50 kb)

BattleStar Galactica Glen A. Larson's 1978 epic science fiction adventure tried to capitalize on the sci-fi craze started by Star Wars the year before. It failed, alas, but not before two years on ABC every Saturday night. In the story, Kobol was the mother planet which sent out space proves and found 13 planets capable of supporting life. It colonized 12 of those planets, but when these civilizations are destroyed by the Cylons in a thousand-year war, the survivors set out in any spacecraft that will fly in a vast migration for the 13th planet: Earth. The remnants of humnanity are harassed every step of the way by the Cylons, a computer/robot civilization whose only mission is to exterminate life.

Photos from the collection of Mark Dickson.


Image: Viacom © 2001

Image 1: Right/front.

Image 2: Left/front.

Image 3: Another look at the port side

SS Conestoga These are images of the ship that crashed in the Season 1 episode "Terra Nova" of Enterprise. The ship was only seen as an image on one of the bridge screens.


[Take THAT, Mr Clinton!]

Image 1: Alien mothership, showing details of the underside. (72 kb)

Image 2: A view of the "petals" on the underside. (75 kb)

Image 3: Underside details. (68 kb)

Image 4: More of the underside, closer to the rim. (52 kb)

Image 5: Closeup of the pattern of underside surface. (55 kb)

Image 6: Alien mothership, top view. (31 kb)

Image 7: Close up of the topside "divot". (30 kb)

Image 8: Side view of that divot. (46 kb)

Image 9: Side view of the mothership. (26 kb)

Image 10: Topside view of the attacker/fighter. (33 kb)

Image 11: Underside, attacker's engine area. (45 kb)

Image 12: Engine vanes. (44 kb)

Image 13: Underneath, rear of the model. (53 kb)

Image 14: Engine vanes, underside. Note trademark. (52 kb)

Image 15: Another detail Lindberg missed. (27 kb)

Image 16:Top side of engine vanes (port side). (51 kb)

Image 17: Looking straight down the engine exhausts. (53 kb)

Image 18: Detailing in the chanel under the dorsal fin. (35 kb)

Image 19: Dorsal fin (starboard side). (33 kb)

Image 20: Side view of the cockpit area. (39 kb)

Independence Day The fate of the world depends on . . . Will Smith!? In the proud tradition of sci-fi 'B' movies - bigger, louder, but just as dumb - came this 1997 summer thriller. Enigmatic aliens arrive over Earth, and a after a short pause, lay waste and wreak havoc. Thankfully, the good ol' USA saves the day. In a triumph of special effects, the former-fighter pilot US President leads an aerial armada to kick alien butt, while a goofy scientist cripples the enemy with a computer virus. Ah, well - at least the special effects were good.

The mother ships were as large as cities and possessed enough destructive power to destroy a whole city. The fighters are fast and highly maneuverable. The alien weaponry is quite powerful, more than a match for Earth's forces. They are also protected by shields, making them hard to destroy - though they can be destroyed if they run into things, much to Will Smith's delight.

Photos from the collection of Mark Dickson.

Image 21: Closer look at topside detail. (56 kb)

Image 22: Looking straight down the dorsal fin. (26 kb)

Image 23: Detailing further forward. (40 kb)

Image 24: Under the "dome" on the fin. (38 kb)

Image 25: Inboard side view of the attacker's cannon. (32 kb)

Image 26: Outboard side view of the weapon. (34 kb)

Image 27: Business end of the cannon. (28 kb)

Image 28: Cockpit area. (35 kb)

Image 29: Rear part of the dorsal fin. (40 kb)

Image 30: Top side fuselage detailing (port side) (40 kb)

Image 31: Top side fuselage detailing (starboard side). (40 kb)

Image 32: "Sunburst" on the starboard side. (43 kb)


[Bad boy with his bad toy]

All images copyright © Orion Pictures Corp

Image 1: Larger view of thumbnail above. (46 kb)

Image 2: Looking up at that massive chest. (52 kb)

Image 3: Another front view. (59 kb)

Image 4: Close-up of the right "hand". (52 kb)

Image 5: Top view. (98 kb)

Image 6: Looking imposing. (60 kb)

Robocop's ED-209 was the failed attempt by the OCP company to manufacture a law enforcement robot that would be more reliable, and cheaper, than the cyborgs such as Robocop. Unfortunately, the prototype's software had a few bugs ... like killing folks who didn't need it.

Screen grabs are courtesy of Marco Scheloske


[Valley Forge & Friends]

Image: Michael Gruskoff Productions/ Universal Pictures © 1971

Image 1: Early concept drawing.

Image 2: The model took six months to build.

Image 3: Construction.

Image 4: 800 Japanese model kits were used to add greeblies.

Image 5: Construction: underneath a dome.

Image 6: Another view, this time in color.

Image 7: Between the domes.

Image 8: Dome exterior.

Image 9:Exterior of 8' dome set.

Image 10: Inside the 8 foot dome.

Image 11: Looking forward.

Image 12: Finished filming model on it's supports.

Image 13: Close-up, desert dome.

Image 14: Midships, port side.

Image 15: Same area, from above.

Image 16: Two of the Valley Forge's companions.

Image 17: Command tower

Image 18: More midships details.

Image 19: Three ships.

Image 20: Another part of the midships area.

Valley Forge The spacecraft model of the Valley Forge was 26 feet long, and was built under the supervision of John Baumbach. Douglas Trumbull had a definite idea of how the ship should look. "The long superstructure of it was designed after a structure called the Expo Tower at the 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, Japan." Photographs of the tower were turned over to John Dykstra, and along with several others, worked to transform the concept into a space freighter. It was pieced together in three sections on a rolling platform. Two and a half inch steel pipe was bolted together to make the basic armature, and the wing-like midsection was made of wood and steel and covered in plastic. For the remaining structures, metal, wood, and plastic prototypes were constructed , out of which rubber molds were made, cast in epoxy resin, and finally painted. The detailing was taken largely from eight hundred Japanese model kits with the appropriate pieces cut, sanded and glued to the ship.

Probably the most tedious job involved in the model's construction was the creation of the six 25-inch forrest domes. Blown plexiglass domes were made and a matrix of holesdrilled in them. Then little standoff insulators for integrated circuits that had holes in the middle were inserted. Copper wire was weaved from one to the next - like sewing - to produce all the grids that make up the geodesic structure.The job required literally months of sitting in front of a drill press and then threading the wire through the matrices of holes.

After production of the film was complete, the crew decided to disassemble it and save the pieces. The model had taken six months to build, and was disassembled in the space of an hour and a half. A sad end to one of the most unique and intricately built spacecraft to ever have graced the movie screens.

Adapted from an article that appeared in issue #8 of Cinefex - April 1982, written by Pamela Duncan

Scans and captures courtesy of Michael J Dentzer, John Ulshafer and Dennis Heinzeroth.


Image: © MGM

Image 01: This is the one and only (physical model) Death Glider built for the show... It was cloned to make the glider bay look full. The cat walks were also miniatures. As you can see, the mechanism for raising the cockpit into the glider is very high tech (hand pulled brass rods. LOL!). One of the compositors at GVFX shot himself (at the kitchen table no less) with a digital camera doing the "Woo Hoo!" motion, that the producers loved and put in to the show. The 'tech trenches' were a dark (anodized bronze) colour with dry brushed Testors M.M. jet exhaust and a bit of gold/brass highlights (doesn't show up too well in the picture).

Image 02: Here's a picture of the damaged Death Glider in studio.

Image 03: This is a close up section of the mother ship being shot with the motion control rig. Basically, most of the mother ship was CGI, except for the areas where the camera needed to get very close. It also served as a 'bridge' from live action to the CGI wide shots.

Image 04: This is one of the pyramids done for the show. Sometimes they were done as digital matte paintings and sometimes they were done as miniatures. As you can see, I shot the pyramid in a parking lot with a green screen background (kinda hard to beat natural light). Later on, the digital matte painters would use the miniature photos as texture maps.

Image 05: This is a pyro model of the mother ship. It was basically a steel frame with white foamcore to simulate the surface of the digital model. The reason white foamcore was used (while shooting at night) is to catch the reflections of the fireball that would be layered in over the digital model. No green screen was needed, since a 'luminance key' can be extracted when shooting against black (night sky).

Following the success of the 1994 film "Stargate," Stargate SG-1 debuted in 1997. Remarkably successfull for a sci-fi show, it has run ten seasons and spun off at least one other series (Stargate Atlantis in 2004; a third series is in development as of this writing). The premise is that the U.S. government created Stargate Command to explore the galaxy and acquire advanced technologies to defend Earth, using an ancient alien artifact called the Stargate. This device connects to other, similiar "gates" via instaneous "subspace wormholes". From relatively simple beginnings, the show has grown to encompass dozens of alien races, huge space armadas ... and all the drama and excitement you could ask from a good space opera.

Images courtesy of "Dave", who adds "I don't have any pictures handy, but we did a lot of different angles of the 'gate opening'. This was done by simply blowing air into water (exactly what it looks like!), using a massive glass tank as a containment vessel, so that we could cover a number of angles for future use."


[Future City]

Image copyright © 2001Dreamworks SKG

Image 1: Blue print: hand brake. (69 kb)

Image 2: Blueprint: controls. (67 kb)

Image 3: Blueprint: inner part of wheel. (75 kb)

Image 4: Blueprint: more wheel details. (72 kb)

Image 5: Blueprint: even more of the wheel. (65 kb)

Image 6: CGI: Front view. (72 kb)

Image 7: CGI: Left side view. (62 kb)

Image 8: CGI: Rear view. (77 kb)

Image 9: CGI: Right side view. (60 kb)

Image 10: CGI: Top view. (85 kb)

Image 11: Prop: Operator's chair. (119 kb)

Image 12: Control panel. (102 kb)

H.G. Wells' classic story is the great grandfather of every time travel story since. The Time Machine tells the story of scientist and inventor Alexander Hartdegen, a man determined to prove time travel is possible. His determination is turned to desperation by a personal tragedy that drives him to attempt to change the past. Testing his theories with a device of his own invention, Hartdegen is flung 800,000 years into the future where he discovers that mankind has devolved into hunter .... and hunted.

The Dreamworks SKG/Warner Brothers film for which this prop was made debuts on March 8, 2002 and stars Guy Pearce, Samantha Mumba and Jeremy Irons. These images were taken at the 2001 San Diego ComiCon. Many thanks to T.M. Lindsey for making them available. More images are available at the official movie website.

Image 13: Close-up of the end of the control panel. (89 kb)

Image 14: Rear view of the machine. (105 kb)

Image 15: Fuse panel. (98 kb)

Image 16: Boarding ladder. (105 kb)

Image 17: Battery, left side. (131 kb)

Image 18: 3/4 view of the model. (146 kb)

Image 19: Inner face of the wheel. (109 kb)

The following images, also from the 2001 ComiCon, are courtesy of Charles K. Ballard and were taken with a Canon PowerShot G1 with a 1 gig IBM Microdrive.

Image 20: Filming miniature, rear

Image 21: Filmining miniature, left side

Image 22: Filming miniature, battery detail

Image 23: What are these, towel racks?

Image 24: Miniature, controls (right side)

Image 25: Controls, this time seen from the front

Image 26: Full-sized prop, left side

Image 27: Full-sized prop, left/front

Image 28: Another look

Image 29: Front view

Image 30: Right/front

Image 31: Right side

Image 32: Close-up of the "throne"

Image 33: Controls on the 1:1 prop

Image 34: "Foot" on the fiull-size prop


[Panzer Battles on The Cybernetic Plain]

Image: Disney © 1982

Image 1: The Light Cycle

Image 2: Side view of the light cycle.

Image 3: Front view.

Image 4: Rear view.

Image 5: Top view.

Image 6: Underside view.

TRON. Disney's legendary movie set the scene for a generation of high-tech sci-fi films and inspired some of the best films of the genre. It was the first to venture into the world of computer-generated imagery, dazzling the eyes of audiences and inspiring a cult following. The story concerned a video game designer trying to prove a big time executive stole his idea who was sucked into a corporation's mainframe. In this "universe", programs are personified counterparts of their writers and 'users' are subjects of religious faith.


[Angles and Dangles]

© 1961 Irwin Allen/20th Century Fox

Image 1: Same view as above, but larger

Image 2: Surfaced. Note periscope arrangements

Image 3: Surfaced, from rear, with sky afire

Image 4: Conning tower set - notice the light grey interior

Image 5: Conning tower set - more periscopes/antennas than on model and arranged differently

Image 6: Diving, from front

Image 7: Docked. Note door on the sail.

Image 8: Bow, starboard side

Image 9: Closer look

Image 10: Bow, in the minefield

Image 11: Closer look. Note the interior framing

Image 12: More details

Image 13: Midsection details, with Mini-sub emerging from it's hatch

Image 14: Sail set - nice attention to detail: notice the glass fairing and lens for the sail camera used earlier

Image 15: Underwater, rear perspective

Image 16: Near miss!

Image 17: Take her deep ....

Image 18: Stern, showing fins, lights and lots of cavitation

Image 19: Missile deck set, with diver

Image 20: Missile deck, launch prep

Image 21: Another look

Image 22: Starboard side, surfaced

Image 23: Model in Adm. Nelson's quarters

Image 24: Another look

Image 25: Minisub in it's cradle

Image 26: Launching

Image 27: Minisub by the bow (image lightened for clarity)

Image 28: Another view

Image 29: As seen from inside

Image 30: Closer

Image 31: Minisub cutting the mine cables

Image 32: Another view

Image 33: Banking away

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a classic B-movie that spawned a fairly successful TV series. Irwin Allen's 1961 disaster film had it all: a thin plot, cardboard characters, science so implausible as to be ridiculous, and production values that seem cheaper than they actually were. Yet, somehow, Voyage manages to be an entertaining film, with more action over the course of 2 hours than many shows pack into a full season!

There were several filming models plus full size sets, none of which agreed perfectly with each other in details. It's not clear what the actual colors of the models themselves were, other than the topside is darker than the underside. Ford automotive grey and even olive drab have been advanced as possible colors for the filming models; the model in Admiral Nelson's cabin appears to be an intermediate blue over a light grey .... and of course, the full size sets of the missile deck and sail appear to be a medium grey.

Thanks to Gordon (IdMonster) for the screen caps.

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Last updated 20 December 2006. This page copyright 1998-2006, Starship Modeler.