Before the Star Trek franchise was given a second chance at life with 1978’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture,’ there were plans for a different Star Wars film to hit theaters, called ‘Star Trek: Planet of the Titans.’ The film was in production progress during the early to mid-1970s, and reportedly would have been in direct theatrical-release competition with ‘Star Wars.’ So, plans were scrapped, as Paramount executives became nervous that audiences wouldn’t come out for two major sci-fi films; the huge success of ‘Star Wars,’ however, changed their minds, and plans for the first Star Trek film that we all know were officially underway.
Changes had to be made from ‘Planet of the Titans,’ as the visual aesthetics needed to be significantly different from ‘Star Wars,’ now that audiences had already been exposed to that film. Further complicating matters was the fact that Ralph McQuarrie, a visual designer responsible for many of the now-iconic ships and characters in ‘Star Wars,’ had also designed the remodeled USS Enterprise for ‘Planet of the Titans’ and the starship too closely resembled a Star Destroyer for Paramount to feel comfortable using it.
The model and designs still existed, though, and in the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ classic two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” the McQuarrie starship finally saw life on the screen as a Federation ship in the armada that battled the Borg at Wolf 359. McQuarrie’s starship design also heavily influenced the main ship on the newest iteration of the Trek TV series ‘Star Trek; Discovery.’ Now, the model is up for auction, with a starting bid of $40,000.
Further information from the auction’s website:
“Ralph McQuarrie and Ken Adam designed model for Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, with McQuarrie’s influence evident in the model’s triangular design, while still retaining the original Starship Enterprise aesthetic by Matt Jefferies. Made in 1976 for the unproduced ”Star Trek: Planet of the Titans”, this model was subsequently screen-used in ”Star Trek: The Next Generation” as part of the armada destroyed in the epic ”Battle of Wolf 359” between the United Federation of Planets and the Borg Collective.
At the time of this model, McQuarrie was completing work on ”Star Wars”, whose influence has been noted here, specifically, its similarity to the Star Destroyers of ”Star Wars”. The design of this model is also the inspiration for the redesigned USS Discovery starship in 2017’s ”Star Trek: Discovery”. Ship measures 15” x 8” wide, made of wood and plastic and with tape and ink accents. Professional repair where nacelle pylons meet the secondary hull, overall in very good condition, stunning for display. Accompanied by the book ”The Art of Star Trek”, where the model is photographed and featured on page 56.”
In addition to ‘Star Wars,’ McQuarrie is well known for his visual design work on other genre properties such as ‘Battlestar Galactic,’ ‘E.T.,’ and ‘Cocoon.’ He began his career as a designer/illustrator for dental products before being hired to do design work for Boeing. CBS hired him for logo design work, and his transition into media and pop culture took off from there.