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Jim Small: The Third Wheel

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Friday, June 5, 2009

I wouldn’t call him that but it’s hard to explain the roll Jim Small plays in our productions. We started out asking him to work up our initial show buildups for Wonderfest last year. Now, there isn’t a project that goes by that we don’t usually ask him an opinion or receive one that is unsolicited. He’s a professional model builder, which seems like a great job to have. I’m not so sure I would be able to part with my work as easily as he does. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and gives us great feedback as to the quality of our and others’ kits. He knows his craft inside and out. He has done 95% of our buildups and he has the job of building everything else we will need as long as he doesn’t break his hands (knock on wood). He does all of our product photography as well and it is world class. On top of all that, he has developed our decal wraps for the 1/350 Enterprise A and Vulcan Shuttle. He works out all of the artwork and sectioning out of parts.

I bring all of this to your attention because as good a job as he does for us, we failed him recently. We had promised that we would make a small tabletop stand up pointing out his contribution as our buildup expert. In our haste to prepare for the show, it fell through the cracks. Meanwhile, he busted his butt getting our buildups done right on time. So, I hope this little bit of recognition is a consolation along with a promise to follow through for him next year.

He does great work and is invaluable to us. If you are interested at all in having a kit professionally built of any sci-fi subject, please look him up.

6 Responses to “Jim Small: The Third Wheel”

  1. crowe-t says:

    I can’t agree more that Jim is a great guy! He has a vast knowledge of model building and many other interesting things. Talking to Jim really makes me glad I’m in this hobby. I always look forward to seeing his work and hearing his ideas.

  2. phicks says:

    Photos of the new Enterprise-A decals have been posted over at Starshipmodeler and they look amazing! If R2 offered those decals by themselves, I’m sure they could sell thousands of them to those of us who have a Polar Lights 1701-A still awaiting finishing.

    The buildup of the Vulcan Shuttle looks amazing, and I can’t wait to get one.

    Question: Has anyone seen any good photos of the studio scale Vulcan Shuttle? It seems to be one of the least photographed Star Trek models. There was a good portrait of it with Andy Probert in Starlog when STTMP came out, but other than that, I haven’t seen any. It wasn’t part of the Christie’s auction, so where is it now?

  3. SmokingRobot says:

    Wow, what fantasic work! Jim is an amazing artist.
    The paint job on the dinosaur is amazing. And the ‘glow’ of the fire around the Witches kettle – what a cool effect.

    Thank you for another very intesting article.

  4. flamingakira says:

    Wish I was even 1/2500ths that good. 😉

  5. eimb1999 says:

    Here’s a little bit of extra information I have been able to find out about the origial Vulcan Shuttle miniature:

    The “sleds” or Warp Engines were carved from wood. Sections were hollowed out for the lights on the corners and ends and plastic was used to fill in those areas where the bulbs were placed. That’s the yellow sections on the corners you see where it lights up.

    The main body section, the part that looks like an upside down “U” that joins the right and left side of the ship was made from aluminum. There was a single screw from underneath that was used to join the separating car to that main body. The screw attachment point is actually clearly visible even in the film shown by a surrounding red circle in the centre of the underside of the car.

    During the separation sequence, the car was mounted from the side on a motion control rig to move upward while the camera slowly travelled towards the separating assembly.

    The wherabouts of the original model is unknown. It was not sold at any auction. It is likely in the hands of a private collector from many years ago.

    The tiny details just under the leading edges of the underbody section used the ever-popular and regularly used Hasegawa 1/72 scale “Anzio Annie” or “Leopold” railgun kit parts.

    The model was painted overall Mauve (purplish pink) and weathered. It was designed to look a little older and more used than the newly refitted Enterprise, which was shiny new in STTMP on her maiden voyage. Weathering was done with various rust colours as well as the standard sooty blacks and greys.

    Despite it’s rare and fleeting appearance on film, it was an exceptionally well crafted and beautifully detailed miniature, a fabulous tribute to the kind of craftsmanship and dedication to modelmaking that was at it’s heyday back in the late 1970’s.


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