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Ben Robinson (born 14 June 1969; age 52) is the English writer and editor of several Star Trek-related reference works and projects.

The son of a television producer father and English teacher mother, Robinson is the grandson of Bernard Robinson, most notably known as the production designer of most Hammer films made from 1957 until 1968. [2] [3]

A 1991 University of York graduate holding a Master's degree in English and Related Literature, Robinson was a Star Trek: The Original Series fan from an early age. He remarked, "I can't even remember the first episode of Star Trek I saw. I've literally been watching since before I can remember. I must’ve been watching re-runs in the 70s when I was a toddler." [4] As a child, Robinson played with Mego Star Trek action figures.

As of 1997, Robinson's first two years of working as freelancer in the employ of Midsummer Books Ltd. for GE Fabbri saw him serve as one of the editors(-in-chief) and writers of the comprehensive and long-running Star Trek Fact Files partwork magazine. He worked alongside Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Marcus Riley, Penny L. Juday, Larry Nemecek, Guy Vardaman, and Tim Gaskill on this project.

Following the tremendous success of the Fact Files and sales of more than 50 million copies, Robinson was reassigned to edit its US successor, Star Trek: The Magazine, in 1998. One of Robinson's most notable contributions to this publication was his in-depth interview of TOS' Art Director, Matt Jefferies, which was published over five issues during the 2000-2002 run of the magazine and is widely viewed as the most comprehensive first-hand account of the legendary designer's work on the USS Enterprise and Star Trek ever published.

Later, Robinson followed this up with an interview featuring Andrew Probert, Jefferies' successive art director for the next television incarnation of the franchise, likewise spread over several issues. [5] Over this period, he conducted interviews with many of the actors, designers, directors, writers, and effects artists involved with the franchise. Robinson has stated that Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy, and Robert Wise were among his favorite interviewees. While Robinson was sometimes sent to the US on extended assignments, he conducted most of his interviews over the telephone from the editorial offices of Midsummer Books (initiator, joint venture partner, and copyright holder of The Fact Files/The Magazine) in Hammersmith, London, UK, which proved to be a challenging task due to time zone issues. [6]

Robinson has claimed to be the first Star Trek publication editor to fully realize that the computer generated imagery produced for live-action Star Trek projects, especially imagery of studio models, was singularly well-suited for illustrative purposes in licensed print publications.[1] Foundation Imaging's Robert Bonchune became an enthusiastic and willing confederate as Robinson pursued this approach. [7]

In 1998, production-used CG imagery premiered in issue 69 of The Fact Files and was seen in all subsequent issues (and in its US magazine successor). [8] In turn, Bonchune, together with his supervisor Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz, garnered the inspiration to produce the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar series using similar illustrations.

Around 2004, shortly after The Magazine had run its course, Robinson permanently switched over to Fabbri as a tenured production staffer, and put all of the experience he had gained working on the two Star Trek publications to use by helping to create new products based on other entertainment properties for his new employer: like Midsummer Books, Fabbri did not have experience with this type of publication prior to its involvement with the Fact Files. [9] At Fabbri, Robinson became the project manager for the Star Trek: The Figurine Collection partwork that was briefly test-marketed by the company in 2006. The various other entertainment properties collections that Robinson near-concurrently helped to develop, such as the X-Files - The DVD Collection(X), Charmed - The DVD Collection(X)[2] Doctor Who: Battles in Time(X), and the James Bond Cars(X) collections, became much more successfull though.

When Haynes Publishing sought advice on creating the USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual, Robinson was one of those approached through CBS Consumer Products, ultimately leading to him writing the manual in its entirety, apart from one chapter. Robinson again approached Marcus Riley to assist him with some writing and editing, alongside Michael Okuda as technical consultant and co-editor. Once again, Robinson solicited the input of Rob Bonchune for the preparation of the CG starship imagery.

In 2012, Robinson subsequently authored much of Haynes' follow-up publication, the Klingon Bird of Prey Owners' Workshop Manual, where he enlisted the talents of Rick Sternbach and CG modeler Ed Giddings.

Ben Robinson at a convention

Robinson is currently employed by partwork publisher Eaglemoss Publishing, following its merger with GE Fabbri in 2011.

His current title is Editorial Manager of Global Developments, and he manages a number of licensed product lines based on entertainment properties, including Doctor Who, James Bond (these two expanding on the experience gained on the originating 2006-2007 collections for Fabbri), Battlestar Galactica, Marvel Comics, Back to the Future[3], The Orville, and Space: 1999.

He is also the project manager for the Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection partwork and has enlisted the participation of a number of veteran Star Trek artists including Rob Bonchune, Doug Drexler, Greg Jein, Adam Lebowitz, and Mike Okuda. Robinson co-authors, co-edits, and oversees the preparation of the magazine, and he supervises the team responsible for creation and decoration of the starship miniatures and the commissioning of new CGI models. [4]

Ben Robinson also oversees (or oversaw) the Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, Star Trek: Discovery The Official Starships Collection, Star Trek: The Official Busts Collection, Star Trek Online Starships Collection, Star Trek Universe: The Official Starships Collection, and Star Trek: The Next Generation Build The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D partworks for Eaglemoss/Hero Collector.

Robinson has authored, co-authored, edited, and/or co-edited the Designing Starships, Shipyards, and Illustrated Handbook series of Star Trek reference books. The first two of these series are principally compiled from content included in the magazines from the three Official Starships Collection partworks, while the latter incorporates updated material from the Star Trek Fact Files. The first three books from the first series were first published and retailed by Eaglemoss Publications, subsequent to their republishing (in revised editions) by Eaglemoss through Penguin Random House's Publisher Services division under the Hero Collector imprint.

He is also the author of Star Trek Voyager: A Celebration for Hero Collector, and a co-author of Star Trek: The Artistry of Dan Curry (with Dan Curry) for Titan Books, which were released in 2020. [10] [11] He followed this up as co-author of Star Trek - The Original Series: A Celebration in 2021, also for Hero Collector.

After more than twenty years of research and many hours of interviewing the artists associated with the franchise's many incarnations, Robinson has amassed a sizable archive of (reproduced) concept and production art. Independently compiled by Robinson, most of this material is not in the possession of CBS' own Star Trek archives.[5]

Footnotes

  1. Major Fact Files contributor Larry Nemecek begged to differ with Robinson's recollections however, as he has claimed that it was he who took the initiative to utilize the production CGI files for print purposes. He explained that he approached Foundation's Senior Supervisor Ron Thornton with the request to come up with a cost-effective way to provide the publication with CGI assets for print purposes. He has credited Thorton for coming up with the protocol of instructing his digital modelers (which included Bonchune) to simultaneously create orthographic views and a ¾ beauty view of a model for the partwork, whenever they were working with the model for a live-action production. [1] Nemecek had a point in all fairness though, as the first production-used CGI model already appeared in a 1998 Fact Files issue (#69), over a year before Robinson even set foot in the USA to co-head The Magazine with Trisha Palmer, whereas Nemecek as Files writer/consultant/researcher had been stationed state-side from beginning to end.
  2. Robinson was not involved with the very similar Star Trek: The Collector's Edition and Star Trek: The Original Series - The Collector's Edition collections, because they, as The Fact Files spin-offs, were still developed at Midsummer Books for Fabbri under the aegis of Tim Leng, Robinson's successor on The Fact Files.
  3. Back to the Future films feature an Andy Probert-designed Delorean time machine. Robinson oversaw Eaglemoss' 1:8-scale model partwork of the car.
  4. Eaglemoss/Hero Collector's Development Manager John Ainsworth has assumed most of Robinson's oversight duties for the production of the miniatures, after the first 120 Trek starships were manufactured.
  5. The CBS archives had once been extensive, but were whittled down considerably in the 2006-2008 wave of Star Trek auctions, greatly diminishing its value as a relevant franchise production archive. Where the production design print materials are concerned, Robinson's personal archive may well have surpassed that of CBS's in relevance over the years.

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