Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The Enterprise NCC 1701 and The Model Maker and the Founding Curator of the Nevada State Railroad Museum at Carson City is the title of the posthumous biography of the very first Star Trek studio model builder, Richard C. Datin, Jr. Self published, the work was written by Datin's daughter, N. Datin McDonald.


The Star Trek Enterprise Model NCC 1701 began its journey in 1964 in my father's model shop, most of us had our first sighting of it in 1966 when it flew across out TV screen. No other cinematic vessel is nearly as famous and is still the most recognized and successful "starship" in history. It was donated by Paramount Studios to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, where it will once again be on display for all its fans to view, in the summer of 2016. From Gene Roddenberry's imagination to Matt Jefferies ability to draw what was in Gene's head, to the Howard Anderson Co. for special effects, to my father's ability to read, decipher and construct from those blueline plans to what we see today, my father had a wonderfully specialized talent and this is his story to tell.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


  • Preface, pp. 6-7
  • Introduction, pp. 8-10
  • Chapters
    • 01: Just a Little Family History, pp. 11-15
    • 02: On His Way To Hollywood, pp. 16-27
    • 03: Star Trek, The Enterise, pp. 28-30
    • 04: The Blueline Drawings, pp. 31-37
    • 05: The Three-Footer, pp. 38-47
    • 06: Paint Discussions, pp. 48-49
    • 07: The Eleven-Footer, pp. 50-58
    • 08: The Decals, pp. 59-62
    • 09: The First Revisions, pp. 63-70
    • 10: More Revisions an More Paint Stories, pp. 71-83
    • 11: The Hanger Deck, pp. 84-88
    • 12: The K-7, pp. 89-95
    • 13: The Ageing of the Old Spaceship, pp. 96-97
    • 14: Hollywood Recognition and the Unions, pp. 98-103
    • 15: Meeting Gene Again, pp. 104-105
    • 16: Other Modeling Jobs, Petticoat Junction, pp. 106-116
    • 17: Moving to the Beach, pp. 117-121
    • 18: After Hollywood, pp. 122-123
    • 19: The Writer and Historian, pp. 124-126
    • 20: Always the Railroads; The V & T Railroad, pp. 127-138
    • 21: The Final Restingplace of The Enterprise, pp. 139-141
    • 22: Smithsonian Memories, Letters & Discussions, pp. 142-162
    • 23: Saying Goodbye and Happy Birthday, pp. 163-164
  • Bibliography, p. 165
  • Acknoweldgements, pp. 166-168
  • Author profile, p. 169
  • Appendix, pp. 170-171

Background information

  • McDonald decided to write the biography after her father had passed away in January 2011 and was sent his archive – thereby becoming its legal custodian – fully aware of how much his work had meant to him in his lifetime. In essence McDonald expanded upon the family's official website, launched shortly before Datin's death, and which went defunct after the book was published.
  • While McDonald covered her father's entire career in her book, she was also fully aware of the cultural significance of his Star Trek work, resulting in this work taking center stage in the book (exemplified by the fact that the "museum" subtitle is printed in smaller print on the book cover), around which all his other accomplishments are organized.
  • The book features black and white photographs throughout, mostly family-owned, as well as excerpts from the original Matt Jefferies construction blueprints of both Star Trek: The Original Series Enterprise models, currently owned by the Datin family and the only ones in existence.
  • As McDonald based much of the biography on her father's notes and correspondence, much of which were reproduced verbatim in the book, the work as such became in part a posthumous autobiography as well.
  • For context, McDonald also made use of secondary literature, which has appeared in several publications, from a number of Star Trek aficionados who had taken a keen interest over the decades in Datin's Star Trek work, many of whom having corresponded with Datin in person, and some of them also providing McDonald with additional notes and clarifications after the fact as well. These included, among others, Bjo Trimble, Dan Fiebiger, William S. McCullars, Gary Kerr, Dayton Ward, and Curt McAloney, all of whom were dutifully acknowledged by McDonald.
  • Noteworthy is the inclusion of Datin's correspondence with the National Air and Space Museum (Chapter 22), in which he tried to regain recognition for himself and the other builders of the Enterprise models, in vain as it turned out, as the museum flat-out refused to believe his claim. Further correspondence with the museum divulged that Datin's efforts to donate his Star Trek holdings in his lifetime failed miserably because of museum red tape and unwillingness to attend to administrative chores themselves.

Cover gallery

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