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Tag Archive: Robert Blackman


We first previewed the Anovos line of licensed replicas back in 2011 here at borg.com.  Since then we’ve built their complete full-sized Star Wars original trilogy Stormtrooper kit and worn the company’s Star Trek: The Next Generation two-piece Starfleet uniform, and found their quality to be the top commercial products available.  Anovos returned to San Diego Comic-Con this year with their most recent line of costumes and helmets and–as with the past products–the company continues to create the best replicas around.

For the most part these aren’t 100% the same designs and fabrics as the original screen-used pieces, but they come as close as most cosplayers will get access to.  The exceptions are the armor kits and finalized sets of the Star Wars line, which are equal in quality to screen-used pieces, and even better quality in many cases.  In the Star Trek line, despite using production-made pieces as a guide, the fabrics and color dyes don’t exactly match and some of the piping and trim is close to the original William Ware Theiss and Robert Blackman designs they are copying, but not dead-on, e.g., the Star Trek movie maroon uniform color is difficult to replicate and current fabrics used show wrinkles more than the expensive fabrics used by the studios years ago.  Also, the blue dye used in the infamous “skants” is also a much lighter blue than original pieces and their appearance on the screen under production lights.  It makes sense that Anovos creations for the more recent Abrams films and Star Trek Discovery series uniforms are closer to the real thing, as Anovos says it has worked with the studios in re-creating the most recent uniforms in both the Star Trek and Star Wars series, like this great command uniform from a design by Sanja Hayes for Star Trek Beyond:

The best bet is ordering currently in-stock costumes from the Anovos website.  For costumes not yet available but sold on pre-order, Anovos has been known to take more than a year for delivery in the past, causing a history of canceled orders, despite warning customers about long projected delivery dates.

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picard-and-dathon

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Twenty-five years ago one of the finest episodes of television aired on your local channel carrying syndicated programming.  Arguably the best episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, frequently found atop “best of Star Trek” lists, and among the best of all science fiction stories, it was Darmok, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode featuring guest star Paul Winfield as the noble Tamarian Captain Dathon.  Darmok first aired September 30, 1991, the first standalone episode of the excellent fifth season, which featured memorable episodes including Ensign Ro, Unification, Cause and Effect, The Perfect Mate, I, Borg, The Next Phase, and another highly rated standalone episode that bookended the season, The Inner Light.  Written by Joe Menosky and Philip LaZebnik, and directed by Winrich Kolbe, Darmok broke new ground for Star Trek first and foremost by removing the universal translator from the equation and allowing one of the 20th (and 21st) century’s key challenges–communication between cultures–to be the focus of an episode.  Like the transporter beam and the holodeck, the translator was a story device–a crutch of sorts–that allowed writers to skip beyond basic problems and move along to more complex conflicts.  Darmok took Star Trek back to the basics.

The Federation and the Tamarians–also called the “Children of Tama”–historically failed to break the language barrier, and therefore never could open up diplomatic relations, until 2368.  The Tamarians were an intelligent and strong alien race–their ship easily overpowered the Enterprise-D.  Piglike in appearance thanks to the make-up work of Michael Westmore, they wore warrior clothing (designed by Robert Blackman) that was reptilian in design, with a vest of multi-colored grommets, and a bandolier of leather, copper, and brass that supported a sheath with a dagger that was both practical and ceremonial.  The vest featured totems, crystals wrapped in shaved metal, used for personal spiritual ceremonies.  The captain kept a log book at his belt, chronicling his journey in the strange written language of the Tamarian people.

campfire

Shaka.  When the walls fell.

The Tamarians reached out to the Federation first, resulting in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) confronting Dathon via bridge-to-bridge visual communication in orbit of the planet El-Adrel IV.  Frustrated by the continued dissonance, Dathon beamed himself, and Picard, to the surface of the planet.  Dathon’s goal: To use the metaphor of “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”–a Tamarian story where two warriors joined together by facing a common foe–to bring himself and Picard–and thereby both cultures–together, one way or another.  What took Picard and the viewing audience the course of the episode to learn, that one could begin to understand the Tamarians once you realized they communicated in metaphors, came too late for Dathon.  The enemy of the metaphor–the planet’s beast in the reality they faced on the surface of El-Adrel IV–attacked both him and Picard, but not before Picard understood.

Sokath. His eyes uncovered! 

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Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Review by C.J. Bunce

The best non-fiction look at Star Trek in years is now available at book stores and online retailers.  Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier, by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann will serve as a companion book to The Art of Star Trek, The Continuing Mission, and Star Trek: The Art of the Film, all previously reviewed here and here at borg.com.  Together these four books represent the best visual looks at the history of Star Trek.  This new volume includes beautiful, clear, full-color photographs in a colorful hardcover, coffee table edition.

General fans of Hollywood costumes will learn plenty about the variety of major costumes used in the Star Trek universe throughout the past 50 years, and Star Trek diehards will find many interesting tidbits, too.  Highlights include recollections of costume designer Robert Fletcher about his creations for the movies and photos of several of his original costume designs, including his sketches for William Shatner’s Captain Kirk Class B uniform, Scotty’s engineering radiological suit used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the maroon, naval-style officer and crewman uniforms first appearing in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

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William Ware Theiss’s era-defining costumes from the original series receive plenty of coverage, including images of some of Theiss’s often quickly rendered costume designs.  The original hand-drawn artwork from past and present is worth its weight in gold press latinum, including original costume designs for Star Trek: The Next Generation by Durinda Rice Wood (like Counselor Troi’s beautiful, form-fitting, burgundy jumpsuit), costume designs for Star Trek: First Contact by Deborah Everton (like Lily’s 2063 civilian garb worn by Alfre Woodard), Robert Blackman’s original concept art for Star Trek Generations (like the British Naval uniforms), and Sanja Milkovich Hays’ original concept sketches for Star Trek: Insurrection (like the female Tarlac nurse bodysuits) many including photos of corresponding fabric swatches.  While Star Trek Costumes provides only a brief look at the costumes of Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise, it provides a nice overview of the revisited designs and variants of Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness, including a focus on the Klingon costumes.

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Kirk and Spock tunics

Star Trek is known for many things, but in its first run on television in 1966-1969 it was widely known for William Ware Theiss’s costumes, both the vibrant red, blue and yellow (or green depending on your television set) Starfleet uniforms, and the spectacular alien of the week outfits for a vast range of guest stars (especially the women).  But it wouldn’t end there.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 brought a new update to the costumes, and further revisions would occur throughout 11 more movies through 2013.  On a parallel track were the four TV series that continued the stories of the Federation and their friends and enemies: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise. 

Robert Blackman creator of TNG designs

Star Trek costume designer Robert Blackman looking at TNG first-season uniforms.

We learned earlier this year from a review of Facebook fans of Star Trek that their most desired costumes included the original series red Starfleet security tunic as worn by Scotty and the blue style worn by Mr. Spock, Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s third-season two-piece uniform and his First Contact-style uniform, and the Horatio Hornblower-inspired red gabardine military coats worn by the original series cast between Star Trek II and Star Trek VII (and in flashbacks and parallel timelines throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager). 

At long last, a single volume coming in 2015 will focus on the costumes of all the series.  It will also be the first time Enterprise will get some real attention in a non-fiction chronicle.

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