Starlost Prop page

Update 3-8-2003

A psudo 3-D model from Japan! Nice to know the show is known in other countries! Keep up the great work! Thank you for sending it in.

This amazing 3-D model was constructed by Brian, a Starlost fan. The attention to the placement of the domes is amazing! I can't wait to see what he does with it next!

Greg.. if you are reading this please drop me an e-mail! virtviki@pacbell.net

From Martyn Phillips: I went to Beta Draconis many, many years ago, and in one of the rooms there was a table with some of the props from the show.

I photographed a couple of the exhibits, and came across the photo album recently when I was unpacking after moving.

 

Update 5-8-2000 Victor unearthed this original blueprint for the Earthsip Ark. Click on the above picture to see a very large version!

The bridge

Earthsip Ark


The back end of the Ark

Modular sections

Beneath domes.

SEARCH FOR THE LOST ARK

Have you wondered what ever happened to the Earthship Ark model after The Starlost ended? Well here is the story:

Kevin Atkins was in Toronto for a planetarium conference and went over to the CFTO studios where they were producing The Starlost. Being a model builder himself he was able to interview the producer and production designer. Part of his visit was spent touring the sets and models. As he was leaving he jokingly said to them that if they were ever going to get rid of this stuff to give him a call. Well, 18 months later he got that call from someone he knew on the set. He was told that the show was being cancelled and that if he wanted any of the stuff he better come and get it, since come Monday morning all of it was going into the trash. Kevin was living in Buffalo at the time so he rented a truck and headed to CFTO. He was able to retrieve many of the miniature models including a small version of the bridge that had doors that opened, the shuttle, the alien spacecraft and of course the large ARK itself. He was also bale to obtain many of the full size bounce tube corridor sections, doors and blueprints (one such blueprint included the original design concept of the ARK which is shown on this website). Kevin mentioned to me that they did not take very good care of the ARK as many sections on the ship were damaged.

Back in Buffalo Kevin brought the ARK to several Science-fiction conventions. At some point he got tired of dragging the large ship to these shows. He decided to use some of the hull detail pieces to build other ships and also sold off most of the domes at the conventions. All the other models were sold off or traded for other models. Having the main hull he decided to build another type of ship for several planetarium shows. The ARK had been misused and a lot of the surface detail had been damaged. In addition, Kevin notes that over the original beige-like paint they sprayed a thick white syrup-like paint. Because of this he decided to remove all the original detail pieces and strip the ARK down to bare wood.

For the show at the Strassenburgh Planetarium Kevin removed all the existing detail panels from the hull, covered the wood modules with paper card stock using spray cement, then glued some of the original panels back on (See Photo).

The ARK was then photographed and projected onto the planetarium dome. Later when Kevin moved he began converting the ARK to another ship. All modules were once again stripped down to bare wood. This time he rebuilt three sections (minus the domes) that included the bow, stern, and one two-foot long section. In this rebuild only about 10% of the original pieces were used. Kevin notes that many of the original plastic model pieces were not used because he could not remove the thick white syrup-like paint. Kevin notes that many of the modules were not the same size. So he decided to attempt to correct this by running these modules through a milling machine to level out the differences. The partially rebuilt and redesigned ARK was rotated 90 degrees then photographed and projected onto the planetarium dome. This ship was used for a show at the Gates Planetarium. Below are several photos of how the ARK appeared in the Gates show:

Photos of the ARK
at the Gates Planetarium

I was always a fan of the show and as a kid loved to build models. I remember watching the show and wondered how great it would be to have that ship. But, of course as a kid it was just a dream. So how did I come in possession of the ARK? Well, fast forward to about 1999. While searching the Internet I was able to contact Kevin and found out he still had the ARK. However, most of the domes had been sold off and the rods interconnecting the domes were long gone. Also the rubber tank treads that were originally covering these rods had become so brittle they were discarded. In addition Kevin mentioned that the ARK did not look like it did in the show. Regardless, I decided to purchase the ARK in its present condition with hopes to restore it back to its former appearance.

So that's the story of what happened to the ARK after the show was cancelled. Now what about the restoration project. Well, the ARK is larger than I thought. When fully assembled in all its glory it will be around 12 feet long and about 10 feet wide with all domes attached. From the rebuild sections I have been able to salvage many of the original model pieces. I was bale to save the pieces that were covered with syrup-like paint by soaking them in oven cleaner. From these pieces, photos provided to me by Kevin and from scenes from the videos I have been able to identify all the model kits used to build the ARK. From here I wanted to restore the ARK using as many original kits as possible. Many of the kits are no longer being made as they came from the late 60's and early 70's. So for these kits I searched many hobby stores that bought old collections and also used the Internet to buy the old kits. In addition, I was able to hook up with a model company distributor in Toronto who allowed me to purchase certain model kit trees rather than the entire kit directly from Japan. This saved a bunch as only one or two pieces were used from certain kits. So far I would say I have collected almost 95% of the original model pieces needed. Many people don't realize that the ARK was originally detailed on one side only. If you look at the videos you will notice they only shoot it from one side. I assume this was for budget reasons. I have decided to detail the ARK on both sides as the original builders would have intended. Other pieces seen on the ARK are actually vacuuformed parts. Unfortunately, Kevin did not have many of these left. So for these I am making new moulds and vacuuforming new pieces.

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Underside of dome #1

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Underside of dome #2

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Underside of dome #3

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A duplicated dome bottom.

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The fiberglass mold used for the bottoms.

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New dome with detail pieces attached.

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Dome insert #1

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Dome insert #2

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Dome insert #3

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Plaster mold of dome inside (did not work).

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Redetailed module before being stripped.

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Five modules glued together.

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Single module before detailing.

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Single module with holes for rods for the center of the ship.

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New tank treads before placement on rods.

The hull of the ARK is made of identical individual wood blocks which were originally strung along two steel rods. If a module required 5 sections then 5 blocks were pushed together. That's why the modules appear to have a grove between them (See Photos). When Kevin rebuilt some of the modules he actually glued them together. I have separated them and will keep them separate as in the original. The wood blocks that were milled will be restored to their original dimensions and then all blocks will have a fresh sheet of styrene plastic covering them. After this the detail panels will all the model pieces will be glued in place.

The next main task was to make new domes. I had only 3 complete original domes. The undersurface pattern of each of these domes are different. They apparently used 3 different designs. I was lucky to have all three original patterns. From the original domes and from help from contacts at a large Shakespeare theatre I was able to make new dome bottom moulds and have 38 new vacuuform shells made. The next hurdle was to recreate the dome tops. These were vacuuformed from clear light diffuser panel plastic. The problem was I could not match the prismatic pattern from that time period. Today the patterns are different. In addition they used a much thicker plastic that is not commercially used today. So I am still searching for the proper plastic. I am able to get this stuff in the thickness I need, I just need to find the proper pattern. I have a few leads.

Another problem was how to reproduce the pattern on the inner surface of the clear domes. On the videos the ARK was so dark it is difficult to see this pattern. It is actually a silk-screen pattern placed on the inner surface of the clear dome that was made from the old spirograph toy. One of the Doctors I work with actually had one of these spirograph toys from when his kids were younger. He sold it to me for a buck. What a deal! So after many long hours I was able to reproduce the pattern which you can see below:


Added 11-17-01

The next step was to locate new tank treads to cover the rods that interconnect the domes. I was able to locate new ones through the same model kit distributor as I used for some of the other model parts. Through this company I purchased bulk treads. They will look great once they are glued onto the steel rods and painted.

So much time has been spent as well as money. But, in the end the ARK will be back to its former glory. I will keep you all updated on the progress. Keep checking back for more photos as the restoration continues.

If anyone has any original domes and would like to sell them to help with the restoration please contact me at victorfeldman@hotmail.com

 

 

A while back I acquired an original Starlost dome from Randy who had had it for several years. I found it absolutely fascinating. From watching fuzzy videos of the series I didn't remember them looking this good. Evidently a lot of detail went into them which did not really show on the small screen. If you have a prop from the Starlost please send me any information so i can post it here. virtviki@pacbell.net

Randy George had the following information to share:

"The outside of the dome was a vacuformed piece of plastic which was originally nailed to the plywood inside of the dome. The plywood was attached to the steel structure which connected the domes. The Ark was built out of a wood and steel frame. The styrene plastic molds were then assembled over it.

Most of the Domes had very little detail on the bottom. The Ark was always filmed from the same side. Only a few of the domes were visible from below at any given time and so they had more detail.

The design on the inside of the Dome might look strangely familiar. That's because it was done on a spir-o-graph. Yes, one of the those play toys that the youth of the 60' & 70's enjoyed so much.

One of the production crew's kids made that design on a spir-o-graph and they used it!

When Starlost was canceled, my friend Kevin Atkins lived in Buffalo NY and he was friends with someone who worked on the show. His friend called him up to say that if he wanted any of this stuff then he had better drive up and get it or else it was going in the dumpster. So Kevin drove to Toronto and picked up all the pieces of the Ark. That was 1974 or there about.

In 1989 I met Kevin while working for the Star Con conventions there. He had been hauling the Ark around with him for many years and was beginning to get real tired of it. So he started selling off the domes. He said that he used the Center Structures to make other models. Kevin is a professional model builder. He has built models for Martin Marietta (who builds the boosters for the Space Shuttle) and other such companies for film presentations on their space programs development."

Kevin Atkins also provided a nice photograph to the Starlost magazine people for use in their TV episode guidebook #1 of the ark as it looked in the early 80's. I used this picture to help identify which dome might be the one I currently have.

The plastic section of the dome is made of the same sort of plastic you can buy at hardware stores to put into fluorescent light housings. It is covered with 1/16 inch tiny pyramids. This may have been custom made for this model, or it may have been the cover for a lighting fixture from the 1970's. The edge where the plastic is cut is awful smooth to have been specially made for this model. It would have also have been cheaper to find something already made. The domes pyramids of plastic give it that odd star shaped pattern of reflection when light with a bright light source. The design on the inside of the dome gives it that geodesic look and also that odd "top is made separate look" to it. This appears to have been silkscreened somehow on the inside of the dome. The dome was at one point glued onto the plywood inside of the dome.

Inside the dome is a sheet of 1/2 inch plywood. This was evidently connected on the bottom with the steel rods which supported the various domes of the Earthsip Ark. On top of the plywood (which was painted white) is a hard piece of cardboard with a halftoned (of what looks to be fish tank bottom filters cut into sections) print. The print has been hand colored with some sort of semi-transparent paint (or colored markers) to give the B&W picture the appearance of structures. With the dome in place some distortion occurs and it does indeed look like there is something inside of the dome. Some of the domes appear to not only have had differently colored inserts, but completely different inserts. I do not know how many out of the 37 domes had different inserts.

The bottom of the dome is a vacuformed piece of plastic. It is divided into a hexagonal pattern by where the steel rods could be placed. The dome I have evidently was connected through three of the sections. Only the basic shapes and the two indented circles, and indentations for the three tiny round objects (shown in the upper right in the picture above) were made in the basic vacuformed mold. The rest were model parts from various boar and other military models which were glued on. the edges of the dome also has little detailing pieces glued on as well.

I will get some more information and measurements as soon as I get around to it.

Greg bought quite a few of the Starlost props as well. Here he shares this information about one of them:

"The ARK Shuttle I bought in 1976, from my friend who retrieved all of the props. The shuttle was in poor shape, made from plywood, and had been spray-painted about 5 times with thick, syrup like paint. I tried to restore it, but the damage and wood rot was too heavy, and it didn't survive.

Another model (I don't know from which episode), looking like a large main cylindrical fuselage, with an extended boom coming off of the front, and an "X" shaped arrangement of booms coming off of the read radiating out from the cylinder, and painted gold -- this model I also acquired and I think I still have it somewhere. Please remember that these models were cheaply constructed and the show didn't have the following of cult it probably now has, so no one involved with the acquisition of these things gave them much thought about maintaining them for archival purposes. I'll look for this model and photograph it.

The main cylindrical body was made out of a plastic wire spool. This model (and the ARK Shuttle) had Kodak Slide Projector lamps inside for illumination. The ARK Shuttle could handle it. The little gold model, being plastic, melted somewhat from the heat.

The ARK was disassembled, stripped and rebuilt. The super surface detailing was placed on the original ARK on only one side, as it was never photographed from the other side. Less the domes, the ark was rebuilt, shorter and rotated 90 degrees and turned into another type of starship for a planetarium show. It was photographed and projected."

Other Models

Ark Bridge Model

Ark Bridge Model

Ark Bridge Controls

Beehive dome interior

Bounce tube miniature

Unknown spaceship