Completing the Enterprise Bridge

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for a long time. The original series was in first run when I was born and I started watching regularly when the show was in its first set of reruns in the early 70s. As a kid, I built the AMT model kits of the Enterprise and even the Enterprise’s bridge. Soon after Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, Pocket Books released a punch out paper bridge that was very cool. I had two of them — one I made up as the bridge from the first movie and one I modified to look like the bridge from The Wrath of Khan. Sadly, all of those models have since been lost to the ravages of time.

When the new Star Trek movie came out in 2009, Playmates Toys started a new line of action figures. Along with their Galaxy line of 3.75″ action figures, they marketed a playset of the bridge. I saw photos of the bridge and was pleasantly surprised that it was a decent replica of the bridge as shown in the movie. This just seemed like too much fun — a good, sturdy model of the bridge and there are action figures that fit it. The only catch was, the bridge playset was not complete. You had to collect action figures to get all of the stations for the bridge.

I was somewhat hesitant to buy the bridge playset since it wasn’t complete. However, my wife ended up buying it for me, so I started collecting the figures so I could have the complete bridge. Now, Playmates had released only a few of the bridge pieces in their first wave of action figures. They had announced a second wave of action figures that would have more bridge pieces. I had just finished collecting all the pieces in the first wave of toys about the time the second wave was due to be released. The only problem was the second wave never came.

A couple months after the second wave was due out, I saw a post at that indicated that sales had not done as well as Playmates had expected and they weren’t releasing the second wave of toys. However, Playmates was looking into a way of releasing the rest of the bridge pieces for those of us who had started collecting. So, I waited.

A year after the new Star Trek movie came out, I had still seen no sign of an announcement from Playmates about how collectors could complete their bridge playsets. So, I wrote to Playmates to ask them about it. A Consumer Service Representative wrote the following to me: “I am sorry the line is not going to be coming out. None of the 2nd wave was ever produced or distributed. Playmates Toys has been trying to come up with several alternative ways to continue distributing our Star Trek brand of toys to our consumers. Unfortunately, we have been unable to come up with additional distribution options and have discontinued the Star Trek line.”

I still wanted to complete my bridge and I noticed that the Star Trek figures were on clearance for $2.25 apiece at my local Walmart. I pulled out the original playset and noticed that several of the consoles that had already been released were simply duplicates and mirror images of other consoles. I realized that I could mix and match pieces that had already been released and come up with a fairly complete bridge. So, I went off to Walmart, picked up a few duplicate action figures and put together my bridge. Here’s the result:

Here it is from the front:

Now, it’s not perfect. The four stations at the back of the bridge were supposed to be slightly different and bigger than the ones I used. Also, there were supposed to be two stations on either side of the captain’s chair and two more of the stand-up displays. However, I’m much happier with this than the partially completed bridge I had before.

If you’re like me and you had collected all the pieces you could collect in Playmates wave one and would like a more complete bridge, here’s what I bought to get the set where I have it: 3 Scotty figures with piece B11, 3 Pike figures with piece B2 and 1 Kirk figure with piece B9. Hope this helps a few frustrated collectors out there get a more complete set as well.

You might well wonder what became of the extra Scottys, Pikes and Kirk. As it turns out, my daughters were happy to give them a home. Turns out the Galaxy set of Star Trek figures are almost the same size as Polly Pocket.


A Parable for Texas

On Friday, May 21, the Texas Board of Education voted 9-5 to change the school curriculum to represent a more “balanced” view of history. For those who want to read more about this including some of the specific changes that were approved, there’s a pretty good article at the El Paso Times Website.

According to various press reports, these changes mean that many textbook publishers will adapt their books to Texas’s curriculum because of the number of textbooks Texas buys. Now, in an age of print on demand publishing, one wonders why this must be the case. Perhaps other states should demand that textbook publishers update their technology so that we don’t have to be dictated to by a board of education we didn’t elect. However, that’s not the point of this post.

All of this business in Texas reminds me of something that happened to my dad. He used to work for Santa Fe Railroad and around 1950 he was transferred to Cleburne, Texas. One hot day, he stooped over at a water fountain to get a drink.

“You can’t drink from there,” someone called to him. “That’s the colored’s fountain.” Of course, this person was referring to the fact that in those days African-Americans were forced to drink from separate fountains than Euro-Americans.

My dad looked from one fountain to the other, then looked under the two fountains. “They both come from the same pipe,” my dad replied and then proceeded to drink from the “colored” fountain.

Between issues like the Texas curriculum and the discussion that surrounds Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona, I sense a divisiveness over race and cultural issues that hasn’t existed since my dad was chastened for drinking from the “colored’s” drinking fountain in Texas sixty years ago. Perhaps it’s time for us in America to step back and remember that all humans come from the same source. Anyone who doesn’t believe that needs more education — either in science or the Bible.

Space Horrors Sneak Peak

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been gathering stories for a new anthology entitled Full-Throttle Space Tales #4: Space Horrors to be released by Flying Pen Press. Editing is nearly complete and I plan to send agreements out to authors next week. Artist Laura Givens has turned in the cover and I wanted to give you a quick sneak peak.

The anthology looks at a wide variety of real and imagined dangers we might have to contend with in space. In some cases we might face frightening alien menaces. In other cases, we might create dangers through the use and misuse of technology. We even imagine what would happen if we met zombies, vampires or wraiths among the stars. I’ll have more details about the anthology soon, including the complete list of authors. We expect to have the anthology out this fall in time for your Halloween reading pleasure. Also, stay tuned for details about the release party. Right now, it looks like we’ll have the official release party at MileHiCon in Denver this October. If I can, I would also like to organize a “preview party” at CopperCon in Phoenix Labor Day weekend.

Art of Poetry Contest

The Science Fiction Poetry Association is holding a contest for new poets. I’m passing along the guidelines for anyone who might be interested.

Contest Guidelines – SFPA New Poets Contest: The Art of Poetry

The Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) is holding a poetry contest with art as its inspiration! The contest is offering cash prizes and there are no fees to enter. New poets are invited to contribute. Non-members as well as members are eligible. Please read the complete rules below for theme, submission specifics, etc. Then write ’em up and send ’em in!

First prize: $10, a one year SFPA membership, and publication on SFPA’s web site
Second prize: $8, a copy of Cinema Spec: Tales of Hollywood and Fantasy, and publication on SFPA’s web site
Third prize: $7, a copy of Dwarf Stars 2009, and publication on SFPA’s web site

We plan to archive the winning poems indefinitely, but authors may request removal from the web site after six months. SFPA reserves the right to grant all, some, or none of the prizes, at its discretion.

The contest is open to new poets, SFPA members and nonmembers alike, with the following exclusions. Poets must have three or fewer paid poetry publication credits. No members of the contest committee, no current SFPA officers or web site staff, and no family members of the judges may enter the contest.

SFPA has posted links to five works of art at the SFPA Forum. Write a speculative poem of 20 lines or less inspired by one of these works of art. All forms welcome–haiku, cinquains, tanka, sonnets, free verse, etc., but poems must contain one or more of the following elements: science fiction, fantasy, horror, surrealism or straight science. Post previously unpublished poems only. No reprints. Poems should be appropriate for a general audience. We reserve the right to remove from contest consideration and from the forums any poems that might be considered above a “PG” rating.

Submissions must be made at the SFPA Forum ( Registration at the forum will be required to post poems. Poets shall submit poems as posts under the heading SFPA New Poets Contest: The Art of Poetry. This topic will be password-protected. The password will be listed on the forum, right under the contest topic heading. One must register to even SEE the contest topic. One poem per post, with a maximum of three poems per person. Include your name, title of poem, and then text of poem. Winners will be contacted for their addresses via email after the contest closes.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 EDT on June 30, 2010. SFPA reserves the right to extend the contest deadline, if necessary. Winners will be announced on the SFPA Forum. Questions? The first topic under the contest heading is the place to post questions. If you cannot access this topic after registering, post your question in the “Website and Forum” area. The SFPA shall not be held liable if submissions cannot be made due to website problems or connection difficulties, etc.

Triple Book Launch at Balticon

As I mentioned a few posts ago, the anthology Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory which includes my story “Amazons and Predators” will be released at Balticon this month. If you’re planning to attend Balticon or you’re in the Baltimore area, I encourage you to drop by. It sounds like a great event. Not only will Bad-Ass Faeries 3 be released, but two other anthologies as well: Dragon Lure and New Blood.

If you go to the party, you can help the editors, publisher, and contributors celebrate the launch of these three new supernatural anthologies. There will be readings, refreshments, and a raffle of related prizes, such as an etched faerie goblet, a dragon dagger, and an autographed New Blood cover poster. Unfortunately, my schedule prevents me from making the trip to Balticon, but I did contribute prizes to the raffle — copies of Tales of the Talisman and signed copies of my novels The Pirates of Sufiro and Children of the Old Stars. The party will be Sunday, May 30 in the Garden Room of Mariott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore. For more information about the release party and the prizes, visit

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll drop by the Triple Book Launch at Balticon. I’ll raise a cup of cheer from afar as the party is going on and wish you good luck in the raffle. Of course, if you pick up a copy of Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory at the party and we meet down the road, I’ll be more than happy to sign my story.