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WonderWorks Inc.

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WonderWorks Inc logo

WonderWorks Inc. is a special and visual effects company that specializes in constructing filming miniatures and props, and that has intermittently provided these services to several Star Trek productions.

Oliver Ray "Brick" Price, a self taught modeler and designer who started out as a model maker for the International Modeler hobby magazine, founded the company as Brick Price Movie Miniatures in November 1977. This was the result of an happy coincidence as Price recalled, "I was at ILM one day when Jack Webb called Grant and asked him to do some model work. ILM was too busy, and it looked like the work would have to be delivered on too tight a schedule. So Grant recommended me. I talked to Webb. He said, "How fast can you get to my office?" I said, "As fast as my car can carry me." Fortunately I had a couple of models in the car, and I walked into Webb's office carrying them. The next morning, at 9 a.m. he put me on contract, and I was working on the first model by noon." (Starlog, issue 20, p. 69) The production Price was hired for was Project U.F.O. Originally thinking he could do all the model work alone, he wast already forced a few days later to hire people, resulting in the founding of his company.

WonderWorks Inc. original company logo

Original company logo

His work on Project U.F.O. caught the attention of Gene Roddenberry who invited him in 1978 to help out Magicam to ease the workload for the upcoming Star Trek: Phase II television project. He was charged with the construction of the revamped USS Enterprise studio model. Bringing along Model Maker Don Loos to help with the construction, the model was three quarters complete, when in December 1977 the decision was made to upgrade the project to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie project. Both director Robert Wise and art director Richard Taylor dismissed the almost complete model as being inadequate to meet big screen requirements and Price and his team were pulled off the project. His company was still retained to build numerous props like phasers, tricorders and such, albeit uncredited.

Star Trek Phase II Enterprise master of the studio model worked on by Brick Price

Price working on the molds of the Phase II Enterprise

Although Price has asserted on occasions that he retained the Phase II Enterprise model, among others to Star Trek aficionado William S. McCullars on his now defunct website "The Idic Page", and in the documentary series Hollywood Treasure (season 1, episode 15, "Trek to the Future", broadcast 8 June 2011), his company's model was discarded by Paramount Pictures after the upgrade to the movie project, as was confirmed by Jim Dow (American Cinematographer, January 1980, p. 153) and Paul Olsen (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 46). Nevertheless, he did retain the molds of the model and years later produced from them copies for the "Planet Hollywood" restaurant franchise, among others the New York City location in the early 1990s. The saucer section and torpedo launchers were heavily adjusted to reflect the appearance of the refit Enterprise has in the movies. The nacelles, secondary hull, and the upper dorsal retained its original Phase II design, resulting in an unfamiliar looking hybrid between the Phase II and the movie's Enterprise.[1]. It was the New York City model Price presented to McCullars as being the original. "The model was built from parts pulled from the phase II molds. A lot of models were duplicated so that they could be displayed at more than one Planet Hollywood.", John Eaves later confirmed. [2] American collector Adam Schneider [3] provided additional confirmation of the existence of copies, as he acquired one and had it converted to approximate the The Motion Picture appearance as a companion piece to the actual drydock studio model he owned. [4] [5] Further confirmation was provided in the Hollywood Treasure documentary series episode, in which Brick Price himself presented the molds and partial casts of the model. In it could be discerned that some of the molds were at least partially modified and that the castings were not those of the original model.

During the 1980s Price changed the name of the company to "WonderWorks Inc." and continued to provide special and visual effects assets for several movies. Besides movies, the company also provided numerous models for museums, theme parks, and corporations as well as for the aforementioned Planet Hollywood franchise. In 1991, the company embarked upon a small side-project for the Star Trek franchise, when they built the small eight inch diameter turbolift shaft maquette, used for perspective shots in Star Trek: The Next Generation's fifth season episode "Disaster". (Cinefantastique, Vol 23 #2/3, 1992, p. 41)

In 1994 WonderWorks was again reacquainted with the franchise, now somewhat more substantially, when it was called in to help out in a time when the production staff of Star Trek was spread thin while preparing the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the season 2 ending of Deep Space Nine, the production of Star Trek Generations, the documentary Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the pre-production of Voyager. "Wonderworks" was charged with building the physical studio models of the two Kazon starship classes.


Brick Price Movie Miniatures crew

The crew of BPMM on the set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

There have been a number of staffers and people that have worked closely with the group over the years, including:

Further reading

  • "SFX, The Magical Techniques of Movie and TV Special Effects, Part XV: Brick Price - Model Man", David Hutchinson, Starlog, issue 20, March 1979, pp. 66-71
  • "Star Trek-The Motion Picture: Props", David Hutchinson, Starlog, issue 47, June 1981, pp. 57-61.
  • "Brick Price Movie Miniatures; The Group that Star Trek Forgot", James Van Hise, Enterprise Incidents; special edition on the technical side, 1984, pp. 35-56.

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