I have just finished the master pattern for a Studio Scale kit. What does that mean, exactly? Well, Studio Scale refers to any filming miniature that was built my a movie studio for special effects work, and can really be any scale. In this particular case, we have all come to the consensus (nerds online, that is) that the Vipers from the original Battlestar Galactica were 1/24th in scale. Since this exceedingly rare variant was based on many pre-existing Viper parts, it too is 1:24th-ish. So, why “exceedingly rare”? Well, in 1978, the special effects department/crew landscape became very fluid for a couple of months. After Star Wars was released (and started swelling in popularity), the team that created the models (ILM) were not immediately tasked with any projects. In this lull, they began work on Battlestar Galactica miniatures and effects shots, apparently under the name MCA-57. In late Summer, ILM was told that the team was “getting back together” for The Empire Strikes Back, and moving facilities North to San Rafael. Battlestar materials were transported to another shop named Universal Hartland, which finished the series (along with Buck Rogers and Galactica 1980). When the move happened, the Antique Viper was LOST and another had to be constructed!!
The Antique Viper (alternately known as the Sixth Millennia Viper and Model T Viper) was built for the episode “The Long Patrol”. Since it was lost in the move it was never filmed, and only a half dozen photos exist of this particular prop, and these were not taken as reference material. This is why you see a rough-around-the-edges Antique Viper out there, that shares even more lineage to an original Viper casting – Universal Hartland had to construct a replacement! This replacement Antique Viper has been sold at auction, and has been very well documented – but I digress.
The original Antique Viper bewitched myself and a few others who love to spend all of their waking hours trying to ID parts for these silly things. One of these people is Mike Salzo, who had recently recreated the classic Viper in studio scale from cleaner parts and correct measurements, putting all of the “cast and recast and re-recast from an original foam casting” kits to shame. Until Mike’s “Hero” kit, we had undersized lumpy, wonky, and soft Vipers on our display shelves. Now we had a big sexy sharp Viper, and of course wanted MORE. So when Mike and I struck a deal for me to create a pattern of the Antique, I chose the original – the HERO! Sadly there have been a few compromises that impact it’s accuracy – we could not ID all of the parts used because there just was not any reference available. Sections were not documented well (or in focus), and angles are missing. We had ONE shot of the back, but it was at such an oblique angle that some of the “way back” detail between the two engines is impossible to identify. So what you have is a compromise – I made some of this up, but it will be cast in a way that should better reference ever surface, the model maker could swap out the stuff I made and use the correct plastic bits and bobs. Until that day, here’s my take on the Hero Antique Viper!