(written from a Production point of view)
WonderWorks Inc. is a special and visual effects company that specializes in constructing filming miniatures and props, and that has intermittently provided these services for 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. Initially thinking he could do all the model work alone, he wast already forced a few days later to hire staff, made all the more necessary as he very shortly thereafter received Gene Roddenberry's invitation and ultimately leading up to the establishment of his company.
Phase II and The Motion PictureEdit
It was his work for International Modeler that caught the attention of Gene Roddenberry, who invited him in 1977 to help out Magicam, Inc to ease the workload for the upcoming Star Trek: Phase II television project. Officially sub-contracted by Magicam in September 1977, his yet to be formalized company was charged with the construction of the revamped USS Enterprise studio model. Bringing along NASA wind tunnel test model maker Don Loos to do the bulk of the construction, Price's company started immediately with the construction of Enterprise model. Yet, after Phase II was upgraded to Star Trek: The Motion Picture in mid-November 1977, work on the model was halted the subsequent month, after it was inspected on 1 December 1977 by Post-production Supervisor Paul Rabwin, Roddenberry and Director Robert Collins, to see if it held up in theatrical big-screen resolution. With them were Robert Abel and Richard Taylor of Robert Abel & Associates (RA&A) to help them out with the analysis. All men realized that it did not. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 69)
In early January 1978 RA&A was contracted by the studio for the visual effects of the newly conceived movie and the company started negotiations for the build of new studio models, after the decision was made to discard the Phase II models which were all deemed unsuitable for a theatrical motion picture production, including Price's three quarters complete Enterprise model. Price has stated, "At one time, we were supposed to be responsible for the Work Bees, the space station, the external V'Ger, the Enterprise and possibly the San Fransisco tram." (Starlog, issue 47, June 1981, p. 61) Initially, Visual Effects Designer Taylor, was apparently like-minded, as Price further clarified, "We bid out many of the models at one time with limited success. Richard Taylor felt that we should do the work but an obscure arrangement with the union keeps a major from working with outside firms when the staff shop is available and able to do the job. The only way around this is to let the staff shop build the items first and duplicate the work elsewhere later. This happened frequently on the film. Magicam, by the way, is a Paramount subsidiary." (Starlog, issue 30, p. 8) Partly for these reasons, RA&A and Paramount decided to go with Magicam for the build of the new models, including that of the Enterprise, and Price and his team were released from the project the same month.
However, six months later in mid-July 1978, Price & co, were brought back by RA&A into the production for props manufacturing, such as phasers, tricorders and the like, as Magicam's capacity was entirely taken up with the build of the studio models. Price recalled, "We were pulled into Star Trek kind of late. We started work only three weeks prior the first day of shooting. There were times when we'd start to work at seven o'clock in the morning and work through till three the next afternoon. I wouldn't want to do that again, but this is probably the only kind of job, where I'd be willing to work those kind of hours." (Starlog, issue 20, p. 71) Aside from the props, Price & co. also started on the design and partial construction of various environmental suits, only to have those taken from them as they were to be mostly executed by Apogee, Inc. later on. Due to their association with the unfortunate RA&A, eventually released on 22 February 1979, Price and his team, were nearly dismissed as well. In order to save his company's involvement, Brick Price had to write a letter to the irate executives of Paramount Pictures, explaining what his company did and what the relationship with RA&A exactly was. That, however, paid off as his company was retained to continue building the numerous props. Although his company eventually produced over 1,250 props for the movie and beyond (additional pieces for conventions and the like), no official credit was ever given, which Price has attributed to residual resentment towards RA&A and his former association with them. (Enterprise Incidents; special edition on the technical side, pp. 35-56)
Understandably, Price has expressed mixed feelings about his company's involvement with the first Star Trek feature at the time, "There were myriad problems with the film, but I really feel that it will become a classic of the genre. I wouldn't have said that a few months ago because everything looked so schizoid. Nothing looked cohesive because there were so many factions doing battle and trying to have a hand in the look. Now everything is coming together and it looks wonderful. I regret that Dow gave away such a major part of the script, but it's still being changed so I doubt that much harm was done. I'm sorry that more of the deserving people won't be getting credit. I know we won't because we were told as much at the outset. The 20 or so people of mine who worked dozens of hours for the last year on hundreds of props will probably fade into the woodwork . Most of them are somewhat thankful now but they may not feel that way when the smoke clears. They're just weary." (Starlog, issue 30, p. 8)
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.. 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 contradicted.  American collector Adam Schneider  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.   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.
Being WonderWorks, Inc.Edit
Around the turn of 1986-1987 Brick Price changed the name of the company to "WonderWorks, Inc." and continued to provide special and visual effects assets for several movies. Motion picture productions the company has worked upon after the Star Trek movie included, while still being called "Brick Price Movie Miniatures", Captive (1980), Lifepod (1981), Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land (1983), and SpaceCamp (1986). As "WonderWorks Inc." the company has provided props, sets and miniatures for productions such as, "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future" (1987), The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988), Apollo 13 (1995), the science fiction blockbuster movies, Deep Impact and Armageddon (both 1998), Counter Measures (1998), and Fallout (1999). The 21st century productions the company has contributed to were, Race to Space (2001), The Day After Tomorrow and Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets (both 2004), Deep Rescue and the television series episode "Space Cadets: Episode #1.6" (both 2005), with The Astronaut Farmer of 2006 its most recent recorded credit.
Aside from motion picture productions, the company also provided numerous models for NASA (reciprocally brought in at the time by Don Loos), museums, theme parks, the military, and corporations (such as the aforementioned Planet Hollywood franchise), thereby somewhat cushioning the impact the advent of computer generated imagery had on visual effects companies that solely relied on producing them by utilizing traditional, physical methods.
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|
|L-R, Brick Price, Jones, Laura Price, Tracy Faucher, Alan Faucher, Anka, Cory Faucher, and Swenson (kneeling)|
|L-R, Cory Faucher, Laxineta, MacRae, Alan Faucher, Pusich, Laura Price, Tracy Faucher, up front Brick Price sans beard|
There have been a number of staffers and people that have worked closely with the group over the years, including:
- Steve Amos
- Darryl Anka
- Alan Faucher
- Cory Faucher
- Tracy Faucher
- Mike Jones
- Dale King
- Paul Laxineta
- Robin Leyden
- Don Loos
- Bruce MacRae
- Mike Mulvey
- John Palmer
- Laura Price
- Oliver Ray "Brick" Price
- Ron Pusich
- Ken Swenson
- "SFX, The Magical Techniques of Movie and TV Special Effects, Part XV: Brick Price - Model Man", David Hutchison, Starlog, issue 20, March 1979, pp. 66-71
- "The Star Trek Models", Brick Price, Starlog, issue 30, January 1980, pp. 7-8.
- "Star Trek-The Motion Picture: Props", David Hutchison, 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.