Star Fleet Wars
Well, it has been quite a long time since I ‘cut my teeth’ on Star Fleet Wars. It was my first professional model making experience, 1977, to be precise. Like every other industry, Star Wars was a huge influence on how and what to market to current and potential customers. Star Fleet Wars was Superior Models’ answer to competing in the Sci-Fi war-gaming market.
John purchased the company about 1960 or so, not sure, and changed the name to Superior Models. The company quickly established itself as a manufacturer of high quality waterline ship models in 1:1200 and 1:2400 scales for WWI & WWII, pre WWI Dreadnoughts, ironclads, etc. They also produced highly detailed and exacting models of WWI- WWII artillery, tanks and figures. The sculpting of these figures is when my father Ron Spicer became involved with John, Superior Models and a subsidiary called Perth Pewter. He produced a lot of work over the years in military, Sci-Fi figures, fantasy figures, and a number of animals and characters from The Lord of the Rings when that animated film became popular.
I can still remember the smell of vulcanized rubber and melting pots, the sound of the molds being slapped together for talc and the spin casting machines, like it was yesterday. I was a very young kid when I first went with my father to deliver his sculpts to John. The Spin casting machines always scared me because they whistled loudly when the air pressure was let out of the lines. John always performed the ‘trick’ of dipping his finger into the molten pot of lead and not getting burned! I didn’t know then how important John and Superior would become to me, but I went on to apprentice there when I turned 16, learning the production processes and eventually creating masters. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to learn than there. John was an excellent teacher and friend. It was right about then the idea for Star Fleet Wars came along.
John did not want to just copy Star Wars. His idea was to expand it a little and make it into a ‘war game’. He came up with the idea of the five different ‘worlds’. We know them as Carnivorian, Terran, Avarian, Entomalian, and Aquarian. Anybody remember the different worlds of the Xindi from Star Trek Enterprise (hmmm……..)?
I cut all of the hulls out of brass using a jeweler’s saw and a small precision band saw. Once cut, I refined the shapes using a flex-shaft Dremel and grinding burrs.
Styling & layout
The Star Fleet Wars line did well for John and Superior Models & Perth Pewter. I learned a lot about the design and production process and was given a chance to actually produce master patterns for the buying public. That experience is not something that your average 16-17 year old can get. I owe a great deal to John and wish he were still around to talk to and debate.
Commodore Scott R. Spicer
(Lt., TFSF, CIS.) Retired.