ATTENTION: The Boards will be closed permanently on May 28th, 2014. Posting will be disabled on April 28th, 2014. More Info

What Color IS the TOS Enterprise?


GROUP: Members


Report this Sep. 08 2009, 11:59 am

Here are the much anticipated paint specs for the  Â¿The Original Series¿ Enterprise, based on research provided by Richard C. Datin, the original builder of the 3′ (33in) and 11ft. (4x) filming miniatures, in late 1964.

These samples, and subsequent paint formulas are based on the only known remaining sample, which is an overspray ¿splatter¿ on the backside of one of the original Enterprise drawings.

You can find out more about this color, and of the Enterprise miniatures¿ history in the ¿Star Trek Communicator¿, issues # 132 and # 133, written by William McCullars, and who has an excellent Trek miniatures website, ¿The IDIC Page¿.

In part two, Richard Datin states: ¿Jefferies also furnished paint chips, for which I had lacquer-based paint custom-matched by a Fuller¿s Paint dealer on Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles¿¿..¿it was not a Ford or GM paint or primer as some ¿learned¿ souls have decried. It was a flat finish¿a light grey color with a light tint of green.¿

Below are a few comments I made in relation to this project on the ¿HobbyTalk¿ message boards, and an explanation of how grey colors work:

Grey (or Gray) is a very elusive color. It¿s probably the most difficult color to match in a situation like this, because it ABSORBS anything near it, giving it a bias to that influential color next to it, such as bluescreen, or studio lights with colored gels, etc. If we were talking about ¿fire engine red¿, it wouldn¿t take much to get everyone on the same page as to what it is¿..but grey is a neutral, and it is very difficult to match¿from a perspective of a viewer of the show. If the surface was a silver¿whether metallic or not¿it would REFLECT those same colors, and not appear as we know it.

If you go to a paint store, you¿ll notice over 50 grey samples, all muted in a specific color, and they are of a slight varying degree of ¿neutral grey¿.

After all the years I¿ve researched and written about the classic Enterprise (SFAM 1), modelled it, and painting it, I¿ve always wondered just what it¿s root ¿grey¿ really was/is. I have seen actual miniatures Greg Jein and others have built (i.e. ST Earth Tour, some years ago), and they are not as they appear on film or video.

Film stock, especially Ektachrome-based 35mm film stock used in the mid to late 60¿s had a blue bias (like 35mm camera film¿it usually has a bias towards the color of the box it comes in, i.e. Agfa/orange, Fuji/green, Kodachrome/yellow, etc.); so if the Enterprise looked blue from the bluescreen (enough to influence Andrew Probert to give homage to the classic Enterprise by making the ¿1701-D¿ duck egg blue), AND by the film bias¿then It¿s blue for those reasons, and I can see how this ¿Concrete¿ color would absorb the blue biases easily¿(I held a bright blue shirt under my drafting lamp, and reflected the light coming from the shirt onto the sample¿and the sample became blue-grey. Voila! No green-grey, no neutral grey¿Blue-grey.)

Remember¿Richard and his friend thought ¿Armory Gray¿ were a close tie, but ¿Concrete¿ was closer; almost ¿exact¿. If you look at the studio miniatures, and on TV, you¿ll notice a ¿falling off¿ of the bright, seemingly neutral grey on the nacelle tops¿to colored, contrasty edges on the sides and undersides. This is the nature of grey tones that precipitate they¿re biased, inherent color, especially tones that are darker than you think, when brightly lit. This is also a trick with tonal variation on miniatures to fool you into (visually) believing that it¿s much bigger than you think. This color might seem odd¿but it works (and I can see Matt Jeffries picking out this variation of grey for the show, as he¿s a master of color and tonal variation).

It is my professional opinion that the colors I have researched here are the closest color samples of the TOS Enterprise currently available. If by some magical fate, the exact color spec was discovered someday, it wouldn¿t affect the current research, by the pure nature and quality of this color; and it would be irrelevant to the application on a model of this scale (18-22″)¿.

With all that discussion behind us now, we used color samples from WalMart house paint, since it would be easier for most modellers to go to a local store and pick up these as swatch samples to match their model paints to (besides¿it¿s free). For those not able to go to a local WalMart (like those overseas), we have provided you with a scan of the samples, along with a background AMT logo for monitor/printer color correction, since I know you all must have some sort of AMT/ERTL kit laying around to compare to (this one is from the 22″ TOS Enterprise cut-away kit). CMYB, and Pantone PMS book pages were not used for the scan, since most modelers do not have these books.

The WalMart samples (¿ColorPlace¿ paint) are as follows, and are prioritized by Richard Datin, and a friend of his which is a professional artist (these are the scanned samples on the Exclusives page) :
¿    # 1 choice ¿ ¿Concrete¿, set # 632, # 96321
(note: ACE Hardware # 193-D ¿Shady Cove¿ sample added below )
¿    # 2 choice ¿ ¿Armory Gray¿, set # 631, #96311
(note: ACE Hardware # 194-D ¿Summer Song¿ sample added below )
¿    # 3 choice ¿ ¿Rock Moss¿, set # 634, # 96341 (no ACE sample)
# 1 was the closest, with # 2 a close second, in Richard¿s opinion. ¿Concrete¿ is an olive drab based color, with a lightening of a neutral, cold grey, and white.  #2, ¿Armory Grey¿ is close, but has the slight influence of a warmer grey. #3, ¿Rock Moss¿ is similar to ¿Concrete¿, but with the influence of a neutral (neither cold or warm) grey¿and was not really a strong candidate, but I included it anyway.

My Webpage


GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1039

Report this Sep. 09 2009, 9:33 am

Very interesting info Bax, thanks!


GROUP: Members


Report this Sep. 09 2009, 9:44 am

I knew you would find it interesting, that's why I posted it. ;) :logical:


GROUP: Members


Report this Sep. 09 2009, 8:12 pm

Thanks, dude. :)



GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1119

Report this Aug. 30 2010, 8:06 pm

I went to a hobby store down the road about two years ago, looking to repaint my old Enterprise model..and it was tricky. As noted below, wow, the variances in grey are such, that it's really hard to pin down the right shade. I think 'pear grey' was something like the way I thought it was supposed to go. But, over theyears, if you look at different artist's renderings-such as the great Keith Birdsong, for one of the st collector's plates, the 1701 I believe was white, like the ERTL model I have.But what cinced things for me was the multiview in ST Communicator some years ago of the ship, in whatever grey....

''If I were captain, i'd open every crack in the universe, and peek inside, just like Captain Janeway does''-Kes, ''The Cloud''

Forum Permissions

You cannot post new topics in this forum

You cannot reply to topics in this forum

You cannot delete posts in this forum