Rick Sternbach established the Cardassians’ design lineage with his design of the Galor class cruiser that first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s season four episode “The Wounded.”
The reptilian appearance of the Cardassian species was already established and Sternbach built on that. “We knew the Cardassian makeup involved that sort of little elongated oval on the forehead, so I thought maybe that was an interesting shape to play with,” he told Star Trek: The Magazine in October 2001.
Sternbach recalled in 2010 that early designs had the Galor looking like a scorpion, “with a few dorsal tail pods and some forward cannons looking like pincers” but it felt too contrived. “The pods disappeared along with the cannons but a flat disruptor forked tail thing remained.” The green pyramids on the “wings” were designed as smaller disruptors comparable to phaser strips on Starfleet vessels.
Galor model construction
The Galor model under construction (Ed Miarecki)
The ship ended up looking more like an Egyptian ankh, which Sternbach found appropriate, given how the Cardassians “were like the pharaohs to the Bajoran slaves,” as he put it in an interview with Forgotten Trek in 2007. “I’m a big fan of iconic shapes or more correctly shapes that somehow remind you of something without beating you over the head with it.” In the Star Trek: The Magazine interview, he added, “We even spec’d the ship out as being a desert yellow color with some cobalt blue accents and dark Chinese red, very much like the Tutankhamen sarcophagus.”
The model was built by Ed Miarecki and Tom Hudson. The latter writes on his website that it was “one of the most complex things” either of them had worked on until then.
Lighting was set up in several circuits: impulse engines, collectors, windows, navigational deflector, navigational beacons. Windows and the navigational deflector were lit with custom neon tubes; other lights were incandescent bulbs.
Ed Miarecki and Tom Hudson pose for a photo with the Galor model (Tom Hudson)
Tony Meininger later added fins to the aft section of the hull for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as a superstructure to the upper middle part of the ship to create the Keldon class. These additions weren’t permanently affixed so the model could be reverted back to its original configuration and used for both starship classes.
The Keldon only appeared in two episodes. The Galor appeared in 29, including Star Trek: Voyager‘s pilot “Caretaker” and season six's “The Voyager Conspiracy.”
The Galor was “digitalized” for the final two episodes of Deep Space Nine by Brandon MacDougall at Foundation Imaging.