Houston We Don’t Have a Problem

Been a while since I have posted. But been even longer looking for over a year now for the found item that was used to create the conical shaped material container first used in several scenes in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (TWOK).

The same item was used in a scene in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial before a bunch of them being used in several Star Trek:The Next Generation (TNG) episodes. One finally came up on eBay and I snagged it:

Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Ches

Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest.

The original found piece is a Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest. For its use as a prop, the piece was obviously repainted, new decals placed on it, and modified by having two snap latches attached to it. Here are some shots of an original Little Tikes one with the original decals on it (courtesy of SgtFang’s imager website):

Front of a vintage Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest.

Top-down view of a vintage Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest.

Back view of a vintage Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest.

For TWOK, a pair of them were heavily distressed and first show up on the interior walls fo Khan’s makeshift abode:

Later in the film, multiple silver painted ones are in the Genesis tunnel inside the Regula planetoid:

The next film the Little Tikes toy chest shows upon is E.T. A trio of them are in one shot after the government scientists are packing up the makeshift field laboratory inside the house and are painted white with no decreeable markings on them. One is behind where Gertie ( Drew Barrymore) is as she walks over to where the “man with keys” (Peter Coyote) and Mary ( Dee Wallace)—Elliot’s mother—are talking. Coyote’s character is resting his hand on one and as they talk, a technician walks past them carrying another one:

conical-container-et-02

The toy chest shows up as medical investigator container prop in the film “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial “.

Prop Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest used in the film

A few years later, quite a few of them turned up in three different TNG episodes.

The first is a single one with no discernible markings with an undefined color—possible a primer gray—in the third season episode “The Vengeance Factor”:

Prop Little Tikes kid’s Apollo Space Capsule Toy Chest used in the ST:TNG episode

The toy chest next turns up in the ST:TNG episode “The Vengeance Factor”.

Later that same season, a whole slew of them, some painted metallic silver, the others painted a metallic copper, none with descendable markings, are used in one of the better third-season episodes “The Most Toys”:

Their final appearance in TNG seems to have been in the fourth season episode, “Future Imperfect” in the illusionary Romulan base created “Jean-Luc”/Ethan/Barash“. These may be the same paint job from “The Most Toys” episode, as there seems to be both copper and silver tone colored versions. Though some seem to have had either a Dullcote spay or weathering to dull down their metallic luster quite a bit. Particularly the copper/earth tone colored ones in Ethan’s hiding place/supply cave.

They first appear in the episode in the Romulan holding cell as “Ethan” and Rider escape after overpowering a Romulan guard and then escaping into a crawlspace/tunnel:

…and making their way further into Ethan’s hiding place:

9 thoughts on “Houston We Don’t Have a Problem

  1. Not too far. I have had a bunch of non-Trek related things crop up this past 8 months, so I have not done much on any of my projects, but hope to get back to it in the coming months.

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  2. I’ll also be modifying this item to resemble a Regula One storage capsule. Besides the silver paint, are you aware of any other modifications the prop folks did to these plastic capsules for TWOK? You don’t by any chance have access to any images of the signage used in the film on these, do you?

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    • There are a pair of “draw latches” that were added to keep the hinged lid closed. I don’t the exact ones used, but did find ones that (to my eye) looked pretty much the same. This type of toggle latch:

      https://www.uesint.com/product/padlockable-toggle-latch/#

      …appears close to the ones that was added to the toy chest in in ST:TWOK (and E.T.) as well as in the “Future Imperfect” episode of TNG.

      As to the “signage” that was applied to the silver versions that were used in the Genesis tunnel scene, I don’t have anything other than screen grabs from ST:TWOK. The lettering around the base portion seem to be various sizes of the Helvetica typeface.

      As to all the markings that were typeset, I do not have anything more to go on that going through the screencaps. They all appear to have two large letter codes, followed by a smaller two digit number:

      GZ 27
      LR 24
      RH 14

      Two of them appear to have to have a blue band paints/applied around the widest part of the bottom section, that starts centered below the “window” label and goes around approx. 270º and then has a facility/location name, stenciled in red (in a font other than Helvetica) which is presumably the original name/location of the “owner” of the container:

      Tycho Laboratories
      Kosygin Base

      The “label” that was applied over the “widow” in the lid portion uses the same cargo hold locator symbol that were created by Lee Cole as part of the cargo pod labels.

      I talk about and expand the cargo labels designs into a large Starfleet Cargo Pod Identification System in an earlier post:

      https://third-wave-design.com/2016/12/07/cargo-pod-insanity/

      I can’t make out what any of the text in the “window” label says, and have not run across any images of that artwork.

      On one of the silver one, above the “window” near the tips area o nth lid, there also appears to have “U.F.P.” stenciled in red.

      The containers on the wall of Khan’s shelter in TWOK, I can’t make out at all, but the markings are very different, but are heavily weathers and “dirty” so making that artwork out is next to impossible. There does seem to be some sort of circular logo on a diamond sticker. It might be a the United Federation fo Planets symbol (but so weathered and distressed as to not be very readable.

      It seems like they were all painted over as either silver or copper when these props got re-purposed for TNG and haven’t spotted any markings or attached signage/labeling on them.

      Not sure if that helps you much. I have not done anything with the unmodified toy chest I purchased several years back. I hope to someday do what it sounds like you are doing, convert it into silver labels container like one of the Genesis tunnel ones. Though I do dig the copper ones in TNG, though the “plain” aspect fo them works against me choosing that style.

      Agin, not sure if that helps you out, but do let me know how things progress on your prop-replication goes.

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  3. Watching ET, The Extraterrestrial tonight with the grandkids (their first time!) and there the famous conical ribbed containers appear

    Thank you for the great compilation of sci-fi props!

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  4. I would like to make a 3d model of this capsule. (If someone hasn’t already.)

    Is anyone able to share any measurements? Heights, diameters, radiuses, elevations, linear distances? In any units.

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    • I would be more than happy to share the measurements from the piece I purchased a few years back that I have in storage, if you are then willing to share the 3D file of it once completed.

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