Fireball XL5 meets Star Trek!

Alien spaceships fly over Space City in the Fireball XL5 episode, “Invasion Earth”

Fireball XL5 meets Star Trek? Top Star Trek designer Michael Okuda recently highlighted these familiar-looking spacecraft threatening Space City in an episode of Gerry Anderson’s early puppet show.

The alien spacecraft feature in Episode 30, “Invasion Earth” and bear a certain resemblance to the redesigned Starship Enterprise proposed by Ken Adam and Ralph McQuarrie for a planned Star Trek movie, Planet of the Titans, which apparently helped to inspire the design of the Starship Discovery from the current Star Trek series screening here in the UK on Netflix.

British designer Derek Meddings, well known for his work on many Gerry Anderson production, was going to be the Miniature Effects Supervisor on the planned Star Trek: Planet of the Titans film, which was to have been the first motion picture based on Star Trek: The Original Series. The project was one of several early attempts to bring Star Trek back after the series had been cancelled, but the plan was abandoned in 1976.

Over on his official Facebook page, Michael Okuda notes Meddings is reputed to have made study models of the proposed Enterprise redesign by Adam and McQuarrie, but surviving designs by Meddings largely point to an approach more attuned to the look of the USS Enterprise in the original series.

The spaceships Michael Okuda has highlighted in Fireball XL5 bear a remarkable resemblance to a USS Enterprise concept painting by Ralph McQuarrie created for the proposed film, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans
A preproduction study model for that was built by Derek for Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. If you look closely you can see the Airfix parts used for small details. “A hallmark of Derek’s miniatures”, notes the co-ordinator of the Derek Meddings Facebook Group

Among several early career credits, Derek Meddings is credited with the special effects in both Gerry Anderson’s 1960 and 1962 series Supercar and Fireball XL5, and was then elevated to special effects director for Stingray, where he and Reg Hill designed the main models. Meddings became special effects supervisor for Thunderbirds, produced in 1965–66, and was responsible for the design of the Thunderbirds themselves. He’s also well known later for his work in the 1970s and 1980s on the James Bond and Superman film series.

If you think a Star Trek crossover with Fireball XL5 is too bizarre to contemplate, then how about a Star Wars crossover, too? The team on the Derek Meddings Facebook Group spotted the original Death Star in an episode some time ago…

We wonder just how much of an influence Gerry Anderson’s memorable shows were (and continue to be) an influence on Hollywood?

Fireball XL5 is available on DVD (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Michael Okuda’s original Facebook post is here

Memory Alpha has a guide to Star Trek: Planet of the Titans here

The Derek Meddings Facebook Group

Fireball XL5 DVD

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

Categories: Animation, downthetubes News, Other Worlds, Star Trek, Television

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