SciFi Airshow

By Phil Plait | March 11, 2012 7:37 am

How much money would I pay to attend this? It would need exponential notation to express it.

SciFi Airshow is the brainchild of artist Bill George, who I’m guessing is almost exactly the same age as me, since I recognize every single spaceship he’s created (I wrote about this a couple of years ago, but this video is new). It’s all based on TV shows from the 70s (and some movies, too), and the pictures of the Eagle and Hawk from Space:1999 nearly break my heart. But the good news? The show’s gonna be revived. I know the original got a lot of grief, and reboots can be frowned upon, but I really like some of them, and I refuse to judge something before I give it a chance.

And man, I’m willing to give this a chance. As long as they keep the Eagles looking even close to the same, I will sit and watch them fly all day long. They’re still pretty much my favorite scifi spaceship ever made.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (27)

  1. Old Rockin' Dave

    I know you may not agree with your own comment that reboots of TV series are frowned upon but I know one very large exception. Which “Battlestar Galactica” do you think most people would rather have: the kiddie show version of the ’80s, or the more adult version we just had? I am waiting for the third one, the one where they finally get it right.
    I did really like the video and wish it could have been longer. I too always liked the ships from “Space:1999”.

  2. John Paradox

    Oh.. the ‘spider eye thingie’ from Jonny Quest!!


  3. I remember when you wrote about this the first time. :)

    I’d like to see what they will do with Space: 1999 in a reboot. I know that I preferred the Battlestar Galactica (even though I initially thought I would hate it) over the 80s version (although I agree with Old Rockin’ Dave that they dorked it up at the end).

  4. Other Paul

    One snag with Space: 1999 was that the makers ended up rather badly predicting something in and of a year which would turn up whilst they – or certainly their audience – were likely to be still living. Aren’t the rebooters – retitling to only 2099 – taking the same risk? Or am I being a tad over-optimistic about medical progress?

  5. Jacobus

    With Regaurds to BSG I would like to see a live demonsration of an Atmospheric Jump Launch

  6. Darth Robo

    Just a tad disappointed with Bill George. What, no Star Wars or Star Trek ships?

  7. Marc JX8P

    What I loved about the Eagle ships was that the cockpit was modular – there was an episode where they detached it and connected it to another spaceship which really blew my mind at the time. Lot of thought put into it!

  8. Chris

    “It would need exponential notation to express it.” – i will be stealing this phrase from you Sire.

  9. Even at 10 to 12 years old when it first aired I thought a lot of the stories were a little absurd, and that is was sort of a rip off of the idea of lost in space. However, I’ve always thought the Eagle was the absolute best small space craft ever, and some of the stories, if not the overall premise, were pretty good.

  10. Mike

    Oh, crap, I really wanted this be be real, was even thinking about my vacation time this summer. As far as the Eagle goes, I remember laughing with a friend when he described it as a plumber’s nightmare (but I remember it fondly)

  11. Chris Winter

    “Just a tad disappointed with Bill George. What, no Star Wars or Star Trek ships?”

    He probably can’t afford to license the reproduction rights.

  12. I’m excited about “Space 2099” as well. But I’m also braced for a bit of visual disappointment (the writing and science will, hopefully be much better, and I remain somewhat optimistic about that), in that the Eagle is just one of the greatest sci-fi ship designs ever. The concept art suggests that they’ll try to hold somewhere near the original concept, but I wasn’t impressed with it.

    The Eagle certainly needs updating of course, but its functional modularity was near perfection. I’m afraid some art director is is going to lose what made it special in an attempt to make it “contemporary.”

    Hollywood’s track record here isn’t good. The only good examples I can think of are the two movie versions of the original TV “USS Enterprise” from Star Trek. But while I loved the new Battlestar Galactica and it’s ships were serviceable, none of the the redesigns had the magic of the originals (especially the fighters). And let’s not even talk about the “Lost in Space” movie (perhaps we shouldn’t even talk about the “Lost in Space” movie at all, but I digress) design that turned the Jupiter 2 (which I will admit, was far more in need up an update that most) into some kind of flying tumor.

    The problem with any such redesign is the temptation of the designer to tinker simply to put their own stamp on things, and their failure to understand that “different” isn’t automatically the same as “better” when dealing with a nostalgia property.

  13. CR

    The original Battlestar Galactica was from the 1970’s… the absurd ‘sequel’ series Galactica 1980 was from, well, 1980, and in my opinion was worse than the original (in spite of the original having several low points… it also had some high marks and might have gotten a great deal better had it been allowed to continue after finding its stride). The remake, although hailed by so many as great, was just something I couldn’t get into, in spite of trying.

    By the way, the new S1999 reboot is not the first to use the title Space 2099. A few years ago, one Eric Bernard of Canada attempted to revive interest in the original series by updating the special effects and establishing continuity by arranging the episodes in a specific way. His title was Space: 2099, and though it looked very interesting, copyright holders seemed uninterested in the project. However, he’s working on a concept of a sequel to the original series (or more to the point his re-vamp of it) called Space: 2099 Legacy, sort of a next generation version. I don’t want to have my post tied up in moderation by posting links, but online searches should lead you to his site complete with photos and sample video clips.

    No, I’m not affiliated with him nor his production efforts. I just like that he seems to be as huge a fan of the original series as I am, and respects the original enough to try to keep it alive as is, rather than as a complete do-over.

    As for the new ‘official’ Space 2099 reboot (note that there’s no colon in the title), I hope that it’s interesting and entertaining. On the other hand, like I said about the new BSG so many years ago, why not just make a brand new series that isn’t even associated with the original? That way, new creators can take the show in any direction they want, and fans of the original won’t feel upset about how ‘their’ show has been desecrated.

    As for the Eagle, I echo others’ sentiments about it being one of the best SF ship designs of all time. The new S2099 version looks like it’s only got the highly distinctive command module as its only link to the original design, and even that has been altered a bit. Of course, that’s just ‘teaser’ artwork, so we’ll have to wait and see.

  14. Elmar_M

    Phil. I hope they will make you their science advisor! Sooo looking forward to this show!

  15. Joseph

    I believe I would go broke to go to one of these.

    Doesn’t have to be Sci-Fi really. Restart the worlds fair and have an airshow component. Invite all of the civilian aerospace companies as well as the X-Prize contestants. Ask for real world vehicles and full scale mockups of proposed vessels that are are possible to build with current tech.

  16. CR

    Forgot to mention in my earlier S99 post that the original series was deliberately set in a near-future year, precisely so that audiences could see themselves as potential participants… in other words, it wasn’t set centuries ahead, but within our lifetimes for relatability. (Granted, at the time, the writers didn’t think that manned space exploration would grind to a near-complete halt and stay in low Earth orbit.) As a kid watching the series first run, I calculated how old I’d be in 1999 when Moonbase Alpha was real, and realized I’d be roughly the age of many of the characters in the show, which was cool. (OK, at that time, I was as optimistic as the series writers about mankind’s future in space…)
    Oh, well…

  17. Old Rockin' Dave

    Actually, as far as reboots, I’m really hoping that the BBC will reboot “Star Cops” with a better effects budget but the same adult approach the original had. That was a show that died before its time. I also wouldn’t mind a good rebooted “Blake’s 7”. Given “Blake’s” fairly cheesy effects it’s kind of sad that it had the biggest budget of any BBC series up to its time.
    BTW, does anyone know how I could get to see some of the original series Men Into Space? I was pretty blown away by it as a kid, and I suspect some of the episodes would still hold up.

  18. Superluminous idea and looks awesome. I’d love to go too. 8)

    What the blazes is the craft at the 11 second mark on that clip?

    Wonder if they’ll have any of the ships from ‘Babylon 5’ or ‘Crusade’ there?

    I’d really also love it if they had a replica of the Phoenix from ‘Battle of the Planets’, some of the ships from ‘Flash Gordon’ – 80’s cartoon (linked in my name) and other versions – and the Spacebattlecruiser Yamato from ‘StarBlazers’ and the eponymous manga / anime series.

    As far as ‘Space : 1999’ goes, I’ve read the novel haven’t seen much of the show itself. I must admit the silliness of the premise – a nuclear explosion breaking Earth’s Moon loose and sending it travelling very rapidly across tens of light years – just strikes me as too ridiculous to get past but, yeah, cool looking ships. Rebooting it? Hmmm … I ‘ll wait and see. Hopefully they’ll change the idea somewhat for plausibility’s sake. If its done well enough, it could be okay, who knows? The rebooted BSG certainly worked out pretty well. :-)

    Co-incidentally caught an episode – well some of an episode – of the old ‘Buck Rodgers’ TV SF show – the other night. On very late /early, very camp and funny. ūüėČ

  19. Tara Li

    I found GINO a horrible disappointment. For the most part, the interiors looked like they just filmed on left-over US Navy ships, the costuming looked like they asked people to just come in in whatever they had in their own closets, and … the politicians were all cookie-cutter versions of current day politicians, with no real inspirational or charismatic leaders like the original Commander Adama. I kinda guess they *had* to turn it into a time loop – because there really wasn’t anything new or alien going on.

    Heck – even the Russians, as far as I can tell, don’t use the American custom of aviator call-signs. That, to me, was what broke the suspension of disbelief.

    The Star Trek reboot, though, gives me hope for this new one. I can really hope it goes well!

  20. DennyMo

    I visited the Air Show site, and came away a bit confused. Or maybe they’re the ones confused. Are they an organization writing media materials for an airshow they wish could happen? Or are they an organization buying up old SF props for display? Some pages are written one way, some the other, I can’t tell. But if the “airshow” ever went on tour, yeah, I’d check it out.

  21. Scott P.

    “I found GINO a horrible disappointment.”

    What is GINO?

  22. steve m

    GINO = “Galactica In Name Only”?

  23. carbonUnit

    MTU: the craft at 11 seconds is from Lost In Space. From Wikipedia:
    “… the “Pod” ‚Äď a small spacecraft first shown in the third and final season and modeled on the Apollo Lunar Module ‚ÄĒ was used to travel from its bay in the Jupiter 2 to destinations either on land or in space. The Pod apparently had artificial gravity too.”

    I’ve come to believe that Seaview had some Tardis capabilities. There’s no way the front end of the ship could have contained the forward torpedo room, the Flying Sub hanger, the observation/control room and the level above the control room. Similarly, I seem to recall a (late?) episode of Lost in Space featuring a third level containing the reactor core or something.

    Phil: Since my first comment is hung up in moderation (perhaps for including a link?) I’ll just note that the first link in your post is 404. Looks like you mashed two addresses together.

  24. artbot

    @20 – Bill George is a veteran model builder at ILM (or _was_ with ILM for many years). I don’t think the site was supposed to be anything other than a sly poke at creating a “fake history” in which vintage tv & movie spacecraft are treated as though they were real, and displayed as “historical” craft at a modern airshow display. I’m not certain, but I believe these are all practical models and not CG. There was certainly some photo manipulation in combining them with people, though.

    Personally I love that he focuses on the vintage 60s & 70s craft. Not sure if it has anything to do with licensing or trademarks. If you go to any of the space modeling sites, there are a million versions of those more recent ships for your viewing pleasure. Only craft I like to see more of from Bill are the Gerry Anderson/Thunderbirds vehicles.

    Note: Go to his “download” page for some beautiful hi-rez stills of the ships.

  25. Samm

    Cool clip, but it unwittingly echoes the worst (for me) aspects of real world airshow video reporting by focusing on the static displays rather than the flying :)

  26. Kristen

    This lurker cannot resist commenting:

    S:1999 was one of my first loves, next to Star Trek. Star Trek reigns supreme, but in 1975, when I was 10, I would have LOVED to be Maya. Really, I have loved almost all the shows the magically showed up on TV, and forgiven much to carry the sci-fi torch which was seldom present on the TV when I was growing up. (The Star Trek Movie remake, artistically “good” as it was, I cannot forgive for wiping out pretty much my known Star Trek Universe. I did like SciFi’s BSG.)

    But I digress. Here is why I wanted to comment: I never knew the name of the S:1999 spaceships. Only thought of them as “Flying Ants.”

  27. Matt B.

    It might be interesting if Space 2099 used Titan. They wouldn’t even have to have it rocket out of the solar system to make an interesting show (although it’s probably key for this reboot). But the colony would already be set up for freezing temperatures, and they’d have a bunch of hydrocarbons as resources. We know too much about the Moon for it to be treated as anything but an oversized landing platform.


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