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Model



Plastic Model

Frank Henriquez's AMT Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser This remarkable site is the definitive place for information about the Leif, including the fact that it is probably in 1:500 scale. He also has some incredibly high-res scans of the model parts here. Not to mention a transcription of the Leif Ericson story pamplet included with the original model kit.
Fantastic Plastic Leif Ericson Great photos of the assembled model.
Round 2 Models Reissue In the early 2000's, Round 2 Models actually managed to locate the original Leif Ericson molds used to make the mdoel kit. In 2009 they partially answered the prayers of Leif Ericson fans by reissuing the Interplanetary UFO Mystery Ship model kit. And in 2011 they fully answered the prayers of Leif Ericson fans by reissuing the full blown Leif Ericson model kit. The kits are available from your local hobby store or from many online stores. Note that the full Leif kit includes the chrome pieces and the transparent engine, plus an LED lighting kit for the engines. The UFO version has none of that, but is molded in glow-in-the-dark plastic and also has some marvelous decals. The original 1968 kit used grain of wheat incandescent light bulbs instead of LEDs since in those days LEDs were $200 a pop.
UFO kit:
Leif Ericson kit:
ParaGrafix Modeling Systems Leif Ericson Photoetch Set From the leader in aftermarket parts for science fiction model kits comes a marvelous set of photoetched metal detailing for the Round 2 Models plastic Leif Ericson kit. It will work with either the UFO Mystery Ship or the Leif Ericson proper. It includes a finely detailed replacement for the hangar bay, detailing for the hangar doors, grills for the engine intakes and exhaust, forward and aft debarkation ramps, three styles of shuttle landing gear, and two styles of nameplates. This will take your Leif model kit up to the next level.

Columbus Resin Kit Ed Holt is making a resin model kit using the computer mesh crafted by Steven Wilson. This is going to be one sweet kit. Mr. Holt plans to have it available in time for Christmas. I'll post a notice here when it is released.

Late breaking news! It's here! It's wonderful! And it even has engines that look like the Time Tunnel! If you are interested in this kit, contact Ed Holt (modelnutz) here.
Vega Shuttle Resin Kit Ed Holt has done it again. This time it is a stunning model of the Vega shuttle from the Leif Ericson model kit. The resin kit has solid windows, but a transparent vacuform window set is included if you want to carve out the windows. For an extra fee, one can obtain metal landing gear. The kit is $65.00 plus shipping without landing gear, $75.00 plus shipping with landing gear. To order, contact Ed Holt (modelnutz) here. In the image below, the kit has been assembled and painted by Cozmo.

Cozmo's Leif Ericson Resin Model Scroll down to "Galactic Cruiser". These fabulous models are about four inches long and require assembly and sanding, as do all resin models. The kit can be built as the Leif Ericson, or as the fin-less MacArthur from The Mote in God's Eye (see below). Here is a review of the kit. He has an image gallery here. Cozmo also has available for sale the SSC Fast Cutter which is based one of Matt Jeffries concept drawings for the Leif. Captain Bob is modifying the Fast Cutter into a Missile Cruiser. He already build a MacArthur.
Cozmo's Leif Ericson Ground Vehicle Resin Models Cosmo was inspired by the land vehicle section of this website to make some Leif-scale ground cars. These are early prototypes, he has improved versions for sale. #1, #2, and #8 appear to be based on the Landram from Battlestar Galactica. #3 appears to be a SHADO mobile from UFO. #4 appears to be a Landmaster from DAMNATION ALLEY. #5 is apparently a wheeled versio of the Landmaster. #6 appears to be Ark II from the show of the same name. #7, #9, and #11 are generic cars and trucks. #10 appears to be the Voyager from the cartoon Fantastic Voyage. #12 is supplemental fusion engine for the top of the Leif Ericson's end-plate. And #13 is a ramp.
Federation Models If you have a Leif plastic model or the awful glow-in-the-dark UFO version, and need replacement engines or scout ships, Federation Models has what you need.
Alliance Models Alliance Models has an actual large resin Leif Ericson model. It is half the size of the original plastic model, six and one half inches long instead of thirteen.
John Payne's Leif Ericson Professonal modelmaker John Payne has released a photo of his amazing make of the Alliance resin kit of the Leif. Now that's the way it is supposed to be done! (He mentioned that he used a solid coat of French blue-gray, with some random streaks of dark gray pastel dust)
Christopher Doll's Leif Ericson This master model maker won a Merit Award at WonderFest 2006 with this expert custom-built stand for his Alliance resin kit.
Christopher Doll's I.N.S.S. MacArthur This is jaw-droppingly impressive. Niven and Pournelle converted the plastic model Leif into the Battlecruiser MacArthur in their novel. Then master model maker Christopher Doll converted it back into a model using the description in the book.
Jerry Pournelle's Leif Ericson When writing their classic SF novel The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle used the plastic Leif Ericson as the model for the Battlecruiser MacArthur. The original was destroyed in an earthquake, but a reader sent a replacement.
Velbor's "Eric Liefson" Expert model maker Velbor has created a stunning variation of the Leif Ericson, inspired by both the Leif and the TV show "Fireball XL5". What is even more stunning is that it is constructed out of plastic Bic 2 razor, a pen , spoon handles and plasticard. In my humble opinion, the XL5 touch is a stroke of genius. And if you have some simple model-making skills, Velbor gives you a tutorial on how to make your own.

He is also working on a Leif of a size suitable for miniature starship combat games. These will be for sale soon, watch this space.

This is a model of the Pegasus, from the (proposed) War of the Worlds TV show. There are no reference images of the top side, but Velbor did a good job of keeping it Leif-like.

This is a Velbor's conjectural design for a single engine Leif destroyer. It also has some influences from a NASA lifting body. He calls it the "Mallard" class.

This is a Velbor's conjectural design for a dreadnought style Leif. Big, isn't it? He based the top part of on the nose on the island of an aircraft carrier, instead of a submarine sail like the Lief.
Andrew Gorman's One Week Build Expert model maker Andrew Gorman constructed a five inch long professional quality Leif variant in a single week. This was for the One Week Build challenge. "Take two Heller 1/144 Rafales, a WWII drop tank of unknown origin, a couple of submarine fins and a 1/700 waterline submarine and you have the start of a Leif Ericson galactic cruiser"
John Thompson's scratchbuilt launchable Leif Erickson (sic) An amazing entry in the EMRR 2008 Design this Spaceship contest. This is an actual model rocket, launchable with standard model rocket engines. As per the contest rules, he does supply building instructions. The link also has some videos of the first launch.
William Beggs' scratchbuilt launchable Interceptor L Another amazing entry in the EMRR 2008 Design this Spaceship contest. The basis was the Estes Interceptor rocket kit #1250, but the addition of an empty bottle of Aveeno lotion gave the classic Leif Ericson body. I am also most impressed with the decals used, it does give a most marvelous Strategic Space Command paint scheme. As per the contest rules, he does supply building instructions.
Craig York's custom models Expert model maker Craig York is creating the ancestors to the Leif Ericson, from his personal future history of the Strategic Star Command. The first is the "Cosmos Gigant" (aka "Iron Giant"), a test bed for an Orion style nuclear pulse spacecraft. Next is the orange saucer of alien Zork empire, whose marauding onslaught transformed the SSC from an exploration outfit into a military defense force. Next is the "Hammerhead" corvette, and finally the "Sasquito" fighter.

Blueprints

Matt Jefferies World-famous Matt Jefferies created the initial look of the Starship Enterprise. He was contracted by AMT to create the Leif Ericson. Here you can find initial concept sketches of the Leif and the scoutship. Mr. Jefferies also designed the spacecraft Botany Bay from the Star Trek episode "Space Seed". Note that both the Leif and the Bay have a feature similar to a submarine conning tower. Click on thumbnails for larger image:
Matt Jefferies Around 1975 Matt Jefferies was hired by George Pal to work on a TV series based on THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (website by John Gosling). As you can see the Hyperspace Carrier Pegasus is an outgrowth of the Leif Ericson. Note that instead of two side engines, the Pegasus has four, two on each side. For the TV series, Jefferies actually had the Pegasus upside down in relation to the Leif Ericson, in order to make the connection less obvious. The TV series was never picked up, alas. But this is a facinating glimpse of what might have been. Click on thumbnails for larger image:
Frank Henriquez's AMT Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser Mr. Henriquez includes a scan of the blueprint on the box cover.
Leif Ericson Blueprints by Hungry Lizard Studios (Robert Lee Merrill). The top, bottom, side, front, and back views are in Adobe Acrobat scalable format. They are based on accurate measurements of an actual plastic model (Joe Brown graciously lent his model to Robert Merrill). In the process of creating the blue prints he discovered that the blueprints on the box cover are inaccurate. They are close but not exact. Hungry Lizard also sells a poster-sized version of the blueprints, suitable for framing. Hungry Lizard is also your source for Leif Ericson caps, T-shirts, coffee mugs, buttons, and magnets.
Late note: My blueprint poster just arrived in the mail. You have got to get one of these, they are absolutely gorgeous! The detail is incredible and the results are beyond handsome.
Even later note: now Hungry Lizard offers a fabulous blue-print of the scoutship.
Winchell Chung's brute force blueprints. Using Mr. Merrill's blueprints, I crafted a 3D mesh in Blender. Using it I managed to make crude blueprints.

3-D CG Model Hall of Fame

Mote in God's Eye Art Gallery Contains marvelous CG images of the Battlecruiser MacArthur by Paul Lloyd. He created the model based on the information contained in the Frank Henriquez and the Fantastic Plastic websites (i.e., they are slightly inaccurate, see Blueprints entry above). This is because Robert Merrill's blueprints had not yet been drawn. Mr. Lloyd used TrueSpace to create the mesh, and Paint Shop Pro for the texture maps. The TrueSpace COB file is available here. The texture maps are available here. Click on thumbnails for larger image:

Mr. Lloyd has been working on a new and improved Leif Ericson and scoutship.
MacArthur mod for Starfleet Command A masterpiece CGI add on of the Leif as the MacArthur for the computer program Starfleet Command II. Add-on is available here. The Lightwave mesh with texture maps is available here (1.2 meg). Add-on was created by grand master Atra-Hasis using Lightwave. He started with the Paul Lloyd mesh, but manage to trim the polygon count down from the original 17,000 polys to a lean and mean 2,700, with no reduction in visual quality. A quick-and-dirty Add-on viewer program is available here. A free demo of Starfleet Combat II is available here, instructions on how to load the mod are here. Click on thumbnails for larger image:
Federation Transport mod for Starfleet Command The artist known as Stresspuppy has made his own add on of the Leif for the computer program Starfleet Command II. Add-on is available here. This is the Leif Ericson imagined as a transport in the Star Trek universe, a logical development from the DY-100. Click on thumbnail for larger image:
Andrew Boulton's Cinema 4D renders 3D mesh artist Andrew Boulton, master of the Traveller 3D site, couldn't resist the temptation to make his own Leif Ericson mesh.
Atra-Hasis Mod converted to Wavefront OBJ Bill Redfern and his friend Mapper used a program called Deep Exploration to convert Atra-Hasis' Lightwave file into a Wavefront OBJ with the UV texture map coordinates intact. The OBJ file is available here (920k).
Bill Redfern Mapper
Bill Redfern made a short video clip of the scoutship climbing out of the hangar bay. Notice how it starts moving forward before it finishes climbing. The AVI video requires the DIVX codec.
Mapper used Poser to add some control panels to Paul Lloyd's new Leif Scoutship.
The Empire of Man A paper-and-pencil role playing game based on Niven and Pournelle's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE (unfortunately, the game was never released due to a contractual dispute). It has CG images of the Leif in its reincarnation as the Battlecruiser MacArthur The breathtaking CG of the Battlecruiser MacArthur was done by artist R. Dennis Antinori, using Paul Lloyd's CG model. Click on thumbnails for larger image:
Winchell Chung's Blender renders Using Atra-Hasis' mesh, I imported it into Blender and altered it to fit Mr. Merrill's blueprints. I then proceeded to have more fun with it than a human being should be allowed to have. The Blender file is here.
MGagen's MacArthur renders MGagen is trying to alter the classic Leif Ericson into the MacArthur from THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE. The MacArthur spins on its long axis to provide centrifugal gravity. This means the hangar bay doors have to be concentric to the spin axis. In the novel the ship's crew assembles on the inside of the doors, so the doors have to concentric in order to be gravitationally "flat" for the crew's benefit. He modeled the landing gig after the scramjet version of the X-43. He notes that it is definitely a "shovel nosed lifting body" and has the right upper profile to be clamped against the hanger "ceiling." He is also trying to design the interior, but that is going to take a while. The mesh is modeled with Amapi 3D.
Number 6's Cinema 4D renders The man known as Number 6 has done the job right, starting from scratch with the Merrill blueprints, and crafting a mesh using Cinema 4D. He also did a quick animation of the hangar bay doors, an animation of the shuttle leaving the hangar, and a nice animation of the shuttle leaving with the Leif firing up her engines.
The add-on that almost was A stunning CGI add on of the Leif and the shuttle for the computer program Orbiter. The add-on is available at Orbiter Hangar Mods, the add-on is here under the name "Jeffries". If you've always wanted to pilot the Leif Ericson from planet to planet, take off and dock the shuttle, this is your big chance. Lsutehall has made a nice quick-start tutorial to get you started.
The picture doesn't do it justice, the red rotors spin, there are blinking navigation lights, and when you climb through the atmosphere it leaves a contrail. CG model created by Jon Marcure using Anim8or, based on the blueprint on the box cover. Click on thumbnails for larger image:

The S.S. Conestoga Master digital artist Doug Drexler has been doing CGI for various Star Trek episodes since Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Conestoga appeared on an epsiode of Star Trek: Enterprise entitled "Terra Nova". Mr. Drexler says the Conestoga was based on sketches from John Eaves, and among the many influences on its design was the Leif Ericson (mostly in the round body and the sail like nose). You can see larger images in his blog here and here.
The S.S. Bonaventure ptrope pstudios is starting a project to completely replace the visuals of an episode of the animated Star Trek series with 3D CGI, the episode in question being "The Time Trap". In that episode, among other things the starship Enterprise encounters the ancient remains of the S.S. Bonaventure, the first ship with warp drive. ptrope pstudios was unhappy with the image of the Bonaventure used in the episode, and decided to replace it with a modified Leif Ericson. After all, Matt Jeffries designed both the Enterprise and the Leif Ericson, so it has the proper pedigree. The results so far are quite nice!
Craig "Buckaroohawk" Frey's 3ds Max renders Noted 3D mesh artist Craig Frey created this impressive modification of the Leif. For the perfect touch, he replaced the Leif Shuttle with a StarBird! In case you were wondering, for an insignia Craig used the logo from a 1980's TV show called "The Fall Guy".
Sonora Starships Steven Wilson AKA "WarpeD" is rebooting the Leif Ericson by bringing the design into the 21th century with his original desgin of the starship "Columbus." I like how the engine intakes look like the Time Tunnel. I find this amusing because a faster-than-light starship is functionally equivalent to a time machine.

Paintings

Cover to THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE Artwork by the legendary Rich Sternbach. (click here for a detail) Image is from FUTURE magazine #3, July 1978 (the Magazine of Science Adventure). Page 30, interview with Larry Niven.
Aldo Spadoni's Artwork Aldo Spadoni is Advanced Projects Manager at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, so he knows whereof what he speaks. He was also technical consultant on a couple of movies you might have seen. He did these MacArthur images as part of a series of illustrations created in collaboration with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (more here). His design for INSS MacArthur is the one officially sanctioned by Niven & Pournelle. He took the Leif Ericson configuration into account, but mostly worked from the descriptions of MacArthur in the book and working directly with Niven & Pournelle:

First image: The Imperial expedition to the Mote system prepares for departure. Imperial Space Navy Battle Cruiser MacArthur and Battle Ship Lenin are in low orbit around the colony world, New Caledonia, taking on supplies. MacArthur’s large hanger deck and atmospheric inlet are clearly visible. An Imperial tanker is also visible. MacArthur’s Longboat is preparing for descent to the surface. Two cutters are visible in the open hangar deck. The Coal Sack, a dense nebular dust cloud, and Murcheson’s Eye form a mysterious backdrop to the scene. From this location in interstellar space, the Coal Sack has the striking appearance of a hooded man with a malevolent eye.

Second image: Imperial Space Navy Battle Cruiser MacArthur, Battle Ship Lenin, and an Imperial tanker accelerate away from low orbit around the colony world, New Caledonia. The Imperial expedition to the Mote system has begun.

Cover to ROD SERLING'S OTHER WORLDS (1978) As near as I can make it out, the artist's name is Bob Larkin. The artist seems to have done some kit bashing with plastic models. The main body is the Leif Ericson. The missile pods on the wing-tips and the plates next to the engines are from a model of a Space-1999 Hawk. The octagonal dome where the neck joins the body is a slice from a side box of a Space-1999 Eagle. Thanks to Archangel51534 for bringing this image to my attention.
Cover to BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS (1989) Cover artist is Vincent Di Fate. As the images below demonstrate, the wings appear to be from a Leif Ericson. Thanks to Aaron DeAngelis for bringing this to my attention.
Cover to Chattacon VIII program book (1984) Artwork by Bob Barger. Mr. Barger was the program book editor that year. Since he could not find any artwork for the cover, he drew it himself. Jerry Pournelle was the guest of honor at that convention, Mr. Barger had read Pournelle's essay (see below) and was a big fan of the Leif Erickson. So the decision to use the Leif for the cover was a no-brainer. Mr. Barger still has his Leif Ericson plastic model.
Starfleet Voyages (1982) Starfleet Voyages was a role playing game based on the Star Trek franchise. However, in the game, the playing piece for the Gorn Destroyer looks suspiciously like the Leif Ericson.

Misc.


From "Building the Mote in God's Eye" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, collected in N-Space and A Step Farther Out.

Long ago we acquired a commercial model called “The Explorer Ship Leif Ericsson,” a plastic spaceship of intriguing design. It is shaped something like a flattened pint whiskey bottle with a long neck. The “Leif Ericsson,” alas, was killed by general lack of interest in spacecraft by model buyers; a ghost of it is still marketed in hideous glow-in-the-dark color as some kind of flying saucer.

It’s often easier to take a detailed construct and work within its limits than it is to have too much flexibility. For fun we tried to make the Leif Ericsson work as a model for an Empire naval vessel. The exercise proved instructive.

First, the model is of a big ship, and is of the wrong shape ever to be carried aboard another vessel. Second, it had fins, only useful for at­mosphere flight: what purpose would be served in having atmosphere capabilities on a large ship?

This dictated the class of ship: it must be a cruiser or battlecruiser. Battleships and dreadnaughts wouldn’t ever land, and would be cylindrical or spherical to reduce surface area. Our ship was too large to be a destroyer (an expendable ship almost never employed on missions except as part of a flotilla). Cruisers and battlecruisers can be sent on independent missions.

MacArthur, a General Class Battlecruiser, began to emerge. She can enter atmosphere, but rarely does so, except when long independent assignments force her to seek fuel on her own. She can do this in either of two ways: go to a supply source, or fly into the hydrogen-rich at­mosphere of a gas giant and scoop. There were scoops on the model, as it happens.

She has a large pair of doors in her hull, and a spacious compartment inside: obviously a hangar deck for carrying auxiliary craft. Hangar deck is also the only large compartment in her, and therefore would be the normal place of assembly for the crew when she isn’t under battle con­ditions.

The tower on the model looked useless, and was almost ignored, until it occurred to us that on long missions not under acceleration it would be useful to have a high-gravity area. The ship is a bit thin to have much gravity in the “neck” without spinning her far more rapidly than you’d like; but with the tower, the forward area gets normal gravity without excessive spin rates.

And on, and so forth. In the novel, Lenin was designed from scratch; and of course we did have to make some modifications in Leif Ericsson before she could become INSS MacArthur; but it’s surprising just how much detail you can work up through having to live with the limits of a model.