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Submitted on
December 10, 2013
Image Size
1.9 MB


2 (who?)

Camera Data

Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS
Shutter Speed
1/60 second
Focal Length
5 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Dec 9, 2013, 3:12:57 PM
Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.2
Sensor Size
A Lineage of Flip-Top Communicators (Grids Opened) by galaxy1701d A Lineage of Flip-Top Communicators (Grids Opened) by galaxy1701d
Sadly, I don't have every known variant of the famous flip-top Star Fleet portable subspace communications device and transporter lock beacon. I don't have the 22nd century "Enterprise" version. I don't have the notoriously complicated (and very expensive) clear version only seen in the first "Star Trek" pilot episode, "The Cage (TOS)" and I don't have the version with the blue interior used in "Star Trek III" either (although the one from "Star Trek V/VI" resembles it to some extent). 

However, I still do have enough Star Fleet Communicators to be able to present a lineage of the machines that were used throughout the mid-to-late 23rd century in the Prime Reality. From left to right, in the shots of 4 props, you see:

1.) The "Enterprise-B" Communicator, or at least, a variant of it, built by Triple-Fiction Productions and heavily refitted by yours, truly. This prop was originally going to be used in the prologue of "Star Trek: Generations," where Captain James T. Kirk is lost aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-B) on her maiden voyage. However, for unknown reasons, it never made it into the film. The Enterprise-B Communicator is sharply angled, although it still has the ridged "grid"-like flip-top seen in the ST:V/VI and ST:III versions. It is also a bit more complex, as it features more controls - in fact, it almost seems like a hybrid of the more recent movie-style versions and the original TOS Communicator as many of the controls and mechanical features match up between the two props.

2.) The Communicator variant seen in "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country." It seems to share a few components with the ST:III version, which had a much plainer, blue-tone interior and minimal controls, and looked fancier than the ST:III and TWOK versions but still simpler than the original TOS and "Cage" versions. This particular piece is a rare Walkie Talkie, a part of a set of 2 that were made by Procter & Gamble as mail-away items.

3.) The notorious "electrical box" Communicator variant used alongside a small, black, wristwatch-style version in "The Wrath of Khan." It should be noted that this Communicator is not the one that Kirk screamed "KHAAN!" into. He used one of the black wrist versions. However, this Communicator, a Diamond Select Toys/Art Asylum prop replica (the only widely available toy version of the prop), is capable of playing the "KHAAN!" scream as a sound effect. This Comm. looks extremely plain, but also very rugged, and is often mocked as an "ugly" prop that doesn't look like something in the "spirit" of the ST Communicator lineage. However, its reinforced, self-contained antenna with easy-flip handle bar, clear transporter lock indicator light, minimal and easily operated switch-mounted controls, large microphone/speaker and highly visible indicator lights - as well as its reinforced metal casing - suggest that, at least canon-wise, this Communicator was a more rugged model designed for use out in the field. In reality, Nicholas Meyer, though a brilliant director and storyteller, knew just about nothing about "Star Trek" when he took the reins of TWOK. He just didn't realize that there are some iconic pieces of the look-and-feel of the franchise that you shouldn't ever interfere with - the Communicator being one of them. He originally wanted the Enterprise crew to use enormous pieces that looked like Walkie Talkies, until the prop team finally convinced him to let them go back to "flip phones." By this point, there was very little time or budget left, so the propmaking team had to build with whatever scraps they had on hand - and thus, the "electrical box" Communicator was born.

4.) The original "classic" Star Fleet Communicator used throughout the three production seasons of the original "Star Trek" series, a now-iconic design originally created as part of a series of props designed for Gene Roddenberry's little pet project by Wah Ming Chang. Although it was originally conceived as being a plot gimmick - it would make sure the crew couldn't just teleport out of any dangerous situation by serving as a mandatory part of the transporter operation system that could be easily (and constantly) lost, destroyed, or simply taken too far out-of-range - it went on to become one of the most important props in the history of film entertainment because it is credited as the inspiration of the modern cellular telephones that we all take for granted today.

This photograph shows the four Communicators in this "lineage" shot with their antenna grids open.
I'm really liking that one on the far left. 
SpiderTrekfan616 Dec 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
"Klingon Commander, We are energizing transporter beam... Now!"
SethSorenson3 Dec 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
FREAKING EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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