The "Copperhead Special" Assault Phaser that I introduced earlier today was only the first stage of my latest collaboration with Casey Sullivan, proprietor of Triple-Fiction Productions. We have a follow-up piece in the works that the Assault Phaser stunt prop served as preparation for, and this one is FAR more ambitious. But first, we need some background information. This is one of those little-known, long-forgotten bits of trivia from the "Star Trek" universe. I've said before that there has never been a canonical (i.e. seen on-screen) Phaser Rifle during the Classic Movie Era/Lost Era (~2278 to 2348). But this doesn't mean that there haven't been any designed.
The Atalskes Phaser-III/IV Weapons System (a.k.a. the TMP/TWOK Phasers) were supposed to have optional stock attachments that could transform them into carbines. And the famous Assault Phaser, also known to some as the Battle Phaser or the Burning Phaser (the name given to the weapons used by Burke & Samno in the ST:VI novelization), also had a rifle variant planned - one that even made it into physical form before being dropped from the movie. According to the page for this prop on the phasers.net website, at an early stage in the planning of ST:VI, the assassination attempt on the Federation President carried out by Colonel West was to have been carried out with a "sniper rifle" version of the Assault Phaser. Like the heavily modified Walther P-38 used in a spy series called "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." the Phaser was going to take a muzzle attachment, a stock extension and a telescopic gunsight.images.wikia.com/memoryalpha/d…
This prop made it as far as a physical prototype - and then the script changed. Colonel West was now going to disguise himself as a Klingon, and the "Assassin Rifle" (as Phasers.net calls it: www.phasers.net/2280/2288.htm
) was no longer an appropriate prop because it would be a dead giveaway as to his true identity. The Colonel was simply given a generic Klingon disruptor rifle, and the Assassin Phaser Rifle faded into obscurity, becoming one of many "forgotten concepts" that didn't make the final cut. However, because an actual prop had been made, it had also been photographed - and therefore documentation existed. A small number of die-hard Monster Marooners, myself included, have known about this prop's existence for many years (I myself first found out about it when I stumbled onto Phasers.net several years ago). Enough of us know about it that someone even drew a line art diagram of the prop.
So after Casey Sullivan showed me the completed "Copperhead Special" dummy version of the Assault Phaser, I asked him if he was willing to take the next step. Claiming his "mind was blown" by the fact that there had been a rifle planned for the Assault Phaser all along, he eagerly agreed to the project and, together, we plotted to bring this long-forgotten prop back from the dead. In fact, Casey was so enthusiastic about the Assassin Phaser Rifle that instead of just creating one prototype, he made three.
The first prototype will go to me, and will be painted a mix of charcoal grey, flat black and warm metallic copper so that it pairs up with my "Copperhead Special" pistol. The other two will be painted a show-accurate flat black and paired with his next two Assault Phasers to be offered for sale as complete sets. One such set can be seen here:api.ning.com/files/artf-18kvwr…
Besides marking off my own version as the first prototype, the fact that my Assassin Phaser Rifle is being painted to resemble the Copperhead Special pistol is also a way to compensate for the limitations of working with hardwood stunt/dummy props: while the Rifle is non-functional and can't split back into an Assault Phaser Pistol and 3 extra components, the paint scheme allows it to still look like the Copperhead Special was fitted with extra components and transformed into a sniper carbine.
Currently we are still in the process of finishing the prototype rifle(s) - I have requested a belt clip for my own version so that I can simply clip it onto my belt when taking photos or whipping out the wallet to buy lunch - and deciding on what the best price to offer consumers would be given what our hopes are for the design and my original suggestion that Casey could be able to provide affordable Assault Phasers for those Monster Marooners who couldn't afford to pay an arm and a leg for the Master Replicas version or get into a vicious bidding war over the Playmates toy prop.
I will be putting my own model into action as soon as I get it and I plan to bring it to Anime Weekend Atlanta with me this September (I think I may pair it with my ST:V Captain's Assault/Commando Uniform), but it's still my hope to see more of these wind up in the hands of Monster Marooners -not packrats, true cosplayers who actually use their props- someday. Maybe, as time goes on and people acquire these to bring to events, we can make sure this obscure design stays in the memory of the "Trek" community and never simply fades away again.
Casey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone is interested in commissioning from him. His company's website is www.triple-fictionproductions.net. Casey and his team specialize in making "Star Trek" fan films, but they also design and craft durable, reasonably priced wooden "stunt" props on the side.