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Leif Ericson model kit (1968)

Leif Ericson model kit box.

Designer Matt Jefferies worked on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek (creating the iconic Starship Enterprise) bur when he came to design the Pegasus for George Pal's War Of The Worlds television series, he seems to have turned for inspiration to another of his projects that has since become something of a legend in model making circles.

In 1968, model kit company AMT hired Jefferies to create a series of kits which were to exist in the shared universe of the "Strategic Space Command." It looks like it was an attempt of sorts to create a background story to which a whole series of models could be attached, but in the event only the Lief Ericson was produced.

Apparently the Lief Ericson model was also tenuously connected to Star Trek. Trek designer Mike Okuda has indicated that while the Ericson never made it into an episode, the ship did show up in storyboards for the Filmation animated Star Trek series that aired in 1973/74.

When in 1975, Jefferies was hired by George Pal to work on his proposed War Of The Worlds TV series, he looks to again have dusted down the design for the Leif Ericson. Below you can see the box illustration for the Leif Ericson constrasted with a pre-production sketch for the "Hyperspace Carrier Pegasus" from the TV show. As you can see, they bear a striking resemblance to each other, the main difference being that the Pegasus has been flipped from the orientation that was used for the Lief Ericson kit. (Image below of the Pegasus has been flipped back to aid comparison.)

Lief Ericson box Pegasus flipped

The story does not quite end there, for the design got a further lease of life from the pens of Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, when it was re-imagined as the INSS MacArthur for their collaborative novel The Mote In Gods Eye.

You can find more images from the War Of The Worlds TV series in the Film and TV Gallery

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