Star Fleet Research
This company was created by a New York electronics enthusiast in 1975, and was a one man manufacturer. The further story on this company is well known by most TOS replica collectors, or it can found on RACPROPS website under this author's article “Copycats - The Brad Nelson Story”.
His phaser had a xenon camera strobe with working power meter, rear selector switch, and working thumbwheel that acted as on/off /volume, and sometimes strobe speed switch. Unit powered by 4 AA batteries installed by removing bottom aluminum plate on handle to insert within. All units were made to order one at a time by hand. Machined aluminum parts, including the trigger, nozzle, and dilithium crystal cell door, with brass non functional lock release hand unit button. Phaser body was made of marine fiberglass, with non removable hand unit. First run very early versions had variable strobe speed controlled from the thumbwheel. Others had 3 flashing strobe speeds controlled from the rear selector switch. Presently ALL versions are rare.
He also made non-working hand units for individual sale and had 2 versions by style, reflecting the style of the hand units on the Phaser II units.
This company also was contracted by Gene Roddenberry in 1977 to make approximately 1 dozen phaser II units, and 15 hand units for use in the upcoming “Star Trek Phase II” series that was subsequently rejected in favor of producing major motion pictures instead. Due to this, the paint scheme and “trigger box” design changed noticeably, and from that time on, these units stayed with the Roddenberry ordered changes until the closing of the company. Lastly, a last run unit is in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute by request. To date, it is not on display.
Years active: 1975-1988
Phaser II w/xenon strobe circuit
Phaser I hand unit static
Phaser II replicas: 430
Phaser I hand unit: 50-75 units
These are the known 4 versions. The first three versions were for sale to the collector community and by order at conventions ONLY:
Version 1: Gloss paint scheme, high rear selector switch red/green “battery power” meter and “prismatic” multi-color tape for aspirator pile. First very early units had Velcro on the handle. 3 speeds of bright flashing strobe: slow very bright, slightly faster, slightly slower with very bright flashes. No sound. Rear selector switch was not numbered.
Version 2: Semi flat paint scheme, prismatic tape for aspirator pile. The battery meter was upgraded to a numbered power meter from Radio shack Realistic TRC-24C CB radio. 3 speeds of bright flashing strobe. Somewhat the same as earlier version, but with sound, volume controlled by the thumbwheel on the hand unit. Also there was the introduction on the #3 selector switch of the “overload” feature: Slow charge monitored on the power meter and when neon bulb on the hand unit lit bright, the unit could be fired to emit a blinding flash. Rear selector switch now numbered 1 through 3 from here on.
Version 3: Gene Roddenberry changes.
Flat “grainy” finish on both phaser I and II. Prismatic tape changed to chrome straight lined tape resulting from Gene Roddenberry changes for phase II units. Power meter once again upgraded with ‘‘POWER” on the meter label with numbers. Selector switch reduced in height to half its original size. And the finalized three strobe settings: fast flutter, slightly slower, and the aforementioned “overload”.
There were three different meters used during the production run, as the unit was improved. The first was a standard battery power meter used in many cassette and portable tape machines of the day. Later, as already stated, radio Shack CB power meters were used. Examples below.
1978 forward (approx)
Early Version 1 - 1975
Above, right, and below - Early example. Note the Velcro on the handle. The manufacturer put Velcro on less than 25 units, and did NOT recommend its use as the unit was too heavy to be supported by Velcro only. In addition, early trigger box with epoxy glue "joining line" of tubed aluminum handle to fiberglass lower half of pistol unit.
Version 1 (restored)
(note shorter trigger box, grainy finish)
(w/chrome lined tape)
(w/shorter rear knob)
Left, above left, above right: Comparison of early production units with higher rear knob, green/red meter and smooth semi-gloss finish, and later unit with Gene Roddenberry requested changes: grainy finish, chrome tape on hand unit, and different meter. In addition, note the difference in trigger box height.
Hand Unit Phaser 1
2 versions of the hand unit were made. One, with the "prismatic tape", and one with the Gene Roddenberry requested straight lined chrome tape. Meter versions varied. Some units had moving thumbwheels, others did not, as the manufacturer did not want to waste them on a non-functional unit. None of the hand units had any electronics installed.
Version 4: PHASE II PRODUCTION UNITS
Of course, these units were not sold to the general public, but as previously noted, these were made specifically for Gene Roddenberry for production in the upcoming “Star Trek Phase II” series, that was cancelled in favor of making motion pictures instead of this proposed series, due to the massive success of the Star Wars movie.
Year made - 1977
Product: Phaser II
Production run: 12
Phaser I hand unit
Production run: 15
The pistol phaser and extra hand units were not made with any electronics whatsoever, and the hand unit, as well as the pistol handle were removable and attached by Velcro.
These units as far as is known, were NEVER used in any Star Trek series, movie, or any of the later Star Trek franchise series, so therefore have NO “screen used” collector value however, are still somewhat coveted.
Later on as time went on, and since they were of no use to the studio or Roddenberry, some of these units surfaced and became available in the collector community for sale, and are now in some private collections.
There ARE hand units that as mentioned earlier, were sold to the public
that resemble the phase II hand units, in fact they are basically the same. The ONLY way to authenticate if a Star Fleet Research hand unit was made for Phase II, is to examine the Velcro on the bottom of the unit. As far as known, Velcro was not applied to the common sale hand units for public sale. On the Phase II units, copper thread was used to attach the Velcro and covered over with black magic marker. If the thread can be spotted, then it is possible it is a Phase II unit.