The Invaders Saucer Filming Miniature – Information Provided by Tom Strong

Below is the only known photo (thus far) of The Invaders filming miniature, shown here courtesy of Tom Strong…. via Mike Makkreel

The following information was also collected by Tom. Much of it comes from the actual people involved in the creation of the saucer, and who were interviewed in the 90’s. That information has been cross-referenced with those involved who are still surviving, and would appear to be the most accurate picture of the creation of the filming model.:
The 4-foot Invaders saucer studio model was made by Production Models Shop, the same people responsible for making the original Star Trek 11 ft. Enterprise model.
Filming was done by the Howard Anderson Co., the firm which also did the special effects for The Invaders series.
Volmer Jensen may have been the modelmaker for The Invaders saucer, along with Mel Keys and possibly Vern Sion. In past publications and books, Richard Datin (another modelmaker at Production Models Shop) has been wrongly credited with making the original filming model. In fact, after the series was started, Richard Datin was commissioned to make a small desktop sized Invaders saucer, which was given to Quinn Martin by the Howard Anderson Co.
The filming model had interior lighting that created that circling effect in the upper dome, although it had more windows surrounding the top dome than did the Aurora model.

It also had fader lights that lit the bottom engine area. The bottom 5 domes were an aqua green with a red orange central bottom light (which was not textured or gridded like the Aurora model).
Where the top dome met the flared area there was only one one ridge on the studio model, as opposed to the Aurora model which has three.
No legs existed for the studio model. Instead there were lines drawn on the bottom of the craft, where the legs would be, to make it look as though they were retracted. The scenes of the landed saucer in the series were always a combination of the saucer model, the real full size legs (with ladders), and the bottom base (with entrance hatch). Also, the real leg base had a periscope type device that came out of the bottom.
As the Aurora model isn’t exact to the series filming model, one good assumption is that Aurora used the studio press release images to work out the look and dimensions for their model.
The Aurora model’s console room was based upon the 1st Season saucer set. The rest of the saucer was either based upon an unbuilt set or was an interpretation of the possible saucer interior.
An unconfirmed story suggests that the filming model was never paid for and was retrieved when the series was cancelled.
Though the saucer used for filming was thought to have been wooden, that has yet to be positively confirmed. There is still a chance that it could have been fiberglass, like the original Star Trek Enterprise.The investigation continues.
Any information about this miniature or about the TV show’s working arrangement with Aurora Plastics would be appreciated. Please contact me by clicking on my Contact Artist Button Link below.

Mel Keys was the sole model maker on the Saucer because the rest of the Productions Model Shop crew was on vacation when the work came through for it. That’s the main saucer shell, that was vacuum formed on a buck. That’s Mel in the image. Photo was taken by his mother with a Polaroid camera. The plastic used was Ryolite.

The model story about it not being paid for is related to a new refurbishing of the model and not when it was originally built. It was sent out after the series in the 70’s to be restored. It was never picked up or paid for and still resides at the shop were it was restored. Sadly, at a later date the holder of it gutted the electrical wiring and lights inside it to make it lighter and hang it in his shop. It is still there today.


ABOVE: Isao Hirai with the Invaders Saucer

Tom Strong





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