... How Many Comms?

We have been stating as fact that Wah Chang provided exactly ten communicator props to Star Trek.  How do we know this so assuredly?  Basically, because the good man said so.  The book Star Trek Sketchbook - The Original Series by Herbert F. Solow and Yvonne Fern Solow (Pocket Books, 1997) had a dedicated chapter on Wah:

Below is an enlargement of part of page 239.  Note the text highlighted by the red arrow on the right:

(Notice how the photograph is reversed.)

Where did Wah get this data 30 years after the fact?  From his own records.  Below are his carbon copies (provided by UCLA archives):

followed six days later by...

Note the fascinating reference in the first invoice to a "1st preliminary model."  The only thing known for sure about this mystery proto-comm is that it was given away on-set to a certain child actor who appeared early in the show.  Now you'd think it strange for production to just discard a new, potentially useful prop just as filming started, but given that these TV people knew their business, the act must have had a purpose.  Our guess is that it somehow allowed the studio to legally not have to pay for it, since the item is gone from Wah's second invoice (that he himself typed).  Regardless, that grown child actor has unfortunately never publicly commented on the communicator, nor have efforts here to reach him yielded any reply.  But based on a confidential clue, coupled with a tale heard long ago via a third party, there's a sad likelihood he no longer has it, nor even knows who might today.

We also were told a story by Mr. Chang's half-sister Lana that in the late 1990s Wah gave some leftover comm parts, perhaps enough to almost assemble an entire unit, to a distant nephew - this after the guy pleaded for them.  But then the nephew promptly sold the parts to parties unknown (for a reported hundred bucks), which angered Wah when he found out.  Our team managed to speak to this man - and to his brother, both in Texas.  The main fellow disavowed any knowledge of said transactions, but the older brother seemed to recall the incident.  So is it true?  Who knows.  But perhaps someday it could be useful to be aware of this.

Back to Mr. Roddenberry... suffice it to say the only records are of him paying for ten communicators; two heroes and eight dummies.

But were any more hard-shell communicators made later by the Desilu or Paramount prop department, since they did after all produce a slew of additional phasers and tricorders?  We are confident none were, however, simply because no extras were needed.  More than enough of Wah's comms made it all the way to the end of Season Three in working condition, and with an impossibly tight budget, it's hard to imagine anything being done that absolutely didn't need to be.  Plus not a single screen cap or other vintage pic has ever been found to even remotely suggest that others beyond the original ten were made or used in the show.

So until concrete evidence can be produced to the contrary, it will be our firm and demonstrable position that Wah Chang made in June 1966 the only communicator props that were ever filmed* during the entirety of the classic Star Trek TV series:

Kappa Iota Theta Theta Eta Gamma Alpha Alpha Delta Epsilon Zeta

* A crude putty and foil communicator crushed quickly by hand in I, Mudd was no doubt created by the studio's prop department.  This one-time, throw away "stunt" version was not included in our formal count for reasons self-evident.

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