... The Zeta Dummy

This communicator was definitely not among the regular cast's favorites.  Its two best appearances are disassembled atop a wooden barrel in Patterns of Force and sitting unused in Spock's Brain as the left-most of the three comms in the tabletop close-up.  The few times it was used onscreen, it was mostly by a guest actor or an extra.

When last any of us at HC saw it live, the prop was still in separate pieces.  Then-owner Greg Jein said he had the mic grill, screws and Velcro stored separately, thus they've never been seen, and at this point (post re-assembly for its 2023 auction sale) those parts are presumed lost.  Because Greg had been very gracious in allowing access to this comm to various individuals to aid their goals of making more accurate replicas, most copies are heavily influenced by its specific features.

(732 x 1500)

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The top shell over where the right control knob sits has a small rectangular hole that we speculate was cut by Wah to install a switch for an internal light.  The unusual holes drilled in the jewel bezel hubs (discussed below) lends weight to that conjecture.  The jewel hubs were never glued in, fitting tight in their holes, so they can easily be removed.  Also, the shell bend at the bottom of the control well (especially on the long sides) is rounder (i.e. less sharp) than in any other known comm, suggesting its Kydex sheet hadn't been heated to full softness before vacuforming, and so the plastic wasn't sucked into the well's corners as tightly.

(1400 x 900)

(1400 x 900)

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The moiré pattern was a odd pick by Wah.  Its concentric black & white circles are so thin that from any distance the pattern blurs into a uniform 50% gray that never had any chance of being seen on TV screens.  And how curious that he didn't place the cutting compass at dead center of the circles but rather offset it by 1/16".  Since the moiré bezel ring is now loose, and without any decent images of it prior to the disassembly, the original orientation cannot be known with certainty.

Two other items of note:  the control panel is from a particularly thin piece of aluminum; thinner than seen in either Alpha or Epsilon.  Also the hinge axle fits very tightly through the holes of the antenna hinge wheels.  Sliding it back an forth was difficult; it is not known why it does not move more freely, though figure it's from corrosion.  Suffice it to say that when fully assembled in that state, this comm's antenna would not freely swing open with the easy flip of the wrist, which is why - if it's been like this since the show - it may not have been used often during filming.

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Thanks to Mr. Jein, who provided these above pictures for our site.

2023 Update:  Here's the direct link to this prop's Heritage Auctions sale page.

The communicator was unfortunately re-assembled poorly in advance of its October auction.  It's also sadly minus its Velcro, which is probably lost for good.  The original mic grill has likely suffered a similar fate, seeing as how the comm now has installed there the incorrect type of radio speaker mesh.  It has both a different color and hole-to-diamond spacing count than what's in all other known Wah comms (discussed in detail here).  Not to mention this wrong grill material was glued in with the embossed diamonds running left/right rather than the consistently-seen up/down, lending to this true authentic communicator a bit of an icky ME fake vibe.

Regarding this current mic grill... to be absolutely sure before making any statement about it, we first searched the two screencaps we initially had showing Zeta's radio mesh for that tell-tale gold color that would inform us Wah installed the same material here as in all his other comms - thus meaning the new silver-colored stuff is wrong.  But interestingly neither shot showed that expected yellow in any convincing way:

Digging deeper, we focused on the one time Zeta's control well is seen in full - early in Obsession when the comm is used by a doomed red shirt.  All told there were 12 screencaps of it, and most of them are a blur with little at first to see:

But after enlarging and upping the color a bit...

... there's enough gold to be seen there, somewhat in Frames 2, 5, 8 and 9, and certainly in Frames 3 and 10...

... to conclude Zeta did in fact have the same mic grill material as all the other communicators.

It should also be noted that excess globs of fresh plumber's epoxy from the recent re-assembly can be seen squishing out from under the control panel and splattered on the top shell; indicating both a disconcerting haste in the work and a lack of care in using historically-accurate glues for the specific parts.  All in all, this re-assembly didn't honor the rare prop in the slightest.  Let's hope the new owner will at some point seek out a more qualified craftsman to restore Zeta to fuller authenticity.

Pics from Master Replicas (circa 2005)

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(1264 x 1908)

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2023 Auction Pics

2023 Update:  The red-jeweled hub was placed in the left position for the auction, but was originally in the center position, as shown in screencaps from Patterns of Force and Obsession.

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Zeta's Jewel

2023 Update:  Wah gave this comm the strangest jewel & bezel installation.  Now for years Mr. Jein had kept in the two outer hub positions an older Vibrator (Type "A") style (with just a tiny bump on the back).  Many of the above modern pics show these hubs.  But as we've seen from the 2023 auction photos, the original hubs were apparently Type Bs with large 1/8" diameter holes drilled through them (note - in the pic below, the one red-jeweled hub has been relocated via Photoshop into its correct central spot):

These jewel-less drilled hubs match what's there in the comm's only two open appearances, in Obsession and especially in Bread And Circuses:

The center hub is even more bizarre - its rhinestone, measured from pics to likely be a smaller-than-usual 12ss Hyacinth, is actually recessed deep into the hub, which has been partially or even fully drilled out like the other two:

It's even possible the rhinestone is installed from the back and hot-glued in.  As to the reason for all these holes, Wah must have been planning to light this comm up from inside, but he eventually decided against it.




Top Choice

Other Possibilities

Hole - never installed

12ss Hyacinth

16ss Hyacinth

Hole - never installed

Zeta's Moiré Pattern

The concentric circle image used in Zeta was cut from Page 9 of Edmund Scientific's The Science of Moiré Patterns book:

A nearly identical version of this image is also on the cardstock cover of the same moiré book, but since the surface of the cardstock is rougher than that of the inside pages, the printed lines are also less smooth.

More information on its moiré pattern can be found on our A Moiré Story page.  And a high-resolution print-ready scan of the original source material can be found here.

Zeta's Screws

The "barrel" scene from Patterns of Force easily confirms they were brass, with evidence suggesting that at least three of the four were round head, given the similar side highlights on the heads (pointed at by the red arrows) in the screencap vs. our simulations below.  No one in our group has ever seen these screws or any modern images of them, and post-2023 auction (with the prop given steel round-head screws) it's presumed they're now lost. 

The one possible exception to the round head is the lower right, which seems to have no side highlight.  Could this be an oval head?  A hard-found screencap suggests maybe yes.  There's a view of the back of a communicator with screws in "The Lights of Zetar" when the landing party is on Memory Alpha:

The wide shot of the scene has Kirk using Kappa, but during a quick close-up, he's holding a different prop, as the visible corner of this Velcro is clean, unlike the ragged corner in that spot on Kappa.  Now only four other comms have screws - Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Zeta.  This one clearly isn't a hero, and it's not Gamma, whose Velcro starts further back, plus its midplate exposure is considerably less.  That leaves Zeta by process of elimination.  And indeed that one screw looks more like an oval head than a round.  As to the other three, it cannot be known with certainty from the "barrel" screencaps if the round heads are slotted or Philips, but our hunch leans towards slotted.

2023 Update:  Needless to say, the steel round head screws used in the pre-auction re-assembly are entirely inauthentic.


<<<  And see Zeta here as well next to Alpha and Epsilon.

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