Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1970s 'Buck Rogers' Concept Art for the Show That Never Was

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - by Maurice Mitchell 0

Before Glen Larson produced Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1979 a very different television show was developed in the 1970s. Far from being the campy comic book style show starring Gil Gerard, it almost had a serious tone in the style of Star Trek. A serious outer-space science fiction adventure based on character-driven stories written by giants of science-fiction.

The late artist Robert McCall was best known for producing space paintings and he was brought in to design the spaceships. He's best known for his space paintings. McCall painted a huge mural for The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. depicting man's conquest of the Moon covers an entire wall on the Museum's main floor.

"They gave me a call," Bob says, "and asked me to do some designs for the show. I tried to stick pretty much to the original Buck Rogers flavor. I finished the drawings in about two weeks and then sent them off. I didn't hear any word from the coast for quite some time."

None of his designs were ever used for the show when it changed to producer Glen Larsen. All artwork and descriptions are from Starlog, #16 September 1978.


One of McCall's designs for Buck Rogers' own "believer" probe ship, a mid-sized craft capable of visiting other worlds.



One of McCall's depictions of the titanic Constitution, a deep space star ship. In the front of the craft is the main engine area which includes a hyperspace booster: an attachment which swings outward for faster than light travel. In the rear is a hangar deck and launching platform designed for both tiny "freedom fighters" and mid-sized "believer ships." The rear of the craft also contains a high energy weapon capable of neutralizing massive targets such as enemy ships, asteroids and small moons.


Various designs for spaceships originally conceived for Rogers. On the bottom half of the sketch are some unused fighter plans. Above those are several "believer" space probe craft.

Two different views of McCall's proposed "believer" space probe craft. The spaceships were envisioned as being able to leave the mother-ship and journey to alien planets. On the top of each ship is a turret very much like the ones found on standard WW II fighter planes. In this case, the "bubble" contains a fire control center for laser weaponry. Although designed mainly for interplanetary excursions, the ships have a goodly amount of defensive weaponry including laser weapons on each side of the ship's forward nose section. On the belly of the craft is an ascent/descent engine used for landing and taking off from alien terrain.

The tiny ships darting by the mothership are fighter craft: short-range spaceships designed to protect the Constrtutton from hostile forces. Right:

One of Bob McCall's abandoned designs for a medium-sized space probe vehicle. This version boasts laser cannon. 

Various designs for spaceships originally conceived for Rogers. On the bottom half of the sketch are some unused fighter plans. Above those are several "believer" space probe craft.

Another version of McCall s powerful mothership, the Constitution In this design, the rear of the craft is a docking area for the "believer" space probes only. The fighter planes land and take-off from a runway on top.

You can find out more about artist Robert McCall at http://www.mccallstudios.com

What do you think of the lost Buck Rogers concept art? Would it have made a better show?
Via space1970

About the Author

Maurice Mitchell
Lover of science fiction and art.

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