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The SOL Restored.... by M-Skirvin The SOL Restored.... by M-Skirvin
Mystery Science Theater 3000--
(A television show that lasted for more than 10 years on cable...)

In the not too distant future....

Or past, I bought a prop off of Ebay. Most people will recognize it right away. But when I got it, it needed help. It had suffered being dropped a few times during production and had an awful hole torn through the back of the middle struts. Also, many of the surface decorations were utterly gone.

But, I was able to chat up the guy who built it: the amazing Trace Beaulieu, aka Dr. Clayton Forrester and the puppeteer for Crow T. Robot. He was quite instrumental in providing all the information I needed to restore the Satellite of Love to her original Season Two appearance. I had a corian(tm) base made and a custom plexiglas cover, and the back drop is half inch mdf painted by me with some airbrushes. In front is a postcard of Trace as Dr. Forrester, and a photo of the SOL as it looked hanging in the studio during shooting of the episode "Gamera". (Yes, I was in the studio to shoot that picture.) To the right of Trace's picture is one of the original Deep 13 patches as used on the costumes. And in the middle is a "plaque" that details the history of the TV icon, my ownership of it, and my gratitude to Trace for his kind advice on the repair process.

Later, during a convention where I had the ship on display, Trace took a moment and signed the back of the ship on one of the pentagon facets. I got loads of egoboo when he exclaimed on how good it looked and how reluctant he was to touch it for fear of damaging it.

I bought it because my husband and I both loved the show, and not everyone has a skillset up to the task of archival restoration and repair. I couldn't bear the thought of just any fan trying to repair her so I made her mine. I figured, of all the props Best Brains was selling off back then, this was the one I was going to go to the mat to get. I'm not the least bit sorry I did either.

"Push the button, Frank!"

Note: Trace B. has given me permission to post the following comment on his behalf:


"Hey M!,

There it is. The original SOL. Built that in my basement and that is not a "nerd-basement" joke. Actually did some damage to it bringing it out to my car. I had a lot of fun building that. Glad that it is in good hands.

Trace"

------Thanks "Mister B"!!! XDXDXDXDXD
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:iconneosilverthorn:
NeoSilverThorn Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
She's looking beautiful.
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:iconderrickthehedgehog:
DerrickTheHedgehog Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2013  Student Digital Artist
It looks beautiful, makes me wish I had one of the SOL models.
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:iconacklaygohome:
acklaygohome Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I can't believe it. I deeply admire the fact that you now own the SOL and I'm amazed at how well she's looking.
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:iconlaceykat66:
LaceyKat66 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012
I remember the massive "Ebay auction" of the Best Brains stuff. (Well, I am too young to actually remember it of course.. More like genetic memory)
I hoped that the props would go to people who would love them and give them good homes. I was so afraid that the things would be snatched up by convention show traders who would schlep them around from town to town.

I am so glad you have the SOL and treat her with the respect all of us MStiee fans would appreciate.
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2012
Thanks!!:heart: I too, was afraid of the fly-by-night hucksters getting their paws on it for the option of reselling it back to fans for twice as much if not more. The SOL deserved better than that.

Somewhere, I have a huge digital file of ALL the MST auctions on Ebay from back then. Maybe someday, Best Brains will let me assemble it into a book of sorts. That would be cool.
Reply
:iconmerimask:
merimask Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
Waaa! That is SO AWESOME. You know, I was at the second MST3K conventio-con thingy in Minneapolis in '96, and the coolest part of the whole thing was the tour of the Best Brains studio. I was so charmed by the clever way Trace and Joel had cobbled the sets together (little known fact that plastic junk and old toys glued to any surface and spraypainted gray will look like technical "space" gadgetry from a distance).

I think it is plain awesome that you rescued the old SOL, and even better that you restored her to her former nerdy glory. :) Kudos to you!!
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2011
Hee hee! I knew you'd like that! I first visited the studio back in '92. I was writing an article about the show and went there to get a press package. When we got there, we thought it was just offices, but we were shocked when Jann Johnson asked us if we wanted to see the sets. Of course we did! We met the whole crew then, and I took boatloads of pictures all around the sets. We even got drafted to help during filming of one of the host segments in the episode "Gamera". Nothing special, but it was great fun to see the guys in action real time. Later, Jeff Maynard let slip that he needed more of the Tuppeware sets that were part of Crow. Over the years, I provided 25 full sets of Floraliers to him. He nicknamed me the Tupperware Lady. In fact, the Bot Builder's Handbook is written in large part based on some early newsgroup articles I wrote regarding that trip and all the stuff I'd found out about the sets, the bots, and the parts used. Sadly, I never got credit. Boo hiss.

If anyone had told me back then that I would one day own the SOL, I would have fainted dead away. XDXD I still remember the crowded ride back home from Minneapolis when we picked it up.

But, we still communicate with Trace now and then, and he helped me restore the SOL by providing some of his own photos of the first build of the ship as reference. I couldn't have done it without his help!

We went to C. Titanic show just last month, and stayed for the dinner, and both shows. It was terrific. Best of all, Joel even remembered us from that first visit so long ago, and we got to hang with Trace for a little while. (We bought Trace's new poetry book also.) You will love it!

Some day, I'll scan those old pictures (twenty years ago! Damn!) and get them up for others to see.....
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:iconibhenowflee:
ibhenowflee Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011
that's a hard core collector's item right there
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:iconevertide:
Evertide Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2011   Writer
Nooo waaay! It's like the Holy Grail of MSTie fanstuff!
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2011
Too right! I still can't believe it's just in the other room.... I was so lucky to get it!
Reply
:iconlibberachi:
Libberachi Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011   Digital Artist
I'm surprised you haven't done one of those goofy mockup pictures like this with Inu and this thing. :p That would be sufficiently awesome.
Reply
:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011
Well, the SOL is quite large and in an enormous plexiglas display case to protect it from air. The ship is constructed of pvc tubing and foamcore board with loads of little parts glued to it, and the best chance it has of surviving was to get it into a stable environment.

But..... I do have some other options regarding MST3K elements that you have inspired me to look into....:lol:
Reply
:iconlibberachi:
Libberachi Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011   Digital Artist
I meant photoshopping the two together. XD It's not like you can't take separate photos of the two and then edit them together. :3
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011
Ah yes. Piece of cake.... I do have another I can post today tho....
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:iconlibberachi:
Libberachi Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011   Digital Artist
Awesome. :D
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:iconnight-forager:
Night-Forager Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2011   General Artist
O.O
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2011
Yep. That's the old girl. She was in poor shape when I got her, but she's all put back together now...:lol:
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:iconranchoth:
Ranchoth Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2010
It sure brings back some great memories, to see the good ship again...and it's good to see She's in good hands.
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2010
Thanks! She was in pretty rough shape when I got her. I guess she'd been dropped a couple of times. Since they used to hang it about 6 feet off the ground, it makes me wince to think it fell that far.

I'm very grateful to Trace B. (Mr. B!) for being willing to give me all the information I needed for the restoration. I was even able to restore all but just a few of the the plastic model bits that had gotten lost.

Have you checked out Cinematic Titanic? Many of the original crew are working on that project, and it's really similar in concept to MST3K. They are doing audio files called Rifftrax that you can play during movies that feature the wisecracks we all fell out of our chairs for, and other stuff....I need to check on them again....

Mr. B worked on America's Funniest Videos as a writer for awhile, then moved back to Minnesota. He's also been involved with a video game project called "Darkstar", which is supposed to be released "real soon now..."

Hmmm. I should hunt up the picture I have of him signing the SOL and post it as well....
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:icondonsimpson:
DonSimpson Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
That is awesome and delightful. It is _totally_ awesome and delightful. It is.
Reply
:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Thanks! To this day, I still marvel that it's here. Of all the props I could have (the robots weren't put up for sale), the SOL was going to be it if I could swing it. I just about fainted dead away when I won it.

Later, Trace gave me the best compliment when he told me he was afraid to touch it, even to sign it, because it looked so nice restored. Sigh. Egoboo of the best kind....
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:iconenterprisedavid:
enterprisedavid Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OMG you have the real ship!
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2010
Yeah. It's about 20 feet from where I'm sitting right now. It was one of the few props that I was willing to go to the mat for. Crow and Servo were rebuilt so many times that little of them was "original" by the end of the series, and besides the puppets were never put on Ebay at that time. I wanted an iconic prop that would represent how much fun we'd had with the series over the years. One of these days, I'll find all of my repair in progress pictures and put up a website about it...:D
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:iconkeybladewelder:
keybladewelder Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011
thats amazing!!
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
Thanks! I got lucky on that day, that's for sure! Best of all, I was happy that I was up to the task of restoring the SOL. She certainly needed help...:D
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:iconkeybladewelder:
keybladewelder Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011
haha yeah, im re watching every episode over again lol
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011
Hee hee! Me too! Streamed it for at least four episodes today while working! I may never have to watch crappy network TV ever again!
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:iconkeybladewelder:
keybladewelder Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011
lol i've completely cut my cable, so i usually watch stuff off youtube or hulu
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:iconm-skirvin:
M-Skirvin Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011
I haven't cut the cable umbilical yet. But I did spend part of this morning watching episodes of Samurai High School on the web. AWESOME series with great actors!
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(1 Reply)
:iconenterprisedavid:
enterprisedavid Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
cool
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