The Draconia is probably one of the most expensive and complex models ever built, and was even more impressive when it was built in 1978 and 1979. Unfortunately, it never received the attention that it deserved. Over two dozen model makers, machinists, mold makers, and painters built it over the corse of almost a year. There were many times when a dozen model makers at one time were hard at work on the various parts. And parts there were. The Draconia model was assembled from approximately thirteen major parts, most of which were two part castings. Then there was the armature, electronics, fiber optics, and a half dozen pieces of neon tube.This one hundred pound model measured approximately five feet long and five feet wide, and about three and a half feet high. It was made primarily of epoxy and fiberglass. Some parts and details were cast in urethane and the surface was covered with styrene pieces and kit parts. A six pointed star-shaped armature provided six mounting locations that were covered with a dozen hatch covers, half with a hole for the mount, half without.The 4,000 fiber optics were powered by a custom made lamp holder that was housed within the model. Custom made lamp holders in the main body illuminated the underside of the wings. Halogen bulbs were a new technology then, as was many other materials we used. We custom made parts that are now off-the-shelf items. Three custom made neon tubes were installed in the engines to illuminate the miniature blue screens. Three more neon tubes in the two round disks and the "fork" represented the "anti-gravity" waves. To keep the model cool, compressed air was pumped into the model. Pete Gerard, original Model Shop Supervisor, adds a few recollections...
The center-piece for the miniatures fleet for "Buck Rogers" was always going to be the Draconia, a spacecraft in the form of a flying city five miles wide. We began to put form to David Jones' elaborate design in a classic, almost retrograde manner, akin to the methods used by Detroit in modeling new automobile designs. Julius King was a sculptor we'd brought in, who had this sort of background, and he began to set up a big table, a "designer's bridge", and a warming box for the huge load of special oil-based Chavant clay he would need, to apply to his wooden substrate.
Almost from the outset, I was being asked for time-lines and regular reports as to when this giant model would be ready for camera. Many shots were planned to establish the giant ship, the home-base for Princess Ardala and Killer Kane's pirate fleet, whom Buck was to face in battle. Days turned into weeks....and weeks into months. Our shops in Marina del Rey, which we'd inherited from Future General, were packed up and moved into the old Newberry's warehouse in North Hollywood, never mind the fact the place was still getting its walls built and its power and phone lines put in! We hastily built ourselves workbenches, picked out new power tools, laid motion control tracks, brought in our machine shop, built a spray booth, stocked all the work areas with new material and model kits, all the while trying to get the models ready, and playing host to John Dykstra's skeleton Galactica crew.