Fandemonium: “If You Build It …”


On my left hand, nestled right next to my wedding band, I wear a replica of the One Ring. I have for years. That’s right. Just like the one Frodo chucked into Mount Doom. Well, to be fair, he was supposed to chuck it anyway.

It gets noticed from time to time. Co-workers, friends, and even family have commented on it. Last week, the check-out girl at Barnes & Noble saw it, and she asked if I were a fan of The Lord of the Rings.

I said, “You seriously have to ask?”

On weekends, I have any number of shirts inspired by the various ‘lanterns’ of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern (i.e. Red Lantern, Blue Lantern, Orange Lantern, etc.) I might wear out and about. My den is replete with action figures and maquettes representing any number of movie or comic book inspirations. And my family room is adorned with some nifty, high quality art prints representing any number of legendary Westerns I’ve enjoyed over the years, including two great paintings of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

So, yeah, I get what it means to be a serious fan and to show it. I don’t think I’m loud or obnoxious about it in any way, but – possibly like you – I like what I like, and I’m not afraid to show it.

What I don’t get, per se, is why you’d want to build a full-scale Millennium Falcon?


Now before you go all MMA on me, let me be perfectly clear: sure, I get the whole neato-keen factor of it all, of conceiving and planning and executing and actually having the disposable income large enough to build and maintain a Millennium Falcon on private property. Any time you wanted, you could go out and play in the cockpit or the cargo hold; you could have your own sporty little chess tournaments in the waiting area; and you could sponsor some of the coolest photo opportunities this side of Bajor. I get that, but, beyond the neato-keen factor … what else is there?

A number of years back, I had the same attitude toward that European bloke who transformed his whole apartment (er, “flat,” I guess) into a living, breathing, working room that could’a would’a should’a been aboard the Starship Enterprise-D. I mean, yeah, it’ll be all neato-keen for all of six months, but, after that, heck, I just don’t see the ongoing fascination.

I say this as a die-hard Star Wars fan, a consummate fan of DC Comics, and a thoroughly engaged geek of most things science fiction. Like I said, I get the WOW Factor. I do. You only need ask my wife (yes, nerds, I’ve been laid) how jazzed I get every time the new Toy Fair pictures are available on the web. Sure, I raced to be first in line when Star Trek: The Traveling Exhibit came through our major metropolitan area (and I’d do it again). In fact, the late, great Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas was a nearly orgasmic experience for me, so I comprehend the whole “wouldn’t it be neat if …” aspect of standing, sitting, and photographing something life-sized and real.

This morning, I stumbled across an article on one of Unreality’s competing websites about a fellow building what I believe was a half-scale Cylon Raider from the original Battlestar Galactica. Now, I loved the late 70’s as much as the next guy or gal close to my age (or older); and, you bet, I experienced every episode of the original BSG as it aired; but why? Why would anyone want to build a nearly full-scale Raider? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to go razing Caprica any time soon.


The fan-epic Trekkies showed how a middle-aged father and his son grew closer by converting their truck into an oversized shuttlecraft, and, while I can admire any father/son bonding activity, I still can’t put aside the fact that such an endeavor is going to seriously impact the resale value of the vehicle. And – again I say it only for clarity, I heartily understand how totally cool it is – I can’t help but raise the question why?

What is it about our various fan fascinations or enthusiasms that make us, as fans, want to bring something to life so real, so tangible, that we’d do something like this? It’s that driving inspiration – that all-consuming love that pushes us toward the unimaginable – that I don’t understand.

I ask that question legitimately, and I’m hoping it inspires some honest, thoughtful, and heartfelt responses, if – for no better reason – that I’m downright curious. For example, I’ve collected action figures for over thirty years, and I fully understand why I do it personally. There’s a rush about trying to secure that hard-to-find figure that no drugs or alcohol could ever match. (Take that, Cobain.)  There’s the magic and mystery of holding it in your hand. There’s a certain pride that comes with displaying it and even talking about how much time and effort you spent in finally getting a hold of one. I’ve known folks who feel the same about baseball cards and Hot Wheels and even stamps and coins, and that’s an interest I fully realize. It makes sense. I can put it together in such a way in my mind that it’s very real and relatable to me.


But building a full-scale spaceship?  Really?

I mean – won’t that eventually get in the way?

Sound off, ladies and gentlemen. I ask you to help me understand this singular enthrallment of fandom.

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  1. So you openly admit to taking up space in your home collecting dolls, but you can’t figure out why someone would want to challenge themselves by building a full-scale replica of something, from scratch, with their hands?

    Seriously? You can’t figure this out? Creating something and taking pride in it just flies right over your head?

    Why is this question even being asked? It’s as if you didn’t get the memo that people like different shit.

    Please provide the name of Unreality’s competing websites, I would like to see if they have better writers.

  2. Sometimes if you have a passion for working with your hands it’s much more fun to combine that passion with another. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever undertake a project as massive as converting a whole house or car towards a show I like, but as an home carpenter I’ve certainly done projects such as the N64 coffee table and Rubix’s cube dresser to display my pride in my nerdom as well as my skill at carpentry.

    That and it’s a lot of fun having to think outside of the box to create a design you wouldn’t normally see in stores.

  3. I can appreciate these kinds of projects from a craftsmanship standpoint, but I get where you’re coming from with the questions. I think that, if you can take the “thrill of the hunt” that you feel when trying to track down a piece of memorabilia or something along those lines, and imagine that instead being a “thrill of the build;” the rush that comes from problem-solving and seeing a vision executed, you’d probably have the right idea. In either case, you’re left with something that is more valuable because of the struggle it took for it to exist.

    That doesn’t really address the scale of a home renovation, which I think is kind of a dicey issue, and one that I’m probably not qualified to give a great answer on at the moment.

    I like your asking the question, though. Even if some people think there’s an easy answer, it’s never a bad idea to step back and say “why do we do this?”

    @Rodimus Mike

    Next time, instead of taking a defensive tone, you really oughta consider giving a measured, thoughtful response. The kinds of question you asked in your answer are much less meaningful and productive than anything Zimmerman said in this piece.

    Creating something and taking pride in it is one thing. He’s asking why go to such impractical extremes to get that feeling. And I kind of sympathize with the curiosity. Is building a life-sized model of the Enterprise bridge really a point of pride? Why? How long will it last? Just because something is difficult to execute doesn’t inherently mean it has lasting value. Just because a thing is liked doesn’t mean it has lasting value. DO these kinds of projects have value beyond the “wow” factor? What is that value?

    The clarification and articulation of motive is a valuable pursuit in and of itself, and exactly the sort of thing a site like Unrealitymag is good for.

  4. I have to concur with the people who don’t understand why you have to ask this question. You start off by showing how much you agree with the basic mindset of showing off your nerd passions, then you do a complete 180 and question other people for doing the exact same thing just because their way of showing off their passion is different from yours.

    I personally love to build things. I have built that Bender beer brewer you showed on the site a while back. I did it because I love seeing what my two hands can create. It’s as simple as that. I brewed one batch of beer in there and that’s it. I don’t feel like that is excessive because the joy was in making it as much as having it afterward.

    You mention it possibly getting in the way eventually. Yes, it most likely will. However, the people who build these things, I’m willing to venture, will sell them to someone who really wants something like that (more of your class of proud nerd, the person who buys things as opposed to making them), then start another project with the insane amounts of cash they got for something they built with plywood, sheet metal, and spare parts. If you don’t understand why someone would enjoy doing that, there is no explanation that anyone can offer which will convince you otherwise. It would be like convincing a Democrat to be a Republican.

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