The presence of two licensed Trek products in the gaming world was a bit of a mystery back in the early ’80s. Both companies maintained that they were the exclusive license holders but the story I got a about the situation was murky at best.
In the mid-70s Franz Joseph Designs produced two wonderful licensed Trek items: a set of blue-prints for the starship Enterprise and a Starfleet Technical manual. For some reason they were able to grant a sub-license to Lou Zocchi to produce a line of injection-molded styrene plastic miniatures based on the ship designs in the technical manual (and if I may add they were positively beautiful). Not so long after that Task Force Games was granted a sub-sub license to develop a tactical ship game based on the miniatures.
How plausible is this? Well, Paramount never shut down the TFG Trek line, though to be honest the back story for that game had morphed over the years to something quite unlike the main Trek universe. I know that the licensing department was very casual when first started doing the FASA trek covers; at the beginning I signed the covers along with a copyright bullet but it was two years before Paramount came back with ” Well, you probably shouldn’t be doing that”.
There was also talk in late 85 about Paramount granting a non-exclusive license to West End Games for a Trek tactical starship combat game – I know because I worked up comps for Jordan for a similar game that FASA would have rushed to market to fight the West End product….but all along Task Force games churned out their version of Trek and finally I was asked to do a painting for them.
Central to the book was a new cruiser class for Starfleet and the accompanying sketch is the concept I came up with – I felt it did a good job of splitting the difference between the class TV series version and the current movie version. It wasn’t until I submitted a cover sketch that I had the boom dropped on me.
The game designer sent Task Force a four page hand-written letter demanding that I NOT be used for the cover, and unfortunately by contract he had the right to do so. I had produced a cover for their STARFIRE game a couple of years prior to this; he felt that my work was too stylized and abstract to represent the Starfleet Battles game system. I lost, but the art director gave me another STARFIRE cover assignment ( the Gorm-Khanate War) that I always thought was one of the best covers I did during that time period.
Epilogue: In early 1987 I got a frantic call from Task Force Games – they needed a cover and their regular artist was unable to take the assignment. At this point I was indelibly connected with the FASA Trek series so I didn’t feel like taking the job was appropriate – and I had just taken a non-gaming assignment with a short deadline ruling out any other work. I was kind of glad for that as I didn’t want to look like I was thumbing my nose at Task Force .