- Written by Lynda Hudzick Lynda Hudzick
Tom Drake calls it his “Trek Rec Room.” In this sacred basement space, his extensive collection of Star Trek items resides, and it’s one of his favorite places to relax and unwind.
“Star Trek and my collection are indeed a great escape from life’s issues,” Drake said. “I can clear my mind and just take a breath.”
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Drake and his wife raised two girls on Cape Cod but are now happily residing in Elizabethtown. His collection dates all the way back to his childhood days in New England.
“I watched the original series, and in my youth, the action and adventure aspect caught me,” he said. “Later it was an appreciation for the storytelling and ‘lessons’ of leadership, morality, and loyalty.”
Although he does enjoy the sci-fi genre as a whole, Star Trek was and continues to be where his own loyalties lie. Drake recalls that the first items he collected were action figures by a company called MEGO.
“I still have them,” he said. “In my youth, though, I didn’t think of it as collecting, just buying or asking at holidays for Star Trek items.”
Since those days, his collection has grown from action figures to now include books, figurines, dioramas, board games, and playing cards — pretty much anything Star Trek related.
In his approximately 500-square-foot basement, no potential display space is wasted — floor to ceiling — including the entry stairway.
Drake currently counts 513 action figures, 91 Christmas ornaments, 498 books, 72 autographs or celebrity photo ops, and more than 700 other Star Trek items made from at least a dozen different materials, including cloth, pewter, brass, wood, and even one collectible fashioned from a gourd.
Although he does not have any actual props from the Star Trek series or movies, which can be quite pricey, Drake said, “I do have a full-size replica of a Klingon Bat’leth (basically a double-edged sword) and a replica from the Franklin Mint of a three-dimensional chess set.”
And then there are the store promos, like the hanging inflatable Starship Enterprise and 4-foot-long cardboard ship, both advertising home video sales, as well as a store display for the second-ever Hallmark ornament.
Visitors to the Trek Rec Room will also find replica dishware, “bootleg” collector figures from Spain, bobbleheads, jewelry, dog toys, a two-sided custom quilt, and a phone shaped like the Enterprise.
Recently, Drake’s wife commissioned a mural as a birthday gift for him, which he was able to help design. It now proudly hangs at the entrance of the Trek Rec room and is a favorite part of his collection.
“My wife isn’t a Trek fan, but she is a great supporter of my habit,” he said.
Other favorites include pieces that he wanted as a child but wasn’t able to obtain until he became an adult and items he picked up for much less than valued.
Without a doubt, Drake said his favorite character has always been Capt. James T. Kirk, to whom an entire area of his collection is devoted. But why Capt. Kirk?
“He had the unwavering respect of his crew, and his devotion to them was respect returned,” Drake said. “He displayed leadership skills, determination, and commitment to doing what was right. His sense of adventure was also a drawing force.”
Drake has met William Shatner, the actor who made Capt. Kirk come alive, several times and thoroughly enjoyed the experience each time.
“He always makes even a quick connection with fans,” he said. “I have a few autographs of his and did get a photo op in person with him. William Shatner himself is quite dynamic … he is now the oldest person to have gone into space at the age of 90.
“I have met dozens of actors and actresses from the various Trek series, having autographs and/or photo ops with them,” Drake said. “I was lucky enough to get two different photos with actors in full costume and makeup.”
And although sometimes meeting a TV or movie celebrity in real life can be a disappointment if they’re not all you expected them to be, Drake said he’s “been lucky and hasn’t been disappointed — on the contrary! Those I’ve met know the fans have helped them achieve their lifestyles and truly appreciate them.”
Drake does have a favorite Star Trek feature film.
“Hands down, The Wrath of Khan,” he said. “It was a sequel to an original series episode and captures the characters’ spirit so well.”
He also has a few favorite episodes from the original series, including “The Doomsday Machine,” “Mirror, Mirror,” and “A Taste of Armageddon.”
Although the original series will always be his favorite, “Each of the first four series, plus the animated series, holds something — they are products of their time,” he said.
Traveling to Star Trek conventions, near and far, is something Drake, sometimes joined by his family, has enjoyed over the years and has led to a small amount of notoriety among “Trekkies” such as himself.
“When people get to know my obsession, I am asked questions,” he said. “A club I’m in currently asked me to do a presentation to promote Trek and the club at cons. I also won a prize for trivia at an MLB/Star Trek night.”
Risking an eye roll or two from his children, Drake enjoys quoting Star Trek and believes there is likely a quote that is appropriate for any occasion.
“‘Are you out of your Vulcan mind?’; ‘Risk is our business’; ‘I don’t believe in the no-win scenario’ … I actually have many more, but without knowing the episodes, a non-fan may scratch their head,” he said.
Speaking of his daughters, Drake said both of them watched the shows with him that were current while they were growing up and have traveled to conventions and met celebrities with him.
He thinks it was a good bonding experience, and also, as they watched him buy Star Trek toys when they were youngsters, he felt that “it was good they saw an adult who also took time to ‘play,’” he said. “When they started to date, I used to say, ‘Find out which Star Trek captain they like.’”
It’s that sense of playfulness and the ability to find a way to escape from the daily worries and stresses we all face that Drake hopes to encourage in others by sharing his collection.
“My father-in-law had a toy train museum years ago,” he said. “He started collecting because his doctor said he was too stressed out and should get a hobby … I think seeing what he had done gave me a mental OK to collect and reminded me that toys aren’t just for kids.
“I encourage folks to embrace something that gives them that break from reality and a bit of satisfaction of accomplishment.”
Drake belongs to a local chapter of the national “Starfleet” organization, named the USS Susquehannock because “clubs across the country are named as a ship in the ‘fleet,’” he said.
“I run Twitter and Instagram for our group. We not only share various levels of interest in Star Trek, but also raise money for two designated charities.”
Drake has also considered starting a local club for those interested in collecting, not only Star Trek but other sci-fi items, comic books, etc. He is also open to writing articles for collector magazines and sitting on a panel or presenting at a convention.
For now, though, he’s happy to expand his circle of friends interested in Star Trek closer to home.
“I look forward to opportunities to share my knowledge of Trek specifically and collecting in general,” he said. “I’m proud of my collection and of being a Trekkie.”