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Data's android parts in Star Trek: Picard were the result of a real-life global treasure hunt
From the very first full-length trailer for Star Trek: Picard to the Season 1 finale, Trekkies everywhere have been asking questions about Data. What happened to his memories? What about B-4? Are we ever going to see Lore again? What’s up with Data’s new human brother? For the most part, the Season 1 finale, "Et in Arcadia Ego Parts 1 and 2,” answered all these questions. But one real-life mystery nearly eluded us all. Which dismembered android was really in that drawer in Episode 1 of Picard? And were those Data parts the “original” Data parts, or were they manufactured brand-new?
In an official behind-the-scenes video released by CBS, Picard prop master Jeff Lombardi revealed how he assembled all the old Data parts for that brief scene in Episode 1, “Remembrance.” But we, the deeply nerdy fans, wanted to know more. Which Data head was that? 2002 Nemesis Data? Lore’s head from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Datalore”? Maybe the retro Data head from “Time’s Arrow” in 1992? What about the hands? How buff is Data?
SYFY WIRE reached out to CBS and prop master Jeff Lombardi to go even deeper on the hunt for Data’s body parts in Star Trek: Picard. Here’s what we learned.
**Light spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Picard Season 1.**
For the basics of Lombardi's tale of collecting Data's parts for Picard's series premiere, rewatch this cool video:
Now, the most tantalizing bit of information in the Lombardi video is the fact that the “B-4 parts in a drawer” that we see in “Remembrance” are, in fact, original “Data parts” that Lombardi had to track down from various places around the world. “A lot of the parts were auctioned off and scattered throughout the world," he says.
Lombardi and his team didn’t want to build an entirely new Data/B-4 bod for this scene, so they had to track down Data’s head and torso from random places in the world. Data’s head turned out to be “in a crate in Calgary,” while Data’s torso was in a totally different crate, this one in Hong Kong.
“It was a huge relief for me at the time as I was trying to sculpt a torso for Data with my fabricators and was having a hard time getting the muscle tone right,” Lombardi reveals to SYFY WIRE. “Finding his torso was like ‘See, that’s how buff Data is.’”
But which head and torso were these, exactly? When we say “original Data parts,” what do we mean? Turns out, the Data parts we see in Star Trek: Picard are actually the appropriate Data parts for the exact scene: Technically, both the head and torso aren't actually Data. Those are B-4's parts! These are the "Data parts" made for the film Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002, to depict B-4's body parts.
“Both of them [the head and torso] I confirmed, with the help of CBS archivist John Van Citters, as being from Nemesis,” Lombardi explains. “I considered [using] Data’s head from 'Time’s Arrow' and Lore’s finger, but those parts are owned by private collectors. I reached out to those people, but really Data’s head from that time would not have been as recognizable to what we as audiences have become accustomed to Data looking like now, so it didn’t really work out.”
Of all the parts we see in that drawer — hands, feet, legs, head, and torso — only the head and torso were original Data parts, which we now know are B-4 parts from Nemesis. So everything that wasn't the head and the torso had to be made by Lombardi and his team from scratch.
"The legs and arms were custom builds by Paul Elliot with Makeup Effects Lab in North Hollywood," Lombardi says. "They have a long history and connection with Star Trek and were very excited to be involved again. Regretfully, I don’t think we will ever see all of Data’s parts in all their iterations together ever again. They are just too spread out across the world now. There was a short time I considered having a collector fly out with one of Data’s heads, but he would have had to stay with it on set all day! In the end, I did save money finding these parts as opposed to building them from scratch, which would have cost a small fortune, and producers really, really like that."
Just as the Synthetics in Star Trek: Picard went into hiding and modeled themselves on Data, the globally scattered Data parts helped the creative team on Picard make sure the new androids matched up with what we've seen before. And when Brent Spiner returned to don his Data makeup, finding this classic Data/B-4 head from Nemesis was instrumental in making sure things were just right.
"The gold paint on the Data head I found was used to match what the makeup team had concocted to make sure they really had the right formula," Lombardi reveals. That said, the search for Data's entire body wasn't just motivated by practicality, saving money, or even being consistent with canon. Part of it was clearly done out of love for the project itself.
"Whether I would use it on screen or not was irrelevant to me. Often, I’d use old archived Trek props in my show-and-tells and meetings," Lombardi explains. "In the end, I had to deliver props on set, so no matter how precious I get with things needing to be perfect — or in this case original. I know in the end all great art is really never finished, only abandoned. That being said, I’m going to stick my fingers in it until the cameras are actually rolling."
Star Trek: Picard Season 1 is streaming now on CBS All Access.