As a child when I first saw the Borg appear on screen I was captivated by every aspect, and I must say, a little scared. I must have been around seven years old watching with my father, when this strange alien creature appeared on screen, they say “you always fear what you don’t understand”, and this was just that to me. Image a pseudo-species, shrouded in secrecy, who’s main and only goal is steal and erase your personality and use you as a “shell” for their own needs….add pale skin, missing limbs and cybernetics all over and you’ve really got something!
Original concept images ranging from early TNG to First Contact
The Borg were created by Maurice Hurley as an insectoid species, and mainly conceived to replace the Ferengi species as a main villain, as they were not doing well in the show’s ratings. The Borg costumes started very distinct, and were all unique, sharing common characteristics such as one eye, the other being replaced with a cybernetic implant, and one arm with the same addition. Michael Westmore noted that the early Borg were glued into their costumes, and had to be un-glued to use the restrooms or at the end of the day. The main costume component early on was a black lycra under-suit. A full body black suit to mask “human skin” was a great touch to differentiate them from human beings, once the black suit was on, then the fun began…
Added onto the back suit were pieces of vacuum-formed plastic, made from special bucks to form to the body of the actors to simulate body armor, or pieces of foam latex. The main sections were the shoulders, abdomen and legs, some more of the distinct versions had chest plates. Added onto that were “kit-bashed” model pieces, small leftover pieces of plastic model kits glued together to look functional, they added a great amount of detail, and when glued onto the plates and painted looked stunning….for 1989 I mean. Over that an array of tubes, hoses and other small mechanical/electronic pieces gathered by the wardrobe department, these costumes were truly a mix match of different types of media, but I think that’s what made them special, unique, the early TNG Borg drones had an incredible look for their time.
A rare Borg costume from the Filmwelt Collection
A good amount of Borg costumes were offered in the Christies and IAW auctions back in the mid 2000’s, but who would collect this type of item? especially one of the later versions that were made of foam latex, a material that will harden and degrade over time…a true collector that’s who. In my opinion the early Borg costumes are works of art, from a time of television where special effects could not live upto the imagination of the writers, but were done anyway, to drive the story, and ask the watcher to suspend disbelief for a moment, and live in the story.
Selection of Borg costumes from the IAW auctions
I wanted to focus on the early designs of there Borg, I will post a later blog focusing on their evolution, with information on the later costumes, and the First Contact/Voyager design. This is only a small amount of information on what most consider to be the ultimate villain in the Star Trek universe, to learn more please check out Memory-Alpha.wikia.com for an in-depth look at the history of the Borg.