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Oceano model makers won an Emmy for their replica submarines

Steve Anderson mans the control board of a World War II submarine replica to be used in the TV series “War and Remembrance” in 1988. Scale Effects tested multiple models at Laguna Lake in San Luis Obispo before shipping them to London for filming.
Steve Anderson mans the control board of a World War II submarine replica to be used in the TV series “War and Remembrance” in 1988. Scale Effects tested multiple models at Laguna Lake in San Luis Obispo before shipping them to London for filming. The Tribune

I say, “Hollywood models.”

You say, “Submarines and Oceano.” Right?

In 1989, an Oceano firm called Scale Effects won an Emmy for outstanding achievement in visual effects for its work creating replicas of the Bowfin submarine for a TV miniseries, according to a Telegram-Tribune story Sept. 7, 1989.

How advanced was their work?

The 1981 submarine movie “Das Boot” took six months to film scenes using a complicated system of wire rigging and rails.

Scale Effects needed only three weeks to shoot scenes using replicas guided entirely by remote control.

The company built the models for “War and Remembrance” — a 12-episode miniseries starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Seymour.

A story on the 18th of that month said Smith and Anderson stood up in the back of a limo and held their Emmys out the sun roof as they got to Nipomo.

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Steve Anderson, left, and Simon Smith hold Emmys they won for the World War II submarine replicas they built for the TV series “War and Remembrance.” Robert Dyer File

A bartender told Emmy winner Steve Anderson, “It was like you’re stepping up to bat for the first time in the major leagues and hitting a grand slam. Some people there had been trying for an Emmy for 20 years.”

According to IMDb, the internet movie database, Anderson and Simon Smith have more recent credits in Hollywood movies and television but not in model making.

Digital special effects have torpedoed most model makers.

This Telegram-Tribune story by Carol Roberts is from April 21, 1988.

Oceano firm makes TV model that works just like the real thing

OCEANO — Hidden on Pike Lane among the upholstery shops, garages and a few contractor’s offices is a place where a young boy’s dream comes true.

“Every kid who ever built a model airplane or boat sees this and gets excited,” said Steve Anderson, one of three men who run the Oceano business, Scale Effects.

“This” is the 26-foot-long, one-twelfth-scale model of the World War II submarine Bowfin, the real version of which is now inoperable and docked in Hawaii. The men built the scale model of the submarine for ABC’s upcoming miniseries called “War and Remembrance,” a sequel to “Winds of War.” The sub is called the USS Moray in the TV movie.

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The Bowfin model returns to the dock after a successful cruise at Laguna Lake in 1988. Model makers Scale Effects won a 1989 Emmy for their submarine model built in Oceano. Wayne Nicholls The Tribune

Anderson, Simon Smith and Edwin Williams began building the replica Jan. 13.

Using up to 11 workers, some 7,000 hours were spent building on the model. It’s insured for $1 million with Lloyds of London and “cost more to build than most people’s houses,” said Anderson.

He and his partners tested its underwater capabilities last week at Laguna Lake and happily reported: “The tests went perfectly.”

The submarine model will be shipped to Pinewood Studios outside London early next week and the trio will follow. “We’re also taking along a 10-foot model and a 6-foot model,” said Anderson, pointing out Pinewood is known for special effects. “That’s where the Superman films were made.”

Their work will take them to what’s called “The 007 Stage” that contains the 395-foot-long indoor tank used in the James Bond films.

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They will be there for at least six weeks operating their remote controlled model that dives, surfaces and fires torpedoes just like the real thing.

Anderson, 41, of Atascadero and Smith, 32, of Oceano got together about five years ago, “when I designed a model for Simon to market,” said Anderson, who did all the extensive exterior detail on the Bowfin replica right down to its dents and rust spots.

“I’ve been building models from scratch since I was 10,” he said.

“My main forte is detail work — making it look like a boat.”

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Lonnie Amos steadies the sub as it’s loaded on a trailer after a successful test at Laguna Lake. The 26-foot-long World War II submarine replica was built by Scale Effects in Oceano for the TV series “War and Remembrance.” Wayne Nicholls The Tribune

Both Smith and Anderson have other firms along with Scale Effects.

Anderson is president of a printing, design and graphic company formed in 1982. He was art director of advertising for Lucasfilm Ltd. in 1980 when he also was a graphic consultant for the American Film Institute. The next year the former Navy aviator was a fabricator/designer for Corvette Engineering in Chatsworth, where he learned a lot about fiberglass fabrication and the plastic molding process. The Bowfin replica is made of fiberglass and plastic.

Anderson said collectors of his work include NASA, the Pentagon the Confederate Air Force and the Boston Natural History Museum.

Smith also has a background in plastics and fiberglass construction.

A former Cal Poly student, he was quality control supervisor for Vetter Corp., the motorcycle fairing maker, before it left San Luis Obispo. He is president of 32nd Parallel, the nation’s largest producer of operating radio controlled model submarine kits. His product line includes submarines that range from 43 inches to 9 feet.

Williams, 50, the third partner, doesn’t live in the county. But, “if business keeps up like this, I may have to move here soon.” He recently retired after 25 years as a network operations manager for Atlantic Richfield Co. in the Los Angeles area. His background is telecommunications and electronics.

“Ed is our electronic genius,” said Anderson. “No other submarine in movie history has been remote controlled. Usually they use wires.”

This week the men were putting the finishing touches on what’s now the USS Moray. Their shop was filled with the original Bowfin blueprints, shipyard drawings and hundreds of photographs.

And their phone was ringing. They’re negotiating on the designs of other miniatures with several other movie companies.

David Middlecamp is a photographer for The Tribune. 805-781-7942,, @DavidMiddlecamp
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