Since it was first designed by Jack McKnight and Ben Jason in 1953, the Hugo Award has looked much the same: a tall, slender classically-shaped rocket mounted on a base. This is both by tradition and by a rule in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution.
The design of the base is left to each year’s Worldcon committee to determine and, for many past Worldcons, the design has been chosen through a competition. (To see all of the previous Hugo Awards click here.) There is no requirement to hold a competition.
While each year’s Worldcon committee can have their own rockets made up as well as the bases, since 1984, all but one has chosen to use the Ashwater Foundry in England, formerly owned by the late Peter Weston, oversee the manufacture of the Hugo Award rockets. Peter described that process here. The foundry has the custom mold for casting the rockets. No matter how the rockets are made, they must follow the same pattern as the design standardized by Peter Weston, for this design is a service mark of the World Science Fiction Society. The rocket must have a solid finish (including a clear finish, such as those rockets made of plastic) and may not have anything engraved or printed on the rocket itself.
The specifications for the rockets are:
- 13″ tall
- 2″ across from fin-tip to fin-tip
- weight 3 lb. 2 oz.
- bolt 5/16-18 machine screw thread
See the detailed specification sheet (PDF) for further details. A high resolution version of the specifications (3 MB) is available here. We thank Deb Kosiba, designer of the 2005 and 2006 Hugo Award trophy bases, for preparing this specification sheet. The design of the trophy rocket is the property of the World Science Fiction Society and may not be used without permission; however, you are welcome to use this document for legitimate purposes such as describing the Hugo Award and preparing designs for trophies.
While the base design will vary with each Worldcon committee, these are typical of the requirements and desires expressed for past design competitions. To see if this year’s Worldcon is having a base design contest and what their specific requirements are, check their website. The list below is typical of recent base design contests:
- Bases may be made of wood, metal, or any other material which has a fixed form. Materials which discolor or change with age or which are not stable when heated, etc., should not be used.
- Bases must be designed so that the Hugo rocket is an integral part of the design. The rockets will be supplied by the Worldcon; the designer is responsible for supplying the bases for which the Worldcon pays.
- The design must stand on a flat surface in some way. Do not craft a hanging design or one only appropriate for zero-G.
- Space must be left for a plaque or plaques indicating convention, winner, and category of award. These will be produced and attached by the Worldcon after the bases have been delivered.
- Designs must be easily shipped (they’re often carried home in the winner’s luggage!) and should not be fragile or include parts that can fall off.