Theodore Lydecker, left, and brother Howard Lydecker
Brothers Howard Lydecker and Theodore Lydecker were old-school special-effects wizards who worked together at Republic Pictures for the studio's entire run, from the mid-1930s well into the 1950s, using low-tech artistry to elevate Republic's serials and B-movies beyond what the studio's Poverty Row rivals were capable of pulling off.
"Commando Cody" (1953): A Lydecker brothers mini-space ship "lands" on the Upper Iverson
They were masters of the miniature model, whether it was space ships, buildings, trains, automobiles, stagecoaches — many a car or covered wagon went over a cliff under their watchful eyes. The above example of a Lydecker miniature comes from the Republic serial "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe," and shows a model space ship "landing" in a setting composed of some actual Upper Iverson footage in the background along with a miniature fence and fake rocks in the foreground.
Lydecker brothers model of the Grove Relay Station, from "Zorro's Black Whip"
On a number of occasions the Lydeckers replicated actual structures at the Iverson Movie Ranch — only to see their creation ultimately destroyed by fire, crushed by avalanche or otherwise mutilated. It was all good fun, and now, through the magic of screen shots and our own low-tech special effects — especially slow-motion and pause — we're able to appreciate their craftsmanship on a whole other level.
The actual Grove Relay Station on the Iverson Movie Ranch, also from "Zorro's Black Whip"
The Lydeckers' work in the 1944 serial "Zorro's Black Whip," where the brothers created a realistic replica of Iverson's Grove Relay Station and then crushed it in an avalanche set off by the bad guys, is a good example of their connection to the Iverson Movie Ranch. It's pretty hard to tell the real relay station from the model, but the best clue comes when the place starts being destroyed by the avalanche — at that point, you know it's the model.
Here's a video clip of the sequence ...