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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Profiles Star Trek Auction Review - Part 1

Well, just getting to the Profiles in History Star Trek Auction was a nightmare for me. I had just spent two weeks on the set of Star Trek: Phase II in Port Henry, New York and was flying out of Burlington Vermont Friday. Well, they canceled my flight at 6:30pm and I was forced to drive 3.5 hours to Boston to get a 6am flight back, which would get me to LAX at 11:20, just n time to rush to Profiles! Well, that flight was canceled too! and I had to switch to American and that was a nightmare (I hate that airline), but was able to land at 11:00, get picked up and made it to Profiles in time! Whew!

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH PROFILES

Now, I have a funny relationship with Profiles in History. Even before I started Propworx, I was sometimes critical of what I considered sloppy authentication from time to time on Star Trek items. But I also am a customer and respect that they are # 1 in Hollywood memorabilia and they really have built this business. We owe Profiles a lot of respect for that. But that doesn't mean I am going to shut up and kiss their ass. Not my style (yeah I know, that is a shocker). I will always be fair with my criticism and give honest feedback and try and make the hobby better and safer for all.

Now I like Brian Chanes, my main contact at Profiles a ton. He has always been nice and accommodating, and even when he took offense at some things I said on the Star Trek forum, we were able to talk it out because I honestly am not out to screw with them and I want their Star Trek auction to be a success! Brian is a gentleman and so I enjoy my relationship with him. But sadly, Brian's father passed recently and he wasn't there most of the past two weeks. So when the whole Jem'Hadar ship thing went down, I got the feeling Profiles was pissed off and I didn't have Brian there to talk to about it.

Now Profiles should not have been upset. If someone can prove an item Propworx has in its auction is not as described, I want to know! The last thing I want to do is sell something that isn't what we think it is. It does not embarrass us because we work hard to prove everything is exactly as described. And if we are wrong, we will tell everyone! Heck, I would publish a blog article like the one I wrote on the Jem'Hadar ship if someone else did that on a Propworx item, because it makes the hobby better. It teaches us HOW to authenticate and what detective work needs to be done.

And I don't think Propworx is competitive with Profiles. First of all, we are tiny compared to Profiles! Second, outside of our Star Trek auction, we don't do multiple-consignor auctions like Profiles and probably never will. Not what I want to do. Propworx is about single-consignor auctions like Battlestar Galactica or Stargate. And while profiles jumped into that space with Lost, I honestly don't see them doing that much again since it takes WAY more work than their core auction business, and even Joe Madalena said it was a much less profitable business. So I don't see Profiles as a competitor. I see them as the grand-daddy of this business.

So, that being said, let me say this Star Trek auction was top notch. Overall I give it an A-.

THE REVIEW

Profiles always has their auctions at their offices in Calabasas, CA, about 30 minutes north of LA. I am not a huge fan of this, because they simply don't have a ton of room, but this time they did a really nice job decorating the entire room with curtains and a few items from the auction.

First of all, Profiles gave away very cool miniature TOS communicator key chains that actually opened up and made communicator sounds! A great idea and I told Joe Madalena that. It was a nice little promotional piece.

The only big problem was the rows of chairs were really tight and they didn't have that many people in attendance (typical for an auction these days, people all bid online!) and we were all very cramped. I would have liked Profiles to have loosened up the room layout after the very busy previous two days they had (where I am sure they had a lot of people). They had about 15 people for the Star Trek auction, which is what I would expect. And about half were people from the Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Forum. Honestly, Profiles should rent out the Pasadena Convention Center's smaller spaces for their auctions. It is not expensive and would give everyone a lot more room.

The auctioneer is excellent. Profiles uses the same guy all the time, and he was really top notch and moves along nicely. He is very friendly and even intuitive. At one point there was an item I was ready to go to about $5,000 on and the bidding was going back and forth $100 at a time under $1,000 and the auctioneer looked at me and knew exactly what I was thinking (The look on my face gave it away I am sure) and said "You want to wait till they get done?" and I laughed. So he gets top marks.

The Buyer's Premium is 15% if you pay by cash or check, or 18% if you pay by credit card. No matter what, if you bid online you pay 18%. That is a little odd, because Live Auctioneers, the system Propworx uses also, charges the auction house a flat fee for using the software. None the less, Profiles Buyer's Premium is the lowest of the four major prop houses (Profiles, Julien's Propworx and Heritage) which is nice. If Propworx was doing the volume Profiles does, we could charge less too, but I applaud Profiles for keeping their BP low.


I find it interesting that profiles has so many phone bidding assistants. There were a lot of phone bidders bidding on sub-$ 1,000 items. While nice of Profiles to offer that service, it seems those bidders should get a computer and not waste Profiles time bidding on a $ 500 item! I always think of phone bidding as something for that really high dollar bidder!

And this time, Profiles got the famous German Star Trek savant Jorg Hillebrand involved to make sure descriptions were accurate. That was a VERY good move, one I suggested to Brian two years ago. And besides the Jem Hadar ship problem, they only missed one description, which they corrected on their blog.

So overall, a very well done event.


THE ITEMS

Well, let's start with the top 10 items:

Lot # 1241 Original Balock Puppet Head.....$70,000


Not surprised it went this high, but how does this look in 10 years? A beautiful piece but will deteriorate if not preserved.

Lot # 1491 TOS Tricorder from "Trials and Tribbleations".....$25,000

OK, this is insane. $ 25,000 for a DS9 Tricorder? I mean I wanted this too, because it is the closest thing to a TOS Tricorder most people will ever get. But $ 25K?

Lot # 1490 TOS Phaser from "Trials and Tribbleations".....$16,000

Ditto. I was the under bidder. DOH! Thank God I lost that one. I would have woken up with a bad headache this AM.

Lot # 1409 Mark XSL "Endgame" Tricorder
.....$10,000

I won this. I overpaid, but it was an emotional purchase. I own all four main "Endgame" uniforms - Janeway Admiral, Doctor, Kim Captain and Miral Paris (and a cadet). So it made sense to put it all together. Plus it was absolutely the coolest Tricorder in the auction. When I saw it in person I was hooked. $ 10K was my max bid too!

Lot # 1527 EM-33 Pistol.....$8,500

WOW! That is a lot for a pistol, but this one was amazing and the metal pieces looked awesome.

Lot # 1251 TOS Chekov Costume.....$8,000

A STEAL! Certainly the buy of the auction.

Lot # 1486 Mark VII Medical Tricorder....$8,000

Even at this price, a fair deal.

Lot # 1261 Kirk TMP Uniform.....$7,500

I don't like this uniform, but it is a Kirk and a good deal at this price.

Lot # 1330 Away Team Medical Kit.....$7,000

Buy a Tricorder for this and you have one of the best props in the auction.

Lot # 1252 TOS Red Shirt Costume.....$6,500

A great buy on a TOS costume. The insignia was a repro though.


So, tomorrow, Part II and I start getting in depth into the items.

Alec

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