The definitive source for information on collecting screen-used Star Trek props and costumes

Star Trek Props.com The Internet's premier source for information on collecting Star Trek props and costumes, as well as coverage of all major Star Trek auctions from the famous 2006 Christie's Star Trek auction, through the It's A Wrap Star Trek auctions on eBay and the Propworx Star Trek auctions. Star Trek Props is the best source for information of collecting original, screen-used props & costumes.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Original Enterprise Model Turns 49!

L-R: Richard C. Datin, Jr. Mel Keys, Vernon Sion

49 years ago today, on December 29th, 1964,  the original filming model of the U.S.S. Enterprise was delivered to the Howard Anderson Company. There, it would be used as the centerpiece for optical effects scenes to be included in the pilot episode of what was hoped to be a new television series, Star Trek.

Model maker Richard C. Datin, Jr. oversaw the efforts of model makers Mel Keys, Vernon Sion, and Volmer Jensen in constructing the 11-foot model from a 1-foot prototype Datin himself built. 

The prototype and the larger model were based on the design created by legendary Star Trek production artist Walter M. “Matt” Jefferies.

Datin would later modify the model prior to its use during the filming of the original series’ first pilot, “The Cage", alter it again for the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and then again once the show sold to NBC and filming began on the series’ first season.

The model was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in 1974.  Originally, it hung in one of the first-level galleries, where it remained until the mid-late 1980s. 

The Starship Enterprise during its third Smithsonian restoration, December, 1991. 

After the restoration, the Enterprise was displayed as part of a Star Trek exhibit in the mid 1990's. It is currently on display in the lower level of the museum’s main gift store.



The museum also maintains a blog, with two articles detailing the museum’s restoration of the model.  They are both short and worth a read.



The also Smithsonian maintains an information page about the model’s history.

Much thanks to Dayton Ward, writer of Star Trek: That Which Divides and Star Trek: From History’s Shadow for posting this information on his blog.  Please check out his books, which are throw backs to the Star Trek novels of the 80's/early 90's.

Alec


 

Friday, December 20, 2013

TOS Tunics at Profiles - Authenticity and Ethics




Let me start out by saying that I believe the Scotty and Sulu Tunics at tomorrow's Profiles auction are what is claimed.  There is a good deal of circumstantial evidence, even though there is no screen matching.  This is not absolute proof (which is what screen matching is), but the Burden of Proof has been met.  But because one blogger has taken to shouting out his doubts, some people are asking me what I think.  So here it is, all laid out.

I AM NOT AN EXPERT

I am not an expert on TOS costumes.  In fact I never hold myself out as an expert on Star Trek.  I write a lot about it.  I have handled a ton of the stuff.  But that doesn't make me an expert.  But I know who all the experts are, and when people come to me, I go to those experts.  

I have owned three, including the Kirk tunic sold last year by Profiles and have handled more than most people. I have researched them more than any other blogger save Gerald Gurian, and I know every top expert on TOS costumes. I spoke to


TOS COSTUME EXPERTS

Here are the TOS Costume experts I know of.

Rob Klein (probably the # 1 expert on TOS costumes and owner of a large collection)
Gerald Gurian
James Cawley
Roger Romage

There are collectors such as Owen Riley who is very well educated on the subject, and of course Greg Jein has the biggest collection of TOS costumes, but frankly he doesn't hold himself out as an expert and doesn't authenticate anything.


THE TUNICS ARE MOST LIKELY WHAT PROFILES CLAIMS

Now, of those experts listed above. Both Rob Klein and Gerald Gurian think the Sulu and Scotty are what Profiles claims.  In fact, Rob has inside knowledge that Profiles has relied on to authenticate the costumes.  Profiles has sold literally dozens of these costumes and they believe they are the costumes of those characters.  And I inspected the costumes and went over them with Brian Chanes and they have all the markings that Profiles claims they do.  And after talking with Rob, Gerald and Brian, I believe these costumes are what they claim.  I also talked witH james Cawley, who said that the size ofthe Sulu was definitive as Takei was tiny, a 34-36.


CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

Now, it is circumstantial evidence for sure.  There is sadly no screen match.  And I have told Brian that in the future he should give me and the team a chance to screen match them for him.  

But circumstantial evidence is enough to get a murder conviction, so it is certainly enough here.  Assuming you meet the burden of proof.


THE EVIDENCE - SULU

SULU BRAID -  The Sulu has the correct Lieutenant stripe braid marks left in it.  This doesn't mean that it is Sulu's of course.  

SULU PANTS - The Sulu Tunic came on the same hanger as the Sulu pants out of the studio.  Something you would know if you knew to talk to the guys who found these tunics at the studio.  And as anyone who bid in the It's A Wrap auctions knows, character items were always kept together. 

SIZE - The Sulu tunic is TINY.  George was a 34-36 and this tunic matches.  This is definitive according to Cawley.  And I concur with the logic. 


THE EVIDENCE - SCOTTY
 
SCOTTY BRAID - The Scotty tunic has Lt. Commanders braid marks which makes it certainly Scotty's.  I am only aware of one other instance where someone wore a red tunic with this braid, and that was most logically an actor using Scotty's tunic. The production was cheap and didn't use braid it didn't have to and reused costumes constantly. 

SIZE - The Scotty tunic matches the size for Scotty.  This is not proof, but simply helps add to the circumstantial case. 


BOTH tunics are from one of the premier collectors of TOS and he was the first owner of these out of the studio.  The provenance is solid (though it doesn't determine if they are what is claimed, only that they are authentic TOS costumes)


DON HILLENBRAND

One blogger, Don Hillenbrand has attacked these tunics. Don is the same blogger who:

1) Attacked the TOS Kirk tunic last year despite absolute screen matching and authentication by every major TOS expert in the country.

2)    Attacked the TOS Phaser earlier this year depite a 100% screen match.

And why does he attack items?  Because he doesn't like the seller.  He hates me, so he attacks my Kirk Tunic, He hates Gerald, so he attacks Gerald's Phaser, and he hates Profiles, so he attacks them.  

There is no place for personal vendettas in prop authentication.  Authentication is a scientific process.  It is an emotionless one.  I was the last person to actually believe the TOS Kirk tunic was really Shatner's, until I saw the screen match.

And Don hasn't spoken to ONE expert on TOS costumes.  He thinks he is an absolute expert, so he doesn't do any research with the people who have handled these costumes for decades.


A LETTER FROM PROFILES
 
After reading Don's relentless attacks on his blog, Profiles reached out with this email:


Both the George Takei and James Doohan costumes were part of a long-term collection from an individual who had top access to obtain the best of the best.  As you know from books like Bob Justman and Herb Solow's book, Inside Star Trek, the show was a low-budget series and Desilu was notorious for being cheap.  The production did not create numerous back up costumes, nor were stuntman tunics made.  If a stunt was required, they would use the actor's tunic for the stunt and then return it to the wardrobe rack.  If the crew visited a space station, they did not make 20 new tunics for the background.  Unless a tunic was completely destroyed, the production used every shirt they had available to get the sequences shot. Once a tunic received too much wear after repeated cleanings, the production would relegate old hero wardrobe to background crew members. We have handled many Original Series tunics in the past exhibiting studio repair to small tears indicating their desire to keep them in service as long as possible. Needless to say, today's production practices towards wardrobe are completely different.

The great majority of season one and season two tunics did not have the actor or characters labeled.  A testament to this was the Spock tunic we sold in December, 2012 that was won by the consignor in a 1968 "Star Trek Design a Costume Contest".  This tunic, complete with original braiding and insignia, came with a signed letter from Leonard Nimoy and a signed letter by costumer Bill Theiss, both referring to the recipient winning his "Spock tunic".  This Spock tunic has no interior label, yet remains the best documented Star Trek tunic in existence.  As stated in the catalog descriptions, both the Doohan and Takei tunics exhibit markings of the braiding indicative of their respective ranks. This, in conjunction with the general build of the actor, is the method of identifying the officer's tunics (unless you are lucky enough to screen match a signature marking on a particular garment).

If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend and holiday season.

Sincerely,

Brian Chanes
Profiles in History


Now certainly, Profiles didn't have to explain themselves to someone who didn't even bother to do any research, but they did.  And there rationale is solid.

 
CONCLUSION

I have been very critical of Profiles in the past.  And still there are items that they have been fooled on.  So I always do my own work.  But on these two, I feel very certain that they are what is claimed.  I have talked to the experts, and they feel the tunics are what Profiles claims they are.  

There is no 100% certainty.  The Burden of Proof has been met, but without a proper screen match, you can't be absolutely sure.  So the question is are you, the bidder, OK with the level of confidence the experts have.  If you are, go for it!  If not, let someone else win it.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Klingon Rifle on Screen Used



Screen Used has a Klingon Rifle for sale.  At $ 4,999 this is a pretty fair deal.  These are incredibly rare and I was lucky to get one from It's a Wrap.

Made for Star Trek III, these were basically disruptor pistols with an added "stock".  The pistol was an entirely new design from the "Death STing" used in The Motion Picture.  This design was used through Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  The only change being the tip, which was constantly breaking, resulting in the "beak nose" version.

You can see it on Screen Used's website.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Star Trek Archive - Identifying Props



Over the last two years I have been able to help CBS with their Star Trek archive.  First, flying to ST. Louis and Orlando and cataloging the props & costumes at the Star Trek exhibition, then by housing and cataloging the props from the Las Vegas Star Trek Experience museum exhibit. 

Now CBS has a great young lady named Holly who is in charge of the cataloging everything and she is doing an amazing job.  The other day she sent me these photos and asked me to identify this prop.

Of course I sent it off to Jorg Hillebrand in Germany.  As many of you know, Jorg is simply the best at identifying props from Star Trek.  He has a near photographic memory and is the go to guy when you need to get a screen cap of a prop or costume.

So Jorg came up with this:



Jorg wrote to me:

I can tell you that the small device was originally made for Geordi's interface suit in "Interface". The prop was modified after this, though, and I seem to remember having seen it in a later episode, can't place it at the moment though.


Holly then sent me this image from the CBS inventory.  So supposedly, according to this doc, it was used as Soren's communicator in Generations.  Jorg is still looking, but I didn;t find it in Trekcore.

But this is the type of thing that is fun about this hobby.

Alec

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Relativity Tricorder from Premier Props - A Fake Revealed



Last month I won three Tricorders from the Premier Props auction.  They were pretty darn good deals, and one reason may have been because no one was sure if they were real or not.   

As I said in my article before the auction:  "Now the problem with the two Hero Light-Up Tricorders is that unless you bust open the back and take photos of the insides, you can't tell if these are production-made, or are the ones made for Star Trek: The Experience."

But since I am in Los Angeles, and live 10 minutes from the two guys who can actually tell you, I decided to take a chance.  What was funny was that people who I told kept saying "Aren't you worried about getting your money back?"  And frankly, I am a bit surprised.  If they were fakes, why wouldn't Premier give me my money back?  The last thing they need is a scandal with fake Star Trek props with a guy who has a big mouth and a platform to broadcast from!  :-)

So I took the chance and here is what we found:

Now, every auction house runs the risk of auctioning off fake props.  You take the opinion of a consignor you know, who may have other good stuff, and you basically roll the dice. 

As I said, the only way to truly know if a TNG era hero Tricorder is real is to bust it open and look at the electronics.  So I took all three to Brett Jones, who, outside of Michael Moore from HMS, the guy whose shop actually built them, knows more about Tricorders than anyone.

This turned out to be a replica.  In fact it was a replica made by HMS to be sold at the Star Trek Experience at Las Vegas.  Brett Jones busted this open (OK, he didn't "bust" it open, but used a fine point screw driver!) and immediately we found that it had the wrong power and distingusihing marks on the circuit board that identified it as a fake.


A keen eye can spot the give away


I got my money back from Premier Props as I expected.  Of course, I had acces to the best resources in the hobby.  If you didn't, and won this item, you would have wound up with a fake and not even known it.  And this is why I think many people stay away from these auctions and the prices are low.  A good price on a fake is still a bad deal.

But the big issue is Movieprops DNA, which claimed to have "Authenticated" these props. 

More on that next article.

Alec


Friday, November 15, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another fake TOS Communicator on eBay



Another fake TOS prop is up on eBay, and this time, the seller was told by members of the Trek Prop Zone (the forum for collectors of replica Star Trek props), that it was fake.  But he didn't listen and kept the listing up,and it of course didn't sell.  It is, as always, worth making a note of this and saving the photos.  The dead give away is the extended metal plate.  And the TPZ members even identified WHICH replica kit it was!


From the eBay ad:

This communicator prop from Star Trek TOS was sold to me by Forrest J Ackerman from his person collection in 1997 for an undisclosed price.  While Forrey had been a good friend for many years, he only agreed to sell me the prop after a decade of my relentless cajoling.  Though I hate parting with it, recent financial concerns have forced my hand.  Besides, it's time someone else enjoyed the prop as have I these many years. 

This prop was seen only in long shots, and is not one of the pristine models used in tight close-ups.  Constructed for durability (props were always being dropped during filming) the antenna hinge employs hardware less fragile than that found in the close-up models. 

The display case features corporate logos providing a very brief historical overview of the original series - which was greenlighted by the unsung visionary Lucile Ball herself when running Desilu,

The prop is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Mr. Ackerman on his stationary.


Ok, so a few problems.  First, everyone knows that half the stuff in Forrest J Ackerman's collection was fake.  Word is that he used to loan stuff out, and the unscupulos people who borrowed things copied them returned fakes and sold or kept the real ones.  So saying it is from Ackerman's collection is not good provenance.


As always, when in doubt, check with the Trek Prop Zone or the Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Forum.

Alec

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tricorders are a good value!



 
A few Tricorders have sold within weeks of each other at the Premier Props and Screen Used auctions.  The take away is that prices are down on Tricorders.

There were two static Mark IX Tricorders.  The one at Premier sold for $ 799.50 (including BP) and the one at Screen Used sold for $ 1,180 (including BP).  Pretty close, and this establishes an $ 800-1,2000 range for a static Mk IX.


PREMIER PROPS STATIC TRICORDER  $ 650 & $ 149.50 BP = $ 799.50

Check out the auction page here.

PremPropsTric.png


SCREEN USED STATIC TRICORDER  $ 1,000 & $ 180 BP = $ 1,180

Check out the auction page here.


ScreenUsedTric.png



On the Hero front....

A Hero Mk X sold at Premier Props for $ 2,337.  Check out the auction here.



While the Screen Used Mk X Medical Tricorder went unsold.  Check out the auction here.


With an opening bid at a very high $ 4,750, the Tricorder didn't sell.  It was a medical one, so very nice, and had a holster.  But this is WAY above where the market is now for Tricorders.  I think it sells at $ 3,500.

So that is it for now!

Alec

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Searching for Soval



Some of you know that I have been producing a Star Trek movie called "Axanar".  If you are on Facebook, you can find our page here:

https://www.facebook.com/StarTrekAxanar

Well, Gary Graham will be reprising his role of Ambassador Soval in Axanar, and I am starting to look for costuming for him.  So do any of you have either of these two lots, sold by IAW?




If so, please email me at alec@propworx.com

THANKS!

Alec


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kirk Tunic at Julien's Auction




Julien's Auctions is having another one of its high-end auctions and this time, they are selling some prime TOS items.


Sadly, their signature Star Trek item is a TOS Kirk tunic with an autograph marring the front.  Everyone I know was horrified when they saw this.  Obviously someone had no clue that having a star sign a valuable prop or costume actually DEVALUES that item.

This is a Season 3 Double Knit tunic.  Less desirable than the Season 1/2 velour.  The Velour Kirk tunic in last year's Profiles auction went for $ 80,000 before buyer's premium ($ 98,400 with BP).  This one?  I think it is worth HALF that at best, and more like $30,000.



The auction description:



A pale green Starfleet uniform tunic made for Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, for use in the third season of Star Trek (Desilu Productions, 1966-1969). While appearing gold onscreen, the actual color was described as "avocado" by costume designer William Ware Theiss. The tunic is made of a double knit stretch nylon with attached black spring weave collar. The tunic is closed by a hidden zipper, which runs from the waist to the top of the collar and finished with a hook closure. The tunic also has a double gusset design on both sides, a construction technique exclusive to the tunics made for Shatner. The Command delta shield insignia is zig-zag stitched to the left breast of the tunic and the sleeves are finished with the command braid made of multiple colors of thread embroidered over gold Mylar. The braid configuration signifies the rank of captain, and the size, hemline placement and age of the materials and components is consistent with a tunic made for Shatner. The tunic has been hand signed by Shatner across the chest with black marker. A photo of Shatner with the signed tunic is included. Also included is a pair of custom knee high black leather boots made originally for Shatner. The boots, size 9, are hand inscribed “Shatner #2,” “W. Shatner” and “W.S.” The boots were used by Shatner, then moved to background player costuming when they became too worn for principal actor wear. Shatner’s name is crossed out and the word “Stock” is hand inscribed above. The original leather sole and heel have been replaced as well. The boot zippers do not match, which may indicate that the pair was put together from two different pairs or a zipper was damaged and replaced.

You can see the complete auction ad here.


This video bothers me.  Why would you PROMOTE a costume so marred by an autograph?  All you do is make people think that is OK.



So boys and girls, remember, don't EVER get a costume signed!  It detracts from the value.

Alec



Friday, October 11, 2013

Nimbus III Rifle




The Golden Closet has a Star Trek V Nimbus III Rifle up on their site.  We don't see these very often, but they are around.

The Golden Closet contacted me about promoting it, which I am happy to do, but I did tell them I thought it was priced high.  They were very nice when I told them this and say they will talk to the consignor.

Now I think this is a $ 1,200 prop.  Why?  Well...

1)  The prop isn't rare, we have seen them before.

2)  It was not used by a principle character

3)  It's just not very attractive.  It isn't a "cool" prop like a Phaser or disruptor.



That being said, some people (like Aaron Carlson!) love Star Trek V and so this would be a cool addition to their Star Trek V collection.

Alec


Friday, September 27, 2013

Premier Props Tricorders and Proton Collector



I had a good visit yesterday with Dav Levin from Premier Props.  I got to see the 3 key props that I thought were the ones most likely to be questionable.  Two Hero Tricorders and the Proton Collector.

TRICORDERS

There are three Tricorders in the auction.

Mk IX Static Tricorder  (Which I will not cover)

Mk X Tricorder

TR-890 Relativity Tricorder

Now the problem with the two Hero Light-Up Tricorders is that unless you bust open the back and take photos of the insides, you can't tell if these are production-made, or are the ones made for Star Trek: The Experience.

So you will have to open the back and photograph the boards and send them to Brett Jones who is the expert I always use.  He can tell you if these Tricorders are production made or for The Experience.

HERO Mk X TRICORDER

Bust it open to find out if it is production made or made for Star Trek: The Experience

 
TR-890 RELATIVITY TRICORDER

The lights on top do not work on this.  As most know, this was based on a travel clock, and comes with a vacu-formed holster.
 

Note top lights
STAR TREK IV PROTON COLLECTOR


It lights up!
I have no opinion on the authenticity of this prop, but have emailed Richard Coyle the prop maker.  This is NOT the one that sold in profiles a few years ago.  

There are a lot more photos on the auction listing.

Alec