Sunday, December 22, 2013

CLAPPER OF THE WEEK: ENTERPRISE MODEL FX SHOT

During the run of the original series, a number of shots were taken of the Enterprise model. These shots featured various angles and details. They were shot in studio against a blue screen background and then combined with star fields or whatever was required. This week's shot has a paper clapper of sorts which reads "climb shot normal" and shows the Enterprise at a dramatic rear angle with the starboard engine in the foreground. No date is shown so we're left to wonder if this was done for general coverage or for a specific episode. As always, the model is shot showing the starboard side since the other side had the wiring harness on it which would show if filmed.

LLAP

Don

Saturday, December 21, 2013

BRINGING A KNIFE TO A GUNFIGHT: WHY LIARS SHOULDN'T BLOG

I know I'm onto something when I get verbally spanked by self-appointed "Emperor of Star Trek" and inveterate liar Alec Peters. Please keep in mind that the only way I'm going to call someone a liar is if I can back it up in court. If you don't know who Mr. Peters is, good for you. I wish to God I didn't, but, FWIW, he's a Star Trek collector, Blogger and former CEO of the now-bankrupt Propworx. Oh, and he made a Death Threat against me. Having Mr. Peters talk about ethics is like asking Charles Ponzi about investing.

Mr. Peters thought it would be a good idea to smack me in a blog post he wrote yesterday regarding my recent stories on the Star Trek TOS tunics that are, coincidentally, going up for auction today. I have been very clear about my views on these tunics: I believe them to be authentic production-made pieces, but find the claims of certitude that they were worn by main cast members to be dubious at best. They might have been worn by them, but Profiles doesn't say "might". They say "worn by" with total certainty. Nowhere in the auction text is anything remotely like "could have been" stated.

But Mr. Peters took the opportunity to spank me, saying:

 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.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––

I find the use of the word "attacked" especially enlightening. FYI: anyone who disagrees with Mr. Peters is an "attacker". But let's put that aside for now and concentrate on content.

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

While I'll leave it to my readers to decide whether or not my story was an attack, I will certainly admit that I found the evidence of "Kirkness" lacking in the initial presentation (as did many others on various forums – you can check that for yourselves). I still stand by that, based on the lame "evidence" that we were given. It was only after much prodding by myself and others that Mr. Peters was able to finally produce a definitive screen-capture that proved the Kirk affiliation. Once that happened, I was very satisfied that the piece was indeed a Kirk and said so publicly. My comments about this are public record and no amount of rewriting of history by Mr. Peters will change that.

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

This is the most telling comment here and proves Mr. Peters to be the liar he is. In several venues – including his own forum – Mr. Peters stated that he used to own the Kirk tunic but he had sold it and was therefor no longer the owner. But above, he states specifically: "so he attacks my Kirk Tunic". Note the words "my Kirk tunic". God, this is like taking candy from a baby. 

As for hating him and his ilk, pity is not hatred.

And here we get to the real issue – Mr. Peters had spent the last several years knocking Profiles (very much like I have, BTW) and apparently didn't want to be seen dealing with them. So he had one of his good buddies/sycophants act as his surrogate (and I know exactly who that was so let's not get cute about it). Now LEGALLY, he might not have been the owner. After all, if I sell you a house for a dollar to hide it from the bankruptcy courts, I technically no longer own it. Wink, wink.

Bottom line – the shirt was his (by his own admission) and I was messing up his sale. Which is why he spent DAYS trying to refute my story while also searching for better evidence, which he eventually found thanks in part (in my opinion at least) to my story. You're welcome, Mr. Peters.

For the record, the shirt eventually did sell, but only for the minimum bid, which was still HUGE money!

"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."

I would have welcomed the chance to talk to "experts" on this, but let's take a look at his "expert" list from the same story:

Rob Klein (probably the # 1 expert on TOS costumes and owner of a large collection)

I am familiar with Mr. Klein and have actually bought from him. I find it difficult to believe that he agrees with Profiles' assurances of absolute "worn by" authenticity. I have not read anywhere were he does. If he does indeed have some type of "inside knowledge" that conclusively identifies these pieces to be as claimed (as Mr. Peters states), then why not just produce it? Why do we need a secret handshake to get information?

Gerald Gurian

Mr. Gurian was once called a "nutjob" by Mr. Peters himself for his refusal to even consider that some of his TOS props might not be authentic. But when Mr. Peters needed his help, suddenly he became an "expert". Got it.

James Cawley

Mr. Cawley was one of the team members who worked on the "Kirk tunic" authentication. It was one of Mr. Cawley's assertions about the so-called "double-gusset" construction of the shirt that led him to say that it was a Kirk, a claim that I  debunked in this story: THE DOUBLE GUSSET POSTULATE. Regarding the size, if Mr. Cawley can supply a list of all actors for which a gold Lieutenant's shirt was made that shows none of them to be the same size as Takei, that would be conclusive. Without that, it's a guess. (Take a look at the photo, right, and tell me other actors might not have worn the same size.) So when Mr. Cawley makes claims of 100% certainty about anything, I take them with a grain of salt. Any reasonable person would.

Roger Romage

I know of Mr. Romage by reputation and, again, I find it difficult to believe that he agrees with Profiles' assurances of absolute "worn by" authenticity. I have not read anywhere were he does.

"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."

Of COURSE Profiles needs to explain itself! ALL SELLERS need to explain themselves! That's how the market works! A seller makes claims, we challenge those claims and hopefully buyers can come to an understanding of what, exactly, they are dealing with. To say otherwise is ludicrous. We're supposed to just take what they say and assume they are right? REALLY?!? What an idiotic thing to say.

As for research, my story is filled with it. Common sense research rather than "I know something that you don't and I'm not going to share it" research.

And finally, here's Mr. Peters' summation:

"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. "

So he writes an article about what an idiot I am, only to come to the same conclusion as me:

"There is no 100% certainty."

I'm a fool for saying there's no certainty, but Mr. Peters then says the same thing and he's a genius. Oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense. (BTW, Mr. Peters, since certainty means "a fact that is definitely true" you can only have 100% or none).

There's no certainty here. There are possibilities. There are maybes.

After all his pontificating and name-dropping, Peters gives us nothing we didn't already know – they are the right sizes and show the proper rank and that's about it. If you think those facts are worth spending $18,000 on, that's your business. I write to inform as best I can. If, after reading my report, you think I'm full of crap, no problem. Unlike Mr. Peters, I've never told anyone what to do or how to think.

Some have said that my requirements for proof are too difficult to fulfill. To that I say "tough!"  IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. If it weren't, every piece that came to market would be called a Hero piece that was used by/worn by a star. Big claims require big proof. If a seller can't stand some scrutiny of their pieces, they shouldn't put them on the market.

I never claim to be an expert on things I write about, for one basic reason – there's too much out there for ANYONE to be an expert on everything. I try to find out as much as I can and talk with those that know whatever is knowable. Only then do I reach a conclusion. I have no quarrel with most of the "experts" quoted by Mr. Peters. I simply disagree with their conclusions. I did not call them names or anything like that – I simply disagree and told of my reasons why in great detail.

That said, what I AM an expert on is common sense. I'm an ace at smelling bullshit and calling it out. And I'm especially adept at sensing liars. To whom it may concern: you might want to have a better advocate than Alec Freakin' Peters.

I and others have noticed that there's almost a mysticism that surrounds old Star Trek that seems to say "you're too stupid to have an opinion – only the elites can figure this stuff out." Well, in my opinion, "we know more than you do" is not a good sales tactic. Tell us what you know. Explain it to us. Only then can we be truly informed.

"There is no place for personal vendettas in prop authentication.  Authentication is a scientific process.  It is an emotionless one."

I could not agree more. And THAT is why I write my stories, and why I stand behind them.

You might want to review the scientific process, Mr. Peters. Apparently you're not very familiar with it.

LLAP

Don

Monday, December 16, 2013

PROFILES' RESPONSE TO THE GREAT TUNIC INQUIREY or NO SHIRT, SHERLOCK

After trying in vain to get Profiles' to tell me whether or not there was any better provenance on the TOS tunics that I've been writing about, I tried one last time via email. To my surprise I heard back from Brian Chanes.

Here's what I asked:

"While I am very interested in the two lots (430 and 431), the only proof of wear by James Doohan and George Takei that you cite is size and indications of rank braid on the sleeves. Those two elements are not remotely enough to prove use by those two actors. For me to bid, I need more definitive proof. Is anything else available? Is there any specific provenance available? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated."

Here's Brian's response:

"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"

Here's the deal: I agree with most everything he says (but not everything). But I still don't reach the same conclusion that, because of these facts, the shirts are what they say they are.

Some of Mr. Chanes' comments are obviously wrong, for instance:

"If a stunt was required, they would use the actor's tunic for the stunt and then return it to the wardrobe rack."

No, they wouldn't. They would use whatever fit the stuntman. It MIGHT have been a shirt used by the character's actor or it might not have been. To say that in every case the main actor's wardrobe was used is not a provable statement. 

"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."

This seems to mean that they made shirts for the main cast and everyone else got hand-me-downs. Again, while they certainly reused the main cast's wardrobe, they also had general wardrobe created specifically for guest or background actors. They had to because at the beginning of production, for example, there weren't any wardrobe pieces to hand down. Also, this would seem to mean that every Redshirt we see would be wearing James Doohan hand-me-downs. All the security guys or Engineering extras had Doohan shirts? Were they all the same size? Obviously not.

So, apparently there are no whiz-bang revelations or ultra-secret details that can lead any expert – no matter who they are – to have definitive proof that the two shirts in question are without a doubt Doohan and Sulu pieces with 100% certainty.

There's a huge difference between fact and opinion. If you can't prove it, it's an opinion.

I only buy on facts.

LLAP

Don

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"SIR, YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR DEPTH" – COMMENTS FROM THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL

I've been taken to task in the past by sellers of very expensive Star Trek items for not accepting some of the claims that were made about the pieces. As it turns out, I've been called on the carpet yet again regarding my recent story (found HERE) on the TOS Tunics being offered by Profiles in History. I expressed the opinion that the Profiles claim that the two shirts were worn by main cast members – specifically James Doohan and George Takei – was unfounded and with little merit. A reader by the name of Jennifer Smith (owner of a Blog called Red Kryptonite) took exception to that finding. In the public "comments" section she said the following:

"So basically, you're just another armchair "expert" with a pause button. Your skepticism is admirable, but as you said yourself, you have not personally examined these items. You do not know who is selling them, or the circumstances of their provenance. This is exactly why most high end Trek collectors keep their trading private. Some fans can't handle items that come up for auction for high dollar amounts, so they must attempt to prove that something is "fake." I believe that in this case, sir, you are out of your depth."

I found these comments interesting in a number of ways.  Let's take them one by one.

"Your skepticism is admirable, but as you said yourself, you have not personally examined these items" 

This is absolutely true – I have not handled the pieces. But in my story I stipulate that I believe the pieces to be authentic production-made tunics. My only issue was the attribution to specific actors and no amount of handling will conjure up the truth about what actor wore a shirt 47 years ago. If I'm mistaken about that, I'd love to hear in what way.

"You do not know who is selling them, or the circumstances of their provenance."

Well, duh, no kidding! The lack of this knowledge goes to the very heart of the matter. But she writes as if it is in some way my fault for not knowing the seller and the piece's provenance. To the contrary, I would LOVE to know who the seller is and the piece's history! But Profiles didn't tell us either of those things. If they had, there might not be an issue here. But they didn't and I'm not psychic. 

"This is exactly why most high end Trek collectors keep their trading private." 

So "high end Trek collectors keep their trading private" because of what? Questions might get asked by the great unwashed? Proof of claims might be required? This is a nonsensical statement to me.
If a piece can't withstand scrutiny, it doesn't deserve to be recognized as authentic, period. I would hope that high end Trek collectors would be the FIRST to require absolute specific proof of authenticity before they themselves put out their hard-earned money for something. If they didn't, they're lousy collectors, in my opinion.

"Some fans can't handle items that come up for auction for high dollar amounts, so they must attempt to prove that something is "fake." "

Ah, the "jealousy" defense. I have news for Ms. Smith – far from being jealous of those with great pieces, I CELEBRATE great pieces whenever possible, whoever their owners might be. When the original Phaser Rifle from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was brought to auction earlier this year, my stories lauded the great piece's place in Star Trek history. Of course, the reason I could do that was because there was no doubt about its authenticity. After all, it was be sold by its maker who had kept it for 47 years! I, myself, was able to match scratches on the existing piece to details on a PR photo with William Shatner himself holding the piece in his hands. THAT is provenance. THAT is proof. And THAT is exactly what the so-called "Scotty" and "Sulu" tunics lack.

As for my supposed inability to "handle items that come up for high dollar amounts", Ms. Smith is  unaware of the fact that I did so much research so that I could decide whether or not pursuing the pieces was worthwhile for me. To have an original tunic worn by a main cast member is one of my holy grails. But I want one that is a proven example, not something backed by mere conjecture.

Ms. Smith goes on to say this:

"However, if you were aware of the Trek collections that are protected by a handful of longtime fans who have owned these pieces for decades, you would quit trying to be the King of Trek...that position has been taken for some time now. "

So apparently, unless I have a pedigree of some type – like being a collector for decades – I cannot offer a worthwhile, informed opinion on anything. Evidently, it takes decades to absorb the type of knowledge required to know that the "Sulu" tunic is indeed a "Sulu" tunic despite nothing specifically proving it to be the case. I guess that, with time, I'll develop a sixth sense that requires no actual proof, but rather will permit me to magically divine the true nature of a piece.

I had not idea. I truly live in ignorance.

And just as apparently, because I'm a collector who writes passionately about Star Trek, I'm setting myself up as the "King of Trek"? Ms. Smith missed my sidebar wherein I state:

"I'm just a guy who enjoys talking about – and learning more about – Star Trek. I know a little about a lot, and a lot about a little – I value accuracy and always appreciate the knowledge of others. If you find anything that you think is wrong, please drop me a line and let me know."

Put more simply – "if you know something that I've gotten wrong, please educate me!" Unlike those that call themselves "Star Trek authorities" I am painfully aware of my shortcomings, so I actively solicit information from anyone willing to share it.

And since she states that "that position has been taken for some time now", Ms. Smith is apparently acquainted with whoever IS the "King of Trek". Sadly, she did not share that information, and Googling "King of Trek" just gives me stuff about bikes. Dammit.

But wait – there's more! Ms. Smith adds (in another entry):

"Profiles knows exactly who is offering up these items, and their reputations as authorities in the field. These people are not, as you say, "hacks who offer things up at top prices." I don't mean to call you out on your page, but do you know very much about the auction business at all? You seem to think that original costumes are like jeans from the Gap or something; they will always come complete with a name tag (and this is especially not the case with original series materials). If all departments of history operated in the Draconian manner that you insist upon, nothing would EVER be "authentic." "

Profiles profiled a fake on their cover.
I won't bother breaking this down, but suffice to say that Ms. Smith is evidently saying "Profiles is satisfied so you should be too". And her question as to whether or not I know anything at all about the auction business is especially ironic, given that it is being asked by someone who is themselves apparently devoid of any real understanding of said business, based on her blind trust in anything Profiles says. Right now, Profiles has a hat attributed to John Wayne in "In Harms' Way". Not only does the hat not match anything seen in the film, but it doesn't even match the screen cap they place right next to the hat's photo as some type of proof of authenticity! And I guess Ms. Smith missed the time that Profiles put an item ON THEIR FRONT COVER that was not only not authentic, but was laughably incorrect. They showed a Statue of Liberty head that was supposedly from the famous climax of the original 1968 version of "Planet of the Apes". An incredibly cool piece – if it had been real. Instead, it was from the 2004 Tom Hanks movie "The Terminal". If they couldn't do due diligence on a piece they featured on their front cover, what's the likelihood of them doing any real research on the hundreds of other items listed in their various catalogs? Wake up and smell the catalog, Ms. Smith. It's rather pungent.

And now we get to the heart of the matter. While calling me out for my uninformed opinions and "inflammatory, un-researched rants", Ms. Smith had absolutely nothing to offer by way of corrections to my addled ramblings. Despite my pleadings to be set straight, she offered no insight as to why my meanderings were actually wrong. She did not offer any additional evidence to support the claim that the tunics were worn by Doohan and Takei. In short, she brought NOTHING to the table, while telling me "you are out of your depth". 

So again, I'll make the same request to Ms. Smith that I made previously – please tell me why these shirts are what Profiles claims them to be. Explain to me where my analysis is flawed. I genuinely want to know! THAT is what the comments section is for. To inform with concrete, measurable facts. You have yet to provide any. If your collector friends (the consignors) have proof positive of the claims that Profiles makes, I would applaud it! Why wouldn't I? I'll do an entirely new Blog story trumpeting it to the world!

My offer also goes for the consignors. Show me proof positive and I will sing the praises of your items. Do you have a letter from James Doohan stating the shirt was gifted to him? Great! Do you have a screen-match that proves without a doubt that the gold shirt was worn by Takei? Excellent. That is the kind of proof that is required here. Nothing less will do. Imprints showing rank braid don't cut it.

I have always believed that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so unless said proof is forthcoming, I will stand behind my views. I don't need to be a meteorologist to know when its raining. And I don't need to own a TOS tunic to know when a claim has not been proven.

I'll close with one last comment from Ms. Smith:

"You remind me of a Tellarite. As Sarek once said, "Tellarites do not argue for reasons. They simply argue."

I believe the phrase is meant to say that Tellarites argue without purpose. But unlike those piggy little aliens, I have a simple, basic purpose. Truth. Not some great profound thing, but a very basic, common-sensical type of truth – are these Star Trek items indeed what they are claimed to be? In Ms. Smith's world, that is apparently not a worthwhile question.

Thankfully, I live on a different planet.

LLAP.

Don

Monday, December 2, 2013

PROFILES WANTS TO SELL YOU THE SHIRTS OFF SCOTTY'S & SULU'S BACKS? DOUBTFUL!

Profiles in History is at it again. Their latest catalog "Hollywood Auction 62" is out, complete with the usual blend of half-truths and warped accuracy. This time out they have some very cool Star Trek items. Unfortunately, not content to stick to the facts, Profiles has made some rather absolute statements that incorrectly paint a picture about some key pieces – a picture skewed to impact the monetary value in a very significant way.

Here's the two items I'm talking about:

"Scotty" tunic – PIH photo
430. James Doohan “Scotty” Starfleet duty uniform tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series. (Paramount TV, 1966-1969) This velour Starfleet operations division tunic was worn in the second season by James Doohan as Chief Engineer “Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott” in Star Trek: The Original Series and features the original Starfleet insignia on the chest. No interior label is present (typical for tunics from the series), though the subtle marks in the velour indicate single-row with “dashes” (lieutenant commander rank) braid that was applied to each sleeve making this a “Scotty” (the Chief Engineer was the only crewmember aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise who wore this rank in the red operations division). Braiding was always removed by the studio prior to dry cleaning. Exhibits a minor half-inch tear in the back (could be easily repaired); otherwise, in very good production used condition with vibrant color. This is the only known second season Doohan “Scotty” tunic to come to auction. A rare, signature costume from one of the most revered characters of this groundbreaking science fiction series. $15,000 - $20,000

"Sulu" uniform – PIH photo
431. George Takei “Sulu” Starfleet uniform from Star Trek: The Original Series. (Paramount TV, 1966-1969) This two-piece Starfleet duty uniform was worn by George Takei as “Sulu” in Star Trek: The Original Series. The velour command division tunic was worn in the second season and features the original Starfleet insignia on the chest. The interior bias label is blank (typical for tunics from the series), though the slight size and subtle marks in the velour indicate single-row (lieutenant rank) braid was applied to each sleeve making this a “Sulu” (braiding was always removed by the studio prior to dry cleaning). Completing the ensemble are a pair of Original Series Starfleet black gabardine pants with metallic glint marked “Geo. Takei” in white ink and internal Paramount dry cleaning tag. Following their use in the Original Series, the studio added pleated cuffs for use in the failed continuation series Star Trek: Phase II. Exhibits minor 2.5 inch detachment at the seam near the left cuff; otherwise, in very good production used condition. A rare, signature costume from one of the main characters of this groundbreaking science fiction series. $15,000 - $20,000

At first glance, these look like cool pieces of the original series that were actually worn by two well-known characters. That's why you should NEVER accept a Profiles description at first glance. To begin with, we're not given any shots of the construction of these shirts so that we can indeed confirm that these are true Original Series (TOS) tunics. But let's assume for the sake of argument that they are genuine TOS pieces. Let's move on to the evidence that these are actually pieces worn by "Scotty" and "Sulu".

The auction states: "No interior label is present (typical for tunics from the series), though the subtle marks in the velour indicate single-row with “dashes” (lieutenant commander rank) braid that was applied to each sleeve making this a “Scotty” (the Chief Engineer was the only crewmember aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise who wore this rank in the red operations division)."

Now, technically, the description is correct – Scotty WAS the only lieutenant commander in red aboard the Enterprise. But that doesn't mean that other actors never wore this same type of shirt.

Stunt double Scotty takes a tumble
Court Martial Lieutenant Commander
In "Who Mourns For Adonis?", Scotty is part of the landing party that is being toyed with by Apollo. At one point, Apollo lashes out and strikes Scotty with a bolt of lightning, sending our intrepid Engineer hurtling backwards from the blast. This scene undoubtedly used the talents of a trained stunt double for actor James Doohan. He's wearing the same red shirt and we can clearly see he's got gold braid on his sleeves – there's no reason to think they aren't the solid/broken stripes of a lieutenant commander. And while Doohan would not have needed a stunt double as much as Shatner or Nimoy, he would certainly have had a stunt double occasionally over the three year run of the show. And all those stunt guys would have worn a tunic just like Scotty's.  Technically, since they were playing the Scotty character (even though it was only for a stunt sequence) the shirt would have still been worn by "Scotty", though not James Doohan as the auction states.

Aside from stunt use, background players wore a lieutenant commander red shirt as well. In "Court Martial", when Kirk enters the Starbase bar, numerous background players are milling about, including one gentleman wearing the style in question.

I think there's little doubt that James Doohan would have been the wearer of this style the vast majority of the time. After all, as the auctions correctly states, Scotty was apparently the only officer on board the Enterprise who wore red and had the LC rank. But he was by no means the ONLY actor to ever wear this style of shirt as the auction also states. So I think the best that can be said about this piece (without a screen-match which is very difficult and unlikely) is that it is possibly a Scotty. But possibility is not certainty. And Profiles is asking buyers to spend a minimum of $18,000 ($15,000 plus 20% buyer's premium) with no guarantee of certainty.

Then there's the Sulu piece. Unlike the Scotty, this piece includes pants, and while I would need to examine them in person to know for sure about their authenticity, all the information that PIH gives is accurate to a real pair, including the way the name was put on.

But the shirt is another matter altogether. Like the Scotty, the tunic has no name inside: "The interior bias label is blank (typical for tunics from the series), though the slight size and subtle marks in the velour indicate single-row (lieutenant rank) braid was applied to each sleeve making this a “Sulu”."

So this is determined to be a "Sulu" because of the rank bands it once had as well is its "slight size". Even more so than the Scotty, this claim is ludicrous. It means that in the three years of the show's run, no other actor ever wore the single Lieutenant's braid on a gold shirt that was similar in size to actor George Takei.

Here's the problem with that claim: since the character of Chekov wasn't added until Season Two, every week there was a new Lieutenant sitting next to Sulu – and sometimes even in place of Sulu! Then there's the dozens of background players that walk the halls or are seated in the mess during crowd scenes. Gold Lieutenants are everywhere! Take a look at this image, especially the first guy who is standing right next to Sulu. Their shirts look to be of a very similar size. And this is just a fraction of all the various appearances of Gold Lieutenants.

Gold Lieutenants abound!
I know that words like "probably" and "perhaps" don't sell things as well as making absolute claims of authenticity. The fact that these words are accurate seems to be lost on Profiles. Their claim of authenticity cannot be supported by the facts they have given, period.

While I can't say for certain that these are genuine TOS shirts without an inspection, they seem to be genuine based on the photos. But specifically attributing these to Doohan and Takei is a real stretch, especially with the "Sulu". Without some type of specific provenance PROVING these were worn by those actors is just a guess. Or a hope.

I don't spend $18,000 on hope. If Profiles could show a screen-match of these two pieces, only then would I recognize their claim. Without a screen match, I think these are worth a fraction of their starting price, given that their histories are, for all intents and purposes, unknowable.

Maybe one of these days I'm going to open a Profiles In History catalog and I'll be shocked because they will not make unproven claims about Star Trek stuff. Unfortunately, this isn't that catalog.

Caveat emptor.

LLAP,

Don

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

STATE OF THE HOBBY: LIARS AND BULLIES AND EGOS, OH MY!

I've been called a "hater" by some in the Star Trek collecting world, and, strangely enough, it's not something to which I take exception. I AM a hater. I hate unchecked arrogance. I hate dishonesty, bullying, and deceit. I hate self-aggrandizement, "authorities" who aren't, and prop sellers who sell fakes (the recent Premiere Props auction comes to mind).

In short: I hate stupidity. That's what it all comes down to, after all. So many of those that try to deceive think they are the smartest people in the room, when it's painfully obvious to the rest of the world that they aren't. Nothing is more pathetic than someone too dumb to know how dumb they are.

But the one positive aspect of being so clueless is that they can't hide it, which is great for the rest of us. After all, how are you going to know who the crappy people are unless they speak up and show us just how crappy they are? Thanks, clueless people, we appreciate it.

The Star Trek collecting community is much like any other group – everybody talks to everybody else. So when someone does something underhanded – be it a company or an individual – the word gets around, especially when they do it over and over. Liars are always caught because it's hard for them to remember all the lies (honest people never have that problem, obviously). And egotistic boasters, well – the louder they beat their own drum, the more distasteful they become. People that give only so they can be recognized for it are sadly too self-absorbed to know that charity should go unstated. The more you talk about it, the less charitable the act becomes. You bought a house for your girlfriend? Please, tell us about it yet again. We can't get enough.

The collecting world is a microcosm of the real world, filled with every type of person imaginable – most good, others not so much. The tough thing is that – whether on-line or in the real world – it can take time to discover the true nature of people. You don't really know who your friends are until something is at stake. There will be those that have your back, and those that will turn their backs on you. The former are invaluable, the later aren't worth knowing.

This is a hobby, and as such it's supposed to be FUN. But that doesn't mean when people act badly it should be ignored – that only emboldens them to keep doing what they're doing. Bad behavior should be pointed out and slapped down whenever possible. And if you don't think lying, rampant egotism and bullying represent bad behavior, then you might want to look at your own character.

I've created a forum for screen-used collectors – The Star Trek Prop Room – that's free of those qualities, as any decent place should be. The members are passionate about collecting, while being honest, decent people. These are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Amazingly, there's been some people who recently approached me about membership who have been very vocal supporters of those that lie and bully. They helped create the monster for their own personal gain, and now want to escape it by coming to me, the man for whom they expressed nothing but disdain while hiding behind the walls of a private forum/fiefdom. But out in the light of day, they are too small, too petty – they are not welcome. They need to stay with the dictator they helped create. If you've sold your soul to the devil for toys or access or to prop up your own frail ego, you need not come knocking.

I don't put myself up as some paragon of virtue. I have the same (or more) personal foibles to which all of us are susceptible. But there's a difference between being imperfectly human, and being conniving, deceitful and self-centered. And I'm not talking about honest differences of opinions, by the way.

So am I hater?You bet.

And I'm good with that.

LLAP,

Don

Friday, November 22, 2013

PREMIERE PROPS KLINGON TRICORDER: UNFORTUNATELY JUST A REPLICA

Premiere's photo of their so-called prop
The saga of Premiere Props' seeming inability to get things right continues. They are offering a Star Trek Klingon Tricorder which they claim was "used in numerous episodes of TNG and DS9", according to its description. 

Except it wasn't. The piece is a replica created by Rich Coyle, a propmaker who worked on various productions, including Star Trek V and VI, during which he made tricorders like these for production. Those pieces were never used, but he used his experience with them to create a series of replica versions. He didn't sell them as fakes – they were acknowledged copies. 

But once replicas get out into the collector pool, they take on a life of their own. When going from owner to owner, sometimes a piece's origin gets exaggerated – or flat out lied about – and we get replicas being passed off as real, production-made pieces.

But Premiere Props has been touting its new authenticity initiative wherein (supposedly) each piece is subjected to the rigors of a review by what they call "A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie & TV memorabilia business". This is the body that has "authenticated" this replica as the real deal. Which means that, as collectors, we should give no credence to any of Premiere's claims of doing true authentication. 

I've owned a Klingon Tricorder replica for many years, so I knew something was up as soon as I saw Premiere's offering. Since the two matched, it meant one of two things: either theirs was a replica, or mine was real! While it was an exciting prospect, I originally acquired my piece from Star Trek propmaker Ed Miarecki, a name well-known to Trek prop collectors. Though he didn't make the piece, Ed would have certainly known the difference between a production piece and a replica. When I recently contacted him about it, he told me that he was under the impression that it was originally made by Rich Coyle, but wasn't sure of that. So I did some additional digging and confirmed that was, indeed, the case. Here's what to look for:

Klingon Symbols on front, right panel. They aren't actual Klingon symbols, just approximations. Their design, size and placement are unique to Coyle pieces. It's one of the easy-to-see "tells".


Klingon Symbols on the back. Same as above.


Here's side-by-side shots of Premiere's with mine. Don't let the variations in paint fool you – that can change from piece to piece. It's the construction details that matter. Mine lights up so the screen is white. The Premiere version does not.


Note that the Premiere version seems to be different at the top on either side of the center piece. But in actuality, it's just missing the caps that go there. You can clearly see the holes where the screws are missing.

Tricorder from Profiles auction

 
Inside the piece, I would hazard a guess that it is etched with a numeral, which Coyle put in to the ones he painted (though I'm not sure he painted this one so it might not be present). 

I only know of one generally-accepted version of a screen-used Klingon Tricorder. It sold last year at Profiles for a tidy sum (right). As you can see by the photo, it has none of the Klingon inscriptions that appear on mine and the Premiere piece. The back is also void of those symbols. It's also heavily sprayed with brown paint, a style favored by the DS9 propmakers.

So here's the deal. If Premiere can offer some actual proof that their version was used in a production, I'm all for it. After all, that would mean that mine might be production-used as well. It would be incredibly self-serving for me to promote that idea (and I can think of a couple of collectors who would do just that!), but the facts simply don't support it. And by the way, by "proof", I mean showing this EXACT piece in an actor's hand, not some anonymous piece in a blurry screen shot.

Premiere offers this screen shot as proof of... something.
This is one of those pieces that's tough to authenticate because there's simply no good screen images available, nor are there any shots of these in PR shots or anything like that. So, to authenticate one of these, it's all about details (do they match the known screen-used versions) and provenance (how did it get from the studio to its present owner). Premiere offers NO specifics about either aspect. Instead they show a dark, low-resolution shot that shows one of these pieces in an actor's hand, as if that proves something. It doesn't.

Premiere's much vaunted panel of experts and MPDNA program have definitely let them – and us – down in this case. It makes you wonder just who is on that panel, or whether or not they even exist. The best that can be said about them if they DO exist is that they are apparently incompetent.

So far as I can tell, it's all about lip-service, not true, knowledgeable evaluation. 

LLAP

Don

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CAVEAT EMPTOR: PREMIERE PROPS' NEW INITIATIVE IS ALL HAT, NO CATTLE

ADDENDUM: The Klingon Tricorder mentioned below is now known to be a REPLICA piece made by Rich Coyle and not a screen-used piece as the auction states. Premiere Props has been notified by me of this fact.

Premiere Props, an auction company that specializes in entertainment memorabilia auctions, has an auction coming up this weekend. Unfortunately, Premiere has had many problems in the past with the basic authenticity of some of the items they offered. Back in June, 2013, for instance, Premiere offered a number of Star Trek props including several that were identified as authentic original series Star Trek props from the 1960's.

An auction that featured a SINGLE original series prop would have been amazing to collectors like me. But that auction had an amazing six pieces including a Phaser 1, Phaser 2, Tricorder, Communicator, Tribble and Stylus. If real, the mix would have brought well in excess of $100,000! Perhaps a quarter million!

Except they weren't real. Far from it. They were obvious fakes to those in the know and were subsequently pulled from the auction or sold as (and I'm not kidding) "original fakes".

But soon after that fiasco, Premiere announced an initiative that sounded like it would address these problems in the future. They were going to start using an independent board of experts to authenticate materials before going to auction, thus ensuring that bidders would get what they wanted – real, authentic pieces.

On their YouTube video (found HERE), Premiere's rep stated, "It all comes down to authentication. People want to make sure that the prop that they are buying is real. We have a team of experts that have actually gone through, checked the provenance, researched it, screen-matched it and we have authenticated and made sure that that is the prop" (sic). He added, "Again with these items, sometime if could take, you know, an hour to authenticate them, sometimes it takes a matter of days, and sometimes, you know, for the higher end items it could take weeks of matching these items." He also spent a great deal of time describing something called "MovieProps DNA", which is nothing more than a fancy Certificate of Authenticity.

Sounds great, right? So who is this "team of experts", exactly? Premiere doesn't say. On their website's "Authenticity" section there's no mention of them nor any mention of the vaunted "MovieProps DNA" process. 

The only place you can find anything about authentication is in the listing for the various items. Here's an example from their current "Hollywood Auction Extravaganza XII":
________________________________

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Klingon Tricorder

Static Stunt Klingon Tricorder of cast-resin with paint details as used in numerous episodes of TNG and DS9. Approx. 8" x 4 1/2" with minor corner chipping from production use. This item has been authenticated and marked with new technology by MovieProps DNA to prevent against fraud and counterfeiting. A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie & TV memorabilia business has authenticated this item. This item now includes three levels of security: 1) DNA laced invisible ink – a 9-digit code laced with DNA ink is placed on an appropriate place of the prop/costume and can be only viewed using a high-frequency UV light. The chances of replicating the specific DNA sequence which is unique to MPDNA is 1 in 33 trillion. This DNA sequence is so secure it is admissible in a court of law.?? 2) Archival Microchip Encrypted Tag - a patented,  acid-free,  1"x 3" tag with an encrypted microchip is placed onto the Certificate of Authenticity. The microchip contained within the tag contains all of the pertinent information about the prop or costume. The tag is tamper proof and the microchip is encrypted,  making it impossible to duplicate.? 3) The certificate also has the 9-digit DNA invisible ink mark which must match the 9-digit invisible ink mark on the prop. This will ensure that it is a genuine prop issued by Premiere Props and authenticated by MPDNA.
________________________________
 
I know – it's a mouthful, but it illustrates my issues with the PP authentication initiative.

First: Authentication
Actual authentication is addressed thusly: "A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie & TV memorabilia business has authenticated this item." Again, who are these experts? We get a detailed overview of the whiz-bang COA thingy, but nothing on the most important aspect about any piece: authentication.

Confused by the lack of any detail, I sent the following e-mail to Premiere:

"I'm a little confused about the text that reads 'A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props in the movie & TV memorabilia business has authenticated this item.' Can you please elucidate on these people, please? Who are they and what's their expertise? Thank you."

Here's their reply:

"Hello,  Premiere Props has also authenticated this item but we have partnered, with a company called MovieProps DNA who have put their stamp on it to, authenticate it. You can visit their website to learn more about the company, and the experts www.moviepropsdna.com"


Great. So their answer to my very specific question was "go to this website". So I did. At the MPDNA website, I found a page labeled "Experts". Hot damn! Surely this would give me what I wanted. Alas, no. The "Experts" page lists one, single expert. Here's the write-up, in part:

"Daniel Strebin (Lead Expert) - has been a full-time collector,  restorer,  dealer,  archivist,  and professional appraiser of vintage original film posters, lobby cards, and stills for over 35 years,  under the business names Posterman and Folio Gallery. He has personally owned,  dealt,  or otherwise handled several hundred thousand examples of vintage film ephemera,  with an aggregate value of tens of millions of dollars,  and it is quite rare for him to confront a film artifact unfamiliar from his experience."

So, apparently, this one person – Daniel Strebin – represents the entirety of Premiere's authentication process, since it is the only person Premiere actually supplied to me. The line about "Premiere Props has also authenticated this item" means nothing. I asked for specifics, not fluff. And, unfortunately, Daniel Strebin doesn't seem to have any specific knowledge of the world of Star Trek, so his name lends no credence to the process.

Second: Screen-matching
The PP video mentioned "screen-matching", the process by which a specific piece is found in use in a film or TV show. And let's be clear – screen-matching means finding that exact piece on screen – not one that simply resembles it, making screen-matching a very difficult proposition. Most props and costumes simply cannot be screen-matched. But according to their video, every piece has been screen-matched. This would be an incredible thing. And apparently, their idea of screen-matching the Klingon tricorder mentioned above is this:


 photo KlingonTric2_zpse593f309.jpg

The photos above are from the actual PP auction listing. I have not changed or resized them in any way. Apparently, the screen shot at the right is supposed to show the tricorder that they are selling, shown on the left. Strangely enough, the screen shot actually proves that they are NOT the same, despite the poor quality of the shot. The one they are selling has no corresponding white screen as shown in the screen shot. Also, the item for sale is of a style that  exactly matches a replica version that I bought from a Star Trek prop maker several years ago. What it does not match is other known examples of screen-used pieces. I have sent an e-mail to the replica maker asking for his insight.

Third: An over-emphasis on MovieProps DNA – it misses the point
When you look at the Tricorder's description, something becomes very obvious: ten percent of the text deals with the actual item's information, while the rest deals with the MPDNA stuff and a sentence dedicated to telling us about the mysterious authentication panel. Ninety percent deals with their DNA version of a certificate of authenticity while yielding NOTHING about the actual authentication itself!  What good is all this DNA crap if we can't be sure the piece is real to begin with? They've given no specific, verifiable information regarding authenticity at all. 

So, to bottom-line the situation, Premiere's solution to their past authentication errors is mentioning  "A panel of industry experts not affiliated with Premiere Props" while giving zero proof that such a panel exists. And with Star Trek stuff, each sub-section of the franchise – TOS, TNG, DS9 – has their own intricacies. There's only a handful of people out there that could qualify as "expert", and if PP has those people, they should shout it from the rooftops.

So I'm calling "bull" on this whole scheme. When PP announced their panel of experts, I think collectors everywhere saw it as a positive sign. But it's all smoke and mirrors, with nothing of any substantive value. So the company that offered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fake Star Trek items has actually done absolutely nothing to regain the hobby's trust. Zippo.

If you're interested in anything Premiere has to offer, remember the headline: caveat emptor.

Beware, indeed!

LLAP

Don

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"THE DOUBLE-GUSSET POSTULATE" or "GILDING THE LILY WITH BULL"

In Summer of 2012, Profiles in History offered what they described as "William Shatner 'Capt. Kirk' Tunic from Star Trek: The Original Series". Among their claims was "match on overall tunic size to Shatner including double gussets on tunic sides (unique feature to Shatner tunics)".

The three seams can be clearly seen here on Kirk
Interestingly enough, a self-described Star Trek "authority" and the self-appointed king of Trek Collecting each stated on their blogs that "This tunic features a double gusset design; or the presence of three seam lines running from the armpit area down the torso on each side of the costume - a design characteristic that is considered by knowledgeable Star Trek experts to be only present on those TOS command tunics specifically tailored for wear by William Shatner. The double gussets on this tunic, as well as two photos in which this unique construction detail is visible on William Shatner in costume..." Sounds a lot like the auction info, right?

At the time I questioned this element's characterization as being exclusive to Shatner pieces. How, exactly was this established as a fact? How did these "knowledgeable Star Trek experts" know this to be true? And what proof was offered as to the veracity of this so-called "fact"? None, other than showing a couple of screen caps with Shatner wearing a shirt that displayed this gusset detail. I showed a screen cap of an identical shirt being worn by stuntman Paul Baxley. I was then called all sorts of nasty things by the aforementioned bloggers for having the gall to question their research. Almost like they had some sort of personal interest in the piece. Hmmm.

Since last summer, I have regularly been looking at various episodes of TOS for a variety of research reasons – phaser details, comms, sets, props, etc. And while doing this research, I started to notice something that I wasn't even looking for. I discovered that the "double gusset" detail that was so highly touted was not only NOT exclusive but was wide-spread. I saw it everywhere once I sarted looking for it! It is seen in the earliest episodes all the way through to the end of the series.

As is common in TV production, Shatner's shirts were probably recycled for use by other actors – stuntmen, background extras, guest actors, etc. But, in my opinion, that doesn't address the number of times the detail is clearly seen on so many gold uniform shirts, including regulars Takei and Koenig who would have undoubtedly had their own shirts created exclusively for them. Shirts that clearly show the telltale three seams.

Beyond the gold shirts, the three seams can clearly be seen on Nimoy's blue shirt, Scotty's red shirt and on tons of extra's pieces of all colors. The three seams is in no way shape or form a little-used, "Shatner-exclusive" detail. In short, it's EVERYWHERE! I have cited the episodes from which the images were pulled so anyone can duplicate my findings. And I show only a small fraction of appearances.



If people want to make up stuff for whatever reason, I couldn't care less, providing they don't put it out into the world to mislead. But when these so-called "knowledgeable Star Trek experts" declare something to be fact without doing even the most basic of research to either prove or disprove the theory, they show their true colors – it's all about self-interest and they'll ignore things that don't support their POV. This is a continuing theme with some people.

Why is it so hard for so many people to be circumspect in these types of cases? If you think something is so, state your case as to why you feel that way, offer proof (in this case show the detail is EXCLUSIVE only to Shatner uniforms), and let people make up their own minds. Conveniently, the proponents of the "gusset postulate" showed only shots of Shatner wearing the detail while totally ignoring the fact that the detail IS IN NO WAY EXCLUSIVE TO SHATNER PIECES. This was either shoddy research or an attempt to deliberately mislead, I have no idea which. I still feel the shirt was a real Kirk shirt, but this detail should have never been used to support that idea. It's flat-out wrong.

So the next time some self-appointed expert wants to blow smoke, remember caveat emptor and trust no one. Not even me. Do your own thinking, do your own research, and reach your own conclusions.

LLAP

Don

Friday, November 15, 2013

THERE'S A NEW AUCTION HOUSE IN TOWN – THANKFULLY!

Blacksparrow Auctions is having their biggest name auction to date: The Hunger Games Costume Auction on November 16. What the heck is Blacksparrow Auctions? They are the newest auction house in the industry, having begun earlier this year. They have so far concentrated on the entertainment industry for the most part, with auctions like "The Monsterpalooza Charity Auction"and "The Hollywood Collection: Photographs and Autographs".

But with "The Hunger Games", Blacksparrow is raising its bar. The popular book and movie series is a huge name for a newcomer to have, and it looks like they've made quite an effort to play with the big boys. The auction's catalog can only be called beautiful, with top-notch, large images of every piece dominating each page. It's deceptively simple-looking.

So why am I writing about this auction that has nothing to do with Star Trek? Because the president of Blacksparrow is a gentleman named Fong Sam, a man well-known in collecting circles. Before starting Blacksparrow, Fong Sam worked at Profiles In History, the well-known auction juggernaut which is the subject of the SyFy show "Hollywood Treasure". Fong was seen in several episodes. And while I'm no real fan of Profiles (see some of my earlier writings for details) I am a fan of Fong Sam. While at Profiles he was the ONE AND ONLY person that I ever dealt with who was not only competent, but friendly and incredibly helpful. He returned my calls, he found my missing item (it had been "lost" for some 5 weeks!) and shipped it to me overnight for free. Now THAT is service. No one else at Profiles was remotely helpful, despite  numerous calls and e-mails. Only Fong came through for me.

In an industry rife with incompetence, dishonesty and down-right stupidity (Premiere Auctions, anyone?) I think there's definitely room for a new player like Blacksparrow. With Fong Sam's reputation as a service-oriented professional, I'll certainly give him the benefit of the doubt in these early days. If you're a "Hunger Games" fan, I doubt that you'll be disappointed. If Blacksparrow ever does a Star Trek auction, I'll definitely be there!

You'll find auction info a a flip-through catalog here:
The Hunger Games Costume Auction

And may the odds be ever in your favor!

LLAP,

Don

Friday, November 8, 2013

STARFLEET GUIDE TO STYLE: SPOCK'S SICKBAY JAMMIES FROM TMP

Who's a huge Spock fan? THIS guy. Spock is at the center of my Star Trek fascination, so naturally, he's at the center of my collection as well. As with any main character, the emphasis of my Spock-crush is with his uniforms – those iconic pieces that everybody recognizes. But those are by no means the only thing he ever wore on screen.

Which brings me to his "jammies", an outfit that Spock wears while a patient in Sickbay in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In a film literally stuffed with tons of new Starfleet costumes from designer Robert Fletcher, it came as no surprise that there would be specific pieces designed for Sickbay. These might just qualify as the strangest Spock costume (though there's his undies from Star Trek IV – more on that in a later story). The costume apparently represents the 23rd century equivalent to hospital gowns as Spock is not the only one wearing it – patients in other beds are wearing the same garb but with different color interiors.But here's the truly odd thing – Spock's also doubles for his thruster suit undergarments. It's impossible to know for sure since all we see is Spock's head through the helmet's visor. But as he loses consciousness, we can clearly see that he's got on something that is the same orange that we see in the sickbay scenes. Suddenly the tube details take on new meaning – are they are meant to regulate body temps in the Thruster Suit? It's only logical.

The costume consists of two pieces: a sleeveless top and matching pants. For some reason, the top has a hood. Does it get especially cold in Sickbay? I hope not as that would be especially odd given that the top is sleeveless, though we can see another patient with the hood up. Whatever the reason for it, the hood is integral to the piece, so it's there for good.

The costume is made with an all white cotton/polyester blend with vertical ribbed detail on the top. It features a striking orange interior. Is it that color to match his thruster suit? I think so, though just to complicate things, another patient can be seen who is apparently wearing an orange version identical to Spock's. So with that in mind, color's significance is not instantly understood in the con text of sickbay. I think it was simply using costume pieces to pull double duty.

After mind-melding with the alien machine V'Ger, Spock recovers in sickbay. Nimoy wears this during the pivotal emotional scene that changes the fate of the Enterprise and her crew.


Before the sickbay scene, we see Spock in an orange Thruster Suit outside Enterprise. He's wearing a garment under the suit that appears to be the same thing he's wearing in sickbay.

The look of the Thruster Suit helmet shot is very similar to the look of Mercury astronaut suits (NASA photo). Coincidence?
Other patients can be seen wearing similar costumes. One even seems to have an orange-lined hood like Spock's!
Additional versions were made for the film. Are they Thruster Suit undergarments or Sickbay togs? Apparently they're both!
Both top and pants feature clear (now yellowed) plastic tubing as a type of piping that is perhaps meant to regulate temperature or monitor the body's status. These tubes are sewn on and accented with small metallic clamp-type details. The intention of all these details is, of course, to present some sort of high-tech hospital gear, the functions of which are known only to the doctors and nurses of Sickbay. As the pièce de résistance, the costume features a sewn-in Western Costume tag that reads "LENARD NIMOY" (sic).

As Spock costumes, this isn't all that exciting, especially when compared to his uniforms and Vulcan robes. But to me, ANY Spock is a good Spock, and this piece was worn in THE pivotal scene in the first film so it's definitely got some coolness to it. I'm very happy to have it in my collection.

LLAP,

Don

Monday, November 4, 2013

CLAPPER OF THE WEEK: "THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE"

This week's clapper comes from a true classic, "The Doomsday Machine". It's one of the few episodes that features another Federation Starship other than Enterpise, in this case the USS Constellation. It featured an excellent performance by guest star William Windom, one of TV's great character actors. The clapper shot shows Windom as Commodore Decker sitting in the center seat of the Enterprise bridge (filling in for the absent Captain Kirk) in one the tensest moments of the episode.Note Decker's chest patch is that of the Constellation. Apparently, only the Enterprise got a cool patch design!

Clapper info: June 21, 1967 (Season 2) / Scene 88A, take 1


Monday, October 28, 2013

MY KLINGON DISRUPTOR'S LONG-LOST BROTHER FOUND! (ONE OF THEM)

One of my very first Blog stories here on WOD was an article about a TOS Klingon Disruptor that I had bought a number of years ago. I told how I set out to figure out once and for all whether or not it was a real, production-made TOS prop or just a prop replica (that story is HERE).

Much to my delight, a few weeks after I posted that story, I was contacted by an Italian collector named Paolo who had some interesting news for me. He told me that while reading my article he recognized my prop due to a very basic reason – he had one just like it! And I don't mean "kind of" or "sort of" like it. After Paolo was kind enough to send me some pictures I came to realize exactly what he meant: our props were twins! Or more accurately, part of a set of triplets, since his and mine also matched the details of one of the other specimens I had used in my original analysis, the "Azarian" version. I had also unknowingly used Paolo's version in my comparison, as Paolo came to inform me that he believed his version was the one I showed as having been sold by Profiles in History in 1997 and which I had observed in my story as having similar details to mine and the Azarian piece.

Paolo recently shared some additional photos with me and gave me permission to use them here. I wanted to share my findings with other Star Trek TOS prop fanatics (I know you're out there), so here's some shots with my version and Paolo's in side-by-side comparison:






Since the two versions were shot at slightly different angles under different lighting, it's not possible to get perfect alignment or good coloring. But suffice to say that I'm able to identify exactly the same construction with similar mold flaws and consistent aluminum machining. The most significant "tell" (a detail in the machining) is present on both and has been removed from these photos by me so that forgers cannot copy it. It is my opinion that these two came from the same construction source (and the Azarian version as well, I believe, though I am unable to confirm that).

Paolo has been collecting Star Trek since the 90's and originally bought the Disruptor in 1997 from a place called "Movies Galore" in Scottsdale Arizona. Earlier that year, Profiles in History had auctioned off a Klingon Disruptor and Paolo believed that "Movies Galore" had acquired that piece and then resold it to him. I have a photo of that PIH auction piece in my original story and the styles definitely match.

So how does Paolo's Disruptor fit into the scheme of things? Quite well, actually. My supposition has always been that my version (and by default, others that resemble it) was created as a background piece as opposed to the higher-detailed "hero" pieces that were used by main characters in close-ups. Having at least three known "background" versions out there is consistent with this hypothesis since there's always multiple background versions made for a piece like the Disruptor (as my earlier story mentioned, eight Disruptors were seen in one scene alone).

I'm grateful to Paolo for his willingness to share his Disruptor with me (and all of you). It was enlightening to me to see another version of my piece in such specific detail. Many thanks, Paolo!

LLAP

Don