Sunday, December 9, 2018

A CHALLENGE TO PROFILES IN HISTORY AND PHASER CONSIGNOR JASON JOINER: SHOW ME THE MONEY (SHOT)!

Last week I wrote about the Star Trek original series (TOS) Phaser prop that was being offered in the upcoming auction (click HERE).

It was my opinion that the piece was likely a real, honest-to-goodness Phaser prop from Star Trek, and as such was a thing of beauty. As you read this, please keep in mind that I stand by that opinion: I still think this is a wonderful thing.

That said, the one aspect of the piece that I had a problem with was the attribution of the piece as having been used by Leonard Nimoy. Profiles states the following:

"Since this prop is hand made, it exhibits unique characteristics and it screen matches as being worn by Leonard Nimoy as "Spock" in the episode "The Paradise Syndrome."

When they use the term "screen-match", that is setting a high bar, indeed. It means they can PROVE this was used by Nimoy. In other words, Profiles is telling the world – "this is not just a real phaser – it's Spock's real phaser!"

I proceeded to point out that neither I nor a cadre of my fellow Phaser enthusiast friends could find that "screen-match" that they cite for such a lofty claim. I then said that it had nothing to do with the authenticity of the piece, however. It was a great specimen, in our eyes, and I let it go at that.

I have now come to realize that was a mistake on part. By claiming the screen-match, Profiles and the consignor, Jason Joiner, have subtly marketed this as "Spock's Phaser", not just a generic phaser, and that's a big, BIG deal!

In the screen-used prop collecting world, a premium is always assigned to any prop or costume that can be put into the hands of a principle actor. A dark suit from The Godfather is no big deal. But a suit from The Godfather used by Marlon Brando is a VERY big deal! A blaster from Star Wars is great, but Han's Blaster is phenomenal! So it is with Star Trek items. A blue tunic from TOS is worth thousands. A blue tunic from TOS worn by Spock is worth tens of thousands! As I said – it's a very, very big deal.

So how does this translate to the Phaser in question? To begin with, the estimate starts at $100,000 ($125,000 with buyer's premium). Please note that NO PHASER PISTOL HAS EVER SOLD FOR THAT AMOUNT. The only thing even close was the Phaser Rifle that sold for $231,000 in 2013. It was a one-of-a-kind piece and – most importantly, in my opinion – it was used exclusively by Captain Kirk himself! So Kirk's Phaser Rifle went for big bucks. What about other phaser props that have hit the market? Surely they did well, right?

Only one other Phaser Pistol has gone to auction over the past decade or so. It was first offered by Profiles (small world) in 2013 with an estimate of $80,000-120,000. While it was not complete, it was definitely the real deal and the only one to have surfaced in years! What would it sell for?

It didn't. It received NO bids at the level of the reserve of $80,000, despite being the first piece to surface in years. Interestingly, while Profiles claimed it could be screen-matched to several episodes, the truth was that I could only match it to one. Still a great thing, but it's worth noting that the one episode it could be matched to put the piece in the hands of a ship's Security Guard, not Kirk or Spock.

Flash-forward a couple of years and this same piece surfaced in a Propworx auction, this time with a much lower estimate of $40,000 - $60,000. The result, though was the same – no sale.

And now, here we are in 2018. Why would anyone expect buyers to pay $125,000 for a piece that had a similar cousin not sell at $50,000 with buyer's premium? What's the difference?

Well, to be fair, this is a better version, in my opinion. It is complete where the earlier version was missing details on the top of the Phaser 1. Here's the current piece on top with the earlier version below. Note the the top crescent details are missing completely as is the control on the rear.

It's worth noting, though, that the earlier version seems to have its original paint while the current one has obviously been repainted. Complete beats original paint in my book, but it's safe to say that both had their pros and cons.

So are those missing pieces worth a $75,000 difference? Doubtful. So what would make it worth that difference?

Spock, pure and simple.

If it were Spock's it may well be worth it. In fact, with a great screen-match, I'd say it's likely to sell! But what have we seen on this alleged screen-match? Nothing. The auction catalog cites "The Paradise Syndrome" and shows this screen-grab from that episode:

Cool! So if we blow this up we get the screen-match right? It's interesting that Profiles did not actually do that for us – show a blow-up that proves the screen-match claim. No matter – I'll do it for them. Here's the phaser from that scene when we blow it up:

And this where everything falls apart. Where is this screen-match, exactly? The shot is soft in focus which makes it impossible to see details, even with Blu-Ray. So what are the distinguishing characteristics that make the auction piece and this piece the same? Any details seen on the auction piece are simply not present here. Am I wrong?

If so, show me. Show the world. Prove what you say beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don't think that is possible but I've been wrong before. So just show me! WHERE IS THIS MATCH THAT YOU CLAIM TO HAVE MADE?

For what it's worth, THIS is what a screen-match looks like:

This is from the Phaser Rifle auction I mentioned earlier. The blue shot was the auction piece laid over top of a great PR shot of Shatner holding the rifle. Forget the color – that's just lighting. Look instead at the three call-outs. Those are scratches and dings that the piece endured before the PR shoot. Perhaps they happened during actual episode shooting since it was in very intense action-oriented scenes. Notice how those same marks are present on the auction piece. These are details that can effectively be used to make the case that the two match.

For the kind of money that is at stake, THIS is the only kind of visual evidence that should be acceptable to make the Spock claim, in my opinion. Big claims require big proof!

"So who the hell is this guy?" many are undoubtedly asking. "Does he think he's the Prop Police?"

Not at all. I'm simply someone who thinks our hobby should be driven by critical thinking and not fuzzy, unprovable claims. If you think that is unreasonable, that tells us more about you than me. And please keep in mind that several of my compatriots have attempted to match this to any episode. No joy.

For the record, I would LOVE for Profiles and/or the consignor Jason Joiner to be able to put this piece in Spock's hands! That can only be a wonderful thing, after all. Those of us who are passionate about these classic pieces are thrilled whenever a heretofore unknown piece surfaces, especially when associated with a main character. We were positively giddy about the Phaser Rifle, for instance, and the photo proof sealed the deal for us.

Was this Phaser used by Nimoy? I have no idea. It sure might have been but I can't prove it one way or the other and, in my opinion, no one else can either. And that's the point. MAYBE doesn't cut it when there is so much money on the line.

So to Profiles and Mr. Joiner I say this: prove me wrong. Please! Show us incontrovertible, clear, specific proof that puts this in our hero's hands and I will be your biggest booster! I will shout that news from the rooftops because it would be awesome! But all I see is an attempt to use an iffy claim to boost a sale. Am I wrong?

I actually hope so. All you have to do is show us the money shot. Prove your claim and justify your story.

Show me. Show us all.

LLAP

Don

Thursday, December 6, 2018

ANOTHER ORIGINAL SERIES PHASER HITS THE AUCTION BLOCK, SO ONCE AGAIN WE HAVE TO ASK THE BIG QUESTION: IS IT REAL?

Phaser Prop at SDCC / Photo courtesy Bleeding Cool News
At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, the auction house Profiles In History created some buzz with its sneak preview of upcoming auction offerings. One of the biggest of buzz-worthy items was touted to be an original Phaser prop from Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS).

Now any time a previously-unknown TOS piece sees the light of day, it's a cause for equal parts of celebration and caution. We celebrate because any additional TOS pieces are exciting for those of us who are fans of what we think is the greatest sc-fi weapon of all. But caution must be used because, frankly, most "authentic TOS pieces" that come to light are simply not authentic. Usually, the fakes are copies are easily debunked and exposed for what they are. But every once in while, a piece comes along that maybe, just maybe, could be the real deal.

Is that the case with the new Profiles piece? Let's take a look. Here are shots from the Profiles auction listing (click for larger images):

At a glance we can see that this is what is known as a "Mid-Grade" phaser prop. TOS used four different levels of phaser props:

The Heroes – made with a high level of detail and featured some moving parts. These were meant to stand up to close-ups to give a heightened sense of realism. These were expensive to make and so were never put at risk in a scene. Here's a Hero Phaser held by Ben Finney in "Court Martial". Note that all the silvery-looking stuff is actual metal, unlike some p[arts on the auction piece:


The Mid-Grades – made from the same molds as the Heroes but finished without as much detail. For example, while the Heroes had metal fins in the back, a Mid-Grade's fins were simply a molded detail and hit with silver paint. These were the real workhorses of the phaser props and are by far the version seen most throughout the show. They were easier to make and thus more disposable. Note that the rear fins shown here are simply painted as is the center rail of the Phaser 1:


The Vacuum-Formed – known as "Crapazoids" due to their low level of finish and detail, these were strictly background pieces that might be in a given Redshirt's hand during a landing party. So cheap in materials and cost that DeForest Kelley referred to them as "$1.98 Specials". Here's a version also used in "Court Martial". Note that all the details are simply painted and the overall detail is very soft. This piece is about to get slapped out of Finney's hand and, so as not to damage a Hero, a Crapazoid is used instead.


Rubber Stunts – used when Kirk and company needed to roll around in the dirt without breaking something. There's no good shots because they are simply never seen clearly. Here's one tied on to Spock's side:

So the auction piece definitely seems to fall into the Mid-Grade level of Phaser. Here's some additional shots that can help make a determination:





The way we determine if a given piece is genuine or not is a two-fold process. First we look at the history (or provenance) of the piece. Ideally we want to understand how a piece got from the Star Trek Paramount production in 1969 to the Profiles auction. According to Profiles, this piece has been in the possession of the family of one Ted Leonard, a former executive at Paramount and a friend of Star Trek Art Director Matt Jefferies. The piece was sold to the consignor by Leonard's widow.

Nice story. This is where a lot of people stop. Which means this is where a lot of people get in trouble. Because, as nice as this story is, can it be proven? After all, without proof, it's just a story.

"But Don," you're saying, "they wouldn't lie about something like this, would they?!?" The short answer is YES! Yes they would! For one hundred thousand dollars, you better have more than just a story!!

Am I calling the consignor a liar? I am not. But maybe they were told a lie. Or maybe Mrs. Leonard was lied to. Maybe Mr. Leonard got mixed up. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

With that many maybe's we have to rely on the piece to stand on its own merits. It must be compared to the known surviving Mid-Grades and a determination must be made as to whether or not it measures up or not.

As mentioned in earlier Blog stories, I am part of a research team that has worked toward defining as many facts as possible about the various TOS props. This process was first started by the group at HeroComm.com, as they took on defining and debunking everything possible about the Trek Communicators. It was then expanded to include HeroPhaser, and it is that research that I rely on to determine whether or not this piece passes muster. And I can say that it is my opinion (as well as many others) that this piece is indeed likely to be an original Phaser prop. I cannot say for sure, as only a hands-on examination would answer questions about size and materials. But going solely on the physical details, this piece matches known specimens in every key way.

Some have said the paint doesn't look right, and they would be correct – it doesn't. And what is with the red button sticking out of the body? That's not right, either.

Here's the deal. These pieces have had fifty years in which they could have been modified in any number of ways, including paint. So we have to look past such things and look at the actual details that define the physical aspects of the prop. We look at things like:

The forward emitter assembly

The forward top plate and window detail

The handle and trigger details

The contours of the entire piece, especially the body's sides

The Phaser 1 that sits on top – correct in every way?

The ten-turn (rear knob thingy)

The fins – are they the right size, number and position?

The details and nature of all metal parts

And on and on...

I'm not going to get into all the comparisons made for two reasons. First, it would make for a very looooong and boring story. And second, I don't want to reveal too much about what, exactly, we look for in a prop to determine authenticity. In the past there were many unscrupulous people who tried to pass replicas off as authentic. We don't want to aid that type of forger.

One more thing. The auction listing says this piece was screen-matched to Leonard Nimoy having used it in the episode "The Paradise Syndrome". For those who might not know, "screen-matching" is kind of the holy grail of prop collecting. It's incredibly difficult to do and is usually impossible. But every once in a while you get lucky and a screen match is possible.

This is not one of those times.

Screen-matching relies on two things. First the piece in question must have unique physical details that differentiate it from any other piece. Things like flaws, damage, chipped paint or spilled liquids can help with screen-matching. In the case of this piece it does have a couple of things that could form a unique set of characteristics – a "fingerprint", if you will. First, where the Phaser 1 meets the Phaser 2 body, toward the back, there's a big glob of what is probably glue. Amazingly, that kind of thing can actually be seen sometimes. The other detail is that the painted rail on the the Phaser 1 looks to be a bit low. If we combine those two elements, we might be able to find a screen-match.

Unfortunately, I said that screen-matching relies on two things. The second thing we need is a clear, high-resolution image with which to match. In short, that usually means a close-up. And there are zero close-ups of Spock's phaser in that episode. There's not even a decent medium shot that gives any meaningful information. Here's the best shot I could find of Spock's Phaser in the entire episode:


For my money, this tells us bupkis. It's just too soft to yield anything definitive. It could be the same piece but I just can't tell. I went through the episode scene-by-scene (and in some areas, frame-by-frame!) and this was the best I could find. If there's a better shot out there, by all means share it with me. I'd love to see it! But until I see that shot, I'm calling BS on the screen-match. No way, no how. I've looked through a number of other episodes as well in hopes of catching a glimpse. No joy.

But that does nothing to detract from what I think is likely to be an authentic piece. Screen-matching is always unlikely, after all. And this has all the hallmarks of the real deal.

Finally, I'd like to address the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the estimate. It is set at $100,000-$150,000. That ain't chump change. What that generally means is the the reserve – the lowest price at which the piece will sell – is set at $100,000. But, wait – that doesn't mean you have to be willing to pony up 100 grand to even think about owning this piece, oh no. What it means is that you have to be willing to go to $125,000! That's because as with all auctions, this piece has a "buyer's premium" which is an additional cost that ranges from 20-28%, depending on how you pay.

$125,000!

For that reason, I think of this estimate as a "Buy It Now" price rather than a real auction. After all, how many people on earth are rich enough to participate at this level? Not too damn many.

If this piece had a starting price of $50,000 (or less), there would be much more interest in it, in my opinion. It's my feeling that most lofty prices are met by the excitement of multiple bidders driving bids higher and higher in the emotion and excitement of the moment.

For example, a few years ago there was an auction for Kirk's one-of-a-kind Phaser Rifle as seen in "Where No Man Has Gone Before". It sold for a big $231,000! But the starting estimate was only $50,000. Would it have sold at all had the actual reserve been $231,000? We can't know but it's definitely less likely, in my opinion.

Add to that the fact that this is by no means a unique piece. There are at least five of these pieces out there and we have no idea how many were actually made back in the 60's, but it was probably at least ten and perhaps more. And the last version that was put up at auction didn't sell at all. Twice! It wasn't as nice as this but it didn't sell at half this price!

Bottom line is this: the seller has the right to ask whatever number they want. If you, as a buyer, feel that it's worth it, more power to you.

But I think that as a STARTING number, $125,000 is absurd. Your mileage may vary.

This piece goes on auction on December 13.  The on-line catalog is HERE.

LLAP

Don

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

PROP STORE OFFERS UP A TRUE STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES RARITY – THE KLINGON DISRUPTOR !

Over the fifty years of Star Trek, certain constants have come through: Starfleet uses Phasers and Klingons use Disruptors. Phasers are omnipresent, but where, exactly did these "Disruptor" things come from? And how did one end up in an auction some fifty years after they were first used?

The piece in question first appeared in the original series during Season 1's "Errand of Mercy". And they weren't called "Disruptors". They were simply called "Klingon Phasers" by Kirk, himself, no less. The props themselves, however, were modified props from an earlier episode, "A Taste of Armageddon", made from an alien weapon referred to as a "Sonic Disruptor". Here's what those original pieces looked like:


It's easy to see the origins of the Disruptor in this shot. These "Sonic Disruptors" had their fronts replaced and new details on the top were added to give us a new weapon – the Klingon Disruptor.

These props made their debut along with the Klingons themselves in "Errand of Mercy". We can see them on various character's belts and sometimes in their hands.


In one scene we can see a squad of eight Klingons marching through the frame. All have Disruptors on their belts (as they move we can see all eight) so we know that at least that many were made.


These same pistols showed up in three more episodes. Here's one in "Friday's Child":


Next, five of them showed up in "Day of the Dove":


And finally, here's some being used by the Romulans in "The Enterprise Incident":


After that, they were never seen again. Where did they go? Well, at least one went with a Desilu executive named Renshaw after shooting wrapped. We know this because his family eventually auctioned it off years later. It was in pretty bad shape because he had given it to his kids who did what kids do – they played with it! Keep in mind that back then these items had no real value. Star Trek was simply another canceled TV series that would never be heard from again and so the props were disposable in the studio's minds. Here's a shot of the Renshaw from its auction catalog:

You can see that it was pretty chewed up. But the fact that such a spindly prop survived at all is amazing! The various metal parts on the emitter can unscrew so it's astonishing that they are intact. You can also see that the body is made of wood. It's worth noting that the auction piece has a wood body as well. Another specimen was also sold at auction, this time from the estate of Matt Jefferies, the heralded art director of the original series. There could be no better provenance for a piece than that. Here's the auction shot:


Note that while this is in better shape than the Renshaw, it still shows some wear on the handle. The rest looks pretty good, though.

And now we come to the auction piece which I'll simply refer to as the Comisar:
So if this is an original piece, why is it in such good shape? It looks practically new! This can be explained in two words: Phase Two.

In the mid-seventies, Paramount took note that their cancelled show was doing huge business in syndication. Since Star Trek was suddenly a success, the studio guys got a bright idea – let's bring it back! And so, Star Trek: Phase II was born. While that production would feature an updated Enterprise (inside and out), it was decided to keep the design of the costumes and props, a decision that would save tons of money. To that end, Paramount rounded up anything still in storage from the original Star Trek, most of which was in the form of costumes. But a few props remained, most notably, some of the Klingon Disruptors. Since those survivors were undoubtedly in "used" condition, they were freshened up with new paint and new foil on the forward fins.

It was in the middle of pre-production of Phase II that Paramount abruptly switched directions, pulling the plug on the project in favor of making Star Trek: The Motion PicturePhase II became a largely forgotten footnote in the history of Star Trek.

Here's the catalog description:

"This wood prop was acquired from Star Trek: The Motion Picture’s property master Richard Rubin, who received it and other materials from Star Trek: The Original Series during pre-production on the Star Trek feature film. This and other props were refreshed by Rubin for potential use in the film, including fresh blue-grey paint, though the wood body exhibits still numerous chips and marks beneath the fresh paint indicative of use in The Original Series. Ultimately, the disruptor props from The Original Series were not utilized for filming on The Motion Picture. As a result of great care by Mr. Rubin’s family and after by the Comisar Collection, the weapon exhibits only minor signs of wear and is in excellent, production-used, vintage condition overall."

The one error in this text is the attribution to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It's a natural mistake, however, given that all of the development for Phase II was rolled over into the production of The Motion Picture. The important take-away from this is that the piece came from the Star Trek production through prop master Dick Rubin, an idea supported by a number of other Original Series pieces that came through Mr. Rubin's hands. Again, these weren't seen as having any real value so it was not a big deal for the prop master to take them.

I want to make note of the fact that I have done a lot of research on these pieces over the years because I own another copy of Disruptor, one that Mr. Comisar had also gotten from Rubin and then sold to another collector. That story can be found here:  My Klingon Disruptor.

Here's some more great shots of the auction piece (click on them for larger versions):







You can see some of the original wear and distress on these close-ups. That is to be expected from a production-used piece. In fact, I would be worried if it wasn't there. This piece matches in every way all the details that are known about the original versions. It is not often that I say I have ZERO doubts about a piece, but this is one of those times. Its details, combined with its provenance, make this a classic piece worth having in a museum, let alone a private collection. These kinds of things don't come along often and I'm sure it will find a good home.

Prop Store has other fantastic Star Trek pieces in the auction so I urge you to check those out as well.  You'll find the auction details including a downloadable PDF and the on-line catalog at Prop Store's Comisar Auction. If you've always wanted a piece of Star Trek history, there's no better opportunity than now! Bidding is now open with the live auction taking place on December 1 at 10:00 am PST. 

Best of luck!

LLAP,

Don



Tuesday, November 27, 2018

PROP STORE OFFERS AMAZING PIECE OF STAR TREK TV HISTORY WITH UPCOMING COMISAR COLLECTION AUCTION

So much of Star Trek can be said to be "iconic". From the language used – "warp speed" and "beam me up, Scotty"– to the familiar triad of colorful costumes to the props – phasers and tricorders – there's much that has entered into our verbal and visual lexicon in the fifty years of Star Trek's existence. But at its core, Star Trek has always been about far more than pop-culture references. It still endures because of the stories told, the lessons learned. It told stories the likes of which had never before been seen on TV. Stories about life and death, love and loss, the nature of what it is to be human and so much more.

And delicately sandwiched into one of those stories was a history-making moment that seems quaint today, but it had repercussions across the country at the time. It was a moment so fraught with controversy that NBC feared that some stations might actually refused to air it. It was a whirlwind of angst that was brought about because of something that has happened tens of thousands of times throughout television history.

It was about a kiss. A kiss that all Star Trek fans know of but about which the public by and large knows nothing.

On November 22, 1968 – about fifty years ago to the date! – A Star Trek episode called "Plato's Stepchildren" aired for the first time on NBC. In many ways it is an unremarkable episode and seldom appears on anyone's list of favorites. IMBD summarizes the story thusly:

"After Dr. McCoy helps the leader of a planet populated by people with powerful psionic abilities, they decide to force him to stay by torturing his comrades until he submits."

The race that the crew encounters have adopted classical Greek culture, and named themselves Platonians in honor of the Greek philosopher Plato. This is why it's often called "the Greek episode" (not to be confused with "Who Mourns for Adonais?", another Greek story).

They use their psionic abilities against our intrepid heroes until they are able to turn the tables on them. But along the way, Kirk and Spock are arrogantly humiliated, forced to sing and dance like court jesters. Eventually, the Platonians use their powers to force two other Enterprise officers to the planet – Uhura and Chapel. Forced to each wear Greek garb, the Enterprise foursome quickly get their bodies usurped by the leader who proceeds to make them perform for the gathered Platonians and a captive McCoy, including forcing Kirk and Uhura into a passionate kiss.

And that kiss was the issue. It was remarkable for one reason alone: it was the first time that a black person and a white person ever kissed on American television. Other shows had featured kissing between Asian and caucasian actors, but never THIS. But, despite NBC's fears, little was made of the kiss upon its actual airing. The episode ended up being shown everywhere and fan reactions were overwhelmingly positive. There was some outrage (mostly from southerners, apparently) but it was in the minority.

To put this into context, it was only one year before that the US Supreme Court deemed anti-miscegenation (interracial marriage) laws unconstitutional. The late 60's was a tumultuous time for race relations in the US, so NBC had every right to expect some turmoil. Luckily, little was manifested.

So that's the history behind that kiss. And that's why it's exciting that some particular offerings from the upcoming Prop Store auction are part of that history-making moment. The auction features many pieces from the Comisar Collection which contains a number of items from the original collection of William Ware Theiss, Star Trek's much-heralded costume designer. And among those pieces are none other than the Greek garb worn by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in "Plato's Stepchildren".

Because of the great provenance that is inherent to the original William Ware Theiss Collection, there is no doubt as to the originality of these pieces. But just to do due diligence, I compared the auction pieces to screen captures from the episode because one never knows
.


Most costumes are very hard to screen-match (i.e.: definitively identify a given piece as one seen on-screen) with any certainty because most costumes are usually mundane everyday items – dark suits and solid colored pieces that show little, if any, detail. But pieces like the "Plato's Stepchildren" costumes are exactly the opposite of plain. They feature a rich assortment of easy-to-see details that can easily be examined and compared and the auction pieces don't disappoint.


Whether it's the nature of the fabric's weave, the number of striped areas or the fine pattern seen in the sash and belt, everything matches wonderfully. The colors are still bright and vivid due to careful storage. The Spock piece nets the same result.


As with the Kirk, all the specific patterns and details match up. Prop Store has more great close-ups on the auction listing so I urge you to check those out as well.  There's many other fantastic Star Trek pieces in the auction as well. You'll find the auction details including a downloadable PDF and the on-line catalog at Prop Store's Comisar Auction.

Any piece worn by Kirk or Spock always brings great attention and these are no exception. Add in the historical aspect and these become even more special. If you've always wanted a piece of Star Trek history, there's no better opportunity than now! Bidding is now open with the live auction taking place on December 1 at 10:00 am PST.

Best of luck!

LLAP,

Don

Monday, November 12, 2018

WHO BROUGHT MORE FUN TO MORE PEOPLE? NO ONE. R.I.P. STAN LEE. "EXCELSIOR!"

It's not often that we can point to a single person who we have never met but nevertheless had a huge impact on our lives. For me, it's names like Gene Roddenberry. George Lucas. Jack Kirby. And, of course, Stan Lee.

I discovered comics when I was around five years old. My Grandpa had taken me to the barber and while I was waiting for him to get finished up, I glanced at the usual stack of magazines that you normally find in such places. But forget Field and Stream. Sitting there in all its bright, primary colored-wonderfulness was a comic book. My first comic book. Superman, specifically. I picked it up and was instantly hooked. I couldn't wait to get my next hair cut!

A few years later I was in a neighborhood corner drug store (yes, such places actually existed) and spied my first actual rack of comics. Oh, man! I was allowed to buy some to keep me quiet during our vacation. While I don't remember most of titles in that small, first stack of magic, I remember one of them vividly: The Amazing Spider-Man # 65 (October, 1968). I had seen the Spider-Man cartoon on TV (what kid in the 60's didn't?) but had never seen an actual comic. This one was a fantastic way to meet the character with a bit more depth than the cartoon had offered.

It was drawn by one of the greatest Spidey artists of all time, John Romita, Sr., and was written by none other than Stan Lee himself. I must have drawn that cover (poorly, alas) a thousand times. I was hooked!

Since money didn't grow on trees, I had to really scrounge for my comics money. I got a small allowance that I added to lawn-mowing and snow-shoveling money to keep my new-found habit going. Over the years, many more of Stan's creations would be at the heart of my reading list including X-Men, Avengers, and most-especially, The Fantastic Four. I became a FF fanatic and worked to try to find as many back issues as I could find. To this day I think that Stan's best work came from his partnership with Jack Kirby. It's not a coincidence that a vast number of the Marvel movies include Kirby's name along with Lee's. While I know their relationship was tumultuous, that conflict yielded some of the greatest comics ever made.

(As an aside, why can't anyone get Fantastic Four right on film?!???)

I went on to read comics for decades. One of the coolest offshoots of that was that my little brother, John Michael, got hooked as well by reading his big brother's stash. We would talk comics for hours! Those are some of my favorite memories of my entire life.

Stan Lee's work has never been better known that it is today. Every Marvel movie has at its core a Stan Lee story or creation. His work will no doubt make a continuous mark for a long, long time.

So rest easy, Mr. Lee. Your legacy is in good hands. And this comics fan thanks you profoundly for bringing some happy moments to a young boy that needed all the joy he could find.

LLAP and, just this once, "Excelsior!"

Don

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

PROPSTORE ENTERTAINMENT MEMORABILIA LIVE AUCTION 2018 / STAR TREK: VOYAGER PIECES

PropStore's upcoming auction has Voyager offerings with one theme: Seven of Nine! Let's go.

What set Seven of Nine (Seven to her friends) apart from her crewmates can be summed up with two words: 1.) implants (no, not those kind – the Borg kind!) and B.) catsuit. Propstore has both.

For starters let's examine the costume. Though it's identified as her Starfleet uniform, since Seven wasn't in Starfleet, she didn't wear a uniform. Instead, she wore a series of one-piece body stocking suits in various colors. This is one of the purple versions.


Lot #: 418 - Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) Starfleet Uniform, STAR TREK: VOYAGER (TV 1995-2001)
Seven of Nine’s (Jeri Ryan) Starfleet uniform from the sci-fi television series Star Trek: Voyager. After she was liberated from the Borg, Seven was allowed to stay on board the USS Voyager. While she initially wore a Borg-like silver suit, Seven’s outfit changed to a purple color as she adjusted back to human life.
This one-piece suit is made from purple tinsel lurex fabric. The elastic qualities of the fabric enabled Seven’s outfit to have its signature tight fit. A hidden zipper closes the suit at the back and clasps complete the seamless look at the collar. Additionally, the feet close at the rear with Velcro, in order to allow an easier fitting.
A Starfleet badge is also included and attaches to the suit with Velcro. The badge is made of resin and has the number 10 written on its reverse side. The piece shows minimal signs of wear and is in very fine condition.
£4,000 - 6,000
This fantastic piece comes with a production-made Starfleet Comm badge that attaches via a Velcro patch. 
To go along with this great costume you'll need the right accessories. How about some Borg hand implants? They're just the thing.
Seven featured Borg implants on her face and left hand. Nothing says "I was Borgified" like creepy circuitry on your body, right?

Lot #: 417 - Seven of Nine's (Jeri Ryan) Borg Exo-Glove, STAR TREK: VOYAGER (TV 1995-2001)
Seven of Nine's (Jeri Ryan) Borg exo-glove from Star Trek: Voyager. Seven of Nine retained some of her robotic appearance after her de-Borgification in the fourth season. The piece is attributed to the sixth season finale episode “Unimatrix Zero”, in which Seven of Nine makes contact with a secretive Borg enclave in a virtual reality world.
Made from foam rubber, the glove is finished in metallic steel and brass-effect paint. There is wear to the glove and some sections have become detached. However, it remains in good but fragile condition, and is presented on a black flocked hand. Also included is a studio certificate of authenticity and an autographed 10” x 8” promotional still of the character, signed in gold ink. Dimensions (hand display): 32 cm x 15 cm x 4 cm (12 ½” x 6” x 1 ½”)
£2,000 - 3,000
There you have it – a great batch of Star Trek items from across the various franchise installments. Don't miss out on your opportunity to grab a piece of the future. The auction is on September 20th so get signed up now at PROPSTORE.

Good hunting and as always...

LLAP

Don