Thursday, December 27, 2012

Klingons!! Part 2: Weapons Display

In an effort to get my stuff out of boxes and into the real world, I created this display for my screen-used Klingon weaponry. I made it from an old piece of slatboard which I then painted and weathered to get that "used Klingon" feel. It is directly lit from a ceiling mounted spotlight. I'm thinking about adding some title cards to each piece.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Complete Guide to Starfleet Style OR Everything you ever wanted to know about TOS movie uniforms!

To say that I like the uniforms from the TOS movie era is a bit of an understatement. I don't simply like them – I'm fascinated with them. Absorbed. Beguiled. Enthralled. In short: I dig 'em!

Which is why I've been so focussed on adding a full compliment of those uniforms to my screen-used collection. To that end I've been able to land almost every version of Starfleet uniform as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Here's the list:

1. The Class-A Officer's Maroon. This is the pinnacle of Trek uniform for me. I'm fortunate enough to have both male (Spock's!) and female (Rand's) versions.

2. The Officer's Maroon Bomber Jacket. A variant of the standard Maroon, the Bomber was only worn by three characters: Captain Kirk, Scotty and Starfleet Commander Morrow.  My version is a Scotty as seen in Star Trek III and is a very rare piece.

3. The Officer's Vest. Another variant of the standard Maroon, a Vest version was only worn by three characters: Kirk, Scotty and Saavik. Mine is a Saavik from Star Trek III and is made of leather.

4. The Engineering Radiation Suit. Seen throughout the film sires, the distinctive Rad Suit came to represent Scotty's department. The Rad suit is not so much a uniform as it is a protective suit, meant to shield Scotty and his Engineers from any harmful radiation in the ship's warp core. Mine is a variant worn by one of the Starfleet Assassins in Star Trek VI.

5. The Crewman Jumpsuit. Also maroon in color, the Jumpsuit was worn by enlisted personnel throughout the Enterprise.

6. Sickbay Scrubs. First seen in Wrath of Khan, McCoy and his staff wore their distinctive white uniforms while on duty in Sickbay. My version is a standard female nurse.

I did say I had "almost every version" of uniform. The only significant version I'm missing is the maroon suit worn by security personnel. While I hope to land one some day, for now I'll have to settle for being security-less.

In the near future I'll be featuring each style of uniform in individual Blog installments, giving some insight about the design, accessories and history of each. It will be scintillating reading for every fan of Starfleet couture!



Star Trek Into Darkness Teaser Poster Released

Say what you will about J.J. Abrams (and I do) he seldom goes in expected directions. Those directions might ultimately make no freakin' sense, but you didn't see it coming, that's for sure. That's again the case with the newest Trek production "Star Trek Into Darkness" and it's newly released teaser poster, seen below.

JJ is notoriously tight with details about his movies and I have no problem with that. The more I know ahead of time, the less I have to discover at the theater so I want to be surprised. And at first glance, the new teaser certainly doesn't give much away while it also is a far cry from Treks past. It shows ominous destruction of a an unnamed city with a dark figure poised at the center seemingly surveying his handiwork, all of which comes together to form a jagged, war-torn Starfleet delta symbol. Nice work, in my opinion. It does what a teaser should do – tease us with questions while giving no answers. What city is it? What planet? Who's the guy? What the heck is going on? Perfect.

Except there's one problem. When the poster is seen on its own, it tells little. But when combined with Paramount's official plot synopsis, I think there's little doubt to Trek fans who the guy is and what the basis of the film is. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you're probably not a fan of the original Star Trek series, the basis for these new films. Based on the synopsis and this poster, there's only one person it CAN be, and it sure ain't Khan. And you know who I'm talkin' about. Here's the synopsis:

“When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis."

So the cat is (sort of) out of the bag. I was bound to find out who the antagonist was before I was the film. After all, it won't be out for 6 months and I'm sure that piece of info will be in the mainstream long before opening day. But that's as far as I want to know. I was not a fan of the last movie and I'm not really expecting much from this one. But I want to give it the greatest chance to sway me that I can give, so I'll watch for spoilers and stay away until May.

And then we'll see if trekking Into Darkness is a good thing or not. At least the poster doesn't have any lens flares!




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Klingons!!! Part 1: Gorkon and his General

 NOTE: My wife broke her leg in October so I've been away for a while. But she's on the mend so I'm back. Thanks for reading.

Klingons are synonymous with Star Trek. They were Trek's original "interstellar badguys" and were first seen in the 1967 original series episode "Errand of Mercy". They didn't look much like the Klingons we've come to know, but their basic qualities were firmly established – they were a warlike race who advanced themselves by conquest, the antithesis to the peaceful Federation. The Klingons were greatly expanded upon and better defined in the movie era, and by Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, we were given our first glimpse of Klingon society. Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise were thrown into an interstellar conspiracy that held the future of the Federation and Klingon Empire in its grasp. Star Trek VI was the last of the TOS movies and was a finale of sorts – a send-off of the original cast and a turning over of the reigns to The Next Generation. And it's one of my favorites.

Director Nick Meyers wanted to see a different side of the Klingons. Up to then, they were the one-note evil-doers and Meyers was determined to show them as more that just cardboard cutouts. To that end, his story featured the assassination of the Klingon head of state, Chancellor Gorkon and embroiled our Starfleet heroes in the turmoil of intrigue. For the first time, we saw the Klingons as a true race and society, not just a snarling antagonist needed to fill a plot line. Star Trek VI would cast the die for the portrayal of Klingons from then on.

At the center of the story was Chancellor Gorkon and his chief of staff, General Chang, as well as Gorkon's daughter, Azetbur, and several generals who rounded out the Klingon inner circle.

Gorkon, wonderfully played by actor David Warner, was presented as a peacemaker, a Klingon who was actually willing to make true peace with his long-time enemy, the Federation. I don't think that it's accidental that Gorkon has a passing resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. Warner played Gorkon with gravitas and dignity, becoming a true martyr for the cause of peace, not unlike the 16th President. Appropriately, his costume set a new style tone for Klingons. For Gorkon and Azetbur, gone were the all-gray warrior costumes that Klingons had been wearing since the first film. In their place were striking scarlet and gray ensembles – regal-looking garb befitting their high-placed station. Even the generals got a bit of an upgrade – still gray, but with all-new tailoring. Evidently, vinyl is highly prized on the Klingon homeworld, cuz these babies are full of it.

When a Gorkon costume came up for auction several years ago, I was determined to have it. Luckily, I was able to prevail, and my Gorkon is one of the highlights of my collection. I was recently able to add the costume of one of his aides – the one who who crudely stuffed his mouth at the state dinner. Both pieces are in excellent condition and feature internal costuming tags.

The Gorkon can be screen-matched to his death scene and features the "phaser hole" and small remnants of the pink Klingon "blood".

The Gorkon features a beautiful metal belt buckle, quilted details, the definitive horned Klingon boot, and chain-embedded shoulder piece. The costume is super-clean, displays beautifully and stands as a superlative example of the movie-era costume design.

Gorkon's General features quilted details, detailed pants, shoulder and waist chains and Klingon boots. Many of these gray Klingon uniforms were extensively reused over the years in the later Trek incarnations – Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise – but this one escaped that fate for some reason. It is as clean as the last day of shooting for Star Trek VI and stands as an excellent example of movie Klingon.

I'll be showing more Klingon pieces in the future. Thanks for reading. Qapla' !


Don Hillenbrand

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Myth of Propworx

There used to be a prop and costume reseller called Propworx which was run by a guy named Alec Peters. Mr. Peters fancied himself to be quite the entrepreneur. He had only started collecting screen-used props and costumes in 2006 when Christie's had their big "40 Years of Star Trek" auction, but in 2009 he decided that he would show the world just how the prop business should be run by creating Propworx.

Fast forward to August of 2012 and Propworx files for bankruptcy. And not just any form of bankruptcy either. There was no "restructuring" to allow for repayment of debts or anything like that. Propworx underwent Chapter 7 – liquidation. How surprising then, that a mere two months later we are told that Propworx is back! Did they repay their creditors? No. They owed $401,466 to various creditors including MGM which was Propworx's customer for the Stargate auctions (MGM produced the various Stargate incarnations). And they didn't repay a cent. The bankruptcy court was under the impression that Propworx had no assets and so could not repay anything. The bankruptcy was settled on October 1.

So lots of people were surprised when, just one week later, Propworx was apparently selling props again. Here's what was sent around by Alec Peters to potential buyers:

"We have new BSG, Star Trek, Stargate, Iron Man and Hulk items up on eBay.

Or check out seller name Linnear.

There are 50 items this week and we have at least two more weeks of auctions! We had a bunch of new consignments come in recently and are cleaning out some of my personal collection. Dean is now working part time with me to clear out the warehouse and get auction items up. He can be reached at

Thanks for all your support!

Alec Peters"

So just a week previously, Propworx had no assets. Then, as if by magic, one week later they do. That's amazing.

But no more amazing than Propworx itself. Here's what Mr. Peters had to say when Propworx closed:

"While we have done some great work, and the Battlestar auctions remain the pinnacle of that type of studio event auction, it is time to move on. And I really have no interest in just buying or selling props like The Prop Store or Screen Used (who both do an awesome job) or doing eBay auctions like VIP (which also does good work and I have recommended to studios). Our specialty was always event auctions accompanied by the best auction catalogs ever."

Propworx auctions are the pinnacle? I bet MGM would disagree with that, as would all of Propworx's other creditors. And that's where the myth comes in.

Ask yourself this: how successful would you consider yourself to be if you had $400,000 of other people's money that you agreed to pay, then didn't? Is that ANYONE'S idea of success? Yes – Alec Peters'. In his posts about Propworx there were many boasts about how they redefined the business and had great catalogs and such. But there's not one single word about the $400,000 that he was able to magically make disappear via bankruptcy court. There were no apologies to the companies he victimized nor any concern whatsoever about how PW's bankruptcy would affect those creditors. If you bought something from Propworx and had a positive experience, that's great. But you should know that it was at someone else's expense. That Stargate prop you got? It might not have ever been paid for – your money may have gone straight into Alec's pocket.

Here's another post from Peters accepting accolades for his work:

"Thank you all for the kind words! Propworx was an auction house that we built and did the things that we as collectors wanted to see. Thus the awesome catalogs, the state of the art COA's, the holograms, etc. "

That, in a nutshell, was what was important to the PW experience: pretty catalogs and COAs with holograms. Not spending money responsibly and fulfilling their contractual obligations to customers like MGM. Nope. Their attitude appears to be "we owe MGM and other creditors hundreds of thousands of dollars? Who cares? We have catalogs and holograms."  All hat, no cattle.

Is that YOUR idea of success? Is that what entrepreneurialism is about? Not in my opinion.

And THAT is the myth of Propworx. I've been in business for 20 years and I can tell you that success claimed at the expense of others is not success at all. It's pillaging. It's recklessness. But it's not success.

Not in this writer's opinion, anyway.


Don Hillenbrand

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hangin' with the Galileo Part 3: Mikey and me

This past summer when I had the amazing opportunity to see the Galileo shuttlecraft up close and personal, I was not alone. One of my oldest friends, Mike Myers, accompanied me. Mike and I go way back to our college days which means we've known each other for more than thirty years. And, while Mike is not a Star Trek collector like me, he is definitely a Star Trek FAN, just like me. We both got the bug when we watched the original broadcasts of The Original Series as kids (very young kids!). The first time I saw his room at home, his walls were covered with things like Mo Udall posters (look it up, youngsters) and (much to my delight) Star Trek posters! Point of interest: I think some were of the "black light" variety (look it up, youngsters). From that moment on, Star Trek would be one of our mutual passions. Mike and I and another friend went and saw Gene Roddenberry speak at the Richfield Coliseum during the summer of 1979 and he and two other friends (hey, Keith and John!) braved a snow storm in December of '79 to see the opening of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Yeah, it wasn't great, but it was the only Trek in town! We saw it 2 more times that weekend, i think.

Over the years we wandered in and out of each others' lives, but we always stayed firm Trek fans. Our take on the various shows and movies are almost identical (love "Wrath of Khan" –  "Enterprise", not so much). So it was only fitting that when the Galileo's location became known and was put up for auction, we would both get to see her in all her world-weary glory.

As luck would have it, Mike and I have always lived within 20 minutes of the Galileo's various locations since it came to Ohio. Countless times, both of us passed by the boat storage facility in which it was finally stored, having no idea of the treasures held within. So when the auction was announced, Mike was the first person I called.

For some reason, it was difficult to get permission to see the Galileo. You would have thought that the seller would have welcomed potential buyers (and I certainly was one, if only in my head) but weeks went by after the auction was announced but no permission was forthcoming. Finally a call came from the auctioneers who were doing the sale – a showing was finally arranged for THAT DAY. I put aside whatever trivialities I had on my desk and called Mike to tell him of the news. He anxiously confirmed that he'd be there.

It was a very hot June afternoon (in the 90's!) in Ohio when I pulled into the boat storage facility. I got there before Mike (he is "time-challenged", ie: he'll be late to his own funeral) and found the auctioneer rep who then took me and the Galileo's owner over to the storage barn that held my quarry. Still no Mike, though. As I walked into the warehouse-sized structure, I was instantly in awe of what I saw. Yes, she had seen better days and she was currently stripped of her accoutrements (engines, doors, etc) but there she was – the Galileo that I had seen over and over in Trek reruns. The Galileo that I had built a model of in the 70's (I still have it though it's much the worse for wear – not unlike the actual Galileo, I guess). There she stood set off by herself in an open part of the building and I walked up to her literally in awe. I stood there for a few seconds taking it all in. "Holy crap". I thought – "it's actually the real deal! It's actually the Galileo!" I took a breath and moved closer.

And that's when her condition overwhelmed me – she looked like absolute crap. Yes, she was the Galileo of my dreams, but she was also forty-plus years removed from her glory and she showed it. Over the years I had read everything I could find about the Galileo. About how she had been unceremoniously stored outside in the California sun, seen time at an RV yard, and had been hauled across country to end up in my back yard. I had read about "restorations" and repaints, and of course I had seen the on-line shots of her that had shown her current dilapidated state. But pictures did not prepare me for what I saw in person.

If Galileo had ever been "restored" it showed no sign of it now. I had hoped that what I had seen in the photos was a Galileo that was being prepped for primer and so naturally would have a lot of surface stuff going on. But it could not have been farther from that. The exterior shell was covered in rough, weathered plywood and masonite as well as flaking fiberglass and red bondo. It was a mess, period. But it was still the Galileo, for better or for worse, so my emotions were stretched simultaneously between euphoria and despair.

I went to the door opening and peered inside the shabby ship. She didn't look much better on the inside, though it wasn't the total disaster of the outside. I tentatively climbed aboard to look around when I heard a familiar voice from outside – Mike had finally arrived. I poked my head out to greet him. :He had a huge smile on his face and simply said "This is amazing"!

And he was right. Whatever her condition, it was amazing that this piece of Star Trek history even existed at all, let alone in our neighborhood.

Mike and I then spent the next half hour or so crawling all over the old girl, looking into every nook and cranny, trying to understand how the door mechanism used to work (still haven't figured that out), checking out the roof (replaced), the impulse engine bay (empty), and every surface possible. We were like kids in a candy shop with the Galileo being the ultimate lollipop. We couldn't get enough! I took tons of pictures as we made our inspection, wanting to preserve the experience not just in memory but pixels as well. All too soon, our time was up. We couldn't come up with any more excuses to linger with Galileo any longer. Reluctantly, we thanked the owner and the auction rep and slowly walked away from a legend. I grabbed one last glance at the shabby hero and took one last photo as we reached the exit.

While I can share those photos with the world, the experience itself is more elusive. This is my attempt to share some small part of my adventure with my friend Mike on that excellent, hot afternoon in June. I wish all Trek fans could have the same, in-person experience. Mike and I will remember it for the rest of our lives.

Mikey got it right. It was amazing!



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hangin' With the Galileo Pt 2: What's new, what's not

Welcome back to the Galileo story. As told in an earlier Blog entry, I had the amazing opportunity to check out the ultimate Original Series Star Trek prop: the Galileo shuttlecraft. I inspected the old girl prior to her being auctioned off in July.

Since the Galileo had undergone two ill-fated restorations, there were many questions concerning what exactly was original and what was not. I’ve compiled a visual guide that will demonstrate exactly what’s what. Here’s an overview of the replaced areas:

All interior wood framework
Entire starboard side
Entire roof
Entire floor
Large chunk of port side

With that in mind, here’s some exterior shots showing what original masonite sheathing is still intact. Keep in mind that it’s in such lousy shape that I don’t know if it can be saved. But it is original, nonetheless.

Here’s shots of the interior with areas called out. The two different plywood tones are due to age between restorations:

Finally, here's a shot of the entire starboard interior, created from 2 shots. It shows the number of ribs and the way the steel frame carries the structure.
So that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

See Part 3 HERE