Sunday, December 9, 2018


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.




  1. An unconscionable ploy by PIH to boost the price. Absolutely shameful!! I makes me question all other PIH claims

  2. It looks to NOT be the Spock piece to me: The handle is noticeably longer on then screen cap, and the trigger button is at an obvious different angle on each piece.

  3. Plus...the emitter tip looks different. Spock's seems a little shorter than the other piece, and Spock's emitter appears to have an odd upward angle to it not consistent with the other piece.