This year, Prop Store is launching its biggest-ever Entertainment and Memorabilia Live Auction, with no fewer than 900 cinematic and TV artefacts going under the hammer on 30 September and 1 October. That is a colossal treasure hoard, impressive enough to make even Smaug the Mighty jealous.
Picking our featured items from this vast trove was no easy task. But we managed it, bringing together props and costumes from some of cinema’s biggest franchises, a couple of its most spectacular historical epics, a few of its greatest horror films, and one of the funniest movies ever made…
1. Screen-matched Tantive IV Stormtrooper Helmet
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars changed the way we saw science-fiction, and its designs (by illustrator Ralph McQuarrie) are not merely iconic, they’re now ingrained in our popular culture. That is especially true of the stormtrooper helmet, and while it may now feel like you see them everywhere, the original article is extremely rare. Only 56 were created for Star Wars, and of those a dozen or so were repurposed for The Empire Strikes Back. This particular helmet, however, remains in its original, A New Hope form, retaining the grey highlights on its mouth-grille “frown”. You can even spot it in the film, being worn by a trooper to Princess Leia’s left when she icily greets Darth Vader. It truly is a piece of cinematic history.
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977) – Screen-matched Tantive IV Stormtrooper Helmet – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
2. Batman’s Batsuit
Before Tim Burton’s Batman, the caped vigilante’s on-screen persona was more comical than superheroic, thanks to the ’60s TV show starring Adam West. But Burton wanted his Batman to be taken seriously: the kind of figure who would truly strike fear into criminals’ hearts. With costume designer Bob Ringwood, Burton brought the hero into the dark and gritty modern era, cladding in night-black foam-rubber body armour, with that unmistakable, and for a time unavoidable, Bat-symbol badge glowing in bright yellow.
BATMAN (1989) – Batman’s (Michael Keaton) Batsuit – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
3. Radio-controlled Hero Ghost Trap and Pedal
Ghostbusters (1984) / Ghostbusters II (1989)
One of a small number of functioning, electronic trap props created for the original Ghostbusters and its sequel under the supervision of special effects supervisor Chuck Gaspar. By “functioning” we don’t mean it can literally trap ghosts, of course. But via a remote-control, you can make this particular item do a number of things: open the striped top hatch, illuminate the trap’s light bar graph, turn on its internal strobe-light, and make its rear red light flash.
GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)/GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989) – Radio-Controlled Hero Ghost Trap and Pedal – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
4. Special Effects Facehugger
With its finger-like limbs, coiled tail and pulsating sacs, Alien’s facehugger is certainly one sci-fi cinema’s most memorably distressing designs. After being co-created by artists H.R. Giger and Ron Cobb, along with director Ridley Scott, writer Dan O’Bannon and special effects maestro Roger Dicken, it was down to Dicken to create the unpleasant beast, who constructed it from fiberglass and resin, with a metal skeleton and a latex skin. This facehugger was kept for four decades by Dicken himself, who must have been a very proud father.
ALIEN (1979) – Special Effects Facehugger – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
5. Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The “sacred relic”, used to blow the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog to bits in the Monty Python troupe’s first movie, is a truly valuable artefact in reality, too. Once thought lost to posterity, this divine weapon — actually constructed from a toilet-cistern ballcock, a cross and some fake jewels — turned out to have been kept by one of the film’s prop makers. You could almost say it’s a miracle it resurfaced.
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975) – Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
6. Jack Torrance’s Hero Axe
The Shining (1980)
It is arguably the most well-known moment in horror genre: when a raging Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) hacks at a door with an axe, presses his face up against the hole he’s made and announces, “Here’s Johnny!” Which surely makes this item one of horror cinema’s most iconic weapons. And this really is the axe Nicholson used, kept by a crew member who intended to use to to chop wood, but fortunately never did. It was custom-made, and capable of hacking into a real door, as the prop-doors constructed for the scene fell apart too easily.
SHINING, THE (1980) | Jack Torrance’s (Jack Nicholson) Hero Axe – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
7. William Wallace’s Hero Claymore Sword
Sometimes a weapon is more than tool of war. It can be a symbol more enduring than its wielder. This claymore, almost five-feet-long from pommel to tip, wasn’t just used by Mel Gibson as Scottish rebel William Wallace in the historical epic Braveheart. It was used in all the advertising for the movie, and much of the promotional imagery. Most significantly, during the film’s final battle, which takes place after Wallace’s execution, it was hurled into the ground ahead of the charging Scots, to inspire them to victory.
BRAVEHEART (1995) – William Wallace’s (Mel Gibson) Hero Claymore Sword – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
8. Maximus’ Screen-matched General Armour
By the end of the 20th century, we thought we’d seen the last of swords and sandals epics. But then Ridley Scott proved everyone wrong with Gladiator, which recreated ancient Rome through cutting-edge visual effects and astonishing production and costume design. Janty Yates won an Oscar for her costume designs, including this impressive set of armour, worn by Russell Crowe as General Maximus during the film’s opening battle in Germania.
GLADIATOR (2000) – Maximus’ (Russell Crowe) Screen-matched General Armour – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
9. Freddy Kruger’s Glove
FREDDY VS. JASON (2003)
Most slasher-movie killers make use of everyday weapons: knives, machetes, chainsaws. But the dream-stalking child murderer Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) went for something a little more elaborate: a glove festooned with glinting finger-knives. Though its original creator Jim Doyle still made it to look like it was hand-made out of found items, as instructed by A Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven. The result was an original and indelible horror-weapon design, with this glove created for the fight scenes in crossover movie Freddy Vs. Jason.
FREDDY VS. JASON (2003) | Freddy Kruger’s (Robert Englund) Glove – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
10. Robert Watts Collection: Hand-painted Ralph McQuarrie Illustration of Vader Arriving on Death Star
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Film producer Robert Watts worked with George Lucas on the original Star Wars trilogy, and for this year’s EMLA, Prop Store has five items from his personal collection. Most impressive is this piece of original Ralph McQuarrie artwork, depicting Darth Vader’s arrival on board the second Death Star, primarily rendered in gouache on illustration board. This fantastic piece was given to Watts when Return of the Jedi wrapped, and has never been available for sale before.
STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) – Robert Watts Collection: Hand-painted Ralph McQuarrie Illustration of Vader Arriving on Death Star – See full lot in – Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction 2019
11. Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) Production-Made Lightsaber
STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977)
It’s hard to think of a better-known, or more coveted, movie prop than the original lightsaber bequeathed to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) during the first-ever Star Wars movie. Not only does this item have huge significance in Star Wars lore (it was, of course, also the weapon used by Anakin Skywalker throughout the Clone Wars), it is also a fantastically designed item, ingeniously kit bashed using a Graflex 3-Cell Camera Flash Attachment unit, along with a set of black T-shaped grips, a D-ring and elements from a vintage calculator display.
While this particular lightsaber isn’t either the hero or the stunt version seen in the film, it is confirmed as having been made for the production. Elstree Studios managing director Andrew Mitchell was given permission to keep it as a memento when production wrapped, and later handed it down to his son Andy. Given the whereabouts of the other lightsaber models is unknown, this could well be the last of the original Luke lightsaber props. Surely a dream possession for any serious Star Wars fan.
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