There are a number of amazing models and large sized items in the Phil Tippett Auction, including the Full-Sized Cain Puppet. Read on to find out a little more about this immense piece of Robocop film history…
Remember that massive full-scale Cain robot I mentioned in the last blog? Well, that thing didn’t move itself. I was tasked with assisting the Tippett Studio foreman with dismantling the giant robot prop so one of us would know how to reassemble it when we got it to the Prop Store warehouse in LA. The large size and imposing position on the edge of a second story outcropping was intimidating enough, but the fact that this villainous robot was designed with a Swiss Army Knife in mind made me a little uneasy about being responsible for reassembly.
Luckily, this full-size puppet was built to be used on set and was relatively simple to reconstruct. Each arm detached with a single large bolt and each connection was clearly labeled with numbers for reassembly. No problem. I carried each appendage downstairs and prepped them for transport. Once the robot was stripped, only a hefty torso on a metal base remained. The torso was too large to carry downstairs so the only option was to hoist it up and over the edge and lower it to the ground below. A rope and pulley rig seemed to be the best option. So, we tied the Cain body off with a bowline and hoisted it down.
How many Prop Store employees does it take to move a giant robot?
Four. Three to spot and guide it on the way down and one to stand watching intently as two Tippett Studio employees do the hard work (that one was me). As I watched my Prop Store kin wrestle with the mechanical beast on the way down, I thought about my original concerns with being responsible for putting it all back together and felt very safe standing watch from above. Maybe I hadn’t drawn the long straw after all. A little guilt crept in as the cacophony of “Wait wait wait,” “Turn it this way,” and “Well, we can’t stop now,” reached me in my now perfectly safe second story perch. Although, one of us would have to drive the other to the hospital if anything went wrong, right?
Once we, or really, everyone but me, got the torso and base lowered onto a dolly, it was easy to load Cain and his pieces onto our moving truck. We have gotten quite efficient at moving strange creatures around in moving trucks—not a skill I ever expected to have.
Cut to several weeks later. Our research, writing, and photography processes had begun and we needed to get Cain to hair and make-up for his moment below the flash bulbs. Obviously, I remembered every single step from dismantling this thing in meticulous detail. Yeah… definitely.
I set up a large work area in our LA warehouse and began laying out all the pieces. I enlisted Alex Rogers to help me deal with this mechanical humpty-dumpty. We started with what ended up being the trickiest part: a pair of hydraulic pistons on the bottom of Cain’s torso. They had to criss-cross, and getting all four pieces to align was no easy task. I’m pretty sure it took Alex and me half a dozen tries. At least. (Give us a break, we’re writers.)
We moved on to the arms. The smaller pieces went on without any issues, but that massive mini-gun took some extra elbow grease to hold in place. Last but not least, we had to get Cain’s head on straight. The one item I specifically remember the foreman explaining. It’s not currently attached properly, so we just tied it on with this rope. No problem. Tied.
Of course, when Frank Ippolito came around with the Tested crew, he saw right through the ruse. Here’s the video they did from their visit.
If you pay close attention you can see him explaining how the head was originally connected. Thanks, Frank!
Now we just need to figure out how to ship it…
Auction Content Manager LA
If you haven’t already had the opportunity to have a look at the amazing once-in-a-lifetime props that are up for auction in the Phil Tippett Auction, take a look now and register to bid on a true piece of movie history!
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