Here is a neat video on the JP prop that I purchased off ebay earlier this year.
Whilst this may be the final chapter of the story, its never really the end is it. Especially when this film is concerned. Sadly one of us didn’t meet the deadline self imposed on ourselves to get the big reveal on one of our prizes completed but in the meantime I still have some very cool photos and trials and tribulations to share.
Now I wrestled internally about this article. How do you present the following items without making it sound like the seller didn’t make errors in selling them. The truth is you can’t really. There are some really big mistakes in some of these notes but its unfair to target VIP for them. With crates of individual parts of the suits and no plans, advice, limited prop building experience and only publicity stills they did an amazing job of piecing together some of the most expensive and elaborate prop/wardrobe items ever made for film. The warts and all are kind of there to see in the pictures and auctions that have been showing up on eBay these past three months.
First up lets get something on the table. These things are complicated. I have a problem putting together an IKEA cabinet so all of the hard work, tracking nuts, bolts, screws, and the like & I wish to put that totally at my partner in crimes feet who I worked with on these auctions. We often forget that we may pay as was the case with “Outlander” and the working beacon I purchased from it, $500 for a prop that cost $30,000 to manufacture here is a great example of that. With the pistons on this suit and various parts that go just to make them up finding out just the end of it was $3.29 each, well we began to get a new appreciation for the cost of making these things. That and the year of production time it took to prototype, build, test and fabricate the final suits. Here is a video I made of the pistons used on one of the suit.
Add the discovery that basically the pistons were made in pairs and all of the pairs were different sizes, and different appearance on the Max and Kruger suit….and we are STILL only talking about Pistons you can probably get some idea of the enormity of this task.
So I’ve done a great job of setting up how hard it is to reconstruct these things. Problem is I think if you weren’t following the auction you might not have realised how these suits came to the table. Well….some pieces came like this….
and some pieces came like this…..
As you can see in this lot there is a stunt used upper chest piston at the bottom of the photo, an unused leg at the top and a hero arm on the far left. Screws, washers, bolts, connectors, some Imperial size, some metric, and all seemingly different. With no rhyme or reason behind the lots it simply became buy everything to attempt to put all the puzzle pieces back together. So…that was the mission.
Things became even harder when early on without DVD or BLU footage of the movie early on piecing together the suits had to rely on the “Art of Elysium” which I know we both highly recommend. Now with the Blu out tomorrow and the digital version from 3 weeks ago things are a little easier. Buying the stuff wasn’t just the problem then. There was a wish by us both to make the suits EXACTLY like the ones from the film. The correct screws, the moving pistons and arms, everything just like it had walked off the set. Again, this was far more palpable from my partner. He wanted it perfect. I was happy to use bubble gum and string….but the more we ventured down the path of no return the more I caught on to doing this right. Otherwise…..why bother.
Why? Because the original Exo suit on ebay in August that sold for $16,200 was a bit of a botch although at the time I was as ready as anyone to put my bid in. A bid that was pretty much blown out of the water before I even hit send. I have the feeling today the suit was put together as best as could be done. Heck…it took us 3 months of research and having the pieces with closeup photos and footage available to work out exactly all the pieces. We must have looked at photos thousands of times…and still find things today we didn’t know before.
So, whats the big issue. Well without boring everyone with minutia there’s bits in the wrong place…bits missing….stunt mixed with hero….not enough screws, bolts and bits. In short take one step in it and its less a stunning piece but rather in pieces.
Original auction description follows:
The undershirt is described as being composed of a nylon material with metal screw holes and zippers and silicone parts to make it appear as skin. The undershorts are described as being composed of spandex, also with metal screw holes and zippers. The suit pieces are described as being composed of polyester resin and hard rubber materials, and are combined with several different types of hardware. This suit was received from production in pieces, and was reassembled to the best of the abilities of the VIP staff. It may not be identical to the suit in the film, but is very similar. Some assembly is required.
The suit was designed to fit Matt Damon very snug, but the shirt and shorts can stretch slightly. This suit is in good condition, but shows signs of use from production. This is one of two hard stunt full suits associated with Max received from production. The other will be listed separately. Please note that this suit was used as a prop and is not a functioning universal load carrier. This set is being sold as photographed below.
For some time we used these stunning pictures from the “art of” book so you can clearly see how it should have looked. The difference in length of some of these pistons is mm. Also with a standard mannequin being 6’1 and this being tailored for a 5’11 Matt Damon there was always going to be a problem display this in the picture.
In the following picture most of the pistons and accompanying spacers are missing parts meaning they will no function as needed to move correctly. Other things like the spine are stretched out because of the length of the mannequin or in the case of the top of the spine, missing the correct piece altogether.
Again hoping your seeing the enormity of this task here as this little 1.5 inch hunk of resin is integral to allowing the spine to not only move but also the top pistons need to attach to it per this picture.
By the way take a look the the “Art of” cover below again. The top right spine piece…do you notice its laying at 6 0′clock having disconnected as per the left hand side which is correct. After starring at the image for a month back in September we discovered the photo had been Photoshopped for the movie poster! The red cords are the power leads for the headpiece.
Getting complicated. Yeah….my word-count is going to be thru the roof with this one.
So even after buying the suit above, the poor buyer still had to purchase the t-shirt & trouser combination for the suit to display right….
interior vambraces for the arms
, and a headpiece. As you can see….putting one of these together was never going to be cheap or possible for most collectors.
Another of the problems arose early on with several interviews which stated there were 3 types of suits made for the film. Joe Dunckley was quoted as saying there were 2 hero, 2 stunt and two soft rubber stunts made for falls in various interviews. After contacting Weta directly I received these replies from Rob Gillies, one of the Exo HULC leads of fabrication.
Here is his reply:
The stunt suit was created for Sharlto to do the stunt fighting scenes. The reason it is floppy is not only to protect Sharlto from injuring himself in the suit but also to protect the actor/ performer who he is fighting against.
and a follow up after that.
Unless something happened on set that I’m not aware, we only created the two types of suits here at Weta being the Hard hero with moving pistons and the soft stunt suits which you are now the keeper of.
I so glad to hear these have ended up with someone who has as much pride in owning the pieces as we did in creating them.
This of course helped clear up a lot of the mystery surrounding the way they were described by VIP but also made it clear to me that despite many extra pieces being fabricated for the production and unpainted or not detailed that basically two hero and two stunts were made for each actor, and the stunts had been used by the actors themselves at various points. I also confirmed that occasionally stunt and hero parts would be swopped out as needed. It would seem though that Weta had made the finished Hero suits so well that they were used beyond the capability expected of them.
So after being beaten into submission with the “hero” suits it became apparent that piecing together the parts would be the next best option. It all in fact started with a spine…a set of them in fact. Over the course of the auction we found several ranging from stunt rubber to resin. The gem came early on with the Hero surgery spine mixed in with pieces. The blood residue and various other factors helped screen match it.
3 hours!!!! Wow. This is turning into a real page turner. Lol.
I think I should move onto the “presto-chango” pics.
Max’s hero headpiece
Hero surgery spine.
With the delay on fitting the chest plate I will have pics of the finished Hero Kruger Exo suit later in the week. In the meantime though here is the hero light up headpiece, proving a picture can tell 1,000 words. Isn’t that so much nicer than the auction shot.
I may well at the beginning of these articles have promised you a review of the film. Sadly….I’m not really at liberty to do so. You see I’m too biased.
Whilst the film falls short of the greatness of “District 9″ which was almost universally loved, “Elysium” has its problems. Its almost too close to the truth for some. Almost a little too perfect in its construction for others. For me, its a film of possibilities that have been made whole by the incredible production design of Aaron Beck and other artists like him who made over 2,500 drawings all of which could have been used in the film. Its the artistry by Weta’s Richard Taylor, Phil Ivey, Joe Dunckley, Ben Mauro and all you other employees who worked so hard to make the designs reality, shepherded of course by Neil Blomkamp.
So in closing this series of articles is dedicated to them, and to those movie prop collectors who helped myself and D. put there dream together. You see this has been a rough three months. Emotional even. The thought of losing a lot and being unable to complete these costumes would have been a hill that could have been climbed but then whats the use of having the dream and talking till the wee small hours of the morning about making it all work out. To put these pieces back together just because we could…and learn so much about the work that went into creating them in the first place just because we loved the film, and the work that went into the art in front of us.Without the kindness of Bill, Randy, Sabrina, Thomas, Ron all respected members of the prop collecting community and all of whom at one time or another helped purchase a lot or backed off to let various pieces come our way, well our Wednesdays and Fridays wouldn’t have been quite as fun. I appreciate it very much. I hope you enjoy the pieces we split with you. If you didn’t want to work with us….all 2 of you….well….glad we could bid you up (joke!).
Finally I dedicate this to VIP partnership and its owner Mark and one of the hardest working people I know Shelly who takes care of all your customer needs. They did what they could to make buying these items whilst not a cheap experience, a pleasant and happy one. If you have experienced purchasing an item from them you will know they ship fast, well and have always done their best to make the experience top class. Their feedback on eBay speaks for itself. They and their crew are 5 stars. Remember that when your bugging them for the fifth time in 48 hrs.
Now go to your Blu ray and “Activate” it. Like Kruger your in for a mind blowing experience.
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Okay….I give it 8 out of 10 since you asked….
Agent M. Kruger has a couple of distinct looks in the film…if you don’t count wearing his underwear in public.
First up is his desert attire, and secondly his Exo-HULC suit. For this article we look at the outfit worn in the desert.
This was always going to be a hard costume to put together for the current owner, as it consists of multiple pieces of wardrobe, and prop hardware. From his research on the film we discovered there were probably 3 of the vests made for the film, with two being hero and one being stunt. Unfortunately they are not marked as such for Kruger, Drake or Crowe the other mercenaries so we had to judge what they were talking to the latter two actors who were available to talk to, and then from materials used in the construction.
The Kruger vest is probably the stunt vest, even though there are no markings on it or the original WETA container box used for shipping and is the only one of its kind sold during the auction. Here is the original description from 4th September 2013:
This is a Kruger (Sharlto Copley) screen used stunt vest. This vest is described as being made of a polyester resin and cloth materials. It is black in color, with several different colored decals and accessories and a black padding around the neck area. There are various attached wires and accessories placed on it to make the vest look realistic, including a fan and carabiner (see pictures for details). There is a handle on the top of the back, and there are various stains all over it, in addition to different types of tape on some wires and cables, all from production and stunt use. The vest is approximately large in size, but has several adjustable straps and Velcro sections to adjust the size.
The owner discovered early on that there were between 10-15 various Kruger costumes in the auction but of these only 2-3 were complete and only two were definite screen-matches. The camouflage trousers are discussed here with April Ferry, wardrobe designer:
I made uniforms for Sharlto out of African camo which I couldn’t find anywhere and had to make and have the camouflage printed. It was very difficult because Neil had me talk to the costume designer of District 9 as he thought she could go out and buy camo in South Africa and send it to us, but they don’t sell it to anyone other than the military! So, we had to get one piece and then have yards and yards of the stuff printed.
We had a new appreciation after we discovered the exterior costumes were replicated for scenes almost perfectly, with every stitch and damage mark replicated exactly…..EXCEPT for the pockets were they had used offcuts. Using photographs from the film and buying only costumes with tags which were definitely used he was able to find the specific pants worn by Kruger in the desert for most of the shoot. Later on this style of trouser would be slightly adapted with holes for the Exo-suit.
Kruger wears a set of gauntlets and gloves on his arms in both versions of the movie costumes. Some versions of this lit up, one was made for a shot of the knife breaking the screen and some were stunt rubber
Various rubber knives, and an awesome retractable piece were sold. This one stabs Matt Damon in the desert. The other was for hand to hand fighting in the end battle.
Aaron Beck’s original costume for Kruger was very different to the one made and yet still used components of the one realized. The cloak however was originally an invisibility technology. The claw boots sold in the auction were also realized from this art but never made it into the movie.
This costume along with pistol, holster and other ancillary pieces is now complete in its new home. Hopefully sometime in the future we can get a nice picture of the full ensemble but for now the owner is just happy to have won the 15-20 auctions necessary to put the whole thing back together.
Congrats……its an amazing piece and accomplishment to have done so.
On the side of good Elysium has some great characters that utilize tech just as well as the bad guys, its just more beat up and old.
Spider Wagner leads the revolt against Elysium and uses a couple of Weta props in the process. The costumes were sold in various stunt and hero ensembles. The cane and walking brace both made by Weta were also sold separately. Some were rubber and some plastic and wood. The picture below is the hero set with custom graffiti and “hero” markings inside that sold for barely $300.
Integral to this character is his love of computers and hacking. Only two computers came up for sale. The first from the end of the film on Elysium that sold for $1400 and a second one belonging from the early part of the film. I managed to win that one and found that it not only worked but had bonus footage from the production on the hard drive!
That footage had been taken from the helmet camera tests on the recording device on Manuel’s camera, coming up in just a second which I also owned.
The other character I purchased was Manuel as played by Adrian Holmes. His costume sold during the VIP sale totaled about 10 sets including stunt, however only 3 body armors were sold, and only one hero helmet. Originally the face plate was struck by a bullet in the early script so 3 extra visors were produced and sold with this piece.
Here is the helmet made by Weta. The working camera had to be purchased separately and was used to film interior car footage on the film.
The helmet is completely custom made and has a moving visor, and chin strap. It is covered in custom artwork and decals.
I let Adrian, the actor know his costume was still around and here is his reply.
Lastly Sandro is the third Heist member with a computer keyboard built into his body armor during the robbery.
I purchased his hero costume along with the metal rails that are attached to his wrist, very similar to Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”. The pair of Beretta 92FS was kept by the armorer.
NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(GRAPHIC IMAGERY FOLLOWS)
Following from a nasty incident with a grenade in the Raven interiror Kruger suffers massive facial injuries from the attack. On board the space station “Elysium” a miracle of surgery is performed on him. Here is the original art by Aaron Beck of the facial damage.
Second test head of Kruger is shown below. It is possible that these were used during the grenade actually blowing up. On viewing the footage I put at the bottom of the page I now believe thats possible.
All of the three heads had blood tubes, a skinflex exterior with interior skull, teeth and wax detailing. The following shots are of the third and screenused pieces being made at Weta and being used on set. The head was mounted to a dummy for some shots of Kruger’s body being taken to the infirmary. Later the head was scanned and mixed with CGI for the facial replacement shots in the med lab.
This head and neck is now in my permanent collection. Whilst gory and quite horrible its still one of the best realized effects in recent memory. It is still mounted on its original carry case with handle, sadly at some point the weight of the prosthetic has torn the head from its shoulders.
Perhaps one of the greatest sequences in the film is the desert heist scene with the gold robots, cars, and Carlyle.
The quest to screen match the following prop didn’t take too long but at the time the prices in the auction were all over the place and the current owner wasn’t sure he would win it at a reasonable sum.
Constructed of resin, metal and plastic components VIP did not identify this piece as a working prop at the time. It seems that they used a special battery and the construction makes it tricky to open up the prop.
Here is Aaron Becks original artwork of the prop:
Although we knew there were three sights available we had discounted sight 3 sold mid October for $1679 as the very front had screws on it not visible in the screen caps we had used for close-up inspection. It later transpired that these held the laser that was installed on the front of the prop.
The first of the sights with 6 bullets has sold over three thousand dollars but it was always the second sight that was a positive match. Here is that prop.
Original auction description:
This is a screen used collectible AK-47 Sight and Rounds prop set. This set includes one AK-47 sight attachment and four AK-47 rounds. The sight is described as being composed of a polyester resin material, and is approximately 13.5 inches long. It is mostly black in color with an orange scope and red, white, and yellow accents. There are decorative buttons and switches, but none of them move or twist. There is a rubber cord sticking out of the back of the sight, that leads to a control pad that has decorative buttons that do not move as well. The rounds are all approximately 2.25 inches long, and described as being composed of aluminum, styrene, and resin materials. Half of the rounds have a silver base with a black intermediate and yellow and white tip. The other half have a black base with a silver intermediate and a black and red tip. This is one of three similar prop sets received from production. The others will be listed separately. Please note, these item are prop items and are not functional. All items are in good condition, but show signs of use from production, including intentional wear on the sight.
The bullets were split into two groups of two, one set of which can be seen on yourprops in the RKPETERSEN collection.