So this word grail is bandied around constantly only to see the thing thrown up on eBay a week later invariably upsetting the seller or a collector who already has three of the same item and wants the piece seen on screen.
So basically it’s a word I hate. One grail once found is replaced by another watching the forums. What I’m more interested in are those life changing pieces…pieces you looked at the screen and said “I’m going to own that one day” and you somehow are lucky enough or work hard enough and it happens. Those are special things. This piece is one of those…the very first vfx piece I remember from my youth…a little while after Star Wars failed to burn instead into my prop memory instead doing that into my toy box.
What vfx piece is that? This one!
A combination of music…majesty and just cool design hit me when I saw this at the age of 7-8. I loved it in a way the simple BBC vfx Liberator model from Blake’s 7 trolleyed in front of black curtains could never quite match…even Luke’s X-wing streaking across the Death Star surface. This one was the one that captured my imagination. The launch tubes..the gliding vipers into their bays…the positive shield…sweeping shots of cylinder fighters curving in and then the magical defense turrets that protected the ship when Starbucks and Apollo were not close.
I had been watching the auctions all over the world for years. I’d seen the various models come and go, mostly sucked up into one big collection (coming up for sale soon at Profiles) but I had never seen the turrets. I really had very little info on them and it seemed other than probably made from “kit bashed parts from tanks and aeroplanes” there wasn’t too much info out there.
Last year I started talking to a wonderful vfx supervisor called John in LA and apart from having a wonderful career and being super kind he was cleaning out his sheds. This is always a good thing!
I had bought a number of items that he had thankfully saved over the years when I was slowly coming to the end of his searching and thoroughly grateful that he had the foresight to save the few items he had when out of the blue I received a message asking me if I had any interest in the piece below.
I had no idea what it was and made a low offer. I knew it was but I had no idea it wasn’t some generic B movie junk not worth the trouble. He had told me he had taken it off the shelf whilst they were cleaning out the facility and throwing stuff away and hadn’t worked there on those shows but it might be Rodgers or Galactica or something else.
Well I was flumoxed. I started to pour over bad movies and tv shows and of course as part of those hours and days of checking I went to the YouTube “Galactica” footage and was sad to see this didn’t match at all. Not even close other than the general number of cannons….detailing way off.
It wasn’t until a few hours into thinking about it after giving up I asked for a shot of the underside which I thought would be undetailed. Wrong!
As you can see this was the part we got to see all the time. The highly detailed underside at top of the page rarely seen. The pin where it was attatched was there…slats matched either side…sitting at the monitor I ranted and raved like a mad man “I can’t believe it…I found it….it’s the turret…the ****** turret from the ******* Galactica.” I think people in the house thought I was having a fit.
It was pure bliss….like finding the most holiest of Indys lost relics. It was so small…how could this thing survive after being taken from the model workshop in 1980 and being in a tote buried in a shed until 2017. I just couldn’t believe it. I was on cloud 9 for a full half hour.
I should have locked the sale down.
I had let John rumanate on a price. It had sold whilst doing all my hard work and I had putzedaround doing research. “Who dies that…research!” I felt dejected. Every possible theory went thru my brain. Propstore….Profiles…who had come in and scalped this? I kneejerked and offered him more money. Then offered whoever bought it more money. It wasn’t even about the money at this point it was about having found the Ark the Nazi’s had absconded with it.
The new owner was having none of it. My goose was cooked!
Flash forward weeks later…
I couldn’t get this one out of my head. It was REALLY the fish that got away. So I started thinking and spent days wondering who I could blatantly just ask “Did you get this thing?” truly believing no one could ever work out what it was.
One of my friends from the prop world who I have a selling relationship with and has always been there in my personal life too has been Mr Bill Qureshi. For some reason these last few years we have been successfully stepping, in a good way, on each other’s toes and like a lightning bolt I thought “Bill!” Could it…no?!???!?
Yep. It was him. What to do. At least I had found it. So….I told him the truth. Even got a lump in my throat. This was important….this meant so much to me….it was truly the first vfx model piece that had stayed in my mind, when so many other memories had left me, thru watching repeats, blu rays, YouTube, conventions, and who can forget the reused footage in movies like Space Mutiny….a film built around Battlestar model footage that was ribbed mercessily on MST3K. It was never the xwings….the hammerhead from “battle beyond the stars”…not even the “innerspace” capsule…it was this stupid turret I remembered vividly.
“So it was you who bid it up!” Lol yeah I thought it was Profiles I sheepishly said. Truth. Sometimes when competition comes reason goes out the window.
Bill promised that we would work it out. True to his word he did.
So why write this. Because huge credit to Mr Q. He didn’t have to do that. But he did and that is the kind of guy he is and others should know that. That collectors passion can turn you into a hermit sometimes and not share but here’s a great example where a relationship can make a dream come true and make a moment of disappointment become a moment of triumph.
So….what’s next. Well I’m building a display diarama for this so when I look at it I can replay that old footage thru my head…revisit that cinema and be 7-8 years old again for a few seconds….relive that moment in front of the monitor of discovery that I had and finally remember my friend who made it possible to clutch my small victory back.
Thank you Bill.
Nope it’s not. 50 items starting at $1.00. Basically it’s a chance to win something really cheap and test out their bidding platform so you can see the ins and outs before the main auction at Silicon Valley comic con.
Here are my favorite items that if you don’t try and win for a low price I think your missing out.
Clay Burton from “Banshee” is one of televisions best villains period. Here is his $650 retail price suit and shirt worn in the production of the Cinemax tv series. It is lot 5.
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Well I’m sorry but if you wasted your 3-4 hours in line today in Portland hoping to get hero props from “Grimm” you were mostly disappointed.
Last week I called the sellers who kindly let me know that free cream had already been syphoned off by one of the large auction companies to be sold later this year. The other premium pieces having been taken by the studio and staff. This saved me a bunch of time and effort so I appeciate them being upfront.
That left Twitter with comments like this when people found out I guess:
Shame because I had considered driving or flying out but if I had gotten there to have this image in front of me in the rain and the news only 250 people were in the huge warehouse at a time I may have been a little surprised
A few photos follow of other items at the sale
It’s expensive. Nuff said
Ok you can go now. Oh…you want more? Well let’s delve into perhaps one of the most important articles I’ve written for a while.
First up people including myself genuinely believe there is some malarkey going on with various companies and their shipping quotes….but is there. I decided to investigate after the following event. A very nice chap in Hong Kong requested to buy a piece from me and as it has been a couple of years since I sent him something I decided to get him a rock solid price on shipping.
Most of the time I keep boxes from previous transactions. If I do have to buy them then that’s usually $10. If you go behind your local shoe/clothing/tv store it’s free. I expect box sales at UPS to collapse upon this news.
Secondly size matters as does weight. Look below at the “practice” version of the ups bill.
The post office only allows 108 inches if you measure the four sides and then from bottom of box to top. You add those together and in this case your at 130. That is 22 inches higher than the cheapest way to ship by USPS. So we do fall in ups and fed ex (I believe their highest dimensions are 150) but the way they do it is by weight too. If you see it’s only 31lbs. The upcharge because the larger box size is then taken into account and suddenly you are billed at 111lbs. That is what the u.s post office calls a “balloon charge”. Suddenly your in for a bill of around $950 for shipping that still takes a week.
Now if you can get your shipment under 108 inches and say 25lbs your looking at around $175 for 5 day shipping from USPS (which strangely enough does use FedEx sometimes as part of the journey) and most importantly like the others can be insured and tracked. (I don’t care what prop you send to who…ALWAYS track it….here me….ALWAYS!!!!)
So hopefully a picture is developing in your head. Yes shipping is bloody expensive. That’s why VIP, propstore and all the others charge you guys so much. There really is no way around it. For a long time people assumed it was weight but it’s also size or both to make that magic number.
What’s the best way around this. Well there really isn’t one. Bear in mind everything above next time you buy something. It may make you want to look at those hand size pieces again instead if the giant robot costume you crave.
Lastly yes some companies do try to profit from Shipping. Some face been caught with their fingers in the pie. You can always challenge it. It’s interesting to note how many times this results in a reduction. In my opinion no company charging fees for other things should ever make shipping part of the profit….ever! It’s just wrong to nickle and dime people.
Bear in mind you can see the shipping fee people pay in the box unless typically it’s done by a business. I feel that’s part of hiding the true price. All you need is the size of box and weight and put that in the companies system to check what your price would be. ALWAYS add $10 for tape, gas, boxes etc and if it’s ridiculously higher then you know your paying over the top. Again bear in mind if they are paying someone to pack something doing it right IS very time consuming. Typically a big box for me takes an hour so bear that in mind too. I’m really starting if it’s $40-50 more then your being gouged.
So I hope that this was eye opening for you all. If I’m doubt you can always check more info on your or other countries websites.
Don’t ask me about customs. That’s a whole new kettle of fish!
One day to go before the auction begins and here are our favourite items from the second part of our helpful guide.
Auctions begin on the Screenused website and NOT icollector. It’s a new system so please have some patience in case of hiccups. I’m sure if you have any Desi or Jeff will be able to help via email.
From the episode of Banshee “ways to bury a man” Lili Simmons has never looked hotter than in this two piece swimsuit and robe combination.
Next up Johnny cab from the movie “Total recall” this preproduction headpiece is the first to ever come to public auction. This would make an excellent tom spina piece to be repaired and painted!
From “Captain Phillips” this beautful wadrobe set was worn by Tim hanks and is a great piece from the first encounter he has with the Pirates.
Used by Gargamel it has adjustable light settings in the eyes and mouth.
From the “Matrix Reloaded” here is one of the shields from the Neo fight. This one is special because it’s a handheld version used by the Asian attacker pictured below with handle and padding. He eventually ends up pinned to the wall with a Sai which was another version of this rigged to the wall.
And lastly from fox tv’s “Terra Nova” here is a great piece worn by the bases resident police woman. If you want the guns guy on facebooks movie prop forum is selling those too so check that out at your leisure.
Here at the propstop we support them because buying or selling they are top notch guys and we love to shout that out to the the community. Good business should be supported and we are proud to do our bit.