One of the best places and the worst places to shop for props is ebay.com. Unfortunately it is riddled with celebrity bras, fake antique store props and background character pieces, but occasionally a real gem can show up for sale. Originally sold in 1987 on August 3rd at the riverside studios Bonhams of London auction I think its very important when pieces like this come up to document the sale.
Why? Because really good items are rare, and especially when they have been lost for so long.
Here is a link to Riverside studios information from a Dr Who perspective: http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Riverside_Studios
At the sale which had a plethora of really good items from Bond, Alien and Aliens as well as smaller productions costumes were sold for so cheap that today we would look upon it as impossible. Ive searched the internet but almost no mention has been made of the sale…in fact one of the only relics has been the odd costume to surface from it, and of course the original printed auction catalog.
Here is a quote from the great David Oliver over at Propmasters who was present at the sale:
The dress rails full of Aliens Marine Armour, etc., etc., at the bonhams chelsea bank auction. Only me and Tim Lawes were present there, i think perhaps because we were the only 2 collecting then in the UK !! My father was actually offered the entire inventory from Tiny but was not interested and passed Tiny on to Bonhams, it was alot of money then, i think he wanted around £25000 for it. What a pittance in todays market!
Here is an example below of those costumes liberated in 1987 for around one hundred pounds each that a few years later went for a great deal more. I actually have communication from Giles Moon, the gentleman in charge of the department at the time where I confirmed they both had strong provenance, one from The Twilight Zone (Propmasters) and the other from Alien War. Both sold for 920 pounds each in November 1996 at Christies South Kensington. In June 1993 at Camden house auctions this Frost sold for $750.
ALIENS” 1986 (20th Century Fox), four piece USCM camouflage uniform. Lot consists of: a helmet covered in camouflage material with video eye camera, including tape label inside helmet inscribed “Frost”; a camouflage jacket with an assortment of embroidered patches, with cloth label over breast pocket labeled “Apone”, (portrayed in the film by Al Mathews); matching camouflage pants with label “J. Remar”, and a pair of black leather and khaki fabric boots labeled “Hudson”, (portrayed in film by Bill Paxton).
This following item was one of the things that was useful in linking the ebay auction with the competition from Film Review magazine mentioned in the sale. http://www.proparchives.com/science-fiction/science-fiction-1980s/aliens/aliens-sigourney-weaver
ALIENS/SIGOURNEY WEAVER A two-piece boiler suit of grey cotton, a grey cotton T-shirt and an imitation brown leather bomber jacket – worn by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the 1986 Twenty Century Fox film Aliens; accompanied by a still of subject wearing the costume and a copy of a letter from Film Review magazine, congratulating the vendor on …becoming a prize-winner on our movie costumes competition….
Although the above was the first prize winners item…the second prize was the Hicks sold on ebay a few days ago. This one is kind of funny as supposedly it was sold at Bonningtons in ’87. Sigh….so much for spellcheck.
This one sold for $4000 in Profiles which for a background character shows the high prices achieved since 2008. So back to the Hicks that showed up on ebay this month. Here is the all important text from the sale as well as pictures used during the sale.
This is the genuine combat dress Michael Biehn wore as Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in the Movie Aliens (1986). Two parts, the short sleeve jacket and the trousers. I live in Sweden and got the dress as a second prize (first prize was Weavers t-shirt and leather-jacket!) in a competition arranged by a British film magazine back in 1987 or 1988 (if I remember correct it was Films Illustrated). They had got the props from an auction at the wellknown British auction house Bonhams. The dress have been stored by me since then and have never been used by anyone during all those years (Michel Biehn is rather small, which I am not…). What more to say? This is a unique prop.
On Feb-03-15 at 11:18:20 PST, seller added the following information: NEW INFORMATION I want to inform you about a blemish on the jacket – see pictures. I looks like oil slicks or something, and when I got the dress I was fool enough to try wash away one of the spots but the only thing that happened was that the fabric got a little bit blanched around the spot. (There is one more oil slick, but that one you do not see from outside the dress.) Perhaps I should have mentioned this little flaw from the beginning, but for me it has not been of importance for the personal value of the dress. Now when I see the very high interest in the item, with a lot of money involved, I feel it would be wrong not to inform about every little detail that could influence your decision to bid and buy. If the highest bidder before this information will still be the winner at the end of the auction want to resign it will of course be okey for me. Sorry for this, but I hope you still will be interested! I also added a picture of the label in the trousers, the jacket has no label.
On Feb-03-15 at 14:10:47 PST, seller added the following information: Got a question if there is also is a patch on the right sleeve with a screaming eagle and USCM (the American flag is on the left side) – and that is correct. It is placed more on the back so you do not see it in the pictures. I tried to upload it here now, but I already my 12 ictures so it did not work. Mail me and I send you the picture!
With the above evidence sent to me I was able to inform the seller that the costume trousers were in fact worn by Mark Rolston as Drake.
In the end the costume was purchased from the seller privately. This was during a time when the leading forum on Aliens posted the auction information for other bidders to see apparently even though it was against the rules to do so (even though a direct link wasn’t given as I understand). A screenmatch was also made during this time essentially raising the possible value exponentially and published their too.
Sadly I wasn’t the winner of this item but i’m glad that it finally showed up in the world after being in this gentleman’s closet for the best part of 25 years in Europe.