Judge Dredd: Rico’s Aspen guard hero rifle prop

So following up my last piece about why I love judge Dredd last week here is a hero piece from the film.

The Aspen guards patrolled the prison where Judge Rico (Armand Assante) got to hang out with Warden Miller.

I’ve seen several of these guns sold over the years but they were always the stunt or non firing beauty versions. Couple of these are posted below.

And this one also on yourprops.com

And finally this one sold at Profiles in September 2019.

As you can see all have a metal barrel and i presume light up with the four dots under the sight.

The last one was also special in that it had the original strap which the others did not. Like all the others it’s still missing a small detail piece right behind the metal barrel.

Do your probably wondering where I got a picture of that missing piece and the answer is it’s here on Rico’s live fire gun shroud currently in my collection.

It’s without a doubt the heaviest weapon I’ve ever held as a prop. It doesn’t have the Ak-47 inside and I’m now quite sure that Armand Assante could only pick it up with a lot of effort in the screencap where it fires from the very bottom of the barrel.

The other 3 were plugged to allow the muzzle flash to come out the sides and top.

The back is removable to allow the weapon to be inserted.

The clip is removable. The lights which I’m not sure where ever connected are inside. It’s a beast of a prop and beautifully made.

And yes it has the strap.

Why I love Judge Dredd: it’s beautifully designed props & wardrobe

Judge Dredd is about as divisive as they come. Some hate it…positively loathe it and some just love the world and imagery. Some hate Stallone as being too short, not long enough in the helmet or hate the story.

There’s very little that can thus be agreed on and yet in almost every respect the props have maintained there value over the years with Lawgiver pistols routinely hitting $6500 dollars for a stunt and complete Dredd outfits going for $35-45k. That’s a lot for something everybody seemingly dislikes.

I liken it to my love of cool gadgets in films that do things. Typically their cost is still way beyond what it’s worth on the open market (which is cool buying a $15k prop for $500) but also the care and attention going into a working prop can be weeks or months of work. Then the cool factor of when it does it’s thing (and if it’s broken making it “do its thing” again)

But my experience s with he above is cool things can also outstrip their source movie and that’s great. It shows that a film can’t always steal the great work from the artisans of the picture and that is always how it should be. Judge Dredd guilty as charged.

So why is “Dredd” so important to me. Well I grew up with the comic books. Not a weekly reader but his presence was everywhere. (Always wearing that helmet. More on that later). After that I think people always wondered if he was such a British staple would a carton be forthcoming. In 1994 we went one better a movie. Many people frowned when that news came attached to Stallone being the titular lead character. People of course forget that without him the film would probably never have have been made. It was his name and driving force that got the film over the finish line. It also caused most of the problems.

On my visit to the set of Megacity one in 1994 word on the street was the film had a lot of issues. A new and weak director. A star insisting on rewrites and a dumbing down to PG13. Behind the scenes drama. Late Lawmasters (the bike) barely finished on time. A co Star having a relationship with the creator. Basically quite a bit of drama.

But none of that mattered standing in the street sets of the city. I was genuinely floored at the creation around me towering up into the sky (in reality only two floors)

Photo courtesy of Charles Lippincott

That outside set and the hall of justice/lab set are still some of the most impressive that I have seen in any film. All credit to the English set designers and makers.

It’s on that hall of Justice set due to a late night visit and a handle that leapt to free itself off its bolt and locked me and 4 others inside that also caused many happy/unhappy flashbacks.

Hall of justice set courtesy Charles Lippincott

Just in front of that “frame” of the photo were the usual studio items including paint pots, tables, chairs, stands and when that door closed and locked the lights went out leaving our party trapped inside. A 15 minute “feel the walls in the pitch black” ensued to get to the other side of the room…an exit and freedom. Totally terrifying when a quick “pop in and look” turns into the equivalent of trapped in Aspen prison.

It was soon after this visit a really nice gesture by a very kind man (John G. thank you again Sir) resulted in a stunt resin Lawgiver being gifted to me.

Months later this trailer with the amazing jerry Goldsmith music hit. Still to this day one of my favorite previews. It promised glory. (This ones the USA version about a minute longer but will have to do)

https://youtu.be/9mqLsBaMzE8

Then on July 21 1995 the film hit. I saw it first and Power Rangers the movie second. I liked it more than almost anything I’d ever seen but then almost 15 minutes in off came the helmet and the film came off the rails for me. It never quite recovered. I wanted to see more crime being busted. More of the world. Just more. The cursed earth stuff just didn’t fly for me. I saw so much potential. Don’t get me wrong I loved the sets and acting and effects I just think I wanted more of those first minutes. I constantly say that the movie is brilliant until the helmet comes off. It’s almost a mantra. But I’ll take 15 perfect mins any day. And for that I love the film.

So my days with Dredd continued. A visit to “Weird and Wonderful”, the prop house where most of the stuff was stored in 95 after production gave me more time with some of the props. I sat on a lawmaster moped (actors weren’t allowed to drive the motorcycle versions) and saw statues from the hall of justice painted gold used for an awards ceremony. I saw the work put in on Herman Ferguson unicard, the beautiful computers you barely see. So much incredible stuff.

Then in 95 at Planet Hollywood London I saw my first full Stallone display. Made after the production suits this was my first clue that (A) Stallone wore lifts and (B) a full suit would be a grail of mine. It still continues to be.

So a few pieces came and went over the next 24 years. A Hershey helmet. A regular Judge but I still felt unfulfilled.

Thankfully recently I was able to scratch partially this itch and future articles will go into that. But i wanted to write why I liked the film enough to pursue them. It’s still one of my favorites and revisiting it on blu recently and here has really cemented that.

Oh. And one more thing. Charles Lippincott the producer has been really rough on himself all these decades and genuinely has had a rough ride with it. I’m lucky enough to have followed him on Facebook these last few years and although I understand his disappointment with the finished product but I wanted to say thank you for being one of the driving forces in getting the film done. There’s something kinda cool in being able to say that 15 minutes of film is some of my favorite committed to celluloid. Despite what any body else says I love it. I really do. You made that and whilst not for me I’ll always be grateful. Without you it would be something else…less worthy being written about here. That book too the “making of judge Dredd” is quite a few people’s favorite movie making book. Take that to the bank.

“Thanks Charles” from me to you.

At the end of production: The Wardrobe

A truly fascinating article below on what happens to wardrobe after a production finishes.

“Most studios have the policy that no asset can be sold, promised, or given by anyone but the executive producers. Everything is held until all edits are complete and the time for reshoots is past. Some of the big studios, like Disney and Warner Brothers, have their own rental house businesses, so everything gets filtered into those. Studios will also occasionally roll over stock from one show to another. When HBO’s Vinyl wasn’t renewed for another season, a lot of the clothes went to The Deuce. Television shows rarely get rid off anything until the show is cancelled. Everything is catalogued and recorded from season to season. Principal actor clothing is kept in their permanent “closets.” Even if an item is never worn again on the show, it stays, because you never know when a random flashback scene might appear in a script.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.racked.com/platform/amp/2018/3/16/17072356/movie-and-tv-wardrobes-after

Pilots costume from Captain Power & the soldiers of the future

“Power on!”

So a long time ago a quest started for me and that was to track down a costume from the tv series made in Canada “Captain Power & the Soldiers of the Future”

What a merry hijinks this led me on and i think I must have asked everybody I met in LA and North of the border and had blank stares shot back at me more times than I care to say. Yes…the show was as forgotten as last years drive thru on Wednesday 2nd April for a coke. Deader than corduroy.

Undeterred I was present for the recent release on DVD of the tv series which at least gave me a better quality look at the show than fuzzy YouTube videos. Most recently after several more “what’s that” I basically gave up. I knew that Robert Short had made the suits in LA, even had conversed with several key makers who worked on them and had posted pictures of the making of certain costume pieces like Captain Powers helmet below.

I was told everything had been sold and or destroyed at the end of filming. Thinking that a majority was vac formed plastic led me to make that guess. Racking my brains no pieces had been sold at auction. No private collectors had ever shown anything. It was a literal and complete dead end.

Then a few weeks after giving up (to be fair it had been half a lifetime of looking) I got a call. “Would you like a Captain Power piece”. Why yes please! A few weeks later I was covered in old cobwebs and dust in the back of a studio lot looking at a part of tv history.

Pilot was played by actress Jessica Steen and wore the costume bottom left above until later in the first and only season she finally got an actual helmet.

There it was in front of me. Literally lost since 1987, there was the heavy fiberglass (not vacuum-formed) breastplate with old chrome flaking off the front. That logo. That sweet, sweet logo. I turn the helmet over and not recognizing it because of my not seeing the later episodes wondered what it was. Later I would discover of course its importance (sans squirrels nest in the crown) and missing its visor.

It’s all there minus her under-suit (with the foam style circuitry) that I was reliably informed just disintegrated over time including the holster and gloves. Even a pair of shoes.

I do find it funny (I’m sure reader you may find it strange) that I found this experience more rewarding than any Star Wars piece. Certainly this is many times rarer. It’s the number #1 main suit from a show which ran one season and nothing has ever come up from it. Nuff said on that.

I have to thank from the bottom of my heart both gentlemen who were involved in telling me and saving this piece for all these years. To you both thank you for letting me know and secondly saving this piece of history. I guarantee some may not care. But for us who enjoyed the show this is like finding an old master painting in a forgotten church basement. In short heavenly.

Warcraft: the story of two swords

Warcraft, a movie that I’ve come to really like after not seeing it in the theaters and only catching up with it a few months before the first Propstore online sale which was just a bloodbath for many of us collectors. I remember my main goal was to obtain a suit of armor and just feeling so beaten by the end of the sale.

It later came out that many of the costumes were bought en masse so that didn’t help to find multiple people with more than one costume. A year later at the follow up sale pretty much the same would happen again although there were a couple of deals including a reverse of last year where a slightly incomplete King Llane sold for less than 1/3 the price. That was the deal of that sale.

But I digress this article is all about the swords and some of the info I’ve discovered over the last few years. Let’s start with the types and some prices from the first auction to get an overview of what was sold.

First up here according to the auction are the types of bladed weapons, keeping out the poleaxes and Spears (although I suspect material wise you will find replication of the materials from the swords).

Swords include the regular soldier sword.

Then the Knights and lothars early sword.

Then lothars main sword

And finally Llane’s king sword seen in this still from the film.

Now what changed the value of some of these pieces during the auction was what they were made of.

First up there are the foam. It’s incredibly hard but due to the makers abilities to paint different materials and yet make them look almost identical it’s hard to tell sometimes which type of sword is which. Here is a closeup example of that. You can see the visible seam lines on the side and marks on the blade paint of this foam sword but from a distance it’s much much harder.

These are soft and flexible with a self skinning foam on the outside of a light fluffy foam inside. I’m sure they have a core to keep them from drooping but have not been able to 100% confirm that. They are not to be used for fighting but merely distant carrying or some were used on weapons racks shots like the one below.

Interestingly enough the original urethane Weta swords according to key production personnel were too heavy to use for usual shooting periods of time. Quickly stuntmen would tire from holding the original swords and thus the foam ones were made to replace them in Canada by local artisans.

Here are examples of the urethane swords which whilst beautiful ended up not being used as much due to the weight.

You can clearly see the casting and paint is incredible. Weta did a fantastic job on that but having to use these for hours on end in armor on a full days shoot was too much to ask.

Funnily enough after all that when you watch the film you will see the hand canons used far more than the swords. These too were made of lightweight foam and urethane depending on the situation used in.

There was two other types of materials used on the Weta swords being aluminum and steel. There were very few of these beauty props made and of course commanded the highest prices.

Here are examples of the aluminum: winning bid $6000

And the steel $4750

None of these versions seemed to have been used for fighting and there is a very good reason for that. Careful auction watchers would have seen a single solitary bamboo sword in the and may not have understood its importance. Let’s dig into that now.

So the closeup Llane swords for instance were used in shots like this below.

There were only two made for the film due to the expense and one of these sold for $51,000 at propstore.

But the artisans in Canada have long known the value of bamboo being a fantastic fighting material from Chinese martial arts movies. It takes damage better than metal, foam or resin and doesn’t crack or splinter like those materials. This way the swords could actually meet each other instead of being cheated and never connecting. It also if damaged could be changed out quickly by using a resin handle with a bamboo blade. Here is an example of that:

As you can see the blade goes all the way into the handle and then locks in with screws. This method makes a light, durable, and most importantly camera ready prop that when I knew what I was looking for became much easier to find on screen since the screws and the way the blade fit into the handle made obvious tells. Here is a great example of that below featuring lothar with a bamboo bladed sword.

The gap between the blade and the handle is very pronounced resulting in a lack of fit. Perfect in close up pics to see when they are used.

In the propstore auction the lucky winner of the only bamboo sword lot 354 got a wonderful piece. If he pulls out the blade it would be interesting to see what number he gets in the handle.

And what of the original title of this article. Well I own two swords in my collection and both I love for different reasons. First up the Llane foam sword is a wonderful memory of sitting thru the two propstore auctions and being part of another collectors journey to get the pieces he wanted. I thank him very much for including me in that and taking advice on the pieces to look at etc.

The second sword is just a conclusion to talking to several key personnel on production, hearing their stories and getting a beautiful prop that was used more than people were aware of. So I love them both for different, very close to the heart reasons. I’ll post some pics below and I can’t wait to finish their displays in the future.

P.S. if your wondering about the replica swords made by Weta they used polyresin for the whole sword but did use the original molds pictured below so they are quite nice in some ways visually but material wise far different to the screenused version

Monty Python and the holy grail/Unidentified Flying Oddball helmet observations

I was recently viewing UFO or Unidentified Flying Oddball (USA name) a favorite film for me in 1979 in the U.K. where it was called The Spaceman and King Arthur.

Much has been made of the Monty Python holy handgrenade prop at auction last week from “Monty Python and the holy grail” but now let’s address some of these helmets from the same film.

I’m not the first to bring up questions about attributions on these pieces. Here is Jason De Bord a few years ago

http://www.originalprop.com/blog/2012/08/03/profiles-in-history-peer-review-on-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-helmet-previously-sold-as-a-henry-v-helmet/

This piece sold for around $6000 in 2012 and since then we have seen several more enter the market. It’s in that article I learnt these were reused in 1989’s Henry V. The truth is that it could have been used in both. Or neither. It was a guess which is perfectly fine because as prop collectors we do that every day. Make informed and sometimes uniformed leaps of faith based on documentation and visual reference and sources.

After this other examples are 7000 pounds in 2017.

In 2013 the dailymail reported THIS which has the most chance of actually being Johns actual helmet.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2265649/John-Cleese-sells-TV-movie-props-fund-multi-million-pound-divorce.html

And now of course the most recent PS helmet which sold for close to 4000 pounds.

So the point of my writing here is that these were also heavily featured as Arthur’s men at arms and as the pictures below clearly show there are MANY of them

I think some more research needs to go into these to try and work out if there are any paint differences in the movies but I think we can all agree using a placeholder photograph of John Cleese wearing each helmet is probably not the fair thing to do without saying a little more about the background of these helmets. Even I was quite surprised to see how many were in wide shots for “UFO”. It’s clearly as per this picture below a match although I would imagine the Cleese version definitely being fiberglass and the chances of the Henry V

Helmets being a copy of the original fairly high or just rented from Angels costumes of London.

You can buy the wonderfully awful Disney film on eBay, Amazon and ITunes.