What is the most iconic Star Trek prop?

Spock with tricorder

It’s a question die-hard Star Trek fans ask themselves:  If you could own one favorite Star Trek prop, what would it be?  This weekend a Star Trek Facebook page asked thousands of followers to comment on one question:  If you could have any autographed Trek prop, what would it be and who would you have sign it?  With nearly 2,000 respondents we thought it was a good opportunity to use these responses from across Star Trek fandom to see if we can glean what Star Trek fans think are the most iconic props of the franchise.  It’s not all that scientific, since the page posting the question was a general Star Trek page, and many fans may only follow the individual pages from any of the Star Trek series.  The image shown in the post was of an original series phaser–did that skew fans to select that prop?  Are there more original series fans in the mix who follow this page?  We don’t know.  But the results are still interesting and who better than a random group of Trek fans to share what they see as the top Holy Grail of Trek props?

The question is ongoing, with hundreds more responses entered after we stopped tracking answers–around 1,860.  Many responses were attempts at humor–many claiming Shatner’s toupee as their response (how do you autograph a toupee anyway?).  Others were rude or sexist or otherwise the typical worthless responses you find across social media on any given day.

Worf bat'leth from Firstborn

Also, nobody addressed a key topic–why do people think it’s a good thing to autograph a screen-used prop?  The truth is that collectors of screen-used props will refuse to purchase a prop if it has been defaced in any way, especially by an autograph (screen wear and tear excepted).  Recent auctions of an original series gold tunic worn by William Shatner sold for a fraction of what a similar one sold for that was not so marked.  The autograph literally cost the consigner thousands of dollars.  One rare command Starfleet uniform worn by Robert Picardo on Star Trek Voyager was once highly sought after by collectors, and has remained unsellable for years because of a scrawling signature across the front.  The bottom line: Collectors prefer a prop or costume to look just as it did the last time it was shown on the screen.  Actors would be well-advised to refuse to autograph screen-used props at least without first telling fans they may be ruining their chances to re-sell the prop down the road.  Whether or not you think you might keep a prop forever, do yourself a favor and don’t limit your future options.

Putting the “should they/shouldn’t they” question aside, the great response showed fans love their favorite Trek and thousands would want a piece of TV or film history signed by their favorite actor.  So what did we learn?

Sisko and his baseball on DS9

Two items were neck and neck as the most sought after prop–an original series tricorder and a Star Trek: The Next Generation Klingon bat’leth, especially if tied to Lieutenant Worf.  A close second place was an original series communicator.  With roughly half of the tally of the tricorder, fourth place went to the original series phaser.

The big surprise for Next Generation fans may be that a bat’leth beat Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Ressikan flute–the penny whistle-inspired instrument he played in the fan favorite episode “The Inner Light,” placing sixth on our list, nudged aside by Captain Kirk’s command chair from the original starship Enterprise.  The Star Trek: The Next Generation tricorder and phaser were next on the list, respectively.  (Some respondents differentiated between types of phasers and tricorders, but many did not so we lumped them together here).

Tied for ninth place were several easily recognizable items:  an original series “red shirt,” a pair of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock ears, a tribble, Mr. Spock’s lyre from “Charlie X,” Picard’s cup for his “Earl Grey tea, hot,” and the highest ranking item from Deep Space Nine, Captain Benjamin Sisko’s prized baseball.  This was followed closely by Seven of Nine’s prosthetics worn by Jeri Ryan on Star Trek Voyager, Lt. Geordi LaForge’s barette-inspired VISOR, and Lt. Cmdr Data’s head from presumably either the episode “Time’s Arrow” or the film Star Trek Nemesis.

Seven of Nine eye implant

Although not “props,” several costumes were mentioned by multiple respondents, like the aforementioned red shirts, Captain Picard’s last uniform type worn on-screen between Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Nemesis, the formal maroon Starfleet uniforms made famous by Captain Kirk & Co. in Star Trek movies II through VII, an original series blue tunic, and a red command uniform from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Body parts worn by The Borg, including Locutus, made the list, as did Next Generation communicator pins, Captain Kathryn Janeway’s coffee mug, a Klingon disruptor, a blue Starfleet jumpsuit from the last series Enterprise, Captain Picard’s command chair, Uhura’s communicator earpiece, an original series chess setbars of gold press latinum from Deep Space Nine, Commander Will Riker’s trombone, a horga’hn from Risa, Worf’s Klingon baldric, Constable Odo’s bucket, and Balok’s head from the original series episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” rounded out the list.  What?  No Tox Uthat?  No Varon-T disruptor?  No Admiral Kirk glasses from Wrath of Khan or Khan’s broken Starfleet emblem necklace?

Any given day this list could change, but doesn’t it seem to capture a good snapshot of what fans think should top the list?  Anything different you would pick?  Let us know in the comments.

C.J. Bunce


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