Tag Archive: Lord of the Rings

Billy Boyd Lord of the Rings

The national Comic Con promoter Wizard World is bringing a banner slate of celebrities and comic creators to the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines this weekend as Iowa sees its second Wizard World show, one of the best conventions in the Midwest.  Check out our coverage of the inaugural Wizard World Des Moines here at borg.com last year.  Celebrity headliners include The Lord of The Rings’ Billy Boyd, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Chloe Bennet, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow star Casper Crump, The Killing Joke’s Batman, Kevin Conroy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Nicholas Brendon, WWE’s Sasha Banks, Once Upon a Time stars Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, and Robbie Kay, The Walking Dead’s Austin Nichols, and Hercules from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys himself, Kevin Sorbo.

As with last year’s roster of well-known comic book creators, Wizard World will feature another pantheon of comic book world greats, including Tom Cook (He-Man, Superfriends), Michael Golden (Batman, Spider-Man), Clinton Hobart (Disney), James O’Barr (The Crow), Barbara Slate (Betty and Veronica), Peter David (All-New X-Factor), Colleen Doran (Sandman; A Distant Soil, The Vampire Diaries), Arthur Suydam (Army of Darkness) and many others.  Returning to Wizard World this year are Iowa’s own fan favorites Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash) and Ant Lucia (DC’s Bombshells).

Casper Crump as Vandal Savage
Wizard World comic and gaming con events expect to bring together again thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop culture, movies, graphic novels, cosplay, comics, television, sci-fi, toys, video gaming, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Wizard World Des Moines show hours are Friday, May 13, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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Rebel Blockade Runner

The most expensive Star Wars prop and the most iconic single Star Trek costume sold at auction this past week.  A new record was set for the highest sale price for a television costume, the market proved yet again that even the slightest Star Wars item takes top dollar, and sci-fi again rules the private collectors’ market for screen-used costumes, props and other entertainment memorabilia.  It all happened at auction house Profiles in History’s latest Hollywood memorabilia auction, held in Calabasas, California over three days September 30 through October 2, 2015.

Profiles in History reported that it tolled $7.3 million in sales in the auction.  The biggest news came from a production model of the Rebel Blockade Runner, the first ship seen at the beginning of the original Star Wars, which set the record for the sale of any Star Wars production piece.  It sold for double the catalog estimate at $450,000.  The prior record for a Star Wars item was $402,500, TIE Fighter filming miniature from Star Wars that sold at Profiles in 2008.

George Reeves’ The Adventures of Superman television series earned its rightful place in the history of television, with his supersuit selling for $216,000, the most for any known sale of a television costume.

Superman George Reeves

Star Trek fans saw the most iconic Star Trek costume with the best provenance recorded sell for $84,000.  That was one of Leonard Nimoy’s blue tunics from the original series, accompanied by the documentation whereby a fan won the costume from a studio promotion back in the 1960s.  No other original series piece has sold with better provenance back to the studio.  Other Star Trek items sold included an original series third season McCoy standard blue uniform for $57,000, and an incomplete Class A Spock uniform for $14,000.

Everyone wants to get their hands on original Star Wars items–the most difficult of the major franchises to collect since most items remain with Lucas or Lucasfilm.  A small section of the Death Star barely seen in Return of the Jedi sold for a whopping $39,000.  And even though it wasn’t screen-used, a lot consisting of prototype pieces of the most cosplayed sci-fi outfit ever, Carrie Fisher’s “Slave Leia” outfit from Return of the Jedi, sold for $96,000.  Finally, in the top echelon of sales at the auction, a special effects camera used to film Star Wars sold for $72,000.

Then there’s Indiana Jones.  One of Harrison Ford’s screen-used bullwhips sold for $204,000, a fedora went for $90,000, and one of his shirts and leather jackets each sold for $72,000.

Jurassic Park cane

Other notable, classic, genre pieces sold, including:

From Forbidden Planet, a light-up laser rifle ($66,000), a light-up laser pistol ($27,500), and a Walter Pidgeon Dr. Morbius costume ($24,000).

From Jaws, a Robert Shaw Quint harpoon rifle ($84,000) and machete ($27,000).

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LOTR Astin 1

So what is the point of cosplay anyway?  For some it’s costume contests, for others it’s the challenge of creating the closest look possible to the real thing, for others it’s making a new mash-up or creation no one has thought of.  For others, it’s getting garb together to meet up with the actors or creators that made the character famous in the first place.  Whatever your motivation, you know you put it all together just right when the result is all-out fun for you and everyone you encounter, whether you’re attending a local or large convention or visiting your local Renaissance Faire or other gathering.

This year at the Kansas City Comic Con, with the announcement of The Lord of the Rings’ own Samwise, actor Sean Astin as guest, it meant it was time to bring Middle-earth to Kansas City.  It’s a surprising rarity at pop culture and comic book conventions–fantasy characters.  Sure, you see plenty of superheroes, sci-fi movie and animated characters, but fantasy, via films, TV, or books, seems to just be gaining steam.

LOTR Astin 5

Your fearless editor brought out the Radagast and Gimli fatigues (see here and here for some photos) and joined up with Mimosa Bunce aka Rosie aka borg.com writer and author Elizabeth C. Bunce and her newly minted Hobbit feet and garb, and we met up with the Springfield Fellowship of The Lord of the Rings for some fun.  Astin called the Middle-earth contingent together at day’s end and Elizabeth broke away from Artists Alley to join the Fellowship for a fun photo shoot thanks to Froggy’s Photos.

Want to know what in-depth preparation, research, knowledge and sewing skills go into the creation of garb for cosplay?

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Jimmy Stewart Lindbergh Spirit of St Louis

It’s the second time TCM and auction house Bonhams have teamed up to offer screen-used and production-made costumes, props, and other relics from the Golden Age of Hollywood.  A November auction, TCM Presents: There’s No Place Like Hollywood, will feature a large private collection of rare items from Casablanca, including the piano featured prominently in the film where Sam plays “As Time Goes By.”  A lesser seen piano from another scene in the film sold in 2012 for more than $600,000.

One lot features a mannequin display with costume components worn by Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, said to have been used in several scenes in the film.  Many of the costumes and props appear to be the same lots that have been featured in other auctions in the last few years, including various dresses from the Debbie Reynolds collection of items offered by auction house Profiles in History.

Casablanca piano

Costumes from several classic films are on the auction block, including a Clark Gable jacket from Gone With the Wind, Marilyn Monroe’s saloon gown from River of No Return, Jimmy Stewart’s Charles Lindbergh flight suit from The Spirit of St. Louis, Faye Dunaway’s dress from The Towering Inferno, a Jane Russell costume from The Outlaw, and a John Wayne Union Army coat from Rio Lobo and The Undefeated.  Sci-fi and fantasy fans aren’t forgotten in the TCM auction, as there will be costumes worn by Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell in Planet of the Apes, a background crewmember astronaut jumpsuit from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a test dress for Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and a Saruman staff and Aragorn sword from The Lord of the Rings films, both from Sir Christopher Lee’s personal collection.

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Strategic Operations Bureau

If you aren’t watching this season of Major Crimes, last night you likely missed the best episode of television this year, which made us do a double take as to whether this was a midseason finale special cliffhanger ratings booster.  It wasn’t.  Likewise, it was the best TV pilot we’ve seen in ages (more on that later).  And add to that one of the most satisfying conclusions that The Closer and Major Crimes writers James Duff and Mike Bercham have concocted yet.

Directed by The Closer, Major Crimes, Dallas, and NYPD Blue director Michael M. Robin, the episode “Two Options” took an almost Dragnet approach to a police procedural and crammed more drama into an hour of TV than we thought possible.  And the climax might have caused someone to claim it as the best stand-and-cheer moment since Eowyn killed the Witch-King at the end of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reviewers write about new seasons and finale episodes all the time, but it takes a great hour of regular programming to cause you to stop in your tracks and tell everyone about it, especially in the week full of press briefings leading up to Comic-Con.

Major Crimes Two Options and SOB

For regulars of the series who haven’t watched the episode yet, we’ll just note that everyone gets his and her moment–Sharon, Louie, Andy, Mike, Julio, Buzz, Amy, Taylor, Rusty, Dr. Joe, Cooper, and even Fritz.  Although if we worked in the actual district attorneys’ office in Los Angeles we’d probably not be too happy with the portrayals of last years’ Deputy D.A. Rios or last night’s D.D.A. Gloria Lim.

That brings us to our prediction.  Allow us to summon the ghost of Carnac the Magnificent.  (Drum roll, please).

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Gimli axe

This past December we discussed here at borg.com a fantasy film auction to end all auctions –Julien’s The Trilogy Collection Auction, which included the sale of an item that sold for the highest price–a screen-used axe wielded by John Rhys-Davies as the dwarf Gimli.  The final price?  $180,000.

Today, Julien’s has one Lord of the Rings prop in its Hollywood Legends auction.  It’s another Gimli axe, but this one has the fortune of the provenance of being part of John Rhys-Davies’ personal collection–one of those props that each of the Fellowship of the Rings actors was given after filming.  Considering the December sale of a Gimli axe without such a great provenance record, Julien’s has listed a conservative estimate range, $125,000 to $150,000.

Gimli axe number 2

The first bid is already in, at $95,000 plus auction fees.

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Juliens LOTR auction

We previewed this week’s Julien’s auction here at borg.com last month.  It could go down as the best auction of The Lord of the Rings props and costumes ever sold at auction simply from four of its offerings and it may be the only chance this decade to get your hands on props from the Academy Award winning films. Called “The Trilogy Collection–Props and Costumes from Middle-Earth,” Julien’s is offering several items on the auction block this Thursday, December 5, 2013.

The key items being auctioned belong to a group of screen-used props that were given away as part of a Hasbro Toys/New Line Cinema contest to promote the release of the third LOTR installment, the 2003 Academy Award winning best picture The Return of the King.   Described as “one of eight main character props used heavily in The Lord of the Rings,” look for Aragorn’s sword, Frodo’s “Sting” sword, Eowyn’s sword, and Gimli’s battle axe, each expected to fetch prices ranging from $30,000 to $70,000, with Frodo’s sword expected to sell between $100,000 and $150,000.

Faramir helmet

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Art designers or aspiring art design students will want to pick up Mark Salisbury’s new look at creating sets, costumes and props for a world of the future in Elysium: The Art of the Film Incorporating commentary from the up-and-coming science fiction director of the geo-political sci-fi thriller District 9, Neill Blomkamp, this new large format hardcover delves into the creative process from early ponderings to the imagery that made it to the final film cut.

Like listening to the first demo tapes of your favorite band or scanning the rough sketches of your favorite artist, taking a peek at the development of Hollywood magic through various aspects of a film can teach you a lot about a designer.  Watching the development of a cyborg exo-skeletal costume from inception to final crafted piece challenges the reader to agree or disagree with what is cut and what isn’t.  What physical elements, like utilitarian tubes and pipes, plastics or metals, make us think of the visual “future”?

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By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

The Midsummer Classic, baseball’s All-Star game, takes place on Tuesday and to help out you non-baseball fans, here are some cool things to keep in mind as you watch.  I’ve tried to frame the game in ways that I hope will make it easier for non-fans to understand.

Centerfielders Abound Just Like The Simpsons Episodes!

In the third season of The Simpsons (a season that I love for my favorite Halloween episode “Treehouse of Horror: II” because the frogurt is cursed) they had a baseball crossover episode called “Homer at the Bat” that starred the biggest baseball stars of the age, including Ozzie Smith, Mike Scioscia, Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco and Darryl Strawberry.  At the end of the episode, you hear a revised version of “Talkin’ Baseball” by Terry Cashman called “Talkin’ Softball.”  The new version replaced the signature “Willie, Mickey and the Duke,” with “Homer, Ozzie and the Straw.”  The original song commemorates the city of New York and the three great centerfielders that played there at the time, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider.  Today, a couple of new centerfielders, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, have drawn comparisons to these celebrated players of the past.  Add to them the great defensive centerfielder for the Braves, Michael Bourn, and you have a new part to the song, “Michael, Harper and the Trout.”  As the linked articles say, we’ll be seeing these guys for a while, and you’ll be lucky to catch glimpses of them both in their first All-Star Game.

The Fellowship of the Championship Ring

In baseball when you win the World Series, each member of the team now gets a championship ring.  To win the World Series, a team must win four games.  To get to play four games at home, the league must win the All-Star Game.*  So, think of it this way – the players for each team in the All-Star Game are like the league’s Fellowship of the Ring.  Nine members of the fellowship, nine players start for a baseball team. They are there to protect the interest of their league in procuring rings in October.  Here’s your guide to what person in each league equals each member of the Fellowship.

Frodo Baggins – Mike Napoli, AL;  Buster Posey, NL

Frodo was the guy that was modest but really in charge, and that just screams the position of catcher to me.  I put catcher Mike Napoli here because he looks like he would have hairy feet and Buster Posey because he has a baby face like Elijah Wood.

Samwise Gamgee – Derek Jeter, AL;  Yadier Molina, NL

Samwise had to be the most loyal person in the history of literature.  So, for his position, here are two players that have been with the same team for their entire career.  Derek Jeter with the Yankees and Yadier Molina with the Cardinals.  The fact that Molina also looks like he has hairy feet is just a bonus.  Since Molina won’t be at the game due to being on the bereavement list, I think Carlos Ruiz makes a great substitute as he has always been a Phillie and also looks to have hairy feet.

Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took – Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera AL;  Rafael Furcal and Jose Altuve, NL

If hobbits were ever to play baseball, they’d have to be middle infielders, generally the smallest players on the diamond.  Jose Altuve, the 5’5” second baseman for the Astros, makes this list as the slightest of all the players.  Elvis Andrus joins him because not only is he a middle infielder, he has hobbit power with only 1 home run.  Add to them shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Furcal and you got some serious small and quick guys (small being relative as Elvis and Asdrubal both stand 6’0”.)

Gandalf the Grey – Joe Nathan AL;  Chipper Jones, NL

When I think grey, I think older, as in, “I keep getting older and keep getting more grey hairs.”  So, for Gandalf, look no further than the two oldest players on each team that I didn’t select for another character.  Joe Nathan is just a little bit younger than Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones is the oldest player on both teams at the ripe old age of 40.

Aragorn – Robinson Cano, AL;  Matt Kemp, NL

I think of Aragorn and I think of a strong leader.  So, for Aragorn I choose the Home Run Derby Captains, Robinson Cano and Matt Kemp.  If we were just judging it on dreamy guys, because I think all fan girls swoon at the sight of Viggo Mortensen, then I think Matt would still easily make this cut. (He dated Rihanna.  Don’t worry, you probably don’t know her because you didn’t see Battleship.  Trust me – she’s very pretty.)  We’ll give Robinson Cano the benefit of the dreamy doubt as well.

Legolas – Curtis Granderson AL;  Andrew McCutchen, NL

I think Legolas, I think lithe.  Yes, both Andrew McCutchen and Curtis Granderson can hit a lot of home runs, but watching them cover ground in centerfield harkens back to Legolas running through the woods without getting winded.

Gimli – Prince Fielder, AL;  R.A. Dickey, NL

Prince Fielder is an easy choice as he is easily the most bearded guy on the field, and if there is one thing that dwarves can do, it’s grow a beard.  R.A. Dickey might not be as bearded as Prince, and since he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, he may be closer to Frodo or Sam climbing Mt. Doom, but I wanted to be sure to include him on a list because he is cool.  He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  If you want an NL player with the same physique as Prince and Gimli, the Kung Fu Panda (yes, that is his nickname) Pablo Sandoval is pretty close.  If I had to name a fourth dwarf, David Ortiz of the AL would easily make the list.

Boromir – Josh Hamilton, AL;  Joey Votto, NL

I think Boromir, I think of a big, strapping, huge guy ready to take on all comers.  As far as hitters go, you can’t get much bigger and stronger than Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto.  (If you think of Boromir as a traitor, put a little more Sean Bean as Ned Stark in your viewpoint.)  Right now, Joey and Josh are 1st and 3rd in wOBA, a stat created by Tom Tango to measure the whole picture of a player’s offensive contribution.  What does that mean?  They are the first and third best hitters in the game right now.

Now, you can watch the game, look at all these players and see if you agree with me.  If nothing else, it will keep your mind occupied in between the action on the field.  To make it simpler, just look at the big screen on each player and ask yourself: hobbit, dwarf, elf or man?

*Is it a good rule to have the home team of the World Series determined in this way?  Probably not, but I have much bigger complaints in the world and all the griping I hear now should have been as loud for alternating years back in the 80s.  Weee!  It’s an even numbered year and that means NL home field advantage!  Weee!  Do I sound bitter for being a fan of the Cardinals who made the World Series in the odd numbered years of 1985 and 1987 when I actually paid attention?  Yeeessss!

Pitchers pitching as fast as a Tron Identity Disc

Yes, Tron and Flynn can throw their identity discs with the speed of a starship, but wait until you see what these pitchers can do with a baseball.  Because the radar gun in Kansas City is “hot,” the readings will regularly look to be near triple digits, but even if you know that ahead of time and adjust down two miles an hour, you’ll still have plenty of chances to see guys that can throw a baseball at speeds approaching 100 miles an hour.  Here’s a list of pitchers and their average fastball velocity, but to simplify it to those on the All-Star roster, here are the All-Stars with their average fastball speed:

Stephen Strasburg – NL – 95.9 mph
David Price – AL – 95.5 mph
Justin Verlander – AL – 94.0 mph
Gio Gonzalez – NL – 93.3 mph
Clayton Kershaw – NL – 93.2 mph
Yu Darvish – AL – 93.0 mph

That’s just the starting pitchers.  These relievers can also throw very, very fast:

Craig Kimbrel – NL – 96.8 mph
Joel Hanrahan – NL – 95.9 mph
Fernando Rodney – AL – 95.6 mph
Jim Johnson – AL – 94.3 mph

If you look beyond the speed and just want to see pitches that move in crazy directions, check out R.A. Dickey and his “angry” knuckleball.  Yeah, that’s off the point, but I wanted a chance to mention R.A. Dickey again.

Hope that helps non-baseball fans to enjoy the game.  Happy viewing!

Most reality TV and competition shows aren’t worth watching when compared to all the great TV writing available these days.  Two weeks ago in our Spring TV Wrap-up, we discussed the best of this past season, and you’ll notice there are no reality shows listed there.  Why?  The reality TV formula got old fast as the past decade moved along, as did competition shows generally.  Sure, American Idol and Top Chef still get big viewership numbers, and we drift back for an episode of Iron Chef once in a while, but at some point even their fans will dwindle.  Let’s face it, there’s something for everyone and we won’t knock it (it’s why having several hundred channels to choose from seems to be a very “American” thing) and fans of reality shows probably aren’t also watching our sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre programming.

That said, one of the more fun reality-esque shows because if its unique subject matter is starting its second season this week: the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure, which airs on Tuesday nights.  I was impressed that they changed up the show a bit for the season two premiere, and offered a lot of content anyone can enjoy.  Three key things make the series work.  First, although Hollywood Treasure has the obligatory formula for reality shows, including the repeated scenes that straddle each commercial break and make you race for the fast forward on the remote, the plain coolness of the subject matter of the show outweighs any reality show annoyance factor.  Second, the show focuses on the guys who run Profiles in History, consistently the entertainment memorabilia auction house that pulls in the highest sales of any auction house in the world, and items they sold at auction in the past year.  These guys run into all sorts of neat props and costumes from Hollywood and occasionally an actor or show creator.  Third, the guys who run the auctions and are featured in the show, Joe Maddalena, Jon Mankuta, Brian Chanes, and Fong Sam, are actually fans of genre films and comic books as much as they are businessmen.  I’d dealt with these guys in the past and they are always great to work with.  Some of the scenes are formulaic and more than a bit contrived, but their passion and excitement for memorabilia always shines through.

The highlight of episode one of this new season, and what will certainly keep watchers coming back for more if they can keep bringing in similar guests, is a segment where actor Sean Astin discussed movie props he owns (and used to own) from Rudy, Goonies and The Lord of the Rings.  Astin always has such an aura of authenticity that you can ignore all the theatrics and just enjoy seeing this guy simply talk about making movies.  The personal items he retained from playing Samwise Gamgee are certainly treasures any LOTR fan would love to get his hands on.

Astin kept his screenused backpack and pans, his Elvin pin, his bread pouch, and leather wineskin from The Lord of the Rings films.

Other sequences in this episode were an attempt to auction one of the four original sets of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz for $2 million, which Profiles was only able to sell after the fact by direct sale, still attaining the $2 million the owner wanted as a minimum reserve price.  In this sequence Profiles also revealed that they actively solicit buyers after sales for items that don’t meet the minimum reserve price–buyers that kick themselves later for not bidding, thinking the sell price will be out of their range.  In reviewing the slippers they got to visit what seemed like a private collector’s own Fort Knox lockdown facility.  Another segment featured Joe Maddalena buying a Jim Carrey hat and cane from Batman Forever, then trying to flip them at auction for profit.  And Maddalena also visited the Dreier collection of costumes and props, which is being auctioned off over a few years.

Profiles in History is the same auction house we discussed here last year that made all sorts of records selling off the Debbie Reynolds movie costume and prop collection, including the famed Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch subway vent scene dress and an Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady dress, among millions of dollars in other sales, and the Captain America auction last month.  And these are the guys we caught up with last year at Comic-Con showing the Back to the Future III DeLorean.  Their auction website is www.profilesinhistory.com.  We hope they can keep up the momentum started in their first episode of season two all season long.

C.J. Bunce



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