Tag Archive: props


luke-in-stormtrooper-disguise

Over the past 20 years movie and TV props have become less and less expensive to build, and far easier to fabricate compared to props of science fiction movies from the 1950s through the 1970s, especially considering the realism modern audiences demand.  Just as Hollywood studios have used modern tech to make props easier and cheaper, even toy replicas look as good as their screen-used source material.  In the Star Trek Enterprise series, as an example, the studio found it cheaper in later seasons to use the licensed Art Asylum commercially available toy replicas on set.  That’s right, the toy replaced the need for an original for the studio.  Now, many cosplayers create their own props via home 3D printers, a new idea for making movie props when we first discussed 3D printers here at borg.com back in 2011.

The look of Star Wars props, the realism, the incorporation of real-world gadgetry in seemingly “real feeling” ways via adding on odds and ends from model kits and parts from electrician shops and auto garages (called “greeblies”) all goes back to Star Wars art designer Roger Christian, who created the look that would be replicated in every other science fiction movie created since.  (Check out his autobiographical account previously reviewed here at borg.com if you missed it).  Just as many other props from Star Wars were based on real-world weapons, the standard Stormtrooper blaster, the BlasTech E-11, was built from a British-made Sterling L2A3 sub-machine gun.

toy-blaster

Disney released one particularly well-suited toy Stormtrooper blaster that has a size and look that will make cosplayers at any level proud, easily modifiable for the classic Star Wars trilogy and this month’s prequel movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which incorporates the classic troopers with only minor modifications as seen in the trailers.  The toy blaster fits–and more importantly is easily removable from–any replica Stormtrooper holster, and can also be used to supplement any Imperial uniform costume.  It also comes with lights and sound that can be preserved as part of a needed modication from its white toy design to the black version used onscreen.  The recommended toy E-11 Stormtrooper blaster is no longer being produced but it is still available in small quantities here at Amazon.com.  It is typically available from $25-30 and with a can of flat black spray paint and some silver paint for weathering, it’s an inexpensive and quick way to sport a professional looking prop for your Star Wars cosplay, especially when many builders on the Web will try to sell you custom versions for hundreds of dollars that would be indistinguishable from the modified toy to most anyone seeing you in Stormtrooper armor.  The following is a brief tutorial to get you there:

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Last week Disney and Lucasfilm released information on a new line of Star Wars: The Force Awakens replica props and helmets from PropShop Studio Editions for sale at this link.  These are high-end replicas taking advantage of current 3D scanning imagery, an idea I suggested in an article on 3D printing posted here at borg.com four years ago.  The new line of Star Wars generated plenty of press because the new costume pieces are fairly pricey:  a melted Darth Vader helmet is selling for $3,500 (limited to 500 units), a Kylo Ren helmet is $2,000, a Finn Stormtrooper helmet is $1,750 (limited to 500 units), and Poe Dameron’s X-Wing pilot helmet is $1,500.  The props are similarly priced: Chewbacca’s crossbow is $2,500, Rey’s staff and lightsaber and Kylo’s lightsaber are each $1,500.

VH-stand

Sound like the holy grail for cosplayers?  Hold that thought.  Here is the description for Finn’s helmet:

  • Created using the original 3D digital data from the actual FN-2187 Stormtrooper Helmet featured in the film in combination with advanced digital manufacturing processes, and then hand-finished by a highly skilled artisan. The original blood marking has been laser scanned and projected onto this helmet, and a special paint effect process has been applied to identically recreate the surface texture pattern.
  • Made of a composition of 3D printing materials, forged items, and cast items
  • Includes a chip to authenticate the serial number that is printed on the Certificate of Authenticity
  • Delivered in an exclusive, custom wooden crate inspired by the packaging used for the original prop
  • Limited Edition of 500
  • Certificate of Authenticity and Authenticity Medallion included

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Sorrow01-Cov-D-Sub-Hack    Sorrow01-Cov-G-Incen10-Lotay

Nothing in the past five years has been more fun as far as comic book events are concerned than Dynamite Comics’ ever-growing crossovers incorporating their huge roster of licensed characters.  The New 52 and Convergence events from DC Comics and the Secret Wars event from Marvel Comics are so much more of the same–pulling in dozens of titles and character crossovers over the course of several months.  All of these publisher events attempt to reinvigorate their brands–to bring more people in to try out the regular monthly series featuring their stock of characters, whether you’re looking at the Avengers or the X-Men or the Justice League.  Dynamite’s events also pull from their stock of characters, yet the publisher has managed to unleash something very new in the way these characters come together.

Dynamite’s Masks limited series introduced a pantheon of superheroes from the literary past: Green Hornet and Kato, The Shadow, Miss Fury, Spider, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, the Green Lama, Black Terror and The Black Bat (a second limited monthly follow-on series, Masks 2, is underway now).  Then Bill Willingham expanded and amped up the Dynamite characters with his Legenderry steampunk adventures.  Another limited series, this one introduced the Six Thousand Dollar Man, teaming up with a parallel world, steampunk era Red Sonja, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Green Hornet, the Phantom, and more.  It now has its own expanded event series of sorts with Legenderry universe monthly series featuring each of Vampirella, Red Sonja, and Green Hornet.

SwordsSorrow03-Cov-A-Lotay    STK673857

But Dynamite’s best crossover event series may have just arrived with writer Gail Simone and artist Sergio Davila’s new Swords of Sorrow.  A dark prince has enlisted an arsenal of women warriors to defend his interests, including the well-known red, horned villainess Purgatori.  But a mysterious and beautiful otherworld woman called the Traveller has assigned various swords to her own select group of women warriors via the Courier, across time and space–from Everywhere and Everywhen to Nowhen–to defend worlds menaced by this prince.  Her heroines include Red Sonja, Vampirella, Irene Adler, Dejah Thoris, Jennifer Blood, Jane Porter, Lady Zorro, Milan Kato, Masquerade, Black Sparrow, Miss Fury, Pantha, Lady Rawhide, and Jana the Jungle Girl.

Leading a select team of women writers in nine Swords of Sorrow tie-in series and one-shots, Gail Simone has her challenges here, required to pull together more than a dozen main characters quickly, explaining enough to let us know who they are for those unfamiliar with them all, and set up enough world-building to let us understand how they all fit together.  This may be the best we’ve read of any series from Simone so far, as Issue #1 of the six backbone issues gives us all we need to get excited to see what comes next.  Sergio Davila’s artwork is as detailed and interesting as his work on Legenderry, sure to keep us interested to come back for more each month.  Check out the full checklist of the crossover series below.

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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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AMC Theaters’ newest marathon event is tonight, the Dark Knight Trilogy Marathon, and with more than 60,000 advance ticket sales it has already become the biggest selling marathon movie event to date.  Starting at 6 p.m. and culminating with the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises at midnight, tonight is sure to be a big night for Batman fans.

Until then, for your viewing pleasure and to get you psyched for Batman night, here is a gallery of all of the Batman cars–the Batmobiles–that have appeared on-screen, from the TV series in the 1960s to today’s bulky offroad vehicle, featured on the lawn between the Hilton Bayfront Hotel and the San Diego Convention Center last weekend as part of the Comic-Con festivities.  The photos I took this weekend don’t do justice to these big, sleek, bad Bat-cars.

First off, above is the original 1955 modified Lincoln that became the Batmobile driven by Adam West in the original Batman TV series.

My favorite of them all and the best looking in person–Michael Keaton’s Batmobile from the 1989 Batman and Batman Returns movies.

Val Kilmer’s Batmobile from Batman Forever.

George Cooney’s Batmobile from Batman and Robin.

Christian Bale’s Batmobile “The Tumbler” from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Christian Bale’s Batmobile from the new film The Dark Knight Rises.

Christian Bale’s Batcycle from the new film The Dark Knight Rises, on display in the Comic-Con exhibit hall at the Warner Brothers booth.  The cycle is a separating feature of the Tumbler.

Details for tonight’s movie event across the country:

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

From Transformers to soft tissue… can we connect the dots?

Remember not long ago if you wanted a home printer the then-big thing was the dot matrix printer, which printed dot letters on printer paper where you needed to then tear off the edges used to feed the paper from a roll?  It wasn’t long until we all used desktop inkjet printers–what many of us still use today, and then good ol’ laser printers.  But go back for a second and take a look at that inkjet printer.  The future of medicine is in its design.

Last June we reported on Maker Faire, a unique group of people all across the country that get together each year in different cities to discuss and share creative pursuits of any imaginable variety.  Maker Faires last year featured makers of art using paint, wood, ceramics, makers of science using computers and elaborate machines, car builders, fashion and costume makers, chefs, flower arrangers, electrical engineers, writers–designers of every kind set up displays and performances showcasing the past, present and future of technology and ideas.  It was and–at Maker Faires coming soon to a city near you–will be it’s own petri dish and melting pot, fertile turf to merge technologies to solve problems and think bigger.

The 3D printer at Maker Faire

I was amazed at a display at the Kansas City Maker Faire showcasing the printing of 3D models using printers.  These 3D printers not only printed objects that could be used in and of themselves–like components for fasteners in washing machines or circuit boards–they also printed the very components of the printer itself, more efficiently and quickly than something like injection molding.  Yes, you can build–and buy at the Faire for a few hundred dollars–a 3D ceramics printer that would use instructions from your computer to take plastic thread and melt it into various components that could be assembled for you to make more printers and sell them if you want.  Which came first, the chicken or the egg, or the 3D printer or the 3D printer?  At the time I was thinking about ways to make TV and movie props from CAD designs.  I wasn’t thinking big enough apparently.

In fact, between last June and last Fall I caught a re-run on the Science Channel of an episode of TV series Science at the Movies hosted by Nar Williams.  Williams introduced us to Fxperts, Inc., a prop house for Hollywood flicks building a larger than life Bumblebee Transformer for one of the Transformers movies, beginning with converting digital designs to three dimensions via printing technologies.   So Hollywood was already using this technology on a big scale, at least for some cutting edge (aka expensive) projects like this big budget summer blockbuster.

From drawing…

… to three dimensions.

But how can static 3D printed creations help human science?  You can print any static three dimensional project with even bigger and better printers.  But what about non-static objects?

Thursday, reader Susan Fourtané, a writer and journalist writing at EnterpriseEfficiency.com, made the connection between recent innovations in 3D printing in orthopedic research and the cyborg Six Million Dollar Man in her article “3D Printed Body Parts.”  In her article shes cites some incredible innovations, including the European Medical Device Technology (EMDT.co.uk) online magazine’s report on “Innovations in Rapid Prototyping and Additive Manufacturing” in its January 26, 2012 online issue and Orthotec.com’s February 7, 2012 report “First in Innovation: Designer Implant Replaces Patient’s Lower Jaw.”

The EMDT article discusses the rapid creation and deployment of technologies that can quicken research by creating 3D prototypes to beta test procedures, such as a mock surgery before an actual surgery using a fully mapped 3D replica of the area of the patient needing the procedure.  Using “additive engineering”–basically advanced printing methods of what the folks at Maker Faire were demonstrating last year–a  company is using 3D printing for “tissue engineering.”  The German company, envisionTEC GmbH, has developed a machine that can print soft tissues, the 3-D Bioplotter.  As quoted by EMDT, “The 3D-Bioplotter can process high-temperature polymer melts and ceramic materials for bone regeneration, as well as silicones for surgical restoration and finally very soft hydrogels for soft tissue regeneration, as well as organ printing,” said envisionTEC GmbH Dipl. Chemist Carlos Carvalho.

A printer used to print a biological heart.

The Orthotec.com article refers to a real-world successful implant last June of a 3D printed titanium lower jawbone, which completely replaced a bone damaged by infection in an adult woman. That woman could speak again and use the jaw within hours of the operation.  The implant was created under the direction of Jules Poukens, MD, a craniomaxillofacial surgeon at University Hospital Maastricht in the Netherlands, and a team of researchers and surgeons from Belgium and the Netherlands.

There is at least one surgeon taking the next step, from not just creating different bone types for replacement in the body (which is cool by itself), but to growing biological material, and not just growing it–he already created a bladder and other tissues from cell material–he now focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs.  It’s the stuff of Dr. Frankenstein and political and ethical debates across the globe.  That surgeon is Dr. Anthony Atala, the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.  His team engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human–that bladder I mentioned above–and is working on experimental fabrication technology to print human tissue, on demand.  Dr. Atala has said his lab uses a desktop inkjet printer “but instead of using ink, we’re using cells.”

Do you want to know more?  Check out this video where Dr. Atala prints organs.  That’s right.  Prints organs.

Consider that 90% of people on organ donor wait lists need a kidney transplant.  Incredible stuff, and another step towards implementing borg technology in real life.

Thanks to Susan Fourtané for connecting the dots for us.

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

Editor

borg.com