Often unnoticed to the untrained eye, props function as the glue that holds a movie together. Whether it is a Civil War battle or a futuristic alien invasion, prop masters are charged with the task of making sure every detail on the screen appears historically accurate and realistic.
But what is a prop? It seems like a simple question, but it is not so easy. A prop is anything a character can pick up, be it a magazine, weapon, or lamp. This can include food items and, depending on production, even decals, such as those on the sides of ambulances and police cars.
A prop is not, however, the vehicle itself. It is also not the furniture that the lamp sits on or the uniform that goes with the weapon, although jewelry can be considered a prop. So while Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” pulled quite a prize at auction, they aren’t props. Nor is Orson Welles’ pinstriped shirt from “Citizen Kane,” but the sled called “Rosebud” owned by a young Welles in the movie would be considered a prop, and was bought at auction by Steven Spielberg in 1982 for $60,500.
When it comes to collecting props, there are two types: those that were actually used on a movie set during production, and replicas, which may even be licensed by a studio. Like autographs, it is often extremely difficult to fully authenticate a prop. Studios have even been known to sell props post-production claiming they were used on set, when the piece in question was actually a less collectible re-creation.
Getting your hands on authentic props can be difficult. In older movies, props were often discarded after the film because the studios didn’t have space to store them. In other instances, props were left in the possession of the prop master, which is why such individuals are usually the best sources of authentic props.
Acquiring props from recent movies is no easier. Because studios pay for the props in a film, they often maintain possession of them after production. In recent years, studios have started to hold on to props so they can be used in sequels, potential or planned. In other instances, studios will hire an auctioneer to sell props immediately after filming has ceased in order to recoup some of the movie’s production costs.
The prop collector also needs to keep in mind that many props are not what they appear to be on screen. For example, if a character in a movie that’s set in the 18th century is r...
For the most part, props from the most memorable movies are the ones most sought by collectors, be it a blaster from the original “Star Wars,” a pair of dice rolled by Marlon Brando in “Guys and Dolls,” or the “Witch Remover” sprayer used by the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”
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Forging Loki's Staff Is A Fittingly Convoluted ProcessKotaku, April 20th
Trust a trickster god to wield one of the most complicated weapons the folks at Man At Arms: Reforged have ever had to recreate. Loki likely didn't create the Chitauri scepter he carried in the first Avengers movie, but he's the one who stuffed an...Read more
Is This Our First Look at Sphero's Official The Force Awakens BB-8 Toy?Gizmodo, April 20th
There's not a lot of information on the BB-8 toy just yet—it's listed at $150 but we've no idea how close it will function to the movie prop—but the listing did mention an availability of September 1 later this year. The listing seems particularly...Read more
MYTHBUSTERS' Jamie Hyneman & Adam Savage Bring New Live Show to ...Broadway World, April 17th
Savage continues to dabble in his multiple hobbies, including passionately restoring his vintage four-wheel drive vehicle and accruing new pieces for his movie prop collection. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, twin boys and two dogs...Read more
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – The BB8 robot droid is a real machine, not a ...International Business Times UK, April 17th
Of course, we don't know exactly what is inside the robot, apart from the internal mass movement robotics mechanism that enables spherical robots to move, and IBTimes UK has contacted Neal Scanlan, a UK-based movie prop maker, for more details...Read more
Detect Ghosts in Your Closet with this 3D Printed Ghostbusters Giga Meter3DPrint.com, April 14th
So much so that he decided to create a replica of a movie prop from Ghostbusters II. That prop is the Giga Meter, a device which, in the film, was used to detect ethereal energies (i.e., ghosts). It measures “phychomagnotheric energy in Giga Elecron...Read more
Aging Eckley breaker represents area's coal mining history, but needs costly ...Standard Speaker, April 12th
In fact, it is not a genuine breaker but rather a movie prop from the film “The Molly Maguires” that was designed to last a mere three months when constructed in 1968, according to Bode Morin, site director of Eckley Miners' Village. “The Molly...Read more
'Star Wars' superfan finds Han trapped in a carbonite-coffin coffee tableCNET, April 3rd
"Super-Fan Builds" shows off the talents of movie prop designers, led by industry veteran Tim Baker. Along with his talented team of artists, he builds amazing tributes to movies and video games for superfans nominated by friends and family. In this...Read more
The $344000 movie item: Academy buys ship from Kubrick's '2001'Los Angeles Times, March 29th
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Saturday bought the Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle from "2001: A Space Odyssey" at Premiere Props' Hollywood Extravaganza Auction for $344,000. lRelated Purported Adolf Hitler watercolor ...Read more