After the recent article looking at props for sale, it felt like time to look at some props that ended up in the hands of some very lucky collectors. Often times these props will sell for many times the amount it cost to create them, due to their status in pop culture and movie history. The most desirable props are often the version known as the “the hero” prop. Hero props are the ones used in close-ups or shots where they are the centre of attention. They are usually the most detailed version and sometimes are functioning, with lights, for example. Often multiple version will be made, such as rubber versions for stunts.
R2-D2 – Star Wars: A New Hope/ The Empire Strikes Back/ Return of the Jedi (1977-1983)
Star Wars is full of iconic props, such as the miniatures for X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and of course, lightsabers. There are some very memorable costumes and creature designs, such as Chewbacca the Wookie, Stormtroopers and the fearsome Darth Vader. One of the most expensive mementoes from the series to have been sold at auction is an R2 unit. One of the Radio Controlled/Prop units was sold at an auction for over $2.7 million
The Maltese Falcon – The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Perhaps the most famous Macguffin in all of cinema. The Maltese Falcon is a priceless statuette that Humphrey Bogart and several others spend the whole film trying to obtain. Several models were made for the film, with the hero prop being a heavy lead model. Ironically even though the (Spoiler alert, but come it’s been nearly 80 years) Falcon is a fake, the lead prop used in the film (complete with dents from Bogart dropping it several times) was sold at an auction for over $4 million dollars.
Indy’s Hat – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Arguably the most iconic elements of the character of Indiana Jones, aside from Harrison Ford’s performance and that theme tune, are his hat and whip. Indy’s hat is so iconic that one could almost say “it belongs in a museum”. There were actually several hats, some of which were actually sat on and had dust blown on it before filming to give it a more well-worn look, making Jones seem more of an experienced archaeologist. In 2018 one of the hats sold for a more than half a million dollars.
Delorean – Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990)
Up there with the TARDIS for iconic time travel vehicles, the Delorean is as much a character throughout the trilogy as Doc Brown or Marty McFly. The only car ever manufactured by the company, a total of seven were used for the trilogy. Only three of which remain, one is on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in LA, another is owned by Universal Studios and is also occasionally on display. The third was sold to a private collector, with some of the proceeds going to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Sting – Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
When the Fellowship sets out on its quest to destroy the One Ring, Frodo is given Bilbo’s old blade, Sting. An elven blade that glows blue whenever orcs or goblins are near, this prop was used throughout the entire trilogy and has actually gained some scratches and nicks in the blade from some of the combat during filming. The sword is incredibly detailed, like all Weta’s work for the films, including Elvish engraving, although no word on it glowing blue. Several weapons, including Anduril, were given away as promotional sweepstakes for the release of Return of the King.
Ruby Slippers – The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz is a classic that has survived generations, and will likely continue to be a firm favourite to many people. Despite its enduring popularity, the famous ruby slippers worn by Dorothy upon her arrival in Oz, have had a rough time of it. Only four pairs are known to have survived from the original production, with one pair safely on display in the Smithsonian museum after Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Speilberg and others teamed up to save it, and another was recovered by the FBI over a decade after they were stolen. The other two pairs are thought to be with private collectors, although some believe that there are more slippers out there…