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Press Release - June 28, 2021
One of Two Known 'Hero' Phasers from the Original 'Star Trek' Series Beams Into Heritage Auctions' Star-Studded July Entertainment Event
|Among some of the items in our fully stocked arsenal: Luke Skywalker and Darth Maul's Lightsabers, Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso and Katniss' Combat Bow
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Fifty-two years after NBC canceled Star Trek, one of its most sought-after — and rarest — pieces of prop-culture comes to auction for the very first time: a detailed, ready-for-its-close-up Type-2 phaser. The pistol making its auction debut at Heritage Auctions during the July 16-18 Entertainment and Music Memorabilia event is isn't one of the foam vacuum-formed plastic props handed out to redshirts, but one of only two original-series "hero" phasers known to have survived the show's three-season run. This is something right out of Captain Kirk's arsenal, down to the last detachable detail.
Designed by Trek's first art director and production designer Matt Jefferies, the man responsible for the U.S.S. Enterprise, this Type-2 phase is called the "hero" for a reason. It consists of three components: the palm-sized Type-1 phaser inserted into the Type-2 pistol, with the brass handle that doubled as a power pack (as seen in the episode The Omega Glory).
The phaser features everything a fan could want, from the moving silver thumbwheel (used to adjust settings and raise the targeting site) to the rotating "photon accelerator" on the front nozzle. As Star Trek Prop Authority noted in 2008, "this historic piece, with its intricate internal design mechanisms, represents the pinnacle of 1960s prop making expertise."
The phaser joins an all-star line-up of iconic weapons from decades' worth of sci-fi and superhero films, among them Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, Wonder Woman's Sword of Athena, Thor's hammer Mjölnir, a M41-A Pulse Rifle used by the Colonial Marines to kill some Aliens and Katniss Everdeen's bow and quiver. That's just a taste of what's in the Heritage Auctions' armory, stocked like never before for an auction bound to hit collectors in the bull's-eye.
The Star Trek phaser tops the list of armaments because of its extraordinary rarity; this is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The phaser shows the inevitable wear that comes from years and use — it was, after all, repainted several times during the show's brief run. And its provenance is impeccable: This very phaser was acquired in the late 1960s directly from Star Trek prop designer and builder Wah Ming Chang, who the official Trek website calls "one of the great unsung heroes of the show," given his work on the communicator, the tricorder, the Gorn, the tribbles and, yes, the phaser.
The letter of authenticity accompanying the "hero" Type-2 phaser pistol says the studio sent the prop to Chang for repair — and that Trek was cancelled before he was able to return it. A second LOA shows that the Type-1 phaser, the weapon inserted into the pistol body, was acquired by a member of the production crew after filming wrapped on the second season.
Eventually the respective owners of the two pieces learned about each other. They then allowed a high-profile Trek collector and prop expert to compare their phaser to what was at the time the only known surviving hero. So exact were the matches that the palm-sized Type-1 phaser fits perfectly in both surviving Type-2 pistols.
"These things were not meant to survive," says Heritage Auctions Executive Vice President Joe Maddelena. "These props were meant to do a job. The fact they survive in any form is remarkable. These things were repainted and repurposed over and over again, and when you have a direct physical comparison to the alpha, there's no better way to vet one. And it's just a thrill to bring an original hero phaser to auction for the first time."
Because here, too, are two lightsabers from the franchise — among them, the double-bladed saber wielded by Ray Park's Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.
Like the phaser, this weapon is highly detailed and ready for its close-up. It features the protruding red activator buttons that run along the length of the hilt, which is cast in resin with a long section of metal "all thread" rod running through the body and protruding from each end. All it needs is a kyber crystal, available only in a galaxy far, far away.
For those who lean toward the light side of the Force, this auction also features Mark Hamill's stunt lightsaber used during filming of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. The weapon, painted in metallic silver with black and copper detail and red and green static buttons, shows some wear; what wouldn't after its use in the climactic duel with Dad Vader at film's end? But its provenance is impeccable: The saber comes from the estate of Star Wars modelmaker Wesley Seeds, who was a crewmember on Return of the Jedi.
No less iconic to some is the Colonial Marines stunt pulse rifle from 1986's Aliens, designed by the film's director and co-writer James Cameron and constructed under the supervision of renowned armorer Simon Atherton at Bapty Armory, which specializes in battle props for film and television. This auction features one of the non-firing prop rifles, made from lightweight fiberglass to be used in the sequences where live-fire weapons weren't needed. If someone were to pass this up, it would indeed be game over, man, game over.
For something a bit more old-school, look no further than Kevin Costner's matched pair of screen-used Colt single-action Army revolvers from Lawrence Kasdan's epic 1985 Western Silverado. These are the revolvers quick-drawing Jake couldn't seem to keep in his holster. No wonder: They were altered and tuned by legendary Hollywood fast-draw artist and shooting instructor Arvo Ojala.
Collectors will also have a shot at the silver combat bow with quiver wielded by Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen in 2013's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In person it's a beast to behold, this nearly five-foot-long, highly stylized custom-made bow painted gunmetal gray with black faux-carbon fiber trim and black grip. It comes with a black nylon quiver with silver trim, shoulder strap and belt, along with an olive nylon bow carrying case, which is production-marked "Hero 1."
Speaking of heroes, the arsenal overflows with offerings from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, among them:
• The prop Sword of Athena wielded by Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman in her first solo adventure, released in 2017
• Wonder Woman's Golden Lasso, also used by Gadot in Patty Jenkins' first feature starring the Amazon Princess from Themyscira
• The weighted Mjölnir Hammer used by Chris Hemsworth in 2013's Thor: The Dark World (Before attempting to lift, first ask yourself: Are you worthy?)
• Also from Thor: The Dark World, the 61-inch-long sculptural Hofund sword used by Idris Elba's Heimdall
• And, from another time and another era and another comic strip comes this beautiful keepsake: the Singing Sword and scabbard used by Robert Wagner as the titular character in 1954's Prince Valiant
To see all the weapons in Heritage's armory, click here. We're armed and ready.
Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
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Robert Wilonsky, Communications Director
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