Friday, February 28, 2014

Comparisons: The Original Chakram (III of IV)

Hey everybody!

After a considerable wait and quite a few drawbacks, it's finally time for the third part of four of the Original Chakram comparisons. You can check the two previous entries here (Part I of IV) and here (Part II of IV).

Today I'll be reviewing one of the best known chakram reproductions among fans, the famous Todd's Costumes replica.

Special thanks to Otsillac and KellyXena for all the info about the early Todd's replica. Many thanks to Beatlesrock as well, for his generosity providing info and photos of the 10th Anniversary Gold edition, and to Epiphane David for his tips on the Silver Screen piece.

>> NOTE: I've edited and rewritten the whole entry with the invaluable insights and notes from Mr. Todd Coyle himself, who's been amazingly kind to fill in the gaps and clarify several points of the creation process behind his pieces. Of course, a heartfelt thanks to Mr. Coyle too from here!

- THE TODD'S COSTUMES REPLICA

Todd's Costumes web logo.

Like I did before, let's start with a bit of history.

Todd's Costumes started with one man: Todd Coyle.

Todd Coyle is a replica maker from Florida based in southern California. He started his own company back in 1997 when, as his own site says, "he decided to sell copies of a Xena costume that he had created for a costume contest". His first products were all Xena related (both chakrams, Gabrielle's staff and sais, parts of Xena's armor...) and came to be well-known and very appreciated due to their nice quality, cheaper prices and lower shipping rates (they were made in the USA, after all).

Mr. Coyle (or simply Todd, as most people know him) made and sold his creations to fans for a while, without an official license, until television and film producers William Norton Panzer and Peter Davis (founders of the company Davis-Panzer Productions Inc., and producers of several notorious films and TV series like the Highlander franchise) acquired the rights for Xena memorabilia and contacted him to license his work and make official numbered Xena replicas. A great opportunity he couldn't miss.

Davis-Panzer Productions logo.

It seems even with the Icons and Creation reproductions available (which truth to be told were mostly sold out by then) there was still a ready market for more Xena replicas. We Xenites are insatiable :) Of course, one of the first lines to be built was a limited edition of 1000 original chakrams. Those (among Todd's earlier pre-licensed replicas and some other later models based on Todd's design) are the chakrams I'm going to review today.

> Versions of the Todd's Costumes replica: Once again, it turns there are several versions of this replica to take into account. Kind of. This case might be more complicated than the previous ones, because Todd's replica has been copied and versioned (both officially and unofficially) more times than any other chakram reproduction.

Let's review all those versions in chronological order.

1.- The Early Pre-Licensed Replica

Both sides of a Todd's pre-licensed replica.
Photos by Otsillac.

As stated before, the first chakram reproduction Todd made was developed during his unlicensed years. These models were done and sold before he achieved the full of his popularity, and because of that few people are aware of their existence.

I gather Todd molded this first design out of mere fan-observation of the series. Back in the day it wasn't easy to get screen-caps or high resolution images of TV shows, and besides, the screen quality of the first seasons wasn't the best. Therefore this first reproduction came out being quite imperfect, both in size (a reasonable mistake - have you ever tried to calculate the exact measures of something with the only reference of the hands of a person? Trust me, titanic deed) and in shape (the black outlines are too thick and the patterns are unbalanced respect the voids around them - the golden areas are distorted, too "short", while the silvery areas look noticeably too wide in comparison).

As a result, this early design was tossed away over time. I guess once Todd got better graphic material to use as a source he decided to update his mold, but only he knows how many he made. What I'm certain of is this: the pre-licensed Todd replica is a rarity some collectors like to treasure.

>> EDIT 1: About this first model, Mr. Todd adds very interesting information on the process he used to craft the pieces: "My original chakrams were done probably 13-14 years ago in Florida from a master made by hand from acrylic plastic, I believe. They were sand cast from aluminum and polished and finished by me. We drilled the insets for the shells with a hand drill". 

Todd also sort of confirmed the theory mentioned above: back in the day he worked with very early low-quality reference images, thus why the accuracy of this first attempt is lower than in his later pieces.

As a side note, a warning. It's been three times already that I've seen some scammers trying to pass one of these as original props. They usually ask thousand of dollars for them, and some have even forged fake documents and false COAs to endorse their farce. Be wary.

2.- Second Pre-Licensed Mold

I'm positive Todd changed his mold before he started producing work with Davis-Panzer, so not all of his pre-licensed chakrams were like the above mentioned. He developed a second mold that solved some of the problems of his first design, but one must think he wasn't too satisfied with it, because he changed it once again for his official run.

As I don't have references on this model I will not be properly reviewing it. So please, if you believe your chakram is one of these, I'd appreciate any photo or additional info you can share with me.

>> EDIT 2: I still don't have any pictures of these pieces, but Mr. Coyle confirms the existence of this second and short-lived mold. He says: "When that (first) pattern disintegrated, I think I patched up the old one to make a new one. I was working from an Icons chakram, which was even smaller than mine. I’ve done them anywhere from 9 ¼” to 9 3/4” diameter". 

So, the inception of the second mold was due to the degradation of his original mold, which is something very usual in this kind of procedures. All molds tend to worn off with every new piece produced, faster or slower depending on the material poured on them. Let's remember we're talking about a process involving molten metal, which I'm sure is fairly aggressive. After a time most molds show signs of erosion and have to be inevitably replaced or remade, which is what happened here.

3.- First Official Run

Both sides of a Todd's Costumes official replica.
Photos by Beatlesrock.

Todd's third and improved design is mostly associated with his official run for Davis-Panzer, that sold from the xenacatalog.com platform under the banner of Official Xena Merchandise. These chakrams were distributed by the company Davis-Anderson Merchandising, the merchandise branch Davis-Panzer had back in the day.

The popular promotion image that advertised
these chakrams in the Xena catalog. 

The license for this line covered 1000 units, which makes this run the most abundant replica chakrams in the market by far (given Icons only reached 600 and Creation only made 500). Nonetheless, bigger numbers didn't mean lesser prices: these brand-new chakrams were commercialized for a considerably higher price than Todd's unlicensed pieces. It seems COAs and limited editions do have a cost after all.

This design presents more refined lines than it's predecessor, though it's not without particularities. Some details on the saw-like pattern are still off, and the chakram remains too small compared to real props (it's still over 9 inches instead of 10). The side with the squared pattern has a stamp with the Xena logo and a phrase that reads as follows: "XENA WP ™& © STUDIOS USA - © Davis-Anderson Merchandising Corp".

A closer look to the blade stamp.
Photo by Jmarchant4.

>> EDIT 3: More additional info courtesy of Mr. Coyle, this time regarding his best-known signature chakram replica: "When I moved to California in 2002, I made a new pattern (by hand) but with finer grooves and truer shape. I used that one for a long time. [...] When I hooked up with DP I continued to use my old pattern since it was still going strong."

What conclusions are to be made here? For one, this particular mold was also used BEFORE Todd's chakrams were licensed by Davis-Panzer / Davis Merchandise. Good to know. Additionally, Mr. Coyle also give us great firsthand insight of the process used to produce our beloved replicas, and the challenges that their creators had (and still have) to face.

"There have always been problems with the sand cast aluminum – air bubbles and debris in the aluminum. There were none without flaws – it was always a judgment call. Aluminum is also very soft, and it’s a scratch magnet. We treated them like Ming vases, but no matter how careful we were, they always picked up marks. [...] (with Davis Panzer) I used the same casting foundry, and found a metal polishers down in LA to do the grinding/sanding/polishing. We did the painting and shells".

4.- 10th Anniversary Gold Edition

Both sides of a Marto Gold Edition replica.
Photos by Beatlesrock.

It would seem that after selling off the whole line of Todd's official replicas the thing would be over, but not at all.

It's the year 2005, and Davis-Panzer, in league with the company Marto of Toledo (master swordsmiths from Spain) decided to produce a new line of Xena replicas to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the series. To be exact, heavy "Gold" deluxe reproductions plated with 24k Gold and engraved with memorable quotes from the series. We have seen a few examples during the Monday eBay Roundups, for example here.

Of course, a version of the original chakram had to be made. And although the chosen design was a variation of Todd's (which I suppose by contract must belong to Davis-Panzer), this time (apparently) they didn't count with his direct collaboration. Either way, the Gold 10th Anniversary chakram is clearly a version of Todd's design, and thus it fits perfectly well here.

>> EDIT 4: Here it turns I was totally mistaken. Mr. Coyle informs me the 10th Anniversary Gold Chakrams were indeed made by Todd's Costumes in the USA, not by Marto of Toledo in Spain. Marto did build other replicas from the 10th Anniversary line (such as Xena's sword, or Xena and Gabrielle's katanas), but not the chakrams. I'm not certain if other pieces like the Breast Dagger or the Callisto sword were made by Marto or not. On the bright side, I was right to link these chakrams to Todd's designs.

The only detail that differs from Todd's standard replica are once again the bolts in the saw-like pattern. If you look at them closely you'll discover they are a bit broader, and this affects at the size of the "negative" bolts that take shape in the silvery metal. These negative bolts (the voids or empty spaces I mentioned earlier) are too small, and don't appear to have the same measure as the golden areas.

Apart from that, this replica is a much more ornamental version. It's very shiny: apart from the patterns being gold plated, the rest of the blade seems to be chromed - which gives it a particular "liquid" aspect. It's also incredibly heavy (I've been told that several times more than a regular Todd's).

>> EDIT 5: Mr. Coyle adds the following: "I made the master by hand for pewter casting. The bodies were cast from pewter (that’s why they weigh a ton) and plated. They’re plated with nickel and gold. All the work was done in LA except the painting and shells – those were done up here". 

The hero quote typical to the commemorative 10th Anniversary run is engraved on the thick flat surface that corresponds with the inner circle of the blade (the opposite to the external edge).

A closeup to the engraved quote.
Photo by Beatlesrock.

The license covered 3500 units (which would make these even more abundant than the regular Todd's chakrams) but I don't think they reached those numbers. In the time I've been a collector I've only ever seen two of these Gold replicas, while I've encountered at least 10 or 15 of the "regular" ones. Whatever the case, the limited edition number can be seen engraved next to the quote on the chakram itself.

Limited edition engraving, also in the inner face of the blade.
Photo by Beatlesrock.

5.- Silver Screen Current Replica

Both sides of a modern Silver Screen replica.

There's yet another version of the chakram that fits with this group: the reproduction made by Silver Screen Replicas.

Of all the reproductions seen here to the moment, this is the only one still available directly from official distributors, namely Legendary Heroes (the current merchandise website of Davis-Panzer, fused with the remnants of the Xena catalog) and Todd's Costumes. The rest sold out and can only be purchased from previous owners.

This replica is odd. All the more, where it comes from is odd. With a few changes, it looks like Todd's, and it even has the same particularities that sets Todd's official run aside. But on the other hand, it looks shinier, rounder (the blade feels convex and curvaceous instead of flat) and made out of different materials. It doesn't present the Official Xena Merchandise logo either. Box is different, and Todd's name is nowhere to be seen.

Is it a copy? Another version of Todd's design?


Mystery is solved after a bit of research. If you go to Google and type "Silver Screen Replicas" you'll quickly find out the company was founded by Todd Coyle himself. Here for example:

"Todd Coyle was the Member of Silver Screen Replicas, LLC."
"The registered agent for the company is Todd M. Coyle. Also known as a statutory or resident agent, the registered agent is responsible for receiving legal notifications regarding court summons, lawsuits, and other legal actions involving the corporate entity."

What does this mean? Well, the way I see it Davis-Panzer and Todd wanted to keep producing chakrams (it's a lucrative business) but without devaluating their previous run together -which has nothing but gained additional value over the years due to its exclusivity and limited numbers. So what did the do? Create a new company without Todd's name, to be able to distribute the new replicas freely. Not a bad strategy, it's a good idea, don't get me wrong. The only issue I have with these chakrams is their quality - or apparent lack of it. It seems this time there was a shorter budget, because these new chakrams seem prone to present many flaws.

Several people has contacted either me or people I trust saying they received these replicas with missing paui shells, scratches, stains, and even fingertips left on the paint.

Here you can see the rounder shape of the blade I mention.

That's not very professional, guys - chakrams are not cheap items, quality should be better. Furthermore, it is also a bit disappointing. More so knowing these replicas come from people who used to make a very high quality work back in the day. Where are your standards? The only good thing I can say of this is about their return policy: if you don't like the chakram you can return it and your money will be reimbursed. Thankfully.

>> EDIT 6: Mr. Coyle has some words to share about the Silver Screen replica too: "(Years later) I suggested that DM do an unlimited edition. I found an outfit in Pakistan to take over the problematic casting and finishing process. Pakistan is a mecca for metal work. This time, instead of sand casting we upgraded to die casting. A new, cleaner master was made and turned into a steel die. This has the advantage of eliminating flaws in the metal, and a cleaner part. No voids or debris in the grooves, no shallow castings, etc. For the paint finish we upgraded to powder coating. Paint finishes don’t stick well to aluminum, and it’s really hard to handle wet paint and keep them dust free".

Well, this explains a lot. For example, the different appearance of this replica is due to a brand-new mold. Good. That also explains why these chakrams are bigger than Creation's (unlike previous Todd's pieces), which was noted by some fans like Epiphane David from Paris. The "made in Pakistan" and change of procedure part also explains much. Die casting eliminates flaws in the creation process, but also leaves a certain "cold" and "mechanical" feel to the piece, hence why these chakrams seem made out of different materials. It's an understandable change, but it's sad that the final result doesn't reflect the efficiency improvement.

As for the flaws, there's much to be read here too. I understand the creation process is at least partially out of Mr. Coyle's hands now, which would explain the lesser care put on the pieces.

As a side note, Mr. Coyle also adds this: "The name 'Silver Screen Replicas' was used on prop replicas that are licensed. 'Todd’s Costumes' is an odd name to put on a prop replica. [...] Pricing is set by DM – it’s their product. I’m obligated to follow their wishes".

> Accuracy level: Now it's turn to evaluate the accuracy level of these replicas. As I did the two previous times, I'll extract my conclusions from direct comparisons with the five key points determined during and after the original props evaluation.

a.- The Early Pre-Licensed Replica


       1. Size: Incorrect. Replica is noticeably smaller than the original prop.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       2. Material (shine & color)Correct polishing degree and golden hue.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 1/1
       3. Saw-like pattern: Incorrect. Contour lines (c) are too thick, and the
       overall design is very distorted - blade width (a) and pattern angles (b).
       ............................................................................................ Score: 0/1
       4. Squared pattern: Incorrect. Contour lines (c) are too thick, and the
       overall design is very distorted as well - f.e. notice the blade width too.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 0/1
       5. Blade edge: Correct. The replica has a thin blade edge.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 1/1

       ____________________________________________TOTAL: 2,5/5

This score is fairly obvious. Mistakes on this reproduction are too big to pass. However, I must insist once again that I'm trying to rate accuracy only. I'm not taking into account other things, like emotional factors. You can have this replica and love it for what it is (what it means in the chakram history, for example). There's much to be loved here -even if this is not an accurate chakram it's still a collector's piece.

b.- First Official Run


       1. Size: Incorrect. Replica is noticeably smaller than the original prop.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       2. Material (shine & color)Correct polishing degree and golden hue.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 1/1
       3. Saw-like pattern: Incorrect. Bolts look bulky & angles are off (a).
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       4. Squared pattern: Incorrect. Overall look is ok, but the Xena logo 
       stamped on the blade distorts this side of the chakram.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       5. Blade edge: Correct. The replica has a thin blade edge.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 1/1

       ____________________________________________TOTAL: 3,5/5

The First Gen Creation Ent replica also scored a 3,5/5, but I believe this chakram to be a bit inferior in accuracy terms. In this chakram version "mistakes" are something more visible and objectively wrong (the incorrect shape and angle alignment of the golden bolts or saw-teeth) and not something derived from different interpretations of the series.

Compared to the other versions from this same family, though, Todd's official run replica is very well positioned.

c.- 10th Anniversary Gold Edition


       1. Size: Incorrect. Replica is noticeably smaller than the original prop.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       2. Material (shine & color): Incorrect. The gold plating (a) and the
       chromed finish distort the general look&feel of the piece.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       3. Saw-like pattern: Incorrect. Contour lines (b) are too thick, and the
       bolts look too bulky. Negative bolts are too small. Angles are off (c).
       ............................................................................................ Score: 0/1
       4. Squared pattern: Incorrect. Contour lines (b) are too thick as well.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       5. Blade edge: Correct. The replica has a thin blade edge.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 1/1

       ____________________________________________TOTAL: 2,5/5

Again, this depends. This piece was never meant to be accurate, just ornamental - or so I want to believe. The Gold 10th Anniversary chakram is cool in many aspects (and this is much coming from me), but accuracy is not its forte. It has the same issues the regular Todd's model presents, adding some new of its own.

In the picture, for example, it's very easy to spot the smaller size of the negative bolts or empty spaces mentioned above.

d.- Silver Screen Current Replica


       1. Size: Incorrect. Size is correct, but the replica is noticeably broader  
       and much thicker than the original prop.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       2. Material (shine & color): Incorrect. It has an odd shiny finish (d).
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       3. Saw-like pattern: Incorrect. Bolts look bulky & angles are off (a) 
       and (b). Distance between bolt border and edge (c) is excessive.
       ............................................................................................ Score: 0/1
       4. Squared pattern: Incorrect. Distance between the bolt border and 
       the edge (c) is excessive here as well.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1
       5. Blade edge: Incorrect. Replica has a round blade, and a blunt edge.
       ......................................................................................... Score: 0,5/1

       ______________________________________________TOTAL: 2/5

You know already I'm not keen of this replica. Even if the procedure to make it has been perfected, the piece itself could and should be MUCH better. The distance between the outer ring and the inner ring, for example, is much bigger than in previous replicas. As is the general thickness of the blade - that almost doubles other versions. The score speaks for itself.

The rating is finished. Now let's review the extra features or bonuses (if any) that came with these chakrams.

> Additional features & Certificates: This part is going to be a bit longer than usual, due to the chakram versions being so different. So instead of cataloguing the features by themselves as I did with the Icons or Creation brands (f.e. shadowbox, COA...), I'll elaborate on them version by version.

The only chakram seen here that didn't include any bonus is the Early Todd's replica. The rest included or still include the features that follow:

a.- Todd's First Official Run

> The box and the purple paper

Both sides of the chakram comfortably lying on the silk purple paper.
Photo by Jmarchant4.

The first and more prominent feature that surrounds Todd's official run is the box. Or more specifically, the purple paper.

Funny enough, the purple paper is a bonus that has become quite famous. People associate it with quality, and with official products. Truth be told, it's beautiful: the color, the silk texture, the fragility. Neat! And some people won't want their Todd's chakram without it!

>> EDIT 7: Whose idea was the popular purple paper? Why, it turns out it was Mr. Coyle's himself. He tells me this: "The purple paper was my idea. I thought it just fit the Xena theme since the logo was purple/pink". I didn't know that! And I bet not many people knew it either ;)

> The COA

Todd's chakrams COA is a small and simple cardboard card.
Photos by Beatlesrock and XWP-HTLJ-NZ.

We've talked several times about COAs. A paper certifying the authenticity of the product, which most useful characteristic is letting us know the number of our replica. In Todd's case, knowing the exact number is not that relevant as in other cases, because his line is the most coherently done of all the chakram replicas. His official chakrams don't vary, don't change the mold, and don't present further sub-versions. Good!

It's interesting to highlight there are some replicas that additionally to the COA present the limited edition number directly engraved in the blade. Not all of them have this feature, though, but it happens.

b.- 10th Anniversary Gold Edition

> The box and the purple paper

Marto's Gold Edition also included purple paper.
Photo by Beatlesrock.
You purple paper fans can breathe easy. They didn't forget the purple paper with this version. And it's not the only purple thing, you'll see. Wonder if someone at Davis-Panzer had a purple fetish back then ;)

Now that I think of it, their logo is purple too!

> The wall-mount and the plaque

Photos by Beatlesrock.

A great great plus of this version is the luscious wooden wall-mount. Very elegant, certainly. They did a good job designing this piece. It includes a good-looking brass plaque, that states: "Xena Warrior Princess - 10th Anniversary - Sword and Armor Collection".

> The COA and the purple envelope

The COA is purple, as well as the envelope in which it comes.
Photo by Beatlesrock.

Again, COA. Which does NOT include the limited edition number, for some reason. It is, however, more elaborated than the previous one, as this includes the signs of Peter S. Davis and Marcy Jo Anderson (CEO and President of Davis-Anderson Merchandising Corp., the former branch of Davis-Panzer Productions dedicated to merchandising). 

Finally, a look of the Gold Ed. chakram accompanied with all its bonuses.

Photo by Beatlesrock.

c.- Silver Screen Replica

> The box


The box is actually nice. Purple (what else?), with the typical Xena image, and a big image of the chakram. My only issue with it is that the image doesn't quite reflect the real product inside. So if you're basing your purchase on the box only, be prepared to be surprised.

>> EDIT 8: Mr. Coyle is also behind the design of this box. "I designed the box, which I’m fond of. [...] I like the boxes a lot better than the purple paper. Getting a custom box and packaging made was not in the cards until DM went for the standard edition. I’d love to do the same thing with the Xena sword, but there’s not much demand for it".

> The wall-mount



I find the Silver Screen wall-mount (or walnut display plaques, as they call it) little inspired. The color, the hooks, the Xena image... it's not terrible, but it is much less tasteful than the Marto's red wall-mount. Anyway, it serves its purpose, and it's better than nothing.

> The COA

I'm not sure if one is included. It must come with some kind of papers.

Conclusion: There's no much left to say. Todd's chakram replicas are a whole "family", as you've been able to see for yourself. The best one is, without any doubt, the reproduction from the official run. And that's a good thing, because they are relatively easy to find. The rest... Some are better and some are worse. Pick at your own liking. 

***

The chakram comparisons are almost over! 

Note: All photomontages by me. Original pics by collectors Beatlesrock, Jmarchant4, Otsillac, XWP-HTLJ-NZ and me. 


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A little update

Hey friends!

I've been tied to bed for several days due to a nasty virus, but I'm glad to say it seems it's almost finally over. I'm exhausted, but feeling much better today, so I hope I'll be able to get back to the keyboard as soon as tomorrow.

If things go as expected, I'll be able to bring you the well deserved third part of the Chakram comparisons sometime around the week-end.

Battle on guys!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday eBay Roundup (II)

Another Monday, another roundup!

Today we don't have many new things to talk about, but let's see :)

- MARTO'S XENA KATANA REPLICA


   > Manufacturer: Marto Swords of Spain
   > Number: Not numbered
   > COA: Includes Marto's COA
   > Seller: beatles-rock
   > Price: $449.99 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Yet another Marto katana by Beatles-rock. You know I don't love them. However, I must say I went to Toledo a couple of weeks ago and I saw one in person. I was much impressed by its great quality. They might not be accurate replicas, but they are beautifully done katanas.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/171241042790

- AUTOLYCUS BROWN COSTUME


   > Character: Autolycus (unknown episode)
   > Material: Wool. Fabric. Leather.
   Papers: Not mentioned.
   Seller: intergalactic
   Price: $1,850 plus shipping

   > Opinion: This costume has been listed FOR AGES. More than a year. I haven't posted about it earlier cause I thought I already had lol It's a complete costume, and seems to be in good condition, but it has three disadvantages: first, unknown episode (not very appealing); second, apparently no COA (no security); and third, a very high price. I know costumes sold for thousands of dollars back in the day, but let's remember a Gabrielle S4 costume (far more iconic than this) sold "only" for $1.276 not so long ago. This price has to drop.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/380425953883

- ARCHANGEL SWORD PROP


   > Character: Xena. Archangels.
   > Material: Urethane resin.
   Papers: Includes Star Wares Collectibles COA
   Seller: cmheskett
   Price: $500 plus shipping

   > Opinion: I already talked about another archangel sword here. Not much to add. Nice prop, though this one has a price much higher than the one I previously reviewed.


***

As always, stay tuned for new entries.

Soon, the third part of the Chakram Comparisons.

Good Monday!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Turners Auction

It's Friday, collectors!

And Saint Valentine's day too :) While I don't believe much in this kind of stuff, I have a little present for you. A couple of rare things you might find interesting.

Do you know what Turners auction was? It was a huge prop sale that happened in NZ in 2001, after the show ended. It was the first Xena auction ever of this scale, and it sold off all kind of props used in Hercules, Xena, Young Hercules, Cleopatra 2525 and Jack of All Trades (all series produced by Renaissance Pictures). 

My first gift is a couple of flyers that were distributed to promote the auction, courtesy of Fox and Unicorn (of which I'll talk more very soon) and the awesome Xena page New Xenaland. Here they are!


My second gift are two PDF document (also courtesy of New Xenaland), that include the list of props and costumes auctioned those days. Cool, huh?


Hope you like this!

Have a great day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday eBay Roundup (I)

Hey guys!

Already recovered from the 2014 Xena con this week-end? :)

I've decided Mondays are a good day as any other to do a eBay roundup, so I'm making this a new entry category. Every Monday I'll try to summarize what's new on eBay, and post the items that might interest us collectors.

Today we can find all these:

- XENA CUDGEL PROP


   > Character: Persian army from S3 "One against an Army"
   > Material: Wood. Resin.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: mploesch
   Price: $85 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Mploesch brought us many cool costume props last week, so we know he has genuine stuff. This cudgel is not what we say an "iconic" prop, but seems to be in good condition. A nice add for your collection if you're into this kind of background props.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/301089760757

- AMAZON STUNT MAORI SPEAR


   > Character: The Amazons.
   > Material: Foam rubber. Feathers.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: baso
   Price: $80 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Very cool looking spear. It's a stunt prop, but it presents beautiful details. It was supposedly used by the Amazons, but the reference pictures show a different kind of spear. It could have been used by other tribes as the Hordes. However feathers are a distinctive feature of the Greek Amazons, so it could be from them. It measures about 60''/1,5m long, so shipping will most likely be a pain.

Note: Seller has another spear like this, but with no feathers. I post both links.


- PROP WOODEN OAR


   > Character: Unknown.
   > Material: Foam rubber. Feathers.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: baso
   Price: $80 plus shipping

   > Opinion: A wooden oar. Unknown episode, it might be from either Hercules or Xena. COA not included... Not much more to say about it :)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/141187379208

- PROP BARB CHAIN


   > Character: Unknown.
   > Material: Polyurethane rubber. Plastic.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: baso
   Price: $60 plus shipping

   > Opinion: This chain kind of looks like the one Xena uses in S5 "Motherhood" (the Chains of Hephaestus) but they are not exactly the same. Like the oar above, not much more to say about it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/131112425618

- SPIKY BALLS WEAPON


   > Character: Unknown.
   > Material: Polyurethane rubber. Plastic.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: baso
   Price: $75 plus shipping

   > Opinion: More of the same. Nice looking but anonymous prop, maybe from Hercules or even Young Hercules. Who knows. I show it just in case somebody fancies this kind of stuff.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/141187384868

- ALTI'S DAGGER


   > Character: Alti in S4 episode "Between the Lines".
   > Material: Metal. Leather.
   Papers: Not included.
   Seller: baso
   Price: $150 plus shipping

   > Opinion: At least something recognizable! This is Alti's dagger, and more so, a hero prop. This is real metal, folks, which means this prop was made for close-ups. It comes with a nice leather sheath, though this was not seen during the episode. Cool prop!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/131112428069

- LIN QI PROP SWORD


   > Character: Lin Qi in S5 "Back in the Bottle". Perdicas. Xena.
   > Material: Resin. 
   Papers: It's a Wrap! COA
   Seller: beatles-rock
   Price: $399.99 plus shipping

   > Opinion: This is the typical sword used over and over throughout all the series. Seen in many episodes, in the hands of characters as iconic as Perdicas, and Xena herself. It would be kind of impossible to know which actor hold this particular sword, though the COA say Lin Qi.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/310871036292

- EVIL XENA PROP SWORD


   > Character: Xena. Borias.
   > Material: Resin. 
   Papers: Turners COA
   Seller: beatles-rock
   Price: $599.99 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Now this is a cool sword! It's the Xena and Borias trademark sword from almost every flashback episode, as S3 "The Debt I&II", S4 "Adventures in the Sin Trade I&II" or S6 "Last of the Centaurs". Very recognizable, and seems to be in good condition. Price might be an issue for some buyers.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/310871039125

- ROMAN ARMY HELMET


   > Character: Romans. Gabrielle. Temecula. 
   > Material: Resin. Leather.
   Papers: Turner COA
   Seller: cmheskett
   Price: $250 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Yet another prop used in many many episodes. We find helmets like this almost in every episode featuring Romans, such as S2 "The Price" or S4 "A Good Day". A very visible item, there's no doubt.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/171239589901

- TODD'S XENA ARMOR BACKPIECE REPLICA


   > Manufacturer: Todd's Costumes
   > Number: None. It's a pre-licensed replica.
   > COA: Not included.
   Seller: sonofkrypton22
   Price: $75 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Sonofkrypton22/Otsillac items are always cool. This time he brings us a Xena backpiece replica from Todd Coyle (founder of Todd's Costumes) before he produced licensed replicas. This means it's a high quality replica (the pre-licensed Todd's replicas had far greater quality than his later works). The backpiece is made of resin and painted to look like copper. Niceley done. It's a bit broken in the bottom, but seems easy to fix. Overall is a very nice piece! And cheap!


More soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A treasure in the heart of NYC

Hey again!

Also thanks to Taylor, something I didn't know. It turns out there's a little Xena treasure hidden on plain sight in NYC's own heart, Times Square: an Original Chakram prop, on display at Planet Hollywood.

It seems Lucy Lawless donated the prop herself in a visit to the Planet Hollywood in Chicago, back in 1996. Cool, huh?


Nowadays, the chakram remains the property of Planet Hollywood, but has somehow found its way to New York. Here's the pic Taylor sends us!


Imagine my face when I've found out a real chakram was just a couple of blocks away from the place where I lived for years!

The Xena prop world remains a box full of surprises!

Tips on the Xena Prop Sword

Hey guys!

Taylor, a fellow Xenite, sends us a couple of tips about Xena Prop Swords. They complement the analysis I did in the Xena sword comparisons.

He says this: "A couple other things regarding your swords piece. First, when I got the sword I was blown away by how thick the Paua shells are, at least several centimeters. They are embedded in the sword but so all certainly protrude out. I've never seen any kind of purchase able Paua shells that are like them at all. Huge tell tale sign."

Photo by Taylor (aka TransGabbylol).

"Also, another tell tale sign of a genuine prop is that the sword tips are bent because they were hung with the tips touching the ground. To straighten them, the props folks would lay the swords between two boards in the sun for a bit." This last bit is definitely very curious to know :)

Photo by Taylor (aka TransGabbylol).

Pics are from Taylor's own prop sword, a resin prop with an embedded metal rod, used for up-close fighting scenes. Quite a beauty!

Photo by Taylor (aka TransGabbylol).

Thanks for the info and the photos Taylor!