10 Iconic Sci-Fi Movie Props You Can Own

Prop Store
Prop Store

If it weren’t for a man named Kent Warner digging through MGM’s trash, there may never have been much of a movie memorabilia market. Warner, a costumer by trade and collector by night, managed to salvage a number of classic film props from several studios, fetching discarded ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, the trench coat from Casablanca, and hundreds of costumes that he funneled into private hands.

That was back in 1970. Today, movie memorabilia is a multimillion dollar business, with auctions offering fans a chance to own screen-used or screen-worn apparel and props. One of the largest of the year is set for September 26, when London’s Prop Store will be auctioning off high-profile lots featuring items from Aliens, Star Wars, and other classic sci-fi and fantasy films. Here’s a glimpse of what’s in store, along with the estimated final sale prices once the gavel comes down. (Film history doesn’t come cheap.)

1. C-3PO’S HEAD // THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

A prop C-3PO head used in 'The Empire Strikes Back'

The suffocating mask sported by actor Anthony Daniels through months of filming 1977’s Star Wars—in excruciating desert heat, no less—led Daniels to beg the special effects staff to make a more comfortable costume for the sequel. Instead of fiberglass, propmakers used injection-molded plastic. The problem? The plastic quickly shrunk, making the heads unusable. The prop department kept them around as extras in case they needed spare parts. Effects masks from the trilogy are highly sought-after, with Chewbacca's fetching $172,000 back in 2008.

Estimated: $77,000-$103,000

2. THE JOKER’S SUIT // BATMAN (1989)

Jack Nicholson's Joker costume seen in the 1989 film 'Batman'

Now you can dance with the devil in the pale moonlight—whatever that was supposed to mean—in style. This vivid purple suit worn by Jack Nicholson in director Tim Burton’s gothic take on the Dark Knight comes complete with shirt, tie, gloves, and purple leather Oxford shoes. (Jack wore a 10.5, in case you were wondering.)

Estimated: $26,000-$38,000

3. STAR LORD’S HELMET // GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

Star-Lord's helmet from 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) sported this space helmet for galactic combat in only the second movie to co-star a taking raccoon. (Doctor Dolittle did it first.) Pratt’s movie star head was kept comfortable with interior foam and leather; LED lighting allows the eye sockets to glow red.

Estimated: $38,000-$64,000

4. INDIANA JONES’S WHIP // INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)

The whip used by Harrison Ford in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'

Harrison Ford’s third excursion as the superhero archaeologist demanded a deep reservoir of bullwhips. This one was used for scenes where Indiana Jones attempts a rescue of his father Henry (Sean Connery), among others. It’s made of kangaroo hide and measures 10 feet long. Presumably, the auction house is not responsible for whatever injury you may inflict upon yourself trying to use it.

Estimated: $64,000-$90,000

5. ALIEN CREATURE COSTUME // ALIENS (1986)

An alien costume used in the1986 film 'Aliens'

It’s game over for anyone trying to top your Halloween set-up if you can get your hands on this “alien warrior” costume worn by stunt workers for James Cameron’s Aliens. The complete polyfoam suit was designed by Stan Winston and based on H.G. Giger’s original concept.

Estimated: $26,000-$38,000

6. MARTY MCFLY’S SNEAKERS // BACK TO THE FUTURE II (1989)

Marty McFly's shoes as seen in 'Back to the Future II'

It took Nike decades to engineer a mass-produced pair of the sneakers worn by Michael J. Fox in the 2015 sequences of Back to the Future II. These screen-worn shoes were for shots of Fox walking around and feature a light-up Nike logo on the front.

Estimated: $32,000-$45,000

7. PETER VENKMAN’S SUIT // GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)

Bill Murray's jumpsuit from 'Ghostbusters'

Be assured Bill Murray busted ghosts in supreme comfort during filming of the 1984 comedy classic. The zippered one-piece jumpsuit is made of cotton and features the iconic Ghostbusters logo on the right arm.

Estimated: $7700-$10,000

8. GRAYS SPORTS ALMANAC // BACK TO THE FUTURE II (1989)

The sports almanac seen in 'Back to the Future II'

The perfect guide for the betting time-traveler, this Grays sports records paperback popped up frequently onscreen as Marty McFly tried to wrest it from the grip of adversary Biff Tannen. This is just the cover, though: no actual win/loss records are inside.

Estimated: $1300-$1900

9. SPIDER GREMLIN // GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)

The spider Gremlin prop from 'Gremlins II'

A true work of macabre art, effects legend Rick Baker designed this spider Gremlin as part of the mutated creature troop for director Joe Dante’s 1990 sequel. It’s undergone some slight restoration work.

Estimated: $13,000-$19,000

10. DOCTOR DOOM’S ARMOR // THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1994)

The Doctor Doom costume from 1994's 'Fantastic Four'

“Iconic” might be too strong a label for producer Roger Corman’s low-budget Fantastic Four film, which was reputedly made quickly so Corman could retain the film rights to the comic. This impressively-designed plastic suit of armor is probably the best thing to come out of it.

Estimated: $3900-$6400

All images courtesy of Prop Store.

Which Fictional Character Are You? This Online Quiz Might Give You an Eerily Accurate Answer

Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While watching a TV show or movie, you might find yourself trying to draw parallels between you and a certain character you’d want to be. If you’re like many viewers, it’s probably one of the heroic ones—the handsome private investigator with a tortured past and an unerring moral compass or the fearless queen who builds her kingdom from nothing and defends it to the death, etc.

But which character would you actually be? Openpsychometrics.org, a site that develops personality tests, has a new online quiz that might give you an uncannily accurate answer. You’ll be confronted with a series of 28 questions that ask you to pinpoint where you fall between two traits on a percentage-based spectrum. For example, if you’re more playful than serious, slide the bar toward the word playful until you’ve reached your desired ratio. The ratio could be anything from 51 percent playful and 49 percent serious, to a full 100 percent playful and not a single iota of seriousness at all. Other spectrums include artistic versus scientific, dominant versus submissive, spiritual versus skeptical, and more.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll find out which fictional character your personality most closely matches from a database of around 500 television and film characters. To pinpoint the personalities of the characters themselves, the quiz creators asked survey participants to rate them on a series of traits, and those collective results are then compared to your own self-ratings.

If you scroll down below your top result, you’ll see an option to show your full match list, which will give you a much more comprehensive picture of what kind of character you’d be. My top two results—which, ironically, were the same as Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy’s—were The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg and Joey Lucas, suggesting that we both have a no-nonsense attitude, a perfectionist streak, and an apparent aptitude for national politics that (at least in our cases) will likely go unfulfilled.

The fictional twin of managing editor Jenn Wood, on the other hand, is Game of Thrones’s Tyrion Lannister, unofficial king of witty side comments and all-around fan favorite. This was not surprising. As runner-up, Jenn got her personal hero, Elizabeth Bennet, which, in her words “makes me feel better about myself.” (Jenn has Pride and Prejudice-themed “writing gloves,” which seems important to mention.)

Take the quiz here to find out just how much you have in common with your own personal (fictional) hero.

Beyond Tiger King: 10 Fascinating Animal Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now

A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
A scene from Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018).
Markham Street Films

By now, you've probably already binged Netflix's bewilderingly bonkers docuseries Tiger King (2020). If you're ready to dive deeper into the animal kingdom, there are plenty more documentaries out there. From wildcats to whales, these 10 films will take you on a cinematic adventure around the world, introducing you to captivating creatures and the people who love them.

1. The Tigers of Scotland (2017)

The Tigers of Scotland (2017) brings viewers as up close and personal as possible with a small but mighty feline: the Scottish wildcat. The film delves into the efforts to conserve the disappearing Highland tiger, as well as the history and mythology surrounding the UK’s only “big cat.”

Watch it: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes

2. Ghost of The Mountains (2017)

This 2017 Disneynature documentary will transport you to the world’s highest plateau in search of a family of snow leopards. These cats are famously tough to find, so Ghost of the Mountains offers viewers behind-the-scenes footage of what it’s like to track the elusive beasts.

Watch it: Netflix, Google Play, Youtube

3. Catwalk: Tales from the Cat Show Circuit (2018)

This delightful documentary takes you deep into the competitive cat show circuit. Both charming and at times cutthroat, the film brings viewers on a journey to see which of the many cool cats and kittens will be crowned Canada's top cat.

Watch it: Netflix

4. Kingdom of the White Wolf (2019)

Follow along as a National Geographic explorer and photographer embeds with a white wolf pack in the high Arctic. These wild wolves aren't used to seeing people, giving the filmmakers—and audience—an intimate window into the pack's daily lives and familial bonds. In addition to showcasing captivating footage of the animals, the three-part docuseries also features sweeping views of the starkly beautiful Ellesmere Island.

Watch it: Disney+, YouTube TV

5. Dogs (2018)

This docuseries, which highlights various dogs and their humans from around the world, celebrates the bond between people and their pups. But it’s more than just a montage of feel-good moments about humankind’s best friend: Each episode tells a broader tale about the human condition, crafting an emotional narrative that pulls at the heartstrings like a puppy tugging on a toy.

Watch it: Netflix

6. Dancing with the Birds (2019)

These birds will put your dad moves to shame. Watch the male avian performers shimmy, shake, and flash their feathers while attempting to woo their female mates. The documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, offers a colorful look at the wonderfully wacky world of bird mating rituals.

Watch it: Netflix

7. Honeyland (2019)

This documentary follows Hatidze Muratova, one of the last wild beekeepers in a remote village in North Macedonia. She lives with her ailing mother, nurturing a traditional way of beekeeping passed down through the generations and striking a balance between making a living and maintaining ecological balance. But everything changes when a nomadic family settles nearby, threatening Muratova’s way of life. The resulting story is both sweet and stinging.

Watch it: Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play

8. Virunga (2014)

This 2014 documentary highlights the park rangers fighting to protect the Congo’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As poaching and oil exploration threaten the park, the rangers and conservationists risk their lives to guard the rare creatures that inhabit it.

Watch it: Netflix

9. Harry & Snowman (2016)

In the 1950s, Harry deLayer bought Snowman, a run-down plow horse destined for slaughter, for just $80 at an auction. Within months, the two were taking the show jumping circuit by storm, launching both horse and rider to new heights. This documentary tells the story of the friendship the two developed, and chronicles their lives both in and out of the competitive spotlight.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

10. The Whale and the Raven (2019)

The waters around Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest are a haven for whales, who feed and find refuge in the quiet channels. With stunning visuals, this documentary highlights the tension of a community’s push to protect its wild places against the pressures of the ever-encroaching natural gas industry.

Watch it: Amazon Prime

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER