Movie props are the ultimate collectable items, especially when they come from sci-fi and fantasy movies like Star Wars or The Terminator. Fans pay top dollar to buy these props at auctions and there's a whole industry built on producing and selling collectable replicas.
We’ve put together a list of 10 iconic movie props in Part I and Part II. Let’s dive in and see the first five from the list.
Back to the Future (1985)
The Hoverboard in Back to the Future Part II wasn't just a fun concept, but a real prop created by George Barris. There were multiple, made-for-the-movie hoverboards. Unlike in the film, they didn't really float but rather had wheels with magnetic levitation. It was designed and built by Garrett Brown (who also invented Steadicam) and Barris. Brown worked on it for two years and eventually won an Academy Award for his development of the electronic motion control system used in conjunction with a camera support device.
A replica of the Hoverboard is actually on the market as a 'collector's toy' produced and distributed by Mattel:
Star Wars Franchise (1977 – Present)
George Lucas' Star Wars series is one of Hollywood's most iconic movie franchises. However, few people know that much of what we've come to love was inspired by real-life items. While filming Star Wars, some prop designers visited museums and did research on real-world designs. They studied the design of numerous samurai swords and World War II fighter planes in order to get an idea of how they could create things that felt real.
Let's take a look at one of our favourite Star Wars props: Darth Vader's lightsaber. For many fans, Darth Vader’s lightsaber is one of the coolest props in film history. Designed by Ralph McQuarrie (who worked as an illustrator for Lucasfilm), it went through several iterations before landing on its final design: two beams intersecting with a handle jutting out of them diagonally. It has since become one of pop culture’s most recognisable symbols.
Here's a video of a remarkable collectable replica here:
The heartbreaking love story was one of Hollywood’s most powerful tales. Released in December 1997, Titanic won 11 Oscars and spent a record-breaking 15 weeks as number one at box offices across America. With a budget of $200 million and grossing over $2 billion worldwide, James Cameron’s masterpiece about star-crossed lovers has broken records time and time again. Titanic also created three iconic movie props that have become highly sought after by collectors around the world: Rose’s Heart Necklace, Jack Dawson’s Jacket and Rose’s Floating Dress. These three items sold for a combined total of $900,000 at an auction on eBay in 2015.
The 'Rose’s Heart' necklace is believed to be one of only two ever made (the other belonging to Kate Winslet). One side features a carving of Jack while on the other side, there is a carving of Rose with her name inscribed below it. These words are inscribed on either side: ‘I jump into the ocean, and I swim for you.’
Forrest Gump (1994)
A box of chocolates, a shrimp-shaped key chain and Lieutenant Dan’s leg. These are but a few movie props that have achieved status as real collectables since Forrest Gump hit theatres in 1994. Tom Hanks’ character goes through so many adventures and misadventures in Robert Zemeckis’ classic comedy-drama that you would think he would never be able to gather enough stuff to fill up even one drawer (let alone hundreds). But now, all these years later, you can buy your own piece of history from Forrest’s adventure-filled life.
So if you ever wanted to eat chocolate while sitting on a bench next to Bubba or show off your love for Lt. Dan by wearing his fake leg around town, now is your chance!
Lord of the Rings Franchise (2001–2003)
It might not be quite as flashy as a lightsaber, but Frodo’s sword Sting was made from an iron blade found in the heart of a troll. In Norse mythology, trolls were thought to have special powers, including that they could grow swords from their own bones. It makes sense then that Bilbo Baggins would use one to fight off orcs and goblins (though his must have been made from goblin bone since he killed his first one at least). Sting would come in handy for Bilbo’s nephew Frodo too; it glows blue when orcs are near and can detect their presence if left by its wielder’s side. Like we said earlier: Star Wars is not alone when it comes to intergalactic cool-factor.
And of course, we must mention the most famous ring in movie history: Sauron’s One Ring. No prop list would be complete without mentioning Sauron’s One Ring. Arguably, it is what kicked off many fan's love affair with movie props.
Here's is a video of a jewellery maker Youtuber making a breathtaking replica of Sauron's One Ring:
We can see that from costumes to weapons, movie props are an integral part of making iconic films like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings seem realistic - in some cases, even more so than their digital counterparts!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this list and stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll introduce five more of the coolest collectable movie props.