Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Phaser Rifle Prop Found!

I was always taken by the cool phaser rifle that Kirk used in "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It was such a sleek and functional-looking weapon, far beyond the usual sci-fi rayguns we had seen before (I'm looking at you, "Lost In Space'), and was superior even to the blaster rifles used in "Forbidden Planet." Why it was never used again (when the lasers from "The Cage" turned up several times in later episodes), I will never know, but I always wished it had. Now, it has turned up again in real life, after being thought long lost since the series. Apparently the man who built it took it back after the one-time use, and kept it in perfect condition in a special case. Now, it is being auctioned off. Some lucky (and well-to-do) Trek collector will have one of the ultimate original props, and I do envy them! Here is the auction page.

"Go ahead... make my stardate!"
(Click on images to enlarge. Once open, you may have to click again to view full-size.)
First, some images from the episode:

The auction page had this information on the prop:

A Phaser Rifle from the William Shatner-starring second pilot for Star Trek (Desilu Productions, Norway Corporation, 1966-1969). This one-of-a-kind weapon was created by toy inventor Reuben Klamer at the behest of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. When the original pilot presented to NBC was asked to be retooled for a more action-packed adventure, Roddenberry asked for a really big gun. Klamer designed and created the weapon at no charge to the production in exchange for potential licensing rights to the weapon. When production was wrapped, the piece was returned to Klamer and replaced with the now familiar pistol design used throughout the remaining three seasons of the original series. While this weapon was never seen again in the series, it was used in a number of studio-commissioned publicity photos and even represented on an early lunch box for the series. The weapon is constructed out of wood and finished with a blue/green metallic paint. There is additional detailing, including the hand-tooled aluminum barrel and spring-loaded trigger, a sliding switch to adjust the force setting, three plastic non-functional domed indicator lights and inset plastic panels as well as a telescoping antenna mounted to the top. Moveable pieces on the weapon include three acrylic “Turret Tubes” cylinders with what appears to be copper painted metal conduit with ends painted to match the three force settings. The entire turret unit turns on a center axis. The black shoulder butt also rotates to be used as a handle or shoulder stock. The weapon comes in the original custom-made case made to deliver the rifle to the studio.//Also included in the lot are copies of Inter-Department Communications from Roddenberry to Bob Justman, Bernie Weitzman and Ed Perlstein regarding the weapon as well as an original, signed letter from Roddenberry to Klamer, dated March 16, 1966. The letter informs Klamer that the series was picked up and they would continue discussions regarding Klamer’s possible involvement in creating more props for the show. Seven black and white Polaroid photographs accompany the lot showing the finished weapon from various angles with a letter to Klamer from employee AB Kander, discussing Roddenberry’s visit to the shop to inspect the rifle and approving the final product. Finally, the design plan for the rifle, signed by Roddenberry for approval on June 28, 1965. There is an additional pen sketch on the plan with some minor revisions to the weapon.

And, here are the photos of actual prop from the auction page. Sweet!


I'd settle for just owning a nice replica, like you can get here: http://www.xscapesprops.com/Star_Trek_Props_Page1.htm I bet they would have loved to have had these pictures when making theirs!

Someone on Youtube has built a working phaser rifle, (or modifed the above replica) with a visible laser! Now that, I'd LOVE to have... This same guy has built working models of all the other types of phasers, also. I would be outright dangerous with some of these in my possesion!

One design detail, though, has me puzzled... why would a weapon such as this need a telescoping antenna, that would be vulnerable to easy breakage in action? How many channels does that thing get?

UPDATE! I have heard from someone heavily involved in the auction, Stephen Kirk (!), who wrote in the comments: "I was fortunate enough to catalog this piece for the auction house as well as produce the video we used to promote the sale, which included an interview with the guy who designed and built the Phaser rifle."
Watch the great video below, or watch it on Youtube! http://youtu.be/oWGNDoXG9R8

Update 4-9-13: The Phaser Rifle sold for $231,000!
Here's a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR7XbMXBVHI


Maurice Mitchell said...

That is amazing. The amount of detail is incredible!

Frederick said...

I agree, and the fact that it is in such pristine shape after all these years is awesome. A real museum piece of history.

Anonymous said...

those laser enhanced phasers are amazing. dude you couldve done with one of those back in the stepdad days!

"hey step pops you seen my new star trek magazine?"

"yeah i put it in the trash, then poured some tea bags and coffee over it"

*cue phaser blast sound*


*continual phaser blasts Cage style*

ScienceOfficerSmith said...

Holy cow. I was skeptical, but there are the photos! An incredible piece of history.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. A very exciting find. Also, glad to see you back and blogging after your long absence. --JohnG7

Rob Bignell said...

Thanks for sharing - great photos. I loved the design, too, and was always bummed that it didn't appear in the "Starfleet Technical Manual."

Farts Fun said...


I won this Phaser RIfle from G4 -- I don't think Gene Roddenberry productions even make them anymore. It is totally solid and works like a top,, even the "overheat" setting! I have the letters of authenticity from GR Productions and G4, an AWESOME piece!

Steven Kirk said...

I was fortunate enough to catalog this piece for the auction house as well as produce the video we used to promote the sale, which included an interview with the guy who designed and buitl the Phaser rifle :)


Frederick said...

Thanks so much for commenting and for posting the link! I have updated the post to include that awesome video. I appreciate it so much!