It is days like today that make all of the sorrow, heart-ache and heart-break of prop collecting worth while. Don't get me wrong, it's a great hobby that I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of over the years, and have made some great friends through it. But I would say that more than half of the time, I am sorely disappointed with purchases or acquisitions.
The speargun featured in Tim Burton's "Batman" from 1989 is a prop I have been interested in since the moment I laid eyes on it, and the trail leading up to today has been littered with lots of money spent, disappointment, and frustration. I dare say that this is one of the props that reinvigorated my interest in props. While it was Luke Skywalkers lighstaber from Star Wars that got me started, this was one of the first ones I saw as a young adult that got my blood pumping.
I'll cut to the chase, and fill in the back story after the pics.
Here it is, in all its glory, a fully metal replica of the speargun.
A very beautiful piece, wonderfully hand machined in crisp, sharp detail, and anodized black. Based on some pictures that have surfaced VERY recently of the actual screen used prop, it is my belief that this piece was reverse engineered from the SDStudios piece that has been so frequently copied. It was not cast from the resin one, but was no doubt made using measurements from it. I believe this to be the case because the things that Steve (of SDStudios) did that differently from the screen used one are duplicated in this metal one.
As for the back story, I think my first attempt to get a decent spear gun was picking up the Toy Biz role play set that was released with the movie. It featured a plastic belt, and a few accessories, one of which was the gun. For a cheap toy, it was decent, and captured the essence of the screen seen one. It was way off, but was decent.
Years later I learned of the SDStudios piece, but at the time, it was well out of my price range at something like 800 dollars. Later on, I found a place in england going by "Phoenix Replicas", if memory serves me right who were selling a kit that was marketed as "Cast off an original". Though dubious of this claim, it looked decent from the pictures, so I ordered one. I think they wanted 25 dollars for it, and I figured "for 25 bucks, how bad could it be"? This turned out to be an early lesson in "you get what you pay for" in the props game. It was probably double the size of what it should have been, was horribly sculpted, and was cast in some of the stinkiest polyester resin I had ever smelled. I quickly sold it to a fellow collector who was not daunted by it's shortcomings.
For a while, a website going by the name of "Doll and Hobby" (if memory serves) was selling castings of what they assured me were "cast from originals" for 200 dollars or something. I got one, and found out that it was a poor recast of the SDStudios piece. Actually, I take it back, it was a pretty decent casting, it was just done poorly. The seam lines were all over the place and cut through some of the details. I put it up for sale, and ended up gifting it to a fellow named Jeff Holland, who goes by the name "Brin Londo" on a number of popular online forums. I think at the time Jeff was VERY new to the hobby, and I offered him some advice and tips on building the thing up.
A few more years rolled by, and at some point, Steve Dymszo himself offered up a raw kit of his spear gun. It was unbuilt, straight out of the molds. It included a couple of metal parts, and the metal spear. I think it cost me a few bucks, but I snatched it up, planning on building it right away. I was so happy to finally have that kit in my hands.
Which makes it odd that it ended up sitting in a box for something like five years. By this time in the hobby, I realized my strengths lay not in doing build ups of hand props, but instead in acquisition and research. Sure, I can do a mean build up, don't get me wrong. But I tend to focus my time and attention elsewhere. It's kind of weird. I ended up selling the kit to a fellow collector, who did a wonderful job building it up, and consequently offered it for sale.
I'm not totally sure of the timing, but I BELIEVE the motivation for selling the kit was to raise funds for a sale that was being offerd by a german collector who goes by the name "GermanBat". His name is Guido, which is an odd name for a German, but who am I to judge. Guido was offering what he claimed to be an ALL METAL 89 spear gun. Truth be told, THIS is what I had been searching for. Years earlier, I had seen an all metal spear gun in the collector of a fellow enthusiast named Janty. I held the piece in my hands, and was in awe. At the time, I knew that THIS is what I ultimately wanted. Of course, I made Janty an offer on the spot, which he wisely refused. But I was in love with the piece.
So when Guido offered up his all metal gun, I jumped on it.
There's another wrinkle to the story I forgot about, with further exposes the duplicity of Guido. I had heard Guido making some rumblings about eventually doing an all metal spear gun. When he offered the resin one, my FIRST thought was that he was unloading it because he didn't need it any more, as he was going to offer the metal one and needed funds to develop it. Naturally, I asked him. I asked if he planned on offering the metal one, as I would rather wait for that. He said he was not doing a metal 89 spear gun.
I promptly sent him the money. Though I have told this story online before, I think it's worth repeating, because it's a good cautionary tale on how idiotic some sellers can be. So the guy sends over this gun, which I paid 600 bucks for, and it turns out to be a build up of an SDStudios kit, JUST LIKE the one I sold a few days prior. It was all resin, with a COUPLE of metal parts. I knew right away it was an SDStudios piece, because I had been sitting on that kit for five years. I emailed Guido and asked for a refund, but he said no, and insisted that the piece was all metal. Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I'm pretty sure I can differentiate metal from resin. The two telltale characteristics are weight and temperature. And heck... YOU CAN JUST TELL! But apparentlly, Guido lacks the gene for this operation, and simply refused to accept any wrong doing, and refused to offer a refund.
We went round and round, with him simply refusing to admit that it was resin, no matter what proof I offered to the contrary.
Naturally, without fail, shortly after getting the resin speargun, Guido officially announces that he is moving ahead with his plans to develop and offer an all metal spear gun. Nice. Class act all the way bro.
Being the keyboard kowboy I am, I naturally took my beef to a number of online forums, where I did my typical character assassination routine, which frankly worked like a charm. I mean, it's easy to nail someone to the wall when you have them dead to rights. But Guido being the guy he is was completely unrelenting, and instead of making the situation right, asked for a self imposed ban from one forum. Really weird, but whatever.
I learned much later that even Steve Dymszo was pleading with him behind the scenes to resolve the problem, as he was also able to discern that it was a build up of one of his resin kits. But alas, Guido was unrelenting.
By this time, I'm pretty much fed up with the whole piece, and needed some time away from it. I think about a year, maybe two passed by before THIS piece came up for sale. I emailed the guy and asked all kinds of really lame questions like "are you SURE it's all metal, and not resin with a couple of metal parts??" I'm sure the guy thought I was mental, but I needed to be sure.
We sealed the deal at a great price, I sent paypal, and then promptly left on a two week vacation.
I return home to find a delivery confirmation slip in my mail box... but no box. it was not in the leasing office, and it was not on my front door. I was in a panic. Emails started flying, though none of them were accusatory. I'm smarter than that. I was just trying to track down information on the thing, and trying to figure out where it could have been lost. I went to the mail room in the leasing office and turned it upside down. I spoke to the folks in the leasing office, and they too turned it upside down.
I figured I was cursed.
Or at least, the gun was.
But then I had a hunch. Even though the delivery confirmation information said it had been delivered to my apartment, I got to thinking, what if it was at the local post office. I went down there to check it out, and after the postal employee checked around in the back, sure enough, it was there.
So yeah, it's been a LONG and painful trail to get to this moment, but I'm glad it's finally here. I now own a really nice all metal replica of a prop that intrigued me some 22 years ago.
Weird how it all works out.