Movie News

Collector Shows off Epic LOTR Memorabilia Collection Ready for Auction

trilogy-collection-catalogFans of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy will have a once in a lifetime chance to view a rare collection of memorabilia from the films from December 2 through December 5 at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills. The collection includes iconic props and costumes from major characters and memorable scenes from the trilogy as well as an array of prosthetics, miniatures, and pre-production items originally used to bring the film franchise to life on the big screen.

Highlights of The Trilogy Collection: Props and Costumes from Middle-Earth include Frodo Baggins’ Sword “Sting” with an estimate of $100,000-$200,000, Aragorn’s Sword (Estimate: $50,000-$70,000), Gimli the Dwarf’s Battle Axe (Estimate: $50,000-$70,000), Gandalf the White’s Wizard Staff (Estimate: $50,000-$70,000), Ringwraith Costume Display (Estimate: $80,000-$100,000), Samwise Gamgee’s Prosthetic Hobbit Feet (Estimate: $15,000-$30,000), Samwise Gamgee’s Prosthetic Hobbit Ears (Estimate: $5,000-$8,000) and an extraordinary array of many more collectible pieces of rare memorabilia. Fans and collectors can view the entire collection at www.juliensauctions.com.

The collector behind it all is Troika Brodsky, who compiled the largest collection of items from the film outside of Peter Jackson’s own. He told us, “I’ve been collecting since the movies were in production, and I put the collection together from a ton of detective work. Everything in the collection is either an authentic filming prop or something from pre-production/production. Despite the 100,000 props and costumes made for the film, very, very little is in private hands. Obviously, Peter Jackson has gifted out a number of props, but there were also a number of official outlets, like New Line Sweepstakes and the New Line Studio Online Auctions. As Peter Jackson has made it very clear that the Wingnut/Weta archive is going nowhere, this auction literally represents a once in a lifetime chance for fans of the films to acquire this stuff. The only significant piece to sell publicly prior to this was a Legolas Bow last December and that sold for $372,000, so this auction could potentially get very interesting.”

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Middle-earth News: You said that you started collecting when The Lord of the Rings films were still in production. Does that mean you were a Tolkien fan to begin with?

Troika Brodsky: I’ve been a big Tolkien fan since I was a kid. There are certainly plenty more versed than me, but as I’ve read The Silmarillion more than once, I’d say I’m definitely in the upper percentile of nerds fans. That said, I’m first and foremost a movie geek, and I’ve been a fan of Peter Jackson since Bad Taste. As a young film geek, discovering a low budget film from New Zealand where a sheep gets blown up with a rocket launcher was pretty mind-blowing. Needless to say, a Peter Jackson helmed Lord of the Rings series of films had me pretty excited from the get go.

MEnews: And since you were collecting so early on, did you ever try to get yourself cast in a role as a background actor?

TB: I’ve never been in a position to travel to New Zealand for the extended period of time that would have been necessary to even attempt to get on the set of either LOTR or The Hobbit. My understanding has more or less been that unless you had a direct “in” with the studios or Peter Jackson personally, or lived in NZ and had the time to go through the proper casting procedure, you were out of luck. I’ve never had the kind of free time away from work to go on a multi-week vacation, so as much as I would have given anything to simply get on set, let alone score an extra role, I never had any idea how to try to make that happen.

MEnews: We’d love to learn to stories behind any of your pieces, so feel free to share!

TrilogyCollection_RingwraithTB: One of my favorite stories would be about the Ringwraith costume. This piece was originally sold through New Line Cinema’s Online Auctions after The Fellowship of the Ring came out. It was originally made by Weta and given to New Line to use as a display at early junkets like Cannes. The gentleman who bought it, ultimately listed it on eBay because he simply didn’t have room for it in his house (I can relate to this and have had to pay to keep it and his Uruk Hai companion, Lurtz, in a storage locker for 8 or so years). The kicker was, when this item was listed on eBay, nobody, including the owner thought the piece was an actual filming costume. The New Line COA said it was used in filming, but wasn’t very specific, and again, the seller seemed uncertain and was asking for very little money relatively.

Well, I had no idea how I would pay for the piece, let alone where I would store it, but I knew there was a very likely chance that the costume was screen used as I knew how they were made, how many different types of layered and aged silks were used and how complicated they were…I knew there was no way they would have created a brand new one from scratch just for a display piece when they had made 29 different costumes. So I took a leap of faith, ran up my credit card, and met the owner and his friends late one night in a storage locker after they had driven 7 hours from Oklahoma to drop off my Ringwraith. The whole thing was very surreal and I made my buddy go with me in case things “got sketchy.”

The kicker is that I emailed Richard Taylor at Weta Workshop about this piece and my other life-sized piece…and he actually responded, which was one of the cooler moments in my life. He was incredibly kind and went into great detail about what was screen used on both costume displays and how they were made and who at Weta had done what. I couldn’t have been more excited. So, while no one knew it at the time, I was able to confirm that I own one of only 29 Ringwraith costumes made for the production of the films, and the only one in private hands. And let me tell you, that thing is incredible in person. The level of detail in the embroidery alone, on the robes is breathtaking. You never see that detail on film, but it’s there, and that cuts right to the heart of why I love these props so much. They are incredible works of art.

MEnews: Can you tell us about some of props that were really difficult to get your hands on?

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TB: The Aragorn was a particularly well-earned acquisition on my part as I was looking for that piece actively for over four years. This piece was the Grand Prize in the New Line Cinema/Hasbro “Win The Sword of Aragorn Sweepstakes.” I had more or less been blindly sending letters out to a number of people who I thought might have been the winner, and I never received a response. Finally, after I was pretty sure I had the correct name and hometown of the winner, I contacted the local City Hall to see if they could help. I may have said I was journalist. I know, I know… it all sounds a bit stalker-ish…but what some people might call stalking, I call ace detective work! I managed to finally exchange some emails with the contest winner, and it was another 4 or 5 months of talking before we finally worked out a deal on the sword. Typically, the most difficult part of acquiring a new piece for the collection was simply finding the piece in the first place. There is so little of this stuff in private hands, and most people who do have items aren’t in a rush to part with them. That said, in general, I would say 90% of the items I have come across from the production were obtainable, whether or not they were affordable was an entirely different story.

MEnews: Were there any items that you really tried for, but ended up being unobtainable?

There have been a handful of great pieces that, for various reasons, slipped through my fingers over the years. There were a couple of fantastic Orc masks, an Uruk Hai helmet, etc. There is one piece though, that was always my White Whale, and that piece just sold publicly at auction last December for a tremendous amount of money. Legolas’s Lothlorien Bow. The bow was another one of the Grand Prizes from the “Win The Sword of Aragorn Sweepstakes” back in 2003, same as my Gimli Axe and swords of Aragorn, Frodo, and Eowyn. These pieces are as good as it gets in the prop collecting world and the Legolas Bow is the one piece that another collector tracked down before I could. I knew the collector (a great guy, by the way), and for years I corresponded with him, always hoping that I would someday find a way to purchase the bow. It was my dream to reunite all of the Sweepstakes props. Unfortunately, as a fellow collector, he knew exactly what he had in terms of value, and I was never going to be in a position to make a serious monetary offer on the piece. But that one was the one for me, and when it finally went to auction last year, I was actually really broken up about it. I know it sounds weird, but I had lived in the hope for almost ten years that at some point I might find a way to make it happen, and I knew the moment it went up for public auction I would never see it again.

MEnews: I have to ask…have you ever been approached by fetishists who wanted specific items, like ears or feet, because they were worn by a certain actor?

No fetishists…that I know of. Ha! Obviously a lot of fans have favorite actors. I know a collector friend in Europe who had asked a few times about my Arwen boots and he has a daughter named Arwen, so that makes sense. But I’ve never come across anything overtly weird in my years of collecting. When I toured with The Lord of the Rings in Concert with the collection in 2011, I got to meet a ton of die-hard fans out on the West Coast. I actually was the one who had to physically set up and take down the display each night, and also act as security, so I would stand next to the collection throughout the show and just shoot the breeze with fans, and you couldn’t ask for a cooler bunch of folks.

As a side note…

I spent two weeks on a bus with the Pacific Chorale, traveling up and down the West Coast along with the Arizona Boys Choir and the Munich Symphony Orchestra as part of the Lord of the Rings in Concert Arena Tour. It was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Up at 5am every morning to sit on a bus for between 6 and 14 hours. On the days when there was a show (which was every day but two), we would arrive at the arena about 3 hours before show time. I would have to find where the roadies had dropped off my prop collection, praying the whole time that nothing had been broken or lost, figure out who to talk to about where I could set up, unbox and set everything up, find rope barriers to block it off and have everything ready by the time they would let in between 5,000 – 10,000 fans…and I would always be just finishing as the doors would open. No time for dinner. Just going. Then, after the intermission in the middle of the performance, I would immediately start scrambling to take apart the display and box everything back up and get it back down to the trucks so that I didn’t get left behind when the performance ended.

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Photo courtesy of Troika Brodsky

It was literally the most stressful, grueling thing I have ever been a part of…and with me, right by my side the entire time was a woman who I had only met a couple months prior…who I invited to go on the tour with me with the understanding that if it was awful, she could hop off in any city along the way and catch a flight home. We met at a conference and she had visited me once in my hometown, so basically, the LOTR Concert Tour was our 3rd date, and it couldn’t have been more intense or stressful and as it turned out…we realized we were awesome together and fell in love on what we now refer to as “Nerd Tour.” Within a month or so after Nerd Tour, she had moved to my hometown, and we’ve been together ever since and are planning to get married.

Last month, we went to Ireland for the International Exhibition of the Julien’s auction…so that became the “European Nerd Tour.” When I told her we were heading to LA for the week to attend the Premiere of The Desolation of Smaug and then the auction, she told me she “didn’t know ‘Nerd Tour’ was a Trilogy.” I told her she should have known better. So for all the other cool things the collection has brought into my life, I fell in love with the woman I’m going to marry while traveling the country sharing my collection of Lord of the Rings prop with fans, and I think that is incredibly cool. It’s super nerdy…but incredibly cool.

MEnews: It’s got to be so hard to part ways with so many amazing items. Do you have any hopes about the kinds of people who will purchase your treasures and what they will do with them?

TB: Honestly, selling this collection has been incredibly hard for me. I absolutely love this stuff. I was completely choked up when I was sealing up the box with my Frodo sword. This collection was and is a huge part of my life, and if circumstances were different, I would absolutely be keeping the collection together. Even in selling it, I would have loved to be able to keep the collection intact. I looked into trying to find a permanent home for the entire collection where it could be shared with fans, but I simply couldn’t figure out a solution. In terms of my hopes for who purchases it, I hope the items go to homes where they will be as appreciated and well cared for as they were while in my care. These are gorgeous, remarkable items from an amazing trilogy of films, and I still feel incredibly lucky to have been able to play steward to them over the last decade.

MEnews: You said that you’re keeping two items for yourself. We’re dying to know–what are they??

TB: I am keeping two really nice pieces. They aren’t “Frodo’s sword nice,” but they are cool. I can tell you that one is a gorgeous hero helmet, and the other is a very cool weapon from a member of the Fellowship, but unfortunately that is really all I can share. It was really important for me to keep something, and while I would have loved to have held onto “Sting,” I really felt I needed that piece to anchor the auction, given how iconic it is. I knew in order for people to view this auction as a truly event level sale, I needed that piece to be a part of it. So, I still have a little something, and that makes it all easier.

MEnews: As an expert on prop collecting and Peter Jackson films, what do you think are going to be the best or most sought after collectibles from The Hobbit trilogy?

TB: Obviously, I have only seen one of the new films so far, but you can bet if anything significant from the new films does make it to the collecting market (and so far, I have seen nothing except for a few items that were apparently stolen and then recovered by police), that Sting, Glamdring, and Orcrist would be on the top of people’s lists, as well as wizard staffs and anything point or shooty from Legolas, Tauriel, Thranduil, and Bard. But just as before, anything significant from the new films would be sought after.

 

You can follow Troika on Twitter @RingsProps where he continues to post pictures and updates about the pieces. He said he may even tweet about other “shenanigans” once he arrives in Los Angeles for the auction.

Don’t miss this chance to see the whole collection together for the last time! If you aren’t lucky enough to visit the collection in person in Beverly Hills, make sure you visit the Julien’s Auctions online catalog or order your own Limited Edition Trilogy Collection Catalog. This full-color catalog offers to memorabilia collectors, and especially to those who cherish the stories and films, the opportunity to see and learn about the Props & Costumes used in these iconic films. This is the only time this collection will be assembled together and the catalog is your chance to own a piece of this legacy. (Personal Note: I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this catalog, and it really is beautiful and collector-worthy in its own right.)

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Registering to Bid

Registration is required to bid in this live auction and can be done in person at the exhibition and auction, or online before the sale at the JuliensAuctions.com Registration page to bid by phone, proxy or in person, or online at JuliensLive.com to bid live online, or by calling (310) 836-1818.

Placing Bids

There are four ways to bid in this sale:

  1. Bid through Julien’s Auctions Online Live in Real Time at JuliensLive.com.
  2. Place bids in the room by attending the auction.
  3. Bid over the telephone through an auction house representative, who sits in the room and conveys the bid to the auctioneer.
  4. Enter Absentee bids. Absentee bid forms are printed in the back of each catalogue, and are also available by calling Julien’s Auctions at (310) 836-1818 or online at juliensauctions.com at our Register to Bid page.
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