Alleged Screen Used Hero TOS Phaser up for auction

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Duncanator

Sr Member
The font is actually the same. But the numbers are the also the same, and strangely the number 10 is occluded in the same manner on both.
View attachment 1465938

Where did these two pics come from? They look like two pics of the same piece under different lighting conditions. (and slightly different angle)
Look at the glue globs and the shape of there thumb wheel opening. Even the central paint smear from the right picture is faintly visible in the left picture.
 
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Gregatron

Sr Member
The font is actually the same. But the numbers are the also the same, and strangely the number 10 is occluded in the same manner on both.
View attachment 1465938

Huh. Looked like a different/bolder font in the comparison photos. Good catch!

Anyway, there’s definitely a case to be made for Wah cutting one long batch of numbers into at least two pieces for use under the hero power meters. The Jein used 6-12, and the TMOST used 16-24. That leaves 13-15 (which wouldn’t have been used, since there would be too few numbers to fit under the meter), and 25-??.

Let’s assume that Wah had two identical rolls of numbers, instead of one (which would necessitate the numbers moving up into 25-50 with the other two phasers). That would mean potential repetition of numbers across the different props. It seems more than a little odd that both the Jein and this piece both use EXACTLY the same numbers. The use of 6-12 also automatically disqualifies it from being the TMOST P1, which used 16-24 (and had a blue watch crown).

That leaves the Nona (which had a red Swarovski rhinestone) and the Lenore (which appears to have had a red watch crown). The basic details of both props (no Velcro, gemstones, etc.) can be ascertained from screencaps, although their power meter numbers cannot. But, we can still check the placement and relationships of the various parts, and compare them to this auction piece.
 
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Gregatron

Sr Member
I think I'm approaching this from a different perspective that many people here.

As said, I never claimed to be in expert in the minutiae of the phaser props from TOS. That's not how I'm looking at this primarily.

What I am though is someone who has had a long-standing fascination with confidence men and cons and forgers and forgeries. I've read a lot on the subject over the years and see certain patterns emerge that I think I identify here.

I'm also active in the firearms collecting community and fakes are common there. (Typically common firearms embellished to appear to be rare firearms or owned by famous people, etc).

People have been making forgeries and fakes of works of art for hundreds of years. There are numerous examples of forgers who have fooled experts, and museums and auction houses in the 20th Century. There are people who could copy an artists style, use appropriate materials (although not always 100% correct), and use techniques to properly "age" or damage an item to make it look more authentic. Why? the motive is almost always money.

When you combine the forger's art with the con man's skill at deception you can fool experts, museums and auction houses. A simple search will turn up plenty of examples.

The same is true now with props. In a way these are modern art works. There is a huge financial incentive to create a highly desirable prop. We've seen experts, museums and auction houses deceived in the past.

In addition to making the actual item the forger has to take on the role of con man and create a story that goes with the fake. It has to be convincing, work within known facts, and, hopefully, (for them) explain away any inconsistencies or "missing links" in the provenance.

History has shown us that this is often easier than you might believe. The problem is "the mark wants to believe." The auction house wants to believe something is a previously unknown piece for the money it will bring in. The potential buyers want to believe they have the ability to buy something that is typically unavailable on the market for any price. That desire to believe can, and does, blind people to problems with the item itself and/or with the story behind the item. And even the experts might "want to believe" because finding a previously unknown surviving prop is exciting and is a neat connection to the history of the show.

The existence of a previously unknown surviving "Hero" Phaser is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary proof. The amount of money that will be asked for it at auction alone demands that.

The first step is the provenance. The story and the documentation to back up that story. I see the story that this was in Wah Chang's hands when the show ended and was transferred to someone else sometime after that. The next thing I'd want to see is the documentation behind that story. Who was it given to? What was their relation to Wah Chang? Do they have any documentation of their ownership of this item in all the time since then? Can anyone collaborate this with even a, "Yeah, he showed me that in 1990" or some such? Or does the owner have any old photos showing them with the item that were obviously taken years or decades ago?

I don't see the Letter of Authenticity posted on the auction site. I'd really want to see what it says and how it explains the chain of custody over time.

Personally, the story as told, seems suspicious to me without more documentation. I find it incredibly convenient that it says, "This was given to Wah Chang to be reworked or repaired" precisely because that is the type of thing that can be used to explain away any questionable elements of the item itself. "Oh, that's different because Wah Chang changed it." That's typical of the type of story used to back a con.

Then there's the item itself. This is where the experts come in. And this is where I say I'm not in expert in the details of this prop. Although you'd think you could leave authentication to the experts, you have to remember that whoever creates a forgery is specifically TRYING TO FOOL THE EXPERTS.

Let me repeat that. A forger is deliberately TRYING TO FOOL THE EXPERTS. He'll use all available info to create as close a match as possible including material, dimensions, paint color, etc. The less information there is publicly available on any item the harder it is for him to have the knowledge to duplicate it well enough. The more info available, the easier it would be.

Is there enough info about the Hero Phaser to create a convincing forgery? I tend to believe there is based on the photos and measurements and discussions of the details and techniques I've seen discussed in the past.

Now, I don't know Jein personally. I've interacted with him online briefly a few times. He's always struck me as polite and knowledgeable. I would consider him an expert on Star Trek Phaser props (unlike myself).

However, that doesn't mean he can't be fooled. It doesn't take anything away from him if he is fooled. As said, the goal of the forger is to deliberately FOOL THE EXPERTS so they can cash in on the completed con.

In the history of forgeries in the art world, in the gun collecting community and in the prop community, there are plenty of examples of experts, museums and auction houses being fooled. So, a mere "This has been authenticated by an expert" doesn't really hold as much weight as you think it would.

(As an aside, someone has mentioned, "Jein has been fooled before." I don't know if that is true or not, or the details if it is, but if it is true it speaks to the point "That even the experts get fooled." )

In the art community the techniques for ferreting out fakes have improved with technology. They are past, "It looks right" and into analyzing the chemical composition of paints used (modern paint used on a 500 year old painting is a tell) and similar techniques.

It seems to me we're still in the "It looks right" level of authentication in the prop community. Combine that with the fact that "The mark wants it to be real" and you'll understand my skepticism.

Personally, I also, "Want it be real," because I think it would be cool to have another previously "lost" prop turn up from my favorite show. And if it is real, and this different from the other known Hero, that adds information to our understanding of the original props.

But, approaching it from the point of view of someone who enjoys reading about forgeries and scams and con jobs, I'm seeing a lot of the same red flags that have been raised historically in other cases of forgeries (usually art forgeries) and ignored until the item was later proven to be a fake. The provenance being the big red flag, the convenient story of "Why things are different" being another, and then the discrepancies (as pointed out by others) in the item itself being the third red flag.

Believe what you want. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I don't see that here, yet.

100% agreed. Excellent breakdown of the situation.
 

WinstonWolf359

Sr Member
Where did these two pics come from? They look like two pics of the same piece under different lighting conditions. (and slightly different angle)
Look at the glue globs and the shape of there thumb wheel opening. Even the central paint smear from the right picture is faintly visible in the left picture.
That seems to be the auction phaser twice. The left phaser is NOT the GJ. Look at the photo of the two hand phasers side by side from page 1. GJ's phaser looks quite a bit different.
 

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Gregatron

Sr Member
So, borrowing an image from HeroComm…

9CE99CA4-CB7D-4303-9068-90AB665FD433.jpeg


The Jein is ruled out, obviously. As is the TMOST.

Therefore, logic dictates that, if real, this auction piece must be either the Nona or the Lenore. Unless we want to start dragging in theories about a mysterious fifth hero which somehow never appeared in the work-cost production memos written when Chang was commissioned to rework the existing phasers, and was also never filmed.

But, missing gem aside, does it actually resemble either of them?
 
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robn1

Master Member
Where did these two pics come from? They look like two pics of the same piece under different lighting conditions. (and slightly different angle)
Look at the glue globs and the shape of there thumb wheel opening. Even the central paint smear from the right picture is faintly visible in the left picture.
Oof! You're right. In my haste I comped two pics of the same one :lol: Thanks for keeping me honest, guess I'm not infallible either :)

Here's the shot I meant to make. Maybe a slight difference in font, but that could be distortion from the acrylic.
But the use of the same numbers is fishy.
Capture 12.JPG
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
It's difficult to reliably pin down whether this prop is real from what we can see.

I only know Greg Jein through common friends, and I respect his knowledge of Trek history. I can believe that he thinks it's real.
But (as said above) experts can be fooled. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't.

I'd love it to be real; but as with any work of art or science discovery, we have to challenge our own biases to confirm it.
And questions should be welcomed, as they would only shed more light on the truth. Especially something like this with so much cultural significance and potential value.

We should be encouraged to ask questions.
 

Gregatron

Sr Member
It's difficult to reliably pin down whether this prop is real from what we can see.

I only know Greg Jein through common friends, and I respect his knowledge of Trek history. I can believe that he thinks it's real.
But (as said above) experts can be fooled. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't.

I'd love it to be real; but as with any work of art or science discovery, we have to challenge our own biases to confirm it.
And questions should be welcomed, as they would only shed more light on the truth. Especially something like this with so much cultural significance and potential value.

We should be encouraged to questions.

100% agreed! See how smoothly things can work when people approach a situation like this calmly and rationally?
 

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Duncanator

Sr Member
Oof! You're right. In my haste I comped two pics of the same one :lol: Thanks for keeping me honest, guess I'm not infallible either :)

Here's the shot I meant to make. Maybe a slight difference in font, but that could be distortion from the acrylic.
But the use of the same numbers is fishy.
View attachment 1465942

The '7', '8' and '9' look the most different to me, but I can't tell if that is because of the lensing effect of the acrylic.
 

Gregatron

Sr Member
To answer my own question…

I doubt it’s the Nona, since the Nona has a rail on the left side (no Velcro), and also a distinctive blemish on the upper left shell, near the rear edge of the crispy. Of course, one could easily say that the sloppy paint job on the auction piece would explain away the absense of that blemish. A convenient “repair repaint”. Also, the auction piece’s crispy has a much more severe rounding of the front left corner than the Nona does. It doesn’t match. Another repair? A piece of replacement crispy rounded off even less elegantly than the original?

As for the Lenore, not much info exists on it. That being said, the auction piece has Velcro instead of a left-side rail, like the Jein. The bottom view (minus access cover) photo of the auction piece indicates that the left side shell never had a slot cut to insert a rail, unlike the right side.

As we know from the Jein, that P1 had its right-side rail glued onto the exterior of the shell. Cutting a slot into the shell to fit in a rail seems to be something exclusive to fanmade prop replicas, since it is a construction method which was NOT used on the one confirmed hero prop.

So, what, did Wah glue rails on some heroes, and cut shell-slots into others? Were the rails on the Nona and/or Lenore glued on, like the Jein, then removed, Velcro added to the left side, and a slot cut into the right side?

Doesn’t add up.


Jein: No slots, Velcro on left side.

AA6E397C-B9EA-41DF-97C0-D58AF929DBE5.jpeg



Auction piece: Slot on right side, Velcro/no slot on left side.

42AD465F-08DF-4935-8411-AD3C0D5F1194.jpeg
 
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WinstonWolf359

Sr Member
But, missing gem aside, does it actually resemble either of them?
Short answer...no. But I wish there were better pictures of the Reilly/Lenore phaser. That phaser IS a bit of an oddball.

However, it's worth considering that IF the provenance story is to be believed, the P-I should be exempt from possible Wah Chang refurbishment and "should" be expected to appear as it had during the series since it supposedly simply walked off the set.

Which raises another question. As far as we can tell the GJ is the only hero P-I with velcro. For this phaser to be genuine it would have needed to have the rail removed and velcro added after the fact. Is there any evidence of two (non B&W) hero pistols being on a belt in the same shot? I don't recall any, but that doesn't mean too much. It seems like even GJ's phaser was retired after the first season; they really leaned pretty heavily on midgrades for utility belt duty and used heroes mostly for inserts in season 2 and 3...
 

Gregatron

Sr Member
Short answer...no. But I wish there were better pictures of the Reilly/Lenore phaser. That phaser IS a bit of an oddball.

However, it's worth considering that IF the provenance story is to be believed, the P-I should be exempt from possible Wah Chang refurbishment and "should" be expected to appear as it had during the series since it supposedly simply walked off the set.

Which raises another question. As far as we can tell the GJ is the only hero P-I with velcro. For this phaser to be genuine it would have needed to have the rail removed and velcro added after the fact. Is there any evidence of two (non B&W) hero pistols being on a belt in the same shot? I don't recall any, but that doesn't mean too much. It seems like even GJ's phaser was retired after the first season; they really leaned pretty heavily on midgrades for utility belt duty and used heroes mostly for inserts in season 2 and 3...

My guess is that the Jein was specifically designated as the solo hero P2 belt-hanger, and so had the Velcro added when the P2s got their makeover. Once the lightweight and less valuable midgrade P2s were produced, there was no longer a need for it to even serve that function.

Remember, before the midgrade P2s came along, the P1s were used as the belt-hangers, most of the time.
 

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Gregatron

Sr Member
…and there’s less of a gap between the P2 cradle ribs and the three decorative ribs running along the sides. I don’t believe that the Jein and the auction piece’s body shells came from the same molds.

Meanwhile, you can trace the lineage between the black and whites, the Jein, and the midgrades. They all have details and proportions in common, with the main difference being the modified trigger boxes on the heroes, since they were beefed up to accommodate the working internals. And the midgrade P1s still included the guidelines for cutting out the holes for the two small, acrylic buttons of the black and whites (later replaced with the half-round power meters), a leftover from when the molds were used to create the black and whites.
 

USS Endeav

Well-Known Member
The auction closed and Paul Lubliner has stopped propping up the provenance. Curious.

Based on what has been posted, there is a substantial amount of doubt in my mind. If I were a connoisseur of TOS props, I doubt I'd have paid pay as much as a mid level 911 for it. Surely the buyer had will have access to the research and material supporting the claim of authenticity? Hopefully that person did will perform basic research into whoever that was is.

Now that When it has sold, perhaps additional details will come to light, if that person is introduced to the real Fleet Work Shop or RPF.
 
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Jintosh

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Here's some general advise. This has made me think of this, but don't read that I am necessarily talking about this prop specifically.

Remember, any expert that can verify the authenticity of a prop. Any prop. Is also someone that could potentially make a convincing replica.
We like it when our members here, make a spot on 100% replica. 100% screen accurate is even a term that is used frequently. That's where a chain of custody as provenance is really important. Even with a COA, if you make a perfect enough replica, you can use the real COA with the replica.
 
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ALLEY

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The auction is over. Here's some general advise. This has made me think of this, but don't read that I am necessarily talking about this prop specifically.

Remember, any expert that can verify the authenticity of a prop. Any prop. Is also someone that could potentially make a convincing replica.
We like it when our members here, make a spot on 100% replica. 100% screen accurate is even a term that is used frequently. That's where a chain of custody as provenance is really important. Even with a COA, if you make a perfect enough replica, you can use the real COA with the replica.
The auction is over?

I thought bidding was not supposed to start until June 28th?


Auction: Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction #7241
Bidding Opens: June 28, 2021
Date: July 16 - 18, 2021
Lot viewing:
(By Appointment Only)
July 14-15, 2021
Heritage Auctions
2801 W. Airport Freeway
Dallas, TX 75261
 

USS Endeav

Well-Known Member
The auction is over?

I thought bidding was not supposed to start until June 28th?


Auction: Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature Auction #7241
Bidding Opens: June 28, 2021
Date: July 16 - 18, 2021
Lot viewing:
(By Appointment Only)
July 14-15, 2021
Heritage Auctions
2801 W. Airport Freeway
Dallas, TX 75261
I think you may be correct. I for some reason, thought it had closed/sold but I went to the auction site and it has not.

I'll edit my earlier post as I was in the wrong there.

The good news is, there's still time ;)
 

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