Took a chance on some Indiana Jones replica props from Aliexpress...

I've been meaning to pick up some replicas from the Indiana Jones trilogy and figured before I got too far into creating my own, I'd see what was out there for cheap.
I've already 3D printed and painted an Amulet of Ra from Raiders. It was done several years ago, and it came out decent enough, though I need to redo the finish - Rub n Buff just doesn't quite cut it for that realistic metallic gold/brass effect.
Amulet of Ra 1.jpg
Amulet of Ra 2.jpg

But I decided to pick up a few other cheap replicas and see what happened.
I ordered three:
1) Last Crusade Grail Diary
2) Last Crusade Holy Grail
3) Raiders Fertility Idol.

First up the Grail Diary:
All-in-all it's a middling okay effort, pretty good for the price. It comes with a heap of inserts, maps and printed add-ins. The inserts vary from nice crisp clean prints to equally blurry and low res. The paper seems to be fairly generic smooth printing paper, nothing nice or textured. And there are a lot of inserts - way too many to use them all, which is good - pick and choose what works. It aem wrapped in the brown paper and tied up with string - the stamps and labels are jut printed on the paper, not glued on.
The diary itself is not at all weathered but solidly built, with a decent pleather/faux-leather cover. The interior pages are all fully printed, edge to egde, with a sepia-coloured background and full of content. Lots of pages. I haven't gone through it in detail but with a cursory glance, I can't see any obvious repeated pages (ie: the image pages all seem unique and not repeated, though text pages may be generic or repeated) The print quality is a bit sub-par - everything's a little washed out and blurry - they clearly didn't use high-resolution source files. You can see the pixelation and graininess in the pics below. The paper is again smooth, modern print material.
I think with some weathering of the cover, wearing and distressing the page edges and maybe some additional weathering/darkening of the interior pages to hide the low res print a little, this could be a pretty solid replica. Only cost me about AU$31 total (US$22) and seems to be a mass-produced effort from a Chinese Factory.
I would give it a B Minus grade.
Diary One.jpg
Diary Two.jpg
Diary Three.jpg
Diary 5.jpg
Diary Four.jpg
Diary 8.jpg
Diary 6.jpg
Diary 7.jpg

Next a Last Crusade Holy Grail:
The Grail isn't too bad, all things considered- the shape is good, it's hefty and solid. Looks like some decent gold leafing on the outside and it's done in a patchy, worn fashion like the prop. The interior is painted a dull acrylic painted gold though, not at all shiny or metallic. Size seems about right and the colours are decent (aside from the interior gold). My biggest complaint aside from the interior paint is that the whole thing is just too smooth and clean. The surface is universally smooth no scratches or texture. The weathering is really just a stippled paint effect and lacks the dusty grimey look of the prop. It;s clearly a mass-market replica not a hand crafted item.
But it's actually a pretty solid starting point for a custom- rough up the exterior, repaint, add some gold leaf inside and out, weather it and dirty it up. I think it will be a damn fine Grail, and for an even cheaper AU$22 (US$15) than the Diary.
Given the price and the overall solidity, plus its potential for an easy upgrade, I rank the Grail as a solid B or even B Plus.
Grail One.jpg
Grail Two.jpg

Finally the Fertility Idol:
This thing is terrifying. In a bad way. A really bad way. The sculpt is completely inaccurate, the finish is that same dull acrylic paint, and worst of all, I opted for the "deluxe" version with eyes. Those eyes look to be roughly painted on with craft paint and are just hideous. The price was about the same as the Grail Diary and it really has no redeeming features at all. The shape is all wrong to try and upgrade it. It's a write-off.
I'd grade the Idol as D Minus - the only reason it's not an F is that at least it's vaguely recognisable as the intended prop instead of being, I don't know, a golden giraffe or something. I know, low standards but it's Aliexpress and they were dirt cheap, so it was always an experiment. Plus the idol is kind of funny in an "oh my god no, they didn't" kind of way.
Idol One.jpg
Idol Two.jpg

I'm going to look into improving the Diary and Grail as per my ideas above, and at the same time, I'll either repaint my Amulet with Alclad Polished Brass or even finish it with some gold leaf, to get that real metallic look. The Idol is going bye-bye, and I'll just 3D print one on my resin printer and finish it with gold leaf and some doll's eyes.
It was an interesting experiment, my expectations were low, and two out of the three were definitely worth the money as starting off points for some hopefully half-decent customs.
 

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