By Phil Plait | December 10, 2008 8:29 pm





The saucer spaceship from Forbidden Planet

A guy in North Carolina has the original flying saucer spaceship model from the movie "Forbidden Planet", and he’s auctioning it off to pay for his bills (specifically, electricity to power his Christmas lights).

The auction is Thursday, and if any BABloggee has $100,000 they want to give me, I’ll let you come to my house after I buy the ship and I’ll even let you hold it. But only for a second. [Edited to add: assuming this thing is legit. Rereading the news article it occurs to me that this guy may be, um, well, not so legit.]

Oh man. I would love to have that ship. "Forbidden Planet" is awesome, a classic. And it’s a flying saucer! That rawks!

Someone tell BABloggee Jack Hagerty. I bet he’d saw off his own leg for that model.

Tip o’ the Krell brain booster to Fark.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (35)

  1. Davidlpf

    Actually never watched Forbidden Planet, want to watch it just have not had the chance and no $100 grand around here.

  2. For a piece of anti-DOOMED, we bring your President-Elect Obama’s choices for energy secretary and the EPA.


  3. JoeSmithCA

    Skyhook Models and Polar Lights both released a copy of the United Planets C-57D. Both kits are again out of production, for those with quite a lot less money on their hands can buy the kit and make your own C-57D if your willing to hunt one down. You can even track down a pro modeler who’ll assemble the kit for a fee as well :)

    Still it’s not the same as having the Original. Now only it is was a real starship. I’ll go to Altair!

  4. kuhnigget

    Dr. Phil, when I was working on the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, I attended several of the Profiles in History auctions where this sort of thing was being bought up by the museum’s owner (hint: think Microsoft accidental gazillionaire). I wasn’t doing the actual bidding, so I could watch the other people in the auditorium reacting to the results. It was kind of sad, really. Finally everyone figured out who they were up against and just sort of gave up.

  5. DLC

    I have the book by the same title as well.
    Highly amusing read.

  6. Wait a minute, wait a minute…
    The guy needs to sell this gizmo to pay his bills? And his credit card? How depressing!
    And the article linked states that he wants to use the auction money to become the “Christmas light king” with trees wrapped by “650,000 lights”.
    So, by buying this pile of junk, we not only contribute to the guy’s subservience to a failed banking system, but also to light pollution.
    Thus, if people buy the saucer, they contribute to the demise of astronomy (less money to science projects, more to the finance sharks, less starry cosmos to watch in wintertime, which is better than in the summertime.)

    Screw that. I’d rather spend the same money on buying a telescope for every public school in my city.

  7. Phil:
    Call Adam Savage and ask him how to fabricate one from scratch.
    Then next time you’re in LA you can visit the shop and make your own. (In the words of the blokes at Top Gear) how hard can it be? 😆

  8. Davidlpf

    Just make sure you tell Adam you DON’T want blow-up.

  9. SHOOT!

    Why do these things aways pop up after the book has gone to press? I’ve been looking all over for the whereabouts of that prop.

    I’d like to know the history of his ownership. If that is really the legitimate model, the asking price seems about right.

    There were three props of the saucer made, a 20″ diameter for long shots (such as it banking over Altair IV), a 44″ diameter for medium shots and an 88″ version for closeups. Only the largest version had the landing legs and pylon. I notice that the article says it’s 82″, but that’s close enough for a first pass. The medium and large models were also used in tandem to make a shot seem longer than it was.

    The 20″ version has been owned by collector Wes Shank since the early ’90s. The medium one is owned by uber-fan Bill Malone (who also owns the original Robby, the Astrogator base, several blasters, Krell power gauges and force field fence posts). The last anyone knew, the 88″ prop was owned by a museum in Harrisburg, PA, but that went out of business about 10 years ago and no one knew what happened to it after that. I’m quite certain that they would have sold it for much more than the $150 the article mentions.

    I interviewed Malone for the book at WorldCon in ’06 (he took my picture holding one of the original blaster pistols!), and talked to collector Bob Burns (who owns Klaatu’s saucer prop) about where the 88″ prop was. Neither of them knew, but if this guy was as big a collector as the article makes out, then Bob would know him. It’s entirely possible that this is a re-creation or an early test version. There were two of Klaatu’s saucer props made, the first one as a casting test (they were made of fiberglass). Bob Burns owns the actual filming model, and the casting test is periodically on display at the Universal museum in Florida.

    Let’s just say I’m skeptical that this is the actual filming prop. A quick way to tell is if the legs are hinged and motorized.

    – Jack

    PS – Since you brought it up, Phil, I’d like to point out that “The Saucer Fleet” is available for pre-order at $10 off the cover price. Just click on my name above if you’re interested. Delivery should be right around New Years. Even if you don’t want to buy one now, BA blogees will get 15% off (roughly the same as $10 off) after the book goes to full price on 1 January.

  10. Chip

    Mr. Hagerty might know the history of this beautiful ship. I hope he adds a comment. MGM’s prop department might have made several. One was destroyed (or altered to look destroyed) for a now classic Twilight Zone episode, “The Invaders” (1961). (The one where Agnes Moorehead plays a remote, silent country woman battling little “aliens”.) *

    * Yes, I now have earned entry into the first level of “The Hall of Geeks”. 😉

  11. Chip

    P.S. Jack Hagerty – thanks for the info!

  12. David

    I’d be more interested in Robbie.

  13. Quiet Desperation

    I have the $100K to loan you. I’m *not* kidding. If you are willing to pay 7% interest, we have a deal.

  14. Chip Says: “MGM’s prop department might have made several. One was destroyed (or altered to look destroyed) for a now classic Twilight Zone episode, “The Invaders” (1961). (The one where Agnes Moorhead plays a remote, silent country woman battling little “aliens”.)”

    The saucer props and/or sets were actually used in seven TZ episodes. In addition to “The Invaders,” it was in “Third from the Sun,” the very end of “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (flying away upside down!), “To Serve Man” (which also used Harryhausen’s saucers from “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers”), “Hocus Pocus and Frisby,” plus the one hour episodes “Death Ship” and “On Thursday We Leave for Home.”

    Most of these just used saucer footage from FP along with the full sized set (TZ was filmed at MGM so the set was still available). Only “The Invaders” and “Death Ship” used the miniature saucer props. In the former it was the 88″ model with the legs and pylon, and the latter used the 44″ version that landed by bumping directly down on the lower dome and took off with a huge rocket exhaust plume emanating from the bottom!

    BTW, the saucer that Agnes Moorhead hacks up at the end of “The Invaders” was a wooden stand-in.

    – Jack

  15. Chip Says: “Jack Hagerty – thanks for the info!”

    My pleasure.

    – Jack

  16. David Says: “I’d be more interested in Robbie.”

    Then buy my book! (Hmmm, I sense a trend here).

    I go into considerable detail on Robbie’s design, fabrication, operation and some examples of how Asimov’s three laws were used in developing his “personality.” I also do some tracing of his career after FP.

    – Jack

  17. gopher65

    I watched The Forbidden Planet is my Shakespeare Lit class in grade 12 some years ago (it’s a scifi version of The Tempest). I was amazed that that movie was made in the 50s The look and feel of it are a good 10-15 years more advanced than the 50s movies I have suffered through in the past. It’s an impressive piece of work.

  18. Spiv

    That sure perked up my nerdy little ears. FP is still my favorite classic sci-fi.

  19. you can visit the shop and make your own.

    Hrrrm. I guess I’m missing the joke. :-

  20. I googled “krell gate”. This post was result #4. Big Broogle is watching you.

  21. Uhm, I meant “krell brain”, sorry ’bout that.

  22. tom

    while I won’t be bidding on this, knowing the model is still out there really brightens my day. I had fallen for the myth that it had been destroyed for the TZ ep “Invaders”. Thanks for the clarification, Jack Hagerty.

  23. James

    This movie has always been one of my favorites. The special effect of the monster in the disintegration beams is still the coolest thing ever to see, especially when it first starts to take form and you only see the eyes. Even if they remake this I’m not sure they can recapture that coolness with new special effects.

    I would LOVE to have that ship!

  24. Brian Hart

    You fool! As though your ape’s brain could contain the secrets of the Krell!

  25. Gary Ansorge

    A remake of Forbidden Planet could be really cool. The original proposition, that our ancient,reptilian hind brain, with its pure survival drives, could manifest itself as a monster if given the techno facilities to do so, is still a viable idea.
    I note that the remake of Day the Earth Stood Still seems to be concentrating on how bad humans are for the environment. When will we see a movie that exposes how successful species become the formative feed stock for a myriad of new species, over running the entire eco-system, as the earliest mammals did when the dinosaurs went belly up. We(humans) MIGHT cause the extinction of 50 % of the life forms on this planet, but that would then lead to human descendants assuming the eco-niche functionality of those displaced species, ie, as new species with big brains and opposable thumbs, doing what species do, competing/co-operating to survive.

    Many story possibilities there,,,

    GAry 7

  26. RoaldFalcon

    I don’t really have anything to add to this discussion except to say that Forbidden Planet totally rocks! Growing up, that was one of my favorite video disks.

  27. gopher65 Says: “I watched The Forbidden Planet is my Shakespeare Lit class in grade 12 some years ago (it’s a scifi version of The Tempest).”

    Then you will be especially interested in the “Epilog” of the FP chapter. I actually interviewed a Shakespeare scholar on this, and what he had to say was interesting.

    – Jack

  28. Gary Ansorge Says: “A remake of Forbidden Planet could be really cool. The original proposition, that our ancient,reptilian hind brain, with its pure survival drives, could manifest itself as a monster if given the techno facilities to do so, is still a viable idea…Many story possibilities there.”

    Way to keep the ol’ optimism up! I’m willing to give it a chance, but after Spielberg’s WotW and the TDTESS remake (I’m cringing for tomorrow’s impending release) I don’t have high hopes.

    Your proposed story line seems way too intelligent and rational. Not much room for gun play, car chases and explosions.

    – Jack

  29. Sili

    It’s the STAR OF BETHLEHEM! The ‘Wise Men’ were little green aliens!

  30. jess tauber

    Actually, I would like to see prequel and sequel to Forbidden Planet. The story of Morbius and the discovery of the Krell would make for great drama. As for a follow-up are we SHURE Morbius is entirely dead? We didn’t see the planet blow up (just a lot of light- probably a gamma ray burst from the reactors overloading!)- maybe Morbius read the specs wrong (and WHY THE HELL did the Krell keep a self-destruct mechanism uncovered and within arm’s or tentacles-reach of their kids being brain-tested???? Or was that part of the test….

    I envision that Altaira and her new hubby had kids, got divorced, got grandkids, and that one of them has gone missing, after going back to the Altair system to look around. Just a question- why don’t the Krell have colonies elsewhere- or did they…?

    Now with J. Michael Straczynski rewriting the story, I’m pretty sure the answer is….the Krell are really Vorlons!

  31. Andy Beaton

    Be cautious. I just watched an episode of Big Bang Theory where the guys bought a Time Machine prop that turned out to be full sized. Make sure you have enough room in your garage for a full-sized flying saucer *before* you order.

  32. Jim Reynolds

    Hello, jess tauber;
    Morbius might have survived as a disembodied entity, depending on how long it took him to die before the boom.. The reptile brain has a very strong survival urge. And the Krell did colonize the galaxy; they just changed their name to “Q”.

    Why was the self-destruct switch so handy/vulnerable? The Krell were much too rational to let the urge to “press the RED BUTTON” express itself; and if I were building the Machine, I’d have wanted my ‘kill switch’ handy. The Krell used a different value for ‘handy’.

    Just my two groats worth.


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