It’s a one-man, flying, Cylon-fighting spacecraft — and they’re selling it on eBay.
NBC/Universal is auctioning an actual Raptor fighter ship used in Battlestar Galactica. (Also up for sale? A Mark VII Viper Full Size.) “It has a full, functional interior with light-up panels and monitors throughout…” reads eBay’s enthusiastic description of the 30-foot ship. After 43 bids, the price was $28,100.00 — but this didn’t meet the auction’s reserve, which means it’s still up for grabs at a “live” auction beginning May 8 in Pasadena.
“I think we’re going to have a Cylon ship as well,” says Curtis Short, operations manager for the auction site, Propworx. “You’re going to walk in and you’re going to feel like you’re in a hangar bay.” Actors from the show will also be available for photographs — and bids will also be accepted through the Auction Network, which will be streaming a live broadcast of the auction. (And if you’re busy fighting Cylons, the site allows you to leave behind a proxy bid).
But the Battlestar’s fighter craft are already drawing the biggest bids. “I get e-mails all the time from pilots,” says Short. “‘Oh, that’s great. I wish I could afford that. Even though I can’t fly it — but if I could, I would.’ Everybody’s asking where do I put it? ‘Do I got to build a garage for it? How big is it? My wife’s going to kill me if I buy it,’ and that kind of stuff.” The Raptor will have to be disassembled for transport, according to Short, “because it’s too wide — it won’t fit in the trailer on the truck.” eBay’s listing warns that the buyer is responsible “for all shipping, crating and handling charges, which will be sent to the buyer as a separate invoice” — and adds that the Mark VII Viper craft can be purchased through PayPal, cashiers check, money order or bank wire transfer.
Both ships racked up over 40 bids apiece (starting as low as $1.00) — but who’s making the bids? “I have no idea,” admits Short.” It can be anybody.” For example, eBay’s history shows that one bidder has placed 30 bids in the last 30 days for World War II-era collectibles — plus one $21,200 bid for Battlestar Galactica’s Mark VII Viper. And for the upcoming live auction, Propworx has sent out “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of catalogs, getting daily requests “from all over the world… all countries in Europe, Australia, Japan…”
In addition, through weekly eBay auctions over the last three months, the company has already auctioned off more than 1,800 other props from the show “Every week we have approximately 150 items up,” says Short. “It’s an easy outlet, and everybody knows eBay, and it’s really easy to use.” Flight jackets are going for up to $2,000, but for $10.51, you can serve your guests Aerilon table salt or for $53, a bottle of imported Virgon-brew beer. There’s a colonial Presidential election ballot (listing candidates Gaius Baltar and Laura Roslin), and a Hanger Bay Sign for $212.50. A 500 cubit note goes for $77.82. You can even buy flight manuals for the Battlestar’s aircraft — evasive procedures, weapons control, maintenance, and flight deck security. “We sell paper — auction off paper from the show,” says Short, “and people love it. It’s definitely something that people love to have their hands on — a piece of TV history.
But when using an earth-based interface, isn’t there a danger that it’s been infiltrated by humanity-destroying Cylons?
“No,” replies Short. “It’s not Cylons.”
In fact, he’s been surprised by the surge of humanity that’s been bidding on some of the items. “Last week we had some rank pins that sold for $4,500. People collect all the pins for the ranks — and also, patches are really big.” Every item is marked with a hologram of the Battlestar Galactica logo to verify its authenticity, and since no reserve price is set for any of these props, “whatever it goes for, it goes,” says Short. “It starts out at 99 cents, and then whatever we can get.” Some people place bids on all the items associated with a specific character — you can buy Gaeta’s dog tags for $102.50 — but other props are reminiscent of the show’s location. You can purchase a napkin from Joe’s Bar for only 99 cents, a Caprican Imperial cigar box for $82.00, or a genuine tool set from the Hangar bay workbench for only $32. And for $102.50, you can be cuffing your kinky date with genuine Cylon handcuffs.
Battlestar Galactica may be only the beginning, with other shows in the future auctioning their props online. “There’s shows out there that people absolutely love, and they would love to get their hand on just a simple piece of it.” But truthfully, one fan gets to handle every item — Curtis himself. “It’s cool to watch the show and say ‘Hey, I know that prop. I’ve touched that… I mean, you see everything — everything in the show is in our warehouse. We handle it every day.” It’s a real thrill, and he says that when fans tour the facility, “They’re freaking out.
“It’s just like heaven.”
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