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Items up for bid at today's Rick Baker auction include development art from "Captain Eo" and Disney's never-produced live-action "Gargoyles" movie

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Items up for bid at today's Rick Baker auction include development art from "Captain Eo" and Disney's never-produced live-action "Gargoyles" movie

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I apologize for the extremely short notice here. But if you're a fan of modern film fantasy and live in the Los Angeles area, you need to get in your car NOW and immediately drive to the Hilton Universal City.

Why For? Prop Store (the "Ultimate Movie Collectables" folks) are riding herd on an auction of over 400 items from Rick Baker's Cinovation Studios. And that auction gets underway in the Hilton Universal City's convention space at 11 a.m. Pacific Time TODAY.


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

For those of you who don't recognize that name, Rick Baker is a seven time Academy Award winner. He's the make-up effects master behind such memorable projects as "American Werewolf in London," "Men in Black" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

After getting his start in the business back in 1973 as make-up effect legend Dick Smith's assistant (Rick & Dick were the ones who made then-14 year-old Linda Blair so scary looking in 1973's "The Exorcist"), Baker has decided to call it quits. "I like to do things right, and (the folks who are in charge of movie studios today) wanted cheap and fast. That is not what I want to do, so I just decided it is basically time to get out."


Rick Baker with the horns that he design for Angelina Jolie to wear in Disney's
"Maleficent." Copyright 2014 Cinovation Studios. All rights reserved

It's worth noting here that Disney's "Maleficent" (to be specific, the extremely frustrating work experience that Rick had on this recent Walt Disney Pictures release) is supposed to have contributed to Baker's decision to get out of the business. Rick and his team created dozens of elaborate make-ups for King Kinloch (who was supposed to have been played by Peter Calpaldi of "Doctor Who" fame), Queen Ulla (who was supposed to played by Golden Globe winner Miranda Richardson) and their fairy court. Sadly, all of that work wound up on the cutting room floor when Disney execs decided that "Maleficent" needed an entirely different first act and junked everything that director Robert Stromberg had previously shot for this portion of that Joe Roth production.

Mind you, there's nothing from Disney's "Maleficent" up for bid today. But of the 50+ production that are represented at today's auction, there are a few films that are sure to intrigue Disney fans. Chief among these is "Captain Eo." Or as this project was known back in 1985 when Baker initially recruited to come work on this Francis Ford Coppola production, "Captain Eo and the Space Knights."


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

Looking over Rick's initial notes for this 70MM 3D film, while Jackson was always supposed to play a "music & dance space guy, Captain Eo was originally supposed to be surrounded by a very different crew. One that George Lucas reportedly described as the "Seven Dwarfs (only as) aliens."


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd.
All rights reserved

Eventually, Captain Eo's crew size was cut from seven to six. There was the double-headed navigator / pilot Idey & Odey, that flying monkey / butterly creature Fuzzball ...


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

The ship's robotic security officer Major Domo, a smaller robot called Minor Domo as well as Hooter, a clumsy / combative elephant-like creature.


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

What's fascinating about the "Captain Eo" related items that Prop Store now has up for today is that you can see how -- right from the start -- Baker was looking for ways to make these alien creature costumes accommodate the human performers inside.


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

That's what Rick really did best. He created make-ups that still allowed the performers that was encased in these appliances to still shine through. Take -- for example -- the Lothar mask that Baker created for Tiny Ron Taylor to wear in Walt Disney Pictures' 1991 release, "The Rocketeer."


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

Rick deliberately sculpted Lothar's face to resemble Rondo Hattan, an actor from the late 1930s / early 1940s who played thugs in dozens of B movies. But at the same time, Baker made this make-up rig (which covered Taylor's entire head) flexible enough so that Tiny Ron's own facial expressions could be read by the camera.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Obviously, it took months of prep work to deliver effects make-up of this high a quality. But Rick was always willing to put in the time. Check out this setting-the-scene sketch that he did for Walt Disney Pictures' 1998 release, "Mighty Joe Young."


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

Or -- for that matter -- this development drawing that Baker did for that live-action version of "Gargoyles" that Disney toyed with making back in the late 1990s / early 2000s but ultimately abandoned.


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

As you can see by this Goliath maquette, "Gargoyles" would have featured some pretty impressive full-body make-ups that would have then featured all sort of mechanical / animatronic elements (i.e., Goliath's enormous wings).


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

I guess what makes me saddest about Baker's pending retirement is that -- given the quality of the work that he did on Disney's 2003 "The Haunted Mansion" ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... I was kind of hoping that Rick would then get a shot at working with Guillermo Del Toro on the "Haunted Mansion" reboot that Guillermo now has in the works for Disney.


Copyright 1998-2015 Prop Store Ltd. All rights reserved

Just to be clear here: Given that Del Toro & Baker had such fun working together on 2004's "Hellboy," the two of them collaborating on some future projects isn't entirely out of the question. Though Rick is still shutting down Cinovation and auctioning off items that represent three decades of work, Baker has also said that he'd be open to consulting on a film further on down the line if the work was challenging or the project interested him.

But that's off somewhere in the distant future. As of this moment, the Rick Baker / Prop Store auction is already underway. And if you want to get in on this once-in-a-lifetime event, you can either drive to the Hilton Universal City (which is located at 555 Universal Hollywood Drive) or hop online and try to get in the action that way. Or -- better yet -- make a phone bid.


Rick Baker and some of the "999 Happy Haunts" that he & the Cinovation team
whipped up for Walt Disney Pictures' 2003 release, "The Haunted Mansion."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved 

Whatever the case, don't delay. Because there's some real Hollywood history coming up for bid today and you don't want to miss out.

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