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Author Topic: Old Heroes Never Die – They Just Melt Away…  (Read 3561 times)
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dto
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« on: October 30, 2005, 06:45:54 PM »

Admittedly I’ve haven’t seen my old friends Superman and Batman for a while, even though they were only a few miles away. But when I heard that they were about to lose their home, I had to drop by to see them one more time. And Indiana Jones, Captain Kirk, General Patton, Butch and Sundance, Frankenstein, Dracula, Ben Hur…

After 43 years of operation, the formerly world famous Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California is closing on Halloween night.   :cry:

The museum website is:

http://www.movielandwaxmuseum.com/

Press coverage are at:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-101805movieland_lat,1,3495377.story?coll=la-story-footer&track=morenews

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2005-10-19-museum-closing_x.htm?csp=34

http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20051027-094123-5026r

(Note – I have NO IDEA how long these links will remain active, as news stories are constantly being updated and the Movieland site will most likely be taken down immediately.)

I used to visit the museum fairly often as a kid, but over the years the exhibits grew dusty and dated. The wax sculptors couldn’t keep up with the constant flood of new celebrities, and I suspect many Hollywood publicists gave up on Movieland. But there was a time when stars were SO enthusiastic about being immortalized in wax that they endured the measuring process (though no life casts were taken – the heads were all sculpted in clay first), donated personal items (some figures wear the actual movie costumes) and participated in the grand unveiling ceremony. Many returned to visit their wax alter-egos -- Vincent Price sometimes “replaced” himself in the “House of Wax” scene, scaring tourists to death when he suddenly “came to life”.   :twisted:

I paid my “last respects” to Movieland on Friday, and I was quite saddened to see how far things have deteriorated. Even under perfect climate conditions statues need to be recast every so many years as the wax dries out. This is extremely time-consuming and expensive, as all hair must be individually inserted. Apparently the hands aren’t replaced as often as the faces, so I saw many figures with relatively recent heads, but cracking grayish hands that looked almost reptilian. And the dingy costumes (some fading under harsh spotlights) look like they were never cleaned.

As an example of Movieland’s sad decline, I took a close look at the Christopher Reeve statue (in a Superman costume donated by Warner Brothers). He was still impressive and in recognizable condition surrounded by his Fortress of Solitude set, but Supe’s trademark single “spit-curl” had frayed apart, and his costume was showing signs of sagging and stretching. (Granted, even a “super suit” was never designed to be worn 24/7 for over two decades.) And for some inexplicable reason he was sharing the same space with the female android from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” movie!  :shock:   (Nice try in squeezing together “theme” subjects, Movieland, but she’s from the WRONG Metropolis!)  :wink:   There were similar odd groupings throughout the museum, as figures were removed from their original sets and crammed together in space-saving montages – Jerry Lewis and Eddie Murphy sharing a chemistry lab as the two “Nutty Professors” was inspired, but what was Brigitte Bardot from “And God Created Woman” doing in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”?   :roll:

Poor Batman. I couldn’t believe what Movieland did to the Michael Keaton Caped Crusader. Actually, I suspect they just stuffed a generic figure into that dust-covered Batsuit – his cowl and belt were awry, and he was unnaturally propped up in a closet-like cubbyhole… IN THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS!  :shock:  (Perhaps that was a not-so-subtle editorial comment on the state of the current Dark Knight?)   :wink:

After Movieland closes, most of the statues will be transferred to the more-successful sister museum in San Francisco, while others will be auctioned off. I’m sure Superman will be one of the fortunate ones, but Bats looks like he already suffered a “meltdown”. A sad end of an era, but at least I can still remember them in their glory days, when you could view a Man of Wax and visualize a true Man of Steel…   :cry:

(By the way, Great Rao -- I have a postcard of the Superman figure.  If you want this image for this website, let me know and I'll scan it.)
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2005, 07:15:43 PM »

That is sad, I would have stopped by one last time myself...
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2006, 06:05:10 PM »

UPDATE

Figures, props and miscellaneous items from the former Movieland Wax Museum shall be auctioned March 11, 2006.  See notice at:

http://www.movielandwaxmuseum.com/

I thought he'd be moved to the sister wax museum in San Francisco, but apparently Christopher Reeve is now "old inventory" with the new Superman movie due this summer.  Looks like they dusted him off a bit and slicked his hair back for the photo, though:

http://www.icollector.com/viewCatalogItem.aspx?auctionSessionid=10798&itemlotid=5425626&currentPage=14&pageSize=25

Too bad the set isn't up for auction (at least not online).

And remember what I wrote earlier about the sad condition of the Batman figure?  

http://www.icollector.com/viewCatalogItem.aspx?auctionSessionid=10798&itemlotid=5425570&currentPage=12&pageSize=25

So who wants to bring Superman home and construct their own personal "Fortress of Solitude"?   :wink:
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2006, 07:45:11 AM »

Tonight's late news announced that the Superman figure sold at auction for $16,000.00.  I wonder if Dana Reeve's recent death spurred new interest in her husband's statue.  Perhaps there will be more information in tomorrow morning's newspaper.
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2006, 05:42:52 AM »

wow --I hope it went to a good home.
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2006, 08:00:50 AM »

The following was gleaned from the Orange County Register:

The Movieland auction netted nearly $1 million.  One popular item was the bridge set of the original "Star Trek" television series (including figures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov and Sulu) that went for $34,050.  The winning bidder was Los Angeles restauranteur Mark Antony, who said he might decorate a new restaurant or his game room with this set.  (Apparently this was a steal -- he paid $6,000 MORE in 2002 for an uniform tunic worn by William Shaftner.  Oh, to have such money to spurge...)   :roll:

About 50 celebrity figures were shipped to a sister museum in San Francisco and another 80 to one in South Korea prior to the sale.  It took nine hours to go through the 453 lots (figures, props, equipment, etc.)

As for the Christopher Reeve Superman figure, there appears to be a happy ending.  Bryan Ward, bidding on behalf of developer Burnham USA Equities, purchased an 18-foot marble replica of Michelangelo's "David" (a leftover from Movieland's long-gone sister attraction, The Palace of Living Art) for $120,000.00, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton from "Cleopatra" (Liz was $25,000.00), Christopher Reeve as Superman for $16,000.00 and Mike Myers.  Burnham USA Equities has submitted preliminary plans to transform the museum site to restaurants and retail shops, so these artifacts will be incorporated into the new development as reminders of the former Movieland.

So it looks like Superman will still have a home in Buena Park, California.   Smiley


P.S.  I've scanned an old Movieland postcard of the Christopher Reeve wax figure and cropped it down to icon size.  I don't know if its now in the icon gallery after I uploaded it, but perhaps Great Rao or Super Monkey can make it available before I change my personal icon after a week or two.
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