For many film buffs there is no greater place on Earth than The Prop Store, a treasure-trove archive of film memorabilia where you will always find something relating to pretty much any film franchise you can name. From costumes to scripts, full animatronic puppets to screen used miniatures and much more can be found, and often purchased in one of their auctions if you have the money to match the bidding wars. Mythbusters host Adam Savage recently paid a visit to The Prop Store and was given an up close and personal viewing of the fully restored ¼ scale model of the Batwing plane from the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton 1989 movie, Batman.
At around six feet in width, the model of the Batwing is nothing short of spectacular as can be seen from the footage. The model features the clipper tool on the front of the plane, which were used in the movie to foil the Joker's plan to douse Gotham in a laughing gas which had been packed into a number of parade balloons, and it also has its own Batman figure in the pilot's seat as well as lighting effects. Like many such models, the practical effects may have been later enhanced in the movie's post production, but there is something about seeing the real thing that no less impressive for not having the magic of movie technology behind it.
As reported at the time, Prop Store held a charity auction back in August, which saw items including Indiana Jones' Fedora from The Temple of Doom go under the hammer and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bids. As part of the auction, some Mythbusters props were up for sale, which is the reason Savage was visiting the store and warehouse and as you would, he recorded a few videos with some of the more spectacular items on display in the movie prop haven.
The official video description reads, "Adam Savage visits Prop Store to check out some of the thousands of original movie props and costumes that pass through their archives, including this incredible quarter-scale filming miniature from the 1989 Batman movie! This is the iconic Batwing model that was used for climatic flight sequence, restored to original working condition to showcase the practical motorized and lighting effects that were actually used in the film. It's one of the coolest pieces of prop history we've seen, looking like it flew right out of the silver screen!"
The Prop Store's Brandon Alinger features in the video to give some insight into the model. He said, "Models are interesting, because they're kind of like cars. Time tends to take a toll on them, and they can be rebuilt and reworked and reset like cars. The original production drawings showed the Batwing vehicle was to be 27' in width. This model is about 6.25' wide, so its intended to be 1/4 scale. It's true that the Batwing figure is smaller. If you look at the sequence in the film when you see the 2' wide model (wider shots, shots where the Batwing is moving a lot), the Batman figure is noticeably larger within the cockpit -- probably more like the proportions the construction drawings intended. Regarding the mechanisms, nothing was removed. The original pneumatic cylinders are still present (but disconnected), and the original tracks, slides etc are still used. We just added linear actuators as 'helpers' to act in place of those cylinders."
Although it is now over 30 years since the movie was released, The Prop Store still have some pieces of memorabilia for sale from the production on their site, as well as many items from the subsequent movies in the Batman franchise.