The opening bid on the mind-bendingly gorgeous Star Trek phaser rifle at Heritage Auctions is $250,000. I think it will go for much more.
The phaser rifle from the second pilot of Star Trek's original series, September 1966's "Where No Man Has Gone Before," was designed by The Game of Life's creator Reuben Klamer, who died at 99 on Sept. 14.
The long, stylish weapon made its debut in the episode about a man named Gary Mitchell, played by Gary Lockwood, rendered a god by a blast of radiation at the galaxy's edge.
In the episode, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) secures the weapon to transport Mitchell to a planet where he's to be stranded. But in the end, it's Mitchell's best friend, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), who uses the phaser rifle to topple a mountain of rocks beneath which the godlike Gary is buried. Mitchell – and the phaser rifle – would never be seen again, though the weapon was used in myriad early promo photos for the nascent series that survives today in myriad televised and cinematic iterations.
Azarian has long possessed one of the galaxy's finest Trek collections, including the uniforms worn by Kirk, Spock, Dr. Leonard McCoy, Lt. Uhura, Scotty and Mr. Chekov on television and in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He counts among his pieces a wrist communicator that made its one and only appearance in The Motion Picture, as well as the miniature of the Tholian ship from the third-season episode "The Tholian Web." All of those pieces, and myriad others beamed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise during its ongoing mission to explore strange new worlds, are featured in this auction.
But the phaser rifle was a Holy Grail item for Azarian, who didn't even think it existed – until it appeared at auction in 2013.
"Over the years you would see the same stuff coming up, and I would be offered the same things at auction houses over and over, yet that rifle was always elusive," Azarian says. "No one talked about having it. No one talked about it existing. The consensus was it had disappeared for whatever reason, and to see it come up was breathtaking. For being 55 years old, it's in incredible shape, and to see it in person was, well, breathtaking. That was a key piece."