The 22-inch metal armature from one of the animation figures created for the original 1933 King Kong has been sold at auction for £120,000.
Because of the perishable nature of the materials used in their construction, little usually survives of stop-motion models once a few years have passed. As with the rest of us, only the skeleton stays around for any significant length of time. Anyone who visited London’s much-missed, world-class Museum of the Moving Image on the South Bank will recall the figure of Mighty Joe Young, decaying in his wooden box like a mediaeval Memento Mori carving, held in place by a fragile strip of cotton.
The armature in the Christie’s sale came from a slightly larger model, created for the sequence in which Kong is seen in a long shot, ascending the outside of the Empire State Building. So, not one of the ‘hero’ Kongs, good for closeups and for expressing character… but still an authentic Kong.
(There were at least two ‘hero’ Kongs, of slightly different appearance – the model featured in the Skull Island sequences had a longer face and is now owned by collector Bob Burns, who also owns Forbidden Planet‘s Robbie the Robot. Peter Jackson had his animators study this armature when preparing for his King Kong remake, and it was the basis of the limited edition replica sold by Sideshow Collectibles a few years ago. The model used in the Manhattan sequences had a perceptibly rounder head, and is believed to have been broken up and lost)
If you click here, you can read the Christie’s brochure for the sale… turn the pages, zoom, rotate the picture… and save yourself 120,000 quid.
And clicking here will take you to an earlier Kong post of mine, from where you can navigate onward to a lovingly-compiled site about the movie and its cultural legacy… or you can just click here and go straight to the page about the surviving armatures.