In the vast world of Star Trek lore, there are plenty of iconic pieces to collect. From communicators and uniforms, phasers and tribbles, and even blaster rifles, the Star Trek fandom puts significant meaning to collectible items, some of which can be difficult to come by. Now, eager Trekkie collectors can gush over the recently announced auction of the one-of-a-kind phaser used by Captain James T. Kirk in his pilot episode. The rifle is being sold by a private collector with Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas; and it can be yours for just half a million dollars (no energy credits accepted).
The phaser rifle made its Star Trek appearance during the original series second pilot episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before. The episode aired in 1966 after the first pilot was rejected. This episode would be the first time the world was introduced to Captain James T. Kirk, portrayed by William Shatner. In the Star Trek episode, two crew members have been affected by a cosmic force as the Enterprise attempts to cross the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy. As the one affected crewmember, Gary Mitchell becomes a threat. Captain Kirk and the crew take Mitchell to a desolate planet, where Mitchell kidnaps the other affected member, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, and makes a run for it. After the ensuing battle, Captain Kirk uses the now-pricey phaser rifle to take down Mitchell.
In the original rejected pilot episode, the phaser rifle that Trekkies have come to know and love looked much different. When Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, took over, he decided to swap the round barreled laser guns for something more grand and dramatic for the action series, hence the birth of the famous phaser rifle. Roddenberry chartered renowned toy designer, Reuben Klamer, to design the phaser rifle. With just two weeks to create this new weapon, Klamer designed the 34-inch rifle carved out of wood and covered in metallic blue paint, with an aluminum shaft. Much to Roddenberry’s hopes, the new rifle design was a hit, as the blaster was heavily used in marketing materials such as lunchboxes to promote Star Trek along with plenty of publicity photos featuring the hunk of a Captain wielding the weapon.
Much of what made Captain Kirk one of the most famous starship captains in the history of Starfleet was his fighting style first seen in the pilot episode. His idiosyncratic martial arts style combat paired with futuristic blaster rifles meshed together to create a fresh action sci-fi TV hit like nothing seen before. Paired with his tactical way of words and battle of wits to gain the advantage against his foes, it’s easy to see why Star Trek’s first captain propelled the series to become the most successful science-fiction brand originating on TV.
The famous Enterprise captain has made news headlines lately after the 90-year-old actor became the first person to go into space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, giving the series a boost in recent news. Star Trek fans wanting to bid on the famed weapon must set phasers to spend, and quickly, as bidding on the rifle ends this Thursday.