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‘Star Trek' Wax Figures Get New Mission: Helping Museum

"This is kind of a holy grail of Trek fandom," the museum's founder, Huston Huddleston, said

The starship Enterprise has a new five-year mission: to boldly go and raise money to help a quirky museum live long and prosper.

The Hollywood Science Fiction Museum recently took possession of life-sized wax figures of all seven crew members from the original "Star Trek" TV series, including Capt. Kirk.

The figures and a replica of the Enterprise bridge had spent a decade in storage.

"This is kind of a holy grail of Trek fandom," museum founder Huston Huddleston said in an online museum video.

The figures were crafted for the Movieland Wax Museum, a Buena Park tourist attraction. Around 10 years ago, the defunct museum auctioned off its contents, including the figures that had drawn generations of Trekkies.

"As far as anyone knew, it was lost," Huddleston said Wednesday of the Trek tableau. "It was either in a rich person's house and never seen again, or it was destroyed...nobody knew."

In fact, the intrepid crew had been rescued.

At the museum auction, Steve and Lori Greenthal ponied up $40,000 for Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Dr. "Bones" McCoy, Chekov and Engineer Scott.

They wanted to keep the set from being broken up.

"We took them home and put them in our dining room," Lori told the Orange County Register.

Steve didn't like the way their life-like eyes stared.

"We put paper bags over their heads," he said.

Steve called a buddy, Chris Liebl of Anaheim, and they hatched a plan to make money from the figures. Liebl offered to pay half the purchase price and together they spent another $40,000 building a 20-by-30-foot mockup of the Enterprise bridge, complete with sounds effects from the TV show.

They took the set to Las Vegas for a 40th Star Trek anniversary gathering and sold about 800 photographs of people posing with the figures. George Takei, who played Sulu, and Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhuru, even stopped by to pose with their alter egos.

But the venture didn't make money and the setup was cumbersome.

So the figures eventually were dismantled and the wax heads and hands placed in cold storage. The bridge set was stored in a hangar at the Fullerton airport.

However, the airport now needs the hangar for other things.

Three months ago, the owners donated the set and its wax crew to the museum. On a recent weekend, they held a party to say goodbye.

"I've been on an emotional roller coaster," Lori Greenthal told the Register. "I'm happy they're going to be together and on display. It brings such joy to so many people."

The museum held a successful Kickstarter campaign to pay for about $14,000 to cover the expected costs of restoring the figures.

"Most of them are great shape," Huddleston said. "The only damage is their hair was messed up over the years and also 30 years of really harsh light on them had made their paint fade off."

Spock's figure already has been restored. Among other things, that meant removing a "terrible, tacky wig" that someone had stuck on top of the figure's original hair, which was composed of individual strands painstakingly punched into the wax, Huddleston said.

The nonprofit museum, which has no permanent home, plans to take the figures on a five-year North American tour beginning later this year in Los Angeles, Huddleston said.

The tour will help raise money to give the museum a home in North Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the Spock and McCoy figures will be introduced at the Wondercon convention in Anaheim that begins Friday, Huddleston said.

Huddleston called the figures "true pieces of art."

"I'm living a nerd's dream," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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