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11 Insane Movie Props You Can Buy on eBay

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By Scott Meslow

If you think of eBay at all, you probably think of it as a kind of digital flea market—a place for buyers to put their old records and collectible dolls and Pez dispensers where the few people who want them can easily find them.

But there's another side to eBay: A wonderfully weird side where hardcore movie fans can acquire props, both iconic and banal, that have been culled from a wide variety of film sets. What buried treasures can be found on the auction site? A guide:

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger prop head from Total Recall — $100

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How would you like to have a terrifying, rubbery, inexplicably aged Arnold Schwarzenegger head gracing your coffee table? This prop from 1990's Total Recall—which the seller says was used in one of the Mars sets—also comes with an autograph from Schwarzenegger. Unlike many of the props available on eBay, the Total Recall head has no minimum bid. It currently sits at a staggeringly low $100—so get your bids in before Valentine's Day!

2. Poker chips from Ocean's Eleven — $499.95

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Ocean's Eleven is less about gambling and more about robbery—but you can't knock over three of Las Vegas' biggest casinos without sending a few poker chips flying. These ones were scattered across the floor of the Bellagio during the grand heist at the movie's climax, so they probably didn't see any actual play — but there's always the chance George Clooney stepped on one or something.

3. Oar from Titanic — $1,100

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There aren't too many movie props that will actually be useful in a real-world situation, but if you ever end up on a sinking ship, you might want to hold onto this oar from Titanic. The seller says this oar was heroically "recovered from the water of the huge tank" where the movie was filmed, so it's probably the closest thing you'll find to an actual relic from the Titanic anytime soon.

4. T-1000 shirt from Terminator 2: Judgment Day — $2,467.20

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Who wouldn't want to dress up like hunky, sleeveless fake cop Robert Patrick? This shirt fromTerminator 2: Judgment Day, which was used in the scene when the T-1000 turns his arms into hooks and grabs onto the dashboard of a car, also comes with two liquid metal bullet hits, so your absurdly out-of-date Halloween costume can be even more authentic.

5. Jeff Goldblum's feet from The Fly — $4,125.75

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If the rubber Schwarzenegger head wasn't disturbing enough for you, here's something that's both much more expensive and much grosser: The misshapen, sore-covered prosthetic feet Jeff Goldblum wore for 1986's The Fly. The seller gleefully describes the prop from the horror movie as "the ultimate Christmas present for a fan" — or, perhaps, for the parent who wants something even worse than coal to give their misbehaving kid.

6. Saw from Saw — $7,000

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Yet another iconic/disturbing prop for the horror fan in your life. This saw from the horror movie of the same name was used by the movie's protagonist when he failed to cut through his own chains. Goes great with Jeff Goldbum's diseased feet!

7. General Katana's Sword from Highlander II: The Quickening — $9,500

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Any immortals looking to collect their quickening in style have a new, pricey possibility: The sword used by Michael Ironside in the legendarily awful sequel to Highlander. The seller is quick to acknowledge that the movie itself was "crap," but swears that the sword "is the most powerful ever made. Period."

8. Peter Pan costume from Hook — $16,503

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This "flying" costume was worn by Robin Williams in Steven Spielberg's Hook. (Alas, his weird little sword is not included.) "Hook was one of the biggest movies ever to be made in Hollywood," says the apparently delusional seller. But hyperbolic claims about Hook aside: If you're a huge Robin Williams fan, owning his Peter Pan tights is probably as up close and personal as you're going to get.

9. Charlie Bucket's Scrumdidilyumptious Wonka Bar from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — $16,503

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This prop, from 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is the oldest on this list by a considerable margin — so even if this was real chocolate, you probably wouldn't want to eat it. Alas, the seller reveals that this allegedly scrumdidilyumptious Wonka bar is actually a "heavy stock paper wrapper surrounding a light tissue paper-filled center." My entire childhood was a lie.

10. 1970 Chevrolet Nova from Death Proof — $39,900

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Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, which made up one half of 2006's double feature Grindhouse, wasn't exactly his most successful movie — but apart from a severed ear or a Hattori Hanzo sword, it's hard to imagine a cooler prop from his oeuvre than the 1970 Chevrolet Nova driven by Stuntman Mike. According to the seller, this is one of two surviving Novas from the film's production. Sure, the price isn't exactly something to sneeze at—but hey, free shipping!

11. Velociraptor cage from Jurassic Park — $99,900.10

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This is it—the greatest prop ever sold on an auction website. For just under $100,000, you can own the massive velociraptor crate from the opening scene of 1993's Jurassic Park—and it comes with an actual full-sized velociraptor model inside it. If you have a hundred grand to spare (and a truck to lug your new dinosaur around the greater Los Angeles area), you have absolutely no excuse not to buy this clever girl.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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