Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Tellarite vs Australian Customs

"Tellarites don't argue for reasons; they merely argue." (Sarek of Vulcan)

How ironic that I felt like arguing over a Tellarite costume! I took a leaf from Star Trek and quit while I was behind. It really wasn't worth trying to argue with Australian Customs, especially when I had no choice but to admit defeat. But today, I also have to come clean - and tell you about my latest eBay acquisitions.

A few weeks after winning a set of screen-used Andorian robes from It's a Wrap!, I placed bids on two other Star Trek items. ('Tis the season to be greedy?) I had found an amazingly detailed Tellarite ambassador's costume from the "Star Trek: Enterprise" episode, "Babel One" (as worn by actor Lee Arenberg, as Gral*), that wasn't garnering much interest.

Ambassador Gral of Tellar Prime

Ditto a casual grey Starfleet shirt from the doomed Epsilon IX Space Station of "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". While I fully expected to lose both auctions, I was rather startled to win both auctions - for very reasonable prices!

For the two weeks of my recent vacation, I watched the mail closely. My calculations had the parcel due sometime in that fortnight, but alas! In my haste to save on postage, I'd requested that both items travel Down Under in the same carton. Because the combined total cost nudged itself over the $AU 1000 mark, my latest haul was delayed... in Customs. Drat! Thus, I got hit with a hefty inspection fee, plus customs duty, and GST (sales tax). Drat and double drat.

The most frustrating aspect was that the box was to be held up for at least five days while I filled in the paperwork, calculated the separate amounts in Australian dollars (as per the day they were purchased) and faxed them back. After ten days I'd still heard nothing more, so I rang to inquire. Yes, there was a general delay. When I pressed for my details to be checked, customs said they'd never received my paperwork, even though the paperwork was sent in two different batches and the fax machine had printed out receipts confirming the correct fax number.

The faxes were re-sent, and suddenly there was another form - the payment invoice for the Customs charges - to fill in and fax back. (That was last Thursday, so it's been an agonizing few more days.)

Of course, the top secret box arrived this morning, while I was in the shower. My housemate answered the door to the postal delivery man - maybe he'd assume the box contained new Star Trek action figures - but his first question to me was, "What costumes have you bought now?" Drat and triple drat.

Having come clean on my latest eBay adventures, I had to wait until this afternoon, after work, to open up the box. The costumes are quite exciting! The TMP shirt looks like it was made for me! Perfect sleeve length; a beautiful, raw cotton, grey shirt, in beautiful condition, especially considering it's been in storage at Paramount Studios since 1978!

Epsilon 9Epsilon 9 insignia

"A costume featured in 'Star Trek I: The Motion Picture' for wear by characters on board the 'Epsilon IX Station'. The costume is a gray colored shirt with an open neck and an affixed yellow backed 'Epsilon IX' assignment patch on the left breast. Item Number 3716."

The Tellarite costume is an elaborate, two-layered brown jacket, covered in brass buttons, cords and tassels, and metal trim. It comes with matching trousers - and a "fat suit". Now, part of my strategy was that buying a costume requiring a fat-suit would be ideal, since if it was too small for me, I could just omit the padded undershirt. (After yesterday's "diet" post, it was all quite ironic.) Amazingly, the costume, although worn by the petite Mr Arenberg on-screen, fits me perfectly, even in the sleeve length. And yeah, I don't need the fat suit. Hardy har.

Gral costumeGral costume back

"'Ambassador Gral' (Lee Arenberg) was a high-ranking Tellarite official featured in the 'Star Trek: Enterprise' episode 'Babel One'. Gral was transported by the U.S.S. Enterprise NX-01 with the rest of his delegation to discuss a trade dispute with the Andorian Empire on the planetoid Babel however he complained for the entire voyage. His costume includes a cropped sleeved padded undershirt with padding around the belly and shoulders to create the Tellarite appearance. The ornate coat is ribbed brown with many gold and black colored buttons over the surface. It zips up the front and there are also two metal fastening on the front. Worn over the coat is a cropped long sleeved coat with more buttons and impressive detail on the back. Black cord with metal accents and brown tassels add to the detail. Corresponding brown trousers complete the outfit. Costume comes complete with costume tag. Item Number 3780."

By the way, the sewn-in "Enterprise" tag in the fat-suit shows that this costume element has an interesting pedigree! It indicates that, after "Babel One" (and "United"), the same fat-suit was used by stuntman Tony Brubaker, in the Klingon-themed episode "Divergence"; extra Pablo Soriano in "In a Mirror Darkly, Part I" (as Terev, the Tellarite in the agony booth); and extra Trey Stokes, as one of the Tellarite ambassadorial aides in the "Demons"/"Terra Prime" two-parter.

Combs & Arenberg in "United"
Shran & Gral shooting "United". Thanks Frontier of TrekBBS!

I must stop looking on eBay on Saturdays...

* By the way, Lee Arenberg has played a Ferengi - also called Gral - in the "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episode, "The Nagus"!

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