Japanese Model Maker Claims New Blade Runner Film Copied Blaster
In addition to having a remarkable influence on subsequent anime, the 1982 American film Blade Runner has become a classic science-fiction film regarded as one of the all-time best in the genre. A stand-out feature of the film is Deckard’s iconic Blaster, also known as the “PKD” or “LAPD 2019 Blaster.” The Blaster is prized by collectors and has been widely recreated over the decades. Tomenosuke, a Japanese model maker who has created various high-quality reproductions of the Blaster, is concerned its work has been used without crediting the source in this year’s sequel film.
The Blade Runner 2049 sequel to the original film starring Harrison Ford opened in the United States on October 6, and it will open in Japan on October 27. The official website of the American technology magazine Wired recently posted a feature on the new film. The article includes an image of the Blaster used in the making of the film. The article describes the prop:
For 2049, [property master Doug] Harlocker and his team fashioned an exact replica of the iconic original. They tracked down the blaster’s owner, a collector who’d snagged it at auction. He flew the sidearm to LA, where they meticulously photographed and measured every inch. They reverse-engineered three identical copies, using parts from the same revolver and rifle vintages as the original, then distressed them to look timeworn. “We went to incredible lengths to make sure what we put in Harrison Ford’s hand was something he recognized.”
Tomenosuke claims that instead of modeling the prop after the original Blaster, Harlocker and his staff created the Blaster from a mold of the Tomenosuke Blaster. The model maker claims that certain features of the Blaster indicated in the image above, as well as the appearance of the Blaster in Vice’s video embedded below, prove that the new film’s prop is actually an uncredited copy of its work.
In a blog post from September, Tomenosuke offers a detailed explanation of its claim. The company posted the article, titled “We want a property master of ‘Blade Runner 2049’ to read this post seriously,” in both Japanese and English. According to Tomenosuke, the new film’s Blaster shows trademarks of it and model maker Nobutaka Toku’s design. For example, the company claims that the prop shows signs of screws embedded in the barrel and cylinder to comply with Japanese regulations.
The origins of Deckard’s Blaster from the 1982 film also remained a mystery until recent years. The many recreations complicate the history of the weapon Ford used in the film. Movie prop collector Dan Lanigan bought the original prop at auction for US$270,000 in 2009. In the video above, Harlocker explains that he borrowed the Blaster from Lanigan, “took a really close look at it, and basically we recreated it. The Blaster again, bolt by bolt.”
Tomenosuke claims that it sold its entire inventory of Tomenosuke Blaster models, including grips and rubber guns to Harlocker and his studio for the production of the new film. The company said that the picture and image show that the new film utilizes one of Tomenosuke’s grips.
Harlocker also discusses the new Blaster’s creation in a video with Tested, which features former MythBuster co-host Adam Savage. In the video, Harlocker says he and his staff “studied [Lanigan’s Blaster] extensively” and “built [the new film’s Blasters] from scratch.”
The video shows the various versions of the Blaster that Harlocker and his team built. It is unclear whether these are the same Blasters that appear in Wired’s article or in Vice’s video. Harlocker states that the different versions served various purposes in the film’s production.
Tomenosuke’s blog post has been circulating online. Maki Terashima-Furuta, the new president of Production I.G. USA, tweeted the post on Saturday. Toonami co-creator Jason DeMarco also posted on Twitter about Tomenosuke’s claims.
Harlocker has apparently issued no official response to Tomenosuke’s claims that he copied the company’s work.