A quick question: Ever thought about how trophies are made?
'Tis the season of award ceremonies, people! And we're through with the major ones, be it the Oscars, Grammys, and Golden Globes, among others. BBMAs is up next. But beyond the glittering evening, shimmer gowns, professionally-tailored suits, there's one thing that attracts attention the most—the trophies! So, have you ever wondered how are they designed and what are they made of? Here, we explore.
Let's start with the Grammys. A three-man group of Colorado-based Billings Artworks, headed by John Billings, nestled "in a dusty little shop, in a tiny little town in the mountains," puts in 15 hours of labor to bring out the 24K gold-plated prizes, 30 per batch. The initial trophies, before Billings took over, were made of lead but now he uses his special zinc-alloy.
When we're talking music, let's hop onto the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). Created by the Society Awards, the trophy is of a shape of an astronaut on the moon, and so is called "moonman" colloquially. The flag logo was made by Society Awards and the trophy is a shiny chrome-plated sculpture. The base is updated with details as and when they come.
Even though Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is under scrutiny now, its Golden Globes Awards are still prestigious. In 2019, its retouched statuette was presented to the winners, and it was a 24K gold-plated, longer, and leaner trophy. The R/GA-designed trophy has two forms: Film and TV winners got the all-gold version, while others received Golden Globes on top of a black marble base.
The new trophy version also has the winner's name, category, and year mentioned, making it unique and authentic. The 11.5 inches tall trophy has a base width of 3.75 inches. It's made of zinc, brass, and bronze. The weight of the trophy stands at 3.5kg.
And now the main one: The Academy Awards or Oscars. Since 1929, it has stood the ground of being the most recognized trophy globally. The first design was made by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, after which Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley was asked to give it a 3D touch. And the knight, standing on a film reel, holding a crusader's sword was born!
The 13.5-inch-tall Oscars trophy weighs about 3.85kg. The five reels signify the Academy's five original branches: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. Underneath the 24K gold sheath, it's just bronze. It costs around $400 and takes 10 days to churn out a piece, and three months for all 50. Fun fact: For three years since World War II, the trophies were made of plaster!
Can we get a bit desi, please? Filmfare Awards have been in place for 67 years. Originally designed by NG Pansare, with the then TOI art director Walter Langhammer supervising it, the trophy—also called the "Black Lady"— weighs 5kg. The 18.3-inch tall bronze statuette got a silver version in 1978 and golden in 2005. The Award Gallery has been manufacturing the trophy since 2000.