Oscar statuette gets back-to-roots facelift

ACADEMY AWARD OF MERIT: The new statuette retains its characteristic 24-karat gold finish but swops a pewter alloy cast for the bronze used in the 1929 original. The Oscars will be presented on Feb 28 in Hollywood, California.


    Feb 19, 2016

    Oscar statuette gets back-to-roots facelift


    THE iconic Oscars statuette has been given a makeover ahead of this year's ceremony, going back to the "fine art roots" of the award handed out during Hollywood's golden age.

    The world's most recognised trophy will retain its characteristic 24-karat gold finish but swops a pewter alloy cast for the bronze used in the 1929 original, said the Academy, announcing that it had changed manufacturers.

    "With the help of some 21st-century technology, we're able to honour the Oscars' proud beginnings," said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement.

    "The new statuette exemplifies impeccable craftsmanship and the enduring nature of art."

    The Academy said Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry in Rock Tavern, New York, had restored the "subtle features" of sculptor George Stanley's original by creating digital scans before 3D-printing a mould so it could be cast in wax.

    Each wax statuette was coated in a ceramic shell that was cured and fired at 871 deg C, melting the wax away and leaving an empty Oscar-shaped form.

    They were then cast in liquid bronze at more than 982 deg C, cooled and sanded to a mirror-polish finish.

    It takes around three months to produce 50 statuettes using this method, according to the Academy.

    At a height of 34.3cm and weight of 3.6kg, the new Oscar is the same size as its predecessor, which had been made by Chicago-based R.S. Owens since 1982.

    Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is better known as Oscar but the origins of the moniker remain disputed.

    Bette Davis claimed to have nicknamed the trophy after her first husband Harmon Nelson's middle name, although she later withdrew the claim.

    In one popular story, Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick, upon seeing the trophy for the first time, remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar.

    Almost 3,000 statuettes have been handed out since 1929, and the new batch will be given to winners in the 88th Academy Awards on Feb 28.