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It should be noted that out of all the areas we could have gotten spoilers, Props was one of the biggest sources of actual scene spoilers. Please be warned that there are details below that you may not wish to read before seeing the movie.

Desks and Fancy Schmancy German Robots

As if we weren’t already dazzled enough by the costumes, we were next shuffled over to talk to Don Miloyevich, introduced to us as “Propmaster Extraordinaire!”

“I give her twenty bucks every time she says that.” he joked. Since I want to give him his money’s worth, that’s what I’m going to refer to him as for this report.

Battle-School-Needs-You32

He immediately holds up the desk pad, which while turned off was actually just clear glass, since they weren’t actual computers. Depending on the scene, it was either blue screen or gels to show homework.

In the palm of his hand, he holds what he referred to as a German robot called the Gear-up Dela Neurosurge (sp?). We know it as Ender’s monitor.

“It’s attached to his brainstem.” He goes on to describe the scene after the monitor removal, something I wasn’t expecting to hear from him. “When he gets back home his brother makes him don the bugger mask; the alien mask, and then beats him up in what is a regular occurrence at his house, of course.”

The mobile that I referenced in Part 1, which Valentine gazes up at, turns out to be a depiction of Mazer Rackham’s famous battle against the Formics.

Flash Guns, Barf Bags, and Hooks

Barf-BagIt’s interesting to go back now and listen to what we were being told, since at the time we had no real point of reference for some of the scenes mentioned.

For example, we now know that it’s Alai that throws up at some point in the movie, a scene which Suraj Partha told us on EnderCast was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. One was on display at the Ender’s Game Experience at Comic Con, but apparently we’d been shown one during the tour more than a year prior.

Probably one of the coolest things about our visit to the prop section was hearing and seeing all the little details they’d included in the movie, such as the commander hook used to bring soldiers back to the gate from the Battle Room, something that Graff uses in the movie. “There was talk of just having waving his hand and something would read it, but we decided that we wanted some sort of device that you could see.”

Petra’s practice balls, which were also on display at Comic Con, were about an inch wide and he explained how she’d throw them out into the Battle Room to have Ender practice his shooting. Digital Domain would later have the balls expand and light up to indicate success in hitting the target.

The flash guns were really cool and lit up after charging for a few seconds. “Of course, digitally they will add in a nice electron particle beam.” The guns disassemble into ten pieces and there’s a scene when Ender is in Salamander Army under Bonzo’s command and the kids have a contest in the barracks to see who can disassemble and re-assemble the gun the quickest. “[The kids] got really good at it. I was really surprised and pleased.”

He showed us the grooming kit, which Asa Butterfield mentioned during the Comic Con panel. He picks up what’s called a pneumatic injection gun, which is what the teachers use to sedate Ender after he finds out about what he’s done to the Formics.

The Big Guns

While the kids of Battle School have their cute little pew pew pistols, they had some serious firepower on set for various security characters, presumably on Eros. He introduces us to his assistant named Bro, who holds up a 12-gauge Kel Tec KSG shotgun and let’s us hold it.

Kel-Tec

Yeah. You just can’t help but feel like a badass just looking at it.

Next, Bro holds up an even more impressive .45 caliber KRISS Vector, while Propmaster Extraordinaire continues to explain how if they couldn’t build it themselves, they went out to find the newest things on the market, things that were still in prototype.

Quite a few of the things we saw were actually real products. They got a lot of things on loan from companies that were happy to showcase their latest technology in the film and the idea behind getting prototypes was to have props that audiences wouldn’t have seen yet.

What’s somewhat amusing is that last night while listening to him explain to us about the helmets they used for Mazer Rackham and the technology behind them, something clicked. “In the current day, you have a set of fighter planes, you have a heads up display which is sort of above your dashboard in the plane basically. Now they’ve moved on to where all that display and targeting is in the helmet and so you track something with your eye. All of that kind of happens within the helmet. All your targeting, multiple targets, your views, your night vision.”

Sound familiar to any of you? In the latest First Formic War novel Earth Afire, Mazer Rackham and Wit’s MOPs use helmets with technology just like what he describes, with pilots being able to blink commands into the helmet.

It’s No Place Like Home

Just like in the book, none of the Battle School soldiers own any personal items. When Ender is first taken from home on Earth, his mother attempts to give Ender her father’s Saint Christopher medal, but Graff cuts her off and says no personal effects are allowed in Battle School to prevent homesickness.

Welcome to Battle School, an official No Fun Zone.

Welcome to Battle School, an official No Fun Zone.

Remember the space baseball scene from the first trailer? It was so easy to assume that this was just a common fun thing at Battle School with real bats and balls and such, but according to Propmaster Extraordinaire, the soldiers in this scene have improvised in an attempt to have a rare moment of fun. The “bat”, which Dink Meeker is holding, is actually a plastic tube that they’ve found. Their baseball? A rolled up sock.

In closing, he casually mentions Ender’s raft, which apparently is just sitting in the parking lot outside. The idea of such a thing just existing somewhere in the vicinity was surreal. But then again, the fact that I was standing in a massive ex-NASA facility looking at flash guns and desks and gravity hooks still seemed like one big mindblowing ball of impossible.

Our set visit reports will continue on Monday with our interview with the cast.

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