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New Manufacturer Gives Oscar Statue A Minor Makeover

An Oscar statue at the 88th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on Feb. 8. Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP hide caption

toggle caption Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

An Oscar statue at the 88th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on Feb. 8.

Danny Moloshok/Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP

When the iconic gold Oscar statues are handed out at the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28, they'll look a little bit different.

The statues will more closely resemble the early awards.

The minor makeover comes now that a new company is in charge of making the coveted statues. New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry took over production from Chicago-based R.S. Owens & Co., which had made the statues since 1982. In a statement, the academy says the new manufacturer has "restored subtle features" from the original sculpture, using a cast bronze example from 1929, the first year the award was given.

The statement also explained the process in which the statues are hand-cast in bronze with a 24-karat gold finish:

"Polich Tallix started its Oscar-making process by creating digital scans of the 1929 statuette and a modern-era pedestal base. The digital Oscar was then 3D-printed and molded so the form could be cast in wax.

"Each wax statuette is coated in a ceramic shell that is cured and fired at 1,600°F, melting the wax away and leaving an empty Oscar-shaped form. The statuettes are then cast in liquid bronze at more than 1,800°F, cooled, and sanded to a mirror polish finish.

"The figure portion of each Oscar is electroplated with a permanent layer of reflective 24-karat gold by Epner Technology, a renowned high-tech specification electroplating company in Brooklyn. The statuette's bronze base receives a smooth black patina, which is hand-buffed to a satin finish."

The dimensions of the Oscar will remain unchanged, standing 13.5 inches tall, and weighing 8.5 pounds.

Speaking of which, why is the statue nicknamed Oscar? The academy doesn't really know either:

"Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, the statuette is better known by its nickname, Oscar. While the origins of the moniker aren't clear, a popular story has it that upon seeing the trophy for the first time, Academy librarian (and eventual executive director) Margaret Herrick remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy didn't adopt the nickname officially until 1939, but it was widely known enough by 1934 that Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used it in a piece referring to Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress win."

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