Patrick “Chris” Hearty has several skeletons in his closet. But they are not the ones most people would expect to find.
Screen-used costumes and movie props adorn the basement of his Severna Park home. The body of the woodchipper college kid in “Tucker & Dale vs Evil.” A prototype mask of the Green Goblin from Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” starring Willem Dafoe. A police robot from the “Total Recall” remake. An animatronic Right Hand of Doom from the 2019 adaptation of “Hellboy.” The mask, arms and body suit of the devil from “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” and the animatronic bunny from the same film.
More than 300 relics of all sizes fill the space.
“I really have such an appreciation for it,” Hearty said. “My wife says I never got out of action figures — it just got bigger — and that’s kind of true.”
Most of the items come from horror, science fiction and superhero films and television shows.
“It started with comics, like for most kids,” Hearty said of his hobby. “I went to art school and had an appreciation for that part of it. I started doing replicas for myself … and I realized that for what I was putting into a replica, I could have the real thing, so I started buying the real thing, and now it has gotten crazy.”
“Everything here has gotten to the point of being a treasure trove,” he said. “It’s worth more than my house.”
Some of his most valuable items are worth more than $25,000, he said. Others may be worth a few hundred.
He buys from producers, actors and directors — receiving not only the items but also memories.
“This is a remnant from my previous days of chasing autographs from conventions,” he said. “You’re chasing these autographs down and it’s a much more personal interaction with these people because you’re buying something from them than, ‘Hey, I’m giving you a couple bucks and I’m moving through this line and I’m getting your autograph.’ You end up becoming friends in some cases.”
One of his favorite encounters was meeting Greg Nicotero, a special makeup effects artist known for his work on “The Walking Dead.”
“Mind like a steel trap,” Hearty said of Nicotero. “Remembers everything he has made over the years. And that is a lot.”
Hearty has acquired a lot of his props and costumes through online auctions and by scouring social media pages. He makes an offer only if something is production- or screen-used.
“There is only one devil, there is only one bunny and there is only one goblin,” he said, referring to some of his valuables. “Some of these things are made in multiples, but not a lot of them.”
One of those rare purchases is a suit worn by Vincent D'Onofrio when he played Kingpin in Netflix’s “Daredevil” show. Hearty screen-matched the suit to a scene where Kingpin was covered in blood spatter.
The props and costumes that he currently covets the most are complete sets.
“I don’t want just the helmet anymore,” he said. “I want head to toe, and I chase a lot of that.”
To add to his collection, he must subtract.
“It changes so quick,” he said. “If I want something better, I have to sell a couple things to build a war chest basically.”
The hobby was more affordable when he started. That does not mean people cannot get into it now. Whether someone wants a weapon prop from a science fiction flick or a fake limb from a horror film, not everything costs an arm and a leg.
“If you’re getting in at a low level and want to buy the ear from ‘Killjoys,’ it’s like $25 to $50 – not very much money,” he said. “But you want to start talking [the cowl of] Big Daddy, $6,000 or $8,000. You buy a bajillion of these things so you can buy that. It’s like a game of upgrades.”
Hearty dubbed his supply “the Missing Collection” because he sent photos to an expert for a review and the guy never responded, hence it was “missing.”
Hearty has two teenage kids and a wife who all support his hobby, although they have different interests.
“It’s old hat to them,” Hearty said. “It’s like you buy a house on the water and then you live there a year or two and then you never see the water.”
He gets excited when showing the collection to someone for the first time.
“You get all this stuff, you feel so miserly to keep it to yourself,” Hearty said. “To me, they’re genuine treasures.”