1) Oscar statuettes aren’t solid gold. Winners of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences annual awards just love to talk about how heavy their award statuettes are. They go on and on about it, they do bicep curls with their award. We get it! It’s heavy! (Actual weight of an Oscar: 8.5 pounds.) The winners are implying that the statuettes are solid gold, but don’t believe it. They’re gold-plated. They’re really made of a composite metal called britannium (93% tin + 5% antimony + 2% copper) that’s heated to its liquid state and cast in a mold. After some sanding and buffing, an electroplating process covers it in pure 24 karat gold. Oscar’s base is solid brass that’s plated with black nickel.
2) Oscars are born in Chicago. An Illinois company called R.S. Owens crafts every single Oscar by hand. No robots or slave laborers are involved in this process.
3) Oscars are tagged. Oscar statuettes are engraved with their own I.D. number, as part of the Academy’s famously tight security measures. Maybe in the future, they’ll give them microchips so they can be tracked if stolen.
4) Oscar’s not a cheap date. The Academy pays somewhere upwards of $500 for every Oscar, or “Academy Award of Merit,” as they’re officially named. With about 50 trophies ordered by the Academy every year, that’s a pricetag in the neighborhood of $25,000 per ceremony.
5) Oscar doesn’t just stand for film, he stands on it. Oscar is perched on a film reel (which is part of the gold-plated statuette, not the base) that has five spokes, one for each of the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers.
6) Oscar is modeled after a real (naked) man. The Oscar statuette was originally designed by Cedric Gibbons, an Academy member who worked as an art director at MGM in the early part of the 20th Century. To design his statue based on a realistic human form, Gibbons asked Mexican film director Emilio Fernandez to pose for him — and yes, Fernandez posed nude. Gibbons tailored his design with an art deco touch, posed it like a knight, and gave it a sword. The base has been streamlined a bit over the years, but the design of the statuette itself hasn’t changed since it was first given out in 1929.