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What's Really So Special About That Squid Find On American Pickers Season 23, Episode 3

Over the years, the team from "American Pickers" has discovered plenty of classic movie memorabilia on their antiquing journey across the United States -– even uncovering a few authentic film props along the way. Specifically, Mike Wolfe and company have shown themselves to be avid collectors of props and memorabilia from classic science fiction films.

A few of Wolfe's most notable film finds include a rubber alien costume from the 1955 movie "The Island Earth," and a personalized original script for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Perhaps their most significant film-related discovery was a collection of Yoda sculptures made to the same scale as the one used for "The Empire Strikes Back" – an undeniably important original "Star Wars" artifact which ended up costing the Pickers over $6,000.

This tradition continued in Season 23 of "American Pickers," as brothers Mike and Robbie Wolfe discovered and purchased a classic monster movie squid puppet from the 1996 television miniseries "The Beast." This prop actually represents a pretty significant moment in American film history.

This squid prop represents the impact that Jaws had on the film industry

As Mike Wolfe explains in the episode, the immense popularity of 1975's "Jaws" spawned a host of other horror films that focused on giant animals terrorizing people in a variety of different settings. The success of "Jaws" also made writer Peter Benchley (who wrote the novel on which "Jaws" was based) an incredibly hot commodity within Hollywood, which is why production on "The Beast" began just two years after Benchley released the book of the same name.

This particular squid prop is extremely special not only because it represents a specific era of Hollywood horror films (and indeed, the influence that Benchley had on the genre following "Jaws"), but because it is an intense labor of love that harkens back to the practical effects you don't see in films these days. Everything on this puppet, including the squid's eyes, tentacles, and beak, was completely workable –- and took around 16 to 18 people to operate at a time. In this, it is very similar to the famously malfunctioning shark puppet from its predecessor, which remains one of the most iconic movie props of all time.

While it's out of the question that Wolfe or any antiquer would be allowed to purchase the original puppet from "Jaws," this giant squid is a worthy stand-in, representing the historical significance of Peter Benchley's influence on Hollywood, as well as the age of practical special effects which gave classic horror and science fiction films their distinctive look.