Nightmare Before Christmas Tree Movie Prop Restoration

“What’s this? What’s this?” The original large scale Nightmare Before Christmas tree prop from Tim Burton’s animated musical film.

This Nightmare Before Christmas tree was used in the film when Jack Skellington arrives in Christmas Town before the classic “What’s This?” song. The prop was the centerpiece of the ice rink, where penguins and elves skated around the set piece. For its age this model tree was in very good condition. There were a few minor nicks, missing ornaments, a small section near the top had become detached and, although they were not functioning at the time, the original strings of lights and wiring were all intact!

With the wiring being more than 20 years old , we called in our expert friends at Creative Model Shop to take a look at the colored strands of Christmas lights that wrapped the prop.  With a new transformer, the tree movie prop lit up just like it had on set in 1993!  Once the lights were repaired, we turned our attention to restoring the rest of the tree. We recreated several replacement ornaments, including the gingerbread men, stars and candy canes. Each ornament had to be hand sculpted and was smaller that a quarter.  They were painted to match the aging originals so that there would be no stark contrast between the original and the new ornaments.

While the ornaments were being recreated, we began patching any of the areas where the foam had been chipped. We carefully filled in the missing areas and sculpted the new material to blend seamlessly int the original material. We also reattached the top section which had broken off.  Once reattached, we blended the edges to make the repair become virtually invisible.

We left the recreated Christmas ornaments as removable from this Nightmare Before Christmas tree prop.  This way if a future owner wants the piece to be displayed with only the original ornaments in place, they would  have that option.  We created a simple, museum style black laminate base, although again we made it so that the tree could be easily removed from the base if the buyer wanted to call us to create a more themed base (like a small skating rink as seen in the classic Disney/Tim Burton movie) in the future.

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