Reading somebody’s blog recently I was reminded about my own obsession with the Star Wars universe early in the life of the series. SW and The Empire Strikes Back didn’t have the benefit of digital enhancement. The special effects guys made their props in the old fashioned way – with models and blue-screen photography. The scenes with the running Taun-tauns on Hoth were painstakingly filmed, screen by laborious screen, using stop-motion animation. (Think Wallace and Gromit), while all that amazing hardware – Luke’s landspeeder, the sandcrawler, the magnificent fleet of Star Destroyers and the wonderful ‘Executor’ were all just little models hanging in a studio, to be brought to life by these wonderful craftsmen.
One offshoot of all this model making was, of course, the licensing of plastic model kit manufacturers such as Mattel to produce models for us afficionados to build. And build them I did, enhancing the stock models all the way. I built everything. Star destroyer, AT-AT (with tiny Luke running along beside with his grenade), X-wing, Y-wing, A-wing, B-wing, TIE fighter, Slave 1, the Imperial speeder bike…
As I built more and more, lovingly detailed to match what I saw in the movies, I started to want to build dioramas – small scenes from the movie, frozen in the act. Hence the AT-AT with Luke.
The picture up there is my piece de resistance and (apart from a model of DV himself) the only one I still have in my possession.
This is the crashed snowspeeder scene from TESB, the unseen AT-AT approaching from off stage. But this is no out-of-the-box snowspeeder. Well – it is. But I ditched the crummy pilot figures and substituted figures from a kit for a WW2 German troop carrier, suitably modified with helmets, webbing over their orange jumpsuits and even a little light sabre. The speeder’s cockpit was taken from a 33: kit for a Phantom jet fighter, which I could modify so the pilots were back to back. I also detailed the visible parts of the machine’s engine.
I think the snowspeeder kit cost $15. As I built it? Including the cost of the troop carrier and Phantom kits, more like $100.
Do you have any obessions you’d like to share?
Great diorama! I loved the original films. They were world-altering for those of us growing up int the ’70s – suddenly, science fiction was mainstream and awesome. My brother had every figure and every toy he could persuade our parents to bring home.
Thanks for sharing your memories – and prompting several of mine along the way!
Greta van der Rol
Yes, you’re absolutely right. 2001: A Space Odyssey was a great movie – but Star Wars was fun – we could get involved.