Tag Archives: A New Hope

Star Wars Obsession

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?

Spaceships are sexy!

Just lately I’ve been asked questions along the lines of ‘what first attracted you to science fiction?’ I could always come out with sober answers about science and the future, Asimov, Arthur C Clarke yadayadayada. But the moment I fell in love with science fiction? That moment at the movies when the Imperial Star Destroyer (ISD) is chasing the Rebel blockade runner – Princess Leia’s ship. Remember? In Star Wars: A New Hope? This ship scuds across the screen, the planet below. You’re above it, as it hurtles past from top right. It’s past. You see the  ship’s drives and the blasts as it fires at – something. And then – Holy Shit! What in hell is that? I ducked. And that ISD just kept on coming and coming and coming.

It’s true. Spaceships are sexy.

As far as I can recall this was the first time a spaceship wasn’t depicted as streamlined (as in Buck Rogers etc). OK, that’s not true. The ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey wasn’t streamlined, or ‘Enterprise’. But these ships were angular, with bits and turrets sticking out, which was fine in vacuum, of course. The ISD was depicted as an assault ship – an aircraft carrier and a troop ship combined, a huge, movable assault platform. With guys in sexy uniforms. Mmm. I loved it.

If that wasn’t enough, think of the scene in ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘ when Darth Vader stands at the picture window on the bridge of his ship. The opening part of that sequence shows an ISD moving beneath the shadow of a monstrous ship. Ahhhhh. My fate was sealed.

Executor.

I purloined the picture (top left) from https://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Executor where you can find a few more facts about this seriously sexy ship.

Rest assured, these big capital ships aren’t the only ones that make my heart throb, but they’re a start. Come on, share. What’s your favourite space ship?