Recently, Collectors Weekly posted a pair of striking century-old “rescue masks” that share a passing resemblance to our favorite Sith Lord and protocol droid. Undoubtedly a coincidence — concept designer Ralph McQuarrie’s designs and inspirations for the pair have been well documented – their Star Wars steampunk look is amusingly effective.
From the article:
This pair of early rescue masks, shown above, dates from between the mid-1800s and World War I. They look a bit familiar, right? Almost 100 years before Darth Vader and C-3PO hit the big screen in “Star Wars” in 1977, these two smoke helmets were worn by firefighters carrying out rescues in smoke-logged buildings. The buzz among collectors is that George Lucas’s designers must have found inspiration in these smoke helmets and others like them. In fact, one well-known 19th-century manufacturer was named Vajen-Bader—you could easily get the name Vader from that.
For a measure of symmetry, we’re sharing an image from Steve Sansweet’s Star Wars: 1,000 Collectibles book of two post-Star Wars knock-off water game heads from a New Jersey Shore arcade. Looks like Star Wars-inspired faces can be found on both sides of 1977 if you look hard enough.