Archive for 2011



Snagging a Piece of Special Effects History

Pete Vilmur | November 1, 2011

Ever since 1980, when the second issue of an industry magazine called Cinefex gave extensive coverage to the making of The Empire Strikes Back‘s special effects, I’ve pretty much been an fx geek. Setting up models against a blue screen — state of the art for the special effects industry in the ’70s and ’80s — the artists at Industrial Light & Magic would create the X-wing run down the Death Star trench, the snowspeeder attack against the AT-ATs, and the speederbike chase through the Endor forest, to name a few. These set-ups would include the models, the pylons propping them up, stage lights, the blue screen, and of course the camera — items that recently became available in an auction staged out of the old ILM facility in San Rafael, California.

Naturally, as an effects junkie and a resident of the Bay Area, this was destined to be a red-letter day.

Large crate from the ILM stage containing blue screen material

Because ILM has gone almost exclusively digital in the last decade or so, it shed off its modeling division a few years ago, with the new owners inheriting much of the old studio supplies that had served ILM for so long. But with the new studio recently disbanding, all the old lights, cameras, editing tables and booms — not to mention tables, desks, and even the contents of their drawers — were going to the auction block. With hundreds of lots available — several of which were literally room-fuls of stuff — there was a lot to scrutinize.

Pouring over scores of photos depicting the tools that created some of the most memorable effects shots in history, I’d marked about ten items of interest, two of which I and a colleague were ultimately able to win. I didn’t get everything I’d hoped to, but was glad to be able to take home a little piece of history in the end.

Below is a selection of some of the more interesting pieces of last week’s auction, at least interesting to those with a bent for analog-era special effects. To check out the entire list of lots (which are now closed), go here (Note: the photos below are a combination of our on-site photos and those posted by the auction house).

The “Vista Cruiser” motion control head used for Return of the Jedi
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Star Wars Halloween Costumes 2011

Bonnie Burton | October 31, 2011


(Ewok girls photo by Rick Kolesar)

Halloween may be full of zombies, vampires, werewolves, ninjas, pirates and superheroes, but thanks to crafty Star Wars fans, younglings and adults alike trick or treat as Ewoks, droids, Jedi, Sith Lords and even as an AT-ST!

We asked ya to tweet your Halloween costumes on StarWars Twitter, here’s the best of the best!


(Find out how to make this costume here!)


(Pink Princess Vader photo by Jon Swope)


(Boba Fett photo by Alan Danielson)


(Jawa family photo by SJgeek)


(Pulp Fiction Troopers photo by Tom Pigott)

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Wampa + Pug = Wampug!

Bonnie Burton | October 31, 2011

We’ve seen Wookiee dogs, AT-AT dogs and Ewok cats, but this is the first Wampa Dog, and he couldn’t be cuter.

Stockton Hill Animal Hospital writes:

Every year Dr. Andrews comes up with a new costume for her dog Chubbs. This year was no exception. Remember the Wampa monster from The Empire Strikes Back, that captures Luke and hangs him upside down in his cave, then Luke uses the force to grab his lightsaber and cut the Wampa’s arm off and escapes? Well, this year Chubbs is the Wampug!


Star Wars Jack ‘O Lanterns!

Bonnie Burton | October 28, 2011


Darth Maul by Rob D

We asked our fans on Twitter to tweet pics of their Star Wars Pumpkins and you all impressed us with your carving skills! And you didn’t even need a lightsaber!

Here’s some of our faves:


Yoda pumpkin photo by Tory LaPrath


AT-AT pumpkins photo by Jedi Zaugg


Star Wars pumpkins by Ashley Lynn


Boba Fett pumpkin photo by Travis Thomas


Darth Vader pumpkin photo by Teresa


Droids pumpkin photo by Jordan

Halloween Diorama: “The Cons of Being a Gonk”

Pete Vilmur | October 28, 2011

Artist Stephen Hayford shares a couple of his classic Star Wars Halloween action figure dioramas from his ever-expanding catalog of Star Wars-inspired photographs. This pair from a few years ago still gives us a giggle, although it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for our favorite little power droid (or the unfortunate trick-or-treater inside). Click the images for expanded views!

Ewok Cat!

Bonnie Burton | October 27, 2011

We’ve already seen dogs that look like Wookiees, so it was only a matter of time before we started seeing cats dressed as Ewoks. Here’s an especially cute feline that would make Wicket proud.

Megan from Stellar Four Blog made this adorkable costume for her cat:

This year, I opted not to carve a pumpkin. Instead, I channeled my crafty impulses into making something for Lilly. Something awesome. I made her a Wicket costume.

Thank goodness Ewok headdresses are so poorly sewn
(Ewoks may have opposable thumbs but they’re still pretty bad with a needle), it makes my ineptitude look authentic.

See more photos here:
The Cutest Ewok of All

Vintage Star Wars Halloween Costumes

Pete Vilmur | October 27, 2011

Look through any family photo album from the 1970s or ’80s and you will undoubtedly happen upon a fading old photo of a young Star Wars fan decked out in one of the ubiquitous Star Wars costumes of the era, a Ben Cooper Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Yoda or any number of other characters.

Ben Cooper, a Star Wars costume licensee between 1977 and 1983, created over a dozen costumes based on characters from the original trilogy, each bearing funky graphics paired with an equally amusing plastic mask. These were made for kids, after all, and were essentially disposable with a price-point to match (usually under $4).

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Free Digital Sampler: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine

StarWars.com Team | October 26, 2011

Have you checked out the official Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine?

If not, here’s your chance! The magazine is packed full of incredible features about the hit animated show, as well as brand new and exclusive Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic strip stories!

You can see a fantastic selection of them in our free digital sampler edition. There’s no need to download anything – just click here and view the magazine straight away!

Subscribe to the print edition of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine and don’t miss out on sensational Star Wars coverage in 2012, including season 4 of The Clone Wars and the 3D release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Plus, new subscribers receive a free Hasbro action toy*, as well as the following benefits:

- 6 issues a year for just $25.95, saving 15%!
- Get your copy before it hits the stores!
- Free delivery straight to your door!

To subscribe call 800-999-9718 or click here

*Limited supplies. Action figure may vary.

1977 Halloween Greetings from the Star Wars Galaxy

Pete Vilmur | October 26, 2011

Though the Star Wars merchandising machine was a bit hit-and-miss during the Halloween season for 1977, one has to admit these early greeting cards from Drawing Board can still charm the kid in you — well, the kid whose grandma gave a greeting card for Halloween instead of a fistful of Blow Pops, that is.

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Spooky Star Wars Sounds!

StarWars.com Team | October 25, 2011

Vampires, werewolves and zombies are fine and all, but if you really want to spook house guests and little gremlins that ring your doorbell for candy, add a few rancor and wampa growls into the mix!

Add some scary sounds to your haunted house with this Star Wars Halloween MP3!

It’s jam-packed with horrifying sounds from creepy creatures, as well as the evil General Grievous, from Star Wars!