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Rare 1983 French Jedi Billboard Prepped for Display

Pete Vilmur | October 11, 2011

Star Wars poster collector John Williams (no, not that John Williams) recently linked us to a blog maintained by poster restoration studio Poster Mountain to share a rare insider’s view of mounting a billboard-size Return of the Jedi poster on linen.

“Linen-backing” — a reversible technique which bonds a poster to a sturdy, acid-free linen/substrate to both strengthen the original and make it easier to display — is the preferred method of conservators to preserve fragile or large pieces of paper, and we can think of no more stunning an example to showcase the technique than Williams’ uber-rare 1983 French Return of the Jedi billboard, a strikingly beautiful artwork by French illustrator Michel Jouin measuring a monstrous 118″ X 156″ (which means you’d need a 10-foot high wall just to display it!).

“I have owned this poster since the mid-eighties and have wanted to do this since then,” says Williams. “It has only been opened 3 times — once when I bought it, once to make sure that it was complete upon delivery, and once for linen-backing.”

The huge, 8-panel poster is quite rare and few, if any, have ever been linen-backed for display. Williams is just glad to finally have a chance to display such an exceptional piece of early Star Wars advertising artwork. “Life is good in the Star Wars poster universe for me.”

Click here to see step-by-step just how this rare poster masterpiece was prepared for viewing for the first time in nearly 30 years…

Drew Struzan Doc Panel at NYCC

Pete Vilmur | September 29, 2011

Drew Struzan, the artist responsible for many of the iconic poster images used throughout the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie sagas, will soon be featured in an upcoming documentary which examines his life, craft and expansive portfolio of film posters.

To celebrate the near completion of Drew: The Man Behind The Poster, a portion of the documentary feature film will screen at the New York Comic Con on October 15, 2011. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with the film’s creators and special guests from the documentary itself, and audience members will be given a limited edition Drew Struzan poster (while supplies last)!

The NYCC screening will take place October 15th at 9pm at the Jacob Javitz Center, Room 1A24.

Drew: The Man Behind The Poster delves into some of Struzan’s most memorable works, including the Back To The Future, Indiana Jones and Star Wars film series, as well as The Thing, Harry Potter, E.T., along with much of the original artwork for the early Muppet films. Stories are told via an impressive lineup of Hollywood talents, including exclusive interviews with, among many others, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont, Michael J. Fox, Alice Cooper, Michael Uslan, Thomas Jane, Sam Witwer, Bob Gale, Leonard Maltin, Carroll Spinney, Greg Hildebrant, Steven Spielberg and, of course, Drew Struzan.

The full feature, which is expected to be completed next month, will premiere at a film festival this coming year.

Read more about Drew: The Man Behind The Poster at the official New York Comic Con website or visit the official movie website.

1977 Star Wars Celica: Have You Seen This Car?

Pete Vilmur | September 23, 2011

With today’s auction for the 2012 Star Wars Volkswagen Passat ending soon, another legendary auto will soon join the ranks of Star Wars custom cars, which already includes a 1997 Special Edition Hummer and 2005 Vader Viper. And so the time feels right to once more question the whereabouts of the first officially-sanctioned Star Wars custom car, one 1977 Star Wars Celica Liftback GT awarded in a sweepstakes a few months after Star Wars‘ release that same year.

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Lightsabers Spotted on Japanese Trains

Pete Vilmur | September 22, 2011

Lucasfilm associate Ken Ogawa recently sent us a handful of snapshots from Japan depicting the lightsaber handrails being used to promote Star Wars on Blu-ray in the Land of the Rising Sun. And just in case riders didn’t get the not-so-subtle hint that something Star-Wars-y was afoot, several transit posters promoting the Blu-ray release were also displayed throughout the train cars.

For more images of Star Wars Blu-ray related promotions seen throughout the world, check out our ever-expanding Flickr series here.

Custom Stormtrooper Cruiser

Pete Vilmur | August 11, 2011

If you’re a regular StarWars.com reader, you know some of us here have a soft spot for customized Star Wars bikes. So we couldn’t resist sharing a great ride pieced together by Russian fan Dee Troy, who’s posted several pics of his “Phat Stormtrooper” over at RatRodBikes.com. Check out the full thread here (and, for you custom bike enthusiasts, RatRodBikes just posted this year’s custom cruiser winner!).

Back to Space-Con Premiere

Pete Vilmur | March 14, 2011

Anyone who’s followed my articles on StarWars.com knows that I’ve got a soft spot for Star Wars’ first fandom – that is, those early fans who pre-empted the official costumes, books, and other merchandise in the months following A New Hope’s May ’77 release and created their own homespun papier mache masks, fanzines, bumper stickers and buttons to share their enthusiasm for the newfound faraway galaxy.


Luke Skywalker costume from a ’70s Space-Con

The appeal of those often clumsy, awkward early days lead me to a small premiere screening at Michaan’s Theater in Alameda this weekend, a somewhat forgotten early century movie palace nestled along the edge of San Francisco Bay near Oakland, California. A new documentary was debuting on DVD celebrating the history of Space-Con, a series of Star Trek/science fiction conventions that got their start at a Bay Area high school in 1975 and made seven more successful runs through 1980, becoming a fondly-recalled facet of Bay Area fandom thereafter.

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A Galaxy of Misfit Toys

Pete Vilmur | March 2, 2011

Joe Yglesias collects Star Wars bootlegs — that is, quasi-Star-Wars-related merchandise that sports names like “Star Force”, “Star Battle”, “Space Gambler”, and “Star Knight” — which bear more than just a passing resemblance to characters, hardware, and weapons from our favorite faraway galaxy. Most of this stuff has been ignored, or even shunned by collectors — until now. Star Wars bootlegs and knock-offs have begun taking on a novel appeal among a growing number of fans, especially those who recall spying the stuff on their local dime store shelves back in the ’70s.

“When I started getting into bootlegs it was just for the novelty factor,” says Yglesias, who recently devoted an entire room of his house to display his Star Wars knock-off collection. “As I delved deeper into bootlegs, they took over as my prime interest. I was intrigued by them, partially for the cheese factor of the badly made, oddly-colored toys, and partially for the history of the items and how/where they were made. Now, easily 15 years later, I’ve sold or traded the majority of my licensed items and turned my collection area into a shrine for misfit Star Wars toys from around the world.”

Check out Yglesias’ Flickr set of over 130 pics from “Mos Yglesias”, a motley, expansive collection of Star Wars knock-offs from the US to Yugoslavia (and in some cases, even the molds that made them!).

Western Action Figures Tip Their Hat to Star Wars

Pete Vilmur | January 18, 2011

Star Wars undoubtedly owes the Western gunslinger for helping to shape the characters that populate its universe (see Five Westerns Every Star Wars Fan Should See) — a debt that artist figure customizer Sillof has paid in spades.

A recent update to Sillof’s Workshop includes five entries to his “West Wars” series of custom figures, which marries the Star Wars universe with the design sensibilities of the Old West. From the site:

West Wars is a line of custom figures that continues my experiment of breaking down Star Wars many elements and emphasizing them individually. The original trilogy, especially A New Hope, were influenced by westerns. The dusty small frontier towns, the seedy cantina, the quick draw shootouts, etc. This line is intended to be fully western with no other elements. For further authenticity all the names are actual combinations of historical lawmen and outlaws of the American West.

Head on over and have a look-see (via Super Punch)

Another 1978 “Father” Spoiler Discovered

Pete Vilmur | January 11, 2011

As an addendum to our original post about the “Vader is Luke’s father” spoiler appearing in the April 1978 issue of Little Shoppe of Horrors, Star Wars author Ryder Windham recently sent us a heads-up on another instance of this spoiler showing up in early 1978:

“Earlier today, I found myself perusing the first issue of Future magazine, cover date April 1978,” says Windham. “The issue has a ‘Databank’ feature for ‘News Items from the World of the Present’ on pages 6-7, and includes this entry for Star Wars…”

“In the realm of the Wars, George Lucas has approached all of the original film’s principals, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Dave Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker. Noted SF author Leigh Brackett has been approached with the task of writing the screenplay for the big-budgeted sequel. One of the key elements in the second script may be the origin of the Dark Lord, Darth Vader. One version of his life being considered for the forthcoming production will reveal a young, handsome Darth turning rogue Jedi, killing Luke Skywalker’s father and being pushed into a pool of molten lava by avenging angel Ben Kenobi. Darth is so badly scarred that he dons his black armor forever. It serves as a combination exoskeleton and walking iron lung. The second version portrays Darth as being, in reality, Luke Skywalker’s father. After a psychological trauma, Luke’s father succumbs to the darker nature of The Force and allows all that is good within him to die. And rising from the ashes of his soul is Darth, the arch-foe of all that is righteous. Whatever Vader’s fate in the as-yet-embryonic script, the film began pre-production in London in January.”

The first scenario mentioned – the one where Vader is pushed into molten lava by Kenobi – was likely lifted from a Rolling Stone interview with George Lucas in 1977. The source for the second scenario – the father one – is uncertain, unless the reporter was within earshot of Prowse’s comments recorded at the October 1977 Horror Elite Convention (and referenced in our original post).

In any case, that cat was out of the bag by April ’78, although it fortunately didn’t get picked up by the mainstream media, allowing the Dark Lord’s identity — as Kenobi says — to remain safely anonymous until 1980.

Rare “Holiday Special” Backstage Photo Found

Pete Vilmur | January 4, 2011

AP Photo by George Brich

As someone always on the lookout for rare old Star Wars photos, I was pleased to discover Forbes.com’s Geek Beat columnist David M. Ewalt had unearthed a cool old gem from the vaguely-documented “Star Wars Holiday Special” of 1978, which we actually lent a bit of coverage to a couple years ago.

Articles from Nov 17, 1978

While researching a couple of those pieces, I came across a rare Associated Press image of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in photocopied articles from 1978, but couldn’t locate the original in Lucasfilm’s expansive Image Archives (apparently, wire photos were not automatically sent to LFL for approval and/or cataloging). Enter Ewalt’s Geek Beat column, which appears to have located the original shot of Ford and Fisher in a rare backstage moment captured by AP photographer George Brich.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall to hear what Ford is sharing with Fisher before their next Holiday Special take…