Author Archive



Century-Old Rescue Masks from a Galaxy Far, Far Away?

Pete Vilmur | December 15, 2010

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.

Marooned in Space!

Pete Vilmur | November 30, 2010

Replica Prop Forum recently posted a pretty cool find that sheds light on a little-known corner of Star Wars behind-the-scenes history. According to a post by “GKvfx”, A New Hope’s TIE fighters once donned maroon paint, at least in some recently unearthed test shots revealed in the post. The find is further bolstered by supporting images of the TIE pod in The Making of Star Wars book by J.W. Rinzler, also cited in the post.

It’s unclear if the paint scheme was abandoned for practical or aesthetic reasons, but the thought could send shudders down the spine of color-scheme snobs —

Fuchsia paint and chartreuse lasers? Puhleeeeze.

Be sure to check the second page for some rare test shots of the TIEs’ ion engines too.

Star Wars Crossover Poster Designs

Pete Vilmur | November 29, 2010

Screenrant.com updated over the weekend with a cool set of four fan-designed Star Wars crossover posters — that is, “Star Wars-ified” versions of classic movie posters. Artist Matthew Ranzetta creates Star Wars send-ups for Empire of the Sun, The Princess Bride, and, most appropriately, Cool Hand Luke. The artist’s style is minimalistic but compelling. Head on over and check them out.

Major Empire Spoiler Actually Dropped in 1977

Pete Vilmur | November 15, 2010

Little Shoppe of Horrors #4

A lot of buzz has surrounded a recent post at retroist.com concerning an alleged major spoiler leak made two years before The Empire Strikes Back was released. The article, which we’ve identified as having appeared in the July 24, 1978 issue of The San Francisco Examiner, relays comments made by Dave Prowse (Darth Vader) claiming that the sequel would reveal that Darth Vader is in fact Luke’s father. Actually, it turns out, this little rumor had been dropped several months earlier in a fanzine called Little Shoppe of Horrors #4 (April 1978), which featured an exclusive (and lengthy) Prowse interview (reprint copies can be found on eBay, which is where we picked up ours thanks to a tip from SW bibliographer Bob Miller).

Among the passages of the interview, which, according to the author, were collected between October and December, 1977 (including a public discussion at the Horror Elite Convention in October), were these sentences, which seem to mirror the comments made in the SF Examiner interview:

“In the next film, there is going to be a confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader and they then discover that Darth Vader never killed his father, that Darth Vader IS his father. So son can’t kill father, and father can’t kill son — so Darth Vader lives into the next sequel.”

Excerpt from LSOH #4

So, it would appear the original Retroist post title – “Yes, They Did Have Star Wars Spoilers Back in 1978” was almost correct. Actually, they go as far back as October, 1977.

Rare ILM Behind-the-Scenes Photos at Vanity Fair

Pete Vilmur | November 12, 2010

With tonight’s premiere of the new ILM documentary Industrial Light & Magic: Creating the Impossible on Encore, VanityFair.com has posted several rare behind-the-scenes photos from films worked on by ILM’s Dennis Muren –

Eight-time Oscar winner Dennis Muren is the first visual-effects artist to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ahead of Encore’s November 12 documentary about Industrial Light & Magic—the visual-effects arm of Lucasfilm where he is creative director—Muren shares behind-the-scenes photos from five of his famous projects: Terminator 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Jurassic Park, and E.T.

The new documentary airs Nov. 12 at 9 pm on Encore.

Head on over to VanityFair.com to check out the photos, and see the StarWars.com interview with documentary director Leslie Iwerks.

Fans Donate Over $6K to Canine Corps

Pete Vilmur | November 9, 2010

On Saturday, October 16th, members of the Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society (PSWCS) presented a donation to the Canine Corps for $6762.00. PSWCS is an organization of over 390 Star Wars fans and collectors throughout Pennsylvania who gather to share their interest in Star Wars. PSWCS conducted a fundraiser to raise this donation, selling a limited-edition medallion featuring Chewbacca under the approval of Lucasfilm Ltd (see our earlier post here). Canine Corps provides a no-charge “home away from home” which includes free veterinary care for pet dogs of Pennsylvania-based military service members who have orders for deployment to the Horn of Africa, Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. For more information, check out PSWCS and Canine Corps.

1978 Star Wars Ballet

Pete Vilmur | October 8, 2010

This video of a Star Wars ballet was making the rounds a few days ago, posted first at Cinematical and described, surprisingly, rather positively:

When it comes to things that don’t seem to go together, Star Wars and ballet would be pretty high up on my list. Sure, lightsaber duels have a certain choreography to them, but full on ballet?

That’s what viewers are treated to in this old clip featuring performers Galina and Valeri Panov dancing an elaborate tribute to Star Wars accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra — conducted by none other than John Williams. I’m not sure when this event happened, exactly, but you know it was in the distant past because once the segment ends they toss it to George Burns.

Thanks to our resident Star Wars bibliographer Bob Miller (who never fails to amaze us with his extensive collection of Star Wars media mentions dating back over 30 years), we were able to determine the Star Wars ballet was part of a two-hour special on ABC, “The Stars Salute Israel at 30,” which was broadcast on May 8, 1978 at 9:00 p.m. PST. It was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in L.A., taped on May 7.

So there you have it. Check out Cinematical’s original post to watch the video.

Rare 1977 Harrison Ford Interview Emerges

Pete Vilmur | September 8, 2010

Yesterday, the New York Times posted a story about a rare 1977 Harrison Ford video interview conducted by a Dallas-Fort Worth news channel reporter just as Star Wars (A New Hope) was making waves across the country during its initial release:

Wearing lapels as wide as the Millennium Falcon itself, Mr. Ford actually seems gracious about the budding fantasy franchise and complimentary to its creator, George Lucas, telling his interviewer that though he doesn’t regard himself as the Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon type, the film works because “it’s finally about people and not finally about science, so the energy of the movie goes towards exploring these human relationships.”

The interview, which apparently had first been posted to the original reporter’s website bobbiewygant.com back in July (and contains scores of other filmed interviews), presents a rare peek at the actor on the brink of super-stardom in 1977. Check out the New York Times story and the video interview here.

Exclusive PSWCS Medallions at Celebration V

Pete Vilmur | July 20, 2010

For those fans attending Celebration V and keeping a list of cool exclusives to pick up at the show, here’s one you’ll definitely want to add:

The Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society will be selling Lucasfilm approved, 1.75” medallions featuring an image of Chewbacca for $10 each at their booth at Celebraion V with all proceeds benefiting Canine Corps.

Canine Corps is an organization that cares for the dogs of US military personnel deployed overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa. They provide this service free of charge to soldiers who would otherwise be forced to give up their companions for adoption. PSWCS is thrilled to have the opportunity to support our American servicemen through this worthy charity.

This medallion is the second PSWCS has produced and sold for charitable efforts. In 2009 PSWCS sold medallions featuring an image of Obi-Wan Kenobi to benefit Operation Ward 57.

The medallions are a one-time, limited run of 1000.

Learn more about The Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society at their website here.

Walter Cronkite Visits ILM in Early 1980s Video

Pete Vilmur | June 28, 2010

TheBehindtheScenes.blogspot.com recently posted a heads-up for a rare video gem from the ‘80s offering a glimpse inside the Industrial Light & Magic facility during the classic trilogy era.

Legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, who hosted a news science magazine show called “Universe” between 1979 and ’82, took cameras inside the cloistered environs of Industrial Light & Magic where it appears at least one “making of” Empire set-up was re-enacted for the benefit of Cronkite and his audience. Some great chatter between Cronkite and George Lucas, too, who personally hosted the tour.

Check it out — the audio/video quality is pretty sketchy, but the rare look inside the ILM studio during the company’s early days is worth the watch!