Sculptor Lawrence Noble’s Long Journey with Yoda

Steve Sansweet | January 20, 2014
Lawrence Noble’s bronze Yoda welcomes visitors to Lucasfilm headquarters at the Presidio (Photo By R. Sheridan)

Lawrence Noble’s bronze Yoda welcomes visitors to Lucasfilm headquarters at the Presidio. (Photo By R. Sheridan)

The thing about life-changing experiences is that you never know when they’re going to happen. For sculptor Lawrence Noble, it came in a darkened theater watching an advance screening of The Empire Strikes Back, seated next to his longtime friend and fellow artist John Alvin. And it happened because of a major and risky gamble by George Lucas.

Yoda was going to be the heart and soul of Empire. But could a puppet carry that large a burden? With the creation of creature master Stuart Freeborn and the incredible puppetry and voice of Frank Oz, Yoda not only worked but was magical!

Speed forward nearly 34 years, and the iconic Yoda statue that graces a fountain at Lucasfilm’s headquarters at San Francisco’s Presidio, as well as three other monumental bronzes created by Noble, has brought him, George Lucas and the late landscape architect on the project, Lawrence Halprin, the prestigious Henry Hering Memorial Medal for Art and Architecture for 2014, awarded by the National Sculptural Society, founded in New York in 1893. The award is given for outstanding collaboration between owner, architect, and sculptor in the distinguished use of sculpture in an architectural project.

For a talented artist as well as a diehard Star Wars fan, the award couldn’t be more gratifying for Noble, who is currently San Francisco Academy of Art University’s Sculpture Chair. Noble’s father was a fan of science fiction and fantasy, and the first time Lawrence saw Star Wars it blew him away. “It hit me on so many levels — certainly including the visual one.”

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The Official Star Wars Fact File Returns to Our Galaxy

Tim Veekhoven | January 17, 2014

The Official Star Wars Fact File #1

When Star Wars fandom was preparing itself for the start of the long awaited Clone Wars in the upcoming movie Attack of the Clones, publisher DeAgostini released its very first issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File on December 27, 2001. Fact File would eventually run for 140 issues, filled with Star Wars lore about characters, ships, locations, technology, and much more. Now, Fact File has returned for another series of 120 issues!

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Here’s Where the Fun Begins!

Jason Surrell | January 17, 2014

Jason Surrell

That classic Han Solo line from A New Hope — I committed all of them to memory at age seven — is the perfect title for my first blog post here at StarWars.com. That’s because it’s an amazing time to be a Star Wars fan. In fact, it’s probably the very best time in the almost 40-year history of the saga. In the next two years alone, Star Wars will be returning to both the big screen and the TV screen with Star Wars Rebels and Episode VII, respectively. But it’s safe to say you all knew that!

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Fully Operational Fandom: Do You Want to Build a Snowtrooper?

Amy Ratcliffe | January 16, 2014

Fully Operational Fandom - Tauntaun in a Jar

For many people, it’s winter time. And at least in the United States, this winter hasn’t exactly been mild. We’ve recently been experiencing brisk temperatures and painful wind chill factors. The local meteorologist doesn’t rank the cold in comparison to Hoth’s climate, but I’m going to assume it’s close. I haven’t frozen on the trip to the first marker (my mailbox) and back yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I have to learn what a tauntaun smells like on the inside from experience.

What? I have the tauntaun sleeping bag from ThinkGeek.

Winter isn’t all misery and gloom though. It can be an opportunity to get outdoors and build snow people and creatures, to set up AT-ATs and reenact the Battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, or you can enjoy your time indoors with movies and crafts. So many Star Wars options, so little time.

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Star Wars Comics Preview: January 15, 2014

StarWars.com Team | January 15, 2014

darthvadercryofshadows

It’s Wednesday, which means one thing: new comic books! Check out a preview of new Star Wars comics available today after the jump!

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Where a Long Time Ago Meets a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Cole Horton | January 15, 2014

Star Wars is my favorite World War II movie. The saga is headlined by actual World War II veterans and tells the story of dictators, democracy, and empires. It is filled with Second World War sound effects, uses World War II props, features spectacular World War II dogfights, and is backed by a film score straight out of the golden age of Hollywood.

From World War to Star Wars Movie Intro

Star Wars might just have more in common with a World War II movie than science fiction flicks. I’ve been making such bold claims for years now, after I started casually seeing references to World War II in various Star Wars books, documentaries, and interviews. One day, I started writing them down, until I had collected hundreds of ideas, stories, and quotes. Armed with these notes and pure excitement, I took the stage at Star Wars Celebration VI to share how “a long time ago” influenced the “galaxy far, far away.” Thanks to Star Wars Celebrations, I’ve shared some of these stories with audiences in the United States and Germany. Now I get to share them with everyone on the Star Wars Blog.

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Bantha Tracks: Best of the Year, Online Edition

Mary Franklin | January 15, 2014

Star Wars Insider #147 cover

This month in Bantha Tracks Volume 80, tucked nicely into Star Wars Insider #147, you will find the annual “Best of the Year” edition. It’s one of my favorite issues of the year to do, and it seems only fitting that a good solid tease of the “BOY” is included here on StarWars.com.

Read on for a taste of the best in images, events, and snapshots of the “life Star Wars” from your fellow fans, and maybe even from you!

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An Annotated Guide to The Star Wars Portfolio by Ralph McQuarrie

John Scoleri | January 14, 2014

For those of us who were there in the beginning (myself being a member of the “age seven in ’77″ club), Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars Portfolio holds a very special place in our hearts. And yet as familiar as Star Wars fans have become with the 21 paintings within the portfolio, few know that many of them had gone through numerous revisions during the film’s production. In the 16 years I knew Ralph, and particularly during the period when we were working on The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (Dreams and Visions Press, 2007), we had several opportunities to speak at length about those original paintings, and the Ballantine portfolio that introduced so many of us to Ralph and his work.

As beautiful as Ralph’s paintings are, he was always quick to point out they were never intended to be seen by anyone beyond those involved in bringing the film to life. He often said that had he known, he would have tried to put more of a polish on them (as if they needed it). But the success of Star Wars, and the resulting clamoring from the fans for any and all Star Wars merchandise they could get their hands on, would ultimately change Ralph’s life.

Judy Lynn Del Rey, who had been with Ballantine since 1973, saw Ralph’s art early in the negotiations to acquire the film’s publishing license, and recognized its potential as commercial art. She hired Ralph to paint the cover of the Star Wars novelization released in fall 1976, launching a relationship that would result in Ralph’s providing 22 additional cover paintings for Del Rey books from 1978-1987.

Star Wars novelization cover

The first printing of the Star Wars novelization sold out its entire run prior to the film’s release (one can safely assume in some part thanks to Ralph’s amazing, evocative cover illustration). Once the film was released and an unparalleled success, Del Rey had further plans as how to capitalize on Ralph’s art.

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Collecting the Galaxy: Toy Fair Strikes Back

James Burns | January 13, 2014

Toy Fair logos

The holiday season is over and a new year has begun, which means that by now you’re probably back at work, college, or school and the thoughts of this year’s festivities couldn’t be further from your mind.

That may be the reality for most, but for toy and collectibles companies around the world this is actually one of the most important times of the year. Over six weeks they will take their new products around the world — the Toy Fair in Hong Kong took place January 6-9, followed by the Japanese Toy Fair which takes place this week, from January 12-15.  Next week, from January 21-23, Toy Fair arrives in the UK, followed by Germany from January 29-February 3, and then to North America for the International Toy Fair in New York from February 16-19.

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Feeling the Dark Side: Star Wars Villains We Love to Love

Jennifer Heddle | January 10, 2014

Maul Lockdown cover

This month sees the release of Maul: Lockdown, and so what better way to kick off the new year than to pay tribute to some of my favorite villains from Star Wars movies, books, and comics.

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