Empire Theatres - Star Wars: Special Edition Trilogy Display

January–April, 1997

- Article and Photos by Stephen L.

In September 1996, the Maritime Science Fiction Modelers decided as a group to celebrate the release of the Star Wars Trilogy Special Editions by building a model display for a local theatre. The theatre was excited by the idea, as were we.

We decided to build some of the more recognizable ships and fighters from the Star Wars films. We also decided that if these models were going to hang from the theatre's ceiling, the models were going to have to be substantial in order to be seen. We decided that since many of the original filming miniatures were constructed at 1/24 scale, what better homage than to build our models the same size as the originals?

No kits were available in the proper scale, so the daunting task of scratchbuilding under what became a four month timetable began. We sat around and chose the models we would like to build. There were two exceptions to the chosen scale as Star Destroyers at 1/24 wouldn't quite fit in the theatre.

We had actually anticipated having eight months to build our models, as Star Wars' 20th anniversary was technically May 1997. But our collective jaw dropped in December 1996—with only half-built models—while watching Star Trek: First Contact on the big screen. The first trailer to Star Wars: The Special Edition was shown with the text, "Coming in January!" We had just lost three months off our schedule!

I don't know how we did it, but "hanging day" of the models in the theatre was only two days prior to the premiere of Star Wars: Special Edition. All but one of the models were somehow finished within the new deadline!

The models built for the display included:

Millennium Falcon
1/24 (Rob L.)

X-Wing Fighter
1/24 (Mike H.)
X-Wing Fighter
1/24 (Vaughn M.)
Y-Wing Fighter
1/24 (Dave A.)
Y-Wing Fighter
1/24 (Stephen L.)
Vader's TIE Fighter
1/24 (Bill E.)
Star Destroyer
~1/1800 (Simon D.)
Super Star Destroyer
~1/11500 (Chris M.) 
 TIE Fighter
1/24 (Vaughn M.)

The following are some of the pictures we took at the theatre on "hanging day":

This picture shows the Falcon, Vader's TIE Fighter, a Y-Wing and both X-Wings.

The Falcon had to be hung up with thick wire-cable. High-capacity fishing line was used on the other models.
It was our original intention to hang the ships in such a way as to look as though they were battling each other...unfortunately time barely allowed us to simply hang them from the ceiling any way we could.

This shot shows all of the models finished for the display in the same picture. Only the Star Destroyer is out of scale.

The display attracted a lot of attention of the moviegoers. At times, the lobby would be packed with people staring upwards.

We were all just hoping the fishing line wouldn't come loose!
Rob's Millennium Falcon was the largest of the 1/24 scale models built for the display. Previously, Rob had a five foot diameter saucer craft from Independence Day for that movie's release, hanging not far from where the Falcon was hung here.

You can really see the size of the model here. It took two people to lift it and one more to attach the cable.

Unfortunately, due to the rushed final construction, no lower turret was made, the round side hatches were not tapered and a cockpit interior
could not be completed.

An area near the radar dish now bears the autograph of David Prowse.
This is Mike's X-Wing Fighter, fresh from its packing crate. Although the wings have been retrofitted to be moveable on this X-Wing now, the wings were originally fixed in the open position for the display. The Plexiglas display base kept the lower guns from harm.

This X-Wing was meant to represent Luke's fighter. R2-D2 was painted up properly, and the wings bore the five red stripes from Luke's Red Five designation.

The R2 unit was a resin casting of a coincidentally 1/24 scale metal R2-D2 key chain. We cast four of them for use in the rebel fighters.
This shot shows my Y-Wing in front (which unfortunately bore the brunt of the camera flash), Dave's Y-Wing, and Vaughn's X-Wing.

Dave and I collaborated on plans and schematics, and even some cast resin and vaccu-formed parts for our Y-Wings, then went our separate ways to build them.

Vaughn's X-Wing was Biggs' fighter with three red stripes on the wings. 

The Star Destroyer can be seen leaning against the back wall.
Bill scratchbuilt a very nicely detailed version of Darth Vader's TIE Fighter. It featured a fully scratchbuilt interior.

It is somewhat larger than the MPC kit. The grid-like solar panels were made with the plastic mesh you get from a craft store for needlepoint. It is plastic, and Pro-weld glued it to the sheet styrene with ease.

The circular stand built to hold the TIE Fighter model was also autographed by David Prowse. It was neat to see the 'real' Darth Vader looking at a scale version of 'his' ship.
This was the second biggest of the models we hung. Simon's Star Destroyer model was between three and four feet in length. It was a metallic color overall, but not as bright as the photos make it look.
There were countless plastic parts all over the model, as well as a lot of pencil line detailing all over the flat surfaces. A very detailed model.

If I remember correctly, the engine nozzles were from the large Revell Apollo capsule thruster.
This is Chris' Super Star Destroyer model. It wasn't finished in time for the theatre display, but was displayed at a couple of sci-fi conventions afterwards. The model was five feet of spare bits and sheet styrene. The overall shape of the model was based on the tiny Micro-Machine. The scale was approximately 1/11500.


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