back to article Old jet bits, Vader's motorbike gear, sonic oddness: Hats off to Star Wars' creative heroes

The Star Wars universe is undeniably George Lucas’ creation, but many, many other people helped realise his conception by designing and making the clothes, the devices, the environments and the starships of his imagination. They contributed enormously to sense of physical reality the films project and which is just as much a …

  1. Danny 14 Silver badge

    I wasn't quite old enough to watch the first one at the flicks but did watch empire a couple of years later (and Jedi). NOTHING else was talked about at school, playground was full of jedi, sith and tie vs xwing battles.

    Even nowadays my kids are into star wars (through none of my fault honestly, it is just their friends etc). We have tickets for Friday when they finish school (as do almost all the class). Not many films (or series) can garner such interest across generations.

    But it isn't just the films, there have been some epic computer games from XWing vs Tie fighter (and of course, xwing and tie fighter before that) - XWing alliance is still played to this day. Knight of the Old republic was a fantastic piece of work (HK-47 being a legendary part of the game). Kyle Katarn (cant remember the game name) was my first foray into FPS star wars (I wasn't bothered about dark forces), there were a couple of other FPS jedi games but their names escape me.

    edit: I did watch the EP1,2 &3 at the cinema but haven't watched them more than once since, they were OK but in a way that "im thirsty and don't like Dr Pepper but there wasn't anything else in the shop" way.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    A toast to sonic improvisation

    " – the Tardis take-off was created using a key rubbed up and own a taught piano wire – "

    Arguably the greatest sound effect of all time.

    Taut, by the way. Not taught.

  3. Colin Ritchie

    Taut, by the way. Not taught.

    I think you'll find, he just has been.

    Missed a d on down too. ;)

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Sloppy research El Reg

    "Star Wars didn’t just succeed in that endeavour that once; it did so in five more films across almost four decades"

    Had to stop reading to correct the article, it's two more films across six years.

    I'll carry on reading now...

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Sloppy research El Reg

      There were some good parts in the "new" films. The bad parts usually appeared when they tried too hard. Too much slapstick (Jar Jar, R2 setting fire to things and overtly flying too much, wookie silliness etc etc). Ironically, if chunks were CUT from the films they would be better for it.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Sloppy research El Reg

        I suppose you were hinting at The Phantom Edit and Attack of the Phantom which are still out there in Internet land and are much more watchable.

        There's also the Despecialized Editions of the Original Trilogy which is the only way to get the non-messed about versions of the OT in HD.

        1. andy gibson

          Re: Sloppy research El Reg

          What's a "hung of junk"? And is the swastika supposed to be that way in the photo?

        2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          Re: Sloppy research El Reg @Dan 55

          In the absence of "Revenge of the Phantom" [ep 3], which would be about seventeen minutes long, I humbly submit this.

          It's a script rather than actual video and contains much NSFW language, but is quite an amusing read.

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: Sloppy research El Reg

        There were some good parts in the "new" films.

        You could say that about the Holiday Special as well: the animated Boba Fett part was all right.

        The new films have some nice stuff but they progressed downwards into something terrible. Jar Jar or the silliness weren't the worst parts, it was the shitty acting and shitty dialogue between Natalie and Hayden.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Sloppy research El Reg

          Well hung junk was a different star wars themed film. It had more slave leia action.

        2. jason 7

          Re: Bad acting

          I think the acting was flat in the prequels due to the conditions they had to act in. I guess as an actor it's hard to get enthused when you are standing day after day in a green hanger, jumping on and off green blocks while a fat guy in a beard sips a latte 20 feet away. Flat surrounds means flat acting.

          That's why Abrams wanted to go back to proper sets where possible so it invigorated the actors.

          I also suspect the whole green screen thing put Denis Lawson off returning as Wedge as I bet he had many chats about the process with his nephew. I reckon he might have regretted that now but he wasn't to know when he made the decision.

      3. Martin Budden

        Re: Sloppy research El Reg

        Ironically, if chunks were CUT from the films they would be better for it.

        All the chunks with Hayden Christensen, and all of Episode I.

        1. Jedit

          "All the chunks with Hayden Christensen, and all of Episode I."

          Honestly, Episode I would have been OK if Anakin's story had directly mirrored Luke's by starting him at 18. Drop the midichlorian crap and the "humourous" racial stereotyping as well and it would have been pretty good.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sloppy research El Reg

          Keep the Natalie Portman bits though, very pleasant on the eyes.

  5. graeme leggett Silver badge

    I miss the old days

    When you could just rate an article, rather than having to post a comment to say what you thought of it.

    I liked this one.

  6. Little Mouse

    What's with all that Star Wars articles?

    Is there something going on that I'm not aware of?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: What's with all that Star Wars articles?

      Nah, this isn't the movie you're looking for. Move along, move along... ;)

      (well with a set-up line like that, someone had to).

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: What's with all that Star Wars articles?

      Yup, this silliness is about to come out now-ish... I think...

    3. John Miles

      Re: What's with all that Star Wars articles?

      maybe - there is a new Sith lord - link

    4. Bob Merkin

      Re: What's with all that Star Wars articles?

      Yes, the long-anticipated pre-prequel trilogy starts this weekend with:

      Episode -2: Point of Order - Two riveting hours of G-SPAN Galactic Senate coverage of the debate on why the Trade Federation must be allowed to maintain its embargo of Naboo.

      Followed in 2018 by:

      Episode -1: Jar Jar Begins - We will finally learn of the heroic rise and tragic fall of a once proud Gungan warrior. By tragic fall, I mean the fall that resulted in the catastrophic head injury that explains his behavior in Episode 1.

      The entire endeavor will rich a fevered climax in 2021 with:

      Episode 0: A Matter of Protocol - detailing the trials and tribulations within the Skywalker household that led young Anakin to build his enslaved mother a prissy multi-lingual diplomat robot.


  7. ColonelClaw

    Personally I can't wait to find out what new and exciting ways my childhood memories will be shat all over by the new film.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't the Nazi symbol the swastika? Why are all the soldiers in front of a sauwastika? Someone at shutterstock has been carelessly flipping images...

    1. mylittlepony

      Not the evil wiki empire?

      That Sauwastika pic, it looks like a flipped one from ol' Jimbo "spare change for a coffee?" Wiles

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > A fair few of the Tatooine props, not to mention the Light Sabre grips, were built from parts from early jet aircraft

    To quote the wookieepedia, Obi-Wan's lightsabre was "assembled from parts of an Armitage Shanks Starlite model Handwheel, Browning ANM2 machine gun booster, WWI No.3 Mk.1 British Rifle Grenade and a Rolls-Royce Derwent Mk.8/Mk.9 Jet Engine Balance Pipe."

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Makes it sound even more impressive.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge


      Armitage Shanks Starlite model Handwheel, Browning ANM2 machine gun booster, WWI No.3 Mk.1 British Rifle Grenade and a Rolls-Royce Derwent Mk.8/Mk.9 Jet Engine Balance Pipe."

      Interesting combination - cheap kitchen tap, machine gun, grenade and jet engine.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        "Interesting combination - cheap kitchen tap, machine gun, grenade and jet engine."

        MacGuyver will be proud!

        1. James Micallef Silver badge

          Re: Interesting

          MacGyver's version would actually work!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The ones that got me in Alien were the use of bread baskets hanging on the wall of the ventilation shaft - the part where Tom Skerritt's shuffling down the shaft with the flamethrower, and the cone cages/magnet assembly of loudspeaker driver units bolted on the walls in the med room (where John Hurt ends up after getting a facial from a hugger).

    4. Frank Leonhardt

      Not to mention Luke's being a battery pack for a camera flash with the LED display from a pocket calculator stuck on the side. Of course he lost it at the end of TESB when daddy cut his hand off with it still in his grip, so he had to make a new one in time for ROTJ. Yet it turns up again in TFA. You need to be a real camera flash geet to notice stuff like this, of course.

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Star Wars’ early use of stereo sound,

    Stereo is mostly irrelevant to effects, really and was developed in 1930s (Alan Blumlien in EMI). BBC was using stereo on radio earlier than starwars and Stereo radio development (late 1950s, though BBC roll out was much later) was long after Stereo records were 1st produced..

    However Lucas did make use of the effects channel, the .1 of 5.1, Surround sound though also predates Starwars.

    Many Lucas films have well done 5.1 sound tracks.

  11. thomas k

    Nope, not gonna do it

    I refuse to read anything Star Wars from this point on, just in case I do decide I want to see it after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nope, not gonna do it

      Too late. If you've ever seen any Disney or Pixar movies, EVER, you've already seen the new Star Wars.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Nope, not gonna do it

        Its an Abrams film so it will have lens flare. The millenium falcon travelled in time where ouke killed vader and the emperor before turning sith lord (Kylo Ren). Leia wasnt his sister in that one so they had kids.

        R2D2 made the deathstar pregnant on episode 4 when he 'inserted' his probe. BB8 was ejected just before it blew up.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only good Star Wars film are the ones with

    Chewie in them. I was in the same Motorcycle Club as Peter Mayhew who played Chewie back around the same time as the first one was released.

    1. John L Ward

      Re: The only good Star Wars film are the ones with

      The only good Star Wars films are the Despecialized (sic) editions, just see QXifjbxZDAM on YouTube for exactly how much effort fans are prepared to put in...

  13. Grikath Silver badge

    not the only ones..

    For instance, the bobs and bits on the classic Cylon fighters were from a plastic model tank kit ( one of Revell's Tigers, if I remember correctly) up to and including the tracks, wheels and ... the shovel... ;)

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

      Re: not the only ones..

      If we're wandering down that track, where would Dr Who, Blake's 7 etc., have been without Radiospares?

      Mines the brown lab coat with a pocket full of volume control knobs.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: not the only ones..

        As Avon said, "Look at that instrumentation!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: not the only ones..

      Also part of a Flak 88 carriage on the Cylon Raider at the back between the exhausts.

      The MPC plastic model of Millennium Falcon is covered in parts of other plastic kits, Jagdpanther, lots of aircraft undercarriage. But crudely compared to the studio model.

  14. Graham Bartlett

    Scratch any of that involving ep1-3. The original trilogy certainly did all that the article says; but note that the article hardly mentions ep1-3. Not really surprising, considering that it commits all the sins which George Lucas apparently didn't want in his originals.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. MaddMatt

    Old car parts too

    First time I saw the phantom menace, I noticed the switches that Anakin keeps toggling to relight his engines during the podrace were the light control from a Mk1 FIAT UNO...Always a danger where parts are re-used for their original function.

    1. SW10

      Re: Old car parts too

      Any fule kno that all this took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

      the real question is how Fiat got hold of said switches...

  17. Teddy the Bear
    Thumb Up

    Up-cycling Jet engine components!

    Such a great idea - using old engineered components and re-purposing. I can totally see how that adds so much to the atmosphere in Star Wars. Amazes me that lower-budget productions (I'm looking at you, SyFy channel) don't do the same...

  18. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Congratulations on mentioning the sound design.

    I channel-hopped to a film the other day (ah yes, the 70s King Kong film), where the goodie walks across a big tree trunk that's been laid over a ravine. The sound effects of his footsteps were of a man in a very echoey room, walking across a polished floor. I presume they were on a budget and got rushed. I found it strangely jarring.

    Not that Star Wars exactly had much of a budget. But the sound was consistently excellent. And iconic. I also remember really enjoying the nice sounds, even more than the visuals, when playing Tie Fighter, and whichever the FPS game was in the late 90s.

    In general the sets were also amazing. Particularly as it wasn't a big budget production. Although I'd quibble with the realism thing on one major point. Space is dangerous, and I presume they're using artificial gravity - but surely the designs should be a bit more fail-safe. So maybe smaller rooms. Although at least in the Star Wars universe they've managed to invent the humble seat belt, something that seems to have been lost in the intervening time between now and Starfleet getting going. Is it because they don't want the Klingons to call them sissies?

    Also, why do people insist on designing their space stations with lethal multiple-storey drops scattered about all over the place. And very few guard rails. No high-vis marking on the edges of steps (or lethal 15 storey drops). I guess Vader got annoyed with all the Health & Safety types - I can't imagine anyone long survivng the utterance of, "Lord Vader, you have failed your compliance testing"...

    1. Vic

      Also, why do people insist on designing their space stations with lethal multiple-storey drops scattered about all over the place. And very few guard rails.

      It's been noticed.


      1. ScottAS2
    2. NotBob

      There is only one explanation: Star Wars predates OSHA

  19. John Hughes

    The guns

    Imperial Stormtroopers are mostly armed with Lewis guns, MG 42's [no, MG 34's, sorry] and Sterling submachine guns.

    Han Solo carries a broomhandle Mauser.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The guns

      Probably a good job that they never managed to hit anything then

    2. montyburns56

      Re: The guns

      And the Stormtrooper's guns actually fired blanks in the film and you hear one that wasn't overdubbed in the scene were Luke is trying to cross the Death Star chasm.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: The guns

        And the Stormtrooper's guns actually fired blanks in the film
        I don't see how -- none of them had any magazines.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    History's villains: the SS at Nuremberg during the 1930s

    this gotta be the largest picture on the Register - EVER!

  21. Diodelogic

    Just some notes

    I've still got the official handout Star Wars booklet that was distributed by some theaters when the first movie came out. I used it as a guide to building scratch models of the various ships (X-Wing, TIE, and Destroyer). I got the booklet because I was first in line at the first showing of the movie at my local theater--me and the next ninety-nine people, I think it was.

    I remember reading (this is like 35 years ago) that the props crew bought thousands of model kits, everything from aircraft to tanks to cars to ships, to use the bits and bobs for decorating the models, especially the Destroyer. I followed suit to the tune of a half-dozen kits and discovered just how handy they were for adding all that detail.

    Star Trek was specifically noted for its use of background sounds to create an environment. The US Navy was supposed to have asked for the "red alert" klaxon sound to use in at least one of its new aircraft carriers. I never did find out if that happened.

    Mem'ries... light the corners of my mind... god I feel old.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    Never been into Star Wars

    I've never understood the whole Star Wars thing. I've seen a couple of the movies on TV and thought they were cookie cutter "Carter on Mars" type stories. The problem with them seems to be that the stories are not sci-fi, they just use the props, props that don't appear to behave properly for the universe that we live in.

    I like reading old sci-fi but the stories all have the limitation that our current technologies often are leaps ahead of what was conceived for the future back then. The only thing that's not kept pace is that you just can't navigate in space like you're driving a car.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Never been into Star Wars

      Science fiction: fiction that doesn't work if you take the science away. And by that definition, probably 95% of the stuff labelled SF, isn't.

      Star Wars was space opera writ large.

      Not that that will necessarily stop me seeing it once the rush dies down.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: "the stories are not sci-fi"

      That was kind of the point, wasn't it? The stories may have been set a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but the source of the stories wasn't sci-fi, only the setting was. Star Wars is never really about the technology (lightsabers are just swords, spaceships are just boats, fighters are just planes), it's just familiar stories given a sci-fi twist, and it really worked. Not for everyone, but there you go.

  23. Dabooka Silver badge

    Good read that, shame about the typos littered throughout!

  24. Amorous Cowherder

    Road works compressors!

    If you look at the scene where Luke and Obi first get to the MF hanger, there are two large yellow pods with ducts coming from them. They look exactly like the compressors that road work crews used in the 1970's to power their kango hammers and other tools when digging up the nation's highways!

  25. Medixstiff

    I certainly remembered seeing Empire Strikes back, we had two classrooms split by one of those retractable doors, all I remember was the teacher rolling out the TV on one of those stands and 70 odd kids glued to this screen until the end credits, then fighting over who would be which character at lunch time in the play ground.

    Those were great days, no political correctness or the other BS that ruins everything now plus we respected adults and teachers and if you really screwed up, out came the cane.

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