Few fictional universes have captured as many imaginations as George Lucas’ “Star Wars.”
Lightsabers, the Force, jumping to hyperspace — all of these things have captivated audiences of children and adults alike for nearly four decades.
So when a friend told me that there was a museum exhibit in the heart of Silicon Valley featuring original props and models from the films, I knew I had to go.
Hosted at the Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose, “Star Wars: The Exhibition” is one of the coolest ways a sci-fi nerd can spend an afternoon. Fans can stand inches away from characters and gizmos that they’ve only ever dreamed of seeing in person, all for the price of a trip to the movies.
The first thing you see when walking into the exhibit itself is the original model of the X-Wing. The video that accompanied it showed how its look and sounds were based on fighter planes from World War 2.
The Empire's TIE Fighter. Originally envisioned as a deep blue, it was changed to grey for 'A New Hope' because their basic blue screen technology didn't work with even the slightest shades of blue.
The Star Destroyer from 'A New Hope' had a crazy amount of detail for that close-up shot from the beginning of the movie.
Here's the miniature model of the Millennium Falcon that was used to hide behind the Star Destroyer in 'Empire Strikes Back.'
The model for Princess Leia's ship from 'A New Hope' was too big to get into a single photo without getting in a bunch of people's way.
The original 70-pound model for the Millennium Falcon. I spent a long time just walking around it, soaking in all the detail.
Looking at some of the models, I can't help but think about how badly my younger self would have loved to have all of them as toys.
While I normally like to pretend that 'Phantom Menace' never happened, this giant podracer model was really cool.
The robot that Vader used to torture Leia in 'A New Hope' is less frightening when you realise it looks kind of like an egg in person.
Luke's prosthetic hand from 'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi.' It's a lot more convincing in the movies.
The best part about seeing lightsabers up close are the little scratches on their surface that make it feel like they were really used.
Seeing an AT-ST in person, I can't help but think: 'There's no way the Ewoks could have taken these things out in Return of the Jedi.'
There were a bunch of cool learning activities for kids and adults alike throughout the exhibit. My favourites were the machine vision booth, where kids could interact with a droid and see what it sees...
... and this activity that let kids program their own miniature droid to make it move around a course.
It amazes me that people actually had to be inside R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original films. Both look like tight squeezes.
It's amazing how nice the original Yoda puppet looks. Having seen it in person, I definitely prefer it to the CGI Yoda from the prequels.
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