Flashback Friday: Art Of The Starfighter


Photo from Sherry at Moisture Farm Co-Op

Star Wars: Art of the Starfighter was a mini exhibit that opened at the Smithsonian’s Arts & Industries hall in April 2001 and ran for a couple of months. It featured a real-life honest-to-the-Force prop Naboo fighter from TPM and some related exhibits.

Since your humble webmiss lived in nearby northern Virginia at the time, I got to attend the exhibit’s opening shindig. I was there with fans from everywhere from Richmond to New York City and it was my first interaction with the 501st. The closest chapter at the time was in NYC if you can believe it. It was amazing to see how tourists reacted to 501st members. People were going crazy. And stormtroopers were helping to conduct traffic outside of the museum building so people could cross the street! The fighter itself was pretty cool to see in person, though the shiny parts of it seemed to have been made from…aluminum foil! Really! You could see the seams of different sheets of foil. Of course none of this shows up on camera, so it’s all good.

Not only were there many fans and cosplayers, there were a couple of execs from Lucasfilm/LucasArts and from the Smithsonian, plus special guest ILM model shop supervisor John Goodson. I remember Goodson was a really nice guy. He’d been working his butt off, first on “Planet of the Apes” and then going on to AOTC.

Afterwards I went with the cosplayers, including the 501st, to D.C.’s Planet Hollywood for lunch. Imagine how wacky we looked walking down the street in our Star Wars gear. Those were the days!

Here are more details from a fan’s 2001 report on TFN.


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6 Responses to “Flashback Friday: Art Of The Starfighter”

  1. Keith Palmer Says:

    I admit I can see this flashback here and now as a rejoinder to the “Can you believe they built an X-Wing-plus mockup? This is gonna be a great movie!” sentiments flaring up these days. These special exhibits do sometimes leave me thinking they’re tangentially related to the actual intentions of the museums they’re in, but I did take a trip last year to see the “Star Wars Identities” exhibit…

    • Hunk a Junk Says:

      You said it Keith. That’s the sad fact of being a fan these days. Every nugget of news about Episode VII is greeted by a chorus of “Look! Practical sets! Full-sized spaceships! They’re doing it right, unlike the prequels!” Even though images like this prove there were just as many practical sets and full sized spaceships in the PT. I swear some fans believe JJ will actually hoist the plywood Falcon into orbit to shoot it’s scenes.

      • lazypadawan Says:

        Yesterday I listened to part of Rebel Force Radio’s last episode with Kyle Newman. Newman had pointed out that there hasn’t been a single photo of Ep VII’s blue screen/green screen sets and I’ve noticed that too; the publicity machine wants to show this movie’s going old school but we all know there have to be blue screens and green screens. It’s not like they’re shooting this in space.

      • Hunk a Junk Says:

        There was ONE shot of the Falcon’s cockpit where you could see a green screen. But you’re right, the “leaked” photos are suspiciously showing exactly what fits the meme the filmmakers are trying to generate. It’s PR. It’s always PR.

      • PrinceOfNaboo Says:

        I’ve recently read a good quote: “People want to share emotions, not facts. Facts are boring.”

        And that’ exactly what Ep. VII marketing maschine does and haters fall into the trap as easy as we could imagine..
        Emotion: You hate CG? You hate the PT? Let’s show you a few of our “real” sets and you’ll already love it and us.
        Fact: We’re still doing tons of CG and bluescreen, you’re just too stupid to realize.

      • Tarrlok Says:

        I find the entertainment (“geek”?!) media’s dim-witted response to the PR to be tiresome. These “geek” media types like to think of themselves as bastions of well-considered opinion on what is quality entertainment and what isn’t.

        Yet they seem incapable of getting off their arses and looking for evidence to support the claim that the SW PT lacked practical effects. It has merely become “received wisdom” and “common knowledge”.

        I fully expected Lucasfilm/Disney to exploit their intellectual laziness to build up hype. It’s a shame this strategy could inflict collateral damage.

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