Top 75 spaceships in movies and TV part 4

News Martin Anderson 15 Jul 2009 - 18:26
You hear me, baby? Hold together...

Continued from part 3

35: Alien craft - UFO (UK TV, 1970)| RETURN TO INDEX

Gerry Anderson's dark sci-fi series featured an race of stealthy aliens secretly plundering Earth for human organs to sustain their own dying physiognomies. They were creepy and mysterious, the more so for the enigmatic spinning spacecraft in which they made their secret journies Earthward.

The models used were of metal and plastic with internal motors to supply the rotating movement. Keeping the centre of gravity was a difficult task, and any variation was fatal to the illusion, even when shooting at a high FPS. The Derek Meddings design actually provides little more space for a single occupant than a Gemini-era capsule. Sixteen skewed arches are attached to the central capsule, each finishing in a shield motif. The exterior section of the ship (at the very least) spins at a high velocity, giving the impression of greater volume, as does the semi-transparent dome that sits on top of the assembly.

The most distinctive aspect of the craft is not visual, but rather the shimmering sound of the vehicle in flight (check out this page to hear some MP3s of the sound).

Amazing science do a nice model kit of the UFO. SHED models also did a 114mm vacuum-formed kit of the craft in 1989. Product Enterprises released a 4-inch model of the craft. Hobbyist Andy Marrs has done some work on a CGI UFO, which is listed along with many other hobbyist renderings at ufoseries.com. The website sfdaydreams has a fairly extensive array of CGI imaginings of UFO-based scenarios.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

34: Mothership - Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1978)| RETURN TO INDEX

So long as we can avoid asking the question ' How does a spacecraft the size of France sneak up on a CIA operation in the middle of the desert?', there's a wealth of detail to appreciate in this model at the highly inspiring climax of Spielberg's SF classic.

1970s spaceship king Ralph McQuarrie is the conceptual designer responsible for this innovative take on flying saucer iconography, and legendary effects master Douglas Trumbull the genius who developed a system of (somewhat toxic) fine oil-burners and epic motion-control passes in order to capture the enormous ship's movement realistically. In the DVD extras documentary The Making Of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Trumbull amusingly notes that the spaceship, once it has made its spectacular flip on its axis, was designed to resemble a 'large descending breast' - mother Earth indeed!

Esteemed model-maker Greg Jein created and embellished the mothership, which took 18 months to complete and contains over 60 feet of coiled fibre-optics attached to source neon tubes within the miniature. One comment claims that when 'active', the highly illuminated model draws the same power as a New York subway car! Many of the cylindrical protuberances are reported to be oil-drums from the WWII modelling world, while other eagle-eyed miniature enthusiasts claim to notice R2-D2, a US mailbox, a small cemetery plot, a submarine and a Volkswagen bus attached to the ship.

The miniature is sixty-three inches long and weighs 400 pounds. It was constructed in wood, metal and plastic, and is currently viewable at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy annex of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. Unfortunately, it seems that the mothership would have been a bit of a dangerous toy, what with all those sharp protuberances, and there seems little impact made on the modelling world.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

33: Anakin's starfighter - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)| RETURN TO INDEX

This ship is as confused as Anakin himself! It's a beautiful, mixed-up dream of all the fighters that preceded it in the other five Star Wars films. There's the split-vanguard division of the speeder bikes in Return Of The Jedi, the cockpit-window geometry and solar panels of the TIE fighters, the R2-mounting of X-Wings and Y-Wings, the cocky angles of the snowspeeders in The Empire Strikes Back, and at the centre, the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. To boot, the large blister gives us a clear view of the pilot and an exciting sense of the exact scale of the ship. The only thing that bumps this wonderful craft down the list is that in itself it's a wonderful hybrid, but of far more original ideas and antecedents.

In all truth only Sith concept design supervisors Erik Tiemens and Ryan Church can really tell us who put this design together, but we can certainly enjoy its smooth and genial blend of other influences, and a production sketch on Church's site would indicate that he may be the originator (link is here, but the sketch is hidden in a Flash slide-show deal, so you'll have to click about to find it).

Being a very cool Star Wars ship, it's naturally available pretty much any which way you might like it. There's a toy, a Revell kit, an EasyKit kit (!), and there's also a great run-down of various replicas available here. Sci-Fi 3D have a downloadable Lightwave model too.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

32: Leonov - 2010 (1985)| RETURN TO INDEX

Peter Hyams decision to film a sequel to the Kubrick SF classic was an open invitation to geek derision, no matter what the result - notwithstanding that the source book was an eminently respected sequel by 2001: A Space Odyssey co-writer Arthur C. Clarke. The decision to recast William Sylvester's gentle scientist Heywood Floyd as hard-talking, hard-boiled Roy Scheider combined with a pre-glasnost sense of cold war hostility to alter the tone of scientific co-operation in the novel. With the excision of the novel's doomed Chinese mission to Europa, not even the return of principals Keir Dullea (Bowman in 2001)and Douglas Rain (voice of HAL) could bring critical or box-office acclaim. As usual, this is no reflection on the production design, and designer Albert Brenner worked closely with conceptual artist Syd Mead on determining the logic of the ship, which features a rotating, gravity-generating carousel housed by a zero-gravity fuselage.

In Vincent LoBrutto's By Design, Brenner talks Leonov from the inside out:

"I thought 'We have a great opportunity here in designing this spacecraft, because in space you're weightless. You can move laterally, vertically, you can move in all kinds of directions'. I would say 'Oh, here's a terrific idea. Let's put in a fire pole, so if you want to get from one level or section of the spacecraft to another, you can simply float out by grabbing the pole and going hand over hand'. But what happened was you were moving from one box to another box, like going from the living room to the kitchen. It got so complicated I couldn't figure a way out...we had the entire flight deck put on gimbals so we could rotate it..."


EXCLUSIVE:
Production designer Syd Mead talks to us about the 'Leonov'

"The script had the Leonov already to ‘go’ which then prompted the somewhat reluctant U.S. Space whatever to cooperate for the trip to Jupiter and Io and the crippled Discovery. I envisioned the Leonov as visually clumsy ‘inside-out’ design, with the vessel as a pressure vessel with all the feeds, conduits and manifolding on the outside of the shell. This would facilitate EVA maintenance and trouble location. The bridge at the front end was a flat, faceted affair in keeping with the general parameter of flat panel construction. (NASA now has curved pressure portals in pre-production) I deliberately made the ship look sort of ‘clumsy’ as a comment on Russian design, and the idea that it had been built in orbit.

"Originally I had the bridge as an off-shoot of the linear axis with the docking port as an extension of the linear axis to allow people in the bridge to observe direct sight line to the docking port. Peter [Hyams, 2010 Director] wanted to simplify the look, which in retrospect was a judicious move. The rotating dual cabin section was a deliberate effort to produce minimal centrifugal ‘gravity’ to avoid floating everything on set, an expensive process. (The movie was made before elaborate computer-generated effects came along) The only scene where stuff was ‘floated’ was the pen scene where Roy Scheider had to place the pen prop exactly into the thread loop.

"It took several takes before he did this without obviously ‘lining up’ the prop in the live shot. "Originally (and according to the first script) I designed an elaborate folding ablation shield mounted on the front of the ship. The technical advisor from JPL said ‘you wouldn’t carry all the weight and go into the orbiting slow-down front end first...you’d turn the ship around and use the onboard engines to de-orbit. And so I had to retrofit the ship design with the shells that would contain the carbon fiber baloots that soaked up the heat of re entry into the Jovian atmosphere for braking. "I designed the interior bridge, the navigation table set, the small personal cabins, the control area from which the lander down to Europa was monitored, the lander itself, the bridge that connected the Leonov to the Discovery (with its trolley fixture), the hand-held thruster and the one-man EVA pod that vanished when it approached the surface of the monolith. Working with Peter Hyams was a pleasure. I got along very well with the production designer and all in all enjoyed the process very much."

Click here to read Syd's exclusive insights to us about his movie spaceships

Leonov is deliciously ugly in a way only SF geeks can perhaps appreciate, and I do wonder if the speed at which the gimbal section rotates wouldn't splatter the inhabitants all over the inner hull. But the aero-braking section of the movie captures all the tension of Clarke's original, and shows how un-aerodynamic usable solutions can be in the physics of space travel. The novelty of the rotating section adds grace to an intentionally graceless, utilitarian design and makes Leonov a most memorable vessel in the history of sci-fi film.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

31: Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptor - Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) | RETURN TO INDEX

Obi-Wan Kenobi's interstellar runabout seems like a shrunken stardestroyer with a big blister. Big deal. Until you see how it gets from planet to planet: by hooking itself into a ring-shaped hyperdrive module (known, I hear, as a Syluire-31 Hyperspace Docking Ring), and elegantly unhooking at the other end. Any Gerry Anderson fan is bound to love the ingenuity and elegance of this craft.

The only problem I have with the sheer diversity of craft-types in the Star Wars universe is that it makes sense in any society at any given time that the most efficient and useful technologies should dominate. There might be a big difference between a tractor and a Maserati, but they both derive from the same principles, both have four wheels in roughly the same place and both are powered by an internal combustion engine. There probably aren't more than a handful of basic vehicle types on this planet, and if another planet came and showed us a better technology, we would doubtless imitate that. Why then are there so many different vehicle types in the Star Wars universe?

Well, the answer's obvious - just for fun; and this design is more fun than a box of Ewoks.

If you want to see what Lego is really capable of in starship modelling, check out this Lego Aethersprite - it's a beauty! Finemolds also have a very nice model kit available.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

30: Colonial Shuttle - Battlestar Galactica (US TV, 1978)| RETURN TO INDEX

I absolutely love this ship. It seems to have a perpetual frown going; it's a very serious ship. One of the appealing aspects of the craft is the sharp contrast between its unrefined hull and its absurdly 'luxury-liner' viewing portholes - it's like fitting a ferry with a jazz bar! It's amazing how such a blocky ship can have so much refinement and class

Professional model-maker Ed Miarecki restored the original 1970s model to its former glory in 1998, whilst Richard Hudolin and company, I'm happy to say. recognised the intrinsic worth of the original design and stuck fairly close to it for new Galactica.

You can download a really cool paper version of the shuttle, complete with colour textures, from Martin Sanger's site (if you don't speak German, just hit the 'Free download' button; the instructions in the zip file are visual). There's a nice game-piece miniature at spaceship brainiac, and some idea about what the various parts do at this site. Neither is the elegance of the design lost on CGI enthusiasts.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

29: Sulaco - Aliens (1986) | RETURN TO INDEX

Bristling with lethal antennae and looking like it could cut through a planet, the Marine transport Sulaco is naked military technology in James Cameron's action-packed sequel to Alien. It's basically a pulse-rifle with a hyperdrive bolted on. Just one look at it and you know there aren't gonna be any Jacuzzis on board.


EXCLUSIVE :
'Aliens' production designer Syd Mead on the 'Sulaco':

"The Nostromo was a masterpiece of design in the ‘new’ genre of rocket ships that didn’t look like they could ‘go fast.’ It was, in fact, a lumbering commercial inter-whatever facility. I was one of twelve judges for that year’s Miss Universe competition in Florida. By that time I’d done Star Trek TMP (the V’ger entity), Blade Runner (all the vehicles, street set proposals, various artefacts and post –production matte preliminaries) and TRON. (all of the transport vehicles except the ‘butterfly’ ship at the end of the film, designed my Moebius.) I read the script FedExed to me by Jim and on the way back to Los Angeles on the plane sketched my visual interpretation of the script saying...’a forest of antennae comes into frame followed by the mass of the Sulaco.’

"So, I drew a ‘forest of antennae’ on the front end of a massive ‘ball-shaped’ mass. I drove up to (then) Jim’s and Gale Ann Hurd’s (Jim’s wife at the time and also the line-producer) house on Mulholland Drive and Cameron saw my sketches. I paraphrase...

“'Syd? I’m going to have the Sulaco move past the camera and a sphere will require pulling focus. Here’s sorta how it should be’ and he drew a quick sketch of a flat kind of thing, sort of like a huge, flat submarine. I went back to my studio and produced the final design in the next two days. The Sulaco, in my mind, was again basically a commercial freighter with a military contingent onboard to confront the alien threat. I designed the overall exterior of the ship with its row of loading doors down the side replete with a gantry that supported a traveling loading crane, the power plant at the rear end and two HUGE gun-like fixtures on each side that could be for defense, whatever. It combined a utilitarian, functional look with an overlay of surface detail articulation and a suggestion of being a well-armed ship. Inside, I designed the drop bay for the drop ship, the assault de-orbital craft which contained the assault vehicle and started on two other design jobs."

Click here to read Syd's exclusive insights to us about his movie spaceships

Miniatures technical supervisor Pat McClung talked about the Sulaco model in the Alien Quadrilogy special edition:

"The Sulaco was about six feet long and it was only built just to be seen on one side. The back we never finished because Jim [Cameron] said we only ever had one angle that you're going to see. So that was shipped off to Brian Johnson's company, and they did the motion-control shots on it and the optical compositing."

The Sulaco has had a healthy life both for CGI hobbyists and model/replica collectors and builders. even though it has pretty much no free-standing capacity. Small Art Works built a custom-made Sulaco for a Korean client; the Halcyon Sulaco is very popular, and many 3D hobbyists have released their own Sulaco meshes for colleagues and friends to download.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

28: EVA pod - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) | RETURN TO INDEX

Graceful, multi-functional, but frankly also pretty damn frightening, this NASA-consulted EVA vehicle is both rigidly grounded in the practicalities of moving in zero gravity and zero atmosphere, and also formidably attractive! The only criticism I might make of the design is that in certain parts Kubrick seems to have favoured a whitewash over what NASA would have left as bare metal. But the EVA pod is truly a classic design.

4th Axis offer what looks to be a slightly rough version of the pod in the form of a quick-assembly ornament; Scott Alexander's polyurethane resin kit is a fair bit nearer the mark in terms of fidelity to both the design and finish of the original model. Collect-Aire also offer a crudely-finished resin kit. There are plenty of pod meshes available; this was one of the very first projects the amateur CGI community set their sights on. But if you're a CG modeller really wanting a major 2001-gasm, check out this little collection...

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

27: GR-75 medium transport - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)| RETURN TO INDEX

The extraordinarily beautiful rebel transport from Irvin Kirshner's 'dark' Star Wars film has an insectile beauty, with a large protective chassis concealing a mass of technology on the undercarriage. Its forward motion is elegant and almost aquatic. Though this lightly-armed transport vessel first appeared in Empire, it was retro-inserted into Mos Eisley in George Lucas's 1997 re-release of the original Star Wars. Whether the ship is accountable to Empire production designer Norman Reynolds, conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie or any of the legions of ILM design wizes, I'm not able to determine, but it's certainly a ship to be proud of.

As with all ships Star Wars, the GR-75 is well-represented both in the commercial and amateur replica community. Here's a great paper version and another fine effort in balsa; however the curves of the GR-75 prove a bit of a challenge for Lego minimalists. MPC/ERTL released a nice GR-75 in a grab-bag rebel base kit in 1992, and there's a good guide on a standard kit rebuild of the GR75 here (scroll down past the Falcon). Sean Kennedy and André Müller also have a very nice CGI recreation of the ship available in four formats over at Sci-FI 3D.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

26: Narcissus - Alien (1979) | RETURN TO INDEX

Many hands worked on Alien's other human spaceship. The escape pod which flees the exploding Nostromo (with one more passenger than intended) has often been criticised for only carrying three when a full ship's complement is seven, but it's an extraordinarily beautiful craft. The hard edges of cut plastic and kit-bashed finish are hard relief against the agreeable moulded curves of the thrusters. Since it apparently hasn't been exposed to any grime or grit since factory testing, it's 2001-white, which gives it a rather 'model'-y look in the final 'ejection' scene, which was filmed with the rear of the craft facing the studio floor and technicians pouring milky water through the highly-lit thrusters to give the impression of blast vents, when slow-motion was applied.

Both Ron Cobb and Chris Foss produced numerous designs for the Narcissus throughout 1978, but Cobb's eventual creation seems to have won the day.


EXCLUSIVE:
Martin Bower on making the Narcissus

"I designed a ship around the studio set, which was a foreshortened section of the back,& vaguely followed Ron Cobb's painting of it also from the back. So I made up the shape of the craft & built it from sketches I did. I bet you didn't know I originally thought it should have an undercarriage! If you go to my website martinbowersmodelworld.com you will see Alien listed with Narcissus as a separate section. I've attached a few photos of it finished for you though..."

 

Halcyon do a very nice model kit of the Narcissus, which ship has come to be associated both with Alien and sequel Aliens, which also features the craft briefly in the opening sequence.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

25: Colonial Viper - Battlestar Galactica ( US TV 1978) | RETURN TO INDEX

It's hard to cast a vote for either the Ralph McQuarrie original in the 1978 US TV series (and the European theatrical release) of Battlestar Galactica and the 2003 re-imagining by production designer Richard Hudolin. Perhaps Hudolin himself can explain best...

EXCLUSIVE: Production designer Richard Hudolin on the Viper re-design for new Galactica

"We reinvented everything. Even the Mk.II we actually did some modifications on. We got rid of the Egyptian references and stuff like that. We just kind of elongated it a little more and made it a little more slick. Then there's the mark 9 viper, which is something that never got made. Bryan Singer was going to do Battlestar Galactica at one point. They actually set up and had an art department and started building, and they stopped when he decided he was going to take off and do something else. The mark 9 original drawing was left over from all of that, which we inherited. Now we didn't have any money to build it, so we started building it over the course of time, and ultimately we wound up with a finished mark 9. So that was a kind of inherited thing. As we had extra money we'd build a part of it to shoot over or around, and then we'd continue building and building and building. It took almost two or three years to build that thing, because it was never really budgeted. We could have built it in a month if we had to, but we never had the money [laughs]."

Click here for the full interview with Richard, exclusive to Den Of Geek.

For practical reasons, the smallest and least-detailed of the VFX Viper models in the original series was the one most frequently seen, since it was less unwieldy than the 'hero' version.

The most disappointing aspect of the original Viper was the fact that the visor was conveniently smoked during the (endlessly re-used) visual effects shots. This didn't match the on-set prop and prevented the viewer 'getting into' the opticals as much, but it meant that the shots were completely re-usable (as any figure could be inside them) and also avoided issues of having convincing humans piloting the model ships. To be fair, the X-Wing shots in Star Wars used the same tactic.

And of course, there's more than a little of the Star Wars X-Wing in the Colonial Viper, but with the same man designing both ships, it's hard to point the finger too much. You can see thumbnails of McQuarrie's original Galactica concept sketches (including the viper) over at this site, but the originals seem jealously guarded. Later on we'll be meeting the ship that McQuarrie first proposed as the design of the Viper - the Thunder Fighter from Buck Rogers In The 25th Century!

For detailed information on the models and full-size set props of the Viper from both old and new Galactica, check out The Ultimate Battlestar Galactica Viper Link.

There were various models and toys available of the Viper in the late 70s. Revell still do a 'classic Galactica' Viper, and Monogram's old Viper kit has can be enhanced with some nice cockpit detail from Millennia Models, who also supply a landing gear add-on for the Revell version. Snake Ship Inc provides a 'new' Galactica Viper that's very special indeed.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

24: The Rodger Young - Starship Troopers (1997) | RETURN TO INDEX

The battle cruisers in Paul Verhoeven's under-rated sci-fi slugfest are straight from the covers of pulp sci-fi. Brash, fun and unfettered by NASA consultants, the Rodger Young is a thundering war horse with some serious firepower and heft. The models were created by the Thunderstone team at Sony, including model-maker George Willis (see interview below), and the sizes of the models varied from 6 inches to eighteen feet (check out this excellent page at starshipmodeller.com for more background info on the Rodger Young & Co.). The miniatures took a year and a half to create. Unusually, due to limitations in the availability of computer compositing, it was decided to make multiple models to represent the entire fleet rather than run multiple passes on the same models.

George Willis takes up the story with us:


EXCLUSIVE: Model-maker George Willis on building the Roger Young:

"At the time they were making all these big-budget action films, and there weren't enough computers in the world to do the animation. There were computers that hadn't been made yet that had been bought in advance to be working on these films...the Starship Troopers art department came to the model shop with a bunch of storyboards and said 'Which of these shots could you do in some way other than computer effects?'. They were budgeted out. Just the rendering time that was required to do these shots was a huge obstacle. With the amount of computers they had and the ones they were able to get, there was no way they were going to be able to finish Starship Troopers in time for the release date...

"There were three main versions. There was one that was eighteen feet long, and then there were two that were nine feet long. The eighteen-foot version was actually built where it would come apart in two sections for the destruction sequence. There's a designer's rendition somewhere of how the damage would spread once the nuclear bug-juice hit the Rodger Young and started eating it away...

"...it really has the look of a battleship. It's very heavy and lumbering...When you look at the Rodger Young, you think that it's this big, heavy indestructible battle-cruiser. It hangs there..."

Click here for the full length, exclusive interview with George Willis about the 'Rodger Young'

Check out this page for pictures of George's work on the 'destructive split' sequence that closes the Rodger Young's military career. If you want to see how the Rodger Young measures up to other starship goliaths, check out the amazing merzo.net.

Federation models had a nice, low-part kit, but it doesn't seem to be available right now; Frontier Models have a rather nice 19-inch resin model hobby kit available, and there's another kit from Hoto Models. here's a hobbyist 3D mesh, and thanks to the efforts of CG enthusiast Digitawn, you can even see the Rodger Young landing on a planet.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

23: EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) | RETURN TO INDEX

There is no air in space. And you have to love ships like the EF76 that ignore the non-existent problem of wind resistance. This vessel looks like it was carved roughly out of igneous rock. The massive engines resemble those of the Jupiter-Mission (2001: A Space Odyssey), and that dynamic continues with a threadbare midriff section leading to what appears to be a scullery full of alert knives, upended. The dynamics of the EF76 are unexpected and very distinctive even in the eclectic Star Wars universe. It can't turn on a sixpence, but it cruises with as much class as anything else in the rebel fleet - and more than most.

Thank then production designer Norman Reynolds and the art department at ILM, for this remarkable and memorable craft.

Richard Baker appears to be getting together 1/650th and 1/1300th scale versions of the EF76, and you can check on that project here. Lego is not to be left out of the fun, naturally (and in fact the blocky nature of the medium is particularly suitable to this design). Scale solutions also do a Nebulon frigate kit. Of course CGI modellers have taken on the frigate too, and there's a card kit to be had as well.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

22: Cylon Raider - Battlestar Galactica (US TV 1978)| RETURN TO INDEX

I must make a clear distinction here between the original predatory shape of the Glen Larson raiders and the pointier versions in the Ron Moore re-imagining. The original design of the raiders was, in my opinion, worth sticking to far more closely in new Galactica. Designer Richard Hudolin explains the logic of the change...


EXCLUSIVE: Production designer Richard Hudolin on the Cylon Raider re-design for new Galactica:

"Our mandate was to create something new and totally different and do pretty much whatever we want, and Bonnie Hammer, who was the chief over at Sci-Fi and the overall boss, really wanted to go for something totally different. So when you're given a blank slate like that and you look at what they did in the past, you kind of look at that and jump off from there. Now visual effects had a lot to do with the design of the exterior of that ship, because we worked very closely together, and seeing how the exterior only existed in Gary Hutzel's world in the visual effects, he had more to do with the design of that than I did."

Click here for the full interview with Richard, exclusive to Den Of Geek.

 

 

The original Ralph McQuarrie-designed Raiders seemed heavier and more predatory, and when they span around on a manoeuvre, they were just about as beautiful as any TV spaceship ever devised. Sorry, but the 'lobster claw' of new Galactica doesn't compare (though you can get it as a 3D model via Google, if the original version doesn't grab you).

There's a nice re-design of the original Raider here. Lego? A no brainer. There's a kit by Revell and you can learn how to light it here (hope you have better luck than I did when I was twelve).

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

21: Death's Head, Imperator-class Star Destroyer - Star Wars (1977) | RETURN TO INDEX

The opening shot of A New Hope was a landmark both in movies and sci-fi movies, as a spaceship apparently the size of a continent thundered overhead in pursuit of the Corellian diplomatic ship. In fact, we had seen something like this before, but not at this speed; the leisurely pass of Jupiter Mission at the beginning of the second half of 2001: A Space Odyssey ran at a different speed and to different effect. Here there was thunder, both in the sound effects and the stirring chords of John Williams' classic score. We had never seen anything like it.

The Star Destroyer has the rough aspect of a naval destroyer, with a high conning tower looming imposingly over the bulk of the vessel below. It cuts through space with an incredibly threatening aspect. Ironically, at 91-centimeters, the Star Destroyer model was actually smaller in the real world than the blockade runner miniature that it was chasing. A new Death's Head miniature was made for The Empire Strikes Back, measuring 259 centimetres.

Can you get a Star Destroyer in Lego? Absolutely. You can get a Lego star destroyer kit that will yield a model weighing 18 pounds! A delightfully obsessive news photographer from Ohio has proved himself a legendary custom and scratch-builder of Star Wars spaceship models, and is undertaking a 48-inch Star Destroyer - a project he first attempted in 1981. On the CGI front, here's a pretty great classic star destroyer at moddb.com; and here's a legendary Death's Head mesh from Fractal Sponge in pretty much any format you might want.

Info: Fictional Life | IMDB |

Click here for part 5...

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