This is a project I was commisoned on a couple months back. Darryl, who’s an admin on several Star Wars related facebook pages, had seen my work and asked about a special build. He wanted a display piece that represented the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han and Leia are almost about to lock lips, just before being interrupted by C3PO. This was to be a birthday present for his girlfriend, as it was a scene they reinacted often.
I spent a long time searching the web for suitable looking vinyl models. I even bought a few from Japan but nothing looked too great. In the end, I went with an old AMT Han Solo that I’d had for several years, and a large Leia in Hoth gear action figure I found on eBay. The Leia was a service merchandise exclusive from 1998, and I knew I wouldn’t find anything else in a reasonable scale that had the hairstyle I was looking for.
Han had to be modified heavily. He was originally sculpted to be in a very defensive pose; his blaster drawn and his left arm extended to the rear as to block an ambush. I had to run his arms under hot water to soften the vinyl and try to bend them to the direction I wanted. This helps, but there’s only so much you can bend something that is sculpted. To get the final positions, I had to slowly trim off portions of the inside of the armpit until the arms looked correct. The head was also positioned to the right, looking down the leading arm and staring down the end of the blaster. I corrected this by cutting his head off at the top of the neck and re-seating it forward facing, and the shimming the back of the neck with strips of vinyl to “shim” it up from the base. This tilted the head downwards to aim the point of view towards Leia. The gaps in the arms and necks were then filled and sanded, and Han was painted with an airbrush and the details added by hand.
Also included was a detailed blaster which I painted by hand. I didn’t think it was appropriate for Han to hold it in this scene, and it wouldn’t fit in the holster, so it’s a tiny display piece of it’s own.
Very little was done to Leia, other than a tiny bit of blush added to her cheeks, which doesn’t really show.
I started early on experimenting with my display. I had an idea about how I wanted it to be framed out. I used a plank of wood that was originally intended as a square clock face. I cut out sheets of styrene to the height that I wanted- not too much taller than Han, or it would be too cumbersome. I knew early on I would want a grate on the floor and one wall looking like a control panel and the other looking like an entryway.
I kept putting the display off and working on getting Han right. Time was getting away from me. It was just a couple of weeks until the deadline- Linda’s birthday- and I still hadn’t figured out exactly how I was going to do the background. Then, my wife had the brilliant idea of using an old motherboard. I found one right away at the goodwill that was perfect.
I spray painted the entire motherboard silver and then gave it a wash of black to bring out the details. The result looked great and Darryl approved. My wife helped me cut out the sheets of
styrene for the computer panel. I drilled all of the holes and ran around 100 strands of fiber optics, illuminated by five or six LEDs. These are powered by a 9v battery hidden in the base, and toggle switch that blends in with the background.
Darryl had told me he wanted the phrases “Darryl,” “Linda,” “I love you,” “I know,” and “always” in Auerbach worked in somehow, but hidden. This was a challange. I knew I wanted to make it glow in the dark but didn’t know how to incorporate it. Then, it all came together. I typed up the phrases and had my wife cut them out on adhesive vinyl on our cricut. I then made some tiles in styrene and covered them on glow in the dark duct tape, and applied the vinyl letters to them. I sprayed the tiles silver and removed the lettering to reveal the glow in the dark writing underneath.
The last piece of the puzzle was the doorway. I printed out a photo of the millennium falcon corridor and glued it to a sheet of styrene. Then I designed and cut out the tiles for the door frame and glued them in place. The final step was to glue Han and Leia on, however it would proof ineffective for UPS’ hyperdrive on the journey from Reno NV to Provo UT.
Oh yeah… And there’s a hidden button. I knew at the start that this build had to have some audio to it. I recorded the audio from that scene into a device build into the computer. I never told Darryl, so not only did Linda get a surprise on her birthday but so did he. That was the icing on the birthday cake.