C-3PO: legendary protocol droid, Ewok god, and now, a beautiful jet.
Today, ANA, the largest airline in Japan, unveiled its C-3PO ANA jet — the fourth in its Star Wars Project series — at TOKYO/Haneda airport in a special ceremony. The stunning design incorporates many of C-3PO’s most iconic elements, including his primary power coupler outlet (the circle on his chest), wiring, and bold gold color. StarWars.com caught up over e-mail with Hiro Miyagawa, Star Wars Project leader, and came away with five behind-the-circuits details of ANA’s jet, which will surely be on every Jawa’s wishlist.
1. That power coupler outlet? It’s featured multiple times on the jet, and for a reason. “We took a very long, good look at the real C-3PO, discussed and discussed what would be the primary characteristic feature that Threepio had,” Miyagawa says. “We came to a conclusion that it was that power coupler outlet, because it is so beautiful and makes Threepio Threepio. Since every single Star Wars fan can tell that, in combination with the colorful circuits, they would know it was Threepio they were looking at. So, we laid the power coupler outlet in the center of the design, and started working on the rest.” The rest includes his “wiring” beneath, but also a repeat of the coupler on the sides of the jet. That was done to mimic the circular shapes on the sides of Threepio’s head and balance the coupler in the center.
2. ANA’s previous Star Wars jets inspired the art direction for this one. Prior to the C-3PO wrap, Miyagawa worked on jet designs of R2-D2 and BB-8. “When we first designed the R2-D2 ANA jet,” Miyagawa says, “we came up with the concept that when you look from right above the plane, you are looking at Artoo as if he were lying on the ground, face up. We applied the same concept to the BB-8 ANA jet, and to the C-3PO ANA jet, as well.” Threepio posed a bit more of a design challenge, however, as he’s a humanoid droid, and the design would not allow for the inclusion of his face. How did ANA come up with a solution? The power coupler motif discussed above, and designing in new places on the craft…
3. Remember to look up. There are designs on the bottom, as well. “It was very important that we lay something strong onto the design from each part of his body,” Miyagawa says. “The ears, the neck joint, the power coupler outlet, the black belly with colorful circuits, and finally, the battery packs on his back. It is our very first time designing something on the bottom part of the aircraft, since the back of Threepio is, in this case, the bottom of the plane. Just in case you see this jet flying right above you, or you have a chance to see the plane parked and you are on the ramp, make sure you check the bottom side of the plane to see those battery packs.”
4. There’s more than just the exterior design. Traveling on the jet is more like a C-3PO experience. “We tried to bring in some surprising atmosphere so that the passengers can feel like they are a part of the story,” Miyagawa says. “C-3PO-themed paper cups and headrests to enjoy in the plane and bring Star Wars into their experience, and a very special boarding certificate for you to bring the joy back home.” Sounds like something both Threepio and Star Wars fans would love.
5. Speaking of which, it literally has the real C-3PO’s sign of approval. Anthony Daniels, the actor who has played Threepio since the original Star Wars in 1977, was on-hand at today’s event and has been enthusiastic about the project for a long time. “It was a great honor and a pleasure to have him come over to the ANA booth at Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016, where we unveiled the new design of the C-3PO ANA Jet and had him sign the 1:20 scale model plane,” Miyagawa says. “Since then, I had the privilege to visit him in London, and also welcome him at today’s even in Tokyo.” Daniels also signed the actual plane — the front door on the left-hand side, to be exact. “I am so delighted, honored, and glad to know that Anthony really loves this plane.”
For more on the C-3PO ANA jet, visit ana-sw.com.
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer and editor of the StarWars.com blog. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.