5 Behind-the-Scenes Facts About Designing Bandai’s Star Wars Model Masterpieces

The building kits, now available worldwide, are modeled after the screen-used practical ships and vehicles used in Star Wars.

Standing at just 1/144th the size of the lumbering AT-ATs that menaced the rebel forces on Hoth’s Echo Base, Bandai’s model kit makes a perfectly petite detailed replica down to removable side panels and movable joints that can send the walker crashing to the ground in defeat. The kit, complete with other intricate details like tiny control panels and screen-accurate cosmetic greeblies, is just one of many Star Wars models produced by Bandai Spirits Hobby. The company’s catalog of miniature craft spans the saga and its various factions — including Imperial and rebel, First Order and Resistance, tiny X-wing and massive Millennium Falcon.

An X-wing model by Bandai.

Upon first opening the box, there are so many tiny pieces that the build can look a little intimidating, but the process of snap-together pieces (saving on the time and hazards of gluing and setting parts) is intuitive and easy, even for beginners who have never touched a model kit before. And the finished models have weight and plenty of character as they can be moved in dynamic poses.

StarWars.com recently spoke with designer Yohei Nagasawa and manager Hideki Fukuchi to learn more about how the precisely-crafted ships and vehicles are created.

A Millennium Falcon model by Bandai.

1. To make the kits feel realistic, designers approached each one as if they existed in this galaxy. “We treated the original studio models used in the filming of Star Wars as if they were real-world designs,” says Fukuchi. Using the scale models used for filming as a concept, the kits replicate the models seen on-screen “in a form that can be assembled by anyone.”

2. But not every detail can be fully realized. “I wish every detail could be reproduced on the same scale, but this is not always possible,” notes Fukuchi. “The vehicles and spacecraft of Star Wars range from huge ones like the Death Star (measured in kilometers) to smaller-sized craft like X-wing starfighters (measured in meters). Even with our highly-detailed design process, there are certain aspects and features that cannot be reproduced in these model scales.”

A model Millennium Falcon on a mount, by Bandai.

A view of the lounge on a model Millennium Falcon by Bandai.

3. Even among the team, there’s some debate about the best version of the Millennium Falcon. Fukuchi’s personal favorite among the kits on the market is the Perfect Grade 1/72 Millennium Falcon. In collaboration with Lucasfilm, the final kit allows fans to “get a sense of the real shooting model used in the films,” he says. For Nagasawa, the ship that made the Kessel Run, complete with Lando Calrissian’s impeccable upgrades, is the clear winner. Nagasawa led the team designing the 1/144 Millennium Falcon as seen on screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story. “I especially liked reproducing the lounge space of this version of the Millennium Falcon,” he adds.

4. But they agree that A New Hope captured their attention and turned them into fans. For Nagasawa, it was that opening image of his first favorite ship — the blockade runner. “The way this ship introduces the film as it tried to escape from the Star Destroyer while carrying Princess Leia was brilliant and drew me instantly into the world of Star Wars,” he says. For Fukuchi, it was Luke learning to trust the Force from inside the cockpit of his X-wing. “When Luke deactivated the X-wing sight and hit the proton torpedo by just believing in the Force, it was a very exciting moment for me.”

A model X-wing on a mount by Bandai.

5. Fan feedback means a lot to Bandai. Nagasawa says the team stopped by California this summer and got to speak directly with fans on the exhibit hall floor. “It was a special experience to visit San Diego Comic-Con and hear the feedback and many positive responses to these kits from so many Star Wars fans,” he says.

Bandai model ships and character kits are available here.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you love most about Star Wars!

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