Through the props and costumes of Star Wars, we find a tangible link to connect with the characters from a galaxy far, far away and the stories they inhabit. Inside the Lucasfilm Archive, take a closer look at these artifacts and the stories behind their design.
Nods to previous Star Wars storytelling are scattered throughout the props utilized in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, with careful study of prequel pieces informing items pulled directly from Kenobi’s time in the Jedi Order and the circular hilts of the Inquisitor lightsabers making the leap from animation.
But among the items that begin to signal a burgeoning rebellion, it’s surprising to find connections to the crime boss Jabba the Hutt and his Tatooine abode.
Ned-B’s hammer, for example, was designed with inspiration from Jabba’s skiff in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Propmaster Brad Elliott tells StarWars.com. “It was scripted as a power hammer. Not having any idea what that meant, I took some design inspiration from the skiff guard staff and added a similar looking power unit as well as some rigid tubing to suggest that, much like a vibro-axe, it creates extra impact with a power assist.”
Tala’s thermal detonator took inspiration from the one held by Leia Organa in Boushh disguise as she negotiated with the Hutt. Although no longer manufactured, Elliott purchased a Master Replicas thermal detonator for the exterior, then got to work dismantling it. “We rewired the electronics in our shop to behave the way [showrunner and director] Deborah Chow wanted it to work in the scene,” he says. “It was far more efficient to use the actual merchandise, than to resculpt, remold, and repaint something new.”
Less of a departure are the spice canisters found on the bustling world of Daiyu. Crafted in the same shape and style as Jabba’s hookah pipe, this device doesn’t hold water in its base. “The idea is that there is a pressurized canister that when a button is pushed, it vents the spice,” Elliott says.
When Leia met Tala
For little Leia Organa, the props department curated a collection of items that spoke to the character’s multifaceted nature as a princess and a future rebel fighter.
Although too young to be carrying a blaster, propmakers were tasked with designing a holster that could fit the petite 10-year-old and the grown-up spy Tala. “The holster was a challenge,” Elliott says. Beyond the size difference of the two actors, “it had to both hold Leia’s droid as well as the blaster we designed for Tala.” To complete the effect, Tala’s holster was designed as a drop holster. “For Leia, we took the drop portion off of the gun belt and it just so happened to fit her nearly perfectly.” A Han Solo-style scope on Tala’s blaster helped to fill the width needed to later accommodate the round droid L0-LA59. “It was a super tricky puzzle to solve, but so satisfying when it actually worked,” Elliott says.
Other props called for a return to the grittiness that has made the Star Wars aesthetic unique among other sci-fi and fantasy stories.
The launch key for the cargo transport shuttle forced prop makers to consider the needs of the story versus simply finding something that fit into Leia’s small hand. “The ship is an automated transport in the script, so there was little logic in having a launch key designed for a human,” Elliott says. “Instead, we went with a rigged scomp [link] computer interface device that had its own circuit board. This is to simulate what an astromech would use to start the launch sequence and program the route.”
For a closer look at these and other props from the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series, check out the latest episode of This Week! In Star Wars.
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family At War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an 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. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.
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