Star Wars: A New Hope, Death Star Surface Tile (small)

original model / miniature

This is a piece of the Death Star model from Star Wars: A New Hope that was used to film the rebel attack. It's one of the smaller, 3" x 3" pieces seen in wide shots. The tile is made of a hard foam material, and came originally from the collection of Richard Edlund, the First Cameraman for the Miniatures and Optical Effects unit (ILM). 


This is one of dozens (hundreds?) of tiles used to create the Death Star model, which was basically a giant wall of tiles representing the surface of the DS. Larger, more detailed tiles (12" x 12") were used during the trench run.


As far as I can tell, there's absolutely no way for me to screen match this. For all I know, it appears right under someone's X-Wing in the middle of the screen; it just as likely appears as nothing more than a gray blur off in the distance. And of course, it might have been somewhere entirely outside the camera's field of view. To make the model, created texture on the Death Star surface by using the same few tiles over and over, positioned in different ways, and scattered in different configurations. 


The tile has what I thought was some water damage -- maybe from storage or something. However, a friend of mine who works on big-budget Hollywood blockbusters filled with explosions (natch) says that to him it looks a lot like the result of pyro damage. Now, I would really, really like this to be true, because that would mean it was maybe damaged in one of the scenes involving exploding X-Wings. Even if it wasn't on camera, it could have been hit by a spark or something. That would be really cool!


But... they used hundreds of tiles, so what are the odds? Well... one in... um... hundreds. I've gone over those scenes with a fine-toothed comb and yes, this type of tile does make multiple appearances. But this type of tile was used dozens and dozens of times, and I couldn't really tell if any of them, let alone this one, was hit by a spark. 


So for now, the responsible part of me is going to stick with "production used." It was part of the model, but there's no real way for me to tell if it ever made it in front of the camera.


But the fanboy in me, the guy who loves Star Wars, is going to continue clinging to the tiny, nearly impossibly-thin thread that suggests my Death Star tile might -- might -- have been part of a significant moment from the film. Gotta hold on to that dream. :)


(As I've said with other props in my collection, if anyone can offer up any thoughts or insight, I'd love to hear what you've got to say. Especially if it helps clear up what might have caused that damage to the tile.)

item: collector:
category: original / screen-used
type: models / miniatures
coa issued by: Propstore of London (1106)
original (1088)  |  replica (18)
movie: Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
original (117)  |  replica (686)
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