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This TIE fighter will sing you the Star Wars theme tune for $18,000

The MusicMachine 3 looks like a design for another brand new TIE Fighter, but its purpose is markedly less destructive than Sienar Fleet Systems' distinctive weapon of war. The device is a music box, a piece of beautifully engineered metal that uses keys, cylinders, and latticed wings to play twinkling versions of six classic songs. Turn the right "thruster" of the TIE-inspired creation and you'll be able to hear the theme tunes from Star Wars, Mission Impossible, and the James Bond series; turn the left to hear the themes from The Godfather, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and The Persuaders.

It's the collaborative work of two Swiss companies — design agency Maximilian Büsser & Friends, and music box maker Reuge — and comes in either chrome, white, or the Empire-approved black. Only 99 of the creations exist, with 33 made in each color, each built with 350-year-old "resonance" spruce wood. MB & F says that the wood was selected by one man, a "tree gatherer" who operates "like a squirrel," hugging trunks in a Swiss forest until he finds a tree that he thinks has the right acoustic properties. All that tree-hugging is apparently expensive, and gives the MusicMachine an eye-watering price tag: some $18,000 for the latest model.

As indicated by the name, the MusicMachine 3 is the third in a trilogy of music boxes designed in part by MB & F, all of which were designed to look like sci-fi spaceships. Of the three, the third most effectively reflects its source material, but there are some pretty significant differences between the music box TIE fighter and the real ("real") thing. Standard TIE fighters have straight wings, for one, and their their twin ion engines (from which the TIE gets its designation) are mounted on either side of the bulbous fuselage. Büsser and Friends could maybe argue that their music box more closely resembles the nimble TIE Interceptor, but that craft's sharp angles and pointed laser mounts aren't reflected in the flowing lines of the MusicMachine 3 at all.

Perhaps the studios involved have insider knowledge into the new Star Wars movies, and are hinting at a TIE fighter updated as the X-Wing was, building from Darth Vader's TIE Advanced to create a sturdier fighter craft that boasts shields and life support systems. Or maybe they'd just avoid a lawsuit by ripping it off directly.

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