When it comes to collecting props, Star Wars fans don’t like to settle for anything less than the most screen-accurate items possible. For the older films, when lightsabers, blasters, and ships were cobbled together with found parts and ingenuity, that meant tracking down the original items and handcrafting perfect replicas at incredible cost. When it comes to props from The Force Awakens, those collectors can go right to the source: Propshop.
The UK-based company actually made the weapons featured in J.J. Abrams' film: Rey’s staff, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber, Chewbacca’s bowcaster; they were behind every one. Earlier this year they announced a program where — for a high-end price — customers can order officially licensed replicas built using the exact same materials and techniques as the originals.
So, when we heard that Propshop was showing off the line at Comic-Con, we did what any rational person would. We immediately ran over and started freaking out.
The detailing on the props was remarkable, from the nuances in the cutaway of Kylo Ren’s saber — details I hadn’t seen in any other licensed product, nor in the 3D-printed prototype that debuted last year at Star Wars Celebration — to the weathering of the fabric and strap on Rey’s staff. When Propshop took the finished props from the set of Force Awakens, they scanned and photographed them to capture every scratch, ding, and piece of dirt, allowing them to exactly replicate the item as seen on the screen.
Given that these are prop replicas, rather than idealized versions of the items as they may exist in the Star Wars universe, they also ended up revealing some behind-the-scenes movie magic. Rather than being a heavy lump of melted metal, the Vader helmet was light, with a texture reminiscent of plaster, calling back to its 3D-printed origins. (The look, of course, was beyond reproach — particularly when you lined up the lighting and framing just right). Chewie’s bowcaster was a similar situation. It had the bulk of the on-screen item, but not the heft Harrison Ford pantomimed when lugging it around in The Force Awakens. The lightsabers didn't light up or have sound effects, of course, but that's because the static hilts used in the film didn’t, either.
During Comic-Con, Propshop also announced a reproduction of a Millennium Falcon cockpit panel as the newest addition to its line. From the machined switches and functioning lights to its graphics and smudges, the panel is supposed to be an exact reproduction of one of the panels Propshop made for the new Millennium Falcon. It’s the kind of thing a Star Wars fan might want to hang up on their wall, but the company wasn’t ready to announce how much it will cost when it goes on sale later this year.
With the company already having wrapped its work on Rogue One and Episode VIII, the Falcon panel is no doubt just the first of many new additions to the line. If you’ve got the money and inclination, check out the gallery below to see what Propshop’s line looks like up close and personal.
Photos by Vjeran Pavic.
- The underside of the Vader helmet is flat, revealing its initial origin as a piece of sculpture.
- The $3,500 helmet is limited to just 500 pieces. (During Comic-Con, we saw a fan buy one — but asked for it to be #500.)
- The Kylo Ren helmet was originally designed and created by costume design Michael Kaplan and his team. A scan of the screen-used mask is projected on the recreated item to help Propshop artists match the textures by hand.
- The infamous Kylo Ren lightsaber.
- The interior details go beyond what can be seen on the screen.
- Kylo Ren really needs to up his wiring game.
- Propshop's Finn helmet uses the same digital files created by the production. The finish was the one thing that seemed a little off in the collection. It looked like an item that had been painted white, colored with blood, and then had a layer of sealant put on top.
- Rey's staff goes for $1,250.
- The cloth and strap are painted and weathered by hand to match the original.
- The rusted rings and distressed leather look like they're pulled straight from the sands of Jakku.
- Each prop is chipped to prove its authenticity.
- The scopes on Chewie's bowcaster don't work — and neither did the scopes on the screen-used item.
- Prop or not, this thing means business
- The Force Awakens lightsaber was designed to look like a Graflex flash.
- It features shorter grips than previous Graflex sabers, and a clamp with a slight copper hue.