Just four “hero” X-Wings were created by ILM to film Star Wars’ climactic battle over Yavin IV against the Death Star—primary models detailed enough to be used for close-up shots and major action sequences. Now one of them, believed to have been missing for over 40 years, has been found—and is going up for auction.
The collection of Oscar-nominated modelmaker Greg Jein is set to go under the hammer next month through Heritage Auctions. One of the major highlights of the collection—which includes everything from an original phaser pistol from Star Trek’s pilot, “The Cage,” to one of Adam West’s screen-used Batman Batarang props—is none other than the X-Wing hero model used in Star Wars: A New Hope for Red Leader. Acting as the starfighter flown by Garvin Dreis in the Battle of Yavin, the 1:24 scale model for Red One—identified as such by the singular red stripes at the back of its two top s-foils—includes lights for the X-Wing’s proton torpedo launchers and its four wing-mounted blaster cannons, and servo-controlled s-foils that can lock into flight and attack positions.
This model has not been displayed or modified since it left ILM,” VFX historian Gene Kozicki, who was one of the people to discover the model with Jein’s family as the collection was being curated for auction, said to the Hollywood Reporter of the find. “For those of us that grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, and those of us that work in visual effects, this model is as significant a find as the ruby red slippers or the Maltese Falcon.”
The Red One X-Wing, among other hero models, was believed to have gone missing during ILM’s transition from the San Fernando Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978, a year after the release of Star Wars changed moviemaking—and the visual effects industry—forever. “I knew something was probably in the box, so I started to carefully scoop out the packaging peanuts when the nose of the X-wing showed itself,” Kozicki said of finding. “The four of us knew immediately that it was the actual filming model and then the magnitude of the discovery started to set in.”
ILM created at least eight X-Wing models of various types—the four “hero” models for closeup work, and then simpler “pyro” models designed specifically to be blown up in FX shots—for A New Hope. While naturally the pyro models were largely destroyed in the process of filming, before the re-discovery of Red One only one other hero model is known to have remained intact: Red Three, the starfighter assigned to Biggs Darklighter in the film. To find another after the best part of half a century is a remarkable moment in Star Wars and visual effects history.
Jein’s personal collection will be auctioned in Dallas, Texas between October 14 and 15—with bids on Red One starting at a whopping $400,000.
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