Dallas: From an early model of the iconic alien mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to a complete Stormtrooper costume from Star Wars, bidding opens on 14 and 15 October on thousands of pieces Hollywood model maker Greg Jein collected over his lifetime, including many he created during his nearly half-century career.
Of particular interest is a 20-inch X-Wing Fighter, believed to be lost, which was used in the climactic battle in the original Star Wars film.
Built by George Lucas’ visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic, the model was used in the final battle, including the famous trench run, of 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope. It is one of just four known “hero models” especially detailed for use in close-up shots; it has articulating wings, working lights and is marked with battle scars.The model, for which bidding will start at $400,000, stood in for the X-Wings known as Red Leader, Red Two and Red Five, the latter flown by hero Luke Skywalker.
Jein’s collection – which also includes an original Stormtrooper costume from A New Hope, an astronaut suit from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Batarang throwing weapons from the 1960s Batman television series, and props from Star Trek – will be auctioned Heritage Auctions in Dallas on 14 and 15 October.
Jein, who had an Oscar and Emmy nominated career making miniature models, was also a collector of costumes, props, scripts, artwork, photographs and models from the shows he loved.
The X-Wing model has been described by Heritage Auctions as “the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market”.
Visual effects historian Gene Kozicki told the Hollywood Reporter that those working in visual effects regarded the model as a “white whale” because no one knew where it was.
“For those of us that grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, 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,” Kozicki said.
Kozicki, along with a group of Jein’s friends and VFX professionals, was helping Jein’s family organise his collection when he discovered the model in a cardboard box. He said those in the room “knew immediately that it was the actual filming model and then the magnitude of the discovery started to set in”.
Kozicki said it was not known how Jein, who did not work on Star Wars, came to possess the model. He speculated it may have come into Jein’s collection during his time working on Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which was made by many visual effects workers who also were working on Star Wars around the same time.