The Art of Perfection Is Imperfection
Perfect isn’t always perfect!
I’m sure you’ve had this happen before: a glossy, spotless new replica gets released of one of your favorite movie props. It’s got all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for and the smooth, consistent finish catches the light just so. So why does it still look so...wrong?
It’s missing the grit that made it so special. Somewhere along the way, the replicators buffed out all of the tiny faults and nuances of the original in favor of idealization. Part of our uniqueness as a costume/prop replica company is that it's the faults we seek to make reality. You’ve seen it in our past goods and Boba Fett's BlasTech EE-3 Carbine Blaster as seen in Return of the Jedi is no different. We believe, it’s the asymmetries and flaws that made it “feel real” in the original films, so why not include them in the kit.
Prop making in the film industry wasn’t always what it is today. Back in the time of these great films, budgets were smaller and pieces were routinely thrown away at the end of shooting once they had fulfilled their purpose. Props were a means to achieve an end on screen and little more.
Furthermore, film quality was lower than today’s blistering 4k and beyond, so things didn’t have to be nearly as pristine to look just fine on screen. This often resulted in a lot of tiny details, bumps and bruises that, all together, created the final look that we all know and love so well. With idealization, those details are lost.
We toyed with the idea of modeling the EE-3 from scratch, using measurements from a real Webley flare gun, but that had been done previously and we knew the original prop had a lot of character that isn’t easily captured in a traditional, scratch-built model. We decided the best way to do it justice was to use a 3D scan of the original prop, warts and all.
As is so often the case, we turned to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art which retains the hero Return of the Jedi blaster (one of many used on set) at Skywalker Ranch. Our research team discovered that the Return of the Jedi EE-3 actually started out as a casting of the original Empire Strikes Back version. That prop was a real flare gun and had been stripped of its greebles and molded. (Note: the original Empire Strikes Back blaster is no longer available.)
For Boba Fett's appearance in Return of the Jedi the EE-3 was remade with several new greebles and newly designed barrel added to the base casting. We meticulously scanned, photographed and studied the Hero prop to bring you a replica which captures the unique characteristics of this legendary blaster's family tree.
Here are the most interesting nuances we retained for our prop.
Like many props of the era, the EE-3 is comprised of several found parts. Without the aid of 3D printing and other modern techniques, the surefire way to make something look cool was to find as many neat odds and ends out in the wild as possible and cobble them together. This technique also helps ground the prop in reality—because it’s made of tangible parts that the viewer subconsciously recognizes, you’re more likely to accept the fantasy as true to life.
Without giving too much away, (leaving some easter eggs for you to find) there is a set of parts found on the EE-3 that were originally nothing more than plumbing components. Do you know what pieces these are…?
Here’s a hint, we left its maker's marks on it.
You may have thought to yourself that the fins surrounding the barrel of the blaster look awfully familiar. You would be right! The same style is used on both the E-11 blaster and Luke’s lightsaber… but why stop there? We then focused on the irregular spacing of the fins. Believe it or not, the negative space created in the spacing is just as telling as their placement. Instead of mathematically plotting an even distance between fins, we used the photos taken and 3D scans and captured the irregularities with purpose. We want the wonkiness and admittedly crave it.
All the Etchings
Sometimes we run across things that even surprise us, on site. While scanning the original prop we ran across a serial number left stamped into the metal of one of the components, untouched. It wasn’t in Aurebesh, so didn’t seem to belong with the continuity of the prop. To us though, these are “gems” of knowledge that was not known prior to scan. Thus, we chose to reproduce it exactly as it was found on the part, numbers and shapes. Just as we were surprised to find it on the original piece, it was our way of sharing the experience the real prop with you.
Bringing it All Together
In our eyes, imperfect can be beautiful. With the current technology and opportunities given to us, we don’t have to settle for idealized and best guesses. When given a physical artifact, we can unapologetically tackle the level of detail never before possible. We know that you, like us, find that the devil is often in the details and that the bumps and bruises of a piece of history are sometimes what makes it so worth loving. By recreating wonkiness, asymmetries and other un-intended artifacts on the original pieces, we attempt to make these as real for you as it was for us.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this insight into some (but not all!) of the exciting little details to be found in our new kit. We’re excited about this one! She was a long time coming and we couldn’t be more proud of the result.
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