In case you haven’t heard, there’s a little film out called Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It’s already the most successful movie in film history and it hasn’t even been released for a month. My family has helped that number, with multiple viewings to our collective credit and more planned.
Despite it’s mainstream commercial appeal, this is a film franchise for Monster Kids. Thankfully, director JJ Abrams returned the franchise to the original trilogy roots with a heavy focus on practical effects.
To celebrate this most-welcome news, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the most expensive props and costumes from the Star Wars movies (yes, even the prequels). The folks over at JustCollecting.com compiled this list of the most expensive Star Wars memorabilia ever sold at auction – from Stormtrooper helmets to slave girl outfits, wookie heads to “weapons for a more civillized age”.
If you’re in the market for a piece of Star Wars movie history, you’re going to need a lot of intergalactic credits…
20) Princess Leia’s ‘slave’ costume
This outfit was worn by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi, when Princess Leia is reduced to a slave girl by the evil Jabba the Hut following her failed attempt to rescue Han Solo. It originated from the collection of Richard Miller, a 30-year veteran with Industrial Light and Magic and the original designer and sculptor of the memorable costume.
The outfit was comprised of screen-worn, production-made rubber elements, along with fabric parts recreated from existing photographs. Described as the most complete and important version of the costume to have survived in private hands, the outfit sold at Profiles in History in October 2015 for $96,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
19) Return of the Jedi Stormtrooper helmet
Return of the Jedi featured more Imperial storm troopers than ever before, particularly for the battle scenes on Endor, so the production team produced around 50 new helmets based on the original molds used for those on The Empire Strikes Back.
The helmet was worn during filing by stunt performer Billy Horrigan, who also worked on movies including the original Indiana Jones trilogy. It remained in his collection for years following the production, and eventually sold at Profiles in History in July 2012 for $98,400 (inc. buyer’s premium).
18) Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper helmet
When it came time to film The Empire Strikes Back, producer Gary Kurtz noticed the original Imperial Stormtrooper costumes from the first film were looking a little worn. Most of the helmets had been reconditioned and repainted, so a new set or around 8-10 helmets was ordered.
This example was one of the new MK II style helmets made during production. Although showing signs of excessive use, and missing its original communicator ear piece on one side, the rare helmet sold for $99,400 (inc. buyer’s premium) during a Prop Store auction in September 2015.
17) Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Cloak
Based on Ralph McQuarrie’s conceptual designs, the last of the Jedi Knights appeared as a nomadic monk rather than a great warrior. Not only is ‘Old Ben’ Kenobi’s cloak indicative of the peaceful nature of the Force, it’s also the only thing left of him after his battle with Darth Vader in Episode IV.
The iconic costume appeared in the first two original films, and then remained in storage in Los Angeles until the Bonhams auction in 2007 when it was sold for a price of $104,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
16) Stormtrooper DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle
This DLT-19 heavy blaster rifle was originally created for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope by the British movie weapons company Bapty & Co. Based on a deactivated World War II-era German MG 34 machine gun, the rifle was one of four seen in a weapons rack in the communications room on the Death Star.
Just two of those rifles included Bakelite stocks as seen on this example, meaning there’s a 50% chance it was the rifle used by Chewbacca himself during Princess Leia’s prison break sequence. Having been restored to its screen-used appearance, this blaster rifle – the only one of its kind ever auctioned – sold at Profiles in History in July 2012 for $104,500 (inc. buyer’s premium).
15) Darth Vader helmet & shoulder armour
Following the end of filming on The Empire Strikes Back, Lucasfilm sent this Darth Vader helmet and shoulder armour set to be replicated by N.J. Farmer and Associates. The company then used the production-made originals to create promotional suits, to be worn at the film’s premier in May 1980.
The helmet then spent almost two decades in storage with the company, before being rediscovered, and sold at a Profiles in History auction in July 2012 for $110,700 (inc. buyer’s premium).
14) X-Wing Fighter production miniature
As the Star Wars effects unit filmed the final climactic attack on the Death Star, they realised they were blowing up miniature X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters faster than they could make them. To save time, they started reusing parts from exploded models to create more cannon fodder for the Imperial guards (sorry Porkins).
This unpainted X-Wing filming miniature was created from a variety of screen-used components which survived the effects team’s pyrotechnics. It was the first X-Wing production model ever offered at auction, and sold at Profiles in History in 2010 for $112,100 (inc. buyer’s premium).
13) Darth Vader’s helmet from The Empire Strikes Back
The second Darth Vader helmet to appear on the list was also used in the production of The Empire Strikes Back. It was created for use during the climactic fight scene between Vader and Luke Skywalker, during which Vader reveals (spoiler alert) he is Luke’s father.
The helmet featured transparent cheeks and a modified grill, which enabled the Olympic fencing champion Bob Anderson a much clearer view whilst performing the fight sequences with Mark Hamill. It was sold at a Profiles in History auction in April 2003 for a price of $115,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
12) Darth Vader’s Lightsaber from The Empire Strikes Back
Here’s one of the most feared weapons in the galaxy – Darth Vader’s lightsaber. This screen-used prop was used by David Prowse during production on The Empire Strikes Back -most notably in the climactic fight scene in Cloud City, in which the Skywalker family reunion goes slightly awry. Luke gains a parent and loses a hand, as Vader slices it off with this very weapon in one of the worst examples of father-son bonding in cinema history.
Originating from the personal collection of producer Gary Kurtz, this rare original trilogy lightsaber sold at Profiles in History in 2005 for $118,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
11) C-3PO’s head
This original C-3PO helmet was worn on-screen by Anthony Daniels in his role as the faithful protocol droid throughout Return of the Jedi – whether it was translating threats for Jabba the Hutt, or being worshipped as a golden god by the Ewoks on Endor.
The helmet originated from the collection of Brian Lofthouse, who worked as prop supervisor on the original Star Wars trilogy and oversaw all elements of Daniels’ complex C-3PO costume. It was sold by Profiles in History in December 2008 for $120,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
10) Chewbacca’s Head
7’ 3” tall actor Peter Mayhew was immediately cast as Chewbacca by simply standing up to greet George Lucas at a London audition. The character was based on Lucas’ dog Indiana, who often sat next to him in his car like a ‘co-pilot’ (and who later gave his name to a certain Dr Jones).
This screen-worn Chewbacca mask, made from yak hair and mohair, was one of five used during filming and is currently the most valuable – having sold for $172,200 (inc. buyer’s premium) at Profiles in History in July 2012. (Image: Profiles in History)
9) Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing fighter model
This screen-used effects model X-Wing appeared throughout The Empire Strikes Back – identifiable as Luke Skywalker’s fighter by the tiny model R2-D2 behind the cockpit. Bearing battle scars and blast marks, the X-Wing was used in numerous multi-element motion control shots during production. It sold at Profiles in History in July 2012 for $221,400 (inc. buyer’s premium).
8) X-Wing fighter model
This exceedingly rare X-Wing fighter model was one of the few fully painted and finished models to emerge from the production of Star Wars in one piece. Most were damaged by pyrotechnic effects designed to simulate explosions during filming of the final assault on the Death Star.
Measuring approx. 22 in. long by 18 in. wide, the model was consigned from the collection of a multiple Academy Award-wining visual effects supervisor and sold at Profiles in History in December 2012 for $225,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
7) Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber
The lightsaber is one of the most iconic screen weapons in movie history – “an elegant weapon for a more civilised age” used by generations of Jedi knights. In 2008, the weapon used by Mark Hamil as Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars film was sold at auction from the personal collection of producer Gary Kurtz. It realized $240,000 (inc. buyer’s premium) at Profiles in History, an auction record for a screen-used lightsaber.
6) Han Solo’s Blaster
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” Han Solo’s weapon of choice may be a little more down-to-earth, but for collectors it was equally as desirable. Screen-used by Harrison Ford in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the blaster was described as “possibly the most exciting science fiction weapon to have been offered for public auction”. It sold at Profiles in History in December 2013 for $246,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
5) Empire Strikes Back Snow Trooper helmet
Although numerous Imperial Stormtrooper helmets have appeared on the market, this unique example is the only Imperial Snowtrooper helmet to ever come to auction. Worn during the battle scenes on the ice planet of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, this helmet remained in original production condition more than 30 years later. It sold at Profiles in History in July 2012 for an exceptional $276,750 (inc. buyer’s premium).
4) Imperial Stormtrooper costume
This set of Imperial Stormtrooper costume components features pieces made for both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. The set was given to a teenage member of an amateur dramatics society in 1993, by another member of the group who had previously worked at Elstree Studios as a pyro-technician. Despite minor damage and restoration, the costume sold for an impressive $319,574 (inc. buyer’s premium) at Christie’s in December 2011.
3) Miniature TIE Fighter model
The second-most valuable prop on the list is another survivor from the first attack on the Death Star – a screen-used model TIE fighter. The fighter is known to fans as the one which collides with Darth Vader in the trench, allowing Luke to take his shot and sending Vader hurtling off into space to fight another day.
As a prop which changed the fate of the galaxy, the TIE fighter model commanded a top price at auction – a then-record $402,500 (inc. buyer’s premium), realized at Profiles in History in 2008
2) Rebel blockade runner ship
This Rebel ‘Blockade Runner’ ship features in the first moments of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, as it comes under fire from a far larger Imperial Star Destroyer – perfectly capturing the central struggle of the story in a single opening shot.
The unique 16-inch miniature was filmed moving along the entire length of the Dykstraflex track (the world’s first digital motion control camera system designed specifically for Star Wars).
It originated from the collection of Grant McCune, Chief Model Maker on the film’s Miniature and Optical Effects Unit who won an Academy Award for his efforts. It was auctioned at Profiles in History in October 2015 for $465,000 (inc. buyer’s premium), making it the most expensive Star Wars movie prop ever sold.
1) George Lucas’ Panavision Camera
The most expensive piece of Star Wars memorabilia ever sold never even appeared in Star Wars – because it was too busy shooting it. This Panavision PSR 35 mm camera was used by George Lucas during principle photography of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1976.
It was later acquired by legendary Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds as part of her famous movie memorabilia collection, and sold at Profiles in History in December 2011 for $625,000 (inc. buyer’s premium).
courtesy of JustCollecting