DALLAS – A long time ago in a theater probably not too far from your house, Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977, long before the original space opera was rechristened Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. To celebrate that 45th anniversary, Heritage Auctions will offer in its July 22-23 Hollywood & Entertainment Signature® Auction two of the rarest and most coveted items featured in the film that spawned a never-ending franchise: a screen-matched stormtrooper helmet and a screen-used hero E-11 blaster shared by stormtroopers, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
We’ve got a good feeling about this.
“Finding screen-matched props from Star Wars is virtually unheard-of,” said Executive Vice President at Heritage Auctions Joe Maddalena. “I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of offering several items from the movie that changed everything. But there is something particularly magical about the helmet and blaster. These recognizable, revered items were made for a movie that was turned down by studios before 20th Century Fox OK’d a franchise that continues to thrive in the 21st century.”
When George Lucas began shooting Star Wars in the Tunisian desert in March 1976, only six stormtrooper helmets were completed in time for filming. These first helmets were later dubbed “sandtroopers” by fans and ultimately by Lucasfilm. In addition to their custom, desert-worn weathering, these helmets also featured unique hand-painted detailing that differs slightly from all the other stormtrooper helmets finished and used later.
Of these six original sandtrooper helmets, only two are confirmed to exist in private hands. Heritage Auctions is offering one of the two with an estimate of $480,000-$720,000.
In addition to being one of the surviving original first-produced and first-filmed stormtrooper helmets from the first Star Wars movie, this specific helmet can be conclusively identified on-screen across multiple sequences. It was also worn by one of the few stormtroopers who delivered dialog – the very one who speaks to the bartender after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s, let’s say, disarming encounter in the Mos Eisley cantina.
It also screen-matches the one worn by the stormtrooper who talks with the mysterious informant Garindan, then rushes his squad to Docking Bay 94 to stop the Millennium Falcon from fleeing the Mos Eisley Spaceport. His last words were, “Stop that ship! Blast ’em!” immediately before being gunned down by Han Solo.
The rushed, handmade nature of the original six stormtrooper helmets ensured that each would appear unique to an observant viewer when finished. The eyes and teeth were cut out by hand from the vacuum-formed shells, leaving noticeably varied results from helmet to helmet. The glossy white spray paint used on the helmets famously didn’t take very well, leaving each helmet with a less-than-uniform finish.
Another Star Wars centerpiece in the July 22-23 auction is the aforementioned screen-used hero E-11 blaster, which was wielded by both stormtroopers and Han, Luke and Leia during the Mos Eisley Spaceport shootout, the Tatooine scenes, some Death Star sequences – and during the beloved trash-compactor scene. Its estimate is $56,000-$84,000.
Bapty & Co., the legendary British theatrical armorer, based this science-fiction weapon on a British Sterling submachine gun, custom-fabricating and dressing it specifically for the first Star Wars production. The front section of the blaster is an actual Sterling body tube with the central barrel replaced by a simple wooden dowel painted black.
Custom-made from aluminum, the grip and trigger guard are not standard. The rear section of the Sterling was cut away, and a solid aluminum billet cast specifically made by Bapty & Co. for these props was slotted into the rear of the gun. The billet extends from the rear of the Sterling tube past the ejector port and receiver, rendering the piece a non-working weapon.
Also featured in the sale lineup are multiple lightsabers from the Star Wars prequels, among them Obi-Wan Kenobi’s hero lightsaber hilt used by Ewan McGregor in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. If, that is, you’re looking for a more elegant weapon from a more civilized age. The lightsaber hilt is estimated at $40,000-$60,000.
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