This 20 inch 1:24 scale filming X-Wing model was built by the team at Industrial Light & Magic for use in the original Star Wars film, they would layer win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
After filming wrapped this X-Wing model, which was used for the parts of Red Leader, Red Two (Wedge), and Red Five (Luke Skywalker), disappeared from ILM during a move to a new facility. It was recently uncovered in a box in a garage belonging to Greg Jein, a celebrated visual effects artist. It’s now being offered for sale by Heritage Auctions, with bids starting at $400,000 USD.
Discovering The Long-Lost Star Wars X-Wing
Jein passed away last year, and left behind a remarkable collection of models and memorabilia from the many films he worked on across his decades-long career. His collection wasn’t placed on show, rather it remained in storage in a number of garages and storage units, hidden away from the public eye until very recently.
Jein’s cousin, Jerry Chang, was interviewed by the New York Times about the discoveries they made while working their way through the collection: “It was like a treasure hunt because Greg knew where things were, but it was not organized, as you moved a stack of books away, you’d go, ‘Oh my God, I recognize that!’”
Last autumn, Jerry met with four friends to go through one of the garages, there were cardboard boxes piled high and it was to be an all day job. As they went through the boxes, one felt significantly heavier than the others.
As they opened the box and carefully moved the packing peanuts out of the way the nose of the X-Wing emerged.
Jerry himself is not particularly well-versed in Star Wars history, but the men who were helping him certainly are: “I saw four guys in their 50s jumping up and down, and they had their phones out and they were taking pictures from every angle. They said, ‘Do you know where this came from?’ And I said, ‘No idea.’”
Above Video: This is the original 1977 trailer for Star Wars: A New Hope. This X-Wing model features, as do a number of the other intricate models that were made for the film.
The X-Wing model they had discovered was one of the very early “HERO” X-Wings, of which just four were made for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). A number of other X-Wings models were made with far less detailing, these were called “PYRO” models as they were specifically designed from the outset to be blown up on camera.
This model has been matched to a number of scenes the film as each X-Wing had its own unique battle-distressing applied before filming began, including wear, blast marks, and heat-scorching around exhaust nozzles.
It’s believed that it was likely used in these scenes:
- It was likely in shot where the four X-wing’s lock S-foils into attack position (this shot was replaced in the Special Edition of the film with CGI).
- When Red Leader says he’s going to try and draw their fire, we see four X-wings beginning to roll and dive. Three of those X-wings (and likely the fourth) are Red Leader. The Dykstraflex allowed for the easy offset of the ships to create a formation of X-wings using a single model.
- Early on in the space battle, Wedge strafes the surface and shots of this X-wing bookends his closeup.
- It flies overhead after Luke pulls out of his strafing run and reports that he “got a little cooked” but is still OK.
- When Luke is trying to evade a pursuing TIE fighter, it is this ship, not Red Five, that was filmed (Red Five was filmed for the shot where the TIE Fighter’s laser bolt hits Luke’s engine, but not the earlier, evading shot).
- It can be seen full frame, flying in formation with Red Five during Red Leader’s trench run (the presence of the Red Five miniature in this shot is a continuity error as Luke was ordered to stay out of range and get ready for his own attack run).
- After Luke, Wedge, and Biggs have completed their dive into the trench, it can be seen in a shot where the camera tilts up as Red One and Red Two zoom down the trench, away from camera (this is another continuity error since Red Leader was destroyed moments earlier).
Who Was Greg Jein?
Below biographical information courtesy of Heritage Auctions.
Greg Jein was a legendary visual effects artist earning multiple Academy and Emmy nominations for his work as a model maker and landscape miniatures maker. Among his extensive professional achievements, Greg was the chief model maker and built the awe-inspiring alien mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, earning him his first Academy nomination for Best Visual Effects.
A lifelong fan of Star Trek, Greg worked on and built numerous studio filming miniatures for the Star Trek franchise. Beyond his professional career, for over 60 years, Greg held a passion for collecting original costumes, props, scripts, artwork and practically anything related to film and television production, with an emphasis on science fiction, superheroes, warplanes and submarines.
This model is now being offered for sale in an online public auction by Heritage Auctions, the sale closes on the weekend of the 14th of October and the starting bid is $400,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions
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