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Tuesday
Oct042011

The Sandcrawler

I'm very fond of the Jawa Sandcrawler. When this thing first appeared in front of my three-year old mind I was gobsmacked. I've always enjoyed seeing massive vehicles in sci-fi and the impression this thing made on me took seven years for me to experience again (when I first saw the ATAT). The Sandcrawler was there first and it's always going to have a special place in my heart.

However, there was originally a very different design for the Sandcrawler. It was designed by Colin Cantwell and an initial model exists in the Lucasfilm archives.

It was based on a never-used NASA design for one of their Lunar Rovers and the design brief was handed over to Ralph McQuarrie for a re-design. Good call George.

As you can see, the new concept was pretty much there right off the bat as Ralph McQuarrie steps in and smashes it right out the park and the design didn't change much from his original sketches. It's hard to understate how significant Ralph has been to science-fiction in general and if you are interested in his work I'd strongly recommend having a look on Amazon and eBay and seeing what gems of his might be available. Much of his work is rare and out-of-print but, like much of life, if you want the treasure, you have to dig.

The genuis team at ILM made the sandcrawler as a self-contained remote control model with a couple of motorbike batteries as power. Apparently it was a bit over-engineered and really tough; you could ride around on it. I always enjoy these kind of behind-the-scenes images of things being built and filmed, so here's a bit of Sandcrawler porn.

I was always fascinated by this vehicle and wanted to know what was going on inside there. it looked like a scary place that probably smelt quite badly but nevertheless I was delighted when Dorling Kindersley put out their Star Wars cross-sections books and I finally got to pore over this.

The DK Star Wars cross-section books are well worth a look if you've not seen them before. As a kid I was fascinated by cross-sections and I can remember my very first drawings were me making up cross-sections of big space-ships and drawing on the back of old naval charts in a fountain pen my Mum gave me. I must have been two or three years old and I can remember putting in loads of tiny details of all the internal workings. I'd love to see what they looked like now - they must have been utter bullshit but in my mind they were just like this illustration. I just read that back and it sounds weird. the naval charts were from my Dad - he was an engineer in the merchant navy and he used to bring the charts back for me to draw on the back of as they were made of nice, thick A0 cartridge paper. So it's not weird really. Anyway, I've always been fascinated with cut-aways and exploded diagrams and I only wish I could have had these books when I was tiny because I would have treasured them.

I remember this guy scaring me a bit. I always thought he was a bit of a prick.

I know the last three Star Wars films took a bit of a knocking when they were released but I did get a nice little tickle when I saw this shot. I thought the Crawlers looked lovely here.

The shape of this vehicle is so iconic that when Lucasfilm built their new offices in Singapore, instead of going for the obvious route and building a Death Star, they did this:

Check out this incredible 10,000 piece Lego Sandcrawler built by Marshal Banana. Took him nine months. How cool is this? On a scale of one to ten I'd give it fifty. Where was this thing when I was a kid? What am I on about, it would have cost two thousand quid anyway. I still love you Lego.

Reader Comments (2)

Great site. I too have always loved the sand crawler, I had wondered where they had come in the films and now I know, there ex mining equipment. Like I said great site good pictures..

December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEd Harris

Very good read! Was a joy to experience the Sandcrawler all over again. Thanks to you I will buy me the Cross Sections book ;-)

Have a good time and MTFBWY!

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

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