The Galactic Blacksmiths

In the real world, Masks, Helmets & Weapons are just generic words, relatively throwaway in the meaning, but throw those words into the context of Star Wars and all of that changes. They suddenly mean the light and dark side, tyrannical Empires, new hopes. They mean invention and creativity, They mean boundless possibilities of our imagination whether you’re young or old.

That lightsaber… It belongs to me! — to borrow a Kylo Ren phrase — Now thanks to the Galactic Blacksmiths, Propshop you can have your own ‘EXACT’ replica. Propshop are a full-service digital and physical asset production company, with expertise in everything from 3D modeling to scanning to physical prop creation. This creative company put those different disciplines to brilliant use in the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with many of its props and costumes becoming almost instantly iconic. Chewbacca’s bowcaster, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber hilt, Rey’s staff. They were all made by Propshop, who took Industrial Light & Magic’s designs and brought them into the real world. It all started, first, thanks to Propshop’s mastery of these disciplines, but also due to that old business adage: location, location, location. Propshop is actually located at Pinewood Studios in London, where The Force Awakens was shot.

Although these are not the props for someone with a small budget, the full 8 props will set you back $15,000.00 and Vader’s helmet alone costing $3,500.00… check out these beautiful super hi-res photo’s below of the full collection available from Star Wars Collectables.

Kylo Ren’s Force Awakens Lightsabre

Darth Vader’s Force Awakens Helmet

Kylo Ren’s Force Awakens Helmet

Chewbacca’s Bowcaster

Rey’s Force Awakens Staff

Finn’s Force Awakens Stormtrooper Helmet

Poe Dameron’s Force Awakens Helmet

Rey and Luke Skywalker’s Lightsabre

What makes this collection even more special is the detail they’ve gone down to with the packaging.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Propshop delivery crates
Star Wars The Force Awakens Propshop delivery crates

Check out the article from about these amazing replica’s and how they was created.

“I remember the call coming through from the [The Force Awakens] production manager, Simon Emanuel, that [Lucasfilm president] Kathy Kennedy was coming to visit Pinewood,” Propshop founder James Enright tells “At the time, we had lots of exciting visual stuff to show. We had our scanning studio and also our 3D printing studio, and because they’re on-site as a permanent fixture, when Kathy did the visit directly for Star Wars, we were lucky enough that she came into our workshops and had a look around. [Laughs] The location finally paid off! So that’s really how we met. She saw immediately how we could be useful on all fronts.”

There’s a reason that The Force Awakens felt both familiar and fresh, and not just in story. Behind the scenes, it combined old techniques with the new. It embraced both the past and the latest advances in filmmaking technology. So, you have ILM’s dazzling CG shots, like an X-wing squadron speeding above water, and the Falcon’s exhilarating first liftoff in years. But you also have a physically built, downed TIE fighter burning in the desert. You have Kylo Ren’s mask opposite Poe Dameron’s face. Countless extras in actual stormtrooper gear. And — this is important — many of these practical elements were made with this old-meets-new ethos in mind. Propshop was uniquely suited for such a task, and used modern tools like 3D sculpting to push the boundaries of in-camera props. “Although we are using lots of technology, it’s very important that we embrace the Star Wars legacy,” Enright says. “The original Star Wars movies were practical.” Propshop would honor this legacy.

“When we got the chance to come on board,” Enright continues, “we were certainly approaching things using advanced digital manufacturing to create props and set-dressing pieces. But it was all hand-finished and it was all very much trying to recreate the physicality of the [original] Star Wars movies.” Without the use of today’s digital technology, some props and set dressing in The Force Awakens might have been impossible, or worse, looked inaccurate. “A good example of it is the Millennium Falcon and, especially, the cockpit, because there were absolutely no drawings available for that,” Enright says. “We were just using references that we could find from anywhere.” Mark Harris, from the film’s art department, would deliver technical drawings of the Falcon’s cockpit to help guide this reconstruction. But much of the original cockpit’s dress and bric-a-brac — greeblies, purchased at a store in the UK — were no longer in production. Thus, it required painstaking reproduction, and Propshop employed all its tricks to pull it off. “We got the film, stopped it frame by frame, and scoured them off the screen,” Enright says. “We digitally molded them, 3D printed them, and then finished them by hand. When the fans saw that, they [mistakenly] thought the Falcon had been stored away all those years. We got it right, I think.”

It’s hard to disagree, considering how warmly fans embraced not just the Falcon, but all the various props of the film. (How many of your kids or your friends’ kids (or just you) are running around in Kylo Ren masks?) One especially memorable prop, of course, is Darth Vader’s hauntingly melted helmet, seemingly pulled from the ashes of his Endor funeral pyre. It’s a shocking thing to behold — an image of pain and the tragedy of Vader. And Propshop was determined to get it right, its process a testament to how digital technology can aid the practical. “We got to the point where [artist Luke Fisher] was sculpting it in clay,” Enright says, “and it was laying on its back, and that’s why it’s got a flat back. Luke worked and worked and worked on it to the point where J.J. [Abrams] was happy with it and signed off, and then it was scanned. We had to do multiple, multiple scans of it.” The multiple scans were required because, being so asymmetrical, it was essential to capture every possible angle as data. But it also opened up possibilities.

“At the time, it was a solid lump of clay,” Enright says. “It wasn’t hollow, obviously. Once we got the scan, we then put it into the computer, gave it thickness, worked back into it, and hollowed it out. That’s where you get the interior. Then we 3D printed it, and gave it back to the sculptor, and then the sculptor worked again on it. Then we re-scanned it again [Laughs], and then produced a final output.” That output was then hand-painted, finally ready for Kylo Ren’s private quarters on set. Thanks to Propshop’s methodology, however, Kylo Ren won’t be the only one to own Vader’s helmet.

Propshop, in collaboration with Lucasfilm, is now making official prop replicas of its work from The Force Awakens available to collectors in a new line called Star Wars Collectibles: Ultimate Studio Edition. Wave one is a treasure trove of memorable gear from the film: FN-2187 (i.e., Finn) Stormtrooper Helmet (with blood streaks!), Kylo Ren Helmet, Poe Dameron X-wing Helmet, Darth Vader Helmet (Melted), Rey Staff, Chewbacca Bowcaster, Kylo Ren Lightsaber Hilt, and Rey Lightsaber Hilt. Propshop is making them the same exact way it made the original props: 3D prints of the final output made for the film, all hand-painted by the original prop makers. There’s never been a program like it. “When you’re making the real movie props, you’re concerned about the design and the communication of that,” says Enright. “The link between a prop replica for me and the real item is detail. These prop replicas are the real thing. You could put the real thing next to it, and you could touch it and you could feel it and you would not know [which was the replica]. That’s because we, basically, have done it the same way.”

Take Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. It’s a blackened, patchwork weapon that exudes untamed power. It’s filled with details and personality. “I think Kylo Ren’s saber hilt was also an achievement,” Enright says, “because it’s very difficult when you get given a brief to make a lightsaber that’s got to be different but also match the character. And that’s really where that started from. It was character driven, that prop. So it feels incomplete, like the character, and that was what the starting position was, rather than trying to come up with something that was cool.” The replica is no different from the film-used version, and conveys that sense of character and history. “You’ll experience it, and you’ll be shocked,” Enright says of picking up the replica. “If you actually look through into where the engines are — through the ‘scar,’ we call it, where it’s burnt away and you can see inside it — you’ll see the detail in there, and also the way it’s painted. It’s grimy, there’s soot in there. It’s heavily textured. And it’s cold. It’s really, really cold, because it’s metal and there’s copper in there. It’s got a real sense of use. The weight of it, the coldness of it, the way it’s finished. You believe it. You believe it’s been somewhere.”

It takes Propshop about two weeks, start to finish, to make one prop replica. That includes 3D printing, hand-painting, and chip insertion (a sort of 21st century certificate of authenticity). It’s then placed next to what Enright calls “a golden sample” — a perfect version that the team knows inside and out — and inspected to make sure that it matches. The replica is then hand-boxed, which is also inspected, and then it’s off to the fan.

The melted Vader helmet replica, which seems like it would be particularly hard to reproduce, is also 100 percent accurate. “The file we’ve got now, the file we’re creating prop replicas from, is the file that the original was printed from,” Enright explains. “So there’s absolutely no difference to that. There’s one file. There’s no molding, there’s no loss of authenticity there. It’s the real thing.” Making it real means remaking the actual artifact — not what we saw on-film, which was lit to create a certain mood and effect. “We’ve gone for accuracy of what it’s really like,” Enright says, “because I think that’s what’s quite cool about it. We haven’t darkened it and painted it. It’s not a screen version of it. It’s a real version of it.”

For fans of movie history and movie memorabilia, Propshop’s replicas are a new frontier. They represent a new kind of authenticity, something especially important for the masks, helmets, and weapons of a galaxy far, far away. “What’s exciting about this is that it is from the studio,” Enright says. “Our workshop is literally next door to the stage that they’re shooting Star Wars. It’s been made in the same place and touched by the same hands that actually do it.” Propshop, through both replicas and original movie props, is leaving a mark on Star Wars history — and loving it.

A New Hope is a reference point, especially from a prop maker’s point of view and a model maker’s point of view, because that’s what we do,” Enright says. “It was always a reference point, because the props in that movie are classic. They are more than iconic, really. To be reproducing them and also forwarding that legacy, then, obviously, it’s become a big responsibility. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun, quite frankly.”

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