Tag Archives: Battlestar Galactica

R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

Concept art for The Empire Strikes Back by Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie was not a household name, yet the characters and creations he conceptualized are seared into the consciousness of generations of Earthlings.  You don’t have to be a science fiction fan at all to know and love R2-D2, C-3PO, Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett.  I challenge you to find a male between the ages of 8 and 48 who doesn’t want to do the Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon in less than 10 parsecs. It was McQuarrie’s art that brought all of those characters into our lives– and yes, I would argue the Millennium Falcon is a character.  So it is with a heavy heart that I report the news of Ralph McQuarrie’s passing today at the age of 82.

McQuarrie's concept art for the Millennium Falcon.

Without the vision of McQuarrie, it’s impossible to say what the original Star Wars trilogy would have looked like.  Though since he didn’t work on the second trilogy, I think it’s safe to say things probably would have been a whole lot different.  George Lucas usually gets the credit for bringing the Star Wars universe to life, but it was McQuarrie’s blueprints, sketches, concept art, and ideas that made the characters, spaceships and planets look and feel both compelling and believable.

The ship that warped all concepts of what a spaceship had to look like-- Boba Fett's Slave I from Return of the Jedi.

It would have been more than enough to have conceived the Star Wars iconography.  But McQuarrie also designed the mothership for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he worked on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek IV, and Jurassic Park.  And all those ships in the original Battlestar Galactica?  McQuarrie had a hand in that as well.

The Cylons taking on a Viper Mk. II. Concept art for the original Battlestar Galactica.

When I was in the 4th grade, I had this book of Empire Strikes Back concept art.  I wore the spine out of that book tracing pictures of Yoda, the snow speeders and Imperial AT-ATs.  It fired my imagination and undoubtedly played a part in my fondness for faffing about with home made spaceships nowadays.  I don’t know why it’s important, I just know that it is.  So I bid Ralph McQuarrie a heartfelt farewell.  May he be free to roam the cosmos in the coolest spaceships ever designed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, News

Bubblegum Galactica – Make a BSG-inspired Model Spaceship From Gum Containers

One of the truly awesome superpowers you gain when you start kit bashing and scratch building scale models is a limited-scope future vision that allows you to see which everyday household objects would make great spaceships.  It’s like a really useless ESP or an X-Ray vision that doesn’t let you see through blouses.  Seeing as I lack any decent super power, I’m not going to register my complaint with the Justice League just yet.

The key components used in the spacecraft pictured above are Hubba Bubba measuring tape gum dispensers.  My son loves the stuff and probably chewed his way through a few miles of it before I started scratch building.  Not long after my super power was attenuated, I saw a couple of the empty containers in the back seat of my car and visions of the Battlestar Galactica rag tag fleet danced in my head.

The "Mineral Ship" from the new Battlestar Galactica series - aka the "Livery Ship" in the original BSG series.

As a kid, I loved the original Battlestar Galactica.  My favorite parts of every episode were the establishing shots of the “rag tag fleet” all floating in space together.  I remember the original series with the same fondness I afford to The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, The A-Team, and Automan.  Yes, they were cheesy and have not aged well.  Fortunately, the reboot of Battlestar Galactica was one of the best television series produced in the past several years.  I thought it was intelligent, funny, and thought-provoking.  The writing and acting were both excellent.  And the spaceships looked really cool.  As a kid, I especially liked the tri-disc-shaped ship and my nostalgia sensors overloaded when I saw it had been reproduced for the new series.

Activate the jump drive and follow me to the next set of coordinates where instructions on how to turn discarded Hubba Bubba containers into your very own BSG-inspired ship await your discovery.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Let's Make Something Beautiful, scale modeling