Solo: A Star Wars Story has been a box-office flop, with Alden Ehrenreich, the actor giving the probably impossible job to tackle the role Ford made so famous, failing to fire the imagination.
But bidders were certainly fired up at US auction firm Julien’s on June 23, when that original blaster movie prop sold for a premium-inclusive $550,000 (£415,000) to Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum chain. It was estimated at $300,000-500,000 at the Los Angeles sale.
The auction was held in the 35th anniversary year of The Return of the Jedi’s release (as a Star Wars traditionalist, I find it impossible to call it Episode VI…).
The blaster was offered as part of The James L Schoppe Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Production Archive. This BlasTech DL-44 blaster prop weapon was custom-made specifically for the film, built on a metal working non-firing model version of a German Mauser C96 ‘Broomhandle’ semi-automatic pistol with extra found parts and cast-resin pieces added on.
It is one of three Han Solo blasters made for and used in the film.
Once production was completed, the film’s property master Peter Hancock presented the US art director James L Schoppe with the Han Solo blaster and a few other props.
Schoppe has kept this blaster in his massive memorabilia archive reflecting his career for the past 35 years.
He saved production photographs, blueprints, memorandums, meeting notes and correspondence, script pages, call sheets, maps, illustrations, schematics, press clippings, and other memorabilia, as well as a few other props that were gifted to him from Hancock.
Schoppe served as the art director on Return of the Jedi for multiple locations in the US including the Tatooine scenes with Jabba the Hutt, the Great Pit of Carkoon, the exterior scenes shot for the Moon of Endor in the forests for Ewok village and more. Schoppe was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Art Direction for his work on Return of the Jedi.
More Star Wars props
Blasters must be in high demand among Star Wars collectors: also in this sale a BlasTech EC-17 holdout blaster also known as a ‘scout blaster’ or ‘scout pistol’ prop weapon used by the Imperial Scout Trooper named ‘Biker Scout’, and designed by Schoppe and personally approved by George Lucas, sold for a premium-inclusive $90,625 (£68,000) against an estimate of $20,000-25,000.
For a cheaper option, what about an axe weapon prop used by the cuddly-but-surprisingly-tough Ewoks in multiple scenes during the Battle of Endor? It sold for $11,250 (£8460).