Original Landspeeder Conceptual Model: You see here what is very likely the original model for Kenner's landspeeder toy. It appears to have been built using vacu-formed plastic, styrene and various parts culled from model kits. In fact, I once spoke with the Kenner employee who built this prototype, and he related to me how he used un-altered parts from a 747 jet model to construct certain portions of it. I think you can see from this picture that the combination tail fin and engine of this piece is derived from the similar structure found on large jets.
You've no doubt already noticed that the color-scheme is quite a bit different from that used on the production toy. In fact, its colors are a good deal closer to the washed-out tones found on the landspeeder in the film. Additionally, those reddish bands painted over the body are not found on the production toy, even though they're accurate to the film prop. You'll also notice several other differences, one of the most notable of which is the small handle mounted on the front end, which, I assume, was meant to allow one to easily pull open the engine hatch. On the production toy, of course, this was replaced with a button, which caused the hatch to pop open when pressed.
Models such as these represent some of the earliest three-dimensional work done on a toy, and several other Kenner conceptual models can be found on the Archive. This piece was created as Kenner was in a mad rush to get their Star Wars line to market in mid-1977. It was worked on simultaneously with the X-Wing and TIE Fighter models, the other two of the first trio of Star Wars vehicles to be released, but this landspeeder was the first to be completed. Following this largely-conceptual phase of development, the design would be refined further, and eventually patterns would be produced, from which the final production molds would be cut.
This image comes from the mail-order catalog of a retail store; the store probably requested promotional material before Kenner had photographs of their final toys on hand, and thus the conceptual photos had to suffice. This type of thing was actually quite common for Kenner early-on in their association with Star Wars, conceptual models having been used on everything from blister cards to product catalogs to--a place where their appearance is entirely understandable--internal Kenner spec sheets. If this model, as well as its companion X-Wing and TIE Fighter models, appears vaguely familiar to you, it might be because the very photos of them that you see here on the Archive were used as the basis for the artwork of these toys that was used on the 12-Back blister card. Although the similarity of the models to the artwork is more noticeable in the case of the TIE and X-Wing, I think you can see that the creator of the landspeeder painting took this photograph of the conceptual model and simply updated it with some later design elements.
Description: Ron Salvatore