Wooden Pattern for the Death Star Playset Gun
Much of the original artwork for the vintage Kenner toys was "patterned" from hard woods such as cherry or mahagony. Ideal for non-organic shapes, such as the hard lines and mechanical details of droids, weapons and vehicles, this process was equivalent to the sculpting done in wax and acetate for most of the figures in the 33/4", 12" and Micro Collection lines. Carved in several different pieces, both by machine and by hand, such patterns also incorporated numerous outside details, which might themselves be carved from another material or hand-cast from a rubber mold. Such patterns were often created at twice their intended production scale in order to allow for a greater degree of detail in the final production molds. Unfortunately, the intricate details of most patterns were destroyed during the creation of production tooling, having been torn off or distorted during the taking of negative epoxy casts, which would then be used in the final pantographing process.

This pattern for the large gun from the Death Star playset is a good example of the high level of detail a skilled craftsman can create in wood using a variety of machining methods. As you can see from this second photo, the pattern was built in two separate pieces, the flat center-line of each half being flush with the wood base behind it. Creating it in such pieces would have facilitated the creation of the pattern, as well as its eventual translation by a pantograph machine into two halves of a steel production mold.

This is also a great picture because it allows you to see a bit of the environment in which this work was done--the old Kenner pattern shop. And yes, that is indeed a design rendering of the gun that you see hung behind the pattern, its components being brightly colored for the purpose of differentiation.

These incredible photos were uncovered thanks to the diligence of an anonymous collector, who's done us all a service by bringing these to light.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Anonymous
From the collection of: Anonymous
Country:United States
Film:A New Hope
Category:Prototypes / Product Artwork


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