Bespin Control Room Playset Photoart
Here you see a large piece of the original photoart used to create the box for the Micro Collection Bespin Control Room playset. Basically, the term photoart applies to photographs that have been modified or enhanced in some way--usually using airbrushed paint effects--so that they may be used as the masters for mass-produced printed images. Today, with most commercial graphics work being done on computers with the help of programs like Adobe Photoshop, I suspect there is little need for hand-created photoart in the toy business. But during the '80s, when Kenner was producing their Star Wars line, it was standard practice.

Here you see two detail shots. In the leftmost image, you can see the background in all it's glory (a larger image is available here: 93k). The Bespin sets featured some of the best packaging artwork in the Micro Collection line. Each incorporate a similar yellow and orange scheme. In particular, this set and the Bespin Gantry playset have a striking primary photo with an airbrushed scene of buildings and a yellow/orange 'sky.'. It's sad that most of this detail is virtually lost in the final packaging, except for the photo on the bottom of the box. The image on the right demonstrates how the artists who worked on these pieces used paint to block out certain background details that might intrude on the playset photos. You can see where they airbrushed over the originally photographed blue background with yellow for the close up "action" images.

Each of these pieces has a cover which looks like the above photo. There are also a few sheets which overlay the art in order to protect it.

Action Photo 1

Action Photo 2

Action Photo 3. Note that this is virtually the same as the front photo, sans the nice background.

One of the most attractive parts of this set is that it includes the individual figure photos which are used in the final packaging to illustrate which figures are included with the set. Therefore, all photos specific to this particular set are here. One interesting thing about this second image is that the photo of the figures is reversed (compare how the figures are posed in the first image). It's unclear whether this was just a mistake or if there was some reason for doing so. In the photo below, you can how one of the overlays has a guide demonstrating how the image would be cropped.

Here's a photo of the production box to give you a feel for how these images were used.

I think there is a risk that these pieces will come across as boring or insignificant to some collectors. But one has to keep in mind that they are the original masters for images that were eventually printed on many thousands of toy packages. A lot of care went into creating them. Neat stuff.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: John Wooten
From the collection of: John Wooten
Country:United States
Film:Empire Strikes Back
Category:Prototypes / Micro Collection


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