|Concept Model for Kenner Han Solo Laser Pistol|
|The Han Solo Laser Pistol, or simply the Laser Pistol as it later came to be called, may be the most recognizable role-play toy released by Kenner in conjunction with the Star Wars license. It was issued in Star Wars-, Empire Strikes Back-, and Return of the Jedi-branded versions, meaning it spent six or seven years on store shelves before being put out to pasture.
What you see here is the original model for the toy. It was created by hand in 1977 in order help Kenner's designers, engineers, and craftsmen conceptualize the product.
When creating the prop for Han Solo's iconic gun, the folks at Lucasfilm simply modified an existing weapon -- a pistol manufactured by the Mauser firm of Germany. The folks at Kenner did something similar: they acquired a plastic Mauser toy and made it resemble the pistol used by Han Solo in Star Wars.
The bulk of the model is simply that off-the-shelf toy pistol painted dark blue. The custom-made parts are the flash suppresser, the sight, and the distinctive little knobs attached to each side of the item's main body. Quite a bit of work went into the former two components; they look to have been machined to specifications.
Here you see the model beside an unstickered production-quality example (possibly an engineering pilot). I won't point out the many ways in which they differ. But there is one difference that's not so apparent from this photo: the sight on the model sits far lower than does that of the production toy. Also note that that the final product is black rather than blue.
One-off models of this kind can be hard to authenticate. Their handmade nature makes counterfeiting a possibility, and the behind-the-scenes role they play in the developmental process often leaves scant photographic evidence. Fortunately, this model was bought directly from one of the men who made it. Even better, it shows up in a published photograph. That shot you see above is from a 1978 catalog showcasing the wares of the Toltoys company of Australia. I believe this photo shows the very model showcased in this entry. If you look closely you'll see that the model in the photograph has a small chip in the paint on the leftmost corner of the magazine housing. A similar chip is visible on the model as it exists today.
Concept models of any kind are special things, but it's especially nice to see one dating from the earliest days of Kenner's work on the Star Wars line.
I've searched high and low for the Mauser toy on which this model was based. I've found some that are very similar but none that are exactly right. If you have any ideas or leads, please drop me a line. I believe the toy is white in color.
|Description by:||Ron Salvatore|
|From the collection of:||Ron Salvatore|
|Film:||A New Hope|
|Category:||Prototypes / Product Concepts|