Where Wyman Meets Imagination

Since opening in October of 2005, this traveling exhibit has been all over the United States and it finally made its way to one of the biggest tourist locations in the world - Orlando, Florida. I just happen to live 1.5 hours away, so very early on a Sunday morning, I made my way over to check it out. The Orlando Science Center would host the hugely popular exhibit from October 13th, 2012 through April 7th, 2013, which is what this story is based on. We have previously brought you coverage of the exhibit from both Maine and Ohio, but never with this much detail as we now present over 450 photos of incredible Star Wars magic for our readers. This gallery was shot in one hour and ten minutes during an uninterrupted and unobstructed viewing.

What exactly is the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition? Here is the introduction as it appears in the official press release:

The Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Lucasfilm Ltd. has created a national traveling exhibition on science and technology themes depicted in the Star Wars movies. The exhibit builds upon the popular attraction of the Star Wars films, to engage visitors in an exploration of current day science and technological developments that could some day turn fictions into reality.

Most science center exhibits built around motion picture themes have focused on the science, technology, and art of making the films. This exhibit focuses on the future technologies depicted in the movies, the real science behind them, and current research that may someday lead to real-life versions of the technologies in the films.

The exhibit is organized around technological challenges depicted in the Star Wars movies. Visitors can examine solutions to those challenges as presented in the Star Wars Universe, using models, movie clips, and immersive experiences. Hands-on interactive exhibits allow visitors to explore scientific phenomena of the real world that may lead to real-life technological solutions to the challenge posed. Throughout the exhibit visitors can engage in two engineering design activities that involve the visitor in the engineering design process through designing, building, and testing a component connected with each challenge. Graphics, artifacts, and interactive video components will bring visitors up to date on the latest real-life research efforts related to each specific technological challenge.

Technological literacy standards supported by this exhibit include: Developing an understanding of the relationship between technology and science, the effects of technology on the environment, and aspects of transportation, construction, and robotics; and practicing abilities to apply the design process and to assess the impacts of products and systems.


STAR WARS: WHERE SCIENCE MEETS IMAGINATION


Upon my arrival to the Orlando Science Center, the Star Wars themes actually started in the long sky bridge from the parking garage leading right into the main lobby as banners with Star Wars questions and answers are hung to get you into the proper mood prior to entering.


At the end of the sky bridge, I arrived in the main lobby of the Science Center which, at the time I shot the exhibit, was close to Christmas, hence the Christmas trees that can be seen in certain photos.



THE EXHIBIT:

Entering the exhibit hall, I came into a dark room with black curtains all around. As I poked my head through the first curtain, my eyes were treated to the giant Millennium Falcon model along with a video featuring Star Wars Sound Editor Ben Burtt. The size of the ship was astounding and I easily could have spent a half hour staring at it from different angles.


Right next to the Falcon was the X-wing model which was also extremely large compared to the studio scale model that eFX Collectibles based their high-end replica on.


Next in line was a case featuring the Tantive IV Rebel Blockade Runner, the Rebel Alliance Y-Wing Starfighter, a tiny version of the Millennium Falcon and the Naboo Royal Starship.


Tantive IV Rebel Blockade Runner Model
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Princess Leia's ship was one of the largest models built for Episode IV: A New Hope. Compare it to the Star Destroyer in the adjacent case and you'll see that it's actually larger than the ship that chases it in the opening scene of the movie.




Rebel Alliance Y-wing Starfighter Model
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI

The Y-wing is a perfect example of George Lucas' "used universe" design philosophy for Star Wars. Like the real world, some things in the Star Wars universe are old, repaired, and modified. The careful painting of rust and age makes this Y-wing look like it has lived a long, hard life.




Millennium Falcon Model
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

This tiny version of the Millennium Falcon was created for a single scene where the Falcon hitches a ride on the backside of an unsuspecting Star Destroyer.




Naboo Royal Starship Model
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

For The Phantom Menace, the designers' challenge was to make the spacecraft look more old-fashioned and better maintained than the ships in Episodes IV-VI. The aerodynamic lines and the chrome of Queen Amidala's starship are inspired by 1950's automobile hood ornaments.


The first non-Star Wars case features spacecraft and ideas from NASA and other aviation institutions. It's always interesting to see how close actual spacecrafts are to the fictional ships we see in the films.


One of the coolest pieces on display is Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder. This is set on a desert looking platform with a video discussing different special effects used in the film. Additionally, the scaled Landspeeder model used for far away shots is also displayed.


Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder Prop
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Like most of the technology in Luke Skywalker's life, his old T-34 Landspeeder has seen better days. Despite its dents and dings, Luke keeps it running, even though there are newer models. Just like here on earth, people in remote places often make do with technologies that aren't state of the art.




Luke Skywalker's Landspeeder Model
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

For distant shots of Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids driving to Mos Eisley, model makers created a small Landspeeder, using action figure dolls for the actors. It may look crude close up, but seen from a distance, it is indistinguishable from the real thing.



The next case I came to was filled with both Prequel and Original Trilogy space vehicles. This included a Star Destroyer, the Invisible Hand Trade Federation Cruiser, General Grievous' Starfighter and the classic Imperial TIE Fighter. Unlike the X-wing, this TIE Fighter is the exact size that eFX Collectibles replicated when making their studio scale model which made me appreciate my own even more!



Devastator Imperial Star Destroyer Model
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI

The filmmakers made Darth Vader's flagship seem enormous by detailing the surface very finely, and by running the camera very close past it, so it would seem to fill the screen. For Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, a new version was built that is twice the size of this model.




Invisible Hand Trade Federation Cruiser Model
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Grievous' ship was designed to emphasize places central to the plot, like the glassed-in bridge and towering observation deck. It's not very practical, but it helps the audience know where they are during a fast-paced action sequence.




General Grievous' Starfighter Model
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Computer graphics have advanced to a point that building scale models of spacecrafts is largely a thing of the past. Lucasfilm still uses physical concept models while designs are being finalized. It's still easier to gather around a real model and discuss it than to huddle around a computer monitor.



Imperial TIE Fighter Model
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI

The Twin Ion Engine (TIE) fighter was originally designed to be blue, but the blue screen technology couldn't cope with a blue ship, so it was painted grey. As the technology improved through Episodes V and VI, the TIE Fighters got a bit bluer.



Continuing on, I came to the Trade Federation Armored Assault Tank. This is quite an impressive piece, especially the underside and the weathering. It's quite large and literally looks like it was just involved in the Battle of Naboo.


Trade Federation Armored Assault Tank (AAT) Model
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace


Next in line was another non-Star Wars case with three real-world aircraft models.


One of the fun activities that fans can attempt is the Air Chair which allows you to ride on a cushion of air while trying to steer in your desired direction. It lasts for about thirty seconds.


Fresh off my air ride, I hopped out of the chair and walked over to the next case which featured Sebulba's Podracer model and a small Sebluba maquette.


Sebulba's Podracer Model
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The design features of Sebulba's Podracer, from its garish paint scheme, to its enormous engines, and distinct sound, all are meant to make it easy to distinguish it in the crowded field of Podracers and to remind us that Sebulba is a dangerous opponent.




Sebulba Maquette
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Small models, called maquettes, were made during initial concept development of Episodes I-III to explore the look of important characters. Even computer generated ones like Sebulba started off as physical models.



Here are some of the many interactive stations to stop and play with.


Here is another mixture of both Prequel and Original Trilogy. In the first case I found Ankain Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's outfits from Revenge of the Sith. In the second case, Mace Windu's outfit along with the Jedi Training Remote from A New Hope and the Yoda puppet from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.



Anakin Skywalker Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Obi-Wan Kenobi Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Mace Windu Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Jedi Training Remote Prop
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



Yoda Puppet
Star Wars Episodes V-VI


Close to the Hoth themed cases sits an extreme cold weather display featuring clothes for just that.


Two of the most daunting pieces on display would have to be the life-size wookiees from Revenge of the Sith. Both Tarfful and Salporin are incredible in size and height. In the case right beside them sits three wookiee weapons as well.



Tarfful Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Salporin Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Tarfful's Rifle Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Filmmakers wanted to suggest that Wookiees had a relationship with their environment and technology that stressed harmony with the natural world. Wookiee technology combines natural materials with steel and plastic, and each one seems to be hand-crafted rather than mass-produced.




Wookiee Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Chewbacca's Wookiee Bowcaster Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


It's quite amazing looking at these props and costumes and being able to imagine each scene playing out in your head. These aren't just cheap knock-off versions, they are the real deal! I was delighted to find the Interrogator droid that Vader used as he attempted to pry information from his daughter aboard the Death Star. The General Grievous maquette and bust were also fun additions.



Interrogator Droid Prop
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



General Grievous Maquette
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



General Grievous Bust Maquette
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


In the next case close by, I found the FX-7 Medical droid, 2-1B Medical droid, Lobot's headgear and Luke's prosthetic hand from The Empire Strikes Back along with Anakin's prosthetic hand from Attack of the Clones. Medical and prosthetics...is anyone else noticing a theme here?



FX-7 Medical Droid Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



2-1B Medical Droid Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Lobot's Headgear Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Luke Prosthetic Hand Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Anakin's Prosthetic Hand Prop
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones


One of my favorite sections is the aforementioned Hoth area. In the first case was the Rebel Alliance sensor pack, Rebel Alliance macrobinoculars and Luke riding a Taun Taun. There is some extremely high detail involved with that Taun Taun.



Rebel Alliance Sensor Pack Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Rebel Alliance Macrobinoculars Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Luke Riding A Taun Taun Model
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back


Just to the left was a gorgeous Snowtrooper outfit and the Wampa suit used for the re-released Special Edition version of The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, no Wampa would be complete without a piece of meat close by.


Imperial Snowtrooper Costume
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Wampa Costume
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

This Wampa was created for the 1997 re-release of Episodes IV-VI. If it seems a bit too short to be a Wampa, that's because it is. The scenes that were added to the film were shot on a specially-scaled set to make the Wampa look huge. These were then mixed in with the original scene.



Darth Vader is always a focal point of mine, so I approached him with the reverence and respect that he deserved. Actually, I'm kidding. I just walked up to him and gave him a big hug because really, there's still good in him, right? This was the original Vader suit from A New Hope. Nicely complimenting it was the helmet, mask and collar from Revenge of the Sith which gave a great comparison between the one that Brian Muir sculpted back in 1976 and the much newer and larger version.



Darth Vader Costume
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



Darth Vader Helmet Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Darth Vader Mask Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Darth Vader Collar Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Next was the Han Solo outfit from Return of the Jedi and Chewbacca costume from the Original Trilogy. Han was posed very much like Clint Eastwood or Marty McFly, take your pick.



Han Solo Costume
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi



Chewbacca Costume
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI


This first case was showing some of our real-world advances in prosthetics. The second was showing some of the artificial body parts that we use today.


This was another interactive station complete with some cool Yoda trivia.


The next case featured the Princess Leia costume from A New Hope, the R2-D2 from the Original Trilogy and the C-3PO suit from Revenge of the Sith.



Princess Leia Costume
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



R2-D2 Costume
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI



C-3PO Costume
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


TK-421, why are you behind that glass? This Original Trilogy Stormtrooper armor was a lot cleaner than most of the film used armor seen today. There was also a nice nod to the first generation armor with the Clone Trooper maquette on display in the same case.



Stormtrooper Costume
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI



Clone Trooper Maquette
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones


A total of six blasters and six lightsabers were on display in the case just to the right. This included weapons from all six films.



Battle Droid Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace



Rebel DH-17 Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI



Alderaan Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Naboo Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace



Stormtrooper Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI



Thermal Detonator Prop
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi



Boba Fett's Blaster Prop
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Chancellor Palpatine's Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Darth Maul's Double-Bladed Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace



Obi-Wan Kenobi's Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Mace Windu's Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episodes II-III



Shaak Ti's Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Count Dooku's Lightsaber Prop
Star Wars Episodes II-III


Tatooine will always have a special place in my heart due to the trip I took to the jundland wastes of Tunisia back in 2010, so I paid close attention to the next few cases. First up was a Tusken Raider and Tusken woman costume.



Tusken Raider Costume
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The Tusken Raiders, or Sand People, are mysterious, dangerous desert dwellers. The local human and Jawa populations try to stay clear of them. Their outfits completely hide their bodies, while providing their eyes, noses, and mouths with protection from the bright suns and blowing, choking sand.

One challenge confronting filmmakers shooting A New Hope in 1976 was to create convincing aliens using rubber, plastic, and cloth costumes. By completely covering the Sand People, they leave it up to your imagination to decide what the Tusken looks like under the wrappings.




Tusken Woman Costume
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The Sand People employ a nomadic lifestyle to survive, always on the move looking for natural resources to exploit, or take. The men go off in hunting parties, while the women and children remain in the camps deep in the desert, far from enemies.

The Tusken Raider's clothing is loosely based on the kinds of robes the Bedouin of North Africa wear. The Bedouins' voluminous, multilayered outfits provide excellent protection from the blowing sand. After sunset, when the air temperature plummets, the robe provides extra warmth.



In the next case just to the right was the outfit of the young slave boy, Anakin Skywalker. Behind him sat the Mos Espa slave housing model and beside him was the Sandcrawler model, Jawa costume and Jawa blaster.


Young Anakin Skywalker Costume
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The humans of Tatooine have adopted two strategies to survive on this harsh world. Some live in the planet's spaceports and make their living off the interstellar trade that drives the economy. They live in thick-walled, windowless houses that offer maximum protection from heat and wind. Moisture farmers live out in the plains in underground dwellings, using the planet itself to protect themselves and their crops from the harsh environment.

Anakin grows up in Mos Espa, the property of a junk dealer who buys and sells whatever technology his slaves can put back together for him. As a city dweller, he relies on his house to protect him from the elements.




Mos Espa Slave Housing Prop
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace



Sandcrawler Model
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



Jawa Costume
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The Jawas inhabit the fringes of civilized Tatooine and use a survival strategy halfway between the Sand People and the humans. They live in fortified villages deep in the mountains and venture out only in large bands to collect junk they can repair or sell.


Their robes protect them from the elements while they're outside, but the Jawas' primary defense against the elements and enemies are the giant sandcrawlers they use to cross the deserts. These enormous vehicles can carry an entire clan of traders and their goods.




Jawa Blaster Model
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace


Here was yet another interactive station to give fans a chance to see what it might be like enhance their abilities by using some of our own technology as well as several more with varying machine related stations.


This was the outfit that we saw Padme Amidala wear in Attack of the Clones during the Geonosis scenes worn by actress Natalie Portman.


Padme Amidala Geonosis Action Outfit Costume
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones


Here were some examples of walking machines that we actually have in this day and age. Of course, I am a big fan of what was to come in the next case over.


The Republic All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE) model from Attack of the Clones, the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) from The Empire Strikes Back and the Imperial All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) model from Return of the Jedi. If I could have taken one piece home from this entire exhibit, it would have been the AT-AT Walker.



Republic All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE) Model
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones



Imperial All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) Model
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back



Imperial All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) Model
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi


Then, it was on to the life-size Droideka Destroyer droid which we encounter in the first two Prequel films. This thing was huge...no wonder Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan ran!


Droideka Destroyer Droid Model
Star Wars Episodes I-II

The concept designers for The Phantom Menace wanted this Droideka destroyer droid to seem menacing and alien. One easy way to suggest this otherness was to give the droid three legs instead of the multiples of two legs we're used to seeing here on Earth.



Finally, rounding out this amazing tour was a case full of droids which included the "Naked" C-3PO puppet, a Trade Federation Battle droid and a Pit droid from The Phantom Menace along with the Imperial Probe droid from The Empire Strikes Back.



"Naked" C-3PO Puppet
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

C-3PO sums up people's relationship with technology in Star Wars. Robots are literally child's play. 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker built C-3PO entirely from scrap parts to help his mother with her work. He never quite got around to finishing his project, so C-3PO remained uncovered for years.




Imperial Probe Droid Model
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars and the real world are similar in their reliance on automated probes to explore distant locations. Robots are cheaper to send then people, and don't have to bring them home. The Empire dispatched dozens of probe droids like this to search for the Rebel Alliance's base on Hoth.




Trade Federation Battle Droid Prop
Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace

The spindly form of the battle droid doesn't seem very imposing, unless you're facing a few thousand of them. They embody a classic trade-off in manufacturing - is it better to make more units more cheaply, or fewer units that are more capable?




Pit Droid Prop
Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace

Pit droids are portable vehicle repair kits found in the pits of Mos Espa. They're a great example of specific purpose robots. They are designed to repair things and they try to repair anything they find. Luckily, they're easy to shut off. A tap on the nose causes them to fold up into this compact shape.



As I exited the exhibit, I found myself in the Star Wars gift shop which was chocked full of great merchandise. Other than the Tatooine Traders store located inside Disney's Hollywood Studios, I think the Celebration store is the only place I've seen more new Star Wars merchandise all together in one place.


There were more great bits of trivia lining the walls just outside of the exhibit hall.


In a completely separate area, I found the Millennium Falcon Experience which is a four minute simulator ride featuring the voice of C-3PO star Anthony Daniels. The cost was $5.00 per person. I was rather impressed by the inner halls of the Falcon and especially the cockpit. While you aren't really moving, the seats do shake a bit while the screen in front of you changes as you fly through space dodging TIE Fighters and exploring the galaxy. The BOSE sound was also impressive.


In addition to the Star Wars gift shop exclusive to the exhibit, the Orlando Science Center also has their own gift shop that features even more great Star Wars items.


It had been about 15 years since I had visited the Science Center, so it was really a trip down memory lane as I explored the rest of the facility. The Star Wars exhibit was just an incredible experience and if you ever have the chance to catch this traveling spectable, do yourself a favor and go see it!

A very special thanks to Lucasfilm and to Mark Schaub, Jeff Stanford and the entire staff at the Orlando Science Center for making this visit possible.

Story and photos by Chris Wyman

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