I still remember that summer day in 1977 when I went to watch Star Wars on the recommendation of a fellow eleven-year-old who had recently seen it. The night before, I told my dad, another science fiction fan (I’m a chip off the old block), “Dirk went and saw this new space movie and said it was really great.” My skeptical dad replied, “Well, any kid loves a movie with a flying saucer in it!” Undeterred, I went to the theater the next day and was utterly blown away. The story’s characters, special effects, alien creatures, spacecraft, and costume designs, in particular, the fearsome foot soldiers of the Empire – the Stormtroopers.
We have perhaps the coolest Star Wars item I’ve handled in my decades-long career in film memorabilia: A screen-matched helmet worn by the Stormtrooper in Docking Bay 94 who attempts to stop the Millennium Falcon from fleeing Mos Eisley Spaceport, exclaiming, “Stop that ship! Blast ‘em!”… immediately before being gunned down by Han Solo!
The very first film footage to be shot in the Star Wars universe was on location in Tunisia in March of 1976 for the Tatooine scenes. At that time, there were only six Stormtrooper helmets [Nerd Note: Fans refer to these as Sandtroopers, not only because they were specific forces deployed to Tatooine, but the prop helmets, themselves, have paint detailing and weathering unique from every other Stormtrooper featured in the film] completed in time for the shoot, and of those six, only two helmets are confirmed to exist in private hands – this helmet is one of those two.
What makes this helmet truly rarefied is that it is conclusively identified on-screen across multiple sequences. Since these helmets were handmade and hand-painted, no two are exactly alike. This helmet features numerous, distinctive paint runs in various areas, a unique, repaired crack in the right-side tube adjacent to two irregular tube stripes, and a long paint tail on the mouth detail.
No less than eight on-screen “tells” for a single film artifact is virtually unheard of! – See the image below.
“Iconic” is an overused word in today’s hyperbole-laden world, diluting the word’s impact, but this superlative helmet certainly fits the bill. It is one of the most important pieces from the Star Wars franchise to ever reach the auction block.