ILM Painted - Gifted Millennium Falcon - on Display at Oshkosh EAA Museum

JSchneider

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hey All!

I went up to EAA's 2023 Oshkosh Airshow (Wisconsin) this year, almost specifically to see the Millenium Falcon that I've been hearing about for so long which they have on display in their museum up there. I don't know too much about it other than I've heard over the years that Ben Burtt and his team had gone up to the airshow back in 1975 or 1976 to record sound of all the airplanes flying in the show up there to record sound to be used for A New Hope. P-51 Mustang's slowed down engines, DC-3?, DC-9 etc. for the Millennium Falcon and other sorts of that stuff for the movie.

I do know that ILM donated a painted Millenium Falcon to the museum in 1977 or 1978 (or 1979?) after Episode IV came out, and they have had it on display ever since. What I don't know is what it is specifically, or if it was used for anything. To me it looks like an old MPC Falcon that received a totally awesome paint job by ILM. I'd be interested in learning some more about it if any of you have any info on it. It was pretty busy up there being it was the week of the airshow, but I did happen to talk to someone who works at the museum and he said that on tours he actually tells attendee's that it was used in the movie. I've never heard that before... that it was used in the movie. I had always only heard that they ILM painted this kit up and donated it to the museum as a thank you for allowing them to come up and record. If it was used for shooting, that would be news to me. As I'm up to my ears and elbows in Millennium Falcon research while I've been working on my 5 footer, I've never come across any info in regards to this model being used for shooting. So please let me know if anyone knows something different. For now, I'm only assuming it's an MPC kit that ILM painted up specifically for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

It's pretty small, 12" - 18" wide. It was hard to get shots all around it due to how and where it is mounted and displayed. I took a bunch of photos of the model while I was there of as much as I could. The museum was packed at the time, so I gave it my best! The display case was pushed up against a balcony wall, so I couldn't get any good shots of the port side, or the bottom for that matter. I almost wanted to break out the windex and a dust rag too! Haha! The case needs some serious dusting off as the dust looks like it was from the 70's too! People probably thought I was nuts wiping the case off. LOL

Figured I'd share all the photos with everyone to save them a trip up there. In case anyone wanted them for their research, here they are. At the very least, the photos might give a good paint reference for anyone with an old MPC kit. If anyone has any info on it, I'm interested in hearing it!

Thanks!
 

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A few more pics...
 

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I remember them saying the one they have in the archives was never used in the film, but just for reference, figuring out shots, etc.

Yes, thank you for posting. I love seeing previously unknown Falcons.
 
The museum employees think it's screenused, but I think that's incorrect company lore.
Yeah. I told him that I was 95% sure that it was not used in the movie. And not sure how it could have been since MPC didn't come out with the kit until later. Unless ILM got one from them during manufacturing, I don't even see how it could have been. The employee has worked there for a lot of years and wasn't sure where he had heard it, but he did say that a lot of the tour guides tell their tour groups that the model "was used for filming."

They got quite the paint job though. ; o)
 
Definitely NOT a screen used Falcon. The AMT model wasn't released until 1979 which was too late for Star Wars and they made several smaller Falcon models for Empire so not needed for that film either.

It's interesting though because sheet styrene has been added to the edges of the upper and lower hulls to reduce/hide the thickness of the original kit plastic.
 
Really cool gift, and after working on the MPC for like 5 months, as already stated, definitely that one.
Now would be interesting to find out when ILM gave it to them, but you would have to track down the guys at ILM and hope they remember (maybe Ben Burtt), as the museum employees sure don't.
I really hate when false info like that is spread.
 
They did use an MPC (in addition to toys) for animatics in ESB and/or ROTJ but it wasn't painted. (No need).
Yeah. I'm pretty sure I've read that they used an MPC X-Wing in ROTJ (maybe multiple X-Wings?) Never heard of a Falcon being used though. ; o)
 
Definitely NOT a screen used Falcon. The AMT model wasn't released until 1979 which was too late for Star Wars and they made several smaller Falcon models for Empire so not needed for that film either.

It's interesting though because sheet styrene has been added to the edges of the upper and lower hulls to reduce/hide the thickness of the original kit plastic.
I did notice on Scalemates that it wasn't released until '79. It crossed my mind that maybe it's possible Lucasfilm got one from MPC before release and gave it to EAA, but that would be pure speculation on my part. Maybe someone will come across this post one day and shed some light on the situation. Afterwards we'll all have to go up to the museum and educate them on it. Haha!

(Or maybe we should let them keep telling the masses what they've been saying as to inspire all the kids that walk through that museum when they see the Falcon up close for the first time : o)
 
Hi, all!

My dear friend, and Producer, Gary Kurtz, gave me this ILM build of the AMT kit, as a "good luck" First-Day-of-Shooting gift when we started filming the ILM sequence in "5-25-77".

He said it was one of 3, that had been built specifically for pre-vis work during the later days of Empire's post-production schedule. Though the kit wasn't commercially available until 1979, ILM was working frantically to finish their work on Empire all the way up until delivery of their last shot, on April 11th, 1980! Gary also mentioned that, as he remembered it, ILM had been sent a number of "test-shots" of the kit, for approval, which were quickly built up and put into service doing hand-puppeteered "video-matics" for George and Irvin's needs.

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Several details on this particular build lead me to believe that Gary was being honest (and, he was, by the way, probably the most honest guy I ever worked with, in Hollywood!) First-- The giveaway/gift/promotional Falcons all had much more elaborate paint jobs. And they were painted top AND bottom. Second-- The promotional birds all had mounting holes and internal mounts in the underside to allow the ship to attach to the display stand that came with it. This one doesn't. And, finally, years after receiving it, I unpacked it after a move and heard some pieces rattling around inside, and, in order to retrieve them, needed to pop one of the rotating circular gun turret bulkheads off... when I turned it over... I found this tiny piece of green foil wrapper (what it once wrapped, I have no idea!) Scotch-taped to the underside of the piece!

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Now, I can think of several old ILM modelmakers, who are no longer with us, who would have done this sort of thing. But, as they're not around to tell us... and Gary had passed away by this time, I'm pretty sure the significance of this "inside" joke is forever lost...

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Here's a puzzler. This is a later re-release of the kit, after the lighting feature was removed. If this was a kit built during the timeframe Gary said, there would be a slot in this part where the on/off switch would go.
 

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This is really great. Perhaps someday, someone will identify what the foil is. Oh, so I understand, did you use this in 5-25-77 as a sort of meta prop?
We originally intended to use it as a forced-perspective foreground miniature to stand in for the actual studio scale Falcon as our characters walk past it, resting in its packing crate, being readied for shipping. But we soon realized it was just too small for our old 1970's Russian anamorphic lenses to hold focus on during the shot. So, we just put an empty shipping crate on the floor and my dear friend John Knoll tracked in a digital version of the Falcon, as a favor!
 
Here's a puzzler. This is a later re-release of the kit, after the lighting feature was removed. If this was a kit built during the timeframe Gary said, there would be a slot in this part where the on/off switch would go.
Yeah, I was wondering about that, too! But, there are some who say/think that the lighting feature was an idea that was added AFTER the initial test shots of the kit were sent to LucasFilm for approval. Hard to determine!
 
Hi, all!

My dear friend, and Producer, Gary Kurtz, gave me this ILM build of the AMT kit, as a "good luck" First-Day-of-Shooting gift when we started filming the ILM sequence in "5-25-77".

He said it was one of 3, that had been built specifically for pre-vis work during the later days of Empire's post-production schedule. Though the kit wasn't commercially available until 1979, ILM was working frantically to finish their work on Empire all the way up until delivery of their last shot, on April 11th, 1980! Gary also mentioned that, as he remembered it, ILM had been sent a number of "test-shots" of the kit, for approval, which were quickly built up and put into service doing hand-puppeteered "video-matics" for George and Irvin's needs.

View attachment 1769212

Several details on this particular build lead me to believe that Gary was being honest (and, he was, by the way, probably the most honest guy I ever worked with, in Hollywood!) First-- The giveaway/gift/promotional Falcons all had much more elaborate paint jobs. And they were painted top AND bottom. Second-- The promotional birds all had mounting holes and internal mounts in the underside to allow the ship to attach to the display stand that came with it. This one doesn't. And, finally, years after receiving it, I unpacked it after a move and heard some pieces rattling around inside, and, in order to retrieve them, needed to pop one of the rotating circular gun turret bulkheads off... when I turned it over... I found this tiny piece of green foil wrapper (what it once wrapped, I have no idea!) Scotch-taped to the underside of the piece!

View attachment 1769208View attachment 1769217View attachment 1769209Now, I can think of several old ILM modelmakers, who are no longer with us, who would have done this sort of thing. But, as they're not around to tell us... and Gary had passed away by this time, I'm pretty sure the significance of this "inside" joke is forever lost...

View attachment 1769213View attachment 1769216View attachment 1769210View attachment 1769211View attachment 1769218

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That appears to be a green foil Hershey’s wrapper….

…likely from a Hershey’s chocolate egg….

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…and…a hair, perhaps?

Gross.

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