Baruopa

Member
Title says it. Wondering if anyone has pictures of the physical model they used for the Naboo Starfighter in the Phantom Menace. I know they made one, behind the scenes tapes from pre-production show it, but there's a surprising lack of documentation on it that I can find online. Hoping someone here knows more than me :)Thanks!

Edit:
Done quite a bit of digging and found some decent enough reference. I'll put them all up here at the top of the thread and add any more that we find along the way! Thanks!

I'm also adding a link to a Google Photos Album. It has all the same photos and videos as this thread, it's just easier to access and more organized to look through.

Huge thanks to Duncanator for helping out!!!

Concept Model

The original model (shown here) was carved from wood by John Duncan (Duncanator) based on the direction and design of Art Director Doug Chiang.
N1 Original wood Pattern.JPG


The wooden model was subsequently molded and cast in resin to be distributed amongst the prop and CG departments for reference in the construction of the CG, pyro, and full-sized models. Doug Chiang had a few last-minute suggestions, including the blending of the wings to the fuselage and the inclusion of a detailed cockpit interior. These changes were added to one of the resin casts, and that cast was then remolded and cast. These castings were the ones distributed and served as the basis for the CG model (which was drawn from scratch in the computer), and the physical props (which were built according to a set of detailed blueprints modeled on the maquette).

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N1 a.JPG
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According to Duncan, one of these resin casts was vacuum metalized and painted with Floquil Railbox Yellow. It was presented to George Lucas for his approval, video of which is included below.
Naboo+1.jpg


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Pyro Models
A number of physical models were built based off of Duncan's maquette for use in pyrotechnic shots. They measured around three feet in length and were constructed in either a brittle plastic -for dramatic explosions- or fiberglass -for more minor damage. At least two of these models survived production. Their visible but minor damage suggests these are fiberglass models that were shot at some point. The two known surviving pyros are shown below, easily differentiated by the color of their astromechs and the placement of their damage. The red astromech pyro toured with the Star Wars Exhibiton in the mid 2000's. The green one was present at Celebration I in 1999.

Red Astromech Pyro, Damage Center
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Jkirkon

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
You should look at Duncanator’s posts. I believe he build the original model.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
Hey there!
You've got a great assemblage of pictures here. Let me see if I can give a bit more info on them.

There were 3 sizes of Naboo fighters built: The maquette(s), the pyro models, and the full sized set pieces.

N1 Original wood Pattern.JPG


This is the original N1 Naboo fighter. (I know, I need to repair the engine mount points...)
I carved this first maquette from wood (along with several tiny foam study models that may still be in the archives). It doesn't have the blending of the wings nor a cockpit. I added those features on subsequent resin castings of the wooden model. You have my photos of the casting that I still have in your first post.

There was only one maquette casting that was vacuum-metalized and painted, and you have a picture above of me pretending to touch up the paint (while anachronistically wearing my Star Trek crew shirt). It is also the one that George and Doug Chiang are discussing in some of the other pictures that you posted. There were additional gray body castings made that were given to other departments to use as 3D blueprints - the model shop got some to make the pyro models, the sets department got some to make the full sized N1s, and the computer modelers got some to create the digital models. This way all the departments were trying to match the same thing.

The pyro models were built by the ILM modelshop, and were roughly 3 feet long. I don't recall how many of them were made. The engine spikes are more blunt on the ends than the maquette, as was the tail spike. This made molding and casting easier. I believe some of the pyro N1s were laid up in fiberglass and used for smaller explosions when the ship is damaged but not destroyed. There were others pyro models that were cast from a brittle plastic for explosions that blew the craft to bits. I managed to salvage a chunk of one - its the port side from the cockpit to the wing root. That's a pyro R2 casting with it.

N1 Pyro chunk.JPG


The full sized set piece N1s were built in Australia (I think?) - but it might have been England (I forget, sorry). George had at least 2 of those in the archives at the end of shooting. They used adhesive mylar sheets to create the chrome belly of the big fighters.

The base color of the Naboo fighter is Floquil Railbox Yellow with a clear gloss overcoat. The Floquil paint is a flat color, so a clear coat was needed to make it shiny. I am hoping that ArchiveX will come out with that color some day.
 

Flintlock

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Very nice.

Back in '99 or '00 there was a 3D model of this ship that someone passed along and had said it was a source file to "grow" the ships by some machine. Didn't realize they were talking about SLA 3D printing until years later. Anyway the model was very good quality, not something a mere fan would do just from memory by watching the movie or looking at pictures.

Ah, wish I still had that...
 

Baruopa

Member
Hey there!
You've got a great assemblage of pictures here. Let me see if I can give a bit more info on them.

There were 3 sizes of Naboo fighters built: The maquette(s), the pyro models, and the full sized set pieces.

View attachment 1595275

This is the original N1 Naboo fighter. (I know, I need to repair the engine mount points...)
I carved this first maquette from wood (along with several tiny foam study models that may still be in the archives). It doesn't have the blending of the wings nor a cockpit. I added those features on subsequent resin castings of the wooden model. You have my photos of the casting that I still have in your first post.

There was only one maquette casting that was vacuum-metalized and painted, and you have a picture above of me pretending to touch up the paint (while anachronistically wearing my Star Trek crew shirt). It is also the one that George and Doug Chiang are discussing in some of the other pictures that you posted. There were additional gray body castings made that were given to other departments to use as 3D blueprints - the model shop got some to make the pyro models, the sets department got some to make the full sized N1s, and the computer modelers got some to create the digital models. This way all the departments were trying to match the same thing.

The pyro models were built by the ILM modelshop, and were roughly 3 feet long. I don't recall how many of them were made. The engine spikes are more blunt on the ends than the maquette, as was the tail spike. This made molding and casting easier. I believe some of the pyro N1s were laid up in fiberglass and used for smaller explosions when the ship is damaged but not destroyed. There were others pyro models that were cast from a brittle plastic for explosions that blew the craft to bits. I managed to salvage a chunk of one - its the port side from the cockpit to the wing root. That's a pyro R2 casting with it.

View attachment 1595276

The full sized set piece N1s were built in Australia (I think?) - but it might have been England (I forget, sorry). George had at least 2 of those in the archives at the end of shooting. They used adhesive mylar sheets to create the chrome belly of the big fighters.

The base color of the Naboo fighter is Floquil Railbox Yellow with a clear gloss overcoat. The Floquil paint is a flat color, so a clear coat was needed to make it shiny. I am hoping that ArchiveX will come out with that color some day.
Thank you so much again Duncanator for the help, this is exactly the kinda stuff I was looking for.

Flintlock mentioned a 3D model used for SLA during production. Do you know if they scanned your concept model for the digital model? Or was it created from scratch with your model just as a reference? Have you ever considered scanning or casting yours? It's quickly becoming one of my favorite models :)

Were the physical models used for any shots outside of pyros? Or were all the rest entirely CG?

Thanks again for taking the time to help out, it means the world to me to have such a direct source. Just really cool to talk to the original artist :)
 

Baruopa

Member
Very nice.

Back in '99 or '00 there was a 3D model of this ship that someone passed along and had said it was a source file to "grow" the ships by some machine. Didn't realize they were talking about SLA 3D printing until years later. Anyway the model was very good quality, not something a mere fan would do just from memory by watching the movie or looking at pictures.

Ah, wish I still had that...
Do you think it still exists somewhere online???? That would kind of be a grail moment to have a 3D printable GENUINE studio scale model avaliable
 

Flintlock

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Do you think it still exists somewhere online???? That would kind of be a grail moment to have a 3D printable GENUINE studio scale model avaliable

I don't know. I mentioned it in the hopes someone would see that and know something about it, or maybe still have it in their files somewhere. At the time there wasn't much I could do with it; 3D printing wasn't within the scope of my reality. I lost the file somewhere along the way.
 

Baruopa

Member
I don't know. I mentioned it in the hopes someone would see that and know something about it, or maybe still have it in their files somewhere. At the time there wasn't much I could do with it; 3D printing wasn't within the scope of my reality. I lost the file somewhere along the way.
Where'd you first find it? If it was posted on some old forum somewhere, maybe the link still exists? I'll do some digging. I kind NEED that now HAH
 

Flintlock

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Where'd you first find it? If it was posted on some old forum somewhere, maybe the link still exists? I'll do some digging. I kind NEED that now HAH

Someone back then sent it to me, maybe posted it on the first incarnation of this discussion board, before it was "The Replica Prop Forum". Was hosted on ezboard I think.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
Thank you so much again Duncanator for the help, this is exactly the kinda stuff I was looking for.

Flintlock mentioned a 3D model used for SLA during production. Do you know if they scanned your concept model for the digital model? Or was it created from scratch with your model just as a reference? Have you ever considered scanning or casting yours? It's quickly becoming one of my favorite models :)

Were the physical models used for any shots outside of pyros? Or were all the rest entirely CG?

Thanks again for taking the time to help out, it means the world to me to have such a direct source. Just really cool to talk to the original artist :)
To the best of my knowledge, the digital version was drawn from scratch in the computer. I don't know if they ever scanned my model, and I know for sure that we never 3D printed any models. 3D printing wasn't used at all during the prequels. The technology wasn't available to us back then.

If it ever was scanned, the computer department would have used it as reference only probably. They prefer to make things perfectly symmetrical in the computer, and my hand-made model had to be a little bit off - despite my best efforts. To save time the CG guys draw half of an asset, and then mirror the other side. It just makes life easier.

As far as I know, the pyro models were only used for pyro shots. But I was not working stage support for those shots, so I can't know for certain if there aren't any shots where they were used for a flyby or something. You can count on pretty much all the flying shots of the N1 as being CGI. The full sized ones were of course used for cockpit shots and any shots of actors interacting with them on set.
 

Flintlock

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Hey there!
You've got a great assemblage of pictures here. Let me see if I can give a bit more info on them.

There were 3 sizes of Naboo fighters built: The maquette(s), the pyro models, and the full sized set pieces.

...

This is the original N1 Naboo fighter. (I know, I need to repair the engine mount points...)
I carved this first maquette from wood (along with several tiny foam study models that may still be in the archives). It doesn't have the blending of the wings nor a cockpit. I added those features on subsequent resin castings of the wooden model. You have my photos of the casting that I still have in your first post.

There was only one maquette casting that was vacuum-metalized and painted, and you have a picture above of me pretending to touch up the paint (while anachronistically wearing my Star Trek crew shirt). It is also the one that George and Doug Chiang are discussing in some of the other pictures that you posted. There were additional gray body castings made that were given to other departments to use as 3D blueprints - the model shop got some to make the pyro models, the sets department got some to make the full sized N1s, and the computer modelers got some to create the digital models. This way all the departments were trying to match the same thing.

The pyro models were built by the ILM modelshop, and were roughly 3 feet long. I don't recall how many of them were made. The engine spikes are more blunt on the ends than the maquette, as was the tail spike. This made molding and casting easier. I believe some of the pyro N1s were laid up in fiberglass and used for smaller explosions when the ship is damaged but not destroyed. There were others pyro models that were cast from a brittle plastic for explosions that blew the craft to bits. I managed to salvage a chunk of one - its the port side from the cockpit to the wing root. That's a pyro R2 casting with it.

...

The full sized set piece N1s were built in Australia (I think?) - but it might have been England (I forget, sorry). George had at least 2 of those in the archives at the end of shooting. They used adhesive mylar sheets to create the chrome belly of the big fighters.

The base color of the Naboo fighter is Floquil Railbox Yellow with a clear gloss overcoat. The Floquil paint is a flat color, so a clear coat was needed to make it shiny. I am hoping that ArchiveX will come out with that color some day.

Beautiful model you created, John! (y) Great work.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
Beautiful model you created, John! (y) Great work.

Thanks!
It was a childhood fantasy come true to get to work on Star Wars. When I first got hired at ILM, I assumed that George was never gonna make any more SW films. And then a few years later, to get called up to be part of the concept art department for the prequels was unbelievable.

The Naboo fighter was one of the first concept models that I got to make for the new films. It was confusing at first because it was so "non Star Wars" looking. But the rational that these were pre-war craft; like the swoopy cars from the 1920-30s, made the designs make sense. The designs from Ep 4-6 were post-war utilitarian designs; like a VW Beetle, and the Prequel designs were like a Mercedes 540K.
 

Baruopa

Member
Thanks!
It was a childhood fantasy come true to get to work on Star Wars. When I first got hired at ILM, I assumed that George was never gonna make any more SW films. And then a few years later, to get called up to be part of the concept art department for the prequels was unbelievable.

The Naboo fighter was one of the first concept models that I got to make for the new films. It was confusing at first because it was so "non Star Wars" looking. But the rational that these were pre-war craft; like the swoopy cars from the 1920-30s, made the designs make sense. The designs from Ep 4-6 were post-war utilitarian designs; like a VW Beetle, and the Prequel designs were like a Mercedes 540K.
What were you working on before Star Wars then? How'd you get your start and what were you wanting to work on in a non-Star Wars era at Lucasfilm?

Also, what was the design briefing like? You mentioned before having a bit of creative freedom, particularly in shaping the bottom of the model. Did Doug Chiang just hand you a bunch of concept art and say go to town? I'm interested in how the review process went about, since, like you pointed out, some of the features like the cockpit and blended wings that show up on the final maquettes aren't present on the wooden model. I would've assumed that wooden model was the master that the maquettes were cast off of.
 

Baruopa

Member
Also, haven't been able to track down the CG model. I've gone through every webpage mentioning naboo or the naboo starfighter from 1999 to 2002, but unfortunately a lot of this stuff was on old forum sites that don't seem to be up any more and weren't indexed by Google :/

I did however find these great references of the concept maquette off of an old CD-ROM released to coincide with the movie back in 1999 [The CD-ROM is called the "Star Wars: Episode I Insider's Guide", and can be found here]. Unfortunately, due to the age of the CD-ROM, the pictures are very low quality. As far as I'm aware this is the first time they've been posted online, so unless they've been printed somewhere it might be the best we've got. I do wonder though if they might be included in the prequels Chronicles book, seems like the kind of thing they'd include.

I also tracked down the original blueprints props drew up in constructing the full-sized models. They're owned by Gus Lopez. I've asked him and he's agreed to dig around and take some high-quality pictures for me. I'll be sure to post those too if he can find them.

I've been updating the main posts with photos, videos, and information as I find it, so you won't have to dig through the thread to find something. If I've got it, it's at the top!

Big thanks again to everyone helping out!!! :)
 

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