ENTERTAINMENT

Long-lost ‘Star Wars’ X-wing model up for auction with starting price of $400,000

Sep 12, 2023, 11:21 AM | Updated: 11:23 am

A miniature model called "Red Leader", a X-wing starfighter from the 1977 film, Star War, Episode I...

A miniature model called "Red Leader", a X-wing starfighter from the 1977 film, Star War, Episode IV, A New Hope, sits on display at Heritage Auctions, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2023, in Irving, Texas. While Greg Jein's work over nearly half a century making miniature models in Hollywood included such iconic creations as the alien mothership in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," he was also a lifelong collector of costumes, props, scripts, artwork and photographs from the shows he loved, including countless rare items from the "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" franchises. Thousands of those items, including those Jein collected and those he created, will be offered up by Heritage Auctions next month in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(CNN) — A long-lost model of an X-wing fighter used in the original 1977 “Star Wars” movie is up for auction, with a starting price of $400,000.

Used in the filming of the final battle in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” as the Rebel Alliance fight the Empire above the Death Star, the model “represents the pinnacle of Star Wars artifacts to ever reach the market,” Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auctions said.

The top two wings of the fighter are both painted with a single red stripe, identifying it as the squadron’s “Red Leader.”

The model is part of a collection that belonged to the late Greg Jein, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated miniature-maker known for his work on “Star Trek” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and will be auctioned on October 14-15.

Long known as “the missing X-wing,” it was discovered by a team of visual effects experts, including Gene Kozicki (“Face/Off” and “Flight of the Phoenix”), as they helped Jein’s family sift through his collection, Kozicki told the Hollywood Reporter.

“This model has not been displayed or modified since it left ILM (visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic),” Kozicki said. “For those of us that grew up in the ’70s or ‘80s, and those of us that work in visual effects, this model is as significant a find as the ruby red slippers or the Maltese Falcon.”

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The 1:24 miniature was one of four “hero” models built for filming close-ups in key moments during the space battle, including in shots during the trench run as the rebel fleet seeks to destroy the Death Star.

Several “pyro” models were also built according to a much simpler design, which could then be blown up, while the four “hero” models featured intricate painting, wings that spread open into “Attack Position,” a miniature pilot, internal wiring to power lights inside the spaceship as well as minute details such as blast marks and heat-scorching around exhaust nozzles.

They were designed by the Oscar-winning team Industrial Light & Magic according to basic specifications from director George Lucas, who wanted to create distinct shapes for the climactic battle so the audience could distinguish between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire.

Kozicki told the Hollywood Reporter that it isn’t clear how Jein came into possession of this model, speculating that he sometimes obtained items to trade for something else later on.

“(Steven Spielberg’s) ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Star Wars’ were being made at roughly the same time, and with an overlapping group of people,” Kozicki said. “And at that time no one, not even Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, could anticipate the impact these films would have on the industry or cultural zeitgeist.”


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Long-lost ‘Star Wars’ X-wing model up for auction with starting price of $400,000