Editorial: The Recycled Props of Star Wars

Bossk Dr Who Pressure Suit Prop

Even though Star Wars takes place in a galaxy far away, it’s made on Earth by humans. As a result, those humans have budgets and schedules with which they must comply. Sometimes it helps to reuse props…


“I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since…” – Darth Vader


If you’ve seen a lot of movies and TV shows, and are a Star Wars fan, you may have felt like Darth Vader while watching Star Wars. For instance, you may have sensed something, like a prop you haven’t seen since… Well, since it was in a different movie. Reusing props for movies and TV shows is common. And Star Wars has done it on several occasions. Sometimes it borrowed from other movies and sometimes it reused it’s own props internally. OK, enough with the wordy words, let’s get to it!


An alien in a monkey suit walks into a bar…

Duros aliens in Cantina, Star Wars A New Hope wearing space suit prop
I do NOT smell like a chimpanzee! Why do people keep saying that?


During the cantina scene in A New Hope, there were two aliens with large heads, blue skin and red eyes having an animated conversation. Their species is called Duros. But since I don’t know their names, I’ll call them Jack and Kyle. Meanwhile, I assume the conversation went something like this:


Jack: “I want to take Sally to the Mos Pelgo Harvest Festival.”

Kyle: “What’s stopping you? Pelgo Fest is dope. I saw the Rebo band do Lapti Nek two seasons ago… acoustic. It was the last time they played it in public. Very emotional. It was totally wizard.”

Jack:I don’t have a speeder. And nobody says ‘wizard’ anymore. The Clone Wars called, they want their ‘wizard’ back.”

Kyle: “The new XP-38s just came out!”

Jack: “I can’t afford an XP-38!”

Kyle: “Duh! I mean that everyone will be trading in their old X-34s and you can probably get one cheap!”

Jack: “That’s not a bad idea… But I don’t have much money…”

Kyle: “How much do you have?”

Jack: “A little under 2000.”

Kyle: “It’ll be enough.”


I don’t know if it was Jack or Kyle, but one of them wore a white flight suit with gloves. However, that flight suit was worn by evolved chimps Cornelius, Zira and Milo in 1971’s Escape From the Planet of the Apes:


Cornelius and Zira from Escape From The Planet Of The Apes wearing Duros space suit prop
Let’s get these suits dry cleaned before we donate them. Certainly, we don’t want their next owners to smell like chimpanzee.


The Bounty Hunter’s New Clothes

Star Wars A New Hope Cantina Scene. Bossk suit prop and IG-88 head prop
The cantina is strategically located between Goodwill and Crazy Eddie’s Discount Bar Parts.


The cantina scene is actually plentiful with borrowed and reused stuff. For instance, the frame above has two borrowed or reused items. First, and just left of center, you can see someone wearing Bossk’s flight suit from The Empire Strikes Back:


Bossk and bounty hunters in Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. Bossk suit prop and IG-88 head prop.
Dengar: “Hey IG-88, what’s on tap?”. IG-88: “I do not get it”.


However, that’s in the future. From A New Hope’s point of view, this was borrowed from a 1966 episode of Dr. Who titled “The Tenth Planet“:


Windak flight suit Dr. Who. Bossk suit prop.
And when I push this lever forward, I like to make spaceship sounds. Like this: “Wooooooshhhhh!!!!!”


The guy who introduced Obi Wan to Chewbacca is also wearing one of these outfits. And according to Wookieepedia, his name is Bo Shek:


Basil Tomlin as Bo Shek in Star Wars A New Hope. Bossk suit prop
Obi Wan: “Why yes, Mr. Shek, I’m well aware of the Millennium Falcon’s reputation. Certainly everyone is.” Bo Shek: “Tell Han you’ve never heard of it. It’ll be a riot. So just play along Chewie”.


Dr. Who actually borrowed it from the 1964 film First Men In The Moon :


Space suits featured in First Men In The Moon (1964). Bossk suit prop.
Do you ever wonder if your spacesuit will someday be worn by anthropomorphic chimps or lizards? Sometimes I just have random thoughts like that.


First Men In The Moon borrowed these suits from a boring old thing called “real life”. These were actually high pressure suits designed to be used in space flight:


Windak high pressure suit. Bossk suit prop.
If I were wearing this high pressure suit, I would probably get Billy Joel’s “Pressure” stuck in my head. Like it’s stuck in yours now. Sorry.


Bring me the Head of IG-88

I mentioned that an earlier picture had two re-used props. The second ones are some shiny cylindrical objects. One was eventually used in The Empire Strikes Back to create the head of droid bounty hunter IG-88:


Droid IG-88 and cantina set with props that would become his head. IG-88 head prop.
IG-88: “Now I get it. Therefore, on tap today is Jawa Juice, Blue Milk and Spotchka. And unlimited free refills on Diet Mountain Dew.”


In the real world, those cylinders are parts from a Rolls Royce jet engine:


Rolls Royce jet engine. IG-88 head prop.
A rolls Royce jet engine with IG-88’s head in blue. Does Batman drive a Rolls?


A box containing crystals that kill super powered people

Up next is a box. But it’s not any old box. It’s a box that has twice held crystals that can be used to kill people with special powers. I mean, look how threatening and menacing this box is:


Box prop used in Star Wars and Superman. Obi Wan box prop.
What’s in the box?!?!?!?


This box of death is the chest that Obi Wan kept Anakin’s lightsaber in. So one of the crystals I referred to is the crystal in the lightsaber. I wonder what else he kept in there. Kaminoan Saber Dart? Or Qui Gon Jinn’s lightsaber? Maybe General Grievous’ hands? My money is on alcohol. Certainly, lots and lots of alcohol. Above all, whatever else Obi Wan kept in there, it probably wasn’t kryptonite. But, Lex Luthor later kept those deadly green crystals in the same box in 1978’s Superman:


The same chest was used in Obi Wan's house and Lex Luthor's lair. Obi Wan and Lex Luthor box prop.
I predict that the next crystal to be kept in this box will be Raspberry Crystal Light. Yum.


Paint it black

I’ll finish up with a droid. This droid first appeared inside the jawa sandcrawler on Tatooine in A New Hope. It looked a lot like C-3PO: dirty and used. But even though there’s no evidence of it, I always thought that poor droid had been there a long time. Also, I thought it resented C-3PO and said something rude to him when he briefly spoke. In short, this new, golden droid was going to ruin his chances of getting out of the sand crawler. Here he is, looking shabby:


Silver droid in sand crawler in Star Wars A New Hope. Silver droid prop.
Death Star droid? More like “Planet that’s farthest from the bright center of the universe droid”.


Later in the movie the same prop appeared with a coat of black paint. But even though this droid had more screen time in the sand crawler, he still earned the nickname “Death Star Droid”. And the black version only appeared onscreen for a few seconds while Chewbacca… checked him out? You decide what’s going on here:


Black Death Star Droid walks past Luke, Han and Chewie on Death Star. Black droid prop.
Chewie looks like he’s about to whistle or make an inappropriate comment.


I found this online. It looks like a production still and you can see Darth Vader in the background. Deleted scene, maybe?


Death Star Droid production still. Black droid prop.
Lord Vader is coming, I should look busy. If only I had a clipboard. But what would I do with a clipboard? This is awkward, now it looks like I’m doing nothing. But I am doing nothing.


In conclusion, there are probably many more reused and recycled props in Star Wars. However, these are the ones I was able to scrape up for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some familiar props. And if you see any more, let me know in the comments section and maybe I’ll write a second part. Meanwhile, the force will be with you, always.


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Charles Fraser is originally from Lynn, MA but currently resides in Modesto, CA with his wife and children.  He works in IT by day and writes articles for MNN and SWNN by night.  While not reading Curious George books and watching Frozen II, again, with his children, he plays the drums, experiments with guitar and bass, sneaks a video game or two and enjoys movies and TV.  He also enjoys audiobooks.

Charles Fraser

Charles Fraser is originally from Lynn, MA but currently resides in Modesto, CA with his wife and children.  He works in IT by day and writes articles for MNN and SWNN by night.  While not reading Curious George books and watching Frozen II, again, with his children, he plays the drums, experiments with guitar and bass, sneaks a video game or two and enjoys movies and TV.  He also enjoys audiobooks.