Have you ever spent your life wishing for something to happen, but it seems so fanciful and out of reach that you never really believe it has a chance to come true? That was what it was like for me and Star Wars. I was one of those kids who grew up obsessed with the original trilogy, the first film having been released when I was 7, the perfect age to become immersed in this amazing new world that was like nothing I had ever seen. Since they announced there would be a new trilogy of prequels I had wanted to do something to work on these movies. But after taking a very long, circuitous route through college and emerging with few jobs prospects, I had very little hope of doing anything for a career, let alone one that would let me be involved in any way with Star Wars.
So take it on faith, dear reader, that sometimes if you wish hard enough good things will happen. Within a year of having no job and being forced to move back in with my parents at the age of 27 I was gainfully employed designing toys, something I honestly had no business being hired to do (hat tip here to my old boss, Michael Hawkins, who was amazing at spotting talent. He put together the most creative group I have ever worked with, none of us having prior experience). Within a year of starting that job I was designing promotional merchandise for Star Wars: Episode One, as it was known then.
I remember telling my CEO there were only two things I wanted to do: go to Skywalker Ranch and see the manufacturing process in person in China. And this is the part about being careful what you wish for… I not only went to Skywalker Ranch multiple times, and was able to present my work to Lucasfilm in person, but I ended up embedded at the factory in China for many months, teaching the craftsmen at the factory how to paint thousands of Yodas and Jar Jars.
Anyway, this long preamble is just to give context to my latest article in a series highlighting all the wonderful concepts that were never made that my co-workers and I designed for The Phantom Menace, back in 1998. Go check it out on Action Figure Insider. There’s a link to part one in that article, too. The images below are just a sample of everything we did.