Long-lost 1977 Star Wars X-Wing prop discovered – lock s-foils in bid position

Hundreds more iconic props set to go on sale from collection of late Hollywood model maker Greg Jein

A long-lost model of an X-Wing Fighter used in the climactic Death Star battle sequence of 1977's Star Wars has been discovered – and it's for sale if you have a spare $400,000 (£320K) to meet the opening bid.

The model believed to be the formerly missing X-Wing is hitting the auction block as part of the collection of late Hollywood model maker Greg Jein, who died last year at the age of 76. Over the course of his storied career, Jein amassed an enormous collection of film and television props, costumes, and production photos – 550 of which will hit the auction block next month.


The legendary missing X-Wing being auctioned as part of the collection of late SFX model maker Greg Jein – Click to enlarge. Image sources: Heritage Auctions

The X-Wing is the obvious centerpiece, and not only because it's twice the volume of the second-most expensive item (a screen-matched set of Star Wars Stormtrooper armor). Its discovery is considered "as significant a find as the ruby red slippers or the Maltese Falcon," for those in the Hollywood effects community, VFX artist Gene Kozicki told The Hollywood Reporter.

The tale of the missing miniature

Only four 1:24 "hero" models – with servo-controlled wings that open and close to take the fictional fighters into "attack position," plus detailed paint jobs used for close up shots – were produced for the first Star Wars flick by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). When ILM relocated from San Francisco to the San Fernando Valley in 1978, so the story goes, one of those four craft went missing. 

"We never could confirm anything. It became something of a mythical 'white whale' – the missing Star Wars X-Wing," Kozicki told The Hollywood Reporter. All that changed when he and several others were helping Jein's family catalog his belongings and happened upon a mysterious cardboard box. 

"I knew something was probably in the box, so I started to carefully scoop out the packaging peanuts when the nose of the X-Wing showed itself," recalled Kozicki. "The four of us knew immediately that it was the actual filming model and then the magnitude of the discovery started to set in."

That's not to say by any means that Jein stole the X-Wing. There was a small group of people working on special effects in Hollywood at that time, Kozicki said, and they regularly traded and acquired props and models.  

Jein was also not just working in the movie world, but doing brilliantly: he was nominated for a special effects Oscar for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released the same year as Star Wars, and was nominated again in 1979 for his work on 1941.

"No one, not even Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, could anticipate the impact these films would have on the industry or cultural zeitgeist," Kozicki added.

This particular model, according to auction house Heritage Auctions, is marked as Red Leader (Red One), but was also used on screen in Star Wars as Red Two, flown by Wedge Antilles, and Red Five, piloted by Luke Skywalker. 

Wars, Trek, and more

If four hundred large for a miniature X-Wing is too rich for your blood, there's plenty more to pick from as part of the Greg Jein Collection auction – scheduled for October 14 and 15.

If Star Trek is more your speed, you can bid on items including one of William Shatner's original Captain Kirk wigs, one of the many variants of Kirk's uniforms from the TV series or Trek films, Spock's Vulcan lute, or even the famous Vulcan's robe worn when Kirk's merry band on the captured Klingon Bird of Prey HMS Bounty went back in time to 1980s San Francisco to kidnap some whales. 


Kirk and Spock uniforms from Star Trek TV series and movies – Click to enlarge

There's also a collection of props from other universes. Bidders can obtain several items from the original Battlestar Galactica series (including a Colonial Viper fighter craft), Charlton Heston's flight suit from Planet of the Apes, or one of several props from (ahem) Flesh Gordon – for which Jein did special effects work – among many other treasures.


A rather suspiciously-shaped rocket crafted by Jein for Flesh Gordon – Click to … enlarge

Don't expect anything to go for cheap, though: even a 12.5" long phallic rocket from the aforementioned Flash Gordon parody will start at $2,000 when bidding opens next month. ®

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