Posted by Jobi-Wan on September 12, 2023 at 08:32 AM CST
Welcome back, Rebelscum! This story may help answer at least one big question for some of you out there. One of the original four hero X-Wing models from the production of ANH went missing decades ago and had become some kind of urban legend amoung film prop enthusiasts. The model turned up in the collection of Greg Jein, the late ILM model-making legend. A team of VFX experts, which included Gene Kozicki, discovered it while assisting Jein's family with the sorting of the collection.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

“This model has not been displayed or modified since it left ILM,” VFX historian Gene Kozicki tells The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”

It’s also notable as it’s been part of visual effects folklore. Kozicki notes there were stories of hero models that were unaccounted for when ILM moved north to the San Francisco Bay Area from California’s San Fernando Valley in 1978.

“We never could confirm anything. It became something of a mythical ‘white whale’ — the missing Star Wars X-wing,” says Kozicki, who was one of a handful of VFX vets who made the discovery while helping Jein’s family to catalog the late VFX pro’s collection.

Kozicki says that he, along with ILM VFX supervisor Bill George, modelmaker and Jein co-worker Lou Zutavern and Jein’s friend Rob McFalane discovered it in a 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,” says 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.”

Jein, who was Oscar-nominated for 1941 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, didn’t keep records of his collection.

“We don’t exactly know the circumstances by which he came into possession of this model. And as an active collector/trader, he also obtained items simply because he figured that he could trade them for something more in line with what he wanted for himself,” says Kozicki. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars were being made at roughly the same time, and with an overlapping group of people. 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.”

The entire Greg Jein collection that is up for auction can be found here at Heritage Auctions. This amazing collection features a wide spectrum of classic sci-fi props and costumes. The Lost X-Wing auction can be found here, but if you want to bid on it you might need to cash in that bottle of spare change you've been collecting.

What do you think Rebelscum? If you could pick one original prop from the original trilogy for your collection, what would it be and why? Sound off in the forums!

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