Friday, April 29, 2011

Should Ralph McQuarrie Be Angry About Unlicensed Stormtrooper Helmets?

Friday, April 29, 2011 - by Maurice Mitchell 2

A UK man is selling unlicensed Stormtrooper helmets and costumes he made the original molds. Lucas is  angry, but should McQuarrie be angrier that the man is implying he has a right to the designs?
In 1976 prop maker Andrew Ainsworth of Shepperton Design Studios created the original Stormtrooper helmets and armour for the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. All these years later, Andrew produces genuine, authentic replicas using the original moulds, as close as it is possible to get to the original film props. - http://originalstormtrooper.com/

Ralph McQuarrie designed most of the concept art for the first three Star Wars films and his art is legendary. Andrew Ainsworth says that he got some vague descriptions of what Lucas and McQuarrie wanted and expanded that into a functional design. He also says he never got paid for the work.
What Ainsworth is saying is that he designed and created the Star Wars helmets. But, McQuarrie did all the original designs, not Andrew. The difference is if the helmets molds are artistic or mechanical. His lawyers say he is not violating any artistic copyrights and there are no copyrights on mechanical design.

For reference, here are two  three concept drawings Mr. McQuarrie did for Star Wars stormtroopers.






In Andrew's notes he described McQuarrie's brilliantly thought out vision of the troopers.

"The concept drawings from Ralph McQuarrie suggested that the Stormtrooper was a futuristic being that had evolved through continuous genetic modification, and perhaps able to operate in adverse pungent climatic conditions." Ainsworth said, "The helmet would therefore be able to filter noxious gases and the armour be so flexible that it could have actually grown on the character that way - much the same as an armadillo has natural armour."

Yes, there's a difference between his designs and the final product, but not enough to claim he created them as original works.

Should McQuarrie be angry about Andrew taking credit for his hard work?

Update: John Scoleri pointed out the second image was a piece of very well-rendered fan art

About the Author

Maurice Mitchell
Lover of science fiction and art.

2 comments:

  1. Just FYI - the middle image is not by Ralph (hence the "with apologies to R.M. credit).

    ReplyDelete
  2. It’s sad to see on the internet that people believe Ainsworth’s account of designing and sculpting the Stormtrooper armour and helmet.
    It was proven in court that the armour was sculpted by Brian Muir (sculptor of the infamous Darth Vader) and there was a clay sculpt of the helmet produced by Liz Moore. Unfortunately the credit for the helmet was incorrectly given to Nick Pemberton.
    There was a talented team of artists who were responsible for the creation of the Stormtrooper. From George Lucas’s original concept, Ralph McQuarrie’s incredible paintings, John Barry – designer, John Mollo – wardrobe, Liz Moore – sculptor, Brian Muir – sculptor and the studio mould makers and plasterers.
    Ainsworth was given the tools to pull on. He was and is a vacuum former. He continues to lie about his involvement in the making of the Stormtrooper and sadly the truth that was shown in the court case and the judgement has not been published only Ainsworth’s spin on the case.
    Yes Ralph McQuarrie AND many other people involved in the creation of the Stormtrooper should be angry that Ainsworth takes the credit for all their hard work and creative skills!!

    ReplyDelete

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