There is no doubt that when the original Star Wars moviescame out, they defined a generation. Before Disney made plans for the sequel trilogy, before anyone had been exposed to the prequel trilogy, the first three films inspired us with a universe of adventure, incredible planets and sets so realistic that even the background characters seemed to have their own stories to tell!
The Force Awakens brought us back to that faraway galaxy with open minds and eager hearts, but fans of the original films had to wait decades for any truly substantial sequels. In the meantime, the sheer quality of the craftsmanship that went into the original movies inspired some fantastic fan creations, many of which would look right at home on a real Star Wars set.
Of course, when it comes to bespoke Star Wars furniture there are no pieces quite as renowned as the wonderful ‘Han Solo Carbonite Desk’ made by Tom Spina Designs. Back in 2007, Tom was approached by Grammy winning artist Mark Hall to create a piece of custom furniture based on the sci-fi series. After brainstorming with a few different possibilities, they finally settled on an incredible idea: take the petrified Han Solo from The Empire Strikes Back and turn him into an office desk!
The result went viral, causing Tom’s website to crash several times from the sheer number of visitors wanting to see the piece. There is something truly sinister about the petrified smuggler being used in such a way (we’re sure that Jabba would approve), and thousands of fans soon got in contact asking if the desk was available to buy.
While the piece itself was eventually sold for charity, it continues to set an incredible standard not just for Star Wars merchandise but for fanworks in general. Now fans can even buy their own copies on Tom’s retail site, Regal Robot.
With Han’s first solo project just a few days away from release, we decided to catch up with Tom and ask him about how the incredible bespoke piece came to be.
Image credit: Tom Spina Designs
Quite a few! Some have made their way into Regal Robot designs and potential future products. Most times when we start a custom commission for someone, we have a pretty wide range of ideas going in, then narrow down as we discuss with the client and figure out their space and style.
A surprisingly strong one! We felt it was a cool concept and looked good, but we never expected the number of blog posts and stories written about it. This is over 10 years ago now, years before Facebook really caught on. It was real word of mouth. Amazing and very cool.
When we did that first desk in 2007, we sourced an old Illusive Concepts creation from the 90’s. They’d molded the real prop but the casting had some minor issues. When the time came to create the all-new, licensed Regal Robot version, we had access to the Lucasfilm Archives. How cool is that? We got to scan the real prop and improve on that old casting. It’s a really sharp recreation. Even with the scan, there was still a lot of manual work to be done, but we’re hand sculptors first and committed to details, so it was a fun challenge for us to incorporate 3D printed elements and get those looking great.
The visual language of that universe is just so darn strong. The classics especially. There was never anything like it before! Everything feels “real” for lack of a better word, and there are really wonderful design elements everywhere. Every fan can find something they love in there and that’s where we come in. Doing custom work based on those elements that really speak to specific people.
Image credit: Tom Spina Designs
Oh gosh, tons! We’ve got a lot of new things in the works for Regal Robot so I don’t want to tip my hand there. That said, from the creature side of things at Tom Spina Designs, there are still a few cantina monsters we haven’t yet recreated for commercial or video work. I’m always hoping a project will come along that calls for us to sculpt up those last few heads! I’m looking at you, brain guy (or Pons Limbus for those fans who love funny names!).
Understand going in that it’s not the same as going to a big box store or massive online dealer. You’re going to cover a bit more cost for R&D, approvals, safety and of course the time of the designers and builders, but the process is going to be very rewarding. When folks come to us looking for a custom piece, they almost always work with me or one of my top designers directly. We chat, we brainstorm, we dial in to what they just love. Once we have that, we can sketch and dream for them and from there, we can start to build.
Tom himself sitting at a copy of the original desk, available with Regal Robot. Credit: Regal Robot
There’s a magic to the first three films that’s always going to be special. There’s been a LOT of Star Wars over the years. Prequels, animated series and movies, heck, the Ewok Movies in the 80’s and the Holiday Special! Each has their charm and strengths, and there’s a lot to like and even love, but nothing beats the first for me!
Philip is always on the lookout for properties that inspire. He knows how frustrating home improvements and maintenance can be, which is why he covers everything from loft conversions to radiator repair! Phil’s main interest is in modern properties, with a particular soft spot for skyscrapers.