A few weeks ago, J.J. Abrams offered fans a chance to win a walk-on role in the new Star Wars movie, and as that contest draws to a close he has unveiled a new clip from the set—this time showing off another old favorite from the galaxy.
It’s a post-Empire X-Wing fighter, dented and battle-burned. It’s even clear that pilot fashions haven’t changed much since the Return of the Jedi days.
UPDATE: As some savvy readers have pointed out, the ship also closely resembles the Z-95 Headhunter ship featured in some of the Star Wars expanded universe stories, although this ship and that one also have some noticeable differences — particularly with the twin cannons at the end of the wings (the Z-95 only has one cannon each and has a different engine structure).
Lucasfilm insists this is an X-Wing, so as they say in Coming to America: “His mama named him Clay, Imma call him Clay.” They also released some early Ralph McQuarrie concept art that shows how these wings will split with what appears to be a single engine.
The filmmaker speaks from what at first looks like the desert, but turns out to be “sunny London,” where the new installment is currently shooting at Pinewood Studios.
With a week to go in the contest that will give a bit part to some fan, Abrams is offering a new prize: a special advance screening of the film before its Dec. 18, 2015 release for the winner and 20 guests. “We know how much Star Wars means to so many of you, and we’d love to share the movie with you first while supporting this truly great cause,” Abrams says, before an anonymous pilot nudges him aside and climbs into the X-wing cockpit.
It’s part of the filmmaker’s Star Wars: Force For Change charity initiative, aimed at helping UNICEF’s Innovation Labs, which aims to create technological fixes for families in remote or troubled parts of our own world—such as communications systems for people in weather disaster zones, and digital education kits. It’s a cause that means a lot to Abrams, so much that he’s willing to drop his passion for secrecy, if only for a little tease. Fans can find out more details and make a donation to enter the contest here.
Just how deep into vintage lore will the new Star Wars get? We also get a glimpse of a familiar old droid, one of the MSE-6-series repair-bots (better known as “mouse droids”) last seen scuttling around the floor of the original Death Star—getting the toast scared out of them by Chewbacca’s roar. “What’s that doing here?” Abrams deadpans as it shoots by his feet.
What else can be gleaned from the full-scale replica? The design of X-Wing fighters has changed a bit since the old days, with only one two thrusters on this one, as opposed to the four usually seen attached to either side of the pop-open wings. Fans are also used to seeing the Red Squadron paintjob, and this one is mainly blue—although there are probably many variation is a vast galactic battle force. There’s also no R2-style astromech droid tucked into the back end of the ship, so where exactly does that flyboy think he’s going without his robotic co-pilot?
For more Star Wars news: Follow @breznican