“I had books, when I was a kid. The Art of Star Wars and The Art of The Empire Strikes Back. They had a lot of McQuarrie sketches in them. Those early sketches always blew my mind.”
Funko Senior Product Designer Reis O’Brien reflects on the iconic McQuarrie concept art taking form in the famous Pop! figure line. Every Star Wars fan is familiar with the name Ralph McQuarrie. A key concept artist for early Star Wars, his designs played a critical role in getting the movies made. They even drew Anthony Daniels to the role of C-3PO. McQuarrie was born in 1929 and died in 2012, with his art also reaching into Battlestar Galactica, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and winning an Academy Award for Cocoon. McQuarrie was even the one who drew the mask upon Darth Vader, deciding that if he was to fight in space he needed a way to breathe. O’Brien states:
We started toying with the idea, I’d say maybe four years ago. I initially just did some quick-and-dirty sketches and sent them over to Lucasfilm. They liked the idea, but I think it was a timing thing. It just didn’t feel right at the time. I just made a point, any time we’d have a brainstorm meeting. I’d just kind of roll those back out. ‘Remember this idea?’ Finally, this time, it stuck.”
The team used McQuarrie’s Star Wars few paintings and sketches for reference, sometimes having very little to work with. O’Brien elaborates:
It was a quite a challenge. There’s only so much McQuarrie art out there for these characters. We had maybe five to eight really good, detailed paintings of characters that changed or never came to be, and then maybe a handful — 10, 12 — ink and watercolor sketches of characters, like variations of Vader’s helmet, for example. But other than that, we really didn’t have a lot to work with.”
But finally, after much hard work, the Star Wars Funko Pop! figures are completed. They are not yet available for purchase, but keep an eye out in local stores or on the Funko Pop! website for their release.