Inside the Lucasfilm Archive: Han Solo’s Dice

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Through the props and costumes of Star Wars, we find a tangible link to connect with the characters from a galaxy far, far away and the stories they inhabit. Inside the Lucasfilm Archive, take a closer look at these artifacts and the stories behind their design.

Even after Han Solo’s luck had run out, his golden dice still dangled in the cockpit of his beloved Millennium Falcon, a symbol of a simpler time, when he was a young man on Corellia just dreaming of getting out of the slums and escaping to the stars.

In-universe, the aurodium-plated chance cubes were Han’s lucky charm, whether adorning the windscreen of a stolen landspeeder, tucked into the palm of his beloved friend Qi’ra, or clutched in the hands of his son, Ben Solo. For many years, the dice hung in the cockpit of the freighter he called home, a relic from the Corellian Spike variation of sabacc.

Three sets of dice props from three different films.

The evolution of Han’s dice (from left to right): the original dice prop created for The Force Awakens, concept art by Laura Grant from The Last Jedi, and the prop created for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

In reality, the prop counterpart to this particular piece of Star Wars lore has developed over time from simple set dressing trinket to major plot point, with several iterations along the way. “What makes the dice interesting is their evolution over time,” says Lucasfilm Archivist Madlyn Burkert.

The dice were first spotted in A New Hope, most notably in a brief shot where Chewbacca’s head knocks them slightly, Burkert says. Many props and costumes from those earliest days of filming have been lost to time, but the first prop was a simple pair of Earth dice painted gold.

If you’ve never spotted these dice from their brief appearance in the film, you’re not alone, says Pablo Hidalgo, Lucasfilm’s Senior Creative Executive for Franchise Story and Content. “They did not make much of a splash in the pages of comics, guides or novels either, but there is one noteworthy appearance in Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #81, cover-dated March 1984,” Hidalgo says. In one panel, when Han is reunited with his beloved ship after the Battle of Endor, he spots the dice he “won her with.”

Nearly 40 years later, the creative team working on The Force Awakens resurrected the diminutive dice when they resurfaced for Han’s reunion with the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. The prop used for the part appear to be a light plastic resin casting of Earth dice once again given golden deco by hand. “These are really, really light,” Burkert notes.

In both cases, the dice were seen at such a distance, “they didn’t have to have to be uniquely Star Wars,” she adds. “They didn’t have to have the visual language of Star Wars and so they used a regular set of dice as the basis for it.”

For The Last Jedi, the dice prop became more of a focal point, a symbol of loss passed from Luke Skywalker to his sister, and Han’s widow, Leia Organa. This time, prop makers experimented with fabricated metal, two bronze-colored versions that were slightly larger and heavier than earlier incarnations with finer attention to the detailed symbols on each side, and a golden-hued duplicate for background shots.

Han's dice as seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

But for Solo: A Star Wars Story, where the prop plays an even bigger role in exploring Han Solo’s psyche and the events that shaped him, designers returned to the drawing board for yet another, smaller version. “It’s at the discretion of the props making team who is fabricating it,” Burkert says. And each design choice takes into account the prop’s role in the story and how it will be used onscreen.

Han's dice as seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Today, the Lucasfilm Archive contains several copies and versions of the sturdy dice forged from brass, equally perfect for close-up shots and fast-paced chase scenes. “There’s a reason they might make a lot more of any given prop as it has prominence in a film,” Burkert says. “It’s look. It’s weight. But it’s also damage control. Sometimes props break on set. They also could get scratched.”

Even with lucky dice, it helps to have a stunt double or two.

Concept art by Molly Sole

But that still leaves the question – “Did Han and Lando indeed play a Corellian Spike version of sabacc and were the dice used in that fateful game on Numidian Prime seen in Solo, where Han wins the Falcon?” Hidalgo asks. “Perhaps.” The game doesn’t play out onscreen in full, “But it should be pointed out that Han could have used them in their most basic form: as a good luck charm.”

For more props from The Force Awakens, check out this week’s episode of The Star Wars Show below.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Inside the Lucasfilm Archive: Han Solo’s Dice

See Rare Photos and Art from Star Wars Icons: Han Solo

StarWars.com

How did a space cowboy — with a walking carpet of a best friend — become one of the world’s most beloved heroes? That’s what Gina McIntyre explores in her new book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo, a beautiful tribute to our favorite scoundrel. Filled with rare and never-before-seen photographs and images, as well as exclusive new interviews with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, J.J. Abrams, and more, McIntyre follows Han’s evolution from the development of the original Star Wars all the way to 2018’s origin tale, Solo: A Star Wars Story. There’s never been a Star Wars book like it; thanks to a team up between publisher Insight Editions and Sideshow Collectibles, Star Wars Icons: Han Solo is available now, exclusively at Sideshowtoy.com. To celebrate its release, McIntyre has shared some of her favorite images from Star Wars Icons: Han Solo with StarWars.com, along with her own personal commentary.

Harrison Ford shooting the medal ceremony scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, photo from Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“In Star Wars Icons: Han Solo we really wanted to capture how Han was brought to life on the set of A New Hope through Harrison Ford’s performance, the hectic, ambitious nature of the production, and the camaraderie among the lead actors. This image really captures the energy at Elstree Studios, Harrison’s off-the-charts-charm, and his irresistible chemistry with Carrie Fisher”.

Photo shoot of Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars: A New Hope, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

Photo shoot of Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars: A New Hope, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

Photo shoot of Han Solo and Chewbacca from Star Wars: A New Hope, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“This photo shoot of Han and Chewie spawned the classic image of the two characters side-by-side that would later be used on countless items of merchandise. It was so iconic that for the ‘Chewie, we’re home’ scene in The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams staged the duo’s entrance to look just like the classic image. These rejected pics from the photo shoot show that not every pose was an instant classic, though!”

Harrison Ford takes a break shooting The Empire Strikes Back, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“I love the fly-on-the-wall vibe of this shot from the set of The Empire Strikes Back (or ‘Star Wars 2′ as it says on the ladder). With this book, we really wanted to explore what it takes to craft a Star Wars character on set, and candid moments like this really transport you back to the shoot. The pressure was on for the sequel, and the production was much more grandiose and less frenetic — I think this comes across in this image of Harrison, surrounded by technicians as he waits to shoot a scene on the immense Echo Base set.”

Harrison Ford takes a break shooting The Empire Strikes Back, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“Nothing defines Han Solo’s character quite like the ‘I love you/I know’ exchange with Princess Leia in Empire Strikes Back. Filming the scene was notoriously challenging though because of technical difficulties with the carbon freeze chamber set and, as a result, tensions were high. This shot of Harrison Ford resting on a mattress as he takes in the unfolding difficulties perfectly sums up the mood in a single image. Who said making movie history would be easy?”

Harrison Ford rests on the plank of Jabba's sail barge, photo from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“On Return of the Jedi there was a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver a sequel that would conclude the series in a satisfying way. Naturally, that required finding a way to bring back Han Solo — his rescue and the subsequent fight at the Great Pit of Carkoon became the focal point of the opening act of the film. This shot gives a sense of the enormous scale of the sequence. Action scenes can be tedious to film, however, and the actors often find themselves with a lot of downtime as cameras are repositioned and lighting is adjusted. Here, Ford is seen between takes lying down on the plank of a sand skiff.”

Concept sketch of Han Solo from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

The Force Awakens costume designer Michael Kaplan first met Harrison Ford on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, back in the early ’80s. In Scott’s film, Ford played replicant hunter Rick Deckard, wearing a costume designed by Kaplan. When it came time to design outfits for an older version of Han Solo, Kaplan took some inspiration from Blade Runner, as seen in this sketch by Glyn Dillon which makes reference to a ‘Deckard’ collar.”

The cast laughs behind the scenes of Solo: A Star Wars Story, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

The Force Awakens might have brought Han’s story to an end, but Solo: A Star Wars Story gave us a rousing look at the smuggler’s younger days. Here, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, Alden Ehrenreich, and Woody Harrelson are seen sharing a laugh on location in Fuerteventura, Spain, which stood in for the planet Savareen during the shoot. The spirit of this image feels very much in keeping with the film itself — lively and upbeat and emotional.”

Howard Chaykin sketch of Han Solo, from the book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

“Lucasfilm’s Pete Vilmur kindly donated this amazing piece to the book — a sketch of Han created by legendary artist Howard Chaykin for the original Star Wars Marvel Comics series. Comics are fertile ground for Han Solo stories and the early Marvel stories are filled with great Han and Chewie adventures.”

Star Wars Icons: Han Solo book cover.

Star Wars Icons: Han Solo is available now at Sideshowtoy.com.

For more on Star Wars Icons: Han Solo, check out StarWars.com’s interview with Gina McIntyre.

See more of Star Wars Icons: Han Solo on The Star Wars Show!

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

See Rare Photos and Art from Star Wars Icons: Han Solo

The Galaxy in Comics: Han Solo’s Attitude Doesn’t Fly in Imperial Cadet #1

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Judging by the scenes that bookend Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1, everyone’s favorite Corellian might be able to offer up an rationalization for every scrap of trouble he finds himself in — “I can explain” — but more often than not, the person in authority doesn’t buy it. You can see how that might be a bit of a problem for Han Solo.

The cover for Marvels Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

Whereas Solo: A Star Wars Story jumped past Han’s time at the Imperial Academy on Carida and only briefly touched of his time in the Empire, Marvel’s Imperial Cadet miniseries is here to revel in it. There are years of unexplored stories in Han’s past and while Robbie Thompson, the designated Solo Scribe, has said he doesn’t intend to cover every last nook and cranny, we’re certainly well on our way to taking a real fun flight through Han’s life at the Carida Academy, where he doesn’t seem to be any less trouble-prone than he was back on Corellia.

While we’re introduced to some intriguing new characters like fellow cadets Hanina Nico, and siblings Lyttan and Tamu Dree, Imperial Cadet #1 centers upon Han. Thompson has written the film’s events on Corellia twice for two different books (Imperial Cadet #1 and Solo #1), but still finds a way to bring new insights into those lost years in Han’s past.

Han Solo during his Imperial training in Marvel's Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

Han’s early days in the Empire are far from easy and were likely a bit of a culture shock for the scrumrat, as he’s put through the wringer and back. This makes it all the more impressive that he’s able to hang on to his cocky, devil-may-care attitude throughout. With Qi’ra left behind and his lucky dice with her, he’s left with just two things: his name and his end goal of getting back to her, and he’s not about to let go of either. Repeatedly, he insists on being called Han or Solo instead of his identification number 124-329, even when it gets him a punch in the face. Perhaps it’s not the smartest move, but you can’t doubt his conviction and sense of purpose. He just tends to live in the here and now instead of thinking a few steps ahead. That’s how he ended up in the Carida Academy in the first place.

Han Solo during his Imperial training in Marvel's Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

While we’ve seen what Imperial Academies are like before in stories like Lost Stars, Thrawn, and Star Wars Rebels, we haven’t gotten an in-the-trenches view like Imperial Cadet offers us. (The Royal Imperial Academy of Coruscant this most definitely is not.) There’s an equally cutthroat vibe between different groups of cadets but Carida appears to be where the rank and file with plenty to prove go, while Coruscant gets the best and the brightest. Seeing Carida on the page shows us the Empire’s version of basic training is no treat for the cadets. Unfortunately for Han, it’s an experience he’ll have to endure if he ever wants to make it into the flight-training program or even have a chance at being treated like a human being again.

The mental games are almost as bad as the physical trials at the Carida Academy. Each cadet is stripped of his or her name, given an operating number, and must do well enough in training to earn the “right” to their name back. Any time Han tries to insist on being referred to like an actual person, he’s punished. (His flippant attitude doesn’t help much.) Even the clones (considered by some to be property and not people) of the Republic were mostly allowed to at least have nicknames to distinguish themselves as their own persons. The Empire is far more focused on the whole, with the individuals being deemed “insignificant” in comparison. “You came here as nothing,” Training Officer Triosa Broog tells the new cadets. “You leave here as a trained weapon of the Imperial Navy.”

Han Solo at the Imperial Academy in Marvel's Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

While boot camp is a standard part of enlisting in a military, the Empire’s version feels more…extreme. The Dree brothers say they joined because they were starving to death on Boiyuh. Han joined as a way to evade the reach of Lady Proxima’s gang (and find a way back to rescue Qi’ra). For people like them who likely make up the bulk of the lower, more expendable ranks, the Empire provides an escape from whatever bad situation they were in. It’s not hard to see why the offer to get out would be appealing. After all, the Empire’s Commission for the Preservation of the New Order had an excellent propaganda division that made becoming a stormtrooper or a TIE pilot seem like it was the right thing to do — and even a little glamorous. “Explore new worlds! Learn valuable skills!” the advertisements promised, stretching and coaching the truth in the best way possible.

Imperial Cadet #1 proves there are plenty of stories left to tell about Han Solo’s life as it dives into relatively uncharted territory. While we may already know the outcome of his time there, it’s less about the destination and far more about the journey and the friends and enemies he’s bound to make along the way. We’re all just along for the ride.

Bria LaVorgna is a writer who doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t love Star Wars. She also really loves Alderaan, Doctor Aphra, and Inferno Squad. You can follow her on Twitter @chaosbria.

The Galaxy in Comics: Han Solo’s Attitude Doesn’t Fly in Imperial Cadet #1