Hello Everybody, as promised last week I am dedicating this post to the great Peter Mayhew and Chewbacca. Ironically I had been working on a saber for Chewbacca for a month or two as a request by a member of Ultrasaber’s forum. I worked on an initial design but thought it could be improved upon and just as I finished it and was getting ready to post it the sad news of Peter Mayhew’s passing broke. So this hilt has become a tribute and memorial to Mr Mayhew.
Peter Mayhew was born in 1944 and suffered from Marfan Syndrome which resulted in his great height. At his tallest Peter measured in at 7 feet 3 inches (2.2 m) tall. And apparently he also had large feet, which led to his career taking off. Peter worked as a hospital orderly but an appearance in a local newspaper article about men with large feet brought him to the attention of a film company who needed an actor of large stature to portray a half man, half bull….or Minotaur. That film was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. In the same year George Lucas was holding auditions for Star Wars and Peter decided to try out for a part. Originally Lucas was going to cast David Prowse as Chewbacca but Prowse took the role of Vader instead. This left a big Wookie shaped hole in Lucas’ cast. Then Peter turned up to audition for the part of “a large hairy alien”. Peter was seated as Lucas and other execs approached him but just by standing up to his full 7″3′ height earned him the role, so imposing was his physique and movement. Chewbacca and Peter Mayhew became one and the same.
My friend on the Ultrasabers forum asked me if I had or could, make a hilt inspired by Chewbacca and the Wookies and I said I had done one a few years ago (see it HERE). However I said it needed updating as I’d used the old designing software I had access to. This meant I had to model a new Blender design from scratch. After a day or two I had this as a base:
But as you can guess I wasn’t quite happy with it and knew there was something I could do to improve it. It needed an iconic part that would link this to Chewie and that part came courtesy of Chewie’s actual weapon he used in Star Wars, the Bowcaster blaster rifle. The weapon looked like this:
I looked at this rifle and realised the part was right there, the crossbow arms and the spheres on each end! I thought they would make a really unique Tsuba hand guard and so set about modifying the emitter. And the very moment I added the bow I knew I had something that might work. Here are the “Glamour Shots” then I’ll talk you through the details…
Wookies come from the planet Kashyyyk, which is covered in forest and lakes so I thought a green blade would be appropriate and that blade erupts from a windowed emitter with the Bowcaster Tsuba.The Tsuba has the iconic energy spheres found on the blaster as well as a nice insert strip in a brown colour reminiscent of Chewie’s fur. The switch has a matching green light and is situated on a LARGE double handed grip section which features turreted blocks and silver accent bands. The handgrip is capped off with a special For Tyeth Edition lighted pommel. The pommel features a green crystal that I imagined contained some energy or essence of the forest and glowed when in use. When viewed from certain points of view the saber actually looks like a Bowcaster, but without the pistol handgrip and shoulder stock.
I thought this saber captured the character of Chewbacca and the Wookie species, in that it was aggressive looking when needed but also spiritual and mystical at the same time. Chewbacca was exactly the same, he was a loyal friend and peaceful ally but when needed he could be a powerful fearsome Berserker who “can rip your arms out of their sockets”. And Peter was a gentle giant himself, loyal, caring and gave back to his fans. He made numerous appearances as Chewie outside the films visiting children’s hospitals. He also stood up (all 7 foot 3) to bullies too, as one time he became aware of a young girl who was bullied at school for being a Star Wars fan. The girl suffered terribly because the boys said stuff like “you can’t like Star Wars…you’re a girl!” and “Go and play with your dolls, you’re not cool”. Well, upon hearing this story Peter and a charity arranged to meet the girl in person and prove the bullies wrong and let them know the girl was “Chewie’s friend”. The girl was soon considered cool afterwards! But most of this and his writing talent went unheard of. I think the biggest “news story” that involved Peter was when airport security stopped him at the check-in desk because he had a walking cane shaped like a lightsaber (that might have been used as a weapon)! Peter loved his fans and even as his health faltered he battled on playing Chewie up till The Force Awakens. Eventually he had to stop and didn’t appear in The Last Jedi, but did act as a consultant and mentor to Joonas Suatomo, the actor tasked with filling his role. Peter passed the Bowcaster to Joonas with dignity and class. And I wish to pass on this design in his memory. So I have two final images, the first is the memorial picture I posted last week and the second is a last minute edit I made to the design. Chewie became our big furry friend and so I had to make a “furry” version of this hilt and you can see it in the second image:
So I think I have covered this hilt and I hope you all enjoyed it and sharing a few memories with me. I wish to extend my condolences to his wife, Angelique Luker and their children Katy, Sheryl and Kathleen. May the Force be with all of you.
Thanks for looking in on Wookie Berserker, till next time….
“Wookie Berserker” is a For Tyeth Edition design and is ©Copyright of For Tyeth/FTSabersite 2016-2019. “Chewbacca” was created by George Lucas and is a Trademark/©Copyright of Disney/LucasFilm.