Collecting Star Wars…Barf Bags?

By Gus Lopez

ST barf bag_lo

I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other and seen a lot of strange Star Wars stuff, but there’s nothing that could prepare me for finding a Star Wars barf bag in the seat compartment in front of me!

The first Star Wars air sickness bag was produced by Disney for the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. Flight simulator rides such as Star Tours can trigger motion sickness in guests, so Disney planned for that eventuality with Star Tours branded bags—for possible practical use, but also as a gag gift for test riders including families of the Walt Disney Imagineers who worked on the ride.

The bags have a 1986 copyright date; the first Star Tours ride opened to the public at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in January 1987. By then, just about all of the really stomach-churning moves of the Star Tours flight simulators had been removed from the programming. So the bags were seen as more of a clever publicity gimmick than a necessity. Enough had been produced that many—unused ones—ended up in collector’s hands.

VA Barf Bag Front_lo

In 2005, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., working with LucasArts, promoted the release of the video game for Episode IIII Revenge of the Sith on their trans-Atlantic flights with a series of four different Star Wars barf bags, all themed around Sith vs. Jedi. One bag featured an instruction guide for using a lightsaber, another had a diagram illustrating lightsaber components, and yet another offered insight into Jedi combat. My favorite was the Jedi and Sith seating chart with the Light Side and Dark Side of the cabin to keep both sides separate and avoid any unpleasant confrontations.

ROW barf bag

And there is another—a very limited bag indeed. Rancho Obi-Wan, being a special place, shares the highly-coveted distinction of having its own barf bag alongside those of Star Tours and Virgin Atlantic. To commemorate the November 2013 road trip to Rancho Obi-Wan by members of SARLACC, the Seattle-based Star Wars collecting club, member Curt Hanks designed “Admiral Ackbar’s Air Sickness Bag” for this special occasion. With the SARLACC and ROW logos and highlights such as green Mon Calamari spew, this uniquely designed collectible adds the slogan: “Rancho Obi-Wan—A collection so big it might make you sick!”

Gus Lopez, a preeminent Star Wars collector, created The Star Wars Collectors Archive in 1994, the first Star Wars collecting site on the Internet and a virtual museum of the rarest and most unusual Star Wars collectibles. Gus is a frequent speaker at conventions and has led the collecting track for every Star Wars Celebration convention. He has co-authored four books: Gus and Duncan’s Comprehensive Guide to Star Wars Collectibles, Gus and Duncan’s Guide to Star Wars Prototypes, Gus and Duncan’s Guide to Star Wars Cast & Crew Items, and Star Wars: Year by Year.

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How I Was Almost the ‘Cover Girl’ Of a Star Wars Book

By Sue Rostoni

In early 2000, the incredibly talented sound designer Ben Burtt approached Lucy Wilson, then Publishing Director of Lucasfilm Licensing, to propose a book wherein he could relate his stories of developing the sounds and various intergalactic languages used in the classic Star Wars films. Del Rey Books loved the idea and we began work on Star Wars: Beeps, Bleats, and Boskas.

As editor of the book, I was excited to work directly with Ben and we brainstormed various layouts for the book, which included illustrations by Sergio Aragonés, who I fondly remembered from my childhood obsession with MAD magazine.

Phrase book cover with Sue

The book came together wonderfully. Ben was a joy to work with and submitted some very entertaining text. When it came time to design a cover for the book, the Del Rey editor let us know that since the retail price of the paperback was set at something like $6.95 (the final price was $8.00), there wasn’t a budget for a cover artist. We’d have to develop a cover ourselves.

So Ben and I, along with Lucasfilm Licensing’s art director Troy Alders and fellow editor Ben Harper, met outside the Tech Building at Skywalker Ranch and Troy started shooting stills to use against a backdrop of a Mos Eisley street scene. The idea was for we humans (Ben and I) to have traveled to Tatooine (of all places!) for our summer vacation. Lost, we consulted a map (this was before the iPhone), and viola! a cover was born.

Phrase book cover by Warren Fu

The cover was sent to Ben, who showed it to George Lucas. This cover would not get George’s “Fabuloso!” stamp. He was basically appalled. When it was explained to him that there was no cover budget, he promptly called ILM and had artist Warren Fu work up a far more appealing rendition of a summer vacation to Tatooine, using the same species as one of George’s favorite characters in Episode I, Podracer Rats Tyerell.

This original sad excuse for a cover is seen here for the very first, and last, time. Thanks George!

Until she retired in 2011, Sue Rostoni was Executive Editor for LucasBooks. She worked there for 20 years and was editor of Steve Sansweet’s Star Wars Encyclopedia, published by Del Rey in July, 1998.

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