Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Tauntaun Prop Restoration

The Tauntaun Strikes Back!


We originally learned of this Star Wars, Episode V, the Empire Strikes Back prop over 10 years ago, when it was on display in a Planet Hollywood restaurant.  Even then, it needed some TLC.  The jaw of the creature had come loose and had broken some of the fragile foam skin of the cheeks.  Untreated, this worsened over time.


Some time later, the prop came up for auction and a client of ours hired us to consult before bidding...  when he won the piece, it was sent to our studio.


Now, over a decade since first seeing the piece, it was here in our studio and finally getting some much needed attention.


The condition and size of the piece (bigger than most folks expect!) was daunting, but as with many of these projects, as we started to put the pieces back together, the condition seemed to improve very quickly.


The client wanted to see what could be done to enhance the finished display and our friends at Propstore of London had just the thing!  A fiberglass bust of the creature, molded directly from a production-made casting.


CREDITS:


Restoration, Bust Modification & Mounting:  Mike Thomas, Tom Spina and Patrick Louie


with additional assistance from:

Melissa Dooley, Mike Ulloa, Victoria DeMaria, and Patrick Flanagan


Fiberglass bust by Bruce Hansing for Propstore of London, molded from a production piece created by Stuart Freeborn's makeup FX team on The Empire Strikes Back.

Click to see a video showcasing this project!

Click any of the below for larger images

The original Tauntaun creature puppet face, on display in Planet Hollywood over 10 years ago.  Looks like a Wampa's gotten to him!


Tom Spina Designs specializes in the restoration and preservation of original movie props and costumes.


Please visit the links in the top menu bar for more projects like this one!

The completed restoration!  He's no longer Wampa-food!  As always, we were careful to make our work blend with the age and condition of the existing material.  However, our work wasn't complete. The client wanted a way to display the piece that had more impact.  See the pics below!

After a careful cleaning and re-alignment of the jaw, the Tauntaun started to look a bit better!

original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop before restoration
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop before restoration
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop during restoration
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop during restoration
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop during restoration
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop restored
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop at Planet Hollywood
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop restored
original Luke Skywalker Tauntaun movie prop restored
Tauntaun movie prop Star Wars bust
Tauntaun movie prop Star Wars bust
Tauntaun movie prop Star Wars bust display

Propstore of London provided the above bronze-look bust, which was molded off the production used plaster casting seen to the left.  It's production lineage made it an ideal addition to the project.

The creature prop as it arrived in our studio. The jaw was still hanging, with cheeks torn & missing skin. The overall condition was extremely fragile and dusty. On arrival, the crew here dubbed it the "zombie tauntaun"

A pair of shots taken during the restoration process.  We carefully rebuilt the missing skin, and only spot-painted the repairs, leaving the piece as original as possible.

Naturally, as soon as we got it, we chopped the face off!  It would be modified to become a "frame" of sorts.  Supporting the original creature face while giving it context and impact!

The finished display!  We painted the fiberglass bust a neutral color so as not to distract from the original prop creature face.  A cracked tusk was crafted to reflect Luke's Tauntaun from the film.

Tauntaun movie prop Star Wars bust video