External Sources of Reference Material

General - Prop Building & Modeling

  • The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting Handbook (Thurston James) - considered by many to be a bible.  Although it is now starting to show it's age there isn't anything else out there covers quite such a comprehensive scope on this specialized subject.  The author looks at all different materials and techniques from using materials you can commonly find at the hardware store, to highly detailed resin casts which is probably what you want to know about.  A must have if you want to attempt making a mold and casting copies.

  • The Theatre Props Handbook (Thurston James) - not as comprehensive as James' book on Molding & Cast (see above) this book is, nonetheless, packed with useful, surprising and inspiring information.  The author does assume that you have access to a comprehensive workshop but there are still projects many of us could use and learn from with a more modest toolbox.  This book is aimed at the theatre prop builder but still has sources of information and projects that you might find interesting.
  • Styrene Modeling (Bob Hayden) - Aimed at the scale modeler but contains mainly useful techniques for those of us trying to scratch build 1:1.  Covers tools, adhesives, scratch building, kit bashing, conversions, detailing, airbrushing, decals and weathering techniques.
  • Sculpting (Dan Perez Studios) - This enthusiastic sculptor lists the most useful books he has found.


Star Wars

There are a lot of sources of useful Star Wars material and many of them are not on the web (shock, horror!).  Obviously, the first place to start is with the movies themselves.  Unfortunately, uncle George hasn't released these on DVD yet so it is hard to get screen captures to work from unless you have a video capture card, but he does promise that they will be available .... eventually.


  • The best book, without doubt, is Star Wars Chronicles.  At list price it is expensive at $150 and it is huge.  It has the most detailed pictures of props, models and characters that you will come across but don't look in this book for detailed pictures of Lightsabers; although it does contain a couple the book spends most of it's energy on studio models and characters.
  • From Star Wars to Indiana Jones: The best of the Lucasfilm Archives is considerably cheaper than "Chronicles" but is no less useful.  Surprisingly there is little overlap between the two books and "Archives" contains a great many close-up shots of famous hand-held props.
  • The art of Star Wars: (episode name) are basically the movie screenplays illustrated with pictures of studio models, publicity stills and concept art, however, they seem to contain a lot of shots not available anywhere else.
  • Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary & Star Wars: Episode 1 Visual Dictionary are great sources of detailed of many hand-props.  You have to be a little careful, though, as some of the props are not the original, screen-used props.  Some are commercially available replicas, such as Icon's Lightsabers.  Some were invented for the books like the cutaway sabre, stormtrooper helmet and Yoda's sabre.
  • Star Wars : The Magic of Myth as well as being an interesting read this book, that was produced to coincide with the tour of the same name, contains quite a few pictures of props and characters.  Some are very detailed and useful.
  • Star Wars : The Action Figure Archive is a great book if you collect the toys.  As a bonus is contains quite a few pictures that you don't seem to be able to find anywhere else.  Unfortunately, they are in general tiny thumbnails but it remains a surprisingly intriguing book nonetheless.


There are two reference CD-ROM sets worth checking out, both published by  Lucas Arts; "Behind the Magic" for Episodes 4, 5 and 6 (the original trilogy) and the "Insider's Guide" for Episode 1.  Both contain loads of great pictures including behind the scenes shots and close-ups of props and models.  Either can be picked up for less than $20 and they provide a fun and useful way to research many props, characters and vehicles.


  • The Star Wars Insider magazine has been a good source of material but it has just changed hands (January 2001) and been bought by Wizards which is itself owned by Hasbroken.  Lets hope it continues and improves.
  • Cinefex is a great magazine but when it concentrates on Star Wars it is especially useful.  Get your issues when they are released as back issues, especially ones with material on Star Wars and Aliens, fetch quite high prices on the secondary market.

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