Buying Han’s Trusty Blaster
Seeking to free the Rebel Alliance’s most iconic weapons from the clutches of dusty old boxes in attics on Hollywood Boulevard, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has been on a quest to give fans new hope that they can see their favorite props—handled by their favorite characters—in real life.
We just bought Han Solo’s blaster for $550,000, our most expensive Star Wars purchase yet. Han Solo’s blaster is only eclipsed by lightsabers and death stars, the fast-firing modified DL-44 blaster is closer to Han than even his furry friend, Chewbacca. Now joining the ranks of memorabilia like the lightsaber used by Mark Hamill, we thought we’d pit the two props against each other.
We purchased Mark Hamill’s lightsaber from Empire Strikes Back for $450,000. The model was constructed from a 1930s Graflex flash tube with some buttons and circuitry glued on—humble beginnings for a laser sword. Our model, sadly, isn’t a working one, though who can blame it after taking a tumble down from Cloud City.
Han’s blaster started as a real pistol. The base is a German Mauser C96 model made by a Japanese company. The accouterments included bits of spare parts that were later replicated with resin molding. A scope and iron sights sit atop the frame, supposedly allowing Han to quickdraw more easily. Apparently, he got a little too zealous on set, though, as our model has a damaged scope.
Firing and non-firing versions were made for Return of the Jedi, and ours is a non-firing type. Unfortunately, this means we won’t be doing any blaster-forensics to determine whether Han actually shot first. Since it didn’t necessitate a firearms safety officer on set, it was likely used quite a bit before it was broken.
While the lightsaber may be an elegant weapon, and not as clumsy or random as a blaster, a gun model is probably more dangerous than a camera flash. If you want an on-screen comparison, Han Solo racks up 17 kills with his blaster, while Mark Hamill never kills a single person with his first lightsaber—though Anakin Skywalker uses it a ton in episode three.
“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid”—Han to Luke
With Luke’s lightsaber, Han’s blaster, C3P0’s head, an R2 roaming the office, and a giant Millennium Falcon made of matchsticks sitting in the warehouse, the Ripley’s office is looking more and more like the Mos Eisley Spaceport. Force-willing one of these amazing artifacts is on its way to an odditorium near you, restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.