Two years ago, the Powell family of Lafayette, California, decided to honor the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a very special way: by building a giant Death Star to put atop their house. With The Last Jedi looming on the horizon, the Powell clan decided it was time for a new decoration, one that would make Han Solo (may his soul rest in peace) proud.
"We decided [to] continue the tradition with each new release, which Disney said would be every two years," Colby Powell, the father of the family, tells SYFY WIRE. "The Death Star, and now the Millennium Falcon this year, are Halloween decorations, which we leave up until the movie is debuted... I think we will add a bow so it can remain up and be our Christmas decoration. I mean, heck, it already has lights!"
Now, we know what you're thinking. The Last Jedi is not the second movie since The Force Awakens. Don't worry, the Powells took that into account. "It was a surprise when Disney released Rogue One, and we chose not to do a decoration for that inter-story, but rather wait for Episode VIII to be released," Colby says. "So here we are in 2017 with Episode VIII due out in three weeks and another spaceship on our roof!"
Hey, Rogue One's about the building of the Death Star, so their first project killed two birds with one stone!
What does it take to make a decoration of this magnitude and make sure it stays on your house? Sadly, you can't just buy a Millennium Falcon of your very own, as it was entirely custom-made from wood, PVC pipe, and surplus military parachute, Colby told us. It also helps that Colby's got four kids to help him out: Isabel, 13, Drew, 12, Cameron, 10, and Ian, 6. Even Colby's wife, Julia, not a die-hard Star Wars fan, has gotten into the tradition. "I think originally she tolerated the Death Star, but since our kids are so into it and really enjoyed helping build the creations, she has become a quiet fan," he said.
For details, a printed picture of Han, Chewie, and Leia was placed in the cockpit and the entire structure lit with "630LF of LED of lights." Once finished, it was hoisted onto the roof with a 70-foot crane. In all, the Falcon only took about a month to build and place on the house. It also helps that Colby, vice president and project director at Overaa Construction, has a background in architecture and construction management.
How do the neighbors feel about it?
"[They] love it and are a large part of the reason why we do this," says Colby. "Many neighbors have pitched in to get the projects built... More neighbors helped this time around with the Falcon. Many people drive by, and I've heard from a lot of friends and more distant neighbors that they look forward to seeing it in person."
Even the folks at Lucasfilm are supposedly pleased with the creation. "Unnofficially, I have heard from friends who work at Lucasfilm that our decorations are a big hit with their families and talked about at the company," says Colby, who cites The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as his favorite movies in the franchise.
Colby takes great joy in building these pieces of iconoraphy from a galaxy far, far away, but is also elated he can share this universe with his children. "For me, it is a wonderful thing to see this very memorable element of my childhood come back in vogue and span to the next generation, creating [new] Star Wars fans," he tells SYFY WIRE. "It has made me a fan all over again, and I especially like sharing the excitement with my kids and our friends."
Check out the gallery below to see the behind-the-scenes construction of the Powells' Millennium Falcon and Death Star.
(all photos courtesy of Colby Powell)