Black Squadron (1:121, 1:144)

The Death Star trench, as seen in the climactic battle of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is a unique visual which sets the sequence apart from all other dogfights in cinema. The trench is one long blur for the most part, looming dangerously close to Rebel X-wings and Y-Wings as they conduct their attack runs. It gains even more menace as Darth Vader’s squadron moves in to intercept. How do you translate this into a static model?

Well, you could build a very long miniature set, like the special effects crew did for the movie. Or just model a short section of the trench, which Bandai offers in kit form. But that doesn’t do justice to its limitless length, or capture the photographic motion blur which smooths over the intricate details of the trench on film.

I decided to use forced perspective to convey the vast length of this architectural marvel. Scratchbuilt trench walls recede in scale to a vanishing point in the distance. To give the impression of motion blur, I made simple ‘streaks’ with no details. Vader’s ship is a Revell kit and the two slightly smaller scaled TIE fighters are from Bandai. The total length of the trench is 38cm (15”). 

If you like to build dioramas and want to learn more about how to optimize the visual impact of your work, you might like my book, Diorama Design. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon.

-Ivar