Darth Vader's Disembodied Head
By James Grahame
It struck me this afternoon: Star Wars now qualifies as Retro sci-fi.
Oddly enough, this came as a complete surprise because the film was - for better or worse - one of the defining moments of my childhood: I couldn't believe the stunning special effects or the otherworldy sets and creatures. I was awed by the medieval romance of lightsabers and tempted by both sides of the force. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of Star Wars action figures. The film made the cheesy special effects in Doctor Who harder to watch than ever. Heck, I wasn't even old enough to realize that the dialog was exquisitely hokey (especially Luke's wamprat-like whining).
All of this is a rather roundabout attempt to justify this post. It's a hot air balloon shaped like Darth Vader's helmet, designed by a team headed by Belgian Star Wars fan Benoît Lambert. It was inflated for the first time on March 8, 2007 -- although a few tweaks were required to make it look just right. It measures 26 m (86 ft) high, weighs around 260 kg (640 lb) and accommodates two passengers and a pilot. Let's hope he doesn't follow up with a gigantic Jabba the Hutt dirigible.