A sleepy San Francisco suburb has once again been transformed into a sci-fi spectacle with a new appearance of a Star Wars icon on the roof of one of its homes.
Two years ago, with the launch of the first new Star Wars sequel in a decade, Lafayette, CA dad Colby Powell and his family and friends grouped together to create a 23-foot replica of the Death Star atop his house, said to be the largest DIY rendition of its type. The illuminated, flashing build garnered quite a bit of attention, even resulting in having a news outlet’s helicopter fly overhead, and a separate appearance in a Good Morning America segment.
Powell and family opted to not make a build for the standalone movie Rogue One last year, instead waiting for The Last Jedi (premiering this December) to launch their next masterpiece: a supersized Millennium Falcon, complete with Han, Chewie, Leia, and C3P0 in the cockpit.
Powell explains that the decision to make the Falcon was followed by a huge challenge — there aren’t any clear diagrams of the spacecraft’s dimensions available online. After much searching, they found inspiration in a Lego version of the same ship that one of his sons had in his bedroom. With that, they were able to take measurements to get an accurate representation, then scaled it up to the size they wanted for their house. Meaning, of course, this giant Millennium Falcon is actually a giant Lego Millennium Falcon.
And giant it is — 28.5′ long, 20′ around, and 5′ thick. It is instantly noticeable as you turn the corner onto Powell’s street — I started laughing when I saw it first pop out from behind a tree when I stopped by to visit.
The build took just over a month, beginning September 24th and finishing on Oct 29th — just in time for the family’s annual Halloween party. Its main structure is made from 2×4’s, painted grey by the kids. “What was great about it was they set up the wood on saw horses, they figured out how to do the tops and bottoms and sides,” Powell says.
From there, they laid out the initial structure, getting the 2×4 spokes evenly aligned and creating the “mandibles,” as Powell calls them. From there they built the center tower, which the framework that would create the body of the ship would connect to.
The family made the front runners from 20′ 2x4s, cantilevered out and bolted down tightly. This was the point where the friends and neighbors who were helping with the build — purposefully kept in the dark to what the final build was to become — started to figure it out. Powell had even gone as far as to make blueprints for various components that were purposefully specific and sparse, omitting any identifying details. “I wanted to make it a surprise,” he says.
The structure required more strength than originally anticipated, which meant that they needed to change it from pipework for the body to more 2x4s, increasing its weight from 400 pounds to 700.
With the initial frame in place, Powell used PVC conduit to complete the circular structure of the Falcon, and build the cockpit. The family also started building the supports using beefy 4×12 timbers.
The skin of the Falcon is made from a military-surplus parachute, the same one that Powell used on the Death Star, and uses LED rope lights to accent its shape and create the blue lights of the rear thrusters.
The final part of the build was putting it on the roof of the house. Powell works as a contractor, and once again accessed a large crane to lift the build into position.
The results are spectacular. Powell expects that he’ll have it mounted until at least the premiere of the movie. After that, he hopes to find a new home for it.