Here is a very simple overview of 100 essential Star WarsTM vehicles, for those who don’t have any midi-chlorians in their cells.
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It can be kind of dizzying to think that one’s man idea of a spaceship called the “Millennium Falcon” shaped somewhat like a wonky hamburger he once had would evolve into a huge encyclopedia of all Star Wars vehicles. We’ve only included 100 here, but there are many hundreds included throughout the Expanded Universe. There are whole books dedicated to exploring the insides of Star Wars imperial vehicles alone. (And, yes, fans do get really passionate about it.) There are entire video games based solely around the concept of getting and flying ground vehicles like pod-racers. What’s even more overwhelming is that with every new film and TV show, there are more added to this seemingly endless lexicon.
George Lucas opened a can of creativity.
But it’s not luck. It’s great visual effects.
So many amazing vehicles have been created since the first film. From the get-go, the THX team’s visual effects changed the film industry as a whole. That creative legacy of developing amazing Star Wars spaceships has touched every property in the Star Wars universe, from TV shows to books. Say what you might about the controversial prequels; the fighters, pod racers, and ships were still pretty cool. The recent films upholding this legacy have brought us old-but-new ships like Kylo Ren’s Upsilon-Class Command Shuttle or the upgraded TIE fighter.
For those non-Jedi and non-Sith out there, let’s introduce some important themes carried through the designs of the Star Wars ships. Because Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was based on many myths and classic melodramas, there are some classically “evil” and classically “good” groups of fighters. The “bad” guys like the First Order and Galactic Empire often use TIE fighters (which stand for “twin ion engines” but really just reminded Lucas of a bow tie), Star Destroyers, and superweapons like the Death Star and Starkiller Base. (Bad guys typically like to blow stuff up, as a rule.) Their ships are typically dominant, imposing, gray, and shaped with harsh angles.
Conversely, the “good” guys like the Resistance, Rebellion, and Jedi order have a rag-tag, disjointed fleet of colorful and random vehicles. The most famous, the X-wing, though many are nostalgic for other types like the Y-wing and A-wing. There is also the middle ground: lots of pirates, merchants, and thieves that are on neither side of the war. Their ships can get most unusual.
What is the biggest ship in the Star Wars universe? It’s likely Starkiller Base, which dwarfs the Death Star and is cut out of a small planet. Excluding space stations, it is an obscure Star Destroyer called the Eclipse-class. It’s far beyond the size of an ordinary Star Destroyer.
If you’re only counting the original trilogy with none of the later films or content from the expanded universe, then the Death Star takes the cake. “That’s no moon. It’s a space station,” is a line that makes a lasting impression.
Where Star Trek fans are often inquisitive about the nature of how the engines of their spaceships work, Star Wars fans seem considerably less occupied by what makes their favorite vehicles go. According to the official Star Wars database, “Hyperdrives allow starships to travel faster than the speed of light,” which is not quite possible, “crossing space through an alternate dimension of hyperspace.” Characters like Han Solo often complain about their hyperdrive leaking or breaking, but much in the same vein as a mechanic whining about an oil stain. That being said, they are quite fast. And Star Wars ground vehicles and speeders seem to have no problem hovering.
Gravity is simply not as important as the Force.
It’s no wonder that children from Japan to Australia to Indiana are obsessed with collecting the vehicles in Star Wars. With a number of detailed designs, hand-made models, industry-changing CGI technologies, and innovative film techniques that pour into making them, sometimes it’s hard for even adults to understand that TIE fighters and X-wings aren’t real.