The Force is with us here at HighBridge.
This month marks something very exciting: the launch of our Topps Collector’s Editions of the Original Star Wars Radio Drama.
First hitting airwaves in 1981, the thirteen part, 6-hour drama was immensely popular. NPR replayed the drama a couple times, but the audio drama was otherwise unavailable to the masses of rabid Star Wars fans. More than ten years after originally airing on the radio, HighBridge Company was able to track down nearly everyone involved in the original production and secure the license from Lucasfilm to be able to offer the original radio drama (as well as the radio drama for The Empire Strikes Back) on cassette.
The original radio drama is truly a gem. The additional scenes, dialogue, and fleshing out of characters was expertly scripted by Brian Daley. Daley was truly a master of his craft, and very much on top of his game in the late 1970s and early 1980s, having penned his first Star Wars novel in 1979, Han Solo at Stars’ End, the first book in the Han Solo Adventures trilogy. There is a reason why the top writers of official Star Wars novels and fiction today often recognize Mr. Daley in their dedications and/or acknowledgments.
The additional material in Brian Daley’s script really digs far deeper into the personalities of the Star Wars characters, particularly Luke Skywalker. The radio drama opens up with Luke working on his speeder, and you really get a greater sense of the kind of pilot and mechanic he really is.
We also get a rendezvous between Princess Leia and her father on the planet Alderaan before she is kidnapped by the Empire. It’s interesting to note that this was long before anyone had decided to name Princess Leia’s father “Bail.” In the radio drama he actually never referred to by name, but is listed as “Prestor” in the closing credits. The late A. C. Crispin named the character “Bail Prestor Organa” in her 1997 novel The Paradise Snare, and he’s been known as “Bail” ever since. Another noteworthy additional scene with Princess Leia is Darth Vader’s interrogation of her. In the film, we simply see a droid with a long, menacing needle, then it cuts to the next scene. In the radio drama, we find out just what exactly happens when she is drugged by the needle, and we get the full, disturbing interrogation.
There are a number of additional scenes with the droids – we get the ﬁrst meeting of R2-D2 and C-3PO. Also interesting is the additional scene of R2-D2 sabotaging the little red R5-D4 unit just before Luke Skywalker and his uncle purchase a handful of droids from the Jawas. The R5-D4 unit fizzles out after being picked out by Luke’s uncle, and Luke famously says, “This R2 unit has a bad motivator!” An exchange is quickly made for the crafty R2-D2, and the rest is history.
Han Solo and Wookiee sidekick, Chewbacca, also get a few additional scenes. It’s comforting to know that in the radio drama, Han always shoots first, and that will never change. After blasting Greedo, Han runs into Heater, a henchman of Jabba the Hutt. The smooth-talking Han somehow convinces Heater that he’s got the money, and he’ll be right back to pay Jabba. Of course, as we all know, Han gets sidetracked in a little thing called the Rebellion. We also get a sense of how Chewbacca acts as Han’s moral center, letting Han know that he thinks Obi-Wan and Luke aren’t all that bad.
Over the years, HighBridge has published numerous versions of the radio drama—cassettes, CDs, and various collector’s editions. These new Topps Collector’s editions stand out from the other versions, in my opinion. First, there is the art. The covers to these editions (and corresponding Topps card inside) are absolutely stunning. Matt Busch (Light Side) and Randy Martinez (Dark Side) completely knocked these out of the park. These two pieces rank among the best Star Wars art I have seen ever. Another thing that sets the Topps Collector’s Editions apart is the fact that for the first time, all thirteen episodes (and the bonus content) are being offered on one disc.
Thanks to today’s technology (a technology that in 1981 might have seemed to be a part of the Star Wars universe itself), HighBridge is able to deliver six-and-a-half hours of high-quality audio on a single CD in mp3 format. The quality is outstanding, and extremely faithful to the efforts put forth by the original producers and sound engineers.
I feel compelled to again mention the art on the new collector’s editions. Words can hardly describe how incredible it is. I can’t say enough how amazed I am at the skills of Matt Busch and Randy Martinez. The art and exclusive Topps cards in both editions are absolutely stunning.
Having grown up Star Wars myself, as well as collected a multitude of Topps cards over the years (Star Wars, baseball, and football) I truly feel blessed to be able to work on this amazing and special project. The folks at Lucasfilm and the folks at Topps are great people to work with. Star Wars fans young and old will be able to appreciate these new collector’s editions of the Original Radio Drama.
Before I wrap this blog up, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention HighBridge’s other Star Wars radio/audio dramas. We of course have The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but we also have a number of full-cast audio dramas based on Dark Horse graphic novels, including Crimson Empire, Dark Empire, Dark Empire II, Tales of the Jedi, Tales of the Jedi: Dark Lords of the Sith, and the Dark Forces Collector’s Trilogy.
Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama Topps Light and Dark Side Editions are on sale now.