Throwback Friday #7 Meeting Freddy Pearl (2002)

A photo of the original Dewback from Fred Pearl’s scrapbook

Back in May, 2002, I was asked to make a short documentary on Fred Pearl. Fred Pearl worked for the toy manufacturer, Lines Brothers, as a model maker of dolls and toys in their factory. He went on to make a wide range of models for films, and set up his own model making business, Art Models Ltd., producing models for further films, television, museums and exhibitions. Arguably the most well-known of Fred’s creations were for the original 1977 Star Wars, including the Dewback, as glimpsed on the planet of Tatooine.

A stormtrooper riding the Dewback in Star Wars (1977)

Art Models Ltd. was a specialist art-fabrication company owned and managed by Fred Pearl, located in Wimbledon, about 20 miles from the studio at Elstree. They had previously done work for the industry including speciality costumes for Space: 1999. Fred Pearl and his small team (which included his daughters) were hired to build full-size, practical set pieces of both the Jerba (named for the small island in Tunisia where the Mos Eisley scenes were filmed and the creature appeared) and the Dewback. Two Jerba creatures were built, and one Dewback.” Continue reading here.

Fred Pearl with C-3PO artifacts circa 2005

What struck me most when making the film was ‘the sense of an ending’ – that Fred Pearl’s world was facing an extinction event ushered in by computer generated imagery. His workshop – a wunderkammer filled with relics from a fast-fading age – was an amazing space, an ark for dinosaurs literal and figurative.

One thought on “Throwback Friday #7 Meeting Freddy Pearl (2002)

  1. SOOO happy to have found this page! I met Fred back in the early 80s, when I was hoping to get into modelling. First he told me to go to college, (though I never did, massive regret), but a year or so later, he phoned me and asked me if I’d like to help with a project. The big dog face in the camera at one part of your video was a larger than life size model of a Rottweiler type dog for a film of Hound of the Baskervilles, (not sure if it was ever released) Fred worked on the head, 2 art students worked on the flanks and I worked on the bum end! I also tried the C3PO leg mould on my leg (too long), being a big Star Wars fan. Later he also called me back to help him and a friend remake models of the Natural History museum dinosaurs. I worked on the resin seams to neaten them up, with a home made drill run from a cylinder vaccuum cleaner. I was so chuffed, as the reason I had got in touch with him, via the phone book, was because I had seen the original models in the Nat Hist. and wanted to do that kind of work, and now here I was working on those very models. So, serendipity. I also remember that one time there was a hail storm, with ice as big as marbles, and we stopped work to watch it as the noise it made on the corrugated roof was deafening! Thanks for having this, brought back great memories

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