Bantha Tracks-Sprocket Systems: Distinctive by Design

Back in the 80s, the official Star Wars fan club sent out a quarterly newsletter called Bantha Tracks. This one was unique in the sense that it was a playable record. (Yes, a paper-thin record located inside the magazine.) Sprocket Systems was the Lucasfilm sound department, headed by the famous Ben Burtt, and what we now know as Skywalker Sound. The name was officially changed when their office of operations moved from San Anselmo, Ca. to Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, Ca. in 1987.

This 34th issue is known as the special Soundsheet Edition, and is a very rare and unique look into the sound design dept. of Lucasfilm at the time. This was released in the Autumn of 1986, during a time when Star Wars had already (essentially) fallen off the map. The Kenner toys had since been discontinued, as with the Droids and Ewoks cartoon TV series, and even the Marvel comic run. There were no immediate plans for another film, and the interest of the general public had waned. Star Wars had entered what I like to call its “Dark Times”, where the only time you’d really hear mention of it (outside of geek circles) was in reference to the home video releases. So it’s probably safe to assume that the official fan club didn’t have as many members on their mailing list by the time this was released. However, this issue wasn’t JUST about Star Wars. This company had already worked on MANY other films, and has since achieved iconic status within the film industry. This was the only issue to feature such a clever gimmick, but maybe they had plans to releases more soundsheets had the interest been there. Who knows, but this is a really fun look back at what was going on at post-Star Wars Lucasfilm in 1986.

I uploaded this directly from the issue from my personal collection, and it is complete with all those wonderful “pops” and “clicks” that only those of us old enough to remember records can appreciate. (Oh, the irony of a record album about sound design that doesn’t have “perfect” sound quality!) I also took the liberty of uploading scans of the actual magazine pages so you can read about it while listening. (Albeit much more condensed than the usual Bantha Tracks issue.) Now, grab yourself a glass of blue milk, sit back and enjoy this 6 minutes of nostalgic bliss.

Worth noting is the fact that this was the second to last issue of Bantha Tracks. The Fan Club later reappeared in magazine form as the Lucasfilm Fan Club in the Autumn of 1987. If you already didn’t feel old yet, here’s a link to a scanned, downloadable version of that first issue.
Bantha Tracks

Oh…and since i’m sharing links to scanned, vintage magazine issues, here’s one that features EVERY issue of Bantha Tracks for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome!

Droids

1985’s Star Wars: Droids Gets An Updated Intro?

Well, friends. In all honesty Star Wars: Droids has received a fan made update to the classic 1985 intro. With Al Scott’s student work placing this during the time of 2015’s The Force Awakens. Having said that it of course means that BB-8 is now tagging along with C-3P0 and R2-D2!
Droids

I stumbled across this video the other day although in fact it was released back in May of 2016. I really like what Al was able to accomplish with his reimagining for the Droids opening. Using the legendary “Trouble Again” theme song by The Police’s Stewart Copeland works rather well with the threats to the Droids by Captain Phasma and the First Order as well as Unkar Plutt.

Moreover I truly wish that Disney might think about resurrecting the ’85 television series. I believe that with the popularity of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and of course Star Wars Rebels – it’s time for a return to Star Wars: Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3P0…and BB-8.

From his YouTube Page, Al said of the student project:
“…this is a contemporary reimagining of the cartoon “DROIDS” from the 1980’s! This newly imagined version of “Droids!” follows the day to day adventures of C3P0, R2-D2, and BB-8 as they constantly find themselves in trouble again avoiding the First Order, Bounty Hunters, Scavengers, and helping the noble Resistance further their cause across the galaxy!


Now while it’s nice to think about what a new animated series might be like. I would be remiss to not mention how much of a fan I was of the 1985 show. Certainly that puts me in the miniority as many fans of Star Wars seem to not look at the show as fondly as I do. Then again I also am a huge fan of the Droids that populate the movies, comics, animated series, and games. Even in my youth there were cases where I cared more about R2 or even the likes of 2-1B than Chewbacca.

I hope all of this has got you thinking about the 1985 animated series now. Which has yet to receive a DVD or Blu-Ray release, by the way. Because the Retroist has you covered with episode 59 of his podcast – in which he is joined by R2!
Retroist Star Wars Droids Podcast