Brickfilms have long existed within the LEGO community, with the first recorded film – Journey to the Moon – dating as far back as 1973. Still, the release of the LEGO Studios Steven Spielberg MovieMaker set at the start of the Millennium was a turning point in brickfilming history, inspiring fans worldwide and for LEGO animation to become a widely practiced hobby.
While a number of fans had created their own and uploaded them to the now-defunct Brickfilms.com, they were at an amateur level
A major leap came in 2001 when Spite Your Face Productions, who were already working with LEGO to create some content for the MovieMaker sets, were approached by Python Films who wanted a LEGO video on their upcoming release of Monty Pytho and the Holy Grail. With approval and assistance from LEGO, Tony Mines and Tim Drage made their animated Monty Python And The Holy Grail In LEGO in less than a month.
When we made the Python movie, we gathered what bits we needed from the LEGO workshops in Billund. The workshop is a big open plan building with lots of drawers full of random LEGO in otherwise unavailable colours, some properly moulded, some hand painted, some prototype moulds. To cut a long story short, we just found the mysterious bits lying around in drawers, on tables or on the floor. I don’t know where they are from or if they were ever released.Tony Mines, 2002 (source: Brickfilms Wiki)
The attention – and notoriety – that Spite Your Face Productions got from this breakout brickmotion earned caught the eye of Lucasfilm who contacted LEGO about doing something similar to coincide with the theatrical release of Attack of the Clones. The ensuing discussions led to a fully approved LEGO Star Wars film – the first of its kind.
Conceived as a film adaptation of a scenario you might make up while playing with your own LEGO toys, The Han Solo Affair was written as a true narrative (though not to be taken seriously or considered canon) as of how a carbonite-encased Han Solo arrived aboard the Slave I.
This short three-minute film dubbed Episode V 1/2 The Han Solo Affair was also the first official short film since the Star Wars Holiday Special, which saw the debut of the legendary bounty hunter, Boba Fett, in 1977.
Initially featured on the LEGO Studios microsite – and released through the original Spite Your Face website – on April 1, 2002, it depicted Darth Vader, Lobot, Leia, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Luke, and a posse of other minifigures racing in a madcap Loony Tunes-esque chase sequence through the brick-built halls of Cloud City to claim Han as their own.
Trying their best not to contradict or expand upon canon, the creators of the spoof stated:
“We figured so long as we were carrying the Star Wars mark of quality, we should make something that can slip right in between two ‘real’ scenes in the trilogy. So in theory, you could do a fan edit of The Empire Strikes Back where you insert The Han Solo Affair, and it’s just this random couple minutes where everyone is LEGO, but the film just keeps going, kind of like in that Hitchhikers movie nobody saw.”
The production is unique as it pre-dates the release of the 10123 Cloud City, which wouldn’t hit shelves until the following year. Princess Leia can be seen wearing the torso of a Hoth Rebel Trooper from the 7130 Snowspeeder set, and Luke Skywalker’s Bespin outfit has been substituted for a Rebel Engineer torso from the 7134 A-Wing Fighter release. The classic Stormtroopers are iconic, and the Boba Fett with the balaclava headpiece resonates with fans familiar with the later LEGO Star Wars games.
Almost 20 years on, The Han Solo Affair still encapsulates the magical atmosphere of the original trilogy and exhibits similarities to classic charm and slapstick humor we would later see in the LEGO Star Wars video games. For a deeper understanding of the thought process behind it and the making of The Han Solo Affair, head to Tumblr where co-creator Tony Mines shares his memories of the nearly three-minute-long brickfilm.
Did the success of The Han Solo Affair inspire you to create your own brickfilm? Share your memories with us in the comments section!
Guest writer Aaron Finnegan was born in the mid-90s, and grew up alongside the LEGO Star Wars theme, which he has been collecting since the earliest wave. His current focus is completing his Ultimate Collector Series run, and combining his skills as a graphic designer to produce bespoke LEGO stickers. Active on a number of social media platforms, you can find Aaron on Instagram where he showcases his collection, custom builds and artwork.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.