In A New Hope, the dusty streets of Mos Eisley spaceport weren’t just prowled by some of the worst scum and villainy this side of the Dune Sea, but also played host to a landspeeder inspired by the EVA pods featured in the seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrik.
As it was more difficult to find reference photos back during the production of A New Hope, this homage was not identical to the EVA pod. While the blueprints included in Star Wars: The Blueprints were simply labeled the “fourth landspeeder”, the original 1977 edition of Star Wars Blueprints labeled it the “Ubrickian Landspeeder 9000 Z001”. Later sources would later alter the spelling to the more otherworldly “Ubrikkian”. J. W. Rinzler, the author of the 2011 edition of The Blueprints, pointed out that the name reads a lot like “Kubrick 2001”.
Artoo Detoo’s Activity Book, a 1979 Random House release, mistakenly described the landspeeder as a “robot,” while the Scrapbook feature of the Star Wars newspaper comic strip that ran from 1979 to 1984 described it as a “low-life droid”. Exactly what kind of mischief they imagined this limbless “droid” got up to is unknown, but one could wager that the vehicle’s owner, a down on his luck Rodian named Greedo, had illegally parked the maclunker outside the Mos Eisley Cantina. Amusingly, fans would later notice visual similarities between the vehicle and BB-8, an actual droid.
An actual EVA pod would go on to make an appearance in Watto’s junkyard in The Phantom Menace, which Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I describes as a “repair and maintenance pod of unknown origin”. Maybe they should check out the Earth system out on the edge of the Outer Rim? I hear they’ve opened up a new Star Tours terminal there. Just don’t let the natives convince you to play Twister in exchange for a matter catalyst when you need a fast exit.
Bonus fact: The “defective” AE-35 communication units from 2001 were the namesakes of the TIE fighter’s AE-35 subspace transceiver and the AE-35 unit used to help Ubrikkian’s luxury sail barge float.
A special thanks to the wonderful @Elliemagique for inspiring me to do this post. You can find her blog, Musings of a Disney Dreamer, at https://disneydreamermusings.blogspot.com/, which has some great Disney and Star Wars content.
Update 5/19/2020: I recently came into the possession of The Star Wars Album, a 1977 reference book filled with information on the various characters, ships, technology and locales of the film Star Wars film. Within, I found the source of the confusion regarding the Ubrikkian 9000’s status as a droid or a landspeeder: “One of the low-life droids, hanging around the cantina in Mos Eisley – no doubt looking for a one way passage out of town.” reads a caption describing the “droid”. Published the same November as Star Wars Blueprints, it’s possible that the editors at Ballantine Books might not have checked the books against one another for consistency during this period of relatively loose continuity.
- Star Wars Blueprints
- The Star Wars Album
- Artoo Detoo’s Activity Book
- Star Wars Scrapbook (July 4, 1982)
- Tales from Jabba’s Palace
- Star Wars CCG
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I
- Star Wars: The Blueprints