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Sunday, January 29, 2017

I'm C-3PO - Fly Me

When I heard back in 2015 that ANA (All Nippon Airways) Co. was going have three of its aircraft done up in skins for some Star Wars tie-in, I was all "hoo-hum".

Why would people want to fly in it? You can't see it from the inside...

To me, it's like people who spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars to make their front yard look beautiful where it is the envy of the neighborhood. You are either in the house, away from the house doing stuff, or in the backyard doing stuff.

Who spends time in the front yard? So why do people spend time making it sooooo beautiful?

In my mind, it's to make everyone think you are great.

I've seen guys blow a fortune to buy a Porsche, but live in a crappy one-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood with no inside decorations... because they want the world to see them as successful.

So... why fly in an airplane done up in graphics of Star Wars characters... a good movie that first came to light 40 years ago?

It's Star Wars... you know... a story that is essentially (originally) about Knights in space.

The poor farmer kid destined to spend his life on a farm (Luke), goes off to rescue the princess (Leia) from the evil Duke (Darth Vader), while having to defeat the fire-breathing dragon (Death Star).

Classic story-telling. There are only seven original stories, and every writer since then has stolen or copied the idea.

It's okay... I appreciate the Star Wars story... while hardly original in concept, it's original in the way it was presented... though I suppose there was Buck Rogers before it.

Heck... even in the original Adventures of Indiana Smith story outline by George Lucas (in 1973) who also wrote Star Wars), he borrowed heavily from the classic 1930s movie serials that made kids go back to the theater every week to see the next episode... cliffhangers... it's where the term came from, I think.

Yes, Indy Jones was once Indiana Smith... Lucas, was also an Uncle Scrooge McDuck comic book fan... and that whole scene at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark... with the giant stone ball rolling down at Dr. Jones... that was taken from an Uncle Scrooge comic... something he talks about in the introduction of a hardcover repackaging of all the Duck comics by Carl Barks - see It was in Uncle Scrooge #7, "The Seven Cities of Cibola"... and yes, that movie scene in Raiders was an homage to my favorite writer-artist Carl Barks.

Those Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic book stories are what instilled a love of adventure for me BEFORE Star Wars and before Indian Jones.

Anyhow... why would anyone in Japan want to fly in one of these Star Wars-themed aircraft?

I don't know... just to say you did, I suppose.

I never saw the original movie until one year after it came out... but I had read 14 issues of the Marvel comic by then and because the first six issues were about the movie, I already knew how it ended.

Did you know that the first issue of Star Wars came out BEFORE the movie?

Did you know the book Star Wars (written by George Lucas) came out before the movie?

I have a copy of that book... not the real first edition, but a scholastic version... but it had photos of the movie being made... so I read it months before the movie came out.

As such... I suppose I would be one of those  people who would at the very least like to see the ANA aircraft and their Star Wars skins...

The three aircraft graphics depict: C-3PO, R2-D2, and recent Star Wars franchise cutie BB-8... all three are robots from the esteemed franchise. There's also a fourth aircraft with a general Star Wars design.

C-3PO will be taking to the air for the first time in March 21, 2017, flying domestic ANA routes between Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and cities such as Kagoshima, Itami (Osaka) and Hiroshima.

The skinned airplanes are Boeing 777-200.

So... you could just go to the airport and watch for these airplanes, or you could pay to play...

The take-away from it isn't huge.

While the stewards/stewardess' will be wearing Star Wars C-3PO themed aprons, you the paying customer will get to have your drinks served to you in specially-designed paper cups (which you could keep), and headrest covers (which I am pretty sure you don't get to keep).

So... paper cups? Is that it?

Well, you do get a special boarding certificate for those jet-setters who are amongst the flyers taking the Star Wars jet within the first few days....

Yes... first few days... after that... paper cups, baby.

Now... this isn't the type of thing that caters to the customer... no, rather this is simply marketing by the George Lucas folk in charge of the Star Wars franchise.

It helps to continue to keep a 40-year-old movie franchise in the spotlight as it continues with its sub-movies and last two planned movies.

I had heard back in 1978 that George Lucas had originally planned for Star Wars to be three trilogies for a total of nine movies. And dammit, since the movie was released in 1977, he's been good to his word.

Just think... when Star Wars came out, man had first landed on the Moon a mere eight years earlier. And, 40 years before that, few people have ever flown in a passenger plane or plane of any kind... it was still a huge deal until the late 1960s.

Here... check out some luck Japanese Star Wars fans flying in the ANA R2-D2 passenger jet back in 2015...

Did you watch it? That would never fly in the U.S.... masks covering faces on a plane... where's the security? Some of those costumes have sharp metal parts! Passengers on regular jets get plastic forks and knives and spoons in case they try and kill someone on board nowadays...

Back in the 1960s, can you imagine, as a kid, getting to go up to the cockpit to meet the pilot, co-pilot and navigator... to see the sky from there... to receive toy airplanes as gifts from them as a thank-you for visiting?

It was a different time.

I can't imagine getting a paper cup as a souvenir...

However, I am a collector... so I can understand why that Star Wars paper cup would seem cool.

The graphics on the airplanes look fantastic, though there is very little of C-3PO other than his chest plate and some wires that identify him as being the annoying droid. And yet... too bad you can't see the graphics from inside the plane.


Andrew Joseph

PS... if you are wondering about the headline, well... back in 1971, America's National Airlines had an ad campaign that said:

National Airlines would also paint the names of some of the sexier (as advertised) stewardess on the airplane's nose, and have stewardesses (women) wear the suggestive "Fly Me" tag line.
Sure... if I was Oedipus Rex.
Sexist, yes... but all it did was advertise what airlines everywhere were doing anyways... sexy female stewardesses... it's cliche because it was true once. Now, regardless of sexiness, we have competent men and women providing customer service on the planes... but again... even as late as 1971, flying was still relatively a new and big deal for people.
PPS: Is it weird how I use this blog to talk about un-Japanese things like Star Wars, Indian Jones, Uncle Scrooge comic books, and sexy stewardesses and advertising campaigns?
PPPS: Okay, here's a photo of some of Japan Airlines stewardesses - a very modern photo. Japan has always been about 40 years behind in some things:
and one from Japan's Skymark Airline:


  1. The front yard thing was the original social media fake happy people phenomenon. This would be way more awesome if all 3 planes can fly side by side and each plan have a number of actors in costume playing out a play like Star Wars story that involves the other plans and the passengers.

    1. I really enjoy hearing your comments, Julien! That idea about a true themed flight with actors - even just one or two... that's how you really sell Star Wars! Of course... not everyone flying is interested in the Star Wars thing, and might simply want to get to Point B... but I feel you fly one of those planes knowing what you are getting into! Cheers!