Like many props, the original bowcaster was Bapty & Company
in the UK.
- According to Peter Mayhew, there was one bowcaster that was modified throughout the production of the original trilogy. Eventually this was sold (along with a number of other props) to private collectors. It is believed to be in Germany.
- According to lonepigeon and Jason Joiner of the Kurtz/Joiner Archive, Bapty & Company sold the original bowcaster (or what was left of it) to Jason Joiner years ago.
- Jason Joiner says there are no markings of any kind that would indicate the make or model of the base crossbow and that the bowcaster had been stripped of its parts, save for the balls at the end of the limbs. The rubber balls are rotting due to their age.
The Horton Magnum and Horton Safari Magnum
- According to kurtyboy of the RPF, the correct base crossbow is the Horton Magnum, a plastic-coated aluminum crossbow with a 125 lbs. recurve that was produced by Horton Crossbows during the 60's and/or 70's. Only three fans have managed to acquire the crossbow, and comparisons between it and the photos of the screen used bowcaster prove beyond a doubt that it is the correct crossbow, including the bow prod. They occasionally turn up on Gunstar and sell for anywhere from £120 to £1000. Sometimes the crossbow has a sticker identifying it as a Horton product, but not always. The sticker doesn't list the model name. This makes finding it on auction sites difficult; you have to scan through them and look at the photos.
- In 2005 the Horton Safari Magnum was discovered by members of the RPF and has since become the preferred crossbow for conversions. It is the correct size and shape, but it made of plastic and has a solid stock. It is commonly available on eBay for ~$150.
The Horton Monarch Supreme and the Gunmark Crossbow
- The Horton Safari Magnum is so close to the bowcaster that many became convinced that the bowcaster was built on an earlier Horton Crossbow. After looking at pictures of the bowcaster, Michelle at Horton Crossbows is 95% sure that the bowcaster was a Horton based on certain signature details that are common to Horton crossbows.
- This prompted kurtyboy to contact Horton USA who said that the base crossbow was definitely a very old Horton that was a predecessor to the Safari Magnum. It had an aluminum frame and Horton USA was only in possession of one at the time kurtyboy contacted them and it was not for sale.
- I followed up on this by asking Horton what model crossbow they were referring to, and my message was forwarded to Bernard Horton himself who said it was called the Horton Monarch Supreme and was made in the late 60's and early 70's in Wales. Only about 3,000 were ever produced.
- However, in May of 2007 I contacted Mr. Horton again and referred him to the bowcaster reference images in this guide. He was convinced that the correct crossbow is not the Monarch Supreme but a skeleton-stocked, military-style crossbow that he made for the SinglePoint Company that was looking for a product to demonstrate their new scope. It was die cast aluminum and nylon coated, and approximately 12,000 to 15,000 were produced in the early to mid 70's. Eventually, an offshoot of the SinglePoint Company called Gunmark was founded by Bjorn Waktare (a director of SinglePoint) and sold these crossbows to civilians, mostly in Europe. The crossbows were simply called "Gunmark Crossbows" according to Mr. Horton, and the company was based in Winchester, UK. Source 1, Source 2
The Barnett Commando Crossbow and the infamous Champagne Champion Crossbow
- Before the discovery of the Horton Magnum and Magnum Safari crossbows, the Barnett Commando Crossbow was a popular base for bowcaster replicas. Randy5000 claimed he had a “secret contact” at Lucasfilm that told him the Bowcaster was based on a Barnett Commando Crossbow. While close, numerous fans, including kurtyboy, have determined that the Barnett is too large.
- For years it was commonly claimed that the base crossbow was the "Champagne Champion Crossbow." In 2005, Macklin claimed that the source of the information was Jeff Ritzmann, a prop/costume guy and 501st member, with whom he spoke in 1999. According to Macklin, Mr. Ritzmann claimed to have done some research and not only discovered the basis of the crossbow, but also found one. However, over the years no one has found any evidence to support the existence of the Champagne Champion Crossbow or the company that made it. Macklin says that Ritzmann said it was "ultra rare." All attempts to contact Mr. Ritzmann have failed. It is most likely an urban legend.
- The correct scope is the cone tipped Single Point Scope, a scope commonly used on Star Wars props, including the DH-17, Biker Scout Blaster, and Hoth and Endor trooper blaster rifles.
- According to Chris R/Mr Sparkle, this scope has the cheap snap-on plastic covers normally only found on the round tip Single Point Scope. Most cone tipped Single Point scopes have knurled, screw-on adjustment covers. Source
- The tip is the clear version, not the frosted version, as clearly seen in the photos. Many old scopes have become cloudy with age, but can apparently be cleaned.
- The targeting rod is the red version, not the green version. It has also been adjusted to be centered.
- The single point scope is pointed to the bowcaster body via a set of NcStar 1" RB17 scope rings.
- The single point scope is posited in the scope rings with one of the adjustment knobs facing down and the other on the left hand side.
- According to lonepigeon, the correct scope is the Original Model 7 4x20 scope; the same scope used on the Dr. Evazan blaster.
- According to intwenothor, the "Original" brand is merely a re-brand of the German "Diana" brand. Source
- intwenothor says that the locking ring on the Model 7 is metal, whereas most other 4x20 scopes have plastic locking rings. Source
- intwenothor explained that there were several variants of the Model 7 scope. Some are short and some are long. Source
- The correct length of the Model 7 scope used on the bowcaster is 11.5"
- Some variants have a quality control sticker on the objective bell. Others have one on the body of the scope. Many have no stickers at all. Source
- In some screen shots from Return of the Jedi there is what appears to be a sticker or logo on the body of the left scope. This sticker is not present in the ANH crossbow.
- Some have different information written on the eyepiece.
- On the Evazan blaster Model 7 variants, the following text can be found on the eyepiece:
- Model 7
- Fixed Reticle
- [small "S" within circle logo].
- Reference photos of the Dr. Evazan blaster clearly show the Model 7 markings listed above. However, these markings are not visible in the scant reference photos of the bowcaster, so any 11.5" variant of the Original Model 7 or even any of the various clones of the Model 7 scope are all acceptable.
- Some variants don't have the S circle logo. Others say say "JAPAN" instead.
- According to research by intwenothor, several other scope manufacturers made scopes identical to the Original Model 7 scope; with the only difference being the writing on the eyepiece, obviously. These include the Rhino Model 204 as well as scopes made by Sussex Armoury, Zenisson, and Hunter. Source
- According to lonepigeon, the two flanking scopes attach to the single-point scope via the scope rings. The screw in the Single Point scope rings thread through the side scope rings.
- Various fans have suggested that the scopes are the Boba Fett scopes, a pair of ASI 4x20's or even a cheap scope from a Remington Arms Model 7 hunting rifle. None of these are the correct scope.
- According to kurtyboy the prod included with the Horton Magnum is the correct prod.
- The ANH Bowcaster did not have the crossbow string on the bow. In the Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi bowcaster, the string is present.
A New Hope version
- According to Macklin, the barrel is .625 inches in diameter, and the bowcaster itself is 27½ inches long.
- On the ANH bowcaster, there is a long metal piece that the barrel goes through behind the front sight, with another barrel-sized hole directly beneath it. The bottom of this piece appears to have a hinge of some kind. I have dubbed this piece the barrel support. This piece is much wider at the base/hinge and gets narrow towards the top where the barrel goes through.
- The base of the barrel is attached to a Y-shaped lever of some kind that attaches to the scope mount. It appears to be about 1/4" thick and made of metal.
- odiwan72 has suggested that the barrel, barrel box and the barrel support resemble a crossbow "goat's foot" cocking lever, similar to a Barnett "Goat's Foot" cocking lever. It makes sense that the cocking lever, an essential piece of crossbow hardware, would have come into Bapty's possession together and would have been used. If it is a cocking lever, it is likely of Horton manufacture.
Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi version
- On the TESB/ROTJ bowcaster, the barrel support has a more consistent width than the ANH version. There is still a hinge of some kind at the base. The hole is much lower; closer to the hinge than the ANH barrel support. It also looks to be smaller than the hole the barrel goes through.
- There are no lever shaped pieces surrounding the scope mounts on the Empire/Jedi version; the barrel just ends underneath the single point scope.
A New Hope version
- According to Ripcode of The Dented Helmet, the front sight on the bowcaster is an Enfield No. 4's sight protector. (Source) However, both GotWookiee and lonepigeon have found these for sale, and while they look close, they are not a match. Source
- The ANH sight looks somewhat similar to an Enfield sight; it has a flat top and a split in the center. Two bent arms or wings are attached to it.
Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi version
- The TESB/ROTJ sight is different; it is solid and round with no split or flat top. The arms/wings appear to be straight. They also appear to be part of the sight, rather than bolted on like the ANH version.
- There are two large spheres at the front end of the crossbow. According to jedivigneri, Peter Mayhew claims that the balls are racquetball painted black. According to Macklin, who did some scaling of the bowcaster based on hi-rez reference images, the balls are 2.375 inches in diameter, making racquetball the correct size.
- The balls have visible seems that run parallel to the body of the crossbow.
- According to creiff, the end balls are a solid dense foam ball which can be found at toy stores. There is a seam-line and they are 2.5" in diameter.
- When Chewie wears his bowcaster on his shoulder, he slings over his right shoulder with the barrel and limbs facing up. This is the opposite shoulder that his bandolier rests on.
A New Hope version
- The ANH sling appears to be wider than the thickness of the bowcaster body, probably about 2” wide.
- According to TK818, the ANH Bowcaster used a 2 inch wide nylon medical bag strap, the same as the Aliens Pulse Rifle.
Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi version
- Screenshots from TESB and ROTJ show a much narrower sling, approx. 1” wide.
- According to TK818, the ESB/ROTJ sling is a 1¼ inches wide M-1 style sling.
Knobs, Dials, & Discs
- All information on the discs and dials on the side panels are based on the ANH bowcaster. In all photos of the Empire/Jedi bowcaster, the sides are obscured by Chewie's hair.
- All discs and dials are held in place with a flat pan head screw with a diamter of 7mm.
- There are two large discs with a small bump in the center on each side of the bowcaster. They are directly above the trigger and are in exactly the same spot on both sides. These discs are only on the ANH version, not on the Empire/Jedi version. According to kurtyboy, these are both pieces from a JA Michel turntable, either from a sweep arm or stylus brush, and are extremely hard to find.
- lonepigeon has done some scaling work and has determined that the disc above the trigger on each side is about 1.125" in diameter. The two by the big knob on the right side should be 1" (assuming the big knob is the same as the one found at 1.46").
- According to kurtyboy, the small skirted knob located at the front of the panel is from hi-fi equipment and can be purchased stand alone from places that sell various knobs and dials.
- Main body:
- Diameter: 15mm
- Height: 10mm
- Diameter: 20mm
- Height: 3mm
- Height of slope: 2mm
- Height of skirt base: 1mm
- The large flat disc located at the top and a matching disc located near the bottom are unidentified. Possibly these are from JA Michel turntables.
- The large skirted knob located near the middle of the panel is a Philmore 3045 1 1/2" Calibrated knob.
- The notched disc located at the back of the panel is the same disc found on the Imperial officer hats, various belt buckles, and other props and costume pieces. They are parts from 70's era J.A. Michel record turntables.
- The knurled knob near the front of the panel is from a Zorki 35mm film camera.
- The 3 notched discs are the same discs found on the Imperial officer hats, various belt buckles, and other props and costume pieces. They are parts from 70's era J.A. Michel record turntables.
- The large knob at the top back end of the panel is a vintage Fender "witches hat" knob.
- The fat skirted knob with the hole in the center, located near the middle of the panel, is made up of parts from two different 35mm film cameras. The skirt is from a Zorki 1 35mm camera. There are several variants of this skirt, but you want the one that counts clockwise with a a rivet between the numbers 5 and 10. The knob itself is a diamond knurled film winding knob from a vintage Kodak 35mm camera. There are many variants that don't have the correct knob.
- There are two coiled cords on the bowcaster. One runs around the back of the bowcaster just underneath the scopes and attaches to the same place on either side of the bowcaster. It is near the rear of the gun.
- The second coiled cord is on the right side and plugs into a small electronics plug and the goes back into a small hole a few inches behind it.
- On the ANH bowcaster, the right side coiled cord is smaller than the other one. On the TESB/ROTJ bowcaster, it is the same size.
- The Parts of SW Bowcaster Page claims that it is a Graflex flash cord, however Boba Debt believes that people say Graflex simply because it is common knowledge that the prop builders on the films used Graflex flash tubes for Luke's lightsabres. It could be any type of black coiled cord.
Materials & Construction
- Forest Moon Studios Scratch Built Bowcaster Tutorial
- BBC Single Point Scope Tutorial
Converting a Crossbow
- wuher da bruher was told to use spring steel and cut it with a saber saw if he wasn’t intending to fire it. He ended up using ⅛” aluminium. Read wuher da brewer’s post
- wuher da brewer thinks the coiled plastic from a "stay-put" pen will work for the coiled wire. Source