Blade Runner’s Miniature Props Revealed in 142 Behind-the-Scenes Photos

BRSet 1

Blade Run­ner, unlike most sci­ence-fic­tion movies of the 1980s, improves with age — in fact, it seems to hold up more robust­ly with each pass­ing year. Rid­ley Scot­t’s adap­ta­tion of Philip K. Dick­’s Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep? endures for many rea­sons, none of them quite so strong as the rich­ness of its set­ting, a vision of 2019 Los Ange­les replete with fire-belch­ing smoke­stacks, tow­er­ing cor­po­rate obelisks, 30-sto­ry geishas glow­ing­ly endors­ing prod­ucts on the sides of build­ings, and crum­bling “old” archi­tec­ture retro­fit­ted to inhab­it this simul­ta­ne­ous­ly glossy and ram­shackle real­i­ty.

BRSet 2

The film’s pro­duc­tion design pays close atten­tion to those big things, but also to the small ones: the side­walk noo­dle bar where we meet repli­cant-hunt­ing detec­tive Rick Deckard; the glow­ing han­dles of the umbrel­las held by the count­less passers­by stream­ing past; the detail­ing of the firearm with which he cuts down his android prey one by one. And often, the big things are small things; at the top of the post, for instance, we see the hulk­ing head­quar­ters of the repli­cant-build­ing Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion — and, for scale, a mem­ber of the design team work­ing on it.

BRSet 3

Blade Run­ner, you see, rep­re­sents per­haps the high water mark of the now seem­ing­ly lost art of minia­ture-based prac­ti­cal visu­al effects. Most every­thing in its slick­ly futur­is­tic yet worn and often makeshift Los Ange­les actu­al­ly exist­ed in real­i­ty, because, in that time before real­is­tic CGI, every­thing had to take the form of a mod­el (or, far­ther in the back­ground, a mat­te paint­ing) to get into the shot at all. You can take an exten­sive behind-the-scenes look at the blood, sweat, and tears involved in build­ing all this in a gallery show­cas­ing 142 pho­tos tak­en in the Blade Run­ner mod­el shop.

BRSet 4

“Take a look at the dystopi­an minia­tures, each tiny car hand paint­ed with future dirt from rid­ing clouds stuffed with future smog,” writes io9’s Mered­ith Woern­er. Par­ti­sans of these sorts of tech­niques argue that minia­tures remain supe­ri­or to dig­i­tal con­struc­tions because of their per­cep­ti­ble phys­i­cal­i­ty, and per­haps that very qual­i­ty has helped keep the look and feel of Blade Run­ner rel­a­tive­ly time­less. Plus, unlike CGI, it gives die-hard fans some­thing to hope for. If you dream about own­ing a piece of the film for your very own, you the­o­ret­i­cal­ly can; just make sure to do your home­work first by read­ing the threads at, a forum about — and only about — Blade Run­ner props.

Enter the pho­to gallery here.

via io9

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Art of Mak­ing Blade Run­ner: See the Orig­i­nal Sketch­book, Sto­ry­boards, On-Set Polaroids & More

The Blade Run­ner Pro­mo­tion­al Film

The Blade Run­ner Sketch­book: The Orig­i­nal Art of Syd Mead and Rid­ley Scott Online

The City in Cin­e­ma Mini-Doc­u­men­taries Reveal the Los Ange­les of Blade Run­nerHerDri­veRepo Man, and More

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.