Sci-fi movie magic

Date Posted: 04/03/2011

Rob Yandell went to the launch of the new Sci-Fi at the Movies exhibition, now on at Warwickshire’s Heritage Motor Centre.

Some might call it a clever combination: the parents can enjoy the story behind the British film industry and a fantastic display of over 250 cars spanning the eras; while the kids (big or small) can indulge their science fiction movie fantasies.

You can see more photos from the exhibition on our Facebook page – click here.

Although the sight of the Austin 100 HP, Morris Minor No.1, and the Jaguar 2000 Formula 1 car are impressive, I had been lured to the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, Warwickshire by Star Wars, Superman and Harry Potter, and the new Sci-Fi at the Movies exhibition, now open until the 4th September.

So where is the link you might ask? Well, the centre already houses the Fab1 car from Thunderbirds, Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider car and the Land Rover from the film, Judge Dredd. A foray into the wider world of science fiction movies seemed a good idea and as the centre’s managing director, Julie Tew explained: “Following the redevelopment of the museum in 2007 following a Heritage Lottery Grant, we wanted to broaden the appeal of the museum; not just to car enthusiasts, but to family audiences and to a much broader range of people. Sci-Fi at the Movies is another way we hope we can encourage a new audience to come and see what we have here, as well seeing this wonderful science fiction exhibition.”

The new Sci-Fi at the Movies exhibition showcases costumes, replica and original pieces from some of the most famous science fiction films of all time. Private collector Luke Kaye has been collecting memorabilia since he was 16, and as an aspiring DJ was looking for something to spice up his discos. A Stormtrooper from the film Star Wars spinning the decks seemed like a good idea and since his first purchase it has snowballed into a collection of 16,000 costumes, props, life-size space ships and a shop in Swindon. At the opening of the exhibition, Luke told us: “I wanted a museum like this to display it all in, but obviously that’s never going to happen. Luckily, we did it three years ago in Liverpool and we had 9,500 queuing on the first day. This one is even better; there’s lot more articles in there.”

Joining us to cut the ceremonial ribbon and celebrate the launch was Rusty Goffe, the British actor & entertainer, who starred as one of the Oompa-Loompas in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a Jawa in Star Wars: Episode IV, as well as parts in Harry Potter, Willow and Flash Gordon. Rusty enthused: “This exhibition is absolutely amazing. All the science fiction maniacs are going to love this.”

I love science fiction films and enjoyed wandering around the exhibits and even reading about the different films and television series, particularly the ones I remember as a child. It definitely stirs the nostalgia in you and there are some very impressive displays. Sci-Fi at the Movies certainly adds a new dimension to the Heritage Motor Centre, but would you go there just to specifically visit the exhibition? Probably not, it’s not big enough on its own; but it’s thoroughly enjoyable for those people in your group that love their sci-fi, for kids and family parties, and gives yet another reason to include the Heritage Motor Centre in an itinerary.

If you took the kids, I’m sure they would absolutely love it, even if some of the exhibits are replicas and not original - although there are some real gems. You will be able to see an original lightsaber from Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films), signed by Norman Harrison, who made them. There’s also one of Luke Skywalker’s helmets from the films, signed by the cast.

Visitors to Sci-Fi at the Movies will be able to wander through six different zones and meet some of the most infamous characters that have enriched the plot lines of these famous films. The ‘Creature Zone’ displays creatures from the friendly E.T to the rebellious Gremlins. Replicas of the famous crew uniforms are displayed in the ‘Star Trek Zone’ and the ‘Star Wars Zone’ includes characters such as Jabba the Hut, Yoda and Darth Vader. Other zones include ‘Alien & Predator’, ‘Miscellaneous’ incorporating Robocop, Terminator and Battlestar Galactica, while ‘Comic Book Heroes’ features a display of costumes from Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, as well as masks from Dr Doom and the Iron Man.

During the school holidays there are a number of special sci-fi activities running alongside the exhibition. The May half term has activities taking place from 28th May until 5th June with special sci-fi-themed craft activities on 2nd June.

A special family weekend will take place on 9th and 10th July, with the opportunity to meet some of your favourite sci-fi and superhero characters. From 23rd July until 4th September groups can enjoy the exhibition, plus daily quizzes and activities, including special family craft activity days every Thursday throughout the summer holidays.

There is no extra charge for the new sci-fi exhibition with admission included in the standard museum entry fees, which are: adults priced at £11, children at £8 (5 to 16 years) under 5s go free, with concessions priced at £9 and a family ticket at £34.

For groups travelling up and down the M40, the Heritage Motor Centre offers a change from the normal motorway service stations or meal stops. The centre is keen to encourage passing groups and coach operators to use its fully licensed cafe and toilet facilities, and is throwing in the added option of a 15-minute taster tour of the museum for free. Guided tours of the centre are also available for groups, and these operate at 11.15am and 2.15pm.

I chatted to Luke Kaye (pictured in the middle!), the man behind the collection...

When did you get to the stage when it started to get serious and you realised you were a collector?

When I bought a space ship, full size, and I had a crane lower it on the garden – and I didn’t tell the missus. There were people taking photos and that’s when it started and I knew it was getting out of hand.

So I assume that where you live has had to fit in with the hobby?

It got a bit silly when I started renting a five bedroom house just to house my collection and I was in a little two bed. We’ve gone a bit serious now so I’ve boxed it all up and now it’s in storage containers. That’s why I like pieces because people can see it; it’s only a tenth of what I’ve got.

And when did you first decide you wanted to share your collection with the public?

About three years ago somebody from Liverpool council asked me if we’d do something and I said yes. We only had a little bit and there was 9,500 people queuing at the door on the first day. That’s when I thought I’m on to something here; I want everybody to see it how it should be.

Have you any favourite stories behind anything in the collection?

Dirk Benedict, who played Face in The A-Team; I got an original Starbuck jacket, he signed it and managed to get the whole cast (of Battlestar Gallactica) to sign the whole jacket for me. Being given Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Elstree Film Studios was another nice story.

Is there anything out there that you still want to get hold of?

Absolutely tons; seriously anything now, I’ve just got to have. There’s a full size Silver Surfer on a surf board and I wouldn’t mind that. Anything Star Wars; there’s still lots of costumes that I want.

What can people coming along to the exhibition expect?

It’s something for everyone – it’s not just Star Wars. It’s a bit of Battlestar Gallactica for the Dads who remember it from the 70s; Harry Potter – you can see Harry’s wand; old Doctor Doom; there’s Aliens, Predator, Terminator – it’s for boys, girls, mums and dads. It just gets you close to the movies really.

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