Have you ever wanted to explore the desolate desert of Tatooine or the forest moon of Endor, all without the inconvenience of having to travel to a galaxy far, far away?
Well, one Moray man has found a solution.
Mark Donald has spent four years and around £11,000 transforming his back garden in Forres into a museum for all things Star Wars – complete with five full-size ships and an Imperial bunker.
Character models and homemade droids sit among ferns planted to resemble the world of the Ewoks, while a shipment of sand is on its way to help recreate the home of Luke Skywalker.
For Mark, who has been obsessed with the films since going to see Star Wars as a toddler, the museum has been a labour of love since he started building it in July 2017.
A long time ago…
The 45-year-old said: “It all started when I saw a speeder bike advertised, that someone had made.
“It was something like $4,000 or $5,000. I had a good bit of money, but I couldn’t see a way to actually buy it. I heard someone say it had been sold in one of these groups.
“I thought I could really do with one of them, but no one’s really making them, so maybe I could make it – some guys were saying ‘you should do it yourself’.
“Do or do not, there is no try, as Yoda said.”
Using items found around his house, including string, a foam board, a snooker triangle, and a 10in toy as a reference guide, Mark built the 10ft speeder bike.
He added: “I realised, as I was making that, actually I’m going to make an outside garden museum kind of thing.
“I’m going to need to do all the props first, because there’s no point in creating a garden if there’s nothing in it. I thought if I’ve got all the props I need, I can gradually create the landscape around it all.”
Han Solo project
He cut the cables from an old bike to create a droid’s power cables, and used a child’s helmet for another one’s belly.
A plant pot became foot pedals for a speeder bike. The legs from a sofa bed became stands for a fire pit. An old vegetable box was painted and turned into the interior of an engine.
Four years later, and Mark has built a half dozen robots, five ships and a moisture evaporator to display alongside around 20 life-size characters he bought separately.
He said: “I didn’t even know I could make stuff – when I was in school I’d make a cup holder or something, but other than that I’d never tried anything.
“I’ve got a jigsaw and a drill, and those are the only two tools I’ve got. You’ve got people who use 3D printers and all that kind of stuff.
“There are other basic things like a hammer and screws, and that’s as fancy as I get. It’s a bit harder, but it’s more authentic.”
Mark, who works in a restaurant in Nairn, says his favourite models are his X-wing and his podracer, while his daughters Nicole and Caitlyn are also big fans of the X-wing ship.
Once it is complete, he is hoping to open up the garden – which he has named Star Wars Myworld – to visitors who also want a chance to explore, and some interest has already been registered from overseas.
Mark said: “I’ve had people from foreign countries say they want to come over and see it, because I’ve got a Star Wars group that I run [on Facebook].
“There are people from America, Germany, Canada, Spain, you name it.”
And with the new Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series rumoured to be filming in the southern Cairngorms, Scotland could be attracting many more film fans in the near future.
So what is it about the Star Wars franchise that gets people obsessed, to the point where they will spend time building 1:1 scale ships for a museum in their back garden?
Mark said: “The storyline is so diverse, it’s really versatile.
“And you’ve got the ships – even when you’ve lost a few of the main characters and it doesn’t feel the same, they’ve got the same ships and robots, so it still sucks you in.
“Even though some of the fans will complain about them, saying they’re not as good, they’re still loved.”