Reproduction Star Wars Yoke Overlays – Why the colors are so difficult

Around late September 2008 Rich at This Old Game got films from Scott Evans (owned of a good chunk of original Atari production films) for the Star Wars cockpit artwork. As far as I know, only the control panel overlays and the yoke have been reproduced in some larger quantities over the years. However, the yoke seems to be of particular interest because of the poor comparison quality of previous reproductions. If there’s one guy that has the skill, and the trust of collectors to print revisions until every detail is right, it’s Rich Lint. Here’s what is going on with this project so far.

The Star Wars Yoke reproductions are always too dark

Here’s the token comparison shot. On the left is a stitched together scan of the original Star Wars yoke overlay and on the right a recently (in the last six months) purchased yoke reproduction. Granted, some of the colors on the original may have changed over time, but look at the serious disparity between the two. Night and day.

Side by side comparison of Star Wars Yoke Artwork

There is a mantra that ‘Don’t make another reproduction of a piece of arcade game artwork that has already been done’, or at least that was the thought behind the Q*Bert sideart comparison. However, there is the flip side. There are the really popular games that were profitable and continue to have a following, vs. the little games like Front Line where reproduction parts sit in a corner waiting to be sold.

Star Wars is one of those games, until great reproduction artwork has been done and is consistently available, there is still potential profit to be made.

Borrowing the original Atari Star Wars film

That was the first step. In the middle of September after a number of emails back and forth, Rich at This Old Game got the Star Wars cockpit films from Scott Evans. It was time to get at some test prints using the actual called for Pantone colors on the films to see if the color issues couldn’t be corrected.

The first colors are easy. The black artwork is first;

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Black Screen

Then the red and the yellow. The films call for the yellow to be printed on the red to give them an orange tint.

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Red ScreenStar Wars Yoke Artwork - Yellow Screen

Now for the color that has been a problem in the past, the blue or the cyan. The films call out for a process Cyan, which is very similar to the blue that is in your standard desktop printer. However, when you hold the Pantone chip up to the original piece, and when you look at the test print of the artwork you can see;

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Cyan Matching 1Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Cyan Test Print Comparison

….the two cyans don’t match. Granted, it’s closer than the reproduction above that is a dark blue, but it isn’t right. That’s because if you take a look at the first photo and then these two photos, you can see the level of transparency of this cyan. Take a look at where the blue bleed overlaps the black;

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Cyan Test Print Backside

So, the films call for that Pantone blue on the Star Wars Yoke, but it doesn’t match the original (even after you take into account some wear and tear). Well, “Here’s where the fun begins.”

The cyan’s transparency mixes with the flooded screen

Yeah, that is what Atari did. The original cyan / blue is much muddier looking with a slight green tint and isn’t nearly as bright blue as the test screen of the Yoke overlay. How did they achieve this muddied blue? By flooding the back of the artwork with a green screen. Here is the grey the Star Wars films call for (PMS 403);

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Grey Pantone Chip

And then, taking that grey and screening it on the back of the Yoke overlay artwork;

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Grey Flood

Now, when you look at the comparison, the blue is that much closer. The progression is amazing. Although the Pantone called for that grey, Atari may have not used exactly what was in the Pantone book. They could have made their own mix, or the polycarbonate could have experienced some fading over the year…or a combination of the two.

Star Wars Yoke Artwork - Test Print Comparison

The next step is to add a little more yellow to the grey to get a closer color match. If you had asked me and it wasn’t pointed out to me, it would have been hard to tell the difference between the two Star Wars Yoke overlays. I would have seen the color difference, but I wouldn’t have been that picky because I don’t own a game. However, Rich knows that collectors want the best match possible, and this extra level of testing and care is what has built his reputation for the best reproduction artwork guy that is consistently working.

Where the Star Wars Yokes stand

I’ve had this information for a little while, so hopefully Rich will leave a comment here on the progress, maybe he’s done another test print with a different mix on the grey by now. Maybe he’s finished the testing and now needs to move into full scale reproduction of the Star Wars Yoke artwork. A phenomenal product for sure.

Remember, if you don’t have a printer yet for your arcade reproductions, you will want to look up Rich at Thisoldgame.com

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You got it here first, exclusive content about the Star Wars Yoke reproduction artwork progress at Rotheblog.com.

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I don’t know where you obtained that god awful dark blue one??? That is beyond hideous.
I would have preferred to see Arcadeshops repro in comparison. A side by side comparison of yours and theirs.
Thanks for taking on this project. I’ve complained about this for about 2 years now 😉

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Actually, that is Arcadeshop’s reproduction on the right. I was going to leave it out, but since you asked….

This isn’t my project. I am just reporting on it. I am not working on it in any way.

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Strange as I’ve bought one before and AS repro is more of a vibrant almost metallic like blue and the grays are also vibrant instead of the dirty grey is why I mentioned it.
Anyway – GO RICH GO!!!!!

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I wouldn’t doubt that there has been multiple runs of the Star Wars overlay artwork….maybe this last run (which again, that piece above was purchased in the last 6 months) was particularly bad, and maybe a run…the one you got, was good. When did you buy your Yoke overlay?

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Oh there was nothing great about the piece I bought. Everything about every color was incorrect. Don’t get me wrong, better than having damaged artwork or having nothing at all. I was pretty dissapointed with AS repro artwork to say the least. Can;t wait for Rich to get these bad boys done. YOu sir deserve an award!

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Ah, I mis-interpreted that. So your overlay from ArcadeShop for the Star Wars Yoke was total crap. Got it.

You will buy another if they are done? And remove the already applied overlay for a more accurate one?

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Without a doubt or hesitation I will remove the “old” one and apply the new and “accurate” one 😉
It’d be nice to hear an update on this hint hint.

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Well…if you didn’t already see it.

In Rich’s weekly blog entry at COSP, he mentioned that these yokes are printed and ready for sale.


There are the details, you need to join to read, and you can find the reproductions on his ThisOldGame.com website now.

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