Chris Alexander, of starwarsorigami.com, has been folding his own original designs for at least as long as I have, and in August this year he finally realised his dream of seeing his designs in print. Now this is a fantastic achievement after many years of hard graft, and one I also hope to repeat, so I bought a copy of the book to show my support, and check out the competition...
The book itself is gorgeously presented. It has a glossy metallic cover and good quality paper throughout which lends it a nice satisfying weight. The book opens with a foreword by Tom Angleberger, author of the The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series of childrens books, followed by an introduction from the author and a section introducing the basics of origami, which explains the terminology and symbols used in the diagrams that follow.
Between every few models, there's a brief Star Wars trivia quiz testing your knowledge of the films, which is a nice addition and adds a welcome extra layer of interest to the book
This is not something that will appeal to origami purists, but for children this adds a cool extra dimension to the play value of these models.
- Youngling (Easy)
- Padawan (Medium)
- Jedi Knight (Difficult)
- Jedi Master (Very Tricky)
Now these rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt. While the models do lie on a sliding scale of complexity, there is nothing in this book that will challenge someone with more than just a passing familiarity with origami - even the most complicated of the designs can be folded in less than quarter of an hour - but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Given the target audience, the range of models is pitched pretty well, and there is plenty in here to keep kids occupied for hours on end as they progress through the difficulties.
The full list of models is as follows. (The number of sheets is indicated in brackets if the model requires multiple pieces)
For the most part, the models, while simple, give a good representation of the ship. The Millennium Falcon is an excellent example of this - the finished model is instantly recognisable, even without using the pre-printed paper. It has all the key features, is well proportioned, and can be folded in next to no time.
On the flip side of the coin however, there are models such as the X-Wing and Star Destroyer which give unsatisfying results. While they do display the prominent features associated with each of those ships, (the four S-foils and cannons on the X-Wing, the wedge shape and raised bridge on the Star Destroyer), the proportions are badly off, and the finished products leave me feeling very uncomfortable.
This is not a direct result of the simplicity of designs - the folds involved in the Star Destroyer are quite complicated compared to the final look of the model, and there are other simple X-wings easily found online that give much more aesthetic results.
The Naboo Star Skiff was a delight to discover, and can't really be bettered at this level. Luke's Landspeeder is also charming, sharing many similarities to my own design, and the complexities of what is probably his most challenging design, Slave I, provide a fitting goal for the reader to work towards. Even the Naboo Starfighter, while not really capturing the sleek and graceful curves of the actual ship, comes together as a nice little model and is a satisfying fold in its own right.
For any kids who love Star Wars, this book should be a must have. Folding these models with them would definitely be a great bonding activity, and a fantastic way to spend some quality time with them. There is a good range of difficulties throughout the book, which should keep them interested for more than a single afternoon, and the pre-printed sheets are a wonderful way to get their attention.
But is this book suitable for adults? Again, I would have to say yes. The models may be a little simplistic, but that is part of the charm. To put it in perspective, the most complicated of Chris' models takes the same amount of time as the simplest of my designs, and even those which aren't to my personal taste are still instantly recognisable to even the most casual of Star Wars fans. So if you want to be able to whip something up during a boring meeting at the office, or in the pub to impress your mates over a beer, this is the book for you - after all who really has 2 and a half hours to sit down and fold R2-D2 in this day and age?
(Actually, I guess we've all had one of those meetings...)
And last but not least, for purely selfish reasons, if you ever want to see my designs in print, this book has to be a success - a publisher is unlikely to take a risk on an Advanced Star Wars Origami book if the beginners book doesn't sell well!
You can order a copy from Amazon, or pick it up at any good book store