RANKED: The 12 Best Designs by the Late Ron Cobb
Comingsoon.net is taking a look at the best designs by the late Ron Cobb. Check out our picks below! Legendary underground cartoonist turned production designer and concept artist, Ron Cobb, passed away on his birthday Monday at the age of 83. Star Wars, one of the many franchises he contributed to, paid tribute to Cobb on Instagram,
“We were saddened to learn of the passing of Star Wars: A New Hope conceptual designer Ron Cobb, who designed one of the most – if not the most — memorable characters in the Mos Eisley cantina… Cobb’s illustrious career contributed to several iconic films, including E.T The Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Alien, Back to the Future, and many more.” He will be missed.”
The aesthetic of numerous sci-fi and action films were achieved through Cobb’s inimitable talent. Pivotal objects like Back to the Future‘s DeLorean, Conan the Barbaian‘s sword, and numerous space ships stick with us because of the imagination and subsequent work of Cobb. In addition to design, Cobb also served as a director and writer. Honoring the prolific career (which began in 1956) of one of the best illustrators of all-time, we’ve ranked some of Cobb’s most memorable designs (and films). Check them out below.
All concept images via roncobb.net
12) Dark Star’s Spaceship
Cobb’s first production design job was John Carpenter’s debut film, 1974’s Dark Star. Cobb designed the exterior for the film’s main space ship—which went on to heavily influence the ships/special effects of Star Wars and other space operas. It was on this film that Cobb would meet writer Dan O’Bannon, which would lead to jobs working on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune and Ridley Scott’s Alien.
11) The Abyss’ Deep Core Rig
Cobb designed the massive underwater drilling rig in James Cameron’s The Abyss (1989) as well as the helmets, suits, and breathing tanks used by the crew. He also helped to create the two operable submersibles used in the movie.
10) Robot Jox’ Mech Suit
Cobb served as a concept artist on Stewart Gordon’s Robot Joxs (1989), designing every inch of the 180 ft. tall, multi-mode robots, their support systems, and their worlds. Most of the costumes, automobiles, and other devices were also done by Cobb.
9) The Last Starfighter’s Spaceship
In addition to the Gunstar, Cobb designed the enemy space crafts, the planet Rylos, Starcar, aliens, and costumes for 1984’s The Last Starfighter.
8) Total Recall’s Memory Implant Chair
Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 classic, Total Recall’s entire plot revolves around one machine’s ability to plant false memories into people’s brains. Not only did Cobb design the “Rekall” machine, but he created the look for the Mars colony (mine complex, mining machines, taxi cabs, etc.), the Marsliner spaceship, and all of the vehicles on the futuristic Earth.
7) Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Nazi Airship
After meeting Steven Spielberg at Universal while working as a production designer on Conan The Barbarian, Cobb landed a job as a production artist on Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cobb ended up designing the Nazi Flying Wing from that film, on which, Indiana Jones fights that large Nazi in what is one of the greatest fights in cinematic history. Cobb and Spielberg maintained a close relationship for the remainder of his career.
6) Star Wars’ Momaw Nadon (“Hammerhead”)
Initially unaccredited, Cobb served as a conceptual designer on Star Wars: A New Hope. He designed most of the elaborate aliens in the famed Mos Eisley cantina sequence. Momaw Nadon AKA “Hammerhead” is considered by many to be the most memorable.
5) The Rocketeer’s Jet Pack
Cobb contributed an early design for the rocket-powered jet pack in Joe Johnson’s Rocketeer (1991).
4) Conan the Barbarian’s Sword
Not only did Cobb serve as a production designer on 1982’s Conan the Barbarian, but he was an uncredited director of second unit photography. That said, in addition to Conan’s iconic sword, Cobb was responsible for all of Conan’s weapons, armor, architecture, and scenery.
3) Aliens’ Drop Ship
As a concept artist on James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), Cobb designed the “Drop Ship,” the armored personnel carrier, some of the weapons, the interior/exterior sets, and vehicles of the earth colony complex.
2) Alien’s Nostromo
As a concept artist on Ridley Scott’s Alien (1978), Cobb conceived the interior and exterior of the infamous Nostromo ship—the film’s setting. That said, the ship’s aesthetic has influenced countless other sci-fi projects and the Alien franchise as a whole. Cobb was also the one to suggest the titular Alien’s blood be corrosive so that the crew couldn’t just shoot it dead.
1) Back to the Future’s DeLorean
Cobb created the initial design for the Back to the Future’s (1985) time-traveling De Lorean. Spielberg, a producer on the film, asked Cobb, “how he would make a DeLorean into a time machine?” He told Spielberg to make it look homemade like Doc Brown made it with stuff he picked up at Radio Shack.