Young Fluke Starbucker, under the tutelage of Auggie "Ben" Doggie, learns to master the power of the Force, while teaming up with Ham Salad to rescue Princess Anne-Droid and aid her fight against the evil Empire.
Hardware Wars (1977) is a short film parody of the classic science fiction film Star Wars. The thirteen-minute film, which premiered in theatres only seven months after Star Wars, consisted of little more than inside jokes and visual puns that heavily depended upon audience familiarity with the original. The theme song is Richard Wagner's famous "Ride of the Valkyries". The tagline was "You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss three bucks goodbye."
Hardware Wars was written and directed by San Francisco native Ernie Fosselius and produced by Michael Wiese. It was structured as a mock-movie trailer, and Fosselius even secured narration from veteran voice-over artist Paul Frees, who provided the voice work for the original Star Wars trailers. Fosselius capitalised on his budget limitations by using deliberately ridiculous household objects as props; spaceships were represented with such items as steam irons, toasters and cassette recorders, and the lightsaber of "Fluke Starbucker" was a flashlight. The characters, played by actors who were just as low-budget as the props, were also parodied in name and appearance; for example, Chewbacca the wookiee was replaced by "Chewchilla the Wookiee Monster," an obvious Cookie Monster puppet, dyed brown, and Darth Vader's counterpart, "Darph Nader," wore a welding helmet that distorted his voice so much that no one could understand anything he said. Other notable characters include "Ham Salad," "Augie Ben Doggie," "Princess Anne-Droid," and the drones, "4-Q-2" (who resembles the Tin Woodman from the Wizard of Oz) and "Arty Deco" (an antique canister vacuum cleaner).
Hardware Wars won over 15 first place film festival awards, including the award for Most Popular Short Film at the Chicago Film Festival. It is considered to be the most profitable short film of all time, grossing US $1,000,000; considering its paltry US$8,000 budget, its profit ratio was much better than Star Wars. George Lucas said in a 1999 interview on the UK's The Big Breakfast television show that Hardware Wars was his favorite Star Wars parody.
In 2003, the film was honored by Lucasfilm when it was given the Pioneer Award at that year's Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards. In August 2010, Time magazine listed it as one of the Top 10 Star Wars fanfilms.