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SWTNZ Creature Review - Behind the scenes of ESB, The Wampa|
Standing over two meters in height the Wampa is a stealthy predator, its white
fur is the perfect camouflage and is strong enough to snap the neck of any hardy
tauntaun. Wampas live in caves carved from the ice and they never hunt when
hungry preferring live meat whenever possible, as such they keep their victims
alive within their caves using their hot breath and saliva to suspend the prey
against the cave ceiling. Well adapted at conserving heat the Wampa do not show
up on most life form sensors and this is why they have escaped detection for so
long and they have recently become the favored target of big game hunters..
Behind the scenes Images of ESB,
Des Webb in full Wampa Costume, (Click To Enlarge)
One of the most difficult creatures to bring to the screen in a realistic manner,
the first version of the wampa started off as an enormous costume designed by
Joe Johnston. Assigned to shooting in Finse Norway and already a tall man
himself, Actor Des Webb wore the large Wampa outfit with stilts to add even more
height to the creature, unfortunately stilts and snow do not mix well and a lot of film
was shot of him constantly falling over. A part of the original "Empire Strikes Back"
plot never made it to film which intended the Rebel's Echo Base to be the victim
of chronic Wampa attacks, supposedly sections of the ice caverns were infiltrated
by wampas attracted to the beeping of astromech droids. Eventually, the Rebels
would figure out the reason for the mysterious attacks and succeed in capturing
several Wampa's putting them in pens with clearly marked warning labels..
Behind the scenes Images of ESB,
Inside the Wampas Ice Cave, (Click To Enlarge)
For the attacks a Wampa suit with eerie silver eyes was used and the actors inside
these heavy suits would suffer from heat exhaustion, though several of these scenes
were attempted none looked good enough to commit to the final film. The labeled
doors are still visible in the released version of ESB, in fact the trailer shows a scene
cut from the film, while Imperials are in pursuit of the fleeing Rebels, C3PO tears a
label from the door. Not seen in the trailer were the pursuing Snow troopers who
enter the pen and are killed by the captured Wampas. Failing to shoot the full body
wampa scenes, the film makers shot only little glimpses of the creature. For instance
the arm that knocks Luke off his tauntaun is just that, only an arm and the 12 frame
close up of the roaring wampa is just a puppet shot against the sky.
Above, Howie Weed in full Wampa Costume and an original Concept Drawing
which looks very different to what we know, (Click To Enlarge)
When ESB Special Edition was made the wampa was finally shown in all its gory,
no immensely tall actor or a suits incorporating stilts would be needed. Instead
ILM artist Howie Weed designed and wore the new the wampa suit and a special
set was scaled in such a way to make Howie look much larger than he really was.
Above, Two various Kenner Wampa toys, Vintage Hoth Wampa 1981
(one of my favorites) and Wampa Cave Micro Collection play set.
(Click To Enlarge)
Above, POTF Wampa and Luke Skywalker..
SWTNZ Creature Review - Behind the scenes of, "Dewback"|
Dewbacks are large lizard creatures used as mounts and beasts of burden
by the people of Tatooine, having flat teeth they forage for shrubs and small
desert animals like womp rats. They are able to withstand the heat and dust
that other conveyances can not tolerate but at night when the temperature
drops they become lethargic and very rarely move about. Domesticated
dewbacks will not breed in captivity, they are solitary animals that gather
yearly in the Jundland Wastes to mate, the females will lay many eggs that
take six months to incubate. Baby dewbacks must fend for themselves in
order to survive and most will have green scales, but there is some variation
in their colors. They can range from gray, brown, red and a few rare ones
are even blue, mottled areas and camouflage patterns are also common.
Sand People hunt dewback for their hides, which are used for boots, belts,
pouches, tents and other survival gear.
Above, A CGI Scene from ANH & an original concept drawing..
For the filming of "A New Hope", the Dewback was a mechanized puppet with
limited articulation and on location in Tunisia the Dewback did not function
properly. It was used in background shots rather than close ups, with only a
single Dewback seen during the Imperial search of the droids. Then the same
puppet was also used outside the Mos Eisley Cantina, but when the Star Wars
Special Edition was released in 1997 the Dewback puppet was replaced with a
Computer generated model complete with CGI Storm-Trooper astride its back.
Above, The 12 inch scale Dewback and Sand-Trooper (POTF)
Above, Graphics for the Dewback toy from Kenner's 1979 catalog..
The vintage Kenner Dewback is a must have addition to your collection,
the tail moves in conjunction with the head and a Storm-Trooper or other 3 3/4
inch figure can sit snug inside its spring loaded back hatch.
Click To Enlarge ( 1024x768 )
This wallpaper was made from an original concept drawing that Kenner had
used to create the prototoy vintage Dewback, the same one pictured in the
right hand top corner of this page.
Above, Kenners Dewback 1979, (Click To Enlarge)
SWTNZ Creature Review - Behind The Scenes Of, Tauntaun - ESB 1980|
Found roaming the ice planet Hoth, Tauntauns are a species of snow lizard
that the Rebel Alliance had domesticated and used for patrol duties outside
the Echo Base. Tauntauns came in very useful as the Rebels had difficulty
adapting their speeders to the sub zero temperatures. Though they have
remarkably cold-resistant blood and a thick layer of insulating fat and fur, the
chilling extremes of a Hoth night can prove deadly to any life form. Tauntauns
have four nostrils, the larger pair brings oxygen into the bloodstream during
physical exertion and when sleeping it seals them off to keep out the snow and
retain heat. They feed on fungus that grows just beneath the frost layer but are
also known to eat meat when necessary and exude waste products through
ducts on their skin which gives them a foul odor. The Female Tauntaun's have
horns, which are used in competition for a mate, they also tend to be more
aggressive, so they are usually neutered for domestication. Jabba the Hutt has
a stuffed Tauntaun head as one of his grisly trophies, next to frozen Han Solo.
Above, Shooting the articulated puppet Tauntaun in Finse, Norway..
For long shots of the Tauntaun running through the snow, a stop motion
miniature was painstakingly animated one frame at a time, for the close ups
a full sized articulated puppet was employed with a special track, allowing it to
move across short distances.
Above, An original latex facial appliance created by Stuart Freeborn, when
the production went to Finse Norway to shoot, the puppet froze up and most
of its moving features didn't work.
Above, two early Concept Drawings for the "Snow Camel"..
and various Tauntaun Toys from 1980-2002, (Click To Enlarge)
SWTNZ Creature Review - Behind the Scenes - Beware, "The Rancor!" |
A 5-10 meter tall hulk of reptilian flesh, the rancor walks on two stubby legs
and has long arms for capturing prey, its armored skin is so tough that it can
easily resist blows from any blaster weapon. Rancors are found only on
scattered worlds such as Dathomir and the Ottethan system, the rancors of
Dathomir are stronger and more intelligent and they have even been
domesticated by the Witches of Dathomir.
Creature Designer Phil Tippett described the rancor as a cross between a
gorilla and a potato, ILM first tried to create the rancor as a person in a creature
suit, but After viewing video tests it didn't look too convincing. The rancor was
then redesigned as an 18 inch tall puppet made of foam latex. Rather than use
stop motion animation, the rancor was instead filmed in slow motion while being
operated by three puppeteers. When projected at normal speed, the rancor would
appear slow as if its movements were governed by its enormous bulk.
Above, an original Concept drawing for the Rancor, once again
very different from what we know, (Click To Enlarge)
Above, various views of a loose vintage Rancor, (Click To Enlarge)
Standing around 7-8 inches in height, the Vintage Rancor produced by Kenner
back in 1984 is a very desirable collectible even though it is one of the more
creepy looking toys ever produced. In the picture above you can get a better
idea of the scale as it stands next to its infamous keeper..
Above, Two early ROTJ boxed versions of the Rancor, the standard Kenner
and a Tri-Logo release, (Click To Enlarge)
SWTNZ Creature Review - Bantha, Behind the Scenes Of..|
The legacy of the Bantha is found throughout the galaxy and is even worshiped
by the Dim-U monks as a truly mystical creature, Banthas are easily domesticated
and are used as beasts of burden for this very reason. Bantha meat and milk are
common food items and the skins are used to make hide boots, jackets and other
wares. Their physiology ranges as different races have adapted to different
environments, while normally docile feral banthas like those found on "Talasea"
are quite dangerous. Some Bantha can grow to prodigious heights with some as
large as five meters tall. Banthas are shaggy hide quadrupeds with bright
inquisitive eyes and are strictly herbivores, the male has a pair of long spiraling
horns that grow from the skull. On the desert world of Tatooine, banthas are
used a by moisture farmers and Tusken Raiders as pack animals..
For episode 5 "A New Hope" an Asian elephant named Mardji played the part
of the bantha. As a trained elephant from Marine World Africa USA, Mardji
was transported to Northern California and dressed in layers of fur with a
headpiece of two lightweight horns. Despite being already trained, Mardji
was never comfortable wearing the bantha disguise and often tried removing
it as the cameras rolled, I believe that Marine World still has the costume..
Above, Kenner's, Bantha & Tusken Raider 1998, Plus an early
conceptual drawing. (Click To Enlarge)
SWTNZ Creature Review - Jabba the Hutt, Behind The scenes Of.. |
The Hutts are legless worm like slugs about three meters in length with tapered
slimy body's, two short arms, large reptilian eyes and a drooling toothless grin.
They are renowned for having connections to criminal activities such as slavery,
gunrunning, spice-smuggling and extortion etc. They are so influential that they
control the commerce on entire worlds scattered throughout the Outer Rim, one
prominent member of this species was "Jabba the Hutt", who operated from his
dark palace on Tatooine. The Hutts came from the wasteland planet of Varl which
was once a green and lush world, being one of the oldest star faring species in the
galaxy the Hutt's left their home world after it was destroyed by unknown events
and have since carved out a sizable province for themselves known as Hutt Space.
Their new home world is known as "Nal Hutta" which translates to "Glorious Jewel"
in Huttese, it is a polluted world orbited by the moon of "Nar Shaddaa". The Hutts
are hermaphrodites containing both male and female sex organs, but they are
generally considered male unless pregnant.
Above, the makers and controllers of Jabba..
David Barclay - Right arm, jaw and Jabba's voice.
Toby Philpott - Left arm, head moves and tongue.
Mike Edmonds - Tail lash, body writhe & jokes.
Richard Padbury - Fabrication & Jabba smoke
Bob Bromley, Mike Osborn and Bob Keen - Radio Controllers.
John Coppinger was one of the creators of Jabba, he sculpted Jabba for Stuart
Freeborn from a maquette by Phil Tippett and from there they built the full size
version. Between the years of 1981-82 the makers of Jabba worked to prepare
him for the making of "Return of the Jedi", this would be the first time we saw
Jabba the Hutt laid out on that massive thrown and it took a number of dedicated
people to bring him to life.. All images and data used here is curtesy of John
Coppinger's website, you can see more by visiting the link below...
Above you can see Jabba's body under construction in the workshop, notice the
different sections which allow for his limited but controlled movement.
Here you can see the internal parts, facial skeleton and eyeball mechanism as well
what remains of jabba, his rubbery face. (Above)
Above, Various Jabba Toys and their Packaging, Play-Doh sets including a
Mexican Lili-Ledi version, two MPC and AMT throne rooms, plus more recent
items such as a POTF Jabba with Han Solo Figure and Micromachines..
(Click To Enlarge)
Above, Kenner's, Jabba the Hutt Action Playset 1983, (Click To Enlarge)
Below are links to some of the original Jabba crew:
John Coppinger -
Dave Barclay -
Toby Philpott -
Mike Edmonds -
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