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The Puppets That Make Star Wars

Since it's earliest forms, Star Wars has always broken ground in the visual effects world, inventing and innovating technologies that change the way film and television look forever. Both with practical effects and digital ones, Star Wars has never stopped pushing the limits of what is possible. One of many methods used was the creation of puppets, and with today being World Puppetry Day, I thought it was a great day to look at a few Star Wars puppets that bring so many iconic characters and creatures to life.


Yoda

Yoda is one of the earliest Star Wars puppets to be featured in such a large role. Brought to life by experts from Industrial Light and Magic consulting Jim Henson and his company, Yoda has captured our hearts and is probably one of the most iconic characters in all of Star Wars. The impressively expressive puppet used in the original trilogy films still holds up as an effect today, and while Yoda in the prequels was created with CGI, he returned as a puppet for his appearance in The Last Jedi.


Jabba the Hutt

Another iconic early Star Wars puppet was Jabba the Hutt. Requiring a number of puppeteers to all work together to make him feel as real as he does in Return of the Jedi, making every little movement count. The Jabba puppet weighed 1 ton and included puppeteers both inside of Jabba as well as outside with radios operating his eyes. Every little detail matters, and they clearly pulled it off very well.


BB-8

Moving more into the modern era of Star Wars puppets, we have BB-8, a quickly beloved and iconic character. While the character of BB-8 was brought to life in many different ways to fit the needs of different scenes and locations, one way that BB-8 was created was through a rod puppet, manipulated by a series of different rods to create its movements and expressions.


Happabore

Another new puppet from The Force Awakens, the Happabore is reminiscent of Jabba the Hutt's puppet, also featuring a big team of puppeteers to operate. The Happabore is far from the only puppet creature in the Star Wars sequels (others include some porgs and Babu Frik), but it was certainly among the biggest- being 20 ft long!


Grogu

Finally, we have the most iconic puppet from recent Star Wars. While our modern day live action Star Wars shows have brought us many puppets of different creatures, droids and characters, none of them have stolen the show as much as Grogu. The $5 million dollar puppet has captivated hearts across the world through his adorable, expressive face and tiny little mannerisms. Grogu is brought to life by a team of dedicated puppeteers and has played a huge role in popularizing Star Wars television from Disney+.


It feels very fitting that as much as Star Wars has grown, we never fully leave behind those classic technologies such as puppets, and just goes to show the role they play in expanding the imagination of all generations

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