|Stuart Freeborn with the all too cuddly Wampa head and body at Elstree.|
Alongside and opposite to the benevolent Tauntaun, British Makeup genius Stuart Freeborn and his workshop team at Elstree Studios were tasked with creating another unique creature resident to the ice planet Hoth- the deadly snow monster known as the Wampa, whose run-in with Luke Skywalker would soon become a difficult-to-realize, but nonetheless classic, sequence in The Empire Strikes Back
Of the new creatures, Freeborn sculpts the Wampa’s head whilst son Graham-and others in the department- build the rest of the suit, under Freeborn senior's direction, made of fiberglass and covered in goat fur, to be worn by 6 foot 10 performer Des Webb. Eighteen–inch stilts are built into the creatures legs which will increase his height, with Webb’s hands located at the Wampa’s elbows to control arm extensions, giving him further reach with huge mechanical paws. Once the costume tests are underway, Webb’s body frame in the suit rises to eleven foot.
Here's a selection of photo's from the creature's evolutionary process from 1978-79...
|A gorilla-like early idea.|
|Working out the facial operations of the face mask.|
|Close-up of the completed mask that was used for ultimately abandoned footage filmed on location in Norway. It's eyes would be barely visible in the footage, and looked far too cuddly.|
|Joe Johnston's formidable creature design for the Wampa.|
|Stuart Freeborn shows Irvin Kershner the work-in-progress Wampa face mask adhering to Joe Johnston's above design. This version ultimately was either never used, or adapted to have fly-like eyes for a later insert filming shot that was deleted from the film.|
|The fly-like mask variation by Freeborn used for a brief insert against Luke Skywalker, who attacks it with his lightsaber, setting it aflame. The insert shot was filmed later in production on the Rebel Base corridor set where another of the creatures would attack Artoo Detoo.|