Monday 31 July 2023


Star Wars Weekly advert for the newly arrived figures of 1978.

With all the incredible advances in today's toys creation, the Original Trilogy run of action figures from the UK's Palitoy, from 1978 onwards, may seem pretty basic to modern fans eyes, but they'd ultimately give fuel to so much incredible and imaginative playtime for so many children, which in turn would deservedly inspire generations of affectionate tribute and nostalgia by the time they reached their adult years...

Saturday 29 July 2023


Fan favourites Kit Fisto and Plo Koon take a decisive stand during an attack on their Republic Cruiser, in a brief moment only seen during the opening 'War Narration' for The Clone Wars animated movie of 2008.

Thursday 27 July 2023


Old pilots are still bold pilots as the legendary Lando Calrissian returns to aid the Resistance in its darkest hours, what with the passing of their beloved General Leia Organa and the resurrection of the Emperor on Exegol.

Why it took so long for Lando - such a charismatic and vital presence in the saga -  to return to the Sequel Trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker, I still don't know....

Tuesday 25 July 2023


War is hell, as the saying goes, and that's especially true for Imperial grunt Han Solo and his new hairy comrade Chewbacca as they're caught in an epic confrontation. Intriguing concept art for Solo: A Star Wars Story prior to the film's script being fully locked down.

Sunday 23 July 2023


The time has come for the intense Kylo Ren, having been brutally put down by Supreme Leader Snoke, to shed the bonds of restrained power and emotional skin that has prior kept him from unleashing his full potential- to finally destroy all obstacles in his way, in a memorable and dramatic scene from The Last Jedi, caught from a behind the scenes perspective. 

Friday 21 July 2023


Sometimes not finding out what dangerous mission you're going on with your Rebel Alliance owners can be an enormous worry, especially if you're a protocol droid like C-3PO, back with his ever-faithful sidekick R2-D2. A lovely cameo return for the characters, and actor Anthony Daniels, at the Yavin IV base in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But how come Threepio doesn't ultimately remember being there for A New Hope?


Wednesday 19 July 2023


Keeping an eye on his young fighter comrades' varied missions across the galaxy, and of potential incursions by the dreaded First Order, top pilot Snap Wexley is a busy man and one of General Leia Organa's most popular and talented pilots in the Resistance.

Monday 17 July 2023


It's one of the most important scenes bridging the Prequel and Original Trilogies, as self-exiled Obi-Wan Kenobi delivers the baby Luke Skywalker to his new adoptive parents on Tatooine. Green screen fills in for the Tatooine skies and landscape, as George Lucas goes through character moves with Ewan McGregor, atop a not yet CGI created Eopie, in this great behind the scenes shot for EPISODE III.

Friday 14 July 2023


The most repulsive villain of the saga takes shape...

Starting work circa October 1981 and into January 1982, Stuart Freeborn and his team have the epic task of bringing the mighty leader of scum and villainy to challenging life within their busy workshop at Elstree Studios, London. He recalled to Star Wars Insider in 2005: “I got the carpenters to build a framework first, but even so, I had to pour four tons of clay over the framework and then model it into Jabba. After I took plaster casts of it, which made great big molds, I had a whole room converted into an oven to run Jabba’s foam skin.” 

Jabba's face frame construction and testing.

Once Freeborn has cast the foam rubber pieces and seamed them together, he will go on to mount the entire skin onto a lightweight framework to support it’s shape and articulate the creature. It is planned that two puppeteers, whom Freeborn would refer to as “the Astronauts”, will sit inside Jabba’s head and together they will manipulate the cables that will make his eyes blink, tongue loll and mouth open. 

 Jabba’s tail will also have a life of its own and so it is planned that an operator will be inside that part of the build as well. Freeborn continues to Insider: “The tail had to be able to come up, swing, and knock people over, so to make it move I had a lot of rods going through the centre and little round pieces to create the shape, which required a lot of strength to make it work.” The operator would be sat on “a little seat halfway up the tail, just underneath the foam rubber. The tail was controlled by what I call “saucepan lids” which were two discs with eight cords that made it go up, down, left and right.” When the operator pulls the proper cable to one saucepan lid, it pulled the second saucepan lid to the opposite direction, so the tail would make an “S” bend and knock people over if necessary.” 

Despite early behind the scenes worries in the first week of January 1982 that the final mega puppet would not be ready in time, the incredible prop, to be primarily operated within by Dave Barclay and Toby Philpot, and in its tale, Mike Edmonds, would prove an on set marvel to the cast and crew for its grotesque beauty. Respectful dues are certainly handled out to Freeborn and his dedicated team for their impressive beyond words work.

Stuart Freeborn with an early Jabba mock-up to show the core production team.

The unpainted face awaiting the eyes.

Creating the eyes and the mechanics operating them.

Coming together grossly.

Feeling the chill in the cold winter environs of Elstree's workshop, a hatted Freeborn liaises with his team.

Early days on the body's ultimate creation at Elstree.

With the mighty Jabba ultimately delivered onto the set for his first days of filming in January, 1982, he had been created in sections over a three month period because of the creature's huge expanse, and at a cost of nearly $2 million dollars. Weighing more than 200lbs, three operators will be inside the creature tasked with the job of bringing it to realistic life - one would be in the tail (Mike Edmonds, having previously played an Ewok, the actor specially picked for this new assignment by Robert Watts), of which two would be made –one being kind of curled up and one which can undulate like a lizard’s, and two others (Dave Barclay and Toby Philpott) being in the front manipulating the head and the arms. TV monitors would be placed inside Jabba. The shooting camera would be connected to a video camera feeding into these monitors, giving the operators instant feedback on their performance with the various parts of the creature, whilst two additional operators outside the creature operate the eyes by remote control from the studio floor. For the filming, the voice of Jabba would primarily be provided by operator Dave Barclay. 

Jabba's operating schematic.

The primary internal mechanics are worked out using Action Man dolls...

... and practically tested.

Near completed and ready for painting.

More 'body' shots of Jabba at Elstree.

We assume that this is some kind of later reference model for the full size build?

Saturday 16th January, 1982 would see a full dress rehearsal takes place on the Jabba’s Palace Throne room Stage 8 set for all of the alien characters, before principal photography commences there from January 25th. To everyone’s relief, the fully operational Jabba the Hutt puppet is delivered to the stage on time for the rehearsal by an exhausted Stuart Freeborn. 

Even after all the months of work, however, Freeborn isn’t entirely happy with the end result: “I tried to run the whole gamut of emotions with him, except being a nice character-that he never was and never could be. Jabba was my biggest headache, and unfortunately I didn’t get much time to see him on screen. I think we just about made him work.” 

With the puppet inside and ready to exude his evil charms, Richard Marquand and his camera crew go through a series of tests with Jabba and his operators. Marquand recalls: “Before we started shooting the throne room scene, with Jabba’s tongue and his arms and eyes, one of the toughest problems that we had to deal with, were in place, we had to discuss, rediscuss, what the eyes had to do; where they would go; how they should operate; the range of different emotions he could express during the course of the sequence and how these would be done with the eyes. There were times when I would say, “turn the head, look down, look up, look more around, move around, look left, wave your arm, throw the mug,” and if I hadn’t, the people inside wouldn’t really have been able to function properly.” As well as Jabba, the majority of the other alien creatures are also put through their paces-with any difficulties being ironed out that weekend. 

The Tech of the Jabba the Hutt Puppet

Adding some extra slime to Jabba's mighty tongue!

Attending to Jabba whilst positioning his Hookah pipe.

Enjoying a snack between evildoing.

Stuart Freeborn is aware of the difficulties of operating the creature during filming, recalling to Star Wars Insider magazine in 2005: “One man couldn’t do it all, so the two of them sitting next to each other in the head and neck did all the movements together. Their own arms went into Jabba’s foam arms so they could really make him move around and toss the frogs and things into his mouth, because he was eating and drinking all the time. Jabba ate real expensive live frogs, so I made two tubes in his throat-one for the frogs and one for the rubbish, and each astronaut (operator) had their own throats. When one guy used the phony arm to open the bug bowel of water and picked a frog out and tossed it into the side of his mouth, it went down into a bucket of water. The other guy tossed the rubbishy stuff into the side of his mouth and it went into the rubbish bucket. That way, when they shot it again, all they had to do was take the frogs out of the one bucket and put them back in the water bowl. We spent weeks rehearsing all of this until we got it just right.” 

An alien snack to be eaten by Jabba during later second unit work at ILM.

Additional filming of Jabba grabbing a snack filmed at ILM in 1982, with David Carson.

Freeborn would also recall the frog problems to Star Wars - The UK Magazine: “He (Jabba) was supposed to be taking frogs out of a big bowl and eating them but then he was smoking with this hookah, so we had to create different openings in the costume so the frogs didn’t go into the same place as the smoke, or we would have suffocated them all! We had everything worked out, so we knew exactly how we would reach in to the bowl, take out a frog and stuff it into his mouth. On the first day we got everything into place and the director Richard Marquand looked at it and said, “I think we should move this bowl over here.” I said, “Oh my god, we can’t do that!” we had to set it all up very carefully, and there was no way we could change it at the very last minute just so the bowl would look better in another place.” 

With the filming of Jabba’s frog scenes comes many funny out-takes, as Toby Philpott recalls to T’BONE’S STARWARZ UNIVERSE: “Getting that slippery rubber frog into the mouth was fairly hilarious. It started with a live frog (with his keeper) in the tank, and the frog didn’t like it so it would leap OUT of the glass bowl and create havoc hopping around the set (it was BIG). Once we had gotten that in the can, we moved on to the rubber frog. I hate to disillusion anyone – but at least no animals were injured in the making of this movie.” “I had to grab it with my left hand in the three-finger grip (imagine the Vulcan "live long and prosper" finger shape) through fat rubber gloves, and then stuff it into the mouth, which I could only just reach. As I was bringing it to the mouth I was tilting the head with my right hand, then had to quickly switch, as Dave chewed, to sliding my right hand into the tongue to lick the lips. Dave had to open the mouth at the right time, and I had to get the frog right inside. So far, so good. Now they add the slime around the mouth, and by the third take the frog is really slippery so when they hand it to me and it squirts out of my grasp, and leaps across the set all the panic starts again (and this isn’t even the live frog!)” “In one unused take the legs were left sticking out and Dave started chewing and I carried on poking the wriggling legs in, and we heard the groan and the shout of "CUT!" as it was considered too gross. At least our stuff was mostly done via close-ups, so when they shouted "Cut!" we usually hadn’t upset too many other performers.” 

Look carefully at where Jabba sits and you’ll see that he also has a sidearm prop for his protection, which was a dressed up German air pistol that could fire tiny pellets. Proud of his now on-set creation, 

Members of the UK Elstree operating team for Jabba assemble for a group photo on the Throne Room set in 1982.

Thursday 13 July 2023


Ralph McQuarrie head design for Jabba that was eventually used/adapted for a comedy alien villain in the early seasons of Star Wars Rebels.

He'd been ominously referred to in the previous two films as a crime lord that couldn't be messed with, and would soon be the keystone for Han Solo's capture and carbon freezing at Bespin by the deadly bounty hunter Boba Fett via commission from Darth Vader during The Empire Strikes Back, so when it came to designing the infamous Jabba the Hutt, described by George Lucas as a monstrous version of the intimidating film noir actor Sydney Greenstreet, the challenge was on for the ILM conceptual artists to work out a design that would win Lucas's approval for his vital first appearance in the saga with Return of the Jedi.

Here's a few of the memorable designs...

From 1980.

Ralph McQuarrie concepts 1981.

A more human-looking grotesque.

A travelling Jabba idea, moved from underneath by his slave retinue.

The drawing rendered to maquette form.

Another potential Jabba maquette, if rather more humanoid in appearance.

A selection of Jabba concept maquettes created by Phil Tippett.

The final maquette chosen by Lucas for Jabba.

Wednesday 12 July 2023


Deep in the heart of Jabba's palace on Tatooine, our unlikely droid pals are finally introduced to the Hutt slimo supreme within his throne room fantasy land of greed, power and ambition, flanked on either side by his dancing pleasure girl Oola (dancer Femi Taylor), and the creepy Kowakian Monkey Lizard called Salacious Crumb (operated by actor/puppeteer Tim Rose).

The first time we see the grotesque but living up to his evildom Jabba on screen in Return of the Jedi, in an arena atmospherically captured by top UK cinematographer Alan Hume (with support from Alec Mills), Stuart Freeborn's incredible skills at realizing this bulky and fascinatingly gross creature, from Phil Tippet's crazy but brilliant maquette, are firmly cemented, indeed it proves itself as a deliberate, direct tribute requested by George Lucas to the classic B/W film baddie Sydney Greenstreet and other odious baddies of similar ilk within the realms of Hollywood noir.