A former artist and puppeteer for the Star Wars franchise has said that updating Yoda’s look was a mistake in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
When Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace arrived in cinemas all the way back in 1999, one of the first things people noticed was how different Yoda looked. This was because they originally used a different puppet for the character, updating his look, before replacing it with a CGI model in a later re-release.
Nick Maley, who was a puppeteer on Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, has called the updated puppet a mistake, sharing his thoughts on what went wrong at the For the Love of Sci-Fi convention:
“They built a puppet for Episode I: The Phantom Menace but made the mistake of trying to update Yoda. They re-sculptured him and made him out of a different material which was heavier. Then, because he was transparent instead of opaque, it meant light didn’t hit him the same way so his color wasn’t the same.
“They also needed to put a stronger mechanism in so the result was a Yoda that looked quite different and generated a lot of criticism. Ultimately you can’t redesign grandma: grandma is grandma. She might be old-fashioned but that’s grandma. You need to save your new stuff for your new characters.”
We have, of course, seen Yoda since the prequel films were made, as the character showed up in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, with a puppet that better resembled the original Yoda design being used.