Star Wars memoirs

from someone who was actually there!

Nick Maley’s


This huge creature suit was difficult to easy to operate.  The weight and leverage for the whole suit rested on Des' shoulders.  To make things tougher, Des was walking on 2’ (60 cm) stilts.  His feet only reached down to the Wamba's knees. The lower leg was strapped to Des's feet so the Wampa's knees were operated by Des' ankles.  Finished, the Wampa was 3 meters tall, 60 cm taller than the average ceiling.

Star Wars Insider argues that the Wampa must have been bigger on the strength of an ESB documentary which stated that it was 12 feet tall (3.65 meters). But the people who wrote that documentary were not in the creature workshop when we built it.  I was.   The wampa was 10 feet tall.  You can do the math... Des was 6'10. Add 2 feet for the stilts. Add 14" for the head, = 10 feet.

An early version had large eyes similar to a fly's which I fabricated.  but George didn't like those and it was changed to the smaller ones that you know.  .

The suit was built to walk on salt.  That is what the Hoth ice fortress, built in a sound stage at Elstree Studios, London, was fabricated from.  Salt is put on roads in some countries when weather is icy to reduce slipping.  So even with stilts the suit was quite stable.  But when it was decided to take the Wampa to Norway for exterior shots, they wanted him to walk on ice instead.  Swinging 8 foot long arms, (2.4 meters) while walking on stilts on a fjord was like trying to playing table tennis in an astronaut suit.   It was less than successful

It was also impossible to coordinate an 8 foot long arm to hit Luke in the face without causing permanent damage to Mark Hammill and in the end a miniature puppet was constructed to achieve that shot.