Nick Maley recalls, “Bob Keen became my closest associate for many years from STAR WARS Ep IV through the mid 80’s

Bob, like Dave Barclay, was a fresh faced 18 year old trainee when he joined Stu Freeborn’s creature crew for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. He told me he had previously worked for a year with a model making firm involved with episode IV, (that would have made him 16 at the time), and certainly he had a basic understanding of simple mechanics and model making. That became his forte on the ESB team as we struggled to develop ideas for innovative puppet animation at the dawn of movie animatronics.

When I joined the crew, Bob was already working with Stu on the mechanics for the "Close-up Tauntaun". We worked in one large workshop on various aspects of the jobs in hand. When filming started, Graham (Freeborn) was overseeing shooting on set. That left me as the most experienced tech in the workshop so I ended up supervising much of what Bob and Dave were doing.

Our close association began when Bruce Sharman asked me to construct the "standby Yoda", used extensively in the swamps of Degobah and I enlisted Bob’s help soldering linkages and preparing parts. The work pattern we forged there was the foundation for our collaboration in many projects to come.

After EMPIRE Bob went on to DARK CRYSTAL. But he soon rejoined me as my main animatronics assistant on HORROR PLANET (aka INSEMINIOD)and then on a TV pilot with an animatronic bear suit THREE ON THE RUN. It was during this project that the make-up branch of NATTKE (movie trade union) were giving out union cards for new members.  Stuart organized an all important union card for his protégé Nick Dudman. But he did not favor Bob who he saw in a mechanical role rather than a make-up artist. Bob’s career was almost cut short as I argued for his inclusion on the basis of the developing nature of animatronics. Eventually I generated enough support for him to get through.

In early 81 Bob returned to STAR WARS to assisted Stuart again on RETURN OF THE JEDI. He was part of the team building and operating Jabba the Hutt. Later that year he joined my crew on KRULL. That movie was MUCH bigger than anything I had designed creatures for before. It took a crew of 40 artists and technicians to complete the task and Bob assumed the role of keeping things going in the workshop (as I had done for Stuart on ESB) while I did make-ups or was caught up on set.

It was soon apparent that Bob's real talent was in recognizing useful techniques, trends and technicians then applying them to the job in hand. He really knew how to stay in touch with developing situations and then manipulate circumstances to his best advantage. As the years progressed he developed into a valued crew coordinator rather than an individual artist within the crew.  I trusted him to chase through the progress of many of the team projects that I gave to other technicians.

After KRULL Bob moved with me onto THE KEEP, a miserable experience that was fraught with politics and confusion. I couldn’t blame him when he left to help my old friend Colin Arthur with THE NEVER ENDING STORY.

I flew out to Munich to get Bob and other crew members to join me again on the ill fated movie, GRIZZLY II in Budapest. He officially became my Workshop Supervisor in 1983 on LIFEFORCE when the complications of devising and directing second unit for the MFX sequences demanded more and more of my time. Bob became an invaluable foil in the animatronic development process.

Our working relationship continued on the Duran Duran video WILDBOYS & ARENA music video album and later when the director Russell Mulcay asked me to do the beheadings, prosthetics and storyboards for. HIGHLANDER, Bob signed on as my #2. Unfortunately the long hours and tresses of that production took their toll and, when I became too sick to finish the movie, Bob took over as Head of Department. In the years that followed, whilst I relaxed in the Caribbean, Bob remained busy forging a reputation as a designer of creature effects in his own right.

Bob’s status in the business soared when he collaborated with Clive Barker as head of make-up effects on  HELLRAISER, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH, CANDYMAN and WARLOCK: THE ARMAGEDDON. I think I was the first MFX artist to direct second unit, (on LIFEFORCE) but Bob very quickly took up that torch directing second unit on sequences he designed for several of Clive’s movies.

In 1993 he surpassed those heights by directing his own movies... SHEPHERD ON THE ROCK (1993), TO CATCH A YETI (1995) (TV), PROTEUS (1995), JIM’S GIFT (1996), THE LOST WORLD (1998), BEASTERY (2001) and HEARTSTOPPER (2006).”

Today Bob continues to make movies as a director, prosthetics designer ans special effects coordinator. See his full credits at the Internet Movie Database.


Bob Keen

This website is sponsored by the Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit & movie insider recollections and museum.  At the time of publishing, (2010), Google and Bing searches reveal that there is no other page detailing information about Yoda designers, Yoda technicians and Yoda puppeteers. So if the info appears on any future sites it was clearly copied from here. DO NOT COPY ANY PART OF THIS WEBSITE WITHOUT PERMISSION, PLUS A LINK TO THIS SITE & A TEXT CREDIT.
Ralph’s official website
The World of Froud
Wendy & Brian’s website 
the Yoda Puppeteer’s website
Alien Makers. Dennis Lowe’s exceptional information about the special effects on Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.

Nick’s movie memoirs, Star Wars, Superman, Highlander and more
Questions & Answers   
Nick replies to fan’s questions
YodaGuyMovieExhibit movie museum & art gallery. biography info. easy to remember internet hub
Made on a Mac

*NOTE: THIS SITE IS IN NOT CONNECTED TO LUCASFILM OR GEORGE LUCAS who own all rights to Yoda and the creatures from Star Wars. The use of the string "yoda" in our domain name and the presentation of images from the saga are courtesy of their generosity in allowing us to do so. Our use of the name YodaGuy is NOT intended to imply that Nick was the only "guy" who worked to produce Yoda. Several people were involved in making four versions of Yoda for ESB and more again for versions in ROTJ, PTM and AOTC. (Read making Yoda for more info). "YodaGuy" is intended to imply ONLY that Nick Maley is a guy who was involved. Yoda and all creatures for the classic Star Wars trilogy were masterminded by Stuart Freeborn who Nick worked with periodically over a 7 year period. The initial drawing: Ralph McQuarrie. Other people involved include Wendy Midner, Graham Freeborn, Ron Hone, Bob Keen and Nick Dudman.

all ART images are © copyright Nick Maley ~ text © copyright Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation. All Rights Reserved. | HOME | CONTACT

The info is written from memory. It’s been 30 years and there are undoubtedly some corrections needed and more contributors that I’m not aware of, especially from TPM. If you have further fist hand knowledge, PLEASE email it to us with details of your connection to our favorite little green guy.