More than any other movie of it’s time, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK merged puppets, robotics, stop motion and physical effects in a way that crossed union boundaries and resulted in a decade of confused credits. As George Lucas allowed extra time for creature development, the stage was set for the birth of movie animatronics as we now know them. Make-up effects strayed into puppetry and Muppetry evolved to include engineers and animators. It was an exciting time to be in movies and Stuart Freeborn's concepts were a catalyst for much of that development.

Nick Maley recalls, “Much of the information currently available on the subject originates from press releases that originated in the Publicity Department. Those press releases were written by journalists who interviewed a few notable personalities and then recorded their impressions of what they were told. These have become the hallowed “facts” upon which books and websites are founded. Even do not have access to the real DETAILS of who did what and why.

Many of the personalities involved were breaking union agreements of that time. In fact, “animatronics” was defined in an attempt to form a new union branch to overcome these difficulties.  Key personnel were given screen credits that were politically correct... not entirely accurate. Some were not given credits at all. Very notably, the puppeteers, other than Frank Oz, received no publicity at all and have been under rated for decades.

The technology used came from different sources, the input of different experts and different technology was used on different versions of Yoda... all built for the same movie. On ESB the torso and limbs of the puppet Yoda’s used Muppet technology and were fabricated entirely by Wendy Midner and she was credited as “Yoda fabricator.” But none of that was animatronic. The puppet heads were animatronic and conceived by Stuart Freeborn. The first was built by Stu and Nick Dudman assisted him. The second was built by me (Nick Maley) and Bob Keen assisted me. There were two heads but only one body. A radio controlled version used mechanics built by Ron Hone from the Special Effects (robot fabrication) Department and the body from that version wasn’t made in the same way or by the same personnel.  I also built a fourth, oversized, version of Yoda which was worn by little person Deep Roy for shots of Yoda walking. That was built in yet another way.

So you can see how comments made by individual contributors, taken out of context, could appear to be conflicting and confusing to outsiders who have no idea that they are not all talking about the same item.  You can see how it might appear that certain contributors are claiming credits due to others... when in fact they ALL contributed, but in different ways to different versions. You can see how puppeteers operating Yoda without the required union tickets got ambiguous credits and how Dave Barclay (a trainee in our department) could have operated Yoda’s eyes yet not been credited AT ALL!”

Why you can’t figure out who did what...

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.