Q. Was it Stuart Freeborn? Was it Wendy Midner? Was it Jim Henson or Frank Oz and the Muppets? Was it that Yoda Guy, Nick Maley? What about Ron Hone and Deep Roy? All these people claim a connection to Yoda. So who really made Yoda?

A. They ALL did, in some way or another.

Because there were 4 different versions for EMPIRE STRIKES BACK different people contributed different skills on different versions. Here is a breakdown...

CONCEPTS:  RALPH MCQUARRIE did initial drawings which the green color, pointed ears and plated forehead came from.  STUART FREEBORN was the designer who oversaw the realization of Yoda. Stu was the one who finally determined Yoda’s appearance,  in consultation with George Lucas. Stu modeled Yoda and conceived the animatronic principles that made him work. Consequently it is true to say that Stuart was Yoda’s dad. He contributed more to Yoda’s design than any other person and he supervised what the rest of us were doing. During the concept work FRANK OZ  stipulated certain technical limitations to make the puppet to his liking and this altered the design.  I believe WENDY MIDENER FROUD sculpted the hands and feet.

PREPARATORY WORK: Once the modeling was complete, it was my job,  NICK MALEY, to prepare the sculpt for moulding and Stu and I made the head mould together. I reverse engineered a skull mould as well as moulds for the hands, feet and ears. I then produced all the foam latex skins and supervised the production of the skulls.

PROTOTYPE YODA GLOVE PUPPET HEAD: STUART FREEBORN built the animatronic mechanism for the first version with assistance from NICK DUDMAN. Some of the early eye mechanisms were assembled by BOB KEEN I believe although these were ultimately not used in this puppet head. All the animatronic concepts for this version were Stuart’s and it was used in Yoda’s hut.

YODA GLOVE PUPPET BODY: This was designed to fit the animatronic head that Stu built. It was fabricated entirely by WENDY MIDENER FROUD. This included shaping the body and making the arm and leg linkages.

YODA’S UPPER LIP: It was decided that Yoda’s upper lip needed extending and DAVID BARCLAY modeled an extension which Stuart fitted to the prototype and I fitted to the standby Yoda.

THE OVERSIZED WALKING YODA: This was the first Yoda I, NICK MALEY,  assembled. It was 10 inches larger than the puppet... 36”. I built it to fit little person DEEP ROY as a quick solution to needing to see Yoda’s legs working. There were no mechanics and it was only used for the end of the scene when Luke meets Yoda.

THE RADIO CONTROLLED YODA: This entirely different version of Yoda was needed for Luke’s backpack and other situations where the puppeteers couldn’t be concealed. It was remotely controlled. A fiberglass scull was made from the moulds I produced and the mechanism was built by RON HONE. I did the final assembly and GRAHAM FREEBORN and I did the artworking.

BACK-UP YODA GLOVE PUPPET HEAD: When mechanical hiccups delayed shooting during the first week of filming I, NICK MALEY, was asked to create this back-up animatronic head. I built the mechanism and BOB KEEN assisted me. It fitted to the puppet body that Wendy had made and was used extensively on the swamps of Degobah.

That covers all versions of Yoda seen on screen in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK but one more was produced...

STAND-IN (REHEARSAL) YODA: This was made to line up shots and camera positions. The Degobah set was filthy and to help keep the main puppet clean, this version was made by WENDY MIDENER FROUD in a manner very similar to a muppet.

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So, who really made Yoda?

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
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.