Only 5 more months to wait until The Force Awakens hits theatres, and though it’s been over 32 years since the last Star Wars movie was made* I’m sure most of Make:’s readership is familiar with the Rancor scene from Return of the Jedi. The infamous execution pit below Jabba’s throne housed the adolescent, hunched beast that Luke kills by triggering the portcullis to drop.
While the Rancor in the movie was created as a stick-manipulated puppet, original trials were done with a wearable suit. Inspired by this abandoned attempt, propmaster extraordinaire Frank Ippolito challenged himself to create a wearable Rancor mascot suit for ComicCon2015 in only three weeks. While Frank and his friends’ professionalism is confirmed by their workmanship, the tools, techniques, and materials are cheap, easy, and available to any of us.
The majority of the skin is just L200 and mattress foam stuck down onto a light frame. Some parts like the face were molded with clay on chicken wire and then cast. The paint is airbrushed on and consists of rubber cement thinned with naphtha and oil pigments added.
Having seen the original model, taken pics, and talked to its creator, he knew the eyes were ball bearings with Sharpie scribbled on. Frank chromed his, then blackmisted them with an automotive finish paint. A toy Skywalker in the Rancor’s hand completes the outer look.
The interior is a two piece legs and torso held together with Velcro. While the Rancor looks hunched and squatted as he appears in his pit, Frank is actually standing up straight inside. Unlike most sports mascots and Disney costumes where the wearer sees out through their character’s mouth, for better or worse the Rancor is sealed up tight. Instead a wideangle FPV camera from a quadcopter is placed outside in the right nostril and Frank wears the Fatshark goggles inside the suit to see what’s going on. His arms only extend as far as the elbows, making the suit exhausting to carry with all of the forward limb leverage.
Anaheim in summer not being known for its cool or refreshing weather; Frank was drenched in his own sweat after a quick frolic with his peers down the street to show off to fans.
If you’re interested in the process of building the suit, Tested plans on releasing the making-of episodes some time later this year.