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This is the way! There are only three episodes left of The Mandalorian Season 2, but the fun doesn't have to end with the airing of Chapter 16. Thanks to our frequent collaborators over at Abrams, fans can take a renewed dive into Season 1 of the hit Star Wars show with The Art of The Mandalorian. Written by Lucasfilm's creative art manager Phil Szostak, the book (on sale tomorrow) collects the bounty on juicy production details for the first eight episodes of the series that took the world by storm when it first premiered on Disney+ last November.
Registering with the Bounty Hunters' Guild, SYFY WIRE set off on its own galactic quest to hunt down some exclusive interiors from the making-of publication. Our efforts were not in vain, as we too came into the possession of Baby Yoda...concept art, that is! The following piece was created for "Chapter 4: Sanctuary," in which Mando and The Child seek refuge on the forest planet of Sorgan.
"You see him waddling down, that way young babies and toddlers do, with arms splayed out because they know that they’re probably going to end up falling," concept supervisor Christian Alzmann explains the book. "When babies walk, they lean their head in the direction that they’re going and just pray their feet catch up [laughs]. This was also the first pass at teeth. I always love when you get those really gummy smiles from kids and they only have a few really well-placed teeth. That makes him so much cuter."
Up next, we bring you a mock-up of an early design for the titular character's armor:
"That was the first image [of the Mandalorian that I worked on] I wanted something really classic, almost Frank Frazetta-like, or the old 1970s/80s pulp science fiction covers, like Isaac Asimov. This was also a piece that was really helpful in determining what kind of Mandalorian this is and what’s going to separate him from Boba Fett," says concept artist Brian Matyas.
A few pages later, Matyas breaks down their approach for Mando's arm gauntlets: "I thought of this sort of like a honeycomb rocket or fighter jets when they fire off multiple rockets in quick succession. And all he has to do is expand his fingers to arm it and close his hand to deploy it."
While designing the bounty hunter's "whistling birds" (a nifty weapon used for taking out multiple hostiles at once), the concept artist was inspired by fireworks, particularly Roman candles and sparklers.
And where would Mando be without his trusty spaceship, the Razor Crest? She's taken quite a beating this season, but the old girl continues to fly on.
"The Mando is a loner so his cockpit has a single central seat. Early on, we added a jump seat for the kid," admits concept supervisor Ryan Church. "After that, it was a matter of how much Millennium Falcon to put in the cockpit, how much Harry Lange [original trilogy art director, who brought a mid-century aerospace aesthetic to Star Wars set dressing], all that stuff was in the mix. Cool ways of interacting with the ship that feel like they work (but don’t really) so it doesn’t just become an airplane, which would be super boring."
They continue: "Immediately after the exterior was approved, we got the list of interior needs: a carbonite thing, a refresher, a bunk. And the ship grew: a full two stories. Doug and [production designer] Andrew Jones and those guys got out the tape measure and [said], ‘Well, that’s how big it is. So, that’s where we’re going to build.’ That never, ever happens. It’s usually like, ‘Can we do a contraction phase? Let’s consolidate some things.’ So, it was refreshing to not go through that process."
No discussion of The Mandalorian's first season would be complete without a mention of Emily Swallow's badass Armorer. Let's not forget: she gives Mando his signet, tasks the bounty hunter with returning The Child to its own kind, and then just absolutely wrecks a group of stomtroopers.
"She swings and the stormtrooper helmets just shatter like porcelain. It just further reinforces how they’re completely incompetent and so is their armor," Matyas says.
Our last exclusive selection is a piece of concept art created for Q9-0, the insectoid droid first introduced in "Chapter 6: The Prisoner," where the robot served as a member of Mayfeld's crew. Voiced by Richard Ayoade, the character was ultimately incapacitated by Mando in Season 1 before being re-activated to translate Frog Lady's croaky language near the start of Season 2. Interestingly, Q9-0's aesthetic was mainly inspired by legendary Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, but not by his work in the galaxy far, far away.
"The initial direction was only to try an evil 3PO-style droid," explains Matyas. "I looked at the RA-7 Death Star droids and 4-LOM, but my main inspiration was Ralph McQuarrie’s Ovion sketches from Battlestar Galactica. I always liked the bug influences in his droid designs and this particular unused design had a very strong grasshopper/mantis vibe. I also wanted his eyes to be like mirrors, which really paid off when he jumps to hyperspace."
The Art of The Mandalorian (Season 1) goes on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon for $31.99 right here.
The complete first season of the show is now available to stream on Disney+ along with Episodes 1-5 of Season 2. A third season has already been green-lit and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, showrunner Jon Favreau still hopes to kick off production before the end of 2020.
"As they say, one door closes, another opens. It definitely provides an opportunity to explore new characters and new times and new areas of the timeline," Szostak told SYFY WIRE earlier this year during an interview about the end of the Skywalker Saga. "A perfect example of that is The Mandalorian, which is not as connected even as Rogue One or even as Solo were to the larger events of the galaxy ... The sky’s kind of the limit as far as the future of Star Wars storytelling."