Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be here in 17 days, and Lucasfilm is shedding light on the new worlds and species—or casting shadows, depending on your allegiance to the Force. The video below highlights the vulptex, a.k.a. the crystal fox.
Here we see the work that went into creating the creature. The build is an amalgam of animatronics and puppetry, which was then digitally scanned and altered in CGI. The alterations are prominent: While the hand-made version looks perfectly foxlike, in the clip of the upcoming film, its face has been flattened and its ears, elongated—an alien version of a fox.
It’s interesting that The Last Jedi team decided to go with animatronics for the vulptex’s face and keep the puppetry for the body. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda was a puppet played by Frank Oz, and within a few moments of wide-eyed faux innocence, he became as real as any live actor. But in The Phantom Menace, puppet Yoda looked like a distorted version of himself. He was eventually replaced in future releases by digital effects.
It took 25,000 crystals in order to construct the vulptex, which was almost certainly a small chunk of The Last Jedi's budget. But hey, it certainly looks to be worth the effort, right?