While a lot of coverage around upcoming Star Wars sequel The Last Jedi has focused on the adorable penguin-like Porgs, they’re not the only new creatures coming to a galaxy far, far away this year.
As seen in Episode VIII’s second trailer, we’re also meeting some fascinating-looking sparkly animals that fans nicknamed the crystal foxes, and for the first time new details are emerging about just what exactly these 24-carat beasties are and how they were created for the screen.
Called Vulptices (the singular form is Vulptex, taken from the Latin word for fox, vulpes, by LucasFilm story group member Pablo Hidalgo), the crystal foxes are from the mineral-rich world of Crait, glimpsed in The Last Jedi trailers as Rebel ships skim over the planet’s salt flats raising red dust.
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In the world of Star Wars, the foxes run across and burrow deep within the crevasses of Crait, which actually contributes to their unusual appearance.
“The idea is that these wonderful sort of feral creatures had lived on this planet and had consumed the planet’s surface, and as such had become crystalline,” Neal Scanlan, head of the Star Wars creature shop told EW, with the team taking inspiration from “crystal glass chandeliers and the sort of luminosity and elements of refraction” they create.
And apparently these creatures might have a part to play in the finished film, beyond just looking cool…
“They live within the burrows and within the tunnels beneath the planet,” Scanlan said. “So there is a time where their ability to shine within the darkness, should provide a guiding light to our heroes.”
And if that info wasn’t enough for you, the Star Wars team have also released a video revealing how the crystal foxes were created for the screen, which included making real animatronic and puppeteered version of the creatures (with 25,000 crystals on them!) and digitally-mapping them so they could be recreated as CGI for certain scenes.
“You’ve got animatronics, puppetry, physical effects – yeah, it looks fantastic,” star John Boyega concluded of his vulpine pals, and we’d be hard-pressed to disagree with him. Expect a rush on the vulptex toys this Christmas.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is released in UK cinemas on 14th December