It’s no secret that the puppet Yoda created for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace did not exactly meet expectations for fans. It seems that it didn’t meet expectations for some of the production staff as well.

Nick Maley, the special effects make-up artist best known for his work on Yoda for The Empire Strikes Back, spoke out about the updated puppet for The Phantom Menace. While promoting For the Love of Sci-Fi convention this weekend, the 69-year-old had this to say about the updated version of Yoda…

“They built a puppet for Episode I: The Phantom Menace but made the mistake of trying to update Yoda.

They re-sculptured him and made him out of a different material which was heavier.

Then, because he was transparent instead of opaque, it meant light didn’t hit him the same way so his color wasn’t the same.”

Maley added: “They also needed to put a stronger mechanism in so the result was a Yoda that looked quite different and generated a lot of criticism.

Ultimately you can’t redesign grandma: grandma is grandma.

She might be old-fashioned but that’s grandma.

You need to save your new stuff for your new characters.”

Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back (Left) and The Phantom Menace (Right)
Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back (Left) and The Phantom Menace (Right)


Lucas probably new that this Yoda didn’t meet fan expectations, which is probably why he changed the character to a CGI version with the Blu-ray release of the films.

About Star Wars: The Phantom Menace:

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become known as Darth Vader, is just a 9-year-old boy. When the Trade Federation cuts off all routes to the planet Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle the matter.


  1. 100% agree. Yoda loose that softer sweet look with the “upgraded” version! Huge misjudgement,… Do not mess with what was already perfect. 😉


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