It was only last November when the world was introduced to “The Child” in Disney+’s The Mandalorian, but it was love at first sight. The Baby Yoda puppet has since been called “the future of Hollywood” and the $5 million it cost to make the puppet was quickly recouped in merchandise sales alone. Can I interest you in a Baby Yoda water bottle? Or a Baby Yoda tote bag? Or Baby Yoda air freshener? The reason “The Child” became such a sensation is partially due to Star Wars nostalgia, but really, it’s because he’s so freaking cute. Would the Baby Yoda craze have caught on if he looked like this, though?
That nightmare comes from the latest episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, a documentary series about the making of The Mandalorian. In “Practical,” developer Jon Favreau takes us through the process of creating and designing Baby Yoda, as well as some of the too-cute and too-ugly concept designs that didn’t make the cut.
“We all, I think had a vision for what [a] bad version of [Baby Yoda] was,” Favreau said. “And what was written in [the script] was just that it was a little baby of Yoda’s species” (George Lucas is notoriously reluctant to explain Yoda’s backstory). He continued, “The look of the big ears, we had inherited that from Yoda, and I had already been preoccupied with the look of big eyes and using ears for motion because I had been working on a VR project called Gnomes and Goblins for many years. And so, the idea of the face not being that expressive, but everything was about the eyes looking at you and the ears moving, was something that I had wanted to try.” And try they did.
Here are some of the early Baby Yoda concepts, some of which “were too cute, some of them were too ugly, some of them were the wrong proportions,” Favreau said.
Finally, there was one image, from illustrator Christian Alzmann, that caught his eye. “His eyes were a little weird and he looked a little out of it,” he said. “We found it charming and that became the rallying image that we said, this is good.” And the rest is adorable, mega-profitable history. Disney+’s The Mandalorian returns for season two in October.