Attention Baby Yoda fans (i.e. everyone). The puppet form of the Child apparently cost $5 million to make, which may help to explain why the explosively popular character it helps to portray has been memed, mashed up, and merchandized to the max. Actor Adam Pally, who played Bike Scout Trooper #2 in episode eight of The Mandalorian, mentioned the jaw-dropping cost of the puppet at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour, as he described the harrowing moment when he had to punch it directly in the face.
A recent Entertainment Weekly article (via io9), describes Pally’s story, which he recounted at the TCA event that’s currently taking place in Pasadena, CA. Pally, a comedic actor best known for his roles in television series like Happy Endings and The Mindy Project, said that showrunner Jon Favreau told him after his first take punching Baby Yoda in the face that the hero prop for the character—that is, the main puppet used to portray Baby Yoyo on screen—cost $5 million. For reference, that’s about five Shazam! costumes, ten nearly complete Dodo skeletons, or roughly 3,333 bendable-screen Razr phones.
— Variety (@Variety) November 22, 2019
“I remember the first take that I did when I punched [the Baby Yoda puppet],” Pally told reporters, “They called ‘Cut!’ and Jon, who was watching on a monitor in his office, he came down from this office and said, ‘I just want to let you know that this is the hero Yoda and it costs, like, $5 million.” Pally added that Favreau wanted him to keep that bit information in the back of his mind as the actor fired off his subsequent straight rights into the adorable Force-user’s face. (Pally added that he ended up missing three times in a row before nailing the action because he was so nervous.)
Perhaps that $5 million price tag should come as no surprise, however, considering the fact that legendary director Werner Herzog, who plays “the Client” in the Disney+ series, called the hero Baby Yoda puppet “a phenomenal technological achievement.” This is partially in reference to the fact that the puppet requires two technicians to operate, one for the eyes and mouth, and the other for other facial expressions. Herzog was, in fact, so enamored by the puppet that he referred to it as “heartbreakingly beautiful” and said that it made him want to cry when he saw it.
— Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) November 19, 2019
We also have Herzog to thank for making sure that the Baby Yoda puppet was used so extensively throughout the first season of The Mandalorian. Herzog told the production team behind series that they were “cowards” for considering a CGI backup plan in case the puppet didn’t work out. But while that seems quite harsh—or exactly on par for Herzog—using a CGI version of Baby Yoda wouldn’t have only been a relatively timid move, but also a waste of some serious Calamari Flan.
What do you think about the Child puppet’s enormous cost? Do you think the hero prop is worth $5 million, or could you rig something up just as good for way less money? Give us your priceless thoughts in the comments!
Feature image: Lucasfilm