Yoda Unproduced Cloth Hand Puppet
Until recently, there were no known examples of the prototypes documented in Kenner photography for what was thought to be an early prototype of the legendary Talking Yoda Doll. This prototype is the first known example of this large-headed Yoda piece that for years was only known through photographs, and now based on information that was recently uncovered, we know that it is a separate toy concept from the Talking Yoda Doll. Although the arms and robe appear similar to the pull-string Yoda, this toy was designed to be a large hand puppet with oversized soft-rubber head and no talking mechanism.

A handful of prototypes for the puppet's head have found their way to collectors over the years (beware: there is a series of painted green heads which are fakes cast off originals that have also made the rounds on the secondary market). An electroform mold for this toy has also turned up, which is used to rotocast the hollow, rubber heads required for this toy. The rest of the toy is made of soft fabric.

The tag labeling this puppet as a quote sample, marks the toy as a distinct item: Yoda Puppet and the sample is dated April 18, 1980, just before the release of The Empire Strikes Back.

Ultimately the design was deemed too expensive for the price point that Kenner was targeting so they went in the completely opposite direction in order to create a hand puppet. Probably all collectors are familiar with the one-piece vinyl puppet that seemed to offer little play value, but was nevertheless a good seller. I think this piece answers the question of why the vinyl puppet seemed so lame and so cheap. It began as a neat idea, but the end product was quite different from the original idea. Often the designers constantly had to see their work altered by the bean counters and sometimes it took most of the art and imagination out of the design.

Description by: Gus Lopez
Photo: Gus Lopez
From the collection of: Gus Lopez
Country:United States
Film:Empire Strikes Back
Category:Toys / Puppets


Checklist by Duncan Jenkins, Gus Lopez, and the Star Wars collecting community
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All information © 2014 Star Wars Collectors Archive