Star Wars and toys have gone hand in hand ever since the franchise kicked off four decades ago. But usually, it’s the movies dictating what we see on store shelves—not the other way around. But in one particularly odd case, it ended up being that way for The Last Jedi.
Speaking recently at VFX Festival in London, ILM VFX Supervisor Mike Mullholland told audiences about the process of designing Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer, which was being modelled by the VFX team for a crucial sequence early on in the film, where young Ben struggles with having to pull the trigger on a missile attack that could kill his mother, Leia Organa, aboard the bridge of the Resistance flagship. A small moment, but an important one in the movie.
Originally, the VFX team created a version of the Silencer that had missile pods on its underside, and work continued as planned... and then Rian Johnson got an early prototype of the Silencer’s toy version sent to him:
Initially, the plan was to have missiles on the underside, and shoot them off, and that was it. But halfway through production Rian got a toy, a prototype toy of the Kylo fighter. And they had the missiles on the side wings! So we went and redesigned a bit of it [in the movie] so that we could open it up and pop them out.
I’ve heard of the toys’ influence in the past, but that was the first time for me.
Oops. So yes, in order to ensure that the toy remained movie accurate—which, next to canonicity, might as well be the most important factor in any piece of Star Wars tech ever created—the team had to go back and alter the ship’s design, so that when the Silencer fired missiles (as it does to blow up the Raddus’ hangar), they fired from the wings of the ship instead.
Never let it be understated just how important toys are to Star Wars.