The Cantina Alien That Wasn’t

After the initial filming of the iconic Star Wars cantina sequence, makeup artist Rick Baker was brought in to supervise the creation of a new batch of aliens to be used in shooting the second unit of the cantina, adding new depth to what had already been shot. Some masks were created new while others were recycled from previous projects that Baker had worked on. As can be seen in the below image of Baker and his team, this led to the creation of some pretty classic Star Wars creatures that are prominent in the final film. 

baker

However, there is one puppet in that picture that didn’t actually get used for the final film: the mouse-like one in the upper left. It seems to have been recycled from Baker’s work on The Food of the Gods, a movie that prominently featured giant rodents. While that little guy didn’t make it to the big screen, it did later find its way into the cantina, because Baker brought it back again when he became the creature supervisor for The Star Wars Holiday Special.

Screenshot 2022-12-07 2.21.13 PM

Unrelated to any of this, 1981 saw the release of a radio dramatization of Star Wars, adapted by the great Brian Daley. When it comes to describing the aliens in the cantina, Daley had Luke say:

Will you look at this! I’ve never seen so many nonhumans in one place! There’s a Meerian Hammerhead over there…and a Stofo Lupinoid, couple of T’iin-T’iin dwarfs…Boy, a lot of the humans don’t look human.

Which alien the Meerian Hammerhead was intended to be is pretty obvious, though the “Meerian” part didn’t really stick in later lore. The Stofo Lupinoid was probably intended to be the Wolfman, later identified as a Shistavenen. In 1984, Del Rey’s A Guide to the Star Wars Universe included an entry for the Tin-Tin Dwarf that described them as “an intelligent rodent-like species which is bipedal and less than a meter tall.” I’m assuming it was intended to be Kabe, but once West End Games came into the picture years later her species was permanently identified as Chadra-Fan.

Nevertheless, the Tin-Tin Dwarf endured where the Stofo Lupinoid didn’t and persisted in publishing, later getting a mention in The New Rebellion and an entry in the Star Wars Encyclopedia. 2001’s The Essential Guide to Alien Species fully fleshed the species out for the first time, including an illustration of them and giving them the proper name Tintinna. Visually distinct from any of the aliens seen in the cantina, the Tintinna continued as a regular species used in publishing through the following years.

Eventual later sources focused on the Holiday Special, including a 2009 article in Insider and a 2013 article on starwars.com, would identify the mouse puppet unused for Star Wars as a rather large Tintinna. While I don’t think it was the rodent-like alien Daley originally intended it to be and Rungs doesn’t look particularly like the later EU depiction of the Tintinna, the Tin-Tin Dwarf was confirmed to officially be that unused puppet and a cantina alien after all, bringing us full circle in a weird way.

The reason I found this to be particularly relevant now is because the Tintinna just made their first modern appearance, with two of them serving a minor but pivotal role in the new The High Republic: Convergence. It’s always nice to see a weird bit of obscura like them endure in new storytelling.

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Numidian Prime

I like Star Wars. And Marvel too, to a lesser degree.

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