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How to build a life-size 'Star Wars' Rancor (pictures)

Get close up and personal with the 14-foot-tall "Star Wars" beast that will make its big debut later this month at the Star Wars Celebration VI convention in Orlando, Fla.

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Christopher MacManus
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True terror

Every few years, "Star Wars" enthusiasts come together for a convention where fans converge and can meet actors, artists, and others involved with the sci-fi saga.

From August 23 to 26, Star Wars Celebration VI will unfold at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. One special guest -- a giant, "life-size" Rancor from "Return of the Jedi" -- might end up participating in more photo opps than Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher.

With a staggering height of 14 feet, this monstrous Rancor (nicknamed "Roxy") originated from 2,000 cubic feet of polystyrene foam. The final form weighs more than 700 pounds and sports an overall claw-to-tail length of 17 feet. In comparison, the original Rancor rod puppet in "Return of the Jedi" only stood 2 feet tall and required three operators.

"Star Wars" costuming group 501st Legion worked closely with sculptor Rick Bohler, owner of Pizzazz Scenic Contractors, on Rancor. Crave explores how the creature came to life.

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Designing a monster

Every great design needs some inspiration, so the creators of the sculpture carefully studied pictures of the Rancor from “Return of the Jedi.” Top left: 3D plans for the sculpture, with a drawing below of the bone used to kill the Rancor in the movie.
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A block of foam

A company coincidentally named Imperial Foam & Insulation provided the massive polystyrene blocks of foam needed for the overall Rancor physique.
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Puzzle pieces

Some of the appendages and body pieces awaiting the careful hands of a sculptor.
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Before and after

This shot compares the Rancor before and after after excess foam was rounded and shaved. "The enormous size of the Rancor required careful planning with consideration for assembly and transportation -- five people are needed to move the massive drooling beast, which breaks down into six separate parts for shipping," 501st Legion says.
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The claw

When the Rancor makes its grand debut at Star Wars Celebration VI, fans can stand in the claw of Jabba the Hutt's favorite pet and hold the mock bone for photo opps.
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Beautiful, but deadly

The creators of the Rancor spared no expense in even the slightest detail – including these elaborate eyes for the mighty beast.
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The artist

Late into the project, the overall form of the Rancor seems very similar to the original. Here, a sculptor works meticulously on the visage of the foam creature.
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Rancor Rancor

This amusing image demonstrates how photo seekers will stand in the Rancor's claw. Terror not included.

"A tremendous amount of work went into building the Rancor, and it's the first time in history that it's been replicated on this scale," 501st Legion member (and Rancor co-creator) Matt Paisley said in a statement. "Roxy is a labor of love, but seeing the expressions of thousands of Star Wars fans posing in her hungry clawed grip will make it all worthwhile!"

The 501st Legion plans to unveil the Rancor -- along with dozens of costumed "Star Wars" characters -- in its final form on August 11, less than two weeks before the convention.

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