Walker (Star Wars)

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Walkers are vehicles from the fictional Star Wars universe that traverse the landscape on mechanical legs. They are used by the Old Republic and the Galactic Empire for ground assault or transport. Throughout the saga, walkers have played a pivotal role in the fate of characters and the outcome of battles. Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) is responsible for their animation and design, often using models, stop-motion animation, and relevant matte paintings to depict their presence in the films.

There are a variety of walkers: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back introduces the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) and All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST). In the Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith introduced earlier models of walkers, such as the AT-TE. The Star Wars Expanded Universe features numerous others. Walker variants have been merchandised and featured in popular culture.

All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT)[edit]

The Imperial AT-AT Walkers at the Battle of Hoth were created using go motion photography

The AT-AT (pronounced phonetically)[1] is a large, four-legged walker introduced in The Empire Strikes Back which also appears in Return of the Jedi.

Origin and design[edit]

Joe Johnston's original design for the Empire's war machines was a giant, multi-wheeled vehicle; this design later became the "Juggernaut" in West End Games' roleplaying material, and the design was reworked into the clone turbo tank for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.[2]

For The Empire Strikes Back, however, the final design was a four-legged walker. Inspiration for the AT-AT came from Paraceratherium, an extinct rhino-like species and the largest land mammal in history.[3] George Lucas later dismissed claims that the AT-AT design was inspired by container cranes at the Port of Oakland (across San Francisco Bay from ILM's San Rafael offices), calling it a "myth"; animator Phil Tippett told the San Francisco Chronicle that initial designs were instead inspired by garbage trucks.[4]

ILM created models ranging from 6 to 50 centimeters in height.[5] ILM filmed the AT-ATs using stop-motion animation against matte paintings created by Michael Pangrazio because attempts at compositing miniature footage against live-action background footage yielded mediocre results.[5] Additionally, ILM studied elephants to determine the best way to animate the four-legged AT-ATs.[5] Although the stop-motion animation style gave the AT-ATs a jerky, "staccato-like" effect on film, ILM found this movement acceptable because of the AT-ATs' mechanical nature.[6]

The sound of the AT-AT walking was created by Sound Designer Ben Burtt, by using the sound of an industrial sheet metal stamper.

Depiction[edit]

Dialog in National Public Radio's adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back says that AT-ATs "look like animals"; the character goes on to describe the vehicles as carrying "extremely heavy armor and armaments". The AT-AT, designed to favor "fear over function", is manned by two men to drive the vehicle and can carry up to five speeder bikes and 40 Imperial stormtroopers.[7] The walkers themselves carry two blasters and two laser cannons.[8] Manufactured by Kuat Drive Yards, Expanded Universe sources describe the AT-AT as being either 15 metres (49 ft) or 22.5 metres (74 ft) tall.[7][8][9] Their armor is resistant to most standard blaster weapons; however, the "neck" column of the walker holds no such invulnerability and, if shot, can cause the entire walker to be destroyed.

The AT-AT is the primary assault vehicle during the Battle of Hoth, first depicted in The Empire Strikes Back. In the film, the AT-ATs are responsible for destroying the shield generator protecting the Rebel headquarters, taking out many soldiers, vehicles, and installations in the process. Luke Skywalker, realizing that the walkers are all but impervious to blaster fire, orders his squadron's snowspeeders to entangle their legs with the tow cables—a trick he remembered using on Tatooine to rein in hard-to-control farm animals. Wedge Antilles is able to wrap his cable around one, causing its collapse. Skywalker destroys another by hoisting himself underneath it, slicing open its belly with his lightsaber, and tossing in an explosive.

An AT-AT makes a brief appearance in Return of the Jedi, where one walks up alongside a landing platform on Endor, delivering Luke to Darth Vader.

All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)[edit]

An AT-ST walker, as depicted in Return of the Jedi

The AT-ST is a two-legged walker introduced in The Empire Strikes Back and featured extensively in Return of the Jedi. Due to their design and movement, they are often dubbed "chicken walkers".[10]

Origin and design[edit]

The AT-ST model used in The Empire Strikes Back was to have more screen time; however, one scene depicting a snowspeeder shooting at the AT-ST model was ruined when the set's background shifted.[11] For Return of the Jedi, ILM made the AT-ST design more detailed.[11] Numerous models were created, including a full-sized AT-ST for on-location shooting.[11] Director Richard Marquand and producer Robert Watts played the AT-ST operators for the scene in which Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and a pair of Ewoks commandeer an AT-ST.[11]

Lee Seiler sued Lucasfilm in the mid-1980s, claiming that the AT-ST infringed on his copyright on what he called a "Garthian Strider", which he said he created in 1976 or 1977. The case was dismissed with the court noting that not only did Seiler not produce the supposed drawings at trial, but that the copyright came one year after The Empire Strikes Back debuted.[12]

Depiction[edit]

Star Wars guidebooks describe the AT-ST as a "reconnaissance or defensive vehicle [that] is lightweight and built for speed".[10] Their agility allows them to defend the slower AT-ATs or support other Imperial ground forces.[10][13] They are 8.6 metres (28 ft) tall (although some sources describe them at seven meters)[10] and seat a pilot and co-pilot.[13] AT-STs are armed with laser cannons on the "chin" and sides, feet claws for destroying small defenses and side-mounted concussion missile launchers.[14]

In The Empire Strikes Back, AT-STs scout for and support the slower AT-ATs during the Battle of Hoth. During the Battle of Endor as depicted in Return of the Jedi, the protagonists and the local Ewok tribes capture or destroy several AT-STs; their precariously balanced nature proves highly vulnerable to the Ewoks' primitive booby traps. In the Expanded Universe, AT-STs are often featured in Imperial attack forces.[14] Video games such as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire include numerous AT-STs, and they are player-controllable units in several real-time strategy games. Some walker designs have been influenced by the AT-ST.[15]

All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE)[edit]

The AT-TE is a six-legged walker that appears in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and The Clone Wars multimedia campaign.

Origin and design[edit]

Conceived by Ryan Church as a predecessor to the AT-AT, the AT-TE's animation for Attack of the Clones was supervised by Rob Coleman.[16] Tom St. Amand, who worked on the AT-AT scenes in The Empire Strikes Back, provided his experience to create a similar appearance for the AT-TE.[16]

Depiction[edit]

AT-TEs are depicted as assault vehicles that appear at the Battle of Geonosis, as depicted in Attack of the Clones and various Clone Wars media. It has magnetic feet, which allows it to scale steep embankments if they are magnetic, like the mesa on Teth Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The six legs and overall flexibility reduce its speed, but increase its mobility and stability; moreover, its low speed allows it to walk through energy shields.[17][18] The vehicles are fixed with laser turrets, a powerful projectile cannon, and heavy electromagnetic armor.[17][18] AT-TEs are manufactured by Rothana Heavy Engineering, a subdivision of Kuat Drive Yards (who manufacture many of the other walkers).[19][20]

Other walkers[edit]

Expanded Universe[edit]

The All Terrain Personnel Transport (AT-PT), introduced during the climax of Timothy Zahn's novel Dark Force Rising, is a two-legged, one-person vehicle designed for the Old Republic as a "personal weapons platform for ground soldiers."[21] The AT-PT is equipped with two blaster cannons, a concussion grenade launcher, and an array of sensors.[21] The AT-PT is also featured in several video games, including Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: Force Commander, and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. The Jedi Academy Trilogy introduces MT-ATs ("spider walkers") designed specially for mountain terrain.

The All Terrain Anti-Aircraft (AT-AA), featured in various Expanded Universe media, is a four-legged anti-aircraft vehicle used by the Galactic Empire.[22] The All Terrain Advance Raider (AT-AR) appears in Marvel Comics' Star Wars series and an All Terrain Experimental Transport (AT-XT) appears in LucasArts' Star Wars: The Clone Wars game.[23] DK Publishing's Attack of the Clones: Incredible Cross-Sections book mentions an All Terrain Heavy Enforcer.[24]

Prequel trilogy[edit]

In addition to the AT-TE, other vehicles were created for Clone Wars media and depicted as predecessors to the walkers featured in the original trilogy. One such walker is the two-legged All Terrain Attack Pod (AT-AP), a variation of the AT-PT, seen in Revenge of the Sith and Clone Wars media. Alex Jaeger designed the AT-AP per Lucas' request to "diversify the Clone armor".[25][26] The AT-AP features a variety of artillery weapons, a retractable third leg for stability, and other offensive features.[25]

The All Terrain Open Transport (AT-OT), also seen in Revenge of the Sith and other sources, is a heavily armored transport whose open design makes it vulnerable from above.[27] The AT-OT can transport 34 clone troopers, who are protected by thick armor and four laser cannons.[28] During the late stages of Revenge of the Sith's development, it was called the "Clone CAT walker".[29]

Clone troopers mounted on All Terrain Recon Transports (AT-RTs) search for Yoda (Frank Oz) on Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith. The AT-RT is described as a precursor to the AT-ST, though it also shares similarities to the AT-PTs of the same era.[30] A scene cut from Revenge of the Sith would have shown Yoda distracting clone troopers while Chewbacca removes them from their AT-RT in a manner similar to how he obtains control of an AT-ST in Return of the Jedi.[31] AT-RT animators studied AT-ST movement to recreate part of the "original funkiness of movement" caused by the stop-animation style used in the original trilogy.[31]

Merchandise[edit]

Kenner released AT-AT and AT-ST toys as part of their Empire Strikes Back line, and Hasbro released toys based on those molds when the Special Edition trilogy was distributed. Micro Machines also released AT-AT, AT-ST, and AT-TE toys.[32][33][34][35] Both Decipher Inc. and Wizards of the Coast published AT-AT and AT-ST cards for their Star Wars Customizable Card Game and Star Wars Trading Card Game, respectively.[36][37][38] Lego has released AT-AT, AT-ST, AT-AP, AT-OT, and AT-TE models.[39][40][41][42][43][44][45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chi Lin, Joseph (2 September 2010). "How Do You Pronounce AT-AT?". Time. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "clone turbo tank (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  3. ^ Angela Watercutter (24 May 2012). "35 Years After Star Wars, Effects Whiz Phil Tippett Is Slowly Crafting a Mad God". Wired. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Peter Hartlaub (25 June 2008). "Nah, dude, they weren't cranes, they were garbage trucks". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Burns, Kevin and Edith Becker (2004). Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy (Documentary). 
  6. ^ "All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  7. ^ a b "All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  8. ^ a b "All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT walker) (The Movies)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  9. ^ Lund, Kristin; Simon Beecroft; Kerrie Dougherty; James Luceno (2005). The Complete Locations of Star Wars: Inside the Worlds of the Entire Star Wars Saga. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7566-1419-8. 
  10. ^ a b c d Slavicsek, Bill (2000). A Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Third Edition. Del Rey and Lucas Books. p. 14. ISBN 0-345-42066-7. 
  11. ^ a b c d "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  12. ^ Seiler v. Lucasfilm, Ltd., 613 F.Supp. 1253 (1984), affirmed, 808 F.2d 1316 (1986). Retrieved 10 Aug. 2013.
  13. ^ a b "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST walker) (The Movies)". Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  14. ^ a b Gorden, Greg (1993). Star Wars Imperial Sourcebook (2nd edition ed.). West End Games. ISBN 0-87431-210-8. 
  15. ^ "All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  16. ^ a b "All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  17. ^ a b "All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE walker) (The Movies)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  18. ^ a b "All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  19. ^ "All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (Expanded Universe)". Starwars.com Database. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  20. ^ "All Terrain Tactical Enforcer". Star Wars.com Database. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  21. ^ a b Slavicsek, Bill (2000). A Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Third Edition. Del Rey and Lucas Books. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-345-42066-7. 
  22. ^ "All Terrain Anti Aircraft (AT-AA walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  23. ^ Star wars clone wars manual
  24. ^ Saxton, Curtis (2002-04-22). Incredible Cross-sections of Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones: The Definitive Guide to the Craft. Dorling Kindersley Publishers. ISBN 0-7513-3744-7. 
  25. ^ a b "All Terrain Attack Pod (AT-AP walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  26. ^ "All Terrain Attack Pod (AT-AP walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  27. ^ "All Terrain Open Transport (AT-OT walker) (The Movies)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  28. ^ "All Terrain Open Transport (AT-OT walker) (Expanded Universe)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  29. ^ "All Terrain Open Transport (AT-OT walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  30. ^ "All Terrain Recon Transport (AT-RT walker) (The Movies)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  31. ^ a b "All Terrain Recon Transport (AT-RT walker) (Behind the Scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  32. ^ "AT-AT". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  33. ^ "Republic AT-TE". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  34. ^ "#V: Rebel Transport, TIE Bomber, AT-ST (1995)". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  35. ^ "#IV: Probot, AT-AT, Snowspeeder (1995)". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  36. ^ "Star Wars Customizable Card Game Complete Card List" (PDF). Decipher, Inc. 2001-08-23. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  37. ^ "All Terrain Armored Transport". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  38. ^ "All Terrain Scout Transport". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  39. ^ "AT-AT". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  40. ^ "Imperial AT-ST". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  41. ^ "Mini AT-ST and Snowspeeder". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  42. ^ "LEGO Imperial AT-ST Special Edition". LEGO.com archives. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  43. ^ "AT-AP Walker". LEGO Shop. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  44. ^ "AT-TE". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  45. ^ "Mini AT-TE". Star Wars Cargo Bay. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 

External links[edit]