Walker (Star Wars)
Walkers are vehicles from the 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: The Empire Strikes Back introduces the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) and All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST). 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, and the Star Wars expanded universe features numerous others. Walker variants have been merchandised and featured in popular culture.
- 1 All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT)
- 2 All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)
- 3 All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE)
- 4 Other walkers
- 5 Merchandise
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT)
The All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker, is a giant quadruped mechanized infantry combat vehicle used by the Imperial ground forces. Standing over 20 meters tall with blast-impervious armor plating, these massive constructs are used as much for psychological effect as they are for tactical advantage.
The AT-AT (canonically pronounced "att-att" but often pronounced as an initialism) was first introduced in The Empire Strikes Back and also appears in Return of the Jedi. The AT-AT also appears in a destroyed form in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Origin and design
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. Johnston said Lucas wanted the walkers to look like anthropomorphic walking tanks to make them frightening.
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 and the largest land mammal in history. 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 the same thing.
ILM created models ranging from 6 to 50 centimeters in height. 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. Additionally, ILM studied elephants to determine the best way to animate the four-legged AT-ATs. 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.
The sound of the AT-AT walking was created by Sound Designer Ben Burtt, by using the sound of an industrial sheet metal stamper.
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", it can carry up to five speeder bikes and 40 Imperial stormtroopers. The AT-AT is manned by two AT-AT Drivers, which were Imperial combat drivers specialized in operating the Imperial Army's AT-AT walkers and wore distinct battle armour, similar in design to that of a modified basic Stormtrooper. Operating in groups of two, they operated the walker's driving and firing controls, and were usually overseen by a commander who also occupied the walkers cockpit. The walkers themselves carry two blasters and two laser cannons.
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. 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 the chassis 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. The first appearance of an AT-AT in the Star Wars Rebels TV series occurs in the second season episode Relics of the Old Republic, when Agent Kallus (thanks to Captain Rex's tactics against him) unsuccessfully confronts the rebels while on Seelos, with a trio of the four-legged walkers challenging Captain Rex's retired clone cohorts and their own much-modified AT-TE six-legged walker, where the rebels are hiding out. A ruined AT-AT appears in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the makeshift home of the scavenger Rey on the planet Jakku.
All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST)
The AT-ST is a two-legged digitigrade 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". The name Scout Walker is also used to refer to an AT-ST. This name was used for the official toy instead of the AT-ST name.
Origin and design
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. For Return of the Jedi, ILM made the AT-ST design more detailed. Numerous models were created, including a full-sized AT-ST for on-location shooting. 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.
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.
Star Wars guidebooks describe the AT-ST as a "reconnaissance or defensive vehicle [that] is lightweight and built for speed". Their agility allows them to defend the slower AT-ATs or support other Imperial ground forces. They are 8.6 metres (28 ft) tall (although some sources describe them at seven meters) and seat a pilot and co-pilot. AT-STs are armed with laser cannons on the "chin" and sides, feet claws for destroying small defenses and side-mounted concussion missile launchers.
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. Video games such as Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and 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.
The so-named "All Terrain Defense Pod" (AT-DP) depicted in Star Wars Rebels was used by the Empire on Lothal, Ezra Bridger's homeworld, to enforce their will against the planet's inhabitants during the first season of the series. It is stated as being among the fastest-moving "walkers" of any of the AT-ST variants, and is only lightly armed with a single, forward-aimed energy cannon.
All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE)
The AT-TE is a six-legged walker that appears in Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, the The Clone Wars multimedia campaign, and in the early episodes from the second season of Star Wars Rebels.
Origin and design
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. 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.
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 in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The low profile, six legs and overall flexibility made it vulnerable to IEDs and reduced its acceleration and maximum speed, but increased its center of gravity, traverse speed, mobility and stability; moreover, its low speed allows it to walk through energy shields. The vehicles are fixed with laser turrets, a powerful mass driver cannon, and heavy electromagnetic armor. AT-TEs are manufactured by Rothana Heavy Engineering, a subdivision of Kuat Drive Yards (who manufacture many of the other walkers). AT-TEs have the distinct tactical advantage, common among many of the Old Republic's larger walkers, of being able to be carried into combat by LAAT/C dropships. This allows their swift deployment to the battlefront from distant landing zones and ground bases.
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". The AT-AP features a variety of artillery weapons, a retractable third leg for stability, and other offensive features.
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. The AT-OT can transport 34 clone troopers, who are protected by thick armor and four laser cannons. During the late stages of Revenge of the Sith's development, it was called the "Clone CAT walker".
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. 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. 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.
An All Terrain Armoured Cargo Transport (AT-ACT) appears in the 2016 film Rogue One. The new walkers are slightly larger than the standard AT-AT, with a hollowed-out center section that can hold a cargo container. As depicted in the film, it appears to be easier to destroy AT-ACT velicles, as their armor does not appear to be as strong as their AT-AT counterparts. Under sustained fire, their leg joints can be destroyed, causing the vehicle to fall, and they can be broken in half when fired upon without the cargo container in place.
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." The AT-PT is equipped with two blaster cannons, a concussion grenade launcher, and an array of sensors. 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. 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. DK Publishing's Attack of the Clones: Incredible Cross-Sections book mentions an All Terrain Heavy Enforcer.
In the Star Wars Rebels "sub-universe", the All Terrain Defense Pod (AT-DP) is a powerful predecessor of the AT-ST and has the ability to dock with flying transports, much like the AT-TE can. On Lothal, many of these chicken walkers are used for hunting the young rebellion.
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. 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. Lego has released AT-AT, AT-ST, AT-AP, AT-OT, and AT-TE models.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to AT-AT.|
- Index of Technology section of the Star Wars Databank - Includes several All Terrain walkers
- on YouTube
- AT-AT Pilots in the StarWars.com Databank
- AT-AT Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- AT-DP Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- AT-RT Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- AT-ST Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- AT-TE Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- Modified AT-TE Walker in the StarWars.com Databank
- Walker on Wookieepedia, a Star Wars wiki