Star Wednesday: Sy Snoodles

By the time Return of the Jedi left theaters, Kenner saw its cash cow begin to fade. Ostensibly to squeeze every last cent out of the trilogy’s fan base, Kenner began releasing action figures for any character who appeared on screen for more than a second, including this one: Sy Snoodles.

Sy Snoodles was the lead singer of Max Rebo’s band, the house band in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. The band’s performance lasts just over a minute in the film, with Ms. Snoodles appearing on screen for approximately 20 seconds.

As a kid who loved both Star Wars and movie special effects, I found Sy Snoodles fascinating. Most of the creatures that appeared in Jabba’s palace were either people in costumes or hand puppets, but the body shape of Sy Snoodles obviously prevented this solution. Bringing the character to life involved connecting rods from Sy’s legs to a dancer’s legs beneath the stage, with a second puppeteer above on a catwalk pulling wires and a third that controlled Sy’s lips.

The end result was an alien-looking character that seemed alive without the use of CGI.

George Lucas has publicly stated that he was “never satisfied” with Sy Snoodles, and in the revised special edition of Return of the Jedi he took advantage of (then) modern technology to replace the original version of Sy with a new, CGI version — sans the feather on her head.

The original Sy Snoodles action figure was not available in a normal single-figure blister pack, and was only available in a three-figure multi-pack that also included Max Rebo and Droopy McCool. The pack was released in 1984 (a full year after Return of the Jedi hit theaters), and by then my interest in new Star Wars toys had begun to fade. I picked up a loose Droopy McCool years ago at Vintage Stock, and found this Sy Snoodles figure at a retro toy store in Denver. Based on that, I just ordered Max Rebo and his electronic organ off of eBay. Finally guys, we’re putting the band back together.

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