Those cute and cuddly porgs may be the thing that everyone is excited about, but they aren’t the only creatures we will be seeing in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There are also those mysterious crystal foxes, which have gone virtually unnamed since we first saw them in the second trailer.
But in EW’s week-long coverage of the highly anticipated Star Wars film, we are learning more about these foxes. They actually serve a purpose other than to look cool or hope that they are real and can be domesticated. Check out what their name is and how they will be the light to guide our heroes below.
Neal Scanlan, head of the Star Wars creature shop, told EW that the name of these creatures are vulptex, and a pack of them are vulptices. The word actually is based on vulpes, the Latin word for “fox.” They live in the mineral-rich world of Crait, where they can be seen running across the vast salt flats and burrowing underneath the surface, which was a base of operations for the Rebel Alliance.
Scanlan says he was inspired by glass chandeliers and the light and refraction that they create. “The idea is that these wonderful sorts of feral creatures had lived on this planet and had consumed the planet’s surface, and as such had become crystalline,” Scanlan says.
But rather than start from scratch to design an early concept of these creatures, the team went very low-tech by using a real dog, and putting a suit of straws on it:
“We had a little dog come in and we built a little suit for it, and we covered that suit with clear drinking straws. It was amazing to see him run around. It could run and jump, and it had this wonderful sort of movement to it. It had a great sound to it, as well, because all the little straws moved and flexed with the animal.”
Once they worked out all the flaws and perfected the design, the creature went to work to create the vulptices. This included where the spaces between the crystals would be necessary and how these crystals would move.
However, aside from looking very cool, the vulptices serve an actual purpose. And they will be the light that will help guide our heroes through the darkness:
“They live within the burrows and within the tunnels beneath the planet. So there is a time where their ability to shine within the darkness, should provide a guiding light to our heroes.”
Directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15, 2017.