AT-AT fans are in for a treat when ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ hits screens at Christmas.
The movie will debut a host of new vehicles, but among the most deadly will be the AT-M6 walker – and reinvention of the classic ‘All Terrain Armoured Transport’, first seen way back in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.
StarWars.com spoke to the movie’s design supervisor Kevin Jenkins, who detailed how the new walker has evolved from half-tank, half-dog, to half-tank, half-dog, half-gorilla (yes, we know, that’s too many halves, but bear with us).
“Just before I took a vacation, sort of half way through preproduction, I talked to Rian (Johnson, ‘The Last Jedi’ director) about ‘what is a walker,’” he said.
“We went through this whole discussion about iteration. Iteration, to me, makes more sense than random walker design. So we talked about the way a Sherman tank in World War II evolved into an Abrams tank, for various reasons, or a Chieftain tank, or a Challenger, or whatever you want to say.
“And so we were trying to think about what made sense for a walker and I just said, ‘Look, a walker, to me, it’s essentially a Panzer tank mixed with a dog.’
“One of the questions that tied us up a lot is the fact that they’d been taken down by snowspeeders in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and it felt like everyone else is trying to avoid the problem of a four-legged version of a walker because they had been defeated on Hoth.
“So I sort of took that on board and I suggested to Rian, ‘Well, instead of a dog, what about a gorilla?’ I can’t remember why I said a gorilla, but I just said, ‘They have a great stance, they are very aggressive,’ and that’s how the idea of the gorilla came. And literally in profile, I molded it over an actual photo of a gorilla to get the initial base pose.”
The new AT-M6 – All-Terrain MegaCaliber Six – boasts the back legs of the traditional AT-AT with the front, ‘heavily armored’ arms of a gorilla, and reportedly ‘dwarfs’ the Empire’s AT-AT.
“I’m very proud of the gorilla [walker] from the point of view of exactly what I said, that I feel that it’s an iteration forward. A spitfire and a modern jet, you can see the link there. They’re part of the same thing. That was always my intention with the gorilla. It’s not a start from scratch,” he added.
There’s also a fearsome new Star Destroyer called the ‘Dreadnought’ that will make its debut.
“Basically, it’s an armored gunboat, an armored gun platform,” Jenkins goes on.
“It’s sort of a heavy artillery that’s much bigger than a standard Star Destroyer, about two-and-a-half times the size of a standard Star Destroyer. That was the original brief to me.”
We’ll get to see all the new First Order hardware when the movie is released across the UK on December 15.