After the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer premiered back in October, there was one creature that captured the imagination of millions of fans on the internet. No, not the Ewok-like porgs. I’m talking about the crystal foxes shown for a few brief seconds of the trailer, as they sprint across Crait, a mineral planet covered in salt and not much else. Well, we finally know a bit more about these beautiful, crystal-covered creatures and the very specific role they play in the movie.
According to EW, the crystal fox is actually called a “vulptex,” or “vulptices” when plural. This is one of the only species that live on the planet, which is also home to an old Rebel base that the Resistance has repurposed as a new headquarters. This will ultimately be the location of a big battle between the Resistance and the First Order, which is thirsty for revenge after the destruction of Starkiller Base.
Creature effects supervisor Neal Scanlan told EW that there’s a very specific reason for the vulptex’s crystallized fur.
“The idea is that these wonderful sort of feral creatures had lived on this planet and had consumed the planet’s surface, and as such had become crystalline,” Scanlan said.
Now if that’s not some quick and convenient science, I don’t know what is.
An even more interesting detail revealed by the EW story is the fact that these creatures will play a very direct role in helping the heroes on Crait.
“They live within the burrows and within the tunnels beneath the planet,” Scanlan told EW. “So there is a time where their ability to shine within the darkness, should provide a guiding light to our heroes.”
The vulptices have apparently been roaming through the abandoned Rebel base for the last thirty years or so, which means they probably know their way around pretty well. Could these creatures be aiding the Resistance in an escape through the tunnels beneath the planet (we’ve seen Kylo Ren marching into these tunnels, as well as the Millennium Falcon zipping through them in the trailers)? Or do they serve an even bigger purpose? It remains to be seen.
The vulptex was named by Pablo Hidalgo, Lucasfilm’s creative executive in story development, according to EW. Hidalgo went back to the Latin word for “fox,” which is vulpes, and gave it a more sci-fi sounding suffix. The creature’s look was designed by ILM artist Aaron McBride.
You can meet the vulptex for yourself when Star Wars: The Last Jedi premieres on Dec. 15.