It's no secret that the success and dominance of The Mandalorian are both unprecedented and unexpected for a multitude of reasons. The Mandalorian was the first live-action Star Wars series and Disney+'s flagship original show. Given that, it was clear from the get-go that expectations were sky-high for the series.
Despite that, the Jon Favreau-created Star Wars show debuted with positive acclaim from fans and critics, and much of the praise and attention was due to the appearance of Baby Yoda a.k.a. The Child. The adorable Yoda-like toddler earned the admiration of fans worldwide, and the popularity of the character essentially helped The Mandalorian in more ways than one.
And now, to celebrate the success of the show's debut season, a new book in the form of The Art of The Mandalorian will be released next month, and a special sneak peek provides a glimpse of what to expect.
In an exclusive preview, io9 shared a sneak peek of several pieces of concept art that will be included in the upcoming The Art of The Mandalorian (Season 1) book that will hit shelves on December 1.
The first image highlights an early version of Din Djarin's armor. Along with the reveal, concept artist Brian Matyas shared his thought process while creating the design by playing "within the armor color spectrum" since he pointed out that the prequel trilogy's Jango Fett was the "canonical live-action example of unpainted Beskar steel:"
“I played within the armor color spectrum because, at least at this point, Jango Fett is the only canonical live-action example of unpainted beskar steel. So, I wanted to push it: ‘Can this metal be a dull brass matte sort of sheen? Something a little bit darker?"
The second image shows another draft of Mando's armor, and Matyas mentioned that he will still be "changing up some of the armor" at that specific point during pre-production:
“I was still changing up some of the armor, like the chest pieces being more classic Mandalorian and then playing with a different color for the T-visor, which I’m actually glad they didn’t go with. There’s something about gold and silver together, even with jewelry, that doesn’t quite work for me."
The next image reveals that the Razor Crest was not the initial ship of Mando. Instead, visual artist Ryan Church bared that the original plan was to feature the "A-10 Thunderbolt Warhog" as the main ship of Mando, but it was ultimately replaced due to the "conventional" nature of the ship:
“Jon [Favreau]’s design brief was the A-10 Thunderbolt ‘Warthog,’ which I know extremely well. That’s my favorite plane. When I was a kid, I would steer the family vacation to the Tucson air show, the main A-10 pilot training base. I got to sit in the cockpit and everything. The Warthog almost looks like a Star Wars vehicle, if you painted [it] the right color, because it doesn’t have anything compound about it. It’s all simple shapes. And that’s the difficult thing about using the A-10. It’s so conventional: wings, fuselage, and engine. It ends up looking like a toy if you’re not careful. It’s got to look at least as distinctive and odd as the Slave I. Is this the Slave I’s brother vehicle? Is this another Mandalorian vehicle? But, by then, I knew I couldn’t do those big weird shapes because that’s not very A-10."
Next on the list is another early design of Mando's ship, and it somehow resembles the finished version of the Razor Crest.
Another early version of the Razor Crest is showcased in the next image, but the glaring difference is the ship's landing mechanism.
Another version of Mando's ship shows a more jet-like design.
The spotlight is now placed on the Stormtroopers of the Disney+ series. Matyas shared that these stormtrooper designs resemble the "guerrilla fighter idea:"
“I might try and reintroduce these decommissioned stormtrooper designs in some way for Season 2. I would still love to see some of the layering, the guerrilla fighter idea.”
The next image showcases a different design of the mudhorn cave, and the main difference is the presence of a big, old tree above its entrance. The Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni shared a fascinating story of how the mudhorn cave sequence came to be:
“ At one point there was a big old tree right above the entrance to the mudhorn cave. I ended up shooting the scene where he goes down to the cave. I shot second unit on every single episode in Season 1. My perspective on how the cave should be shot hadn’t changed from my early storyboards. But I talked with Rick Famuyiwa and he was all for it. The clarity of what Jon wrote leads us all to the same ideas.”
The next image showcases Mando's dominance over the Stormtroopers. Fans can only hope that a similar scene will be explored in live-action during future seasons.
An alternate look at the first meeting between IG-11 and Baby Yoda is featured in the next piece of concept art. In addition, visual artist Christian Alzmann discussed how The Child's design evolved in the creative process of The Mandalorian:
“I did two versions of this realistic kidbaby. And the third was the one. I immediately had an idea when Jon said he wanted it to be more puppetlike, one of those rare lightning-strike moments. I looked a lot at J.C. Leyendecker’s babies. He has this certain way of doing massive cheeks on babies. I was also thinking about old Warner Bros. cartoon characters, which had those same cheeks.”
The last piece of concept art is perhaps the most intriguing of the bunch since it shows Baby Yoda wearing Boba Fett's helmet, potentially confirming that the famed bounty hunter was originally planned to appear during Season 1.
With so much to unpack, it's clear that there is a wide array of concepts that were left on the cutting room floor of The Mandalorian Season 1. This isn't surprising given the expectations surrounding The Mandalorian then, but it's safe to say that the creatives behind the show made the right choice in terms of choosing the appropriate designs for the core characters.
Part of the fun of featuring a Mandalorian as the titular bounty hunter is designing the character's Beskar armor, and the preview manages to show how the visual artists enjoyed that specific part in the creative process. Along with the armor, it seems that the design of Mando's ship was somehow hard to visualize for the creatives, but the finished product, the Razor Crest, appears to be the most fitting design that came out from several sessions of brainstorming.
The biggest takeaway from the concept art set is the presence of Boba Fett's helmet. It appears that the famous bounty hunter was supposed to appear at some point during Season 1, but those plans were scrapped. Still, it's fascinating to see Baby Yoda wearing Boba Fett's iconic helmet, and there's a strong chance that this specific sequence will be reimagined during the second half of Season 2.