“Oh No! A Rancor!”

As superb as the Star Wars universe is for the designs of its vehicles, characters and sentient races, its alien animals leave something to be desired. The asteroid creature from The Empire Strikes Back is probably the worst offence against reasonable alien biology (it lives in vacuum. Obviously it doesn’t need to breathe. But how does it survive? What does it eat? How does it move from one space rock to the next? And I don’t even want to get started on the improbabilities involved in its finding a mate), but very few of the creatures are all that well-designed.

The Rancor’s one of the better ones, if you discount the improbability involved in it acting (and possibly looking) like a troll. A biped that’s obviously not built for running, like most of the Star Wars bestiary, it’s designed simply to be monstrous. This accounts for almost every one of the Star Wars bestiary, from Naboo’s gargantuan monster sharks to the Dianoga from the waste compactor (which preys on our fear of snakes) to the Acklay (impalement) to the Rathtar (tentacles and bizarrely abnormal motion).

Anyway, I looked at my organiclike ice mech and thought to myself, “you know, I bet I could build a Rancor.  Build one, that is, not buy a giant-sized minifigure equivalent.”

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I’m not sure whether my Rancor or LEGO’s own large minifigurelike moulding is a more accurate size representation of the creature that Jabba keeps as an entertaining way to dispose of unwanted guests.  But LEGO building is typically a little flexible as far as scale goes.

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Now, the Rancor is obviously carnivorous, but even though it’s a biped, it doesn’t seem like it’s built to run down its prey. In Return of the Jedi, it lurches around the dungeon slowly; it does not leap or run. This suggests a scavenger, but. A scavenger of that size ought to have no problems with a little bone. Also it’s slow-witted enough not to try to use its hand claws to dislodge the bone from its mouth, and most scavengers are fairly smart (look at rats). Of course, its hands are huge compared to its mouth, but the fact that it has gasping hands at all suggests a level of intelligence that it doesn’t actually seem to display all that much. On the other hand, though, devouring surprised victims in an enclosed space doesn’t take a lot of brainpower.

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I suppose, too, it’s possible that this is a lamed or crippled specimen. It seems to have enough predatory instinct to kill, which suggests a hunter rather than a scavenger, but its slow forward speed combining with arms definitely designed to grasp and hold throw interesting light on its potential wild lifestyle. If it’s a lamed example, though, that makes more sense. As a pit beast in Jabba’s palace, it doesn’t need to move fast; perhaps it was intentionally lamed to prevent its escape.

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It could also be a specially-developed animal specifically created to serve as a gladiatorial opponent. Star Wars’ biotechnology doesn’t seem as advanced as all that (you get the impression that Kamino’s cloners are unusual), but if the technology exists, the Star Wars galaxy is the sort of place where it’s going to happen.

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Anyway, here’s my version of the Rancor, complete with a pseudo-Luke Skywalker for it to attempt to devour. Lloyd’s hair isn’t quite right for Luke’s, but in some ways it actually seems closer to Mark Hamill’s actual haircut than TLG’s. Go figure.

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Anyway, here he is. I hope Malakili would approve.

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4 thoughts on ““Oh No! A Rancor!”

  1. Luke Skytrekker

    Nicely done! The back and the upper jaw are both very well formed! The hind legs, too, are excellent.
    You do bring up some excellent points about the practicality of the Rancor. I’m leaning towards the lamed possibility, myself. Or, perhaps, malnourished. I mean, really, how many unwanted guests can Jabba have? It doesn’t look super healthy—I seem to recall its eyes were kinda misty, too. I did once read in one of those “visual dictionary” books (which I’m assuming are EU, or, rather, Legends) that Jabba’s rancor was a circus monster gone wildly wrong. Supposedly, it broke free and killed half the spectators at its show. That would seem to imply it could move a lot faster and be a lot more vicious should it have the adequate health. I’ve got my money on it being maltreated and malnourished. It’s in a pretty small room, too.
    On that note, if it was in the circus, it could very well be bioengineered.
    And, on a further and entirely uninvolved note, remember how that beast wrangler cries when it dies? Wouldn’t that imply some kind of bond between him and said rancor? Are rancors capable of showing affection, like dogs or cats? Are rancors even murderous in the first place—maybe Jabba’s was just starved and ravenous? They don’t really seem made to hunt, as you said.
    Just thoughts. 😛

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    1. geoffhorswood Post author

      Very true. I think I’m personally leaning towards malnourishment and/or laming. I think Rancors move a lot faster than that under normal circumstances, and might even have rudimentary intelligence (see “grasping hands”). C-3PO’s cry (that I referenced in the post title) implies that Rancors are known and feared beasts. I can imagine them as sort of predatory gorilla-analogues from some jungle planet – ground-dwelling, but in the ape-analogue family. And before Jane Goodall, gorillas themselves were assumed to be primal, savage killing machines.
      Rancors might have a bit of feline in their character make-up (maybe they like to play with their food?). Or wolf; I can see a pack (troop? What would a good collective noun be for Rancors?) of them loping through the trees in dogged pursuit of their prey.
      Alone, maltreated, near-crippled in the legs and probably malnourished, I can see one of them bonding to a handler who showed a little understanding and compassion. The fact that Malakili the beasthandler cries after it dies does tend to imply a real bond, with all that implies. Rancors can’t be just near-mindless killing machines.

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      1. Luke Skytrekker

        Yeah, malnourishment and prolonged confinement seems like the most likely explanation.
        Man, a pack of rancors would be terrifying. It does make me wonder, though, if they’d be pack-based animals or lone hunters like T-rexes. They don’t really have a lot in common with wolves, who are the usual examples of pack-based hunting. And they certainly couldn’t rely on stealth like lions classically do. Then again, they do seem to have rudimentary intelligence with those hands, and the ability to form personal bonds, so it seems likely they’d be social to some level.
        You know, actually, on second thought, they could have a lot in common with lions. Maybe the males serve as the protective tanks to ward off challengers and attackers, and the females are the faster, more hunting-oriented ones. It would explain why Jabba’s rancor is more terror-oriented, though I’ve still obviously got my money on malnourishment.
        Pack of rancors sounds about right, to me. Troop is more ape-like, but it also sounds less carnivorous.
        And yeah, jungle planet sounds about right, too. Either that or desert.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Prey of the Wampa | Square Feet

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