Skeleton Crew Hints At Rare Star Wars Species Finally Getting the Spotlight

By Zack Zagranis | Published

Remember Max Rebo? He’s back in kid form! New merchandise for the upcoming Star Wars: Skeleton Crew gives fans their first look at the new show’s core group of characters, and one of them resembles a certain blue elephant.

Skeleton Crew Includes An Ortolan

Despite Rebo’s status as a cult favorite in the Star Wars fandom, we’ve never seen any of Max’s relatives on screen. Ortolans—the proper name for the elephantine blue-skinned aliens—never show up in Star Wars as extras the way other species like Twi-Leks and Rodians do. This could be due to the extra prosthetics needed to bring an Ortolan to life onscreen, something Skeleton Crew may have found a way around.

Same Species As Max Rebo

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The character in question—Neel, an Ortolan child portrayed by Robert Timothy Smith—appears quite a bit more humanoid than Max Rebo. While it’s hard to tell for sure from the box art, Neel looks as though he’s CGI, something that would allow for a much larger range of motion than Max Rebo, who is usually depicted as sitting simply because it’s the easiest way to puppeteer him.

Another interesting detail about Skeleton Crew‘s Ortolan Neel is that he appears to have arms. If that sounds like a weird thing to mention, trust us, it’s not. Since Max Rebo’s first appearance in Return of the Jedi, there has been an ongoing debate about whether the character is playing his keyboard with his fingers or his toes.

A Fan Favorite

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Max Rebo

Max, as originally designed, was supposed to have only two limbs—a pair of legs. Technically, we only see two limbs in Return of the Jedi, but since Rebo is using them to play the keyboard, most people assumed they were arms. As a result, Max Rebo’s original action figure had two arms and two legs.

Ortolan Biology Has Been Debated

Piggybacking off of the figure, Ortolans were depicted in Star Wars Legends as having four limbs fairly consistently. When Disney took over, they reverted Max—and, by extension, the rest of the Ortolan species—to his original two-limbed form. That would have been the end of it, but new Skeleton Crew merchandise depicts Neel with arms, meaning that even in canon, Ortolan’s biology is still not a settled issue.

Using Lesser Known Aliens Is Great For The Show

One way to clarify things would be for Lucasfilm to expand upon Ortolan lore by explaining that they come in two- and four-limbed varieties. This would give a concrete, in-universe reason for the different depictions of the species and allow for more shows like Skeleton Crew to use the blue elephants as characters. For all we know, maybe Lucasfilm addresses the two vs four-limbed Ortolans situation on the show itself.

Skeleton Crew Arrives This Year

We won’t know for sure until Skeleton Crew premieres on Disney+ later this year. The upcoming series will follow four kids as they make a strange discovery on their homeworld, which kicks off a mystery that will take them across the galaxy. Joined by a mysterious Jedi played by Jude Law, the children of Skeleton Crew embark on a journey full of danger and adventure.

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