Star Wars toys have been a huge part of the franchise, going back to A New Hope when George Lucas set a deal to receive profits on the merchandise. Even when movies come out that the fans aren't crazy about, the toys are still bought and collected. However, there was one toy that showed up on the set of The Last Jedi that forced director Rian Johnson to change a part of the movie that had already been shot.
It seems kind of ridiculous to think about, but Rian Johnson really did have to change part of The Last Jedi after he received a prototype toy for Kylo Ren's TIE Silencer fighter ship. The new ship is definitely one of the cooler designs to come out of the latest Star Wars movie and apparently, the missiles were originally intended to shoot from the bottom of the vehicle, not from the wings. But the toy had them shooting from the wings. Industrial Light and Magic VFX supervisor Mike Mulholland explains.
"Initially, the plan was to have missiles on the underside, and shoot them off, and that was it. But halfway through production Rian got a toy, a prototype toy of the Kylo fighter. And they had the missiles on the side wings! So, we went and redesigned a bit of it [in the movie] so that we could open it up and pop them out... I've heard of the toys' influence in the past, but that was the first time for me."
It's hard to believe that it was actually easier to redesign the TIE Silencer for the movie than it was to change the design for a prototype of a toy, but that's the power of CGI for you. Rian Johnson also wanted to shoot the space battle scenes using practical effects, but it turns out that it wasn't nearly as efficient as using the CGI, which ended up working in the production's favor after the TIE Silencer prototype came into play. Even though the scenes are all done in CGI, they still have the distinct feel from the original trilogy that Rian Johnson was initially after.
While many Star Wars fans were upset with the story of The Last Jedi, nobody can dispute how amazing it looks on the big screen. Rian Johnson went out of his way to give the movie a darker feeling, like The Empire Strikes Back, and the director succeeded. There are some epic space battles that push the boundaries of what VFX can do as well as some understated shots on Ahch-To that are impressive.
A prototype of Kylo Ren's TIE Silencer forced Rian Johnson to change the design of the ship in The Last Jedi. That's pretty ridiculous to think about, but it happened, and nobody would have ever known if Mike Mulholland form Industrial Light and Magic hadn't said anything. You can check out the toy version of the TIE Silencer below and check out the original interview with Mike Mulholland over at Radio Times.