Umbaran Starfighter update

January 4, 2013

A few weeks ago, we were considering the bizarre Umbaran Starfighter from The Clone Wars, and its extraordinary similarity to an Apatosaurus cervical:


In a comment, Kyle Hartshorn suggested:

The Clone Wars “Plan of Dissent” episode concept art gallery features some conceptart of the starfighter, with the artist initials “RGC”. I believe that’s Russell G. Chong, one of the show’s art designers. You can find his contact information at his website.

He might not be the one who came up with the design–that art looks too polished to be an early concept—but he would probably know who did.

Nice detective work.

Here’s some of that concept art:


I found an email address for Chong, and wrote to him:

Hi, Russell. Matt Wedel and I are palaeontologists, specialising in the neck skeletons of sauropod dinosaurs. Matt noticed that the Umbaran Starfighter seems to be closely modelled on an Apatosaurus vertebra — see these two blog posts.

We’re trying to figure out whether this is deliberate as it appears, or just a crazy coincidence. One of our commenters believes the design might be yours — can you comment?

Russell was on vacation for a while, but wrote back a couple of days ago. I quote his message with permission:

Hey Mike,

I’ve been away on vacation and I just found this email.

That’s pretty trippy that the vertebrate looks so similar.

It’s also pretty trippy that palaeontologists are watching clone wars.

I did have the final design for this ship but I didn’t do the original ‘inspirational’ sketch. George often goes thru a book of older sketches from the movies and randomly picks stuffout for us to ‘fix’ or ‘cleanup’. My input was to give it more extreme character so I sharpened some edges and made the fins more pronounced, figured out how to land it, design a working cockpit, and then gave it final color. I don’t know who did the original but I don’t recall any notation saying they based it on the Aptosaurus vertebra so I have to say, yes, it’s coincidental.

Similarities are really odd!

Russell also gave me a lead on where I might look for the original designer. I’ll follow that up, and report back in a later post.


Victory! For the full saga, check out these links:


8 Responses to “Umbaran Starfighter update”

  1. Mike Taylor Says:

    Just found some sweet Umbaran Stafighter action in this episode preview for Plan of Dissent.

  2. Hey, I remember that episode! It’s actually quite a good series. Far more enjoyable than the movies in my opinion.

  3. Andrea Cau Says:

    I disagree with the guy, it’s not coincidental: see my post on Umbaraspondylus apatosauroides (

  4. Mark Robinson Says:

    I could buy a coincidence if it was just the loop wings and dorsal fins. However, that something as unusual as a spherical cockpit would be included in roughly the same position as the roughly spherical condyle is stretching credulity a bit too much, IMO.

    Andrea’s taxonomic analysis was also illuminating.

  5. […] last time we reported on the Apatosaurus cervical-shaped Umbaran Starfight from The Clone Wars, we’d heard from the […]

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