Much to Learn You Still Have is a rundown of trivia and fun facts, both in-universe and behind-the-scenes, about the aliens of the Star Wars galaxy. Whether you’ve never set foot in a cantina or you’re a well-traveled Jedi Master, you’ll find the intel you need.
In Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan lands on a rain-swept planet with beautiful, lithe creatures living in a blindingly bright environment. They speak in a calming way that makes it seem impossible they could ever collaborate with the Sith. But who are the Kaminoans really and what interesting quirks do they bring to the Star Wars universe? Let’s find out.
1. Their look was inspired by classic sci-fi.
If you’re a fan of 1970s sci-fi, and I have a hunch you might be, you’re probably familiar with the aliens of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The stereotypical alien look of pearl white skin, deep set dark eyes, and underdeveloped mouths and noses was the initial inspiration for the Kaminoans. “The Kamino design was a very deliberate nod to the classic alien of Close Encounters,” Lucas admitted. Their spindly bodies and graceful movements were chosen to create a very calm and serene creature to counteract the tumultuous stormy environment outside.
Fun fact #1: The concept artists also added a seal-like quality to the final designs.
2. Their height was remedied on set.
How tall is a Kaminoan to be exact? They can range anywhere from nearly seven- to over eight-feet-tall. Similarly to Ahmed Best playing Jar Jar in The Phantom Menace, the actors playing Taun We and Lama Su on Kamino wore special hats to keep the correct eye level with Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). The hats were basically a hard hat with the addition of a sculpted Kaminoan to the top of it. Two different hard hats were made for Taun We, who measured just shy of seven-feet-tall, and Lama Su who was a taller seven-feet six-inches.
3. They see UV light.
Those gigantic almond-shaped eyeballs aren’t just for looks. Kaminoans actually have special eyes capable of seeing Ultraviolet light. Remember those stark white walls of the cloning facility? The inhabitants actually see colors that not even a visiting Jedi can see (sorry, Obi-Wan). Iain McCaig recalls being surprised by Lucas’ direction for the interior shots. Just as the creatures borrowed their look from Close Encounters, the interiors would gather inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey, with a sterility common in early sci-fi sets. This was quite different from the more lived-in look of other Star Wars environments. But for Ewan McGregor, there wasn’t much to look at as the entire clone facility tour was shot with him alone on blue screen. Jango Fett’s apartment set, however, was designed to reflect the sleek, black-and-white look of the stormtroopers with black Plexiglas used throughout the room.
4. They ride air whales, not space ships.
Have you ever hopped a ride on an aiwha? If you’re a Kaminoan, these “air whales” will get you wherever you need to be in the waterlogged world. Aiwhas are actually useful whether you’re taking to the sky or the sea. Both flying and swimming comes equally easy to the winged creatures. They have a natural sonar that helps them navigate below the water’s surface and while airborne they emit a loud-pitched whistling noise. However, the aiwhas weren’t the original choice for the Kaminoans’ mode of transportation. It was originally proposed that they ride around in flying saucers, which is pretty on the nose for their design. After coming up with dozens of different traditional saucer designs, the idea was eventually dropped, but I still think the Tipoca City enclosures give a nice nod to the vintage sci-fi saucer design.
5. Male and female have one distinction.
If you’re trying to figure out if a Kaminoan is masculine or feminine, take a look at the top of their heads. Males have a distinct white crest on the crown of their skull and females have completely bald heads. The perfect example can be seen in Attack of the Clones with Prime Minister Lama Su and Taun We. Prime Minister Lama Su was originally set to be a tall female with the mohawk-style hair but was later finalized as male. The mohawk hair remained and the distinction was then set for the men. But don’t worry — women still occupy high positions in Kaminoan society. Remember Halle Burtoni? In The Clone Wars, the elderly (and not particularly friendly) Kaminoan represented her homeworld as a senator.
Fun fact #2: Kaminoans reach adulthood at 12 years old.
6. They live on a water planet.
When you think about Kamino you probably think rain, but did you also notice that the entire planet is covered in water? Really, all of it. The city of Tipoca where Obi-Wan discovers the cloning facility is actually raised above sea level on stilts.
Fun fact # 3: In Attack of the Clones, the Tipoca City shots are actually miniatures composited with a computer-generated ocean.
7. They put the water to good use.
Being the savvy species they are, Kaminoans take advantage of all the water and rain on their planet. They actually use hydrogen to create an endless supply of energy. The hydrogen is harvested from the seawater and is responsible for powering those blinding lights and all of the other technology in the clone facility. On the actual Kamino set, an elaborate sprinkler system on the ceiling stage provided constant, controllable rainfall with giant fans for wind.
8. They like to keep to themselves.
Though you might think you now know quite a bit about the cloning community, Kaminoans are actually an incredibly private species. If it weren’t for their high-tech ingenuity, they’d prefer to stay out of most issues involving other galactic territories. Many people wonder why the Kaminoans would have went along with creating the clone army for the Sith. Or why they never questioned adding a bio-chip to their clones’ brains, allowing Order 66 to become a reality. To put it frankly, the Kaminoans don’t really care either way. They are skilled scientists that make money for their planet through the production of clones. It doesn’t matter much to them who they will be given to or for what purpose they will be used. They’re a no-questions-asked kind of civilization made up of people with very little personality or strong opinion.
Is there anything else you know about the Kaminoans? Let us know in the comments below!
Sources: Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Visual Dictionary, David West Reynolds, DK Children, 2002; Mythmaking: Behind the Scenes of Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Jody Duncan, Lucasbooks, 2002; Star Wars Attack of the Clones the Illustrated Companion, Marcus Hearn, Ebury Press, 2002; The Art of Star Wars, Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Mark Cotta Vaz, Del Rey, 2002; Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Michael Kogge, Kerrie Dougherty, DK Children, 2015
Dana Jennings is Lucasfilm’s associate producer for StarWars.com. You may remember her from such polls and quizzes as, “Who Wore it Best?” and “Which Star Wars Character Should You Invite for the Holidays?” When not acting as chairman of the Nien Nunb Appreciation Society, she can be found working hard to make sure The Star Wars Show stays fully operational or dressing up as Kevin the Ewok. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for all these things and more!