A short time ago, on a wind-swept plain not that far away, there sat a thing of beauty: a life-size replica of the All Terrain Scout Transport from Return of the Jedi. Made of timber, plastic, and bits of scrap metal, the scout walker stands at a little over 27 feet tall, seats two, and appears to have a functional chin-mounted laser cannon. And by "functional," I mean it moves up and down and makes "pew pew" noises.
If you're like me, you have many questions. How did this get made? Who is the master craftsman behind this? And where can it be found, so I can jump inside and reenact my eight-year-old fantasies of mowing down wave after wave of annoying Ewoks because, let's be honest, the Battle of Endor was some bullshit and there's no way a handful of teddy bears with prehistoric technology could have defeated a squadron of fully armed stormtroopers, not to mention at least four AT-STs with laser cannons and concussion grenade launchers. But I digress.
The replica AT-ST first appeared on Imgur about eight months ago, when a user named Mr. Kernish noticed the Imperial walker from afar and posted a few creepshots. A couple months later, Mr. Kernish "manned up" and asked the mysterious owner for a tour. "I walked onto the propriety [sic] and spoke to the engineer," he wrote. "He didn't wish to be identified so I'll refer to him as Kuat."
(Kuat, of course, is a reference to the planet where the Galactic Empire produces most of its warships, including Star Destroyers, All Terrain Armored Transports, and AT-STs.)
Kuat told Mr. Kernish that he mostly pulled specs for the AT-ST from the internet, which is kind of amazing when you think about it. There's a ladder in the back that leads up to the fully tricked out cockpit. Directly above the entry port are two solar panels that power the chin and side laser cannons. The cockpit is a treasure trove of circuit boards and random gadgetry, like a Mid-Tech Legacy 6000. With the eye-port shutters closed, red light bulbs are turned on to cast an eerie glow.
Kuat pointed out the custom-made plate that identifies the AT-ST as a "Tempest Scout 2," which he clarifies is the scout walker hijacked by Chewbacca during the Battle of Endor. And there are other clever touches, like an Imperial propaganda poster ("Another Fine Product from the Kuat Drive Yards") and a lightsaber affixed next to an emergency stop button. Not that a Jedi would be driving an AT-ST, but who cares?
"Another Fine Product from the Kuat Drive Yards"
The best part about all this is that Kuat just built the damn thing like it was no big deal. He just woke up one day and said to himself, "I feel like building a life-size replica of an AT-ST" and then did it. Not for glory, not for any higher purpose, not to break the internet or sell tickets to legions of slavish Star Wars fans who would know doubt mortgage their homes for a chance to sit in the cockpit. Like the mountain climber who scales Mount Everest because its existence demands it be scaled, Kuat built an AT-ST for no other reason than to prove to himself it could be done.
I reached out to Mr. Kernish for more information about the mysterious Kuat, but haven't heard back. I have so many questions, but I know I probably won't get answers. And that's cool. The Force isn't real. Lightsabers don't exist. Ewoks are just little people in suits. But there's a life-size AT-ST somewhere out there. And that's enough.