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October 31, 2021

Protective Grogu

Since The Mandalorian burst onto Disney+, the Child became a sought-after collector’s item and best-selling toy of the early 2020s. A younger version of the Force-sensitive Yoda species, he’s an entirely new Star Wars character, brought to life in the series with animatronic puppetry and digital makeup, whose in-universe backstory breaks my heart.

Surrounded by all sorts of scum and villainy, his raison d’être is to turn the titular bounty hunter from ruthless killer to fierce protector; use and be given a chance to control his Jedi powers of healing, levitation and more; bridge the old and new; and to look adorable.

My sister is on record to say I saved her life when I once texted “I’m going to be [livid] if I can’t get a Baby Yoda plushie because of bloody Covid!”

I’ve been bossing it as an animation artist and a domestic goddess during the pandemic. After a while it can stagnate so I thought let’s rise from it. The fantastical colliding with the real world can be motivating.

Because it worked the first time, what if I built a snow Child and it became “real”, the same way my snow cat created my brand?

Picture this:

One snowy January night, a bit of cosmic Jedi magic was sprinkled over the sculpture, and that morning – which also happened to be Nana’s birthday – came a small mysterious baby alien* cold and shivering.

I wrapped him up warm, and he perked up after his belly was filled with marshmallows and chocolate.

And scene.

The rapid spread of the virus, the rising death count and the neverending lockdown measures were hard to ignore. I missed my friends and the adventures I’d go on across the country… but the little star man was/is by my side, providing much needed joy and zen in such tumultuous times.

I was extra busy over lockdown as I was helping Mum (recovering from her broken ankle) with house chores, shopping and converting my sister’s old bedroom into mine. Receiving both vaccines in the spring was a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt so happy to return to the West End in July and Wales in September and October to give Nana some much needed company. But there came a point in the Autumn when I needed to reflect after I was burned out from overcrowding my schedule and overindulging on post-lockdown activities.

Honestly I barely have enough time for the cinema, Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ or even iPlayer these days. The freedom to check into a streaming platform is wonderful, a cinema even more so, but a block of time has to be set aside between making short films and self care.

Partly because I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of the online Baby Yoda doll community, that I’m inspired to take time out from adulting, ruminating and doomscrolling, to spend a few moments with an adorable floppy-eared avocado alien baby. When you’re over 30, it’s more than okay to be silly!

Across TikTok and Instagram there is no shortage of memes or puppet shows, ranging from sibling adoptions, cooking tutorials, fancy dress, chickie nuggie meals, to a wedding. Strangely therapeutic and highly creative, it’s a global phenomenon – I’ve been learning Spanish while entertained by the antics of Yod’in Galactic, who’s recently released a music video, # Amor Galáctico, that has to be seen to be believed. There’s as much comedy as there is drama in the fandom. Most reels on the Circuscyndi_yodas account live in my head rent free, like when Olivier comforts his sister Van after she’s distraught from her date’s no-show at the “Froggy Prom”.

My sketch of Olivier and Olive (@suchabirdsewing) tying the knot. Find me a love more pure than theirs!

Closer to home, simple things like my own toy Grogu and my dog Billie help me get through stressful periods, giving me the cwtches I’ve been lacking from humans for the past 18 months. Often I would return frazzled after a long day of adventuring, or hours working non-stop on a sequence or storyboard or illustration, and Babba sits there, judgement-free, ready for tummy rubs and telly.

My little one shares the swivel chair with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and a hedgehog

He brought a smile to everyone’s face when he once popped up at the end of a Writer’s Guild of Great Britain zoom panel. He has even joined me on a number of outings in town and at Welsh beaches. He won’t visit London until he’s had his booster jab.

What sweet dreams fuel do you escape boredom with? Who or what has helped you steer clear of the dark side?

*purchased and delivered from an online retailer

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Ay Corona!