Sint Maarten Sci-Fi

Star Wars creature creator Nick Maley shares his memories and memorabilia on Sint Maarten.

Nick Maley
Creature-effects designer Nick Maley left Hollywood behind for the island life on Sint Maarten.Alamy/Daniel Karmann

Sint Maarten may not be in a galaxy far, far away, but it’s far enough removed from Hollywood to be a surprising location for a Star Wars museum: Nick Maley’s Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit in Philipsburg.

A British makeup and creature-effects designer, Maley is best known for helping bring Yoda to life for the original Star Wars trilogy. “You never know what is going to be the thing that changes your life,” Maley says. “When I got offered this weird little science fiction movie, the fact it was Star Wars meant nothing at the time.”

After contributing to more than 50 movies, including Superman I and II, Maley sailed the Caribbean for nine months. He established a home and art gallery on Antigua, where he launched a second career as a painter.

He then moved to Sint Maarten, where year-round visitors from the docks would sustain his Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit, which opened in 2011. Inside, fans can see Yoda, Han Solo in carbonite, Darth Vader, and more memorabilia from Star Wars and other iconic movies. “It’s rewarding that so many people come in and treat me with such respect over these jobs I did,” he says. He shares his memories and philosophy with guests and in his new book, The Do or Do Not Outlook: 77 Steps to Living an Extraordinary Life.

How did you come to be called “That Yoda Guy”? The cruise-ship people would recommend my art gallery in Antigua because I had worked on Yoda. The passengers wouldn’t remember my name, so they’d ask locals, “Where’s that Yoda guy?”

What drew you to Sint Maarten? I really like the multicultural community here. People tend to mix and get on with each other in a very nice way.

Name something in your museum that gets overshadowed by the Star Wars items. An original sketch of the dwarves from Snow White from 1937.

Nick Maley’s All-Stars on Sint Maarten

Pineapple Pete (Simpson Bay): It has terrific steaks, lobster and ahi tuna, and a friendly atmosphere. They have live music every day.

12 Metre Regatta (Philipsburg): Getting to crew an America’s Cup boat is an extraordinary experience.

Parotte Ville Bird Sanctuary (Belvedere): It’s a big aviary where people can feed the parrots by hand. It’s a nice local independent effort that gets overlooked.