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I'm currently out of photographs from my penguin collection (just photos, not to-be-featured items), so I started to figure out a new kind of penguin entry. And then it hit me; There is a 'penguins-with-guns' feature film I haven't featured and not featuring it here would be a sin.

The film in question is Tim Burton's Batman Returns from 1992, featuring Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin. As a character, this Penguin is bigger departure from its origins than any other villain in the Batman movies. In Burton's version, Cobblepot is a freak-baby abandoned as a toddler and raised by the penguins of Gotham City Zoo. As the film goes on, Cobblepot transforms from tragic figure to villain so evil even the Devil would think twice to cross him.

But more important here than Mr. Cobblepot himself are his evil penguin henchmen, armed to the beak with rocket launchers. Let me repeat that; Penguins... with rocket launchers.

The creation of fearsomely awesome penguin army was a collaborative effort between Tim Burton, who came up with the initial ideas, artist Mark McCreery who transformed those ideas into concept art and the late God of Practical Effects Stan Winston, who created the penguins. The penguins were so lifelike that if I hadn't known they were Stan Winston's creations, I would've been fooled for sure. In practice they are puppet suits operated by small people – one of them being stunt actor Felix Silla (Twiki of Buck Rogers and Lucifer of Battlestar Galactica, to name a couple of his cult roles).

Mark McCreery's designs were so awesome I just had to feature them as well. All copyrights to the concept art above belong to Mark "Crash" McCreery.

Added: 2009-10-27