People often talk about how important the “used universe” aesthetic is to Star Wars, but equally important to creating an immersive reality is the sheer amount of life teeming in the background. Whether it’s Banthas, Dewbacks, and Womprats running around on Tatooine (RIP Krayt Dragon), or Wampas and Tauntauns on Hoth, or Dragonsnakes and Bogwings sliming it up on Dagobah, animal life is all over the place in Star Wars (even the Death Star has a Dianoga swimming through the trash!). Of all the planets in the Star Wars saga, we’ve seen the greatest breadth and diversity of life on good ol’ Naboo, and in 1999, you could hold some of it in the palm of your hand…after cleaning all the ooze off.
There were 4 different Battle Bags—2 different “Sea Creatures” sets, and 2 different “Swamp Creatures” sets (I’ll get to the Sea Creatures sets at a later date). I get the need to have a catchy product name to sell something to kids, but how is there a “battle” aspect to any of this?? In the Swamp Creatures sets at least, I’d bet that most of those creatures pretty much mind their own business, and none of them seem particularly violent. Maybe it’s a battle of biodiversity?? The gimmick of these sets is that they come in a magical black bag that you plop into water, and then cut open with a plastic cutting tool that’s meant to look like a Gungan electropole:
(picture of JJB with the cutting tool taken in a Peace Lily that my wife has kept alive, Darth Plagueis-like, for a few agonizing years)
When you slice open the magical bag like a Gungan surgeon, out flows a bunch of life-giving (or life-ending…?) green OOZE, and 4 plastic animals from the wilds of Naboo. Like any newborns, you have to wash all the slime off of them; unlike (most) other newborns, some of them still have green ooze residue 13 years later, as you’ll see in some of the pictures below.
I love that, according to Wookieepedia, Nuna are “commonly” called swamp turkeys. If you eat some Nuna meat, you’ll fall asleep really fast! Even though they’re native to Naboo, Nuna are most visible in TPM when Jabba flicks one to its death off the ledge of his balcony at the Boonta Eve Podrace. You can also see Nuna in Attack of the Clones, where a game of Nuna-Ball rages on one of the screens in The Outlander Club. You’ve done pretty well for yourself, swamp turkeys.
The Pikobi's name is spelled wrong on the package, and I get the feeling that that's just the tip of the iceberg of the disrespect they're shown…something about their faces just screams “schmuck”. Sorry, Pikobi. You should get the same agent as the Nuna have, maybe they can get you a gig on The Clone Wars.
Not only does the Mott have cool paws and an orange creamsicle hide, but his self-assured smile suggests that he has a sense of self-worth and confidence far greater than, say, the Pikobi. Though they can’t boast of being in 2 different Star Wars movies, their applesauce empire is the crowning achievement of their species.
The Ikopi looks pretty much like a swamp gazelle; you can see one running from the MTT when Qui-Gon first encounters Jar Jar.
Of all these Naboo swamp creatures, the Kaadu got the most screentime in TPM, serving as the Gungans’ duck-faced spacehorses of choice. In my fantasy world where TPM merchandising was even MORE overwhelming, kids would have ridden around their streets on Hobby-Kaadu in the summer of 1999, fighting with each other about who was going to play Captain Tarpals. The weirdest thing about this figure is, why is it wearing a saddle?? Every other creature in this set is “as it would be in the wild”, so why not the noble Kaadu? Are they born with their saddles on?
Poor Falumpaset, they spelled your name wrong on the package, too. Maybe the same lousy speller who worked at Tiger Electronics transferred over to this department? Not only did a Falumpaset pull the ammo wagon that Jar Jar so haplessly tried to hitch a ride on during the Battle of Naboo, but one served as Boss Nass’ steed at the big parade in Theed at the end of TPM.
The Shaak only had a “blink-and-you-miss-it” appearance in TPM, but went on to become the breakout star of Attack of the Clones, when Anakin Skywalker rode one in a particularly thrilling sequence set on the grasslands of Naboo. I can’t see inside of Padme Amidala’s heart, but that may have been the very moment when she fell in love with Anakin…we’ll never know! Shaaks were also seen elsewhere in AOTC, notably floating through the asteroid field, and had a tragic story arc in the “Blue Shadow Virus” episode of The Clone Wars.
Finally, the majestic Fambaa. If the Kaadu figure in this set has his saddle on, then why doesn’t the Fambaa have his shield generator or plasma cannon on his back?? Bizarrely, the Fambaa is also one of the smaller figures in the whole set of swamp creatures, when the (cinematic) reality is that he’s a massive dinosaur that could probably eat all of the other creatures combined in about two big chomps!! He wouldn’t, though—Fambaa are herbivores. I get that Hasbro couldn’t make these animals in the right scale to each other, but it’s still weird that the swamp turkey in this set towers over the Fambaa. No matter what scale they’re in, I’m glad to have them, as I love Star Wars animals—even if the whole “Battle Bag” concept is just an obvious rip-off of the Trash Bag Bunch!