My introduction to Star Wars as a child is a long, strange and entirely pointless story, but
virtually all of it focused on one Jabba the Hutt. I owned (and cherished) a Jabba's Palace
coloring book, the original Jabba action figure and the Rancor monster before I saw even a
minute of the films themselves, which I ultimately watched in reverse order. To this day, it's
Jedi's first act that interests me far more than the rest of the franchise, and I have an almost
encylopedic knowledge of its many, many creatures - even those that were cut from the
finished product. Poor Sic-Six...
...But of all the Hutt's horrific homies, two once stood out to me as the coolest of all:
Amanaman, the gangly head-hunter, and Bubo, the snarling frog-dog. This, too, is a long,
strange and entirely pointless story, but it is one that I am about to describe in detail and you
are powerless to stop me.
Seen here is more or less Return of the Jedi's only full view of Amanaman, but the distraction
of hideously frozen Han Solo allowed this alien to completely slip my notice for nearly a
decade. My discovery of him wasn't even in the film itself, but as a production model on the
cover of this Smithsonian magazine, October 1990:
Meanwhile, the easy-to-spot Bubo enjoyed status as my clear-cut favorite creature in the
entire Star Wars trilogy for no reason other than being an ugly, grumpy alien toad. I fell in
love with this little guy the minute I laid my four-year-old eyes on him, and even drew a comic
about him that very same day. Unfortunately, I didn't know his name, either. I also didn't
know how many action figures were ever produced in the original Kenner toy line, but with
figures like Squid Head and Snaggletooth in circulation, I simply assumed that a figure of
Bubo might have existed at and would ask many older geeks if they had ever seen a toy of
Jabba's pet frog.
One day, on a trip far from home with the family, I discovered an amazing little junk store
called Star Wars Collectibles, which, as you may have guessed, specialized in the sale and
trade of unwanted immigrant children.
They also sold Star Wars collectibles, and I figured that if anybody knew the answer to my
insipid question, it would have to be the guy behind the counter.
...I asked him if they ever made an action figure of the "little blue frog". These were my exact
words, as the lighting in Jedi gave everything a bit of a blue tinge.
He answered, most enthusiastically: "...AMANAMAN!!! He's very rare!"
Now, perhaps I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that three of
Amanaman's most obvious features are as follows:
-He is not little.
-He is not blue.
-He is not a frog.
...But alas, I had no reason to doubt the word of someone with his very own Star
Wars Collectibles store, and would begin my frog-hunt anew with this completely
inaccurate information as my lead until a whopping three years later, when I'd get my
hands on an illustrated price guide to the entire Star Wars toy line...
I would eventually later the name Bubo in "Tales From Jabba's Palace", an apparently
canonical fan-work that gave him his very own crazy adventure. By now, I had fallen in love
with even more obscure creatures, but Bubo would always be close to my geek-heart as my
The moment I opened up the page to "Amanaman" and saw one of my boogiemen,
my little jaw damn near fell through the floor. I never did track down a complete
vintage figure of my own - which can go for as much a hundred bucks or more - but
within a year I wound up with at least a staff-less specimen for $75, still a very special
piece of plastic to me.
In 2004, Bubo was at long last cast in plastic, as part of a set including the ultra-obscure
B'Omarr Monk and even more obscure slug-like Wol Cabbashite (another critter I'm fond of),
and Amanaman, too, saw the release of a brand-new, highly detailed action figure - finally
giving me access to one with the all-important corpse collection.
|What a long, stupid trip it has been.
I was seven years old when I was given this issue by my Grandmother, and actually didn't
realize at the time that every one of these creatures were created as Star Wars concepts.
The actual article failed to detail any of them, and I didn't even recognize the early Bubo on
the left. I'm extremely fond of several other creatures here, especially the unused slimer-like
bug, the fly-trap head and the slug guy in the metal drum, but it was that towering,
banana-like freak that immediately grabbed my attention. With his collection of decaying,
human heads, this oddly-shaped freak both horrified and fascinated me. I even had
nightmares of him living in my Grandmother's basement, utterly oblivious to his connection
with one of my favorite movies.