Star Wars Returns to Muppet Roots with Bobbajo


For each person who is hyped for the coming Star Wars trilogy, there was a moment where we converted from doubt. Whether it was the moment you heard that Lucasfilm was sold to Disney, so Lucas would not be running the show, or when you saw the trailer where Han declared “We’re home.” Perhaps you didn’t start to believe until the final trailer this past month, when you saw the Folxcon fly through the Star Destroyer wreckage on Jakku. But for each person, there was a moment, a piece of information they got, when they looked and said “This won’t be like the prequels. They’re going to do right by us this time.”

For me, that moment came when I saw that the trilogy had hired the Jim Henson Company to create their creatures for the new set of films. There are many things that are wrong about the prequels. But one of the top issues for me was the CGI characters, and yes, I include Yoda in that list. Why? Because go back and watch CGI Yoda today. At the time, that fight was Yoda the badass. And no, one could not have done that with a Muppet. But the computer animation looks…well, early 2000 and late. Whereas, when you go back to the original trilogy and watch Episode 5 or 6, Muppet Yoda holds up. Because he’s a real creature you can touch, and interact with. He’s not “the computer graphics of the time.” Muppets are timeless creatures, they don’t go out of date, or get replaced with better technology.

Now for those of you saying “well, of course Disney used Muppets, they own the Muppets.” No, that’s not correct. See, Disney owns “The Muppets,” ie: Kermit, Piggy, Gonzo, Scooter, Sam the Eagle, Rizzo, etc. They don’t own The Jim Henson Company, which remains its own separate entity, fueled by said cash they got by selling the rights to that set of iconic characters to Disney back at the beginning of the century. So there was no guarantee that the Star Wars division would make a deal with the Henson people for new creatures. It would be good business to associate themselves with it (After all, most people don’t realize that “Disney owning the Muppets” and “Disney owning the Jim Henson Company” are two different things, and only one is true.) It also behooves both companies to be seen as associating themselves together. After all, The Jim Henson Company doesn’t want people to realize they really don’t own Kermit anymore. And besides, the more they work with Disney, the better their chances are of perhaps getting a Henson driven project off the ground.

This brings us to Bobbajo, a creature we’ve heard little about, but is clearly from the image a Henson creation.  He doesn’t look like he’d be out of place wandering around the Labyrinth with Sara looking for the Goblin King, or even a character Jen and Kira would run into on their way to the Dark Crystal.  He;s exactly what we would expect from the Star Wars-verse in terms of an alien creature–he’s definitely non-humanoid. And most importantly, he’s timeless. When we look back in 30 years and see our characters interact with him, there won’t be obvious greenscreen type lines, or image overlay fuzz or whatever else we can see when we grow used to the evolving computer technology and look back at the older stuff.

As for how Bobbajo is done, Entertainment Weekly reveals that “[t]he human performer shares only his legs with the alien, and the rest of his body extends up into the various cages being hauled on Bobbajo’s back. (The actor can see through the mouth of the large amphibian-like creature in the middle cage.)”

As for the type of personality we can expect, Bobbajo sounds as slow and sleepy as his eyes look in this shot.

 “He was envisaged as this sort of seller who would lumber his way to the market every day, selling these rather weird and strange creatures, which he had in the cages,” says Neal Scanlan, who headed the film’s creature shop. “He’s very slow, he’s very laid back.” Judging by the drowsy look in his eyes, you wonder if Bobbajo may be hustling some herbal products, too.

Hey, I hear that stuff’s legal in galaxies far, far away. No harm, no foul.

Next: Disney Channel to Air Star Wars: The Force Awakens Sneak Peek Friday Night

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18th, 2015. Only 35 days to go!