Creating an alien world isn't just about
putting a funny rubber forehead on a human and calling it a day. You have to invent entire ecosystems, and you have to make them unique. You can't just call a "rabbit" a "smeerp" and consider your work complete. Whatever other flaws he may have, George Lucas certainly knows how to populate his world with outlandish creatures.
These fierce beasts track their prey with silence and cunning. Sleek and agile, the Nexu has impressive climbing abilities that make it difficult to escape once it has a victim in its sights.
The nexu won a spot in the hearts of fanboys everywhere
for its role in making Padme Amidala the nudest she ever was in all three prequels. In Episode II, this giant cat leapt up and raked its claws across her back, tearing away the lower edge of her shirt and exposing her midriff. It's no "metal slave bikini," but it'll do.
Released back in 2002, the nexu was part of the line of "deluxe" figures, which included things like the Clone Trooper with Speeder Bike - you know, figures that have some kind of big accessory or something, but can still fit on a blister card.
The nexu's design is a mixture of lion and lizard, man and monkey.
The toy's sculpt captures all the details, and the entire surface is covered with a fine detailing of fur. A ridge of spikes runs down his back, and there are three large claws on each foot. The nexu's mouth wraps nearly all the way around his head, which is at once viscious and unsettling. There are four eyes (two of which can apparently see in the infared spectrum, for night hunting) and the animal's nostrils are on the top of its head. There's even a spot of battle damage on the left ribs.
At more than 6" long, the nexu moves at the Big Five: he has swivels at the head, shoulders, and hips. Oh, and the jaw opens, but we'll get to that in a minute. The cat's bifurcated tail is bendy, and each side seems to have barbs or suckers running along the underside: in the Star Wars universe, the nexu is a jungle animal, and uses its tail to swing from trees; weird! The figure is posed in a stalking position - back legs coiled to strike, front legs alternating as she creeps forward.
Rather than a big accessory, this kitty has a few electronic features: press the button above the battle damage, and the cat roars; open its jaw and press its tongue, and it growls as it bites down. Both sounds are clear and loud, though you'll need a spear or something to press the tongue: try it with your finger, and the jaw won't snap shut like it should; there's a small gap in the teeth that will accommodate a thinner implement.
Though the nexu is an older figure, she's still quite good - especially if you have a Padme to sic her on. Picking one up of eBay should only set you back a few dollars, too. Of course, if you want to recreate the whole arena battle, Toys Я Us recently released a big, exclusive set that features Obi-Wan, Anakin, Padme and all the creatures they fought: including this fun little nexu.