- "We're the cavalry. The… strange, whatever-these-are-called riding cavalry. We're rebels. We're looking for the Partisans who worked with Saw Gerrera."
- ―Leia Organa, riding a spamel
Spamels were blue-skinned, long-legged creatures that lived on the holy moon of Jedha. They were used as mounts by Imperial sandtroopers to traverse the moon's cold desert landscape and to patrol pilgrimage routes to Jedha City during the Galactic Empire's occupation of Jedha. After the destruction of Jedha City by the Death Star's superlaser, the beasts were also used by the surviving members of Saw Gerrera's rebel Partisans as well as Rebel Alliance members Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker while they were on a mission to locate and help the survivors on Jedha.
Biology and appearance
Spamels were a blue-skinned, quadrupedal species that possessed a pair of gray eyes, and a small tail. They had thick, stubby necks and wedge shaped heads that swayed as they walked. With their four long, slender legs, which usually featured several striped pieces of tan-colored cloth, they stood up to 4.9 meters, or sixteen feet, high. While their riders used a rope ladder to reach the saddle on the back of the beast, the spamels that dwelled on Jedha after the destruction of Jedha City also had breath masks strapped to their faces due to the harsh conditions on the moon. According to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who did not know the name of the creature, the spamels had a strange appearance.
Before the Battle of Yavin
- "Thank you. I think you've just saved my life."
"All lives are precious. Even those of the incredibly rude. I couldn't let you get trampled."
- ―Zallo Blaak and Kasmira
Spamels were used as part of a parade that moved through the streets of Jedha City on the desert moon of Jedha on Reflection Eve, the day before the annual festival of Reflection Day. As the creatures picked through the crowds carefully with their long legs, their riders bore banners proclaiming a better future for all who gave their lives over to the eternal Force. When the visitor Zallo Blaak became swept up in one such parade and fell, he was nearly unknowingly trampled by one of the spamels, but was dragged to safety by the scholar Kasmira before he could come to harm.
Spamels later served as riding mounts for Imperial sandtroopers on Jedha during its occupation by the Galactic Empire prior to the Battle of Yavin. Riding these creatures, Imperial troopers traversed the chilly sands of Jedha, patrolling pilgrimage routes to Jedha City, and watching for smugglers and the extremist rebel Saw Gerrera's band of soldiers known as the Partisans. The troopers who rode spamels also wielded pikes. In the year 0 BBY, the Empire destroyed Jedha City in an effort to test the superlaser of the Death Star battle station. The city's destruction devastated the entire moon and dealt a major blow to the Partisans.
The ashes of Jedha
- "Hey, hero! Come aboard!"
- ―Leia Organa, to Luke Skywalker, after his spamel was shot down
In 1 ABY, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker of the Rebel Alliance rode two spamels while leading a team on a battle for Jedha in an attempt to make contact with the surviving members of the Partisans. Shortly after the pair rescued two Partisans named Ubin Des and Chulco Gi, an Imperial LAAT/le patrol gunship shot down Skywalker's spamel. All four rebels were then forced to get on the same spamel, eventually escaping the Imperials with the help of the starship Millennium Falcon. The Partisans also utilized spamels as a mean of transportation—one of the beast was ridden by Skywalker, Des, and Gi when they traveled to Ai-jed to distribute filters to the civilians of the settlement.
Not long after, the Partisan fighters, along with their new allies from the Rebel Alliance, rode spamels during their attack on an Imperial drill citadel that was mining for kyber crystals on Jedha. While the mounted soldiers managed to create a distraction for the arrival of the Millennium Falcon into battle, Des and Di's spamel was shot down by an enemy gunner. Following the successful destruction of the drill citadel, Di and Skywalker traveled to the Temple of Central Isopter at the edge of of Jedha's blast crater by spamel for the former to complete his pilgrimage, while the latter wished to learn more about the Force. Around the same time, the Wookiee warrior Chewbacca was on board a Gran pilot's starship in hopes of reaching his rebel friends on Jedha. During the transport's engagement with an Imperial TIE fighter in NaJedha space, Chewbacca bumped into one of the spamels aboard the Gran's ship after the ship had been hit, causing the creature to fall on the ground and make a noise from its mouth.
Behind the scenes
- "I'm not sure anyone's noticed the space camels that the stormtroopers ride in Jedha. If you look really very carefully when Jyn and Cassian are walking through Jedha, you'll see these giant camel things that Stormtroopers [sic] are riding on the left."
- ―Gareth Edwards, director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The spamels were created and developed for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the 2016 film that marks the first entry in the Star Wars Anthology Series. Prior to the film's release, the creatures were first depicted, albeit unnamed, in the reference book Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, which included a map of Jedha in connection to the then-upcoming Rogue One. The book was illustrated by Tim McDonagh and published on November 3, 2016.
Inspiration for Rogue One's Holy City of Jedha was drawn from real-life holy cities like Mecca and Jerusalem, as well as other, mostly desert locations in the Middle East and North Africa. Thus, the spamels were inspired by camels that inhabit those lands. The creature was designed by concept artist Christian Alzmann, who dubbed the creature "Jedha 'Camel'" in his illustration. The spamels were also depicted in a concept art for Jedha, by artist Matt Allsopp.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- "One of the first shots featured a stormtrooper sitting on a camel, and I thought to myself: 'Wow, I'm in Star Wars!'"
- ―Felicity Jones, the actress who portrays Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
During the visual effects review for Rogue One, the film crew nicknamed the creature "spamel," shortened for "space camel." The nickname was later adopted as the official name for the beast in "Every Creature in the Star Wars Movies," an installment of the Star Wars By the Numbers web series released through the official Star Wars Kids YouTube channel on May 31, 2019.
During the filming of Rogue One on July 23–24, 2015, in Jordan, stormtroopers were filmed riding camels between Jedha City and the lookout rock where Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso, and K-2SO stand in the film. The camels were to be digitally replaced with Alzmann's creature design, but the shots were ultimately cut. However, the spamels can still be seen in some scenes within Jedha City, which were completely digitally generated.
- "Reflection Day"—Life Day Treasury
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (First appearance)
- Star Wars (2015) 38
- Star Wars (2015) 39
- Star Wars (2015) 40
- Star Wars (2015) 41
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas (First mentioned)
- The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded
- Star Wars: Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor
- Star Wars: Build Your Own R2-D2 72 (Droid Directory: Droids of NiJedha) (Picture only)
- Star Wars Annual 2019 (Pictured in an advertisement)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 77 (Weapons & Uniforms: The Ashes of Jedha) (Picture only)
- (First identified as spamel)
- The Marvel Art of Star Wars (Picture only)
- Star Wars Annual 2020 (Pictured in an advertisement)
- (Picture only)
Notes and references