Star Wars: The High Republic – Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland Audiobook Review (SPOILER FREE)

Set before the events of ‘The Fallen Star’, ‘Mission to Disaster’ puts us on a mission with Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros as they desperately try to find their friend, Avon Starros who has been abducted by The Nihil after an attack on Port Haileap.

Whilst some may find it confusing that this book has come out later than Claudia Gray’s entry into Wave Three, it actually makes sense that this book was originally slated to release the same day as ‘The Fallen Star’. But after production delays the physical release has been delayed until March, but it’s out in Audible and Kindle (in certain countries), so of course I downloaded it as soon as I found out.

‘Mission to Disaster’ feels like a spiritual sequel to ‘A Test of Courage’ which Ireland wrote as part of the first wave of ‘High Republic’ books that introduced us to Vernestra, Imri and Avon and references events from the earlier book. In terms of its continuing the story of the three characters, we really get to see a great deal of character development. We did get to spend time with Vern and Imri in Ireland’s Wave Two Y.A novel ‘Out of the Shadows’ but that felt like more of a stand-alone adventure for two young Jedi.

Justina Ireland really puts the three leads through their paces, which fits in well with ‘The Fallen Star’ and how this Wave of the series is going. Whilst not as tense and anxiety inducing as Claudia Gray’s novel, there is a real race against time aspect to this novel, which manages to include a few different genres, like action/adventure, disaster film and whodunnit which in theory feels like it won’t work, but actually works really, really well.

‘Mission to Disaster’ does work if read out of order, but it does set up some aspects of ‘The Fallen Star’ but none of it is plot related, more like minor set-ups to some details from the next book in the series.

The audiobook was a decent production. It’s read well by Keylor Leigh and her delivery keeps your attention throughout. However some of the music choices in some places feel really off. At times the music sounds like a sample taken from a low cost video editing software played on a loop which felt distracting on my first listen (I’ve listened twice at the time of writing).

Certainly a solid addition to ‘The High Republic’, Justina Ireland continues to bring us amazing stories and great characters within ‘The High Republic’.

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Boba Fett vs. The World

There will be Spoilers for Episodes 1 – 4.

Let’s get something straight from the get-go.

I love Star Wars. I have enjoyed, whether it be a little or a lot, every bit of Star Wars media I have consumed. Not just the Disney era content, but way-back-when when there was no “Legends” banner on the novels.

There have been instances where I’ve had to step away from content because, despite like it, there was something not clicking with me, how many times have I tried to play ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ and just bailed because I’m not a fan of the gameplay? About five. How many episodes of ‘Star Wars: Resistance’ did I feel were going nowhere during Season 2? About a quarter, but the second half of the season really picked up. Is ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker Saga? Not really but I enjoy it just the same.

So when I say that I’m enjoying ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, I’m not lying. Have some choices been made that I’m not a big fan of? Sure. The Mod Squad’s Speeder Bikes are irksome to me, does their inclusion ruin the series? Not at all.

But we are four weeks into the series, Boba has escaped the Sarlacc Pit, stripped of his armour, imprisoned by the Tusken Raiders and accepted into the Tribe after leading them in a Train Heist to put an end to their murders at the hands of the Pyke Syndicate. He’s put the Tribe to rest after they were slaughtered by a biker gang, or so we are led to believe and found and help heal Fennic Shand who has helped him get his Firespray Gunship back from Jabba’s Palace. And he had laid out his desire to take over as a head of a Crime Family because he’s sick of almost dying for idiots. And that’s just the flashbacks, showing us the path he took until his return to our screens in ‘The Mandalorian’. In the ‘present day’ he’s working his way to understanding his new role. He didn’t just kill Bib Fortuna and suddenly everything fell into his lap, you know why? Because that’s lazy storytelling.

But why is ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ getting such bad press? From news outlets such as ‘The Guardian’ and Decider.com throwing the series under the bus, for what reason? All I’m seeing here and in other places, people who basically take the negativity from a portion of a fan base (because not everyone hates the series) and use YouTube’s outlook of ‘negativity sells’ to get clicks?

Are we seeing hate because people can’t wait week-to-week anymore thanks to the Netflix model of ‘dump a series all in one go and see a spike in users for a weekend’? Honestly I think so, where people were clamouring week-to-week for the fast paced ‘The Mandalorian’, the slow-burn of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ is possibly testing the attention span of the non-Star Wars fans. I try to put myself in their shoes, was Chapter 1 the perfect first episode for the casual fan? Probably not. The first six minutes is a dialogue-free exposition of Boba getting out of the Sarlacc. For viewers not well versed in Star Wars other than ‘The Mandalorian’ then it could be confusing with him being digested in the opening moments. For fans of the whole saga, this was an answer to an oft-asked question.

The main complaint seems to be that Boba Fett just isn’t the same “bad ass” we got in the films. But here’s my question, how do you know what anyone is like after knowing them less that seven minutes? It’s almost like someone being shocked after finding out that person you met during Speed Dating turns out to be a serial killer, of course they seemed lovely in the one minute you got to talk to them.

Are people forgetting that we saw him as a child in ‘Attack of the Clones’, or his angsty pre-teen appearances in ‘The Clone Wars’? He’s not exactly the “silent killer” in his comic appearances either. I can’t tell if the discourse is even based on what we got from the character in the “Legends” timeline as I haven’t had much experience with the characters in any of the books/audiobooks I’ve read/listened to. I do know he got a number of comics dedicated to him, and he appears in the ‘Legacy of the Force’ series which I hope to read sometime in the future (making my way through ‘The New Jedi Order’ series at the moment), or are we seeing a resurgence of the #notmylukeskywalker movement with Fett taking the place of the self-exiled Jedi Master because they want a one-dimensional silent killer like a video game protagonist or Terminator in Mandalorian armour?

I’m not trying to enforce enjoyment on people, somethings just aren’t someone’s cup of tea, but what I can’t understand is how people don’t want to see character development. They see him as weak, I don’t think he is, as I said in my podcast review for Chapter 4, Fett understands his limitations. He tells Fennec that to take over a Crime Family he needs muscle and brains, which she has both. That’s not weakness, in actual fact it’s a very smart move.

One thing I won’t be surprised about is that during the last three episodes, the naysayers will get to see their precious “bad ass” Fett as his group goes to war with the Pykes and whoever else may be in charge of their operation, but even then I doubt they will be happy, and they’ll pick out some obscure and ridiculous reason to complain and the mainstream media will pick up on the vocal disdain and get their clicks in like their homegrown YouTube counterparts.

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The High Republic: Jedi’s End Part 3 Comic Review

O.K. So that happened…

It’s a full on Jedi assault on the Nihil base of ‘No Space’ with Master Avar Kriss leading the charge.

And she’s brought friends, Sskeer is back on as good a form as he can be, lightsaber in hand and Keeve, sent by Sskeer to keep an eye on Avar as she makes her way through Nihil like they were bugs and she was scar windshield.

After Avar kills Zeetar, out of his mech-suit, Kwe’ve realised that Master Kriss is not exactly following the Jedi way, she confronts the Master and the two of them briefly square off against each other as Keeve tries to reason with Kriss, the Marshall of Starlight Beacon.

Her attempts are thwarted by an explosion, knocking the young Jedi unconscious, leading Avar to face off against her nemesis, Lourna Dee, who has stolen Zeetar’s mech-suit.

As Nihil ships begin to fire on The Great Hall, Avar and Lourna battle and Dee is soon out of the suit but uses the lightsaber stolen from Terec. The inexperienced Twi’lek is soon bested as Keeve wakes up to see Avar cut off the Tempest Runner’s hand and is about to strike her down.

I was completely unprepared for this issue.

Scott and the returning artist, Ario Anindito absolutely floored me with how good this issue is. Once the Jedi arrive and board ‘No Space’ the pace is unrelenting as we literally follow Avar Kriss’ path of destruction and she wipes out Nihil soldiers left, right and centre. Her only words “Take them.”

Keeve is the only person in her crew that has any chance of helping the wayward Marshall after having gone through the apparent turn of her own Master, Sskeer. And despite her trepidation’s about her place within the Force, she tries to reach Avar.

However, given everything that has happened throughout Phase One of ‘The High Republic’, what The Nihil have done to the Galaxy and the toll it has taken on Avar, it’s not hard to fully understand why she is doing what she is doing. This isn’t revenge in her eyes, it’s justice. So far, imprisonment hasn’t done the Jedi any good in making headway with The Nihil. Every victory is sullied when the Pirates come back stronger each time and more and more lives are lost.

I couldn’t pick just one image from the issue. Both of these resonated with me and really shows Avar Kriss’ descent towards the Dark Side. The battle started and she was with her team, the Jedi. Fighting together for the good of the Galaxy with Avar Kriss, Marshall of Starlight Beacon leading the way to bring light to the Outer Rim and the second, she’s alone, stood over her nemesis, Lourna Dee, whose death, Avar believes will end the scourge that is The Nihil. Having already escaped capture before, Lourna Dee is probably better off being killed, like Mace Windu once said about Palpatine, she is “too dangerous to be kept alive.”

With only two issues to go before the series goes on hiatus until October and the events of ‘The Fallen Star’ fast approaching, I’m loving the direction Scott is taking us. Anindito’s return is welcome. I liked Jeanty’s art work over the last couple of issues but Anindito is truly a master in this era of Star Wars.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 5 by Charles Soule

WARNING!!! Spoilers for The Book of Boba Fett: Chapter 2 – The Tribes of Tatooine.

O.K. Right. Deep breath. Let’s begin…

After a literal tug-of-war for the Imperial Shuttle carrying Solo to The Empire Bokka sends The Hutts to war with The Executor at the request of Qi’Ra to serve as a distraction for Leia, Lando and Chewie to get on board Vader’s flagship. Boba Fett and Valance also find a way on board whilst, after a dog-fight with Luke, Vader is sent to dispatch the heads of the Hutt Crime Families.

On board The Executor it’s a race against time between the Rebels and the Bounty Hunter duo, but when Fett seemingly fatally wounds Valance, Boba proceeds alone to find Leia, Lando and Chewie about to claim Han after taking out his guards.

An explosion stops the rescue after blowing a hole in the hull and sucking the incarcerated smuggler into space. Fett jet packs after him and retrieves his bounty leaving the Rebels to regroup and escape.

Fett delivers Solo to Jabba, who has cancelled the contract on Boba, pays him a vast amount and asks that he stick around because with the tense relationship between Jabba and the Empire and the emergence of Crimson Dawn, things are likely to get interesting.

And finally, Qi’Ra puts together a group of mercenaries, including some of The Knights of Ren, as she starts to make a play for power.

And I thought Soule crammed last issue full of story, this final issue is seriously full of amazing story moments.

Firstly, Bokka the Hutt’s full on war against The Executor. A truly foolish attempt to be honest, but as he’s under the thumb of Qi’Ra and Crimson Dawn, he does what he must and it ends up leading the Hutt Cartel into serious disarray. Now Vader has slaughtered the clan leaders, leaving Jabba to rule the roost so to speak, I wonder if that disarray has lasted until ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ where the Hutts are making an appearance.

Secondly, it’s almost heartbreaking seeing how close Leia was to saving Han. Even in the Legends novel ‘Shadows of the Empire’ the Rebels were never that close to Han. Soule’s writing really establishes how much Leia loves Han.

Thirdly, it’s really great as I read this storyline, with ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ out, getting to see two very different sides of this man. ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ has shown Fett in his pre-Sarlaac days. A merciless killer, hell-bent on finishing the job he’s on and willing to do anything it takes, whilst that determination has stuck with him post-Sarlaac, we are truly seeing a very different man coming out of that monster as he is accepted by the Tusken Raiders.

One thing I found strange is how Qi’Ra essentially takes a back-seat again in this issue after playing a major role in the earlier issues. Of course we will be seeing more of her in ‘Crimson Reign’ which I will be getting to soon (going to catch up on the main ‘Star Wars’ run first though).

Soule has to nice again proven his amazing ability to craft a Star Wars story. He consistently puts out amazing stories which are chock-a-block full of action, adventure, and the deep-seated emotion that we have come to love about the Galaxy far, far away.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 4 by Charles Soule

So, at the beginning of the script for this issue, I can imagine a little hand written note at the top saying, “Hi, I’m Charles Soule and I’m about to teach you how to cram so much story into twenty-five pages and do it without ruining the issue.”

With Vader about to bisect Han, Luke admits he’s not ready to take Vader on in combat but lures Vader out into his TIE Advanced Fighter for a spot of aerial combat. Meanwhile, General Romodi oversees the transportation of Solo to The Executor.

Boba Fett, about to liberate Solo is distracted by the arrival of Dengar and Valance (from the ‘Bounty Hunters’ series which I’ve not read). After dispatching Dengar, Fett convinces Valance to join him in getting Solo from The Empire. Lando, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO are on board the Falcon with the same plan but it soon goes to pot after Fett disables them with a Seismic Charge before the arrival of the Hutt Fleet, led by the youngest member of the Hutt Council, Bokka who is planning on getting Solo back to save face after Jabba allows The Empire to take his prize.

Oh, and Qi’Ra has something up her sleeve.

This issue really has the pacing of a speeding bullet and it’s great. Soule is ramping up to the finale of this mini-series and all the pieces are slotting into place.

We get to see Vader’s obsession with finding Luke on full display, Luke’s ability to convince his father to attack him in ship-to-ship combat just shows Vader’s desperation to getting hold of Luke. Whether it’s to try and overthrow Palpatine or allow his Master to train Luke is yet to be seen, but with Vader displeased with Palpatine’s inner-circle it’s hard to know right now.

I’m really enjoying the Hutt Council politics. Bokka is truly a pain in the you-know-what, I can honestly say that his over-eagerness is a problem and will lead the Hutts into a very precarious position, especially now that Bokka is seemingly leading them into fight with The Empire.

Overall an incredibly solid issue. Soule is really pushing us to what could be a phenomenal conclusion and I’m very much looking forward to dive into it (in a few minutes).

Come back tomorrow for my review of “War of the Bounty Hunters” Issue 2.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 3 by Charles Soule

When Darth Vader crashes the party and claims Solo as his own, he not only angers the Hutt Cartel, but insults Sly Moore who is at the auction as a representative of The Empire. He also manages to kill a number of gangsters and battles Qi’Ra who is bested by the Sith Lord. As Luke approaches ‘The Vermillion’ to help his friends, Vader senses his presence and speaks to him through the Force, telling Luke he must surrender or Vader will kill Han.

As Vader lays claim to Han, Lando, Leia and Chewie silently take on Boba Fett who, during the fight with the Wookiee uses his flamethrower but luckily Lando sacrifices his cape to put Chewie out.

At first glance, for me, this issue felt like a bit of filler, possibly tying a bunch of issues together in an attempt to extend a story for one of them, but on my second read through I quickly put an end to that opinion.

This issue has some great Easter Eggs, my favourite by far is the conversation between Vader and Qi’Ra as they fight. Vader comments on how he recognises her fighting style, and how she later mentions how she thought she knew how to handle Sith Lords, a great nod to Darth Maul and a hint to some sort of encounter between Palpatine’s former and current apprentices.

Another well placed reference is a nod to Boba Fett’s past where he has hunted Wookiees before when he shows the Wookiee hair braids on his armour to Chewbacca, an obvious ploy by Fett to antagonise Chewie even more than he already is. However (and I say this away after rewatching ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’) I would have loved to see some of Chewie’s fighting skills as shown during the Kessel escape sequence.

Whilst the issue was good fun, other than the Easter Eggs, nothing else jumped out at me in terms of memorable moments, except for this one above, where Lando tells Chewie to beat Boba Fett’s ass. Is this typical Star Wars dialogue? Not really. Was it well done? Actually yes. Whilst it came as a surprise to me, especially coming from a seasoned Star Wars author like Charles Soule, it was well placed in terms of context. Now I’m no prude, listeners to the podcast can even point out my cursing (I try not to but sometimes it skips out), but I think in terms of language, even as tame as “ass” is, it’s kind of jarring when it’s used in Star Wars media. I find it really noticeable when Finn called Hux a “murdering bastard” and Poe says “big ass door” in ‘The Last Jedi”, just because I’m not used to hearing it in Star Wars.

But dank farrik, the characters can shout kriff and karrabast to their hearts content.

Come back tomorrow for my review of “War of the Bounty Hunters” Issue 3.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 2 by Charles Soule

Boba Fett finds his way into the Crimson Dawn party after encountering an old friend. Once disguised and inside, he tasks a new ally with a job and attempts to sabotage the party as the auction draws to an end, leading him into a chance encounter with Leia, Lando and Chewie as Darth Vader makes his presence known.

The second part ties into the events of ‘Doctor Aphra’ issue 12 and gives us a look at what to expect in the upcoming issue of ‘Star Wars’, all the while showing Boba Fett’s journey and the lengths he’s willing to go to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hutt.

The Crimson Dawn party is underway with members of the various crime organisations contemplating the nature of their return. Bokka the Hutt is getting antsy and belligerent, with Jabba exerting this authority over the newest member of the Hutt Council.

Outside, Fett has just landed and is looking for a way in. After locating some stragglers he makes his move, only to be stopped by Bossk. The two former allies have a quick fight before Fett blows up a ship next to the Trandoshan, the explosion ripping the legs off the reptilian Bounty Hunter. Fett leaves him tied to a rock, telling him to deliver a message to anyone else looking to steal Han Solo, “Don’t!”

Inside the party, Fett (disguised as one of the stragglers) approaches Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros and has Aphra agree to help him to cause a distraction when he sends her a signal.

The auction heats up, Jabba wins with a bid of One Million Credits as Fett is about to set something off (I’m assuming a bomb) but he comes face to face with Leia, Lando and Chewie. All of them are surprised when Darth Vader arrives, announcing that Solo belongs to him.

As the core story of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts to intersect with the individual stories told in the separate titles, we start to see some overlap, whilst this could be seen as pretty lazy, here we can really see how intricately Charles Soule has plotted all of the characters through this story. It just happens to be that I read this after reading the latest ‘Doctor Aphra’ issue first that I ended up feeling ripped off by reading this issue. Of course after a second read through and a better perspective (I read it the first time at 1am after getting in from work) I realised that the art is drawn from a different perspective and Fett’s encounter with Aphra seems expanded here.

Seeing Fett’s commentary during the bidding war shows that either he’s very angry or has a bit of a sense of humour at this stage of his life, albeit quite cynical. I hope it’s the latter but you can never tell sometimes.

The story of the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ is still at a very early stage, with so much more to come over the next few months, with at least three more issues from each of the titles involved and a handful of One-Shot stories there is a big part of me that just can’t fathom how Soule is going to continue to weave everything together when in this issue alone we get to see how Vader’s story intersects as well as the characters from the main title.

I don’t envy Soule who has undertaken this massive task, but his ability to craft amazing stories seemingly knows no bounds and I have every bit of faith in his abilities.

Come back tomorrow for my review of “War of the Bounty Hunters” Issue 3.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 1 by Charles Soule

What the #%$¥ just happened?

I got the first part of Charles Soule’s central story to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover event, expecting something pretty cool, enjoyable and action packed like the Prelude.

What I got was a complete and utter masterclass in Star Wars comics storytelling that will be hard to top for a long time.

As if losing Han Solo wasn’t enough, Fett finds out he has a bounty on him, out there by Jabba’s after the Crime Lord received an invitation from a mysterious woman claiming that the criminal organisation, ‘Crimson Dawn’ was back and that they had Solo in their possession.

After fighting off the Bounty Hunters 4-LOM and Zuckuss (and taking 4-LOM’s head to find some information) Fett arrives at Jabba’s Palace, only to be confronted by Bib Fortuna and all of the Bounty Hunters staying at the Palace. Once Fett talks the Hunters down, Fortuna explains the invitation to Boba who goes in search of Jabba and Crimson Dawn.

Meanwhile, the Hutt leaders meet to discuss the return of Crimson Dawn and the leader of the returning Crime Syndicate is revealed (to the readers) as Qi’Ra, Han’s former flame who is using Solo to try and unite the different factions with interests in this Smuggler/Rebel leader.

Charles Soule has basically given us the comics equivalent of a mic drop. From the opening where we are introduced to the character who is revealed to be Qi’Ra and Fett’s fight against the Bounty Hunters to the showdown at Jabba’s Palace, every moment just wows the readers.

Having Crimson Dawn make a return is something that fans have been after since the release of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ after finding out that the organisation was headed by none other than Darth Maul and Qi’Ra was rising in the ranks after the death of Quinlan Vos, whatever happens next is a mystery (although I have some theories). I’m hoping that maybe we will get hints as to what happened between ‘Solo’ and the first time we see Maul after, in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ when he was found on Malachor. What I really like was the fact that Soule and Ross didn’t hide the fact that Crimson Dawn was back with the character Margo Trina, who has a brief appearance in ‘Solo’ and appears here as the courier of Solo to The Vermillion. It’s enough of a deep cut reference that it could easily be missed.

It’s not just the return of Crimson Dawn that is intriguing, the return of Qi’Ra is sure to throw a spanner in the works. Seeing as she is Han’s first love interest, if there is a meeting between her and Leia and that fact is revealed, it could cause some fireworks, especially seeing the lengths that Leia has been willing to go through to save Han so far.

Soule and Ross give us a great connection to ‘The Clone Wars’ by giving us a look at The Hutt Council, which we had only seen before in a pair of episodes which focused on Ziro the Hutt after they were freed from prison by Cad Bane. As it was ‘Clone Wars’ they of course were very stylised to look like Gangster tropes but Ross does a great job of translating them to fit in more with what we’re accustomed to seeing in live action.

Luke Ross’s art is wonderful. Every panel is a mini-work of art, I struggled to decide which I wanted to showcase in this post, but this splash page showing all of he connected characters just tops all the rest. It connects all the stories in the event in one beautiful moment.

Starting at such a high, it’s a bit worrying that the rest of the story won’t live up to this issues excellence. It’s definitely one of my favourite all time issues since Marvel started releasing them back in 2015.

Come back tomorrow for my review of “War of the Bounty Hunters” Issue 2.

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The High Republic: Jedi’s End Part 2 Comic Review

The second part of the arc slows the actions down and focus’ on the drama as the series starts to head towards is conclusion.

Back on Starlight Beacon, Avar and Keeve are frustrated by the lack of action the Council wants to take against The Nihil. Kriss, who is taking the decision incredibly personally wants to stop as nothing to finally put an end to the supposed Eye of the Nihil, Lourna Dee.

Keeve, wracked with guilt over the fate of Ceret and Terec, finally confronts her former Master, Sskeer who finally reveals that his dwindling connection to the Force is based on Trandoshan physiology, that keeping his rage bottles up has caused something in his brain to push the Force away which is why his anger keeps getting the better him. Keeve manages to convince him to join her and Avar on a secret mission to finally take down The Nihil.

We also find out what happened in the aftermath of Lourna Dee’s escape in the previous issue, with Avar stripping Sskeer of his lightsaber and essentially revoking his status as a Jedi Master after he took out a number of Nihil ships in the previous issue. It’s a decision she doesn’t take lightly and part of me suspects that her actions were fuelled by her own anger after she wasn’t strong enough to stop Dee’s escape.

The writing is, once again, top tier. Scott really let’s us get into the characters and understand where they are coming from. The level of frustration is palpable and it’s shaking them all to their core and for very different reasons which adds some great depth to the situation.

Where the writing is top tier, however, the art in places doesn’t hold up for me in the same way as Anindito’s. The change in artist a this juncture feels like a bad idea as the style change feels jarring in places. This isn’t me saying that Jeanty’s art is bad, far from it, but the change from Anindito at this late point in the series’ run feels strange.

Dialling up the drama for this issue really let’s the audience feel how the Jedi are feeling. The Nihil have gone from a band of pirates to a very genuine threat over the course of the series and now the Jedi are dealing with that threat and it’s shaking them to their very core.

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The High Republic: Jedi’s End Part 1 Comic Review

Damn!

What an issue!

With Keeve, Terec and Ceret incapacitated by the effects of The Leveller, Avar Kriss and Sskeer leave The Ataraxia and head down to help the undercover Jedi.

Sskeer is hell-bent on saving Keeve, despite Avar reminding him that connections are forbidden, as well as not to kill anyone whilst piloting his Vector, which he ends up ignoring and manages to blast away a bunch of Nihil ships.

We still don’t understand why Sskeer’s connection to the Force is diminishing, however, it has certainly affected him and changed his perspective. He’s more willing to do what just be done rather than hold back, which is a great character development, however, Avar believes that this is Sskeer continuing down the path of the Dark Side that he was led down with his connection to The Drengir.

Another incredible aspect of the issue is in the first few panels with Keeve, being affected by The Leveller as she repeats the phrase “There is no fear.” Until she eventually gives in, saying “There is only fear.” Whilst she may not be a completely devout Jedi, this really goes to show what The Leveller can do, other then the calcification that happened to Loden and started to happen to Ceret who is now in the Med-Bay of the Ataraxia.

The events of this issue do a great job of setting up the upcoming rivalry between Avar Kriss and Lourna Dee, which I hope will develop into a full blown personal war. Dee’s status in The Nihil makes her practically untouchable, but Kriss seems to have other ideas, especially at the end of this issue where she is using the Force to stop Dee’s shuttle from escaping.

Jeanty continues to throw some beautiful art out way, and manages to show us a totally new side of Sskeer, I won’t hear anyone say that we didn’t want a Jedi Trandoshan doing a superhero landing in any form of Star Wars media, and this panel of our favourite reptilian Jedi Master showcases his bad-ass side as he dives almost head first into a whole batch of Nihil grunts and performs a saber technique that would make most Jedi jealous.

Scott’s writing is really ramping it up in this issue. Lourna Dee is just so commanding and scary, his use of repetition brings the terror of The Leveller to a whole new level. Witnessing the brother Ceret and Terec losing their connection to each other, and possibly even dying (it could be a deep meditation state so watch this space) and bathe building anger in Avar Kriss. Damn it gave me some goosebumps!

This is just the first part of the new story arc, and if this is how it starts I can only wonder how it will end because there are some incredibly high stakes, especially as we move towards the third and final wave of Phase 1 of ‘The High Republic’.

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Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott Book Review (SPOILER FREE)

To celebrate the release of ‘The Rising Storm’ in paperback, here is my rereleased review for the hardback release from the end of June 2021.

There are very few books in the world (that I have read) that, when I finished them I closed the book and just sat for a moment wondering “What will I do now?”

The last time it happened what back in early 2017 when I finished Stephen King’s ‘It’. That’s how rare it is for me.

‘The Rising Storm’ was added to that very, very short list today (28th June).

Cavan Scott’s follow-up to Charles Soules amazing ‘Light of the Jedi’ is nothing short of brilliance, and Soule’s book was a hard one to beat.

Set almost a year after ‘The Great Disaster’, Scott takes us to the planet Valo where Chancellor Lina Soh is hosting The Republic Fair, an event for all systems to join together in unity and welcome new members to the growing Government body.

As ambassadors, Jedi Stellan Gios, Elzar Mann, Bell Zettifer and others are there to foster peace but Marchion Ro and the other Nihil leaders have other ideas.

The Nihil storm attacks the Republic Fair and the Jedi struggle to withstand the storm as the Galaxy finally sees the fear and devastation these Pirates want to bring to the Galaxy.

I’m sure there are many who did not envy Cavan Scott’s job of following ‘Light of the Jedi’ which so perfectly set up the first wave of books in ‘The High Republic’ but now that the era has been established, Scott has the freedom to just go nuts, and honestly, he did.

Whilst ‘Light of the Jedi’ felt grand in terms of scope, with the events spanning across the Galaxy, Scott focus is much narrower and more personal for the characters, we get to spend a lot of time with Gios, Mann and Zettifer as they navigate the events from different fronts, giving us a wide scope of the devastation the Nihil bring.

With more focus on Stellan and Elzar, both whom Soule introduced but who get to spend more time in the spotlight here and whilst we got a sense of who they are in ‘Light of the Jedi’, the characters really come to life in ‘The Rising Storm’, even more than before, both are well written and wonderfully developed and as co-leads, vastly different enough to make them both feel fresh and complement each other throughout the book.

It’s not just the Jedi who get some major development, Scott spends a fair bit of time with Marchion Ro and the Nihil Leaders, seeing how things have changed for them over the past year, of course Marchion is front and centre but the Tempest Leaders are all a huge part of the book.

To say that I was excited for ‘The Rising Storm’ is an understatement, Cavan Scott’s ongoing Marvel series, ‘The High Republic’ has been consistently fantastic and to see him get to tell a bigger story has been amazing. The book is so well paced, it speeds along but never rushes, the short chapter lengths drove the story from moment to moment, never holding back and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Of ‘Light of the Jedi’ is ‘A New Hope’ then ‘The Rising Storm’ is truly ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, in all ways. The deeply personal stories mixed with insane and intense action and a darker tone can easily draw those comparisons, but this isn’t ‘Empire’ rewritten to fit ‘The High Republic’, ‘The Rising Storm’ is its own beast entirely and one that any Star Wars fan should not miss whatsoever. I can see this book being the one that converts the naysayers or this who couldn’t get into ‘The High Republic’ into lifelong fans of the initiative, and with ‘Race to Crashpoint Tower’ by Daniel José Older out on the same day (in the US, on Thursday in the UK) which has been described as a companion piece to ‘The Rising Storm’ and Justina Ireland’s’Out of the Shadows’ out late July/Early August, I feel that my Star Wars reading card just got filled very quickly.

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Star Wars: The High Republic – The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray Book Review (SPOILER FREE)

Not going to lie.

Tears were shed during the reading of this book. And not just for the losses, but for those that survived as well.

A lot has been said about Cavan Scott’s novel ‘The Rising Storm’ and how he liked to kill people off, but he truly took the golden sceptre of character killer and handed it over to Claudia Gray for ‘The Fallen Star’. We all knew that death was coming, we’ve all seen the posters for the third wave of ‘High Republic’ content, with Starlight Beacon in flames, and the ‘Out of Print’ exclusive cover art with Starlight falling into an ocean. Essentially, what we’ve learned is sh*t is going down, literally.

In my review for ‘The Rising Storm’ I made reference to Scott’s novel being ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ of ‘The High Republic’, with is morose ending, however, if that were so, then ‘The Fallen Star’ is the ‘Revenge of the Sith’, whose ending held only a glimmer of hope for the Galaxy. I already mentioned the deaths, and there are a few.

The novel focuses on a Nihil attack against Starlight Beacon and the aftermath, told from the perspectives of a few characters who we’ve seen before through the ‘High Republic’ novels (some characters are only around for a brief moment because I suspect their side of the story will be released in another medium). The novel is tense, a race against time and a fight for survival. Chapter breaks at times feel like a chance to take a moment to catch your breath, but that doesn’t do anything to help you when the writing is so good that rather than take that opportunity you just hold your breath, dive right back in and just keep going until you are blue in the face.

Of course, this isn’t Claudia Gray’s first foray into the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Far, far from it in fact. There is a reason she has been a mainstay in the Disney-era of the publishing side. All of her books have been great, even the ones I didn’t think I would enjoy much but read because they were part of the ‘Star Wars’ canon like ‘Lost Stars’. I was far from excited for the Romeo and Juliet in space but I kicked myself for thinking that once I had started reading it. Gray perfectly crafted a whole novel focused on the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan Master/Apprentice relationship and it was a highlight of 2019, so her involvement in ‘The High Republic’ came as no surprise.

For anyone who’s on the fence or wants to wait it out for paperback, don’t! This is one of those “must-read-as-soon-as-possible” books that is completely worth every moment spent buried in its pages. And no-doubt there will be spoilers out there pretty quickly so don’t wait, don’t hold back, just go for it. Dive into the third and final wave of the first phase of ‘The High Republic’ because trust me, it’s completely and utterly worth it.

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Vision of the Future by Timothy Zahn Audiobook Review

Note: This review of of the abridged version of the audiobook.

Zahn brings the Bantam era of the Expanded Universe to a satisfying conclusion, giving us some a really great and enjoyable finale to his ‘Hand of Thrawn’ Duology.

Following on from ‘Spectre of the Past’, The New Republic is in turmoil, with different systems turning on each other with old feuds raising their heads, threatening civil war if all isn’t sorted. The only thing that could rectify the situation is locating a copy of the Caamas Document. However the document is difficult to come by, with both Talon Karrde and General Garm Bel Iblis venturing on different missions to find a copy.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia try to get away for some much needed rest and relaxation which of course doesn’t go to plan, and they end up in a skirmish which disables a number of the Falcon’s systems leads them to be saved by a group of Clones, created by Grand Admiral Thrawn using the DNA of a notorious TIE Fighter Pilot, Baron Fel who only want to be left alone. She is later approached by Eligos A’Kla and Ghent who have pieces together a message meant for General Iblis, inviting the General to negotiations for peace between The Empire and The New Republic. It becomes Leia’s mission to open negotiations with Admiral Pellaeon on board The Falcon, docked on The Chimera. However, the supposed return on Grand Admiral Thrawn throws a spanner in the works.

Pellaeon begins his own investigation, learning that Thrawn is onboard ‘The Relentless’, which is commanded by Moff Disra. Pellaeon visits Disra and the Moff becomes clearly agitated by the Admiral’s questions. He finds an excuse to leave the room which gives Pellaeon the opportunity to break into Disra’s hidden files and steal Data Cards containing all the information on Disra’s plot involving an con-man to act as Thrawn. Before he can act, Disra escapes with Major Grodin Tierce to ‘The Relentless’.

Luke, following a vision of Mara Jade in trouble, arrives on the planet Nirauan and is met by a species called Qom Jha who his Jade for two weeks, keeping her safe. Upon Luke’s arrival, the Qom Jha Agee to carry Luke, Mara and R2-D2 to a stronghold where blue skinned creatures patrol the area. The three of them get into the fortress, called ‘The Hand of Thrawn’ and locate a chamber where a clone of Grand Admiral Thrawn is gestating. After R2 becomes hysterical at finding something in the computer files they are attacked by a pair of Sentinal Droids. During the battle, the two Jedi experience a sort of vision in the Force, which causes them to open their very beings to each other, causing them to fall in love. As a way to end the fight, Mara exploits a structural weakness caused by water damage, causing the room to flood. However, this also traps them. Luke proposes to Mara who accepts and the two of them devise a plan to escape the flooding room. Once out and back on Mara’s ship, they find out that the reason R2 was getting excited is that he had located Thrawn’s copy of The Caamas Document.

General Iblis’ attempt to locate a copy of the document leads him, on board Booster Terrik’s Star Destroyer, ‘The Errant Venture’ into a trap. They attempt to escape but the hostilities end when Admiral Pellaeon, along with Talon Karrde and his companion Shada D’ukal arrive on board The Relentless and put an end to Disra’s plot, reveal Tierce to be a Clone, created by Thrawn and obtain command of the Inperial Remnant from the Thrawn imposter, allowing the peace negotiations between The New Republic and The Empire to begin in earnest.

Later, the Peace Treaty is signed on board The Chimera, with Leia, Han, Karrde, who has become a legitimate information broker between the two factions in attendance as well as Luke and Mara who join them later.

The ‘Vision of the Future’ audiobook does a good job of cramming as much as possible into the three hour run time to give the duology a satisfactory conclusion. However, as decent as it is, I couldn’t help but feel like a lot was being missed out.

Of course, the abridged audiobooks always miss portions of the book out, but in the case of this one, Han Solo appears and reappears almost at random. One minute he’s taking Leia on a vacation and they end up meeting the Baron Fel clones, the next minute he’s already gone off on an adventure with Lando whilst Leia takes the Falcon on the peace negotiations. It is of course explained briefly, however it could get quite jarring.

However, the abridgement of ‘Vision of the Future’ is much better than the previous part of this Duology, Spectre of the Past which was all over the place and very disjointed.

I think it was a great choice to have Timothy Zahn bookend the first era of the Expanded Universe with two Thrawn stories and finally bringing an end to the New Republic/Imperial war after a number of the stories in this era focused on the ongoing conflict.

Unfortunately, the abridgement has leafy me wanting a lot more, and much like ‘Spectre of the Past’ I find myself wanting to pick this book up and read the whole story.

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The High Republic: The Shadow of the Nihil Part 2 Comic Review

Things are heating up for Keeve and Terec as their cover is blown by the captive Hutt and the arrival of the supposedly dead Lourna Dee brings a whole new set of problems when she unleashed the weapon that killed Loden Greatstorm.

Did anyone really think Keeve and Terec were going to get through this undercover mission without any problems? Of course not, but luckily for them, the Jedi Starcruiser, Ataraxia is on its way to their location with reinforcements and a score to settle.

Keeve spends quite a bit of time trying to maintain her Jedi sensibilities, and luckily through circumstances her and Terec manage to keep their cover and avoid killing Myarga but when the Hutt blows their cover despite their efforts is when the proverbial hits the fan, Keeve and Terec draw their lightsabers as they are blindsided by Lourna Dee. Luckily, Terec’s brother Ceret is able to communicate all of this to Avar Kriss using the brothers’ force connection, however the connection breaks when Terec is incapacitated by Dee and reveals The Nihil super weapon, The Great Leveller, however it’s power doesn’t seem to affect Keeve or Terec, but instead begins to calicfy Ceret.

O.K. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is one tense issue. The pacing starts at a reasonable stride, taking us through the story but once the Jedi’s cover is blown then it’s all out frantic overload. Lourna Dee arrives, injures Terec, kills Myarga (no real loss but must suck for Keeve after trying so hard to keep the Hutt alive) and then all absolute hell breaks loose when The Leveller is revealed.

And on top of all of this, we’re getting so close to the answer as to why Sskeer’s connection to the Force is diminishing, but of course that’s only teased and I’m sure we’ll find out more in a later issue because that could be an interesting side-story. I have a theory that, because Trandoshan physiology allows them to regenerate limbs, his Force sensitivity could be waning as his body heals after losing an arm during the events of ‘Light of the Jedi’. However, it’s most likely something less simple and more cool.

Cavan Scott and new artist George’s Jeanty really ramp it up in this issue, and the reveal of Lourna Dee, which I’m sure is her first appearance in the comics is astounding and really stood out to me. Jeanty manages to make the Twi’lek leader seem imposing in and out of her armour and Scott writes her just as well as in the AudioDrama, ‘Tempest Runner’ which may not have been my favourite of ‘The High Republic’ stories but Lourna was well written.

Luckily I have the next issue primed and ready to go, so I don’t have to wait to dive back into the story. Although I’m not pleased we have to wait another week for the next part!

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The High Republic: The Shadow of the Nihil Part 1 Comic Review

We’re starting a new storyline hot off the heels of the defeat of The Drengir. This time, the Jedi of Starlight Beacon are taking the fight to The Nihil in the aftermath of The Republic Fair on Valo.

Speculation was rife when the Marvel solicits revealed the cover, showing Keeve Trennis dress’s in Nihil armour. Of course, this issue explains it quite well, and whilst the answer is obvious, even being a trope of the franchise, tries to make it feel fresh but doesn’t quite manage it.

However, this does start to give us a look at the inner workings of The Nihil from the other side rather than from the point of view of the pirates themselves. We also get to see the newer Tempest Leader Zeetar in his massive mech armour.

Scott starts to lead the Jedi of Starlight Beacon into dangerous territory, with Avar Kriss actively defying the will of the Jedi Council on Coruscant, and the explicit orders of Stellan Gios to not take the fight to The Nihil, despite everything the pirates have done, Gios and the Council are starting to work closer with The Republic to thwart The Nihil. Using Keeve Trennis and and one of the twins, Terec to go behind enemy lines is certainly something that Gios would in no way go for.

As the start of the storyline, Scott throws us right into it, starting with Keeve and Terec taking on newcomer Orla Jareni, a Jedi that Keeve seriously looks up to almost as much as Avar or Sskeer in their guise as The Nihil before more pirates arrive in their ships, which gives us another great look at The Nihil’s arsenal, as well as the beautifully designed Jedi Starcruiser.

I love the way that Anindito’s art goes from dark and bleak to light and hopeful when jumping between The Nihil scenes and the Starlight Beacon ones, it really shows the contrast in the two ideologies and how far down the rabbit hole Keeve and Terec have to go in order to try their hardest to fit in with their new cohorts.

Whilst I find the use of the disguise to infiltrate the enemy base as a bit overused in Star Wars at this point, it’s no fault or hinderance to Scott’s fantastic writing. In fact in his hands, I’m sure it will play out great over the rest of the story arc, especially after that cliffhanger ending with Zeeter ordering Keeve to kill the captured Myarga the Hutt.

Overall a decent start to a new story arc, and the first issue that is part of the second wave of ‘The High Republic’. The team of Cavan Scott and Ario Anindito are riding a constant high with this series and it doesn’t look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 24

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Happy Christmas Eve folks and what better way to start the day and with the Festive Din Djarin Mini-Fig!!!

Of all the festive Mini-Figs I have seen, this is one of my favourites. It’s subtle, not overly, in your face festive, and all they did was give Mando a red scarf with little silver snowflakes on (that match Festive Grogu’s sweater).

The design is so simple yet effective. The Red of the scarf really pops against the silver Beskar armour which helps it stand out even more. Of course, the rest of the detail is still there, from the details on his gauntlets to the Mudhorn signet on his pauldron this is a top-notch Mini-Fig.

Overall, this years Advent Calendar has been pretty good. There’s only been one dud build (those f@&£ing targets from Day 5) which is an improvement for me after I felt a few of 2019’s offerings were pretty dismal. The level of design and detail on the mini-builds is incredibly high and puts some older years to Shane in my opinion (I recently saw some images from the 2016 Calendar and some of those were pretty ropey). I wonder what next years Advent Calendar will bring us and what could the theme be, I’d say that with all of the upcoming Disney+ content it could be anything…

And before I sign off, Happy Holidays!

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 23

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

It’s the penultimate mini-build, and today we got Grogu’s pram.

This was a surprising build, it’s incredibly screen accurate in terms of the design which, for the small number of pieces is amazing. It’s not overly detailed but it’s design in very effective.

I am absolute in awe of today’s build, I can’t say it enough. And it doesn’t feel overtly festive so I don’t feel the need to rush off and swap the red pieces for some grey ones to put it on display with other sets from ‘The Mandalorian’ and call it a day, oh no, this one can just go and get put on display with zero alterations.

Well, I’m not going to spend this paragraph going on about what I think tomorrow’s build will be. We all know what it is, so I’ll sign off with a see you tomorrow…

See you tomorrow.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 22

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

For Day Twenty Two surprised me with the Festive Grogu Mini-Fig and bag, and if it’s not the cutest thing I’ll see this Christmas (of course other than my daughter).

This is, of course, a repaint of the original Grogu Mini-Fig, putting him into a red festive outfit, featuring teeny-tiny snowflakes and a scarf to keep him warm. The bag that he can sit in is the same that came with the ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set and can easily be added on to the Speeder Bike set from a few days ago.

Well, what can I say, I’m a sucker for Grogu, so I absolutely love this little Mini-Fig. The whole festive outfit is adorable, and so far the undeniable highlight of the Calendar this year (so far).

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I can only assume that tomorrow will be the Pram and the man Festive Mando will finish off the Calendar. I thought that Grogu would be the last one but turns out I was wrong. But I can’t imagine Lego putting the brick-built pram at the Christmas Eve build.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 21

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

For Day Twenty One Lego we got the predicted Weapons Rack for IG-11 and Mando’s weapons.

This is the third Weapons Rack of this years Advent Calendar, and it’s the o my one that, for me, is reminiscent of anything from ‘The Mandalorian’. If you take the two weapons away, it sort of (if you squint and turn your head to the side) looks like the console in the Imperial Base from ‘Chapter 15: The Believer’ where Mando takes off his helmet for the facial scan.

I really like the look of this one, it doesn’t feel like one we’ve had in years gone by and feels different with the transparent red tile on the front. The blaster rifle and Amben Phase Pulse Rifle are ones we have had before in various sets, but the Pulse Rifle build still surprises me at how effective the design is.

Well, with only three more possibilities to choose from, and given the fact we got his weapon today, I’m predicting Festive Mando for tomorrow’s set, leaving Grogu and his Oran for the last two days.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 20

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

For Day Twenty, Lego gave to me (well everyone who has the Calendar), IG-11, the Bounty Hunter Droid from the first season of ‘The Mandalorian’.

As a figure, the IG Mini-Figs all look great, the use of the Battle Droid body and the head built out of three pieces, one of which has the printed design of the IG’s ‘face’ looks really good.

However, I’m not a fan of how Lego hasn’t found a way of differentiating IG-11 from IG-88. This is the fourth IG Droid I’ve got (two from Advent Calendars and two from different sets) and they are all the same. Granted it’s a model of Droid, so they obviously do look the same, but it’s the subtle differences that make the difference. IG-11 has a pair of bandoliers in ‘Chapter One’ and later has Grogu in a bag on its torso in ‘Redemption’, and either of those pieces could have been added rather than just assuming the audience will know who’s who.

Given the fact that IG-11 doesn’t come with a weapon, and the upcoming weapons rack has a regular blaster as well as Mando’s Amben Phase Pulse Rifle, I do wonder if tomorrow we will get the Mando Mini-Fig, or at least the aforementioned weapons rack. Check back tomorrow to find out…

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 19

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Nineteen is a number that sticks out to me quite regularly, it’s all down to it being a major part of Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series, which I am a big fan of. So for some reason it never occurred on me that maybe, just maybe, on Day Nineteen we’d get a pretty major set in the Advent Calendar.

We got Slave 1. I’m a fool.

This is a very nice mini-build, for the size and the number of pieces it’s surprisingly accurate. It even includes rotating wings for flight and landing mode. The colour scheme is also very spot-on and the green and grey look striking together.

As accurate and well designed, it does feel a bit flimsy when being held, but given the small size and limited piece count it’s not a huge issue for collectors putting it on display, but it could be an issue for younger builders playing with the model. Luckily it’s easy enough to put back together.

Well now it feels like it’s anyone’s gamble when it comes to what’s behind tomorrow’s door. Only time will tell on this one.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 18

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Eighteen, it’s Happy Christmas with an Interrogation Droid today in a frightening addition to the Advent Calendar.

Nothing quite says Christmas than this little build. Originally part of the Death Star set, it’s highly detailed for such a little set made out of seven pieces, not including the two clear parts that give it the hovering effect.

In terms of detail/piece ratio this is top level and it’s a pretty easy set to throw into this years Calendar given the blink-and-you-miss-it-before-it-gets-shot moment in ‘The Sin’ during Nando’s rescue of Grogu.

I’m going to hazard a guess that we’ll get the second of the weapons racks tomorrow, I doubt we’ll get either of the exclusive Mini-Figs just yet and the pattern of sets seems to dictate an innocuous build rather than a major one.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 17

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Seventeen, and we finally get Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser after so many failed predictions that it would be next.

This is a pretty intricate little build which I found quite surprising, and the finished model looks really good and instantly recognisable which is, of course, pretty important.

So far, this is probably one of my favourite pieces from this years Calendar. Whilst just about everything so far has been great (minus the two targets on Day 5), there is something about this build that has piqued my interest. I don’t know if it’s because I like the build itself or it’s the closest thing I’ll be getting to the actual ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’ set for a while (unless that Patreon link down below gets a few clicks)…

What will be behind tomorrow’s door? Only time will tell, but we’re getting ever closer to that Grogu and Pram which I’m really looking forward to.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 16

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Sixteen, and Day Two of my ‘The Mandalorian’ rewatch, and as I write this I’m watching ‘Chapter 3 – The Sin’ in which this mini-build Droid Sled is shown.

It took me a few moments to figure out what this one was, but once I did it was pretty obvious. It’s a simple design, but with some nice details. The use of four simple pieces to make a mini Astromech is some pretty ingenious design.

I’m not going to lie, but seeing this mini-build design makes me want to put together a Mini-Fig scale version, I don’t think I’ve seen any MOC’s of the Navarro shootout from ‘The Sin’ but this would be an integral part of it, as well as a boatload of Mini-Figs.

What will tomorrow bring us? Well at this point I have no idea, most likely a mini-build, either Slave 1 or the Light Cruiser but at this point in the month it could be anything.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 15

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Fifteen and today is the day we got the Speeder Bike.

It’s not a bad build for the limited number of parts it’s made from. At this size, the piece count does limit the level of detail, however it doesn’t stop it from being a nice little build, which, with a bit of tweaking, could become a very solid version of the Speeder Bike.

I like that Lego are making a snow version of the Speeder Bike to fit the Christmas/Winter theme of the Advent Calendar, it’s a decent precursor to the Snowtrooper Battle Pack coming next month with a more detailed version of his set, but as a playable model this one ticks quite a few boxes.

But what will be behind tomorrow’s door? Well only time will tell on that one because I have no idea. Perhaps Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser to continue the Imperial themes we’ve had for the past few days.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 14

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Fourteen and I was wrong. No Speeder Bike in sight today, instead we got an Imperial Weapons Stand.

A fairly standard mini-build in the Advent Calendars, fortunately the designers changes them every year so that they don’t become a stale addition and bring a bit of variety to the collections. This one is a nice and solid build and provides a couple of blasters for the Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper.

This one was a nice surprise as it’s not on the box (and I’ve not got the inclination to peruse the pictures of all the sets online). At some point, I would like to build a diorama and utilise some of these little builds as set dressing. That’d be fun… I just need to space to accommodate one.

Would my wife let me use the whole of the bay-windowsill?

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 13

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Thirteen, as predicted, is the Imperial Scout Trooper… I’m really going to have to stop making predictions because it’s starting to get scary.

I’m surprisingly happy about this Mini-Fig, sure it’s just another trooper, but this one looks stunning. The detail on the torso and legs just pops, and I do t think it’s just down to it being a black and white design. The helmet is also really well made, it looks to me that Lego have made this one as a dual mould with the black and white elements being moulded separately and put together when ready. This technique has been used on the Imperial Stormtrooper helmets for a couple of years now and those look phenomenal and the technique has certainly worked wonders for the Scout Trooper.

So, based on the box art, I think it’s safe to say that tomorrow’s build will be the Imperial Speeder Bike, which I doubt will come with Grogu as shown on the box. I expect him to come with the hover-pram build.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Days 11 & 12

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Eleven is that good old fashioned T-65 X-Wing. Given the colour scheme it could be based on either Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing or the New Republic Pilot Carson Teva (I’m going with Teva).

Out of the three Advent Calendars I have done, this is the second X-Wing I’ve got, the last one was in the 2019 Calendar based on Poe Dameron’s black and orange version.

At first glance I wasn’t sure about this mini-build, but once I’d built it my mind was changed. It’s a nice looking little set, it’s instantly recognisable and goes really, really well with…

… Day Twelve’s TIE Fighter mini-build, based on the Galactic Empire design rather than 2018’s First Order TIE Fighter.

This one, like the X-Wing is a cracking little build. The designers has managed to make this one feel less bulky that the 2018 version. The design is simple yet effective and makes great use out of minimal pieces.

I’m guessing this one is meant to represent Moff Gideon’s Outland TIE Fighter, but the small size doesn’t allow the level of detail or play features to make the Outland version with folding wings and landing gears, but in terms of playing, who cares.

Day thirteen’s set is a mystery to me now, other than my sneaking suspicion that it could be a mini-fig, if I had to hazard a guess I’d go with the Scout Trooper, but that’s just because I doubt Lego would put its two heavy hitting mini-figs (the Christmas Din Djarin or festive Grogu) this early in the month.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 10

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Ten completes the Tusken Raider segment of this years Calendar with the snowball launching Cannon Crossbow.

It’s small and cute and doesn’t have as much of an impact as the on screen version which is used to try to bring down a giant Kraft Dragon, but this version would look really good as part of a Star Wars/Peanuts cross over. That being said, the build is nice and solid, and also well designed to be instantly recognisable. I’m also very much enjoying the addition of the snowball stud launcher.

I have a feeling I know what tomorrow’s build will be, not through spoilers or me going a day ahead, but because of the packaging which shows an open door and one of the Mini-Builds coming out, however, I’m not going to say much more in case the design is in fact misdirection.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 9

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Nine in the Lego Star Wars house, and today we get (unsurprisingly) the Gaffi Stick Holder, which looks like a small bit of desert rock where a Tusken has just rested his weapon ready to grab at a moments notice…

As I said, this one wasn’t surprising today, however, it’s a nice little bit of set dressing that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tusken Raider Camp display. In fact I’m pretty sure I’ll be displaying it with the Hut that came with the ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set that came out earlier this year. I have to admit, I think that the brick-built Gaffi Sticks look really good, especially given that they are made out of four pieces. So simple yet so incredibly effective.

I’m 99% sure that tomorrow’s offering will be the mini Crossbow Cannon set, which, like the Blaster Cannon from a few days ago, features a stud launcher, as it’s the last Tusken Raider themed build in the Calendar. However, I wouldn’t put it past them to switch it up a bit to keep us guessing.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 7

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

On the Seventh Day of Sithmas, Lego gave to me… Mythrol’s Speeder from Chapter 12 ‘The Siege’.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, I wasn’t initially sure who this Landspeeder belonged to in the series. Originally I believed it was the speeder piloted by Brian Posehn at the beginning of Chapter 1 ‘The Mandalorian’, however I quickly remembered the Landspeeder driven by Mythrol in ‘The Siege’ and quickly had a look and found out the owner.

Its a redesign of the always popular Luke Skywalker Landspeeder, with a couple of alterations to the overall look, including the colour scheme, but despite the repetition, it’s a solid little build and looks very, very nice.

I am now wondering if we will be seeing a pattern emerge and tomorrow’s surprise will be a Mini-Fig after two Mini-Builds. If so, my money would be on the Tusken Raider tomorrow, followed by the Tusken’s mounted crossbow-style cannon. However I could be barking up the wrong tree, but only time will tell…

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 8

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

And on the eighth day of Sithmas I opened up my very own fortune teller stall because I’m pretty sure I thought today would be the Tusken Raider.

It terms of the Mini-Fig, if you have seen one of these Mini-Figs in any other set then it’s no different. But in terms of the quality, it looks great, the printed details look great and the mould for the head looks spot on.

I can only guess what tomorrow will be, probably one of the Tusken Raider related sets, either the Gaffi Stick holder or the mini Cannon Crossbow. And then the other the following day… after that then who knows.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 7

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

On the Seventh Day of Sithmas, Lego gave to me… Mythrol’s Speeder from Chapter 12 ‘The Siege’.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, I wasn’t initially sure who this Landspeeder belonged to in the series. Originally I believed it was the speeder piloted by Brian Posehn at the beginning of Chapter 1 ‘The Mandalorian’, however I quickly remembered the Landspeeder driven by Mythrol in ‘The Siege’ and quickly had a look and found out the owner.

Its a redesign of the always popular Luke Skywalker Landspeeder, with a couple of alterations to the overall look, including the colour scheme, but despite the repetition, it’s a solid little build and looks very, very nice.

I am now wondering if we will be seeing a pattern emerge and tomorrow’s surprise will be a Mini-Fig after two Mini-Builds. If so, my money would be on the Tusken Raider tomorrow, followed by the Tusken’s mounted crossbow-style cannon. However I could be barking up the wrong tree, but only time will tell…

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 6

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

It’s Day Six folks and what did we get today, only another fantastic mini-build, this time it’s the Imperial Armoured Marauder from Chapter 12: ‘The Seige’.

Instantly recognisable and nicely put together, the designers have certainly put a lot of effort with this years mini-build because, like ‘The Razorcrest’ and ‘Rio Mar’s Starfighter’, the ‘Marauder’ looks absolutely spot-on. The only question I have is why they used a red 1×1 brick for the front rather than a grey one.

I’m pretty excited for this one, it’s a great design and a fun build. Now it’s time to wonder what’s coming behind tomorrow’s door.

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CollectionCorner – January 2022 Lego Reveals Part 2

We’ve got more reveals for the upcoming wave in January!!!

Whilst none of these are bank breaking additions to any collection, a highly anticipated Microfighter set, a very welcome Battle-Pack, another Battle Pack that fits with the theme of this first Wave of sets and a surprise addition to the BrickHeadz series, January is starting to possibly look a little pricier that I had originally intended.

First up, ‘The Razorcrest’ Microfighter, which has been in high demand since ‘The Mandalorian’ first hit our screens. Unfortunately, we’ve had to wait this long for it to come out, and double unfortunately, it’s not a good looking set.

Most Microfighters have been lucky in their design that they usually don’t look half-bad, some actually look pretty damned good (check out The Ghost), however, on a purely visual basis, I won’t be giving this one the time of day. It really doesn’t look that good, which is really unfortunate because when I heard this was a possible release I was raring to go for it, it’s ‘The Mandalorian’, my love for the show makes me feel obliged to buy the merch. But I think I’ll put that £10 aside and save it for a different set somewhere along the line.

On the other hand, this ‘Clone Trooper Command Station’, which looks like a miniaturised version of the Forward Command Centre from ‘Attack of the Clones’ is one that I will be shoving people out of the way to get my hands on.

Firstly, the build looks great. The console and Blaster Rack are well designed and as I said before, that console was used during the Battle of Geonosis, which is rare for a Battle-Pack to be based on an actual item from the films, mostly they are designed directly by Lego.

One thing that is different from previous Battle-Pack is that this one comes with only three Mini-Figs rather than the usual four but I’m not complaining. In fact I’m just as excited, because these will be the first Lego Clone Troopers I have ever owned and that makes me just a little excited.

The final set reveal is ‘The Defence of Hoth’ Battle Pack, featuring a diverse cast of three Rebel Soldiers, two blaster cannons with generator packs and a mini-version of the 1.4 FD P-Tower (thanks Wookieepedia for the name). As an army building set it’s pretty decent, and the builds look good, however it’s not a set that is wowing me just yet.

And finally, one last thing that snuck under the radar is the newest Star Wars BrickHeadz, Ahsoka from the final season of ‘The Clone Wars’. It’s decent looking but I’ve never been a big fan of this line, even after trying the Mandalorian and Child set a while back.

Overall, this isn’t a bad first wave of sets, though after some careful consideration, I will only be rushing out to buy the two Battle-Packs in January. I’ll certainly be avoiding ‘The Razorcrest’ Microfighter and I’m going to wait for the already well priced ‘Hoth AT-ST’ to drop in price a bit before I commit (already owning three AT-ST sets notwithstanding). In terms of the three Battle Packs I’m definitely going for the Clone Troopers and the Snowtrooper Battle Pack, but the Rebel Hoth Troopers aren’t jumping out at me right now, although that may change when I see it on the shelves.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 5

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Five… well… a pair of targets… to fire yesterday’s blaster cannon at…

In terms of play features, these are meant to be played with, with the Stormtrooper and blaster cannon from the last couple of days, which for kids is fun, you can make the Stormtrooper miss the targets with the snowballs.

I really can’t say that I’m terribly excited for these. Granted, with them being used on the box art I should have been expecting them. Fortunately these look like the only duff build in this years calendar… well, I’m hoping so anyway.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 4

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Four, as I anticipated, brings us a Blaster Cannon, including stud-launcher. The design is pretty bulky and reminds me of an old-school film camera, except with a lightsaber hilt attached to the lens and a stud launcher instead of film stock…

It’s a great addition, and accessory for yesterday’s Stormtrooper Mini-Fig, giving the Calendar a bit more playability for younger builders.

One nice, and festive, detail with this build is the studs for the stud launcher. Instead of the usual transparent red/green studs, these ones are white to emulate Snow Balls. I wonder if Stormtroopers would be more accurate with those than their regular blasters…

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 3

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Three brings us our first Mini-Fig of the festive season, an Imperial Stormtrooper. Given how early in the month we are I wasn’t anticipating one of the exclusives. However it’s nothing to scoff at, this is one of the newer Stormtroopers, which comes with the dual mounded helmet which has been in circulation for a couple of years now, but to my knowledge, hasn’t been included in an Advent Calendar until now.

It’s a pretty standard Stormtrooper mini-fig, with printed details on the front and back of the torso and on the front of the legs. The head has a generic grim looking face which is standard for the army-build Mini-Figs.

This figure doesn’t come with an accessory, which leads me to believe, based on previous calendars, that tomorrow’s item will be a gun-rack or blaster cannon. Well, we’ll be finding out in 24 hours if I’m right or not.

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Thrawn Ascendency Book 3: Lesser Evil Audiobook by Timothy Zahn Spoiler Free Review

I won’t lie folks, it’s very rare that a book affects me on a huge level. Not since ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ and I read *THAT* scene and launched that time across a room because I was so emotional.

Listening to ‘Lesser Evil’, I had some very vocal responses. Luckily I was in my car for the most part so no one heard my reactions, but they were loud, and full of excitement and wonder.

‘Thrawn Ascendency: Lesser Evil’ is the conclusion of Timothy Zahn’s second trilogy set in the canon timeline, a trilogy that has taken us into ‘The Chaos’ and allowing us the chance to learn about The Chiss Ascendency, how it is made up, how it operates and functions as well as allowing us to see Mitth’raw’nuruodo in his natural habitat rather than navigating the known Galaxy as part of The Galactic Empire.

For readers of Zahn’s first canon novel ‘Thrawn’ have a good idea where this novel will lead, however, it’s not the destination but the journey that makes a great story and this book is one heck of a journey. Not going into much detail, Zahn manages to make this story work exceptionally well and whilst Thrawn is central to the plot, he spends a considerable amount of time working in the background, allowing Zahn’s newer characters to really take control and drive the narrative forward. Part of me is hoping that this was a way of gauging the audience to see if a novel set within the Ascendency and continuing the stories of Ar’alani, Samakro and even Thalias without Thrawn as a central character. And given how great this book is then I wouldn’t be surprised if Zahn brought us some more stories from within The Chiss Ascendency in the future.

As the final part of a trilogy, Zahn really crafts an amazing story that, as I said earlier, ties up the loose threads of the precious books, and provides us with a satisfying conclusion that feels right and also leaves us wanting more, not in terms of this storyline but more from Zahn set in this world. Like ‘The High Republic’, the ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ Trilogy hasn’t relied on events from the main Star Wars narrative. Events have been mentioned, including ‘The Clone Wars’ and events from ‘Thrawn: Alliances’ but life in ‘The Chaos’ can easily distance itself from the events in ‘Lesser Space’.

The audiobook is, of course narrated by Marc Thompson, who is a master of the craft. His ability to work so many voices into the story really gives the listener the ability to easily differentiate the characters with the strange names. At first some of the choices were a bit odd to me, but now I shall forever associate Samakro with Jack Nicholson, and Thompson’s voice for Thrawn is so perfect that if Lars Mikkelsen ever chose not to voice the character again, then Thompson could easily take on the role.

‘Thrawn Ascendency: Lesser Evil’ is the kind of (audio)book that you can’t put down. As it twists and turns there is so much to absorb and when it all comes together in an explosive confrontation, the excitement levels reach higher and higher. I was very loud and very vocal during the last couple of hours listening to it, through shock, excitement and awe at the brilliance.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 2

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

Day Two continues the hot streak with Riot Mar’s starfighter. Now, I had to Google that because, even though it looked familiar I had no clue what it was other than the Bounty Hunter Starfighter from Chapter Five of ‘The Mandalorian’.

Much like yesterday’s ‘Razorcrest’ build, Riot’s Starfighter looks really good, and fairly accurate. I love the use of colour in this build, the yellow pieces really make it stand out amongst the usually grey/white/dark grey builds we quite often get.

I’m not anticipating another ship build for tomorrow, with only three left, possibly a mini-fig to shake things up.

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‘Tis The Season To Build Lego 2021 – Day 1

The run-up to Christmas has arrived and with it the all important Advent Calendar.

Once again, my Wife, the Saint, the Expert Gifter, the Gift-Giving Goddess has got me the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar and with it she has, once again, also given all of you dear readers 24 days of Blog Posts.

And starting strong, right out of the gate, on Day One we get ‘The Razorcrest’. Given the theme of this years calendar being ‘The Mandalorian’ and of course ‘The Child’, this was a given, despite it being plastered on the box.

What’s striking for me is how accurate this teeny-tiny version of Mando’s ship is. It’s no secret that sometimes these scaled down versions of ships can look a little rough given what the designers have to work with, but this looks really great and instantly recognisable. Definitely a great first day of this Lego building… I mean festive season…

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Attack of the Clones Novelisation by R. A. Salvatore Review

As listeners of The Life Debt Podcast will know from last week, I recently finished reading the ‘Attack of the Clones’ Novelisation by R. A. Salvatore which was the culmination of my week long ‘Attack of the Clones’ binge where I watched the film, listened to the soundtrack a bunch and read the book, which was the second time I ever read it and I honestly wonder why I waited so long (the first time was back in 2002) because it’s a damn good book.

Luckily for all of us, we already know the story, so I don’t need to re-tell the story of a nearly 20 year old film, but rather I’m going to give some of my impressions that I was left with whilst, and after reading the book.

First off the bat is the relationship between Jango and Boba. The film barely scratches the surface of the dynamic between this father/son relationship. For all intents and purposes they are the same person but Jango is teaching Boba to be the greatest Bounty Hunter, giving by him all of the lessons that it took Jango his whole life to learn. Whilst it’s an unorthodox relationship, there are quite a few moments where Jango muses to himself about his feelings towards Boba. The amount he cares about the boy is a huge juxtaposition to his moral code when it comes to his profession where his feelings towards others is cold and uncaring. Just look at Zam Wessell, toxic dart anyone?

The added content between Jango and Boba, even if it’s an added handful of lines within a scene from the film, really expand the relationship and goes on to really illuminate why Boba is so hell bent for revenge during ‘The Clone Wars’ when most likely Jango would have frowned on the notion because a revenge mission is likely to get you killed.

One thing about ‘Attack of the Clones’ I usually have a problem with is the love story between Anakin and Padmé, at first she looks at him just like she did when he was a child, then realises he’s grown up and more mature, then suddenly the two of them bicker in front of her boss (the Queen), then they’re full on flirting and kissing, then flirting and rolling around a field, then she pours a bucket of ice on the whole thing… it’s a roller coaster, and it always felt, to me, that something was missing… and there was, a handful of deleted scenes with Padmé’s family wher she fully realised her feelings for Anakin… and they are in the book, right where they should be and allows the whole romance plot to advance in a much more natural way. Even the scene where he confesses the slaughtering of the Tusken Raiders, the way Salvatore writes the way she reacts and processes the information feels right, in the film it just makes her look like someone who writes to and marries serial killers who are in prison with life sentences.

For me, these aspects were the two major stand-out examples of how effective the novelisation is at enhancing the cinematic experience.

It also fleshes out the Shmi storyline, giving us time to understand her family life on the Lars Homestead and her relationships with her family. Her love for Owen as her step-so, whilst incomparable to her love for Anakin, is a great addition and we are lucky to experience a touching moment between the two, as well as Cliegg and Owens reaction to finding Shmi missing and the raiding party to try and get her back, including how Cliegg lost his leg.

Following on from that, we get brief glimpses into Shmi’s time as a prisoner of the Tusken Raiders as well as Anakin’s massacre of the tribe after her death.

Much like the novelisation of ‘The Phantom Menace’ by Terry Brooks, ‘Attack of the Clones’ really enhances and elevates the film, the insight we get into the minds of the characters as well as the added character development from the deleted scenes which are reinserted by Salvatore gives ‘Attack of the Clones’ greater depth and I look forward to rewatching it with all of the added knowledge this book has given me for the story.

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Dark Horsing Around

When it was announced in September that Disney/Lucasfilm had withdrawn the Star Wars licence from IDW it came as a bit of a shock.

IDW had been publishing the popular “all ages” title ‘Star Wars Adventures’ which featured stories from across all eras of the saga and written by some pretty big names in Star Wars publishing.

Whilst I hadn’t really read much of them aside from the first collected edition until earlier this year, their popularity was huge, and some pretty groundbreaking moments, including the canonical naming of Terbus the Porg (named by members of the podcast Tatooine Sons), some of the first post-‘Rise of Skywalker’ content and the ‘Vader’s Castle’ Anthologies of Horror Stories set in the Star Wars Galaxy. Not to mention the recent ‘High Republic Adventures’ which has been insanely popular with fans of ‘The High Republic’ and brought us some new iconic characters (Buckets of Blood anyone).

However, the move to Dark Horse doesn’t spell doom for the comics. According to the official announcement over at starwars.com states that there are a handful of projects in the works, starting in Spring 2022. One of the first being a new ongoing series set during ‘The High Republic’ and another Anthology series that will tell stories across the full breadth of the franchise.

To me, this sounds like we will be getting the Dark Horse versions of both the series that IDW have been publishing, hopefully continuing the stories with the same creative teams who have been absolutely killing it on their respective titles.

And it’s not like Dark Horse hasn’t got any experience with Star Wars, until 2015 when Marvel took over the licence, Dark Horse had been publishing Star Wars comics since the early 1990’s, starting with the critically acclaimed ‘Dark Empire’ series and went on to publish various series, including the long running ‘Star Wars: Republic’ series that ran from 1999 to 2005, telling stories set during the Prequel era, including The Clone Wars, giving us some amazing characters such as Quintana Vos and Aayla Secura, both of whom were picked by George Lucas to be part of the films and ‘The Clone Wars’ series.

My only hope (see what I did there) is that Dark Horse makes their Star Wars content available on Kindle/Comixology in the UK, unlike IDW who only produced physical media (for Star Wars anyway) in this country which made getting hold of the comics a bit of a nightmare for me (it’s all about me right), involving a whole rigmarole of changing my location on two Amazon sites and paying currency exchanges through my bank in order to get an issue every month, then having to reverse it (which for some reason proved harder) if I wanted to buy anything else that month.

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The Life Debt PodCARst 2.0 Episode 2: Attack of the Clones Deep-Dive

Listen to the episode on your Podcatcher of choice or on Anchor.fm.

This week I talk about some recent news before deep-diving into a bunch of aspects of ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones’.

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#CollectionCorner – January 2022 Lego Reveals

I always like this time of year, just waiting to see who I need to hit-up for Amazon vouchers for Christmas so I can splurge on the new Lego wave.

In the last few days, we’ve gotten confirmation on at least two sets coming out on 1st January and so far it’ll be a cheap one for me, with one Battle Pack and a mid-sized set revealed.

According to the always reputable JediJacPenquin site, there are four Battle Pack’s coming out in January, seeing as we’ve not had any Battle Packs since early 2020 (the Mandalorian Battle Pack and Sith Speeder Battle Pack) I wouldn’t be surprised if that rumour is true, however, we have only had one confirmed so far, the ‘Snowfrooper Battle Pack’.

Out of the two reveals, this one is the one I’ll be after. So far in my whole collection I only have two Snowtroopers that came with the #CollectionCorner: Lego AT-AT Set Review, and I’ll not just be getting it for them. The new design for the E-Web Blaster Canon looks really good with what looks like a new missile launcher design which has coloured me very intrigued. The terrain build looks very good and provides a nice detail for display, and of course the Speeder Bike, which looks to be a repack of the same vehicle from the AT-AT set I mentioned earlier.

To go with the Speeder Bike we are also getting a new design for the Scout Trooper, giving the figure more of a Hoth look, which is a nice detail rather than just getting a regular version from ‘Return of the Jedi’, even though we never see one onscreen on Hoth.

However, the price for this Battle Pack is pretty high at £17.99. In the past, these sets have been priced at £12.99 which has always, for me, been an acceptable price for the small build and the four Mini-Figs but the increased price for what we get feels a bit too steep. But I do still really like the look of this set.

The second set, the ‘Hoth AT-ST’ is a 586 piece set for the decent price of £44.99 which is a bit of a steal when looking that the price/piece ratio.

But what sets this apart from the recent versions of the AT-ST?

Well, the design is more reminiscent for the version of the AT-ST that we see briefly in the Battle of Hoth from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ which has a longer cockpit than the version we see in ‘Return of the Jedi’ and this set is no different.

To sweeten the deal, we get a small buildable Probe Droid as part of this set as well the Chewie, Rebel Hoth Trooper and AT-ST Driver Mini-Figs

The more elongated cockpit seems to be quite screen accurate (based on the few seconds of footage), however, seeing as we only see it from the side I can’t be 100% sure of exactly how accurate it is. However, thanks to a mystery post on Reddit we can see some images of the original model used in ‘Empire’ and damn, is this Lego set accurate.

At the start of this post, I was pretty much going to avoid buying either of these, but having taken more time to look at the images, I am now having to convince myself not to buy both on the day of release. The Battle Pack price, as I said earlier just seems a bit high for what we get and I already have three AT-ST sets (‘Rogue One’/‘The Last Jedi’/‘The Mandalorian’ and I don’t feel I can quite justify a fourth one.

I’m hoping we get some more Lego announcements soon, I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the Battle Packs will be and what the rumoured Razorcrest Microfighter will be like.

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The Edge of Balance Volume One by Shima Shinya and Justina Ireland

‘The High Republic’ branches out into an new genre for its first Manga, written by Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya that tells a new story with a cast of new characters and some familiar villains.

Set on the planet Banchi and following the adventures of Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi in the aftermath of the events of ‘Light of the Jedi’ as she works as a part of a team who helps relocate refugees after the Great Hyperspace Disaster.

However, things on Banchi aren’t as it seems, when farmers start falling ill with a bizarre ailment, Lily, her Padawan, Keerin and a group of Younglings venture into the local forest and find a group of Drengir. The Jedi defeat the monsters but the afflicted villagers don’t wake up whilst in the care of the local Doctor (who may also be a member of The Nihil).

The story is short, and focus’ mainly on Lily as she deals with the issues around the developing settlement on Banchi whilst training the Younglings, all the while, focusing on her own development as a Jedi Knight with the guidance of her former Master, Arkoff and Stellan Gios.

The story, feels very drawn out despite its small size. The whole story is illustrated using a typical manga style, I’m hoping that is is more to do with it being the first book in a potential ongoing series and as the story progresses it the next volume, it will hopefully branch out in a new direction.

With the exception of Stellan Gios, the characters are all new for this part and generally the all feel like they belong in Star Wars. I’m even really pleased that Arkoff, another Wookie Master is part of the Hedi Order, maybe he knows Burryaga.

The book also contains a mini-story featuring Lily and her group venturing into the forest and finding a cave, in which a monstrous creature wakes up but falls to its death n the cave.

With a second part coming out next May, I wonder if it will be a part of Phase 3 in which it would probably be the final part of the ‘Light of the Jedi’ era of ‘The High Republic’.

Overall, I’ve not been disappointed by this Manga, and as well as blitzing this book and looking up some Anime/Manga with similar sensibilities I may be tempted to try and audition for the newly ‘Quiet Place’ film.

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The Life Debt PodCARst 2.0 Episode 1: Bit of a Sh*t Couple of Weeks

The Life Debt Podcast returns this week and what a week to return on.

Listen to the episode on your Podcatcher of choice or on Anchor.fm.

Directors not directing anymore (on Star Wars at least), teased footage/Sneak Peeks not happening and a giant freaking Lego Set that makes a Mini-Fig look like an ant (well not really but I’m going for dramatic).

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Disappointment+ Day

On 1st November, fandom got to see the first look at the upcoming series ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, as the excitement started to settle, a realisation occurred, Disney+ Day is just under two weeks away…

We were already promised ‘Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett’, a documentary all about the most famous Bounty Hunter in the Galaxy, but we were also promised ‘Sneak Peeks’ at the upcoming Star Wars, Disney, Marvel, Pixar and the rest of the Disney+ repertoire.

And if they were dropping that trailer a week before the festivities then just imagine what Disney+ would be throwing our way…

The festivities began at 6 AM Pacific Time, or 2 PM in the UK. Unfortunately that meant I would be at work, unable to keep up with things as they happened, but I would only be missing two hours and what was the likelihood that I’d miss out on all that Star Wars content that would inevitably be dropping…

So at just after 4 PM I finished work and quickly logged onto Twitter, anticipating something… and what we got was less than two minutes of Ewan McGregor and Deborah Chow saying a handful of sentences about the fans wanting Obi-Wan to come back, how it was going to be a hard time to be a Jedi and that Hayden Christensen was returning to play Darth Vader. What was great about it was seeing a handful of concept art images and a brief look at Hayden training with a lightsaber.

It was a shame that, not only had this video leaked the day before, there were a whole lot of people proclaiming that this was the Sizzle Reel shown at the Disney Investors Day last year to the investors whilst us regular folks saw a black screen.

On top of that, we had all those scoopers saying we were getting trailers for ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’, ‘The Bad Batch Season 2’, a Sizzle for ‘Andor’ and a Behind-the-Scenes of ‘The Mandalorian Season 3’ as well as an official announcement of the rumoured animated Darth Maul series.

After the hour-long drive home from work I checked back in… nothing new to speak of, but the Marvel section of the day was underway and we were getting announcements and trailers all over the place. Pixar got some announcements out there as well as a bunch of Disney films mentioned. But Star Wars seemed to be lacking.

And the fandom was outraged.

On the one hand, Disney+ delivered what they said on the Press Release, the Boba Fett documentary and a Sneak Peek at an upcoming project… just one though… and it wasn’t even a new featurette, just taken from the archives, dusted off and passed off as something new.

On the other hand, why were Disney and Lucasfilm not taking this opportunity to generate some hype, show the world what was coming after a pretty quiet year in terms of content (yes we got ‘The Bad Batch’ but was that really enough for all of us).

I’ve seen many fans expressing their disappointment. One even went on to say that, as someone who pays for the service, felt let down because surely, as part of their big “Thank You” to the fans who signed up over the past two years they would give us more to be excited for moving into their third year. A fair comment, did we, as Star Wars fans get our money’s worth? Absolutely not.

But another part of me wonders if we built ourselves up only to be let down by Lucasfilm’s really poor marketing strategies. They waited until six weeks before it airs to put the trailer of for ‘The Book of Boba Fett’. Is that really long enough to generate the level of hype this kind of series would have? Why couldn’t we have already had one trailer at the end of ‘The Bad Batch’ and then get a second one now? Build the hype folks, it’s what keeps us keen.

It feels like the marketing department has gotten a template and just stick to it for every project. We’ve seen it with the films (except Solo: A Star Wars Story which was marketed so poorly no one knew it was coming out). Teaser in April, Behind the Scenes Sizzle in the Summer and then a Trailer at a big sporting event at least three months before the film is released. Like clockwork. Now it’s a six week window for streaming shows. Hardly hype building for Disney+ shows is it?

Also, the marketing strategy always focus’ on the next project after one has been released. Usually this wasn’t a problem with the films, except for ‘Solo’ which got three months of promotion rather than the usual eight months from the first trailer to the release of the film that was coming that year. And look what happened to ‘Solo’, no one knew about it and it was considered a Box Office flop. Does this strategy mean that Disney+ content will be given a handful of week to build hype between each series release? With five different projects coming out next year will there be any crossover? Will the trailer for the next project launch the week after the last one ends?

Now, I’m not a marketing person, however, this marketing strategy really feels absurd. Surely Disney wants to build as much hype around all of their content but Lucasfilm seems to want to solely rely on the fan base devouring the content rather than generate hype outside of the fans. The more casual viewers you get on board the higher the viewing numbers… right.

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And Another One Bites the Dust…

Josh Trank…

James Mangold…

Colin Trevorrow…

Patty Jenkins…

What do they all have in common?

They got Star Wars cancelled. They all had a film in development and they either got let go (Trank and Trevorrow), it never came to fruition (Mangold) or it got put into the “indefinitely postponed” camp (Jenkins).

But why does this keep on happening? In the case of Trank, the rumours of his behaviour on set of the critically destroyed ‘Fantastic Four’ basically led to him being shown the door. Trevorrow’s departure was more of a shocker, and the reason still isn’t quite clear, but some rumours that have floated around suggest he couldn’t quite figure out how to incorporate the loss of Carrie Fisher into his story.

Mangold never even had an official announcement, however, the rumours that he was working on a ‘Boba Fett’ film came out in the run-up to the release of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and the sources seemed pretty reliable, but the Box-Office failure of ‘Solo’ led to a number of unannounced projects being shut down.

And now, this article from the Hollywood Reporter has announced that the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman 1 & 2) helmed ‘Rogue Squadron’ that was announced last December at the big Disney Showcase has been removed from the Production Schedule due to Jenkins’ other commitments. The recently announced ‘Wonder Woman 3’ may have something to do with that, or the ‘Cleopatra’ film that would star Gal Gadot in the title role (most likely WW3).

What I want to know is, given the pretty nightmarish track record of feature film announcements that has plagued Star Wars and Lucasfilm, when will they learn to keep their mouths shut until something is an actual sure thing? Surely it’s be cheaper for them in the long run, how much got spent on that two minute video of Patty Jenkins talking about ‘Rogue Squadron’ for that showcase last year? Could have saved a pretty penny there.

Also, all of these cancellations/postponements just look bad for the reputation of Lucasfilm. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Disney higher-ups stepped in to do some sort of damage control at some point. So far, out of their five Star Wars films that got released, only one managed to get through the whole process of announcement to release with no problems, and that was ‘The Last Jedi’, which the vocal minorities can’t seem to go a day without spewing hate for on the internet. The rest suffered from delays due to injury, extensive reshoots with a new director, directors getting fired two-thirds of the way through production and then a drastic change of director. And this curse has moved over to the in-production ‘Indiana Jones 5’ with injuries and now a death of a crew member.

Before I go on, this isn’t me bashing Lucasfilm, I’m not calling for the head of Kathy Kennedy (I think she’s doing a great job but keeps getting dealt lousy cards), but you have to wonder what is actually going on over there at Lucasfilm that they keep running into problems?

What pulled Patty Jenkins away from the already announced and in-development ‘Rogue Squadron’? The third Wonder Woman film couldn’t wait a year? Is the well so tempting she just had to run back to it? Or did DC just pony up an even bigger boatload of cash to pull her from the commitment she made to Lucasfilm, for what is probably a pretty hefty boatload of cash.

Of course there are rumours of an unannounced Star Wars film that is already in development that must also be pretty far along in development that can take the now abandoned ‘Rogue Squadron’ release date of 22nd December 2023 so perhaps we won’t be waiting for what could be the soon-to-be-cancelled Taika Waititi film or the could be removed-from-development Kevin Feige in 2025 or 2027.

At this point, should Lucasfilm just put the films on hold indefinitely and focus on the Disney+ content. With two incredibly successful seasons of ‘The Mandalorian’ and the hotly anticipated ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ and ‘Andor’ on the way in the next year and the rest of the series’ that were announced last year, surely they have enough to keep even he most negative of fans happy for a few years?

And don’t even get me started on the Benioff and Weiss debacle or the Rian Johnson trilogy that no one has spoke about for years…

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Star Wars Visions: Ronin – A Visions Novel by Emma Mieko Candon Audiobook Spoiler Free Review

I’m just going to say it, ‘Ronin’ is a beautiful (audio)book.

Set in an alternate timeline as part of the ‘Star Wars: Visions’ series, ‘Ronin’ adapts the first ‘Visions’ short, ‘The Duel’ and expands on the story, giving us a continuation of the Ronin’s adventure as well as backstory that really she’d light on the version of the Galaxy that the short presented us.

Ronin, along with his trusted Astromech Droid, Bee-Five wander the Galaxy. The Sith is haunted by ghosts of his past and gets drawn into a quest with a wonderful cast of characters that are each a mystery that we get to unravel as the story moves along.

Candon weaves a wonderfully rich tapestry, giving us a great amount of information to let us understand this Galaxy, all the while it feels incredibly Star Wars but at the same time it’s vastly different. The whole (audio)book feels like it’s been lifted from ‘The Duel’ short film, as the story unfolded I could see it in my head, I even pictured it in black and white, of course with the hints of colour like the short film.

There is one aspect of the book that feels inherently Star Wars, and it slowly develops throughout the story until, for the reader/listener as well as for Ronin, and that is the sense of found family. We see it throughout all aspects of Star Wars, from ‘A New Hope’ all the way to ‘The Mandalorian’, and in ‘Ronin’ it’s right there.

The crew he finds himself with, that he initially didn’t want anything to do with slowly endear themselves to him, and even more slowly for some, him to them.

What felt really good about this (audio)book is that everything felt fresh and new, it’s easy to anticipate the outcomes of some of the Star Wars novels. I’m not saying that to gloat or saying it’s a bad thing, but ‘Ronin’ was the one (audio)book where the majority of those predictions were completely off base…

…and that was wonderfully refreshing.

My one regret in terms of this novel is that I went down the audiobook route, and whilst Joel de la Fuente does a great job as narrator but the novel itself (I have seen online) has wonderful artwork inside that at some point I will have to pick up a physical copy.

I have previously gripes about the music used in the Star Wars audiobooks, specifically the ones set around the Sequel Trilogy using music from the Prequels, but I never felt the music out of place or distracting.

Overall, ‘Ronin’ could very well be the most beautiful Star Wars novel around. Candon weaves a fantastically rich tapestry that feels like it’s been ripped from an Akira Kurosawa film, only in an alternate universe where Kurosawa invented the lightsaber years before George Lucas had the thought. It’s one I will be revisiting again I’m sure and I’m already looking forward to it.

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The Book of Boba Fett Trailer Thoughts

The hype train for ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ has left the station folks, thanks to that minute and a half of wonderful Temura Morrison filled content.

When it comes to trailers for Star Wars content, at this point it’s not a way to get me hyped, I can do that all on my own, rather, it’s more about just getting to see something, even a glimpse of footage and maybe get an idea of the feel of the film/series.

Given Boba’s part in ‘The Mandalorian’ and how the character was shown, I was already on the hype train, I love how, in his time post-Jedi in the Tatooine desert has altered his perspective. He doesn’t come across as that mysterious Bounty Hunter now, rather a more matured and, despite his brutal fighting abilities, more likely to try and talk you down rather than disintegrate first and ask questions later.

And that’s definitely carried over into this trailer. As Boba says “I intend to rule with respect.” The team-up of Favreau, Filoni and Rodriguez worked wonders in ‘The Mandalorian’ when the latter helmed the reintroduction of Fett in ‘The Tragedy’ and showed us how great Fett can be in this new era of Star Wars storytelling.

Having been a fan of Robert Rodriguez’s films for quite a while (in fact a Special Feature on the ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ DVD was what convinced me to become a filmmaker), seeing his name on any Star Wars title was exciting, let alone him getting his own series. Knowing his own passion for film, I can only imagine what has influenced this series.

One such possible influence, in my opinion, is ‘The Godfather’. The scene where Fett and Shand are at the table with Jabba the Hutt’s former Captains is reminiscent of the sit-down meeting of the different families from that cinematic masterpiece.

Based on his previous body of work, I have no fear that Rodriguez will handle the action brilliantly, we’ve already seen what he can do with the character in action, taking the short fight description in the script for ‘The Tragedy’ and creating a battle of epic scale. It’s the quieter moments I’m now looking forward to. The aforementioned sit-down scene looks to be a pretty major moment for Fett and Shand, who at no point in the Trailer is far fromBoba’s side. I really get the feeling that, despite her being indebted to Boba, their relationship is and will continue to be based on mutual respect. This isn’t going to be a Jabba/Bib Fortuna style relationship. Whilst he will be the crime lord, she will command just as much respect.

The classic, gangster film vibe of the trailer will hopefully be a mainstay for the series. It seems like it will continue the trend that the two ‘A Star Wars Story’ started, with ‘Rogue One’ being a war film and ‘Solo’ being a heist film, ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ could take the mantle of being the full on gangster film, taking on elements of ‘The Godfather’ and even have a modern feel, perhaps like ‘The Sopranos’ which more modern audiences may feel more at home with.

However the series plays out, the Trailer has certainly piqued my interest more than it already was, and with the launch coming up fast at the end of December I doubt we will be seeing much more in terms of footage, maybe a few extra minutes on Disney+ Day, but the rumours for what we’re getting that day (other than the Boba Fett Featurette) are pointing a bit further ahead in the upcoming schedule when it comes to that.

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The High Republic: Heart of the Drengir Part 3 Review

BOOM!

The explosive final part of ‘Heart of the Drengir’ has landed (a couple of months ago) and boy did it not disappoint!

The battle between the Jedi/Hutt Alliance and The Drengir reaches its peak just as Keeve and Orla arrive on Mulita. Avar Kriss has gone on alone to fight the lead Drengir and as Keeve find her, she has become assimilated by the living plant.

With the rest of the Jedi with her, they reach out through the Force and save Avar, who using her own special power of connecting the Jedi manages to bind The lead Drengir in a Force bubble, stopping it from once again spreading its evil.

The Hutts, unhappy with this turn of events initially try to break the barrier and kill The Drengir but are turned away, vowing revenge against the Jedi.

The celebration is cut short however, when Maru informs the gathered Jedi that The Nihil has attacked The Republic Fair on Valo.

This issue is stunning. The art just leaps from the page, Anindito’s ability to convey so much going on is phenomenal, and in this issue alone are three panels that stand out so well that they are worth the price of admission alone.

I’m a bit gutted however that I read this completely out of sequence, having taken a couple of months off, I read this after ‘Out of the Shadows’, which unfortunately spoilt the defeat of The Drengir, so I knew what was coming on a way, as well as the highly publicised splash page of the two forces engaging in battle. That being said, I’m thankful that the story itself didn’t get spoilt because Cavan Scott really did a great job with the writing here.

I am surprised however that The Drengir threat has been thwarted so early in ‘The High Republic’ story. We are only in the midst of Phase One, Wave Two, with Wave Three arriving in January and the build up of these villains felt like they would be there for the long run, however I get the feeling that moving forward, the writers are focusing heavily on what’s left of The Nihil. And of course, The Drengir aren’t actually dead, the lead Murder Plant is now in a stasis field onboard Starlight Beacon so something could release it back into the Galaxy (maybe something to do with that poster released a week-or-so ago).

I’m really pleased that this story wasn’t dream out, I’m a sucker for huge battles that span hours/pages but Scott and Anindito really do a great job of telling the story and not getting caught up in the glory of battle. It’s like the Kenobi/Maul fight in ‘Twin Suns’. Everyone wanted the ultimate showdown between the two rivals but what we actually got was perfect and I can honestly say that this issue is just that, a perfect end to this storyline.

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The High Republic: Heart of the Drengir Part 2 Review

Keeve Trennis is stuck inside the shared consciousness of The Drengir’s Root-Mind, lost and having visions of those she has met previously she encounters a Sith Lord who attacks her in the presence of four statues (which I’m 100% sure are the ones from ‘Into the Dark’). She wakes up from her vision and tries to talk with Maru who is in contact with Avar Kriss who is requesting as many Jedi as possible to meet in Wild Space to attack the homeworld of The Drengir. Keeve wants to go but Maru sends her to an outpost to stop a Nihil attack.

After arriving and getting distracted by glimpses of the Sith Lord from her vision, the Nihil are stopped, Keeve is aided by another Jedi, who Keeve also saw on the vision, although, unlike the Sith she is real. This is our introduction to Orla Jenari, who wields a double lightsaber which is the same model as Dark Rey from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ that flips open.

Once the two workers from the outpost are safe and the Nihil apprehended, Keeve experiences a vision where The Drengir Root-Mind speaks to her, telling her that the Jedi have lost.

I get the feeling that this issue is that part of the story that starts setting things up for later down the line with the introductions of the Sith Lord within the Root-Mind and Orla Jenari. Her ominous vision at the end also hints at something big happening but this isn’t the place for it to be told (the issue).

I really enjoyed Keeve in this issue, we get to see a flawed side to her which we haven’t really seen before. She’s distracted by what she saw in the Root-Mind and isn’t able to shake the Darkness that The Drengir have left in both her mind but in the Galaxy as she has become connected to them in a way that no one else is.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Scott takes this storyline. We’ve got Keeve and Orla one on side of the story and the whole battle with The Drengir happening elsewhere, which according to Keeve’s vision, isn’t going to end well for the Jedi, although I’m assuming that this is just The Drengir Root-Mind tricking her.

I’m looking forward to seeing more or this mysterious new Jedi, Orla, who we were originally introduced to in early promotional art back when we first learned about ‘The High Republic’, and this new Sith who may be the key to the Dark Side connection of The Drengir. Perhaps he has something to do with those statutes that were filled with Dark Side energy. I hope we learn more about them too.

Another solid issue with great writing and art. We’re being left with more questions and here I am looking forward to learning some answers soon, as I’ve got two more issues loaded on my Kindle App to dive into.

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Bad Batching Episode 14: Return to Kamino/Kamino Lost

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another two episodes of ‘The Bad Batch’ with ‘Return to Kamino’ and ‘Kamino Lost’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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Tempest Runner by Cavan Scott Audio-Drama Review

Set between ‘The Rising Storm’ and ‘Out of the Shadows’, ‘Tempest Runner’ switches the main perspective from the Jedi and Republic to The Nihil, specifically the Tempest Runner, Lourna Dee.

Much like ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’, Cavan Scott’s previous Audio-Drama, the narrative flits between the current storyline, here, focusing on the capture of Dee, her time imprisoned on the Republic Correctional Ship, The Restitution and moments from her past, all the way from her time on Aaloth, a Twi’lek colony, her time in a Zygerrian Slave Camp and the rescue by Master Oppo Rancicis and his Padawan. Dee then enters a Republic Academy but soon learns she’s not one to take orders and escapes, eventually joining The Nihil as part of Pan Eyta’s Storm and quickly becomes Tempest Runner after meeting Asgar Ro.

I have to admit, I really struggled with this one. The first half felt like it dragged for me. I was really hoping for a bit more of an original story instead of the riches to rags to leader of a gang of Space Pirates than we got.

The second half, once Dee is a member of The Nihil (in the flashbacks) and has gotten over the first hurdles of being incarcerated (her first trip to the med-bay) does the story pick up steam.

Lourna is desperately trying to keep her identity hidden in prison, going by the name Sal, there are only a handful of people onboard who know her true identity, and one of them inevitably betrays her to the Dowatun Pan Eyta, the former Tempest Runner who is believed to be dead, but instead is pretty messed up and constantly on deaths door, his need for revenge against Lourna is the one thing keeping him going.

The climactic battle makes most prison riot stories look tame, with Lourna leading a group of prisoners and guards against Eyta’s forces and eventually killing her former ally as well as taking control of The Restitution and taking it back to Nihil space where the remnants of the Pirate hoard are gathering give the story a decent yet predictable conclusion.

The one thing that I kept thinking as I listened to this was that I wasn’t really sure if I wanted the back story of any of The Nihil, or at least not a whole origin story, rather I wanted them to be like The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’, an absolute, a mystery. Instead, Scott has turned one of the most bad ass villains in Star Wars literature into a cliché. Her story has been told in many times and it, for me at least has made Lourna Dee at least, less threatening, which is a real shame because I absolutely loved her in ‘Light of the Jedi’ and ‘The Rising Storm’.

One other (and the last) gripe I have is the structure. This is the third Star Wars audio-drama and we’ve had in as many years and all three have followed the same structure, which has worked but it’s getting old now. Having recently listened to the Dirk Miggs produced ‘The Sandman: Act 1’(which is absolutely phenomenal), I feel like the publishers/producers are holding the authors back from going all out, giving them a template that has worked previously and not allowing them to stretch their wings.

Despite my gripes, I think that the cast were well chosen and all performed amazingly, I really love how Jessica Almasy used a French accent for Lourna, who as a Twi’lek has been established that the majority of the species speak with one, even Hera in times of stress or when necessary in ‘Rebels’.

I’m gutted it didn’t enjoy ‘Tempest Runner’ more, and I suppose it was only a matter of time for a ‘High Republic’ story to fall short of the mark for me. I’m hoping this is just a blip on the radar, and maybe on future listens I will enjoy it more but right now I’m still disappointed.

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#CollectionCorner: Lego Imperial Armoured Marauder

In my house, when it comes to buying stuff we have a rule, “If you’re not sure then leave it.” This rule usually works out for us and the feeling of buyers regret quite a bit.

However, with this set I went back and forth with myself on whether or not I really wanted it. Even after buying it (before building it) I really wasn’t sure I had done the right thing…

The box contains the instructions and four bags of pieces (for the size and price I was expecting three bags). The set doesn’t require stickers either, but comes with a small amount of printed pieces.

The first bag constructs the core of the vehicle, it’s got very little in the way of details but that’s pretty much the case for a lot of sets.

The first bag also gives us the two new Mini-Figs that are exclusive to this set, the Season Two version of Greef Karga complete with blaster pistol and the newly introduced Artillery Stormtrooper, with new yellow printing and a yellow Paulson that also comes with a brick-built backpack and brick-built grenade launcher as seen in ‘The Mandalorian’.

The Second Bag adds the details for the sides of the rear section of the Marauder, both sides are identical and include rotating cannons and hinged flaps that open and close on storage areas.

The Third Bag essentially doubles the length of the vehicle by adding front compartment which also includes the cockpit which opens at an angle and includes printed parts as the controls. The side of the cockpit also has two Stud Launchers.

This Bag also includes the final two Mini-Figs, the Stormtroopers. Each includes a Blaster Rifle and feature the double sided printing on the torso and the dual moulded helmets we’ve been privy to for the past few years.

The build is finished with Bag Four, which adds the roof, side doors, rear door and the rotating cannon on top, which features two more Stud Launchers.

The finished build looks phenomenal. The level of detail is just fantastic. I really love the little details that just add to the look of the build. The Stud Launchers feel a bit too bulky for the rear cannon, but work better than a pair of missile launchers which would be far too long. However, this isn’t one of those 18+ builds that have been coming out recently and is instead aimed at a younger audience so the play features add the fun.

My biggest gripe here is the Mini-Fig selection. Firstly, the Artillery Stormtrooper isn’t even from the episode which features the Marauder and would probably feel better in the recent “Boba Fett’s Starship’ set. The Stormtroopers do fit with the set but one or both could have been swapped for a Scout Trooper. However, there are two characters that could have been included, Cara Dune and Mythrol. I’m not getting political here, but, seeing as Cara Dune is the one who actually drives the vehicle, a Season 2 Mini-Fig could have been included (but I’m sure that Lego has followed Hasbro’s example and has stopped production of her Mini-Fig after the whole Gina Carano debacle earlier this year). That being said, however, what did Horatio Sanz do to be neglected here?

For a price-tag of £34.99, I was expecting a lot less from this set, but with 478 pieces and four Mini-Figs, two of which are new prints, the price-per-piece ratio is fantastic for a Star Wars set. There’s great playability here and it’s a nice looking set to display (even with the bulky Stud Launchers).

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#CollectionCorner: Lego The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge

The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge was a set I knew I had to get from its announcement. The Armourer is such a great character and the inclusion of Paz Vizsla just made it even more desirable.

At the RRP of £27.99, for 258 pieces and three Mini-Figs, two of which are new for this set, it’s not a price to scoff at really. It all comes in three numbered bags, with a long piece out of the bags, the instructions and the sticker sheet.

The first bag builds the forge itself, which looks really cool on its own. The details of the forge itself are made through a group of stickers that run around the top edge, the middle has eight small blue flame pieces that make the forge look absolutely roasting. The Armourer also gets a piece of equipment (essentially a box on a stick) in which to melt the block of Beskar.

The first Bag gives us two of the three Mini-Figs, Mando himself and The Armourer. I’m sure this is the same version of Mando that came with ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ but I could be wrong. He comes with the buildable Amber Phase Pulse Blaster and a blaster pistol, there is one addition I should note, which is the jet pack he is given at the end of Season One. The Armourer is a wholly brand new Mini-Fig and unless she is featured in Season 3 of the show, I can’t see her being released in any other sets. The printed details on the torso look great, her fluffy collar is even depicted on the back. She domes with a hammer and some buildable tongs as accessories that can be clipped to the side of the forge for storage. The helmet is a brand new mould and is well detailed, including the Zabrak style horns.

The second Bag builds the doorway into the forge, it includes a shelf on which an unpainted Mandalorian helmet sits on a shelf along with a small blade-like item. A sweeping brush is also clipped to the wall. It’s good to see that the Covert takes pride in their hideouts cleanliness. A pair of stickers featuring the Mythosaur skull emblem are above the door, one on each side, and I like how the designers have almost Lego-fied it to make it fit with the aesthetic.

Bag 2 also concludes the Mini-Fig selection with Paz Vizsla. It’s nice to get a different looking Mandalorian, the added armour and the buildable backpack and heavy blaster really makes this figure feel unique.

The Third Bag build the final part of The Armourer’s Forge, this part has a great amount of detail for such a small area. Firstly the tool cabinet is an interesting build that allows the cub board to open. The boxes at the bag also contain added accessories, in this case a blaster pistol, a pair of Thermal Detonators and some blocks of Beskar. The computer had a printed blue holograph of Mandalorian armour about to be made by The Armourer and the device that helps do something to the blocks of Beskar.

When put all together, ‘The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge’ is a nice looking set. It’s got some great details that are great for fans of the show and the Mini-Fig selection is well chosen.

If I had one gripe it’s the overall shape of the build. The angles at which the three sections are positioned major it quite awkward to display on a shelf, but that design also allows all of the details to be on show rather than hidden away at a ninety degree angle, so either way I’d have a gripe about it (there’s just no pleasing some people), and they could have given Mando and Vizsla a small knife each to help reenact their tussle in Chapter 3.

Overall, the price-to-piece ratio and the Mini-Fig selection is great. It’s got a lot of playability for such a small set and has decent display value. In terms of the screen accuracy, the designers did a great job of taking memorable parts of the set and transferring them into this set. There isn’t one part of the design that doesn’t feel out of place.

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Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland Audiobook Review

Justina Ireland is busy. Just her recent Star Wars content alone is something to be in awe of, with ‘Out of the Shadows’, the YA entry to the second wave of ‘The High Republic: Phase One’ as well as ‘Edge of Balance’, the first Manga entry into ‘The High Republic’ and ‘War of the Bounty Hunters: Jabba the Hutt’. A pretty impressive roster to say the least, not to mention her upcoming book for the next wave of ‘The High Republic’, ‘Mission to Disaster’.

Of course, this post is my review of ‘Out of the Shadows’, which follows Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros who team up with Cohmac Vitus and his Apprentice Reath Silas are sent on a mission with pilot Sylvestri Yarrow, who has been wrapped up in Hyperspace Prospector family politics thanks to Xylan Graff, whose family are the main competitors of the San Tekka Prospectors to visit the Berenge sector where Sil’s ship was previously pulled out of Hyperspace by The Nihil in an attack that her and her crew barely managed to escape.

Along the way, they learn that the Graff family are in league with The Nihil, assisting them to build a gravity weapon to disrupt Hyperspace (which so happens to be in the Berenge sector, coincidence I think not) and when they are double crossed and Syl and the Padawans are captured by Nan (from ‘Into the Dark’) and Syl’s mother, Chancey Yarrow, whom Syl had believed to have been killed in a Nihil attack, who is the brains behind the Hyperspace weapon.

Master Cohmac and Vernestra, joined by Syl’s ex-girlfriend Jordanna go to rescue Syl, Reath and Imri whilst calling the Jedi Temple for reinforcements. Thanks to an ability to experience visions through the Force in Hyperspace, Vernestra begins to communicate with an unknown woman, who turns out to be Mari San Tekka, the old woman that Marchion Ro had kept alive in a medical pod who was the key to The Nihil’s ability to use Hyperspace.

As the two groups reunite onboard the weapon, Gravity’s Heart, they seem to rescue Mari who is finally able to pass away peacefully after giving Vernestra a secret Hyperspace Path.

Gravity’s Heart is destroyed in a battle between The Nihil and the Jedi and Republic forces, during which, many of the pirates are captured. Chancey and Nan return to the Graff stronghold and form an alliance with the family, turning their backs on The Nihil. The Jedi are able to once again go about thier business, with Vernestra and Imri deciding to return to Starlight Beacon, with Syl and Jordanna being their pilots on Syl’s new ship provided as promised by Xilan Graff.

In all honesty, ‘Out of the Shadows’ has been my least favourite part of ‘The High Republic’, and not in terms of the story, which has some hefty implications for ‘The High Republic’ moving forward, but in terms of the pacing. For me there were whole stretches where I wasn’t sure where the story was going but then suddenly we’d get some sort of information that, whilst important to the plot, could have been revealed earlier.

Having a nice mix of new and known characters really give ‘Out of the Shadows’ the opportunity to give us fresh eyes and perspectives as well as further develop characters that, over the course of ‘The High Republic’ have become fan favourites. At first, when we were first introduced to Vernestra Rwoh before ‘A Test of Courage’ was released, I initially (and rather stupidly) wrote her off as just a character made for kids. The youngest Jedi to be made a Knight at sixteen, if just felt like a way to have this character that kids would gravitate towards without having the parental figure breathing down their neck all the time, but when I finally read that book and have continued to follow her story, she is a great character. The growth we see from her, especially in ‘Out of the Shadows’ is phenomenal, from her concerns over telling her former Master, Stellan Gios about a modification she had made to her lightsaber that allows it to change between the traditional blade to an energy whip to her coming to understand an ability she had previously thought to be an occurrence that happened a couple of times as a child where she would have visions through the Force when travelling through hyperspace which become an integral plot point in this book.

I really like two of the new characters, Syl and Jordanna. Syl is completely down on her luck, she’s suffered some hardships and the Nihil attack really sets her off to making sure something goes right. She puts herself into an uncomfortable position with Xylan, who seems to say all the right things to convince her to join him on his mission, of course we later learn that it’s all a manipulation because of her connection to Chancey Graff. Her perspective on the Jedi is also a fresh take, she doesn’t really care for them, especially after her mother’s “death”, feeling that if the Jedi were doing more to protect the Galaxy that her mother would still be alive. Of course her opinion changes by the end of the book, as well as her general outlook, where everything went badly for her before, the end of the story, however really shows her development. Brand new ship, her relationship with Jordanna is repaired and feels better than ever and a new lease on life.

In terms of the audiobook, narrated by Keylor Leigh is good. Once again I wish we had Marc Thompson (he’s the voice of literary Star Wars much like Kevin Conroy will forever be the voice of Batman in my head). on the mic but Leigh does a phenomenal job.

Despite my issues with the pacing, I still very much enjoyed this book, Justina Ireland has continued to evolve Vernestra Rwoh’s character and given us some great insight into the ongoing state of the Galaxy with The Nihil infiltrating the Republic and making connections with powerful groups their threat level feels like it’s increasing, just in time for the third wave to come out next January, which I’m very excited about.

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Bad Batching: Infested/War-Mantle

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another two episodes of ‘The Bad Batch’ with ‘Infested’ and ‘War-Mantle’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner: Lego AT-AT Set Review

In terms of excitement and ‘The Razorcrest’ near desperation, the ‘AT-AT’ was always a set I wanted but could happily wait, which is why I didn’t rush to buy this set in its initial release, instead opting to wait for my birthday this year…

And wait I did, as after another month and a half after being told it was on its way and then waiting for a refund to buy it again from a more reputable seller… needless to say when it did finally arrive my excitement was pretty high.

The biggest surprise was the size! The box was f%#+*€g huge. Not UCS set huge, or ‘Death Star’ huge, but almost. Opening the box, I was expecting a lot of bags… alas there were only eight sections, as well as the large instructions book but amazingly, no stickers.

The first bag, whilst giving us a pair of decent accessories and three of the six Mini-Figs could really have been separated into the rest of the bags to cut down on plastic (gotta look after the planet somehow) and reduce the size of the box (although the larger sets having massive boxes has always baffled me). The Speeder Bike and E-Web Blaster Cannon look great and are well built, the Cannon especially as an interesting building technique of using some gun accessories as feet which surprisingly works.

The first three Mini-Figs are Luke Skywalker in his Pilot gear, he comes with a lightsaber and a pair of thermal detonators. The two Snowtroopers look really good, I love the printed design and the little attention to detail where they have light brown gloves rather than standard black or white hands that other Stormtrooper variants have. Both come with the standard issue blasters.

Bags Two and Three lay the foundations for the body of the Walker. Bag 2 builds the core and Bag 3 adds the interior design as well as the chassis details and the mechanism that allows Luke to hold onto the grappling hook blaster that goes up and down.

Bags Four and Five complete the Walker’s body with some great brick built details and the various angles that give it some incredible screen accuracy. A nice addition is the opening hatch at the back that opens up to allow the Speeder Bike to sit inside, whilst not shown onscreen, this little detail is mentioned in the ‘Incredible Cross Sections’ books.

Bags Six and Seven build the legs and feet of the vehicle. I absolutely love how the legs look after the sixth bag, the core of the legs are built out of Technic, meaning they are pretty strong but they do look hilarious, especially with the large feet. Luckily the seventh bag rectifies that by adding the details using various plates.

Bag Eight finishes the build with the AT-AT’s head/cockpit. I’ll be honest, I thought I was missing a bag or two when I had all the pieces out but the designers really did a fantastic job of creating the walker’s cockpit in incredible detail with what felt like so few parts. There are a pair of flick-missiles on the underside of the head which are well hidden and unobtrusive.

The final Bag also includes the final three Mini-Figs for the set. We get General Veers I’m his armour with binoculars and two AT-AT Pilots, each with a blaster accessory. All of the figures have great printed details and look great. Despite never being seen stood up on screen, the level of details on the two Walker Pilots is great, the designers really do their research when giving us these characters with little screen time.

When fully built and on display, the AT-AT is seriously impressive. As you can seen the above picture, it towers over the Mini-Figs and would look incredibly imposing on display as part of a diorama. The play features are really fun, with the Speeder Bike addition as well as the missiles, the Walker also includes a grappling hook which is operated using a gear mechanism hidden inside the front panel of the body which allows players to have their Luke Mini-Fig to reach the chassis and open it up to throw in the detonators to win the battle.

It’s a really fun build, and a great looking model. I’m really glad I finally picked this one up and didn’t miss out as I’m sure it will soon be up for retirement. The £140 for 1267 pieces is good for a licensed set, of course with it being out for a while there are places it can be picked up for a bit less but price-tag truly represents the quality of the set.

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