The New Jedi Order: Recovery by Troy Denning Review

As one of the few short stories published as part of ‘The New Jedi Order’, ‘Recovery’ fills in part of the story focused on Han and Leia during the events of ‘Edge of Victory 1: Conquest’.

Starting in a hospital on Corellia, Han protects Leia and a vaguely familiar female Jedi from a group of possible Yuuzhan Vong sympathisers. Once the fight is over and the three attackers are dead, Han and Leia must leave the planet once Han’s cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo gets involved. They manage to retrieve the Female Jedi and bring her along in a Bacta Tank and leave the planet, finding another Jedi, Izal Waz on board the Millennium Falcon.

During their escape where they are attacked by possible members of The Peace Brigade, Han finds out that there are three Jedi Barabel on board helping with their escape.

Han and Leia learn that the Jedi they rescued from the Hospital is Eelysa, a former student of Luke’s who trained the Barabel Jedi, Seba Sebatyne who’s children she later took on as part of her group, the Wild Knights.

Trusting their new allies, Han directs the Falcon to a rendezvous with the rest of the Wild Knights who have a facility where Leia and Eelysa can heal.

As Leia’s legs heal from their wounds on Duro, she and Han reconnect, both of them realising where they have gone wrong in the past year, with Han grief-stricken and heading out on his own and Leia deep diving into the political arena of the War and both coming to an understanding of where they should have been and promising to work as a team from now on.

As Leia recuperates, Han and C-3PO look into possible suspects and all fingers point to the Senator from Kuat, Viqi Shesh, who, unbeknownst to the heroes, is an ally of the Yuuzhan Vong and the main proponent for a new bill to outlaw the Jedi.

After a tense return to Coruscant, a near death chase and an excellent use of a hover-wheel chair, Han and Leia manage to make it to a meeting of the Senate Corruption Panel. Shesh has deliberately missed the session and her Chief-Aide blusters his way through the session before the judge contacts Shesh herself, informing her that, despite the vote still happening a week from the hearing, her position in the Senate was suspended.

The following week, Leia gets the good news hat her legs are now fully healed and the vote to outlaw the Jedi doesn’t go through, but Luke is concerned and comes up with the idea for a great “river” which any Jedi in need of safe passage could use to pass through the Galaxy in safety. Leia and Han take up the chance to make the Galaxy safer for their children and also take the time to reconnect.

Originally published as an e-book, ‘Recovery’ was one that I missed when it first came out when I was but a wide-eyed teenager. When I read ‘Star by Star’, also by Troy Denning in paper-back (my second time) in which ‘Recovery’ was later published I skipped it in favour of diving right back into the main book.

Luckily, like the paperback version of ‘Star by Star’, ‘Recovery’ is published as part of the larger book and I’m really glad I got to read it this time around.

‘Recovery’ is, at its core, the story of a husband and wife reconnecting after tragedy has struck their family and a much needed aside for the ongoing ‘New Jedi Order’ series. Even though they seemed to have a reconciliation in ‘Balance Point ‘ and (if like me you didn’t read these in chronological order) by the time we get to ‘Rebirth’ the second of the ‘Edge of Balance’ books, the Han and Leia relationship is definitely on the mend, ‘Recovery’ is the story of how they get there, and the level of treatment Leia has to go through to heal after almost losing her legs in ‘Balance Point’.

Looking back, this is the kind of story we could have had in the canon timeline had Han not been killed by Kylo Zeen, a nice little aside as a book or comic that just focused on Han and Leia after their reunion on Takodana. However, and this isn’t me saying anything negative about the canon timeline or the choices made by the creative team, it was not meant to be, but at least there was some reconciliation between the two.

Whilst the focus is on Han and Leia, we are also introduced to the Barabel Jedi who later play a large role in Dennings novel ‘Star by Star’, and whilst they get an introduction in that novel, it’s fun for the completionists to get that little bit more information.

However, there is one little thing that has niggled me about this short story, and it’s really a minor detail that, when viewed as part of this story it’s a lovely detail but doesn’t add up for the next chronological entry which is ‘Edge of Victory: Rebirth’ which is the inclusion of Anakin at the end of the book being on Coruscant.

But in ‘Rebirth’, it is mentioned that Anakin hasn’t left the Errant Venture since he rescued Tahiri from the Yuuzhan Vong on Yavin IV. Now, it’s a ridiculously small oversight and could easily be explained, and in terms of continuity errors it’s minor, just a little distracting.

A lovely story about a married couple reconnecting set against the backdrop of war, a nice break from the onslaught that is the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and a nice chance for us to see more of Han and Leia together which we haven’t had for a while. Also a lesson to myself to not avoid the short stories in this series, on pain of FOMO.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 5 Comic Review

After being sent to deal with the Hutts, Vader returns to The Executor empty handed whilst Ochi has brought Sly Moore aboard in chains. As Vader is given an army to eradicate Crimson Dawn, Ochi goes to enlist members of the Assassins League and reveals his true allegiance.

As the Hutt fleet get hold of the Lambda Shuttle carrying Solo, Palpatine orders Vader to deal with the crime lords personally. Vader kills all of the Hutts on board their flagship but as Bokku dies the ship explodes. Fortunately Vader survives (surprise) by using the Force to create a shield of metal around himself.

On the Executor, Mas Amedda mocks the prisoner, Sly Moore as Vader returns and proceeds to Force Choke Moore when Palpatine appears as a hologram. He orders Vader to wipe out Crimson Dawn before they become even more powerful.

Vader sends Ochi to meet his former associates and learns that they have captured Qi’Ra. Ochi kills the three assassins and frees the head of Crimson Dawn, revealing that he has been working for her the whole time.

And that’s it for me. The towel has been thrown in and my disappointment shall be known.

I really did not enjoy this issue. The first half rehashed elements from the Mini-Series to an overwhelming degree. I’ll not complain about the change in perspective for it but I didn’t need to see the whole Hutt slaughter with the subsequent cheap “blow Vader up” tactic that we all know isn’t going to happen.

The second half of the issue definitely tries to bring the arc to a satisfying conclusion but feels rushed, with Vader’s attempt to kill Sly Moore being interrupted by a conveniently timed holo from Palpatine who sends Vader off on another mission.

The double crossing plot involving Ochi feels cheap and tacked on to put a mole into Vader’s inner circle. What would have been more of a shock would have been Sly Moore herself.l and could have made more of an impact. Her fate is still undecided in the grand scheme of the saga, however Ochi returns to work for Palpatine and his followers so are we getting a double-double cross here?

Whilst the story pacing feels all wrong, the art in this issue is stunning and is the true highlight of the run. However the great art isn’t enough to keep me buying this series.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 4 Comic Review

Bringing this arc back in line with the rest of the series, the focus rests on the dogfight between Luke and Vader and Droids and Ochi vs. Sly Moore is a confused mush-mash of events.

Vader attempts to get Luke to land on Jekara but Luke toluene tail, luring Vader into the skies. Unfortunately for him his ship gets harpooned by one of the gangs but the ropes are severed by Vader in his TIE Advanced.

Then in a deviation from what we’ve seen in other arcs in this series, after Luke’s X-Wing is damaged and crashes, it is repaired by the Droid gang working for Sly Moore, other members of which are attacking Vader in his ship. With Luke’s ship back in action to fight returns to the sky.

Meanwhile, after a brief discourse with Bokku, Ochi approaches Sly Moore and the two engage in a pretty good fight which seen Ochi injured by Palpatine’s former aide. He notices the Hutt fleet approaching the Shuttle carrying Solo which subsequently explodes.

I can honestly say that I expected too much from this issue after that last two. Pak refrains from using lots of unnecessary flashbacks but gives us a serious deviation from the narrative from the mini series. The arrival of Sly Moore’s Droid gang feels like a pointless add-on that doesn’t actually move the story forward, it actually prolongs the story in a way that’s not needed at all.

In fact, other than the Ochi parts of the issue, this was incredibly disappointing. I feel that it’s a sorry state of affairs when a comic called ‘Darth Vader’ is actually better when the titular character isn’t involved (granted the irony of me saying this whilst the internet collectively complains about two episodes of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ where Boba Fett is only on screen for a minute is not lost on me).

To say that I really didn’t like Ochi in the Exogol arc is putting it lightly, and nothing about the character has changed, but his is the more interesting character as well as the devious machinations of Sly Moore who’s own personal mission to kill Vader and prove herself to the Emperor is brutal and well played out.

The next (and last) issue of this arc really needs to do some heavy lifting to make it pop. After a pair of really strong issues, for the quality to drop faster than Luke’s X-Wing is a huge disappointment. I’ll hold out judgement until after next issue but I think that my time of buying the ‘Darth Vader’ series is coming to an end.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 3 Comic Review

The third part of this run doesn’t follow on from last issue, instead we jump back in time again to the planet Arkanis and tell the story so far from Ochi’s point of view.

Vader sends Ochi into a bar where the assassin obtains a Crimson Dawn invitation. The two then meet with Bokka and replay the scene from the first issue of the run but from different angles.

Once they leave, Vader speaks of Bokka’s plans to betray Jabba before hanging Ochi out of a hatch in the bottom of the Lambda Shuttles cockpit. Vader drops Ochi but the ship was close to the ground. Vader orders his companion to find out who the Hutt is working with.

That night, Ochi sets up a trap where two soldiers get dropped off incognito but Ochi blasts the two of them. He asks about Bokku and learns that Bokku is working for Crimson Dawn and the two soldiers are actually a hell of a lot more.

They attack Ochi who holds his own. The gangsters aren’t phased by his allegiance with The Empire. The fight stops and one of the members offers Ochi to join them instead of working for Vader. All of the time Vader is watching, this is a test for the assassin to prove his loyalty.

Vader lands his shuttle nearby the fight, Ochi doesn’t accept the invitation and the rest of the Dawn soldiers attacks him and he manages to kill the rest. Vader approaches him and Ochi proves himself to the Dark Lord as more of Crimson Dawns military approach and surround the pair.

Getting more backstory into Vader’s journey to Jakara is something I didn’t think I wanted really. Getting more time with Ochi of Beaton was also something I did t think I wanted, seeing as I wasn’t a fan of the character in the previous arc. Having Vader and Ochi putting the pieces together to find out who is behind the scenes of this huge plot is something I did want and we got that in droves here.

Greg Pak has taken Vader’s story from Soules mini-series and run with it, expanding on what could be seen as two one-note appearances and given some real depth to the journey. And whilst I enjoyed Vader’s moments in the main story of this crossover, the back story here is making those moments stand out just a little bit more. And now that Vader is facing off with Crimson Dawn, it makes his fight against Qi’Ra stand out that little bit more as well after he and Ochi will obviously be making short work of her followers in the next issue.

Unfortunately though, Pak is falling back on reusing scenes, this time straight from one of the previous issues of this run, which feels remarkably redundant, surely an editors note would have sufficed here?

I hope that we get to Jakara in the next issue though. Getting some backstory is good but I’m ready to get caught up with the main story soon.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 2 Review

The second part of the ‘Darth Vader’ run of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ is quite possibly my favourite of the whole run so far.

Set before and after Issue 13, the focus here is on Sly Moore rather than Vader himself. The former adviser to Palpating is cast aside after her failure to wipe Vader out in the previous arc. No longer in Palpatine’s favour, she looks for a way to return to his side.I’ll

After stealing the schematics for Vader’s armour and using her secret network of she gets the plans to IG-88. When the Bounty Hunter Droid returns after not killing Vader, the Dark Lord tracks IG to the meeting where Vader and Ochi wipe out Moore’s allies. Moore makes a deal with Vader and informs him of the Crimson Dawn auction for Han Solo, convincing him that Skywalker won’t be far behind. Vader tasks her with procuring Solo and delivering him to Vader.

When the auction goes sour, Ochi mocks Sly, informing her that Bokku is actually working for Vader and that he was playing the Hutt against Moore as Vader arrives at The Vermillion, killing the guards who attempt to stop him from entering.

Why did I like this issue so much? Well firstly, it’s the first issue that didn’t rely on flashbacks to the films, giving us a well crafted and interesting story about a character who we know very little about.

Sly Moore was a mainstay through the Prequel Trilogy and very little was known about her. Her backstory got some development in the ‘Legends’ timeline but once the Disney reset happened she became shrouded in mystery.

She’s a true agent of the Dark Side, using her cunning and deception to try and overthrow others, specifically Darth Vader, whom she is now adamant on killing to prove herself to Palpatine. Of course Vader had other machinations and to show his power over her sends her on a mission he will make sure she will fail.

This issue has reinvigorated my enjoyment of this series which I’m very pleased about, however I’m feeling trepidation as I move onto the next issue that we will end up getting more of the same, pages of unnecessary flashbacks to pad out what could be a really good story just to keep the page count up.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 1 Review

After successfully thwarting Booka’s attempt to kill him, Vader uses the Hutt to gain access to Hutt Space and a Droid Gang’s base to find the lost Carbonite clad Han Solo, only to come up against IG-88 and Bokka’s own weapons.

A return to form for the ‘Darth Vader’ series. Vader kicks some serious Droid a$$ and squares up to a Hutt with muscles the size of Vader’s head and still the Dark Lord stands firm, his dark resolve stronger than ever.

After Vader vanquishes Bokka’s henchmen, Ochi brokers a deal between Vader and the Crime Lord, where Bokka’s will take Vader and Ochi into Hutt Space to locate someone who may know the whereabouts of Han Solo. Bokka agrees and takes Vader to a planet deep in the Hutt territory.

Once there, Vader and Ochi take their shuttle down to the Droid Crush base where their ship is hacked and crashes. Vader and Ochi fight off their attackers before IG-88 appears with a heavy arsenal of weapons but ends up using a slicing device to hack into Vader’s suit, managing to take control of his body.

Using the Force, Vader takes IG-88’s device and cuts off the Droid assassin’s head but the head is taken by surviving members of the Crash, just as Bokka fires on Vader who defends himself. Vader then takes the Droid’s hand and computer link to get the information that leads him to Crimson Dawn.

Returning to Bokka’s ship, Vader asks Bokka if he will try to kill him again now the Hutt has seen Vader’s power for himself, the Hutt agrees that any further attacks would be foolish and agrees to serve Vader on his mission.

Meanwhile, a group of hooded individuals , led by Sly Moore gather to plot against Vader.

This issue is a true return to form for this series. Whilst the last arc had some fun action, this issue wipes the floor with it all. The seemingly outmatched Vader against an army of Droids is reminiscent of Anakin during The Cone Wars, and luckily we don’t get any flashbacks to show this, in fact we only get a handful of flashbacks in the whole issue which was refreshing.

Ochi’s new role as Vader’s majordomo is an interesting one, but seeing as he’s dealing with gangsters, it seems fitting. And having Vader come up against a beast of a Hutt like Bokka, and survive his treachery is mightily impressive. Of course Vader would survive as we all know what happens, but we have seen him get almost taken apart piece by piece in the last arc.

What was very interesting was the failsafe that renders Vader unable to move that IG-88 uses. Is this a device that Palpatine has handed out to his most trusted employees, seeing as we learn that Sly Moore is the one who gave it to IG-88. It would make sense for Moore and Mas Amedda to have them after the last arc and their fear that Vader would come after them after their parts in his trials.

I’m really happy with the improvement of this storyline already, I know it’s great not one issue in (not counting the Prelude) and seeing Vader back on his game here is a welcome sight to see and read. The art is fantastic, the writing is great and this is looking to be a great addition to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ story.

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Mandalorian Starfighter

For Christmas, my wife, daughter and I were gifted a trip to Legoland Windsor. So after a day full of rides, queues and Lego themed shenanigans (not to mention an early morning and watching the first episode of ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ on my phone with no sound) we made it to the shop. After our daughter picked out her purchases they found me in the Star Wars section. By then I had whittled my choices down to two, ‘The Bad Batch Shuttle’ or the ‘Mandalorian Starfighter’. In the end I boiled down to which build looked more interesting and different.

At the time of purchase the set cast £49.99 but has since had a price increase to £59.99 as Lego have put a new measure in place to keep the prices of sets relatively the same across all countries. The set contains 544 pieces split between four bags. It has a small sticker sheet and instructions in the box as well.

The first bag contains the rear section of the cockpit area. This is the section that has to do a lot of heavy lifting, it’s where all parts of the ship connect, the two wings and the front section of the cockpit. It has some nice detailing the the back as well as one of the stickers.

The first bag gives us a brand new Mini-Fig, Bo-Katan Kryze. She comes with her two Blasters, Jet Pack and helmet. The printed details are so good, including the crown-type thing she wears. The whole Figure looks spot on to both her ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘The Mandalorian’ looks. I absolutely love the helmet. This Mini-Fig alone is worth the price of admission.

The second bag completes the unique looking cockpit. This build feels incredibly unique, the design of the build perfectly recreates the onscreen version which we have (so far) only really seen in animation. We get one of the main features of the ship with the rotating cockpit here where the front half can spin on a pin that connects the two sections.

Bag two gives us the second Mini-Fig of the set, this time it’s a Mandalorian Loyalist. Again, like Bo-Katan, this Figure has some great pruned details on Borge the body and the helmet. Like Kryze, this one comes with two Blasters and a jet pack.

Bags three and four build one wing each. The first half of each wing feels incredibly flimsy and at times the whole thing can fall apart as you’re building. Once you get to the second half of each one, the wings start to feel more solid as they get more support on the underside whilst the told gets more and more brick built detail, each wing only having one sticker each on the top section of the engines.

As I was building the wings, some of the instructions felt difficult to understand as the majority of the pieces are the darker blue and finding where each piece goes could prove to be difficult, although, despite some of the tricky elements the result is wonderful.

The fourth bag also gives us another first time Mini-Fig, Gar Saxon, complete in his black, red and yellow armour and a custom moulded helmet displaying the horns added in honour of Saxon’s master towards the end of ‘The Clone Wars’. All of the printing looks amazing on this, and the rest of the Mini-Figs included in this set. The only thing this one is lacking is a hair-piece.

The ‘Mandalorian Starfighter’ is certainly impressive with its wings in both flight mode and landing mode, however, when it’s wings are folded up it hides the well detailed told section out of view and displaying the less detailed bottom section. Personally I would have loved to make it so that the top could be manoeuvred to have the details on display. This problem has led me to want to hand the ship on my wall rather than display it on a shelf so that the great details are on display.

The finished model, whilst incredibly impressive in terms of design, does felt a bit flimsy in places. The spinning cockpit actually rotates with very little effort, the slightest nudge can knock it off centre, which as a play feature wouldn’t be an issue, but when wanting to have the set on display, can make the displaying part a bit difficult to get into the right position.

Despite these tiny gripes (overall I am very pleased and impressed with this set) its a great set. The Mini-Figs alone, with their incredible detail and great accessories are amazing additions to the collection. The ship design and build is pretty good and for the price (both original and current) to piece ratio it’s a well priced set. There have been other sets of a similar piece count that have been priced much higher and haven’t been worth it but this one is spot-on.

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The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory 2 – Rebirth by Greg Keyes

Months after the Yuuzhan Vong attacked Yavin IV, Anakin is with Tahiri and the other Jedi students onboard the Errant Venture. Anakin is going stir-crazy onboard the ship and is asked by Corran Horn to join him on a quick supply run.

Feeling left out, Tahiri manages to convince Anakin to let her tag along. On the run, Corran goes to get supplies but the two younger Jedi are drawn to a Jedi in danger. They find a Rodian Jedi under attack by Peace Brigade officers and they manage to fight off the attackers but the Rodian is too injured, uttering their final words to Anakin and Tahiri, “Yag’Dhul.”

The two are arrested and questioned but they manage to escape and steal a speeder, taking it straight to their docking bay where Corran manages to get them into the air and into Hyperspace. Anakin plots a series of jumps, the last one of which would lead them close to Yag’Dhul. They exit hyperspace into what seems to be an asteroid field but is in face a battalion of Vong ships. They distract them by sending their ship on autopilot whilst they land on one of the ships and cut their way in. Finding it to be a Scot Ship and using Tahiri’s memories of being a Vong prisoner, they learn that this armada is set to go to Yag’Dhul. They take the scout ship ahead and manage to get onto a Space Station in orbit of the target planet but are locked up under suspicion that they are in league of the Vong. Their warning checks out when the armada arrives. They come face to face with Nom Anor and Anakin defeats a great warrior before they escape the station and return home.

Meanwhile, Jaina is approached by Kyp Durron who gives her information of a Yuuzhan Vong super weapon. She takes the information, and Kyp to Gavin Darklighter and Wedge Antilles, whom, despite their dislike of Durron, agree to help however they can. After enlisting Admiral Kre’fey and his ship, The Ralroost to join the battle they head to Serndipal and take out the super weapon. In the aftermath Jaina realises what the super weapon actually was, a new World Ship that would be a safe haven for the Vong on the dying World Ships.

Han, Leia, Jacen, C-3PO and R2-D2 are on a mission of their own, to set up a network of safe havens and routes for the Jedi to move through occupied space. After a series of run-in’s with Yuuzhan Vong ships and a brief meeting on a new facility deep in the Maw, the group pose a pirates, stopping shipments meant for the Peace Brigade from reaching their destination. When a job goes bad and the Falcon, as well as Talon Karrde’s group face a major threat but manage to escape with some quick thinking from Han.

As this is all happening, Luke and a heavily pregnant Mara are forced to leave Coruscant. They manage to get to the Errant Venture as Mara starts to succumb to the illness given to her by Nom Anor. Desperate to save her unborn child, Mara refuses treatment and starts to deteriorate fast. It’s o Kyp when Obi-Wan reaches out to Luke through the Force, giving him added strength do they manage to irradiate the disease onice and for all, but they welcome their son, Ben into the Galaxy.

All the while, Nen Yim, searching for a way to save the World Ship she is on from dying, she is granted access to Protocols previously forbidden to be seen by any of her station by a crazed Master Shaper. After being allowed to see these protocols and her attempted assassination of the Master Shaper, she is brought before the Supreme Overlord, Shimrra who makers her a Master Shaper.

The second part of the ‘Edge of Victory’ Duology is a well paced adventure that gives us a whole boat-load of story in such a short book. The way Greg Keyes weaves the story between all of the characters really keeps the pace flowing.

The Anakin/Tahiri/Corran storyline really gives Anakin some much needed character growth that most teenagers could do with. Corran calls Anakin out on his brash attitude and reckless behaviour which has, inadvertently led to a number of younger Jedi want to emulate the youngest Solo sibling. This leads him to really pull back and focus rather than rush in. Even when he seemingly jumps into a one-on-one battle to the death with a giant Yuuzhan Vong warrior, he actually uses the situation to his advantage and manages to create an escape for him and his Jedi companions by seeming to fight sloppy.

The further development of his relationship with Tahiri also plays a huge part of their story, eventually building up to a kiss when stuck in a locker together with imminent death a certain possibility. Luckily for the two of them they don’t want it to be an isolated incident despite not knowing what to do about their feelings.

Jaina’s story is a tough one, after being ostracised from Rogue Squadron because of her Jedi status, she’s a bit of a mess. Rogue Squadron was the one place she felt truly like herself but given the anti-Jedi sentiments it was best she stay on leave despite her vision being fully recovered. Her sense of purpose returns after her meeting with Kyp and helping with a plan to destroy a Yuuzhan Vong super weapon, but in the aftermath of the battle she realises the truth, that Kyp had lied to her and because of that she had lied to her superiors in an effort to help Kyp on one of his missions.

You really feel for Jaina in this book and the mix of emotions she goes through is the beginning of a possibly dangerous path, especially after being played so badly by someone she considers a friend.

Jacen’s part of the story is a really fun adventure which is a nice change of pace for the stories focused on him so far in the series which have often been very philosophical and wrought with teenage force user angst. For the most part it’s a bonding story with his father, Han. The two of them have their ups and downs, but eventually see eye to eye leading to the pair becoming thick-as-thieves in their plan to disrupt supplies to Yuuzhan Vong sympathetic groups, leading to a pretty desperate battle when one of their plans goes awry.

The really emotionally taxing story is that of Luke and Mara. With an attempted arrest of Luke and a close call escape from Coruscant, the realisation that Mara’s illness has returned and this time it’s hitting her hard. Luke is borderline Dark Side at times in his desperation to save his wife which is really rough to read, but it’s completely understandable. I really like this break for Luke, away from the politics and dealing with a more personal battle.

The Nen Yim storyline is a decent continuation of her story in the previous book, struggling with her new position on a dying World Ship and unable to stop its deterioration without access to higher knowledge and the lengths she is willing to go to get as much knowledge as possible. Luckily she is not only given access but her unconventional methods are recognised by the highest level of power within the Yuuzhan Vong hierarchy which is vindication or what she has been through so far in the series.

Like the first instalment of this Duology, I read this one around the time of its release and was another that I devoured quickly. These, for me were real stand-outs of the series as well as the next book in the series, they were the ones I gravitated towards most on my few attempts to read more of this series back then and unfortunately time and mostly money (I was still in school you see, and at that age when the love of Star Wars sometimes took a back seat to underage drinking and pointless attempts at getting a girlfriend) were against me. However, even now I was excited for this stretch of books, parts of them always stuck with me, and even knowing what’s coming in ‘Star by Star’ (I still don’t feel ready) I’m really looking forward to revisiting what could possibly be one of my favourite books of the whole ‘Expanded Universe’.

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Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn Audiobook Review

Over the years I tried to read as many of the now ‘Legends’ novels as I could, but either due to time, availability, money or just a story not clicking with me I ended up giving up on reading the pre-Disney novels.

Then, over the last few years, I occasionally would come across them, back in 2016 (I think) I managed to get my hands on ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ for a very, very low price and read them in quick succession.

However, my interest in the ‘Legends’ content only included the books set after ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the continuing adventures of Luke, Leia and Han. I had very little interest in anything set around ‘The Old Republic’, only because I had no real gateway to it, I wasn’t a fan of the ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ games and the seemingly continual back-and-forth of Galactic control between the Jedi and Sith felt pretty tedious to me.

Fast-Forward to now. I had a few Audible credits available, so I flicked through some of the ‘Legends’ content. I still have about half of the ‘X-Wing’ series to listen to but I fancied something a bit meatier, and then it happened, I came across ‘Darth Bain: Path of Destruction’.

Now I have heard a lot of people raving about this book, and the subsequent parts of the Darth Bane Trilogy and, despite trying to read it one time a few years ago and struggling with it I cast it aside, but there it was and I gave into temptation and snapped it up (as well as the Prequel-Era ‘Rogue Planet’).

I have had a few questions relating to the Sith, mainly, why would someone willingly become evil? Because that’s what the Sith are right? Evil? The Jedi are the heroes, the good guys and the Sith are their enemies. Case closed? Not really. We only see three Sith Apprentices in the whole Saga, Anakin is manipulated into joining the Sith to learn the ability to save Padmé from dying, Dooku, who left the Jedi for political reasons seems to have joined Darth Sidious as a means to achieve a greater power to help change the political situation in the Galaxy, and Maul, well he was born into it as a Night Brother. But what about in the past?

Set a thousand years before ‘The Phantom Menace’, the first book of Drew Karpyshyn’s ‘Darth Bane’ trilogy, ‘Path of Destruction’ shows us a Galaxy at war, it’s Jedi vs. Sith and Dessel, a young miner gets embroiled in the galactic conflict as a way of avoiding imprisonment for the murder of a Republic soldier. He joins the Sith Army and after a few years on the frontlines as a soldier his Force abilities become well known and he is sent to Korriban, the home of The Sith Academy.

As he learns from his Sith Masters, he also spends time in the archives, learning about the ancient Sith. After a crippling defeat at the hands of another student, Bane all but loses his powers and is shunned by most of the Academy, luckily one Master, Kas’im continues to train him is the art of saver duelling whilst Bane’s fellow student, Githany helps tutor Bane. Soon his power grows stronger and after a revenge fuelled duel with Sirak which Bane wins and a confrontation with the Academy’s leader, Lord Qordis, he chooses to venture out and leave the Brotherhood of Darkness.

Turning his back on The Botherhood and the Academy, the students of which have been initiated as Sith at the behest of Lord Kaan and are preparing to leave for Ruusan to fight the Army of Kight, led by Lord Hoth. Bane heads for Lehon, a planet tied to the Sith he had learned about in the Archives, he finds a Holocron left by Darth Revan and learns from the ancient Sith’s teachings, leading him to find the idea behind The Brotherhood of Darkness to be foolish and bound to fail whereas having only two Sith, a Master and Apprentice would help the Dark Side thrive.

Lord Kaan sends Kas’im to either bring Bane to Ruusan or kill him and the blade master meets his end when Bane brings the temple down around him. Babe sends Kaan a guide for a Sith weapon, a thought bomb and details where he can be found next. Kaan sends Githany who attempts to kill Bane via poison and almost succeeds but Ban manages to get to a Force Healer before plotting the end of the Brotherhood.

He travels to Ruusan and interrupts a meeting held by Kaan and tells the gathered Sith that the best way to defeat the Jedi is to burn them out of the jungle where they are hiding. Using all the Sith Army’s power, Bane burns the forest down but the connection is broken by Kaan who orders the Sith into battle, sending his forces into the skies in Airspeeders. Bane, instead of fighting contacts Kaan’s admiral who is maintaining a blockade around the planet keeping Jedi reinforcements at bay and has them engage the enemy.

Kaan’s forces just about decimate the Jedi but the Army of Light is saved at the last minute by the Jedi forces that have gotten through the blockade in the battle. Kaan, angry at their defeat leads his forces into a cave system, after deciding to use the Thought Bomb.

The Jedi follow the Sith as they make their Force connection and generate the power for the Thought Bomb, Githany realises this will result in their death, as well as the Jedi outside the cave. As she tries to escape the Thought Bomb goes off, wiping out both armies at the cave.

As Bane prepares to leave the planet, he comes across a young girl, Zannah, who has just killed two Jedi who were in the jungle. Bane decides that he will train her as his Apprentice.

What ‘Path of Destruction’ does really, really well is humanise the villains. We have been so used to seeing them as the big-bad of the Galaxy but really, they are just a religious sect, their belief structure is focused more on their own wants and needs. It’s not necessarily evil to be a Sith, but the power it bestows upon them and the abilities it unlocks can be seen as evil and destructive.

Karpyshyn really develops Bane into a sympathetic character as well. Bane doesn’t join the Sith because he believes in their ideals, he joins to avoid prison. It’s fortuitous circumstance that his Force abilities are noticed. It takes a great deal of work and effort for him to unlock his potential. His actions, the killing of Fohargh during a sparring match isn’t an evil act, it’s Bane coming to grips with the power he can wield, it’s only after that he claims he is evil.

His disillusionment with The Brotherhood of Darkness doesn’t come easily. Bane goes through so much to just be accepted by them, but the teachings from older Sith which have been ignored by many of the Sith Academy students show Bane a different path which he could take. He sees the leadership of this new Sith as weak, hindering the greatness of the Sith and the potential they have to conquer the Galaxy. Once he has seen the path he should take, Bane only kills one of his former Sith allies, the rest are killed using the Thought Bomb, his involvement is more indirect as he’s the one who introduced this weapon to Kaan but Bane would rather work in the shadows, as Yoda said, “Lies, deceit, creating mistrust are his way now.”

Going into this Audiobook (brilliantly performed by Jonathan Davis) I wasn’t sure if I would like it, however I came out of it pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to it, one one occasion almost getting into work late because I was too busy listening in the car before starting work and not wanting to stop the story. Oops.

And now, as I start my week off work, I’m getting Book 2: ‘The Rule of Two’ ready to listen.

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The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory 1 – Conquest by Greg Keyes

The Jedi, led by Luke Skywalker are in peril. War Master Tsavong Lah’s declaration to the Galaxy that the Yuuzhan Vong invasion would stop if the Jedi would turn themselves over to the alien invaders is causing problems, with groups like The Peace Brigade taking Jedi hostage or just plain killing them. Kyp and his followers believe the Jedi should retaliate but Luke is unsure as to what course of action would be the right one.

Coming to the realisation that the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV could become a target for the Vong and their allies, Anakin, operating against Luke’s orders, takes his X-Wing and leaves to help the students and their teachers before it’s too late.

The Peace Brigade are already at the Yavin system and Anakin races to the Academy to warn them all. As Anakin prepares to face off against the would-be kidnappers and the Jedi Masters Kam and Tionne get the children to safety, but three young Jedi, Anakin’s best friend Tahiri, Valin Horn, son of Corran Horn and Sannah have all chosen to stay to help Anakin.

With the plan in jeopardy, the kids improvise and manage to steal a Peace Brigade ship and capture its pilot but the craft ends up in trouble and crashes. As they escape the wreckage, Tahiri is taken by the Peace Brigate troops. They begin repairs and as Anakin is on a recon mission he meets Qorl, who joins the rescue party. Anakin builds a makeshift air speeder to take him to save Tahiri whilst the rest fix up their downed ship.

Meanwhile, Luke, Jacen and Jaina meet with Borsk Fey’lya who confesses he knew that Tavin IV was a possible Yuuzhan Vong target. Luke has Jacen and Jaina search for Booster Terrik and gets in touch with Talon Karrde, asking the information broker/smuggler to help get the Jedi from the moon.

As Karrde and his crew save the hidden Jedi, the Yuuzhan Vong arrive and take the moon. Anakin is located and they try to take him down in his speeder but manages to escape thanks to a Yuuzhan Vong Shamed One, Vua Raapung who has his own reasons to want to attack the Vong stronghold. The two form a shaky truce as they break into the Vong base, Anakin disguised as a Slave and manage to form a plan to save Tahiri and help Raapung get his revenge against one of the Shapers.

One of Anakin’s tasks as a slave is to help harvest Lambet Crystals. After stealing one, in preparation to put their plan into effect, Anakin and Vua go into hiding where Anakin bonds the Lambet with his broken lightsaber, fixing his weapon and discovery that the combination also allows him to perceive the Yuuzhan Vong, albeit slightly, through the Force.

All this time, Tahiri has been prisoner of the Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad and her Apprentice Nen Yim who are both using unconventional means to shape Tahiri and turn her into a Force Sensitive Yuuzhan Vong. Though their methods would be seen as heretical, they make incredible progress in manipulating Tahiti’s memories and by the time she has almost been fully ‘shaped’, the commander Tsaak Vootuh has gotten wind of their plans and takes them from their lab and to face Tsavong Lah.

Anakin and Vua arrive at the lab too late but are able to reach the Docking Bay. Vua asks to be granted the chance to prove that he is not a Shamed One, but instead, his implants failing and scars becoming infected is actually the work of Mezhan. She acknowledges her part in his downfall before the Shaper kills Vootuh and Tahiri manages to cut off her head. Anakin and Tahiri escape in the ship that was to take them to Tsavong Lah but their inexperience with Vong ships causes them to crash but they are soon saved by their stolen Peace Brigade ship.

As they escape Yavin IV, they are chased down and almost destroyed as they approach Talon Karrde’s small fleet that has been hiding in the system. As their luck is about to run out, reinforcements arrive in the shape of Booster Terrik’s Errant Venture along with Corran, Jacen and Jaina in their X-Wings.

They all escape, Anakin and Tahiri rekindle their friendship, agreeing to never be separated again after realising their powers are greatly increased when working together, the Errant Venture leaves to find a save haven for the Jedi children and the Yuuzhan Vong leave Yavin after their facility is destroyed.

Like quite a few Star Wars books I read in my younger years, I got this one on a trip to London when visiting family. I also remember reading it one day in the school library when I should have been studying for exams… oops.

This book draws characters from the Anakin Solo-centric Young Adult series, ‘Junior Jedi Knights’, especially Tahiri and Master Ikrit who played large roles in the series.

This novel is also the first where Anakin takes centre stage, not only on the mission but as the main protagonist of one of the books in ‘The New Jedi Order’ series and it’s a wonderful ploy by the writers to build his character up at this point. He’s always been a main character in this series but it’s great to see him breaking away on his own.

One thing this book does well is give us a more sympathetic look at the Yuuzhan Vong though Vua Raapung, one of the Shamed Ones, a group of Yuuzhan Vong that for various reasons are looked down upon by the rest of the species, and whilst he is one of the enemy, we get a chance to actually learn about them and their beliefs. The various Gods are reminiscent of Ancient Egypt or Greece with various Gods for various aspects of life, either the War God or the God and Goddess that are the lovers. Every different clan or caste of the Vong hierarchy have a different God to worship and they whole heartedly believe that their invasion of the Galaxy is the will of the Gods. The Vong disdain for technology is also examined, they even see fire, which doesn’t come from a living creature, to be an abomination, in fact it’s seen to be the First Abomination. Their culture is further explored by Anakin when he poses as a slave which helps us to understand them in a way that we haven’t seen before.

Overall, I really enjoy this book, it may seem like a bit of a side quest away from the main narrative of the series but it’s actually a very important part of the overall story of ‘The New Jedi Order’ and is the first part of a character arc that is well written and utterly devastating at the same time.

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#CollectionCorner – Rumoured/Announced Lego Sets Summer/Winter 2022

Recently, some of the upcoming Summer/Winter sets got announced, with only a few details and no pictures (that I have seen anyways). In this post I’m going to list them and give some thoughts, I’m going to skip over any without details of which there are a few.

May 2022

May is bringing us a handful of sets, most of which seem to be aimed at the older audience with the ‘Death Star Trench Run’ which will have 666 pieces and be priced at around £60.

Next up is the 1000 piece ‘Training on Dagobah’. I’m going to assume this will feature Yoda’s Hut in a bigger scale than the play set from a couple of years ago and probably some of the training scenarios Luke goes through on Dagobah… or it could be the ‘cave’ scene where he confronts the vision of Darth Vader.

The May UCS set is the long rumoured ‘Luke’s Landspeeder’ set. Priced at around £200 it will come with Luke and C-3PO Mini-Figs. At least it this will stop them from bringing out yet another Landspeeder play set for a while (I hope).

June 2022

Only one set is slated to release in June, and it’s one that I am incredibly excited for! Mando’s N1 Starfighter, coming with Din Djarin, Peli Motto, Grogu and Peli’s BD Droid. All I can say is “take my money!”

August 2022

This is a big month. Lego have saved the 20th Anniversary Celebration for ‘Attack of the Clones’ for the summer and, in my opinion we’re getting spoilt.

First up, with 282 pieces and at around £30 is ‘Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter’. This is a MUST HAVE for me, 20 years ago this was the one and only Lego Set from ‘Attack of the Clones’ that I got and I freaking loved it. I didn’t buy the ‘Jedi Starfighter with Hyperspace Ring’ a few years back, mainly because I didn’t like the look of the Ring and been waiting patiently for the Starfighter itself to come out again. It comes with Obi-Wan and Taun We Mini-Figs.

One of the other sets I’m really looking forward to is the rumoured 924 piece AT-TE. Oh hells yeah, I’ve wanted one of these ever since I missed out on the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ version so this is once again a must-have and at around £100 it’s a decent price.

We’ll be getting another large scale set, and whilst it’s not been revealed, it’s being heavily rumoured to be a play set scale Republic Gunship. Once again a must-have.

There are a couple of non-‘Attack of the Clones’ sets, firstly, a large scale, 1022 piece ‘Cad Bane’s Ship’, which, whilst not featured in ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ and will probably be based on its appearance in ‘The Bad Batch’, will be a great way of picking up the Cad Bane Mini-Fig this year, unless of course they have him in one of the unnamed sets.

We will also be getting a new buildable Droid, based on ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’, the one and only BD-1. I need to see pictures before I decide but I’m excited for this.

September 2022

Only one set for September, and like most years it’s the ‘Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar’. It’s rumoured to come with Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2.

There are a handful of unnamed sets scattered throughout these dates, I’m hoping for more ‘Book of Boba Fett’ sets, there has been a rumour about a brick-built Rancor for Boba to ride on so maybe an updated ‘Rancor Pit’ to go along the ‘Boba Fett’s Throne Room’ set. The large scale ‘Master Builder’ set is looking to be around £500, so it’s probably going to be huge, a rumour has been for a Geonosis Arena but only time will tell in that one.

Whatever happens though, with just these announced sets, 2022 is looking to be an exciting Lego year.

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Duel on Mandalore

It feels great to be getting back to some building. It feels like it’s been a very, very long time since I built anything other than a mini-build and this was a nice little ice-breaker for 2022.

At 147 pieces for £17.99 (which isn’t a bad price all things considered), it’s a small and quick build. The pieces are split between two bags which aren’t numbered, it also has a small instruction booklet and a small sticker sheet that comes loose in the box.

The Ahsoka Mini-Fig is the same as the one that came with the ‘Armoured Assault Tank’ set. It is brilliantly detailed with Ahsoka’s design from ‘The Siege of Mandalore’ arc from Season 7 of ‘The Clone Wars’. Her head is reversible and has her cocky grin on the other side.

Like Ahsoka, this Maul Mini-Fig is based on his design from the final episodes of ‘The Clone Wars’ and Lego has really put the details in. His mechanical legs look great and his belt looks just like in the series. However, the open cheated shirt doesn’t really give off the same vibe on a Mini-Fig. The head is one-sided and comes with a “hairpiece’ which is made out of moulded rubber, unlike the last Maul Mini-Fig that came with the “Duel on Naboo” set a few years back.

The first build is the ancient prison box that The Mandalorians of old would use to imprison Jedi during their war. The build is fairly unremarkable, it’s a box that opens on a hinge.

However, the unremarkable build has a wonderful sticker that covers the whole front of the build which has an incredible amount of detail. The sticker covers a large clear window piece which allows us to see Maul’s eyes peeking through just like in the show.

The second part of the build is the Mandalorian Throne. The Throne is a raised chair with the walls and window at the back. The build isn’t incredibly technical, the play features are a window that falls open behind the Throne (very easily) and a drawer that slides open from within the Throne to reveal a hidden blaster pistol.

I really like how screen accurate the Throne is, and how effective the two plant pieces are as decorations on the wall. The brick built details are always great to see, especially on a set that, whilst it doesn’t have many stickers, is heavily reliant on them.

As I have said before when reviewing these ‘Duel on…’ sets, they are really well put together and fun little sets. That being said, the ones we have had previously have had more play features than this set, however, I feel that the price reflects that as the previous ‘Duel on…’ sets have been priced between £19.99 – £25.99 and come as one larger set with multiple play features. This isn’t a criticism of ‘Duel on Mandalore’, the set gives us two recognisable set pieces from the ‘Siege on Mandalore’ arc and the two duellists.

With two great Mini-Figs and, if not for playing then great for displaying items, and at a pretty decent price, ‘Duel on Mandalore’ is a nice little set that will surely become a classic one day.

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Star Wars: Dangerous Lessons Comic Review

Luke still has much to learn when the Holocron version of Yoda teaches how using the Force to see the future is a dangerous path to take, essentially using the same lesson he taught Luke in ‘Empire Strikes Back’. After composing himself Luke uses the Holocron again, this time getting a new lesson that directs him to another Force hotspot, The Living Sea of Gazian.

Luke and R2 arrive at Gazian and as Luke steps onto the Living Sea which looks like a vast ocean of rocks, he is pulled under and experiences a vision of Jedi Master Elzar Mann.

Mann guides Luke through a vision of the Jedi, essentially giving him a crash course of the Orders history. Luke is shown the tree library on Ahch-To, the Temple on Coruscant, a great battle between Jedi and Sith as well as great Jedi Masters from the past.

As Luke tries to make sense of all of it, Mann tells him the the Jedi isn’t the only path Force users have to take, that there are many other sects and beliefs around the Force and as Luke awakens from the vision, still under the Living Sea he encounters a skeleton holding an old book.

Luke takes the book and manages to get to swim(?) to the surface and pull himself onto the landing of where R2 is waiting for him, claiming that he thinks the book is an invitation.

And with that, Charles Soule just dropped a whole lore-bomb on us, giving Luke a history lesson on the Jedi that I never thought we’d get in the pages of a comic and whilst we don’t get major details, more of a vague roadmap, it certainly gives us our first look at the history of the Jedi (or so I think).

When it came to further training for Luke I never even considered that this is how it would be and to be honest it was better than I could have even thought. Elzar’s lesson that through time, the Jedi have evolved to be what was needed at each point in history. Of course, the Jedi during the Saga didn’t evolve and instead became complacent allowing the Sith to finally return to power. Of course the Elzar vision only retains the knowledge that Elzar Mann had when he visited the Living Ocean so doesn’t know the fate of the Jedi and so can’t give Luke any hints as to what he can do.

An interesting plot point that comes of this issue is that Luke’s collecting of the Sacred Jedi Texts started as early as this. It makes sense that he’d get added knowledge during this time period but now he has a Holocron and one of the texts we have an idea as to what training he undergoes before returning to Dagobah after saving Han Solo.

Luke’s training between films has been something I have wondered about ever since first seeing ‘Return of the Jedi’ and getting that story here has been great. Having a guide that isn’t Yoda or Obi-Wan also gives Luke an added perspective for him to draw knowledge from, even if it is only briefly.

This issue was a great surprise, Soule has done a great job giving us a load of information but little details so that the history of the Jedi is still ripe for stores to be told.

#CollectionCorner – Lego Spring 2022 Reveals

It’s been a long time coming, but finally all of the Spring Lego sets have been revealed (in some way). This wave has a heavy focus on the buildable helmets but we’re getting a great looking scene build and a decent sized set to round it out.

First up, the first two helmet reveals, The Mandalorian helmet and Luke Skywalker’s Red 5 helmet.

Now, I’ve not held back about my thoughts on this series of builds. The first wave which had Boba Fett, Stormtrooper and TIE Fighter Pilot was a bit lacklustre for me and didn’t look great (well, in terms of the promotional pictures). The second wave which had Darth Vader and the Scout Trooper were a vast improvement and I can say that these two have improved the range once again.

The Mandalorian helmet is a great upgrade for the Boba Fett helmet, and despite it being pretty much grey all over, it has a great amount of detail, as I said in a recent podcast episode, as much as this one looks great, and as much as I love ‘The Mandalorian’ I think I’ll still skip this one because I don’t want to trigger the completionist in me.

Luke’s Red 5 Helmet looks stunning. The level of detail that’s included is just mind blowing.

Unfortunately though, the recently revealed ‘Dark Trooper’ helmet just doesn’t match up for the previous reveals for me. Something about it feels off, I think it looks too compacted, almost as if this is actually the one that was crushed by Luke on his way to the bridge.

First up for the play-sets is the ‘Dark Trooper Attack’ which is being billed as a Battle Pack but I’d class it more in line with the ‘Duel on…’ range of sets.

Coming with three Dark Trooper Mini-Figs and a brand new Luke Skywalker Mini-Fig, this set gives us a section of the now infamous hallway scene from ‘The Rescue’. It features a rotating elevator to emulate the rounded elevator door and a sliding feature to give the impression that Luke is Force Pushing one of his foes.

The detail of the corridor is well done and the play features are on point. The Dark Trooper Mini-Figs look great (and are the same as we got in ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’).

At an RRP of £24.99 for 166 pieces and four Mini-Figs, is a bit pricey for what you get really, however, it’s a very nice looking set so I’ll probably overlook the price and dive right in for this one on release. One other note is the box art is great. I love the Lego Mando and Grogu on the front.

The final set from this wave (barring any surprises) is ‘Boba Fett’s Throne Room’. Well, I think this has been named wrong. It really should be ‘Bob Fortuna’s Throne Room’ given the scene that is being portrayed on the art, which comes straight out of the Post-Credits Scene from ‘The Rescue’

Essentially we are getting an updated version of the ‘Jabba’s Palace’ set from 2012 so it’s overdue a remake. The detail looks pretty good, and looks just like the location from ‘The Mandalorian’ and the Mini-Fig selection does a great job of setting that scene, with the exception of the red-headed lab-coat wearing Mini-Fig who is stood just behind Bib’s Throne. Who is that meant to be? Some of the listings are saying it’s Rystáll Sant, but I’m sure she wasn’t on that scene or in ‘The Book of Boba Fett’.

Other than Bib, Boba and Fennec and Rystáll, the rest of the Mini-Fig selection is a group of the usual suspects in the underworld, a Quarren, a Gamorrean and a Weequay.

It’s a pretty pricey set, around £99 for a 732 piece count. I would say that there’s a price increase across the board but the three helmets are all priced at £54.99 and their piece counts range from 584 to 693, so that rules a general price increase out. Maybe the “adult” sets get a different price structure to the all-ages range.

Overall, a pretty cheap March/April for me (well in theory), hopefully I’ll be able to snatch both of the play sets up before the August wave arrives… we’ll, fingers crossed I can.

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Star Wars: Dangerous Turn Comic Review

With the Rebel Fleet getting stronger and the leadership reunited, survival is no longer the priority but Luke’s focus is drawn away towards his destiny and a need to train harder toward becoming a Jedi.

As Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar make strategies for locating the missing Rebels and (finally) setting up a rescue mission to save Shara Bey, Luke is distracted. He tells Leia that he has to go and commit more to Jedi Training. Saying that she will smooth things over with Mon Mothma Leia let’s Luke go.

Using a list of Jedi hot-spots that R2 has downloaded from Imperial records, Luke journeys to Iilum which is in the process of being converted into what becomes Starkiller Base.

After two more unsuccessful visits to Arashar which is under Imperial occupation and Lothal where the Temple is fully buried and sealed Luke visits Al’doleem, where Mount Pasvaal holds many Jedi secrets (first introduced in Soule’s ‘Darth Vader’ series where Vader kills Master Kira Infil’a). Despite the Imperial presence, Luke manages to get around but fails at his first attempt at a Jedi Mind Trick to learn what the Empire are up to on the planet.

He comes across a mechanic where R2 finds a wing panel from an old Jedi Interceptor. The proprietor of the business is a young man named Colli, whose parents Master Infil’a tasked with keeping his Jedi fighter safe during his time on the planet. Colli’s parents sent the boy and his sister away in the ship when the fight between Vadercand Infil’a destroyed a nearby damn, flooding the city.

Colli agrees to help Luke by taking him to the Imperial facility at the top of the mountain. Luke, about to storm in like a hero on an adventure decides to meditate, realising that the other way would certainly get him killed. Guided by the force, Luke uses a Jedi Mind Trick on the Stormtroopers at the main gate to bring him the most valuable item in the facility. They bring him a Holocron which Luke later opens to reveal teachings from none other than Master Yoda.

First off the bat, Soule, please don’t start going down the flashback route that the ‘Darth Vader’ run overused so much. I get that it was telling backstory to this issue but the three pages that felt lifted from your own ‘Darth Vader’ series was getting a bit much.

O.K. gripes over. Other than that I really enjoyed this issue. We really got to see some much needed character development from Luke as he really starts to transition into the Luke we saw in ‘Return of the Jedi’, and we get an explanation as to how he further developed his Jedi skills between the films without returning to Dagobah or bumping into Ahsoka which had become a popular fan theory.

Despite my earlier gripe, I really enjoyed how connected this issue was to other parts of the overall Star Wars canon, with Illum and Lothal being shown as Jedi hotspots and a few connections to the comics, and not only to Soule’s ‘Darth Vader’ run but also Jason Aaron’s run on ‘Star Wars’ where Luke remembers seeing and trying to use a Holocron before.

Having Yoda be the Jedi Master whose teachings are held in the Holocron makes sense, even though some readers may feel it makes the Galaxy seem smaller, for me it keeps Luke’s training consistent, and doesn’t end up confusing the Jedi-in-training with different or opposing views of the Force and the nature of Jedi. Of course I would have loved to see Qui-Gon Jinn offer some teachings or even Anakin Skywalker, as we know he did provide time lessons in other Holocron. Having Anakin show up in one and having Luke recognise something in Vader, even if it’s something small, could help direct his feelings towards that as well and give him further proof that Vader is telling the truth…

But that’s just me.

The biggest show of character development though comes in the moment that Luke goes from the headstrong heroic character, ready to charge into an Imperial facility with lightsaber in hand to the one who will stop and take time to strategise. His time meditating allows him to take stock of the situation and his own skills, granting him the knowledge to perform the Mind Trick to get what he needed.

Soule is giving us some truly amazing content in this series, and even though I (still) really want to see more stories about characters other than the main ones, when we are getting from the heroes is gold and definitely heading in the right direction towards where they are all at in ‘Return of the Jedi’.

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 5 Review

The final part of the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ arc in the main Star Wars run hits hard, ticks some boxes and gives a satisfying ending to the main heroes story.

Taking place after the events of the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ mini-series, Leia and Chewie are depressed at the loss of Han, believing him to be dead after he was sucked out of The Executor. As Lando is about to take the Falcon into hyperspace the ship is stopped by Qi’Ra’s ship, The Vermillion.

Qi’Ra invites herself onto the Falcon and requests to speak to Leia alone. Lando warns Leia to be careful leaving them to speak. Qi’Ra explains to Leia that she didn’t want the auction to go the way it did, in fact she wanted Han returned to the Rebellion but played a long game, essentially to get the name Crimson Dawn back into the Galaxy.

Qi’Ra offers to help Leia from behind the scenes, telling her that Han was saved by Boba Fett and taken straight to Jabba’s Palace and when the right time comes will use her agents to help get Leia, Lando and Chewie in the right place before returning to her ship, ready for the next step in her plans.

This is not the kind of conclusion to an arc that you would expect but it’s a fantastic one that answered a burgeoning question posed by fans after ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ came out, “What would happen if Qi’Ra and Leia ever met?” And the answer was not disappointing.

Pitting Leia and Qi’Ra against each other in a conversation was truly a feat of genius by Charles Soule. The whole premise is simple and unexpected but it works so well. I love the games Qi’Ra plays, essentially keeping blithe news that Han is alive until the very end. Leia even asks if Qi’Ra is trying to manipulate her, and quite possibly she isn’t doing so intentionally but at this point in her life it’s just natural for her.

The Lando storyline feels like it takes a step backwards after last issue. He’s going back to his older ways. trying to play multiple sides to try and help Lobot, and whilst honourable, feels like the development to his character we got last issue was redundant. Hopefully this is just Lando being Lando in front of his friend.

It seems the only thing missing in this issue is the culmination of Luke’s part of the story, which I have a feeling will be told in the pages of the ‘Darth Vader’ part of the overall story.

Well what can I say, this has been an adventure, Soule really nailed this run as well as the main mini-series. The art has been wonderful throughout and I’m feeling pretty excited for seeing where the series goes next (and can we go and rescue Shara Bey yet).

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 4 Review

As Luke battles Vader ship-to-ship, he manages to trick his father into crashing on the planet Jakara. Given the opportunity, Luke attempts to help his friends but Vader manages to get his TIE Advanced into somewhat usable order and resumes the air conflict.

Meanwhile, Leia grows increasingly anxious that Han is soon to be in Imperial custody and with the Falcon and the Shuttle Han is currently on knocked out by Boba Fett’s Seismic Charge time is of the essence.

Lando manages to find a way to help get the Falcon running again but it’s tricky. The former Captain of the Millennium Falcon enters a tight access route to correctly reset the diagnostics computer, all the while talking to L3-37, apologising for leaving her.

Later, as the Hutt fleet converges on Han’s position and Chewie fixes the ship, Leia and Lando have a heart-to-heart where Leia, using Lando’s own philosophy against him, convinced him to join the Rebellion.

This issue really allows us to slow down and breathe for a moment. With Vader out of the fight, even for a moment, it gives Luke a chance to regroup mentally as well as the rest of the team on the out of commission Falcon who are taking time to fix the ship and allows Leia and Lando time to actually talk.

This issue really gives us some character development for Lando. Whilst still not the most trustworthy of characters is slowly dropping his rough, scoundrel exterior and giving us a real look at who he is on the inside, a flawed individual who has made mistakes, it’s a side of Lando we’ve never seen before and we’re starting to get the thread that connects ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ character to the ‘Return of the Jedi’ General Calrissian.

Luke, when not under attack by Vader, continues his reflection on the Bespin duel, and acknowledges Vader’s revelation is the thing that’s holding Luke back from facing him again. This, like with Lando is another step that gives us character development between ‘Empire’ and ‘Jedi’ where Luke goes through a lot of personal growth.

Whilst the issue is slower paced, it’s a necessary break in an action packed story that gives Soule the chance to make the connections between the last two films of the Original Trilogy, and with one issue left in this arc (for this title) I’m really intrigued where Soule and co. will take our heroes next.

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 3 Review

As Luke makes his way to Jekara, he replays his duel with Vader in his mind, trying to understand Vader’s fighting style and strategise a way to survive another encounter. His reflection soon ends when he arrives at the planet and comes face-to-face with The Executor which launches a squadron of TIE Fighters.

Luke draws them into a chase and, avoiding their blasts manages to get the Inperial fighters to fire on one of the Crime Syndicate ships, which draws them into the fray allowing Luke a chance to get away.

On the planet, Vader duels and bests Qi’Ra as Lando, Leia and Chewie debate whether or not the time is right to rescue Han. Luke provides a distraction, as Vader becomes more interested in luring Luke into a meeting but Luke admits to Leia that he’s not ready to face Vader in combat.

I’m loving all of this starfighter action, Soule is really having his cake and eating it too with this cross over, with the criminal auction, full of the scum of the Galaxy, a full on Vader fight, Boba Fett kicking ass and then in this run we’re getting the Space Battle.

Luke’s fear of facing Vader is well played out in the early pages, he’s really trying his best to ramp himself up to a rematch, each panel where he has his lightsaber drawn it shows him with his new yellow sabre. Each one is basically a juxtaposition of his words, this is Luke still afraid, not come to terms with Vader’s revelation from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and desperately in need of training.

Leia’s determination in this issue is likely to get her killed if she didn’t have others around her to keep her on the straight and narrow. I get her need to save the man she loves but if she followed through with her plan then she’d get all of them killed, leaving Luke alone to deal with Vader, Crimson Dawn and the various Criminals. And those are pretty bad odds for him.

Again this issue has moments from the films depicted, and whilst used gratuitously in the ‘Darth Vader’ comics, again here is feels more fitting, and whilst this is only a couple of pages in this issue, some of the ‘Darth Vader’ sequences can go on for up to around half an issue so at least here I’m no feeling short changed.

With two more issues left of this arc, I’m now looking forward to seeing the fight between Luke and Vader take to the sky (and space) in what could be an ultimate grudge match.

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 2 Review

Charles Soule pulls double duty, penning the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ storyline as well as the concurrent issues in the main ‘Star Wars’ run.

Detailing what happens when Luke is away from the group, he joins Starlight Squadron on a reconnaissance mission that soon becomes a rescue mission when Starlight locates the remnants of the Eleventh Fleet under attack from one of Admiral Zahra’s Star Destroyers.

With seven starfighters against the Star Destroyer and the ground forces overwhelmed, one soldier transmits a location for Starlight Squadron to attack which could turn the tide of the battle.

As Luke approaches a small geographic vent, lining up the shot he has a vision of his Death Star trench run but instead of Han saving the day, Vader destroys the Falcon in his fighter. The vision distracts Luke but the rest of Starlight Squadron open fire and hit the target causing a reaction which leads a dormant Volcano to erupt, the blast wiping out the Star Destroyer.

As the ground and air forces celebrate, Luke takes his leave to join Leia, Lando and Chewie in the rescue mission just as the rest of the Squadron get a message from Mon Mothma, who it turns out they just rescued.

I like that the issue give us a break from the events on Jekara and follows up on the seemingly forgotten storyline of the hunt for the missing Rebel Fleets as well as Shara Bey. I get that Han is an important character but I find it tough to understand why everything would drop just for him, so seeing the continuing story unfold alongside the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’.

Soule does a great job of making the heroes seem fallible, in other hands it wouldn’t have been unheard of that a small group of fighters could take out a Star Destroyer but not on his watch. It takes a whole freaking Volcano which I have to admit, is one of the best images in a ‘Star Wars’ comic in a while.

Unlike in the ‘Darth Vader’ series which uses flashbacks and images from the films ad nauseam, the use of the flashback to Luke’s heroic attack on the Death Star reactor works well as it’s the whole reason he was nominated for the seemingly impossible run on the fissure, and the twist of the flashback being a Force Vision gives us a look at Luke’s developing connection to the Force as well as a terrifying ‘What if?’ scenario.

Soule is truly a multitasking genius, with this series, ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’, the recently released ‘Eye of the Storm’ mini-series and now ‘Crimson Reign’ and the upcoming ‘Secret Empire’, not to mention his non-Star Wars work, it’s surprising that his work remains consistently brilliant with so many plates spinning. Rosanas’ art is stunning, he really captures the starfighter battle brilliantly and whilst not being photo realistic, his renditions of the film characters are great.

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 1

After getting the location of Han Solo, now in the possession of Crimson Dawn, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Lobot and C-3PO head to the meeting, with Lando taking the opportunity to do some dealings of his own.

Soule kicks off the main titles ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ storyline and it’s already go intrigue, shady dealings, romance and some good old Star Wars style good times.

After receiving a message from Amilyn Holdo with details on the auction for Han Solo, Leia recruits Chewie, Lando, Lobot and C-3O to get on board Qi’Ra’s ship and join the auction and pay to get Solo and free him.

Lando uses this vast meeting to make good on his promise to Jabba to deliver the Talky Droid, where he will jettison the Droid out into space at a set location for Jabba’s crew to pick it up.

Before Lando and Lobot dispose of the Talky, Lobot connects with it again and Lando gives it some ‘what for’, telling the Droid he would have been much kinder had it not tried to kill his friend. That’s when Talky pulls a blinder and uses their connection to push back the implants connection to Lobot’s mind and allows the man to talk to Lando, but only after Lando sends it to its fate and the connection is lost as the Falcon flies away.

To avoid being detected, Chewie pilots the Falcon to the other side of the planet where the meeting is to be held but after a near collision the Falcon crash-lands near to the meeting place.

It’s not surprising that this story already fits in so well with the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ title with Soule at the helm, he’s quite probably been building his way to it, laying seeds throughout the last 13 (well 12 if you don’t include last months Prelude) much like he and Cavan Scott (and maybe the others) had been laying seeds and dropping hints about ‘The High Republic’ in their other works.

I’m pleased that Soule has referenced how out of character Leia has seemed over the last few issues. Whilst not glaringly obvious, something just hasn’t been the same, and it’s finally come to light as an intentional choice and the after effect of Leia’s defeat by Zahra earlier in the run. With that on top of the search for Han, the MIA Shara Bey and the scattered Rebel fleet it’s actually a work of genius to show the usually on form Leia show some cracks and allow herself some time to not be the all inspiring beacon of hope and just have a chance to feel like a regular person.

The continuing storyline with Lando and Lobot is hopefully coming to an end soon, maybe he can get himself out from under Jabba’s thumb in this arc. It’s totally understandable why Lando can’t be trusted by the main group but at some point he’s going to have to gain their trust, and the trust of the Rebellion leadership before the run comes to an end, which could be somewhere around issue 25 if they follow a similar structure to the first run which was 75 issues spanning three years in-universe. That leaves a bit of room after this crossover but we’ll just have to see.

The art and writing continues to be on point, I absolutely love this panel of Chewie as the Falcon is crash landing, the fear and surprise is conveyed so well which is something that could be quite difficult to do in a non-human character, but Rosanas excelled in this issue with the range that he shows in Chewie.

A great second-start to this new arc, I’m looking forward to seeing where Soule takes this series and what Lando will get up to next.

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The High Republic: Jedi’s End Part 4 Comic Review

Cavan Scott brings the comics in line with ‘The Fallen Star’ as ‘The High Republic’ comic series approaches its endgame.

On the ‘No-Space’ Station, the Jedi stop the deaths of many of the Nihil by sealing the hull after their own ships attacked the base, confused by the compassion shown by the Jedi, the Nihil surrender.

Meanwhile, Keeve gets between Avar and the injured Lourna Dee, stopping the Jedi Master from killing the Tempest Runner. Keeve tries to reason with Kriss who realises she was going too far and being drawn in by the Dark Side.

Later, with The Nihil prisoners on board the Ataraxia, the team arrive back at Starlight Beacon and Avar speaks to Stellan Gios, giving us a scene from ‘The Fallen Star’ from the opposite perspective. After the conversation an explosion tears through Starlight Beacon and damaging the Ataraxia and many of its systems.

The Jedi manage to latch the ship onto the Space Station and get inside only to be swarmed by people desperately trying to escape. The Jedi get them to safety before going deeper into the station and feeling the overwhelming effects of the creature known as The Leveller.

With one issue to go, the events of the comic is lining up nicely with the events from ‘The Fallen Star’ giving us a look at how it’s going from both sides of the Stellan/Avar rift and allowing us to get to see what the Jedi of the Ataraxia do when they reach the top half of Starlight Beacon whilst the Starlight crew are stuck in the bottom half.

I can’t deny I was hoping to see more conflict from Avar in this issue, her descent towards the Dark in the last issue was so well played out and her contempt towards Keeve was devastating, but here it takes very little for Avar to regain her composure whereas Elzar Mann had to go into a mini-exile after his lapse into the Dark in ‘The Rising Storm’ which he was still dealing with in ‘The Fallen Star’.

However, the action is not over yet. With the systems on the Ataraxia shit down and the prison cells open, I’m sure Lourna Dee will make a last ditch attempt to take out her Jedi captors or die trying.

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The New Jedi Order: Balance Point by Kathy Tyers

Two months after the tragedy at Fondor, the New Republic have made a shaky alliance with the Duros, who have been forced to live in orbital cities after the Empire occupied it and turned it into an uninhabitable waste land, to allow refugees from the Yuuzhan Vong invasion to take up residence on the planet and make it habitable.

Leia Organa-Solo is in the Gateway hub, the main area made habitable, co-ordinating the reclamation of the planet whilst Han and Jacen work in Pod 32 with the Ryn and other refugees saved during the Battle of Fondor.

Meanwhile, after a near fatal accident causing her to go EV (extra-vehicular) during a space battle, an injured Jaina Solo arrives on planet to help her father and brother but a devastating infestation causes Pod 32 to become uninhabitable and the whole lot need evacuating to the Gateway area. During the quarantine, Leia is reunited with Han and the Twins.

After learning of a Jedi Apprentice going missing on the main City Pod above Duros, Luke, Mara (who has just learned that she has become pregnant) and Anakin Solo, along with R2 go on a fact-finding mission which coincides with Jacen meeting with one of the Duros leaders about missing supplies to the plant. As Jacen is essentially placed under arrest (in the guise as being a guest), Luke, Anakin and Mara learn that anti-refugee sentiments are being thrown around amongst the Duros, which is similar to the anti-Droid sentiments that Nom Anor started on Rhommamool before the Vong invaded.

Jacen, keeping himself withdrawn from the Force manages to get free thanks to a rescue by Jaina who joins her younger brother, her Aunt and Uncle before heading back to Duros whilst Luke, Mara and Anakin do their best to escape the city before the Vong arrive, with the planetside refugees promised as sacrifices to allow the Duros cities to remain safe.

Once the Vong arrive, and the planetside evacuation underway, it becomes a war zone. Mara meets with the military leader of Duros and explains how they had been lied to by Yuuzhan Vong sympathisers and the Duros join the battle. War Master Tsavong Lah, the leader of the Vong arrives on the planet, taking Leia and a Hutt, Randa prisoner. Randa ends up sacrificed and Leia gravely injured as Jacen and Jaina work to rescue their Mother as Han helps get the last of the refugees, including the Ryn to safety.

Jacen reconnects with the Force as he has to battle Tsavong Lah to save Leia and the twins make it to the Falcon, joining the space battle in time for the last of the refugees to escape whist joining up with Luke, Mara and Anakin.

In the aftermath, an injured Tsavong Lah broadcasts to all known systems, claiming that the Yuuzhan Vong invasion will end of the people bring any and all force users, especially Jedi to Duros, especially Jacen Solo whom the War Master wishes to sacrifice personally.

The sixth instalment of ‘The New Jedi Order’ takes the galaxy-wide action of the previous novels and directs our attention to one place, Duros. A key planet for both the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and the New Republic defence as its close to the Core Worlds, giving the Vong a clear run at Coruscant.

Whilst keeping the majority of the action in once place it could make the novel feel small within the larger Galaxy but in actual fact it gives the novel real stakes for the whole series.

The story is mainly told from the points of view of Jacen and Mara. Jacen who I wracked with guilt for his involvement in the reactivation of Centrepoint Station in the previous novel and as a result has decided to cease using the Force. This moral dilemma drives Jacen throughout the book as he struggles with the guilt and the perceptions that people around him have for not using his powers, even when they could be used for defending and helping the refugees. During the Vong invasion, Jaina goes so far as berating him in front of Leia. Of course, by the end of the novel he opens himself back up to the force to help him defend his mother from Tsavong Lah.

Mara’s story, from her detection of the growing baby inside her to her actions Omar Duros is also chock-full of character development. Up until this book (given her barely appearing in the last one) in the series she had been terminally ill, after being infected by Nom Anor. She has almost a trepidatious new lease on life, nervous that the disease will come back after using Vergere’s tears to heal herself. Instead she senses a new life inside her, causing Luke to become increasingly protective of her, despite this being Mara Jade-Skywalker, one of the strongest, toughest women in the Galaxy, but given all she has gone through his concern is understandable. Of course it doesn’t stop her from throwing herself into danger and coming face-to-face with Nom Anor who reveals he was the one who infected her.

‘Balance Point’ is Kathy Tyers second full length Star Wars novel, the first being ‘Truce at Bakura’ which is one that I’ve not read before and it’s not available on Audiobook (digitally anyway) but given how much I have enjoyed this book I’m definitely tempted to, at some point, pick up ‘Truce’ and dive in.

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The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos (Part 2) – Jedi Eclipse by James Luceno

Han continues to help Droma search for surviving Ryn. The search takes them to a refugee camp, but are too late after the Ryn forge documents that allows a group of Yuuzhan Vong allies to ship potential slaves off world.

Leia visits the Hapes Consortium looking for new allies in the War, but Prince Isolder must first quash a fight within his own leadership before joining the New Republic.

Meanwhile, Talon Karrde is busy following leads to find out where the Yuuzhan Vong will conquer next after striking up a deal with the Hutts to use planets within Hutt Space to grow their fleet.

Anakin and Jacen are sent to Centrepoint Station as The New Republic starts to believe that Corellia will be the system the Vong attack where they are reunited with their Cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, released from prison to help bring Centrepoint back online after Anakin shut it down eight years before.

Everything comes to a head, with Han and Droma following the refugee Ryn to the shipyards of Fondor ahead of a battalion of Yuuzhan Vong ships arrive, the New Republic and Hapan fleets muster what ships they can to aid Fondor.

The battle is fierce, with Kyp and his crew invading one of the Vong ships to rescue the Jedi, Wurth Skidder who unfortunately succumbs to the Vong’s torture tactics but, with the help of Han, manage to save the prisoners before the ship is destroyed.

However, the battle is won on a devastating way when Sal-Solo uses the Centrepoint Station to fire on the enemy but also manages to wipe out most of the Hapen fleet as well as New Republic force and half of the Yuuzhan Vong attack force.

In the aftermath, the remaining Hapen fleet prepare to return to their home to fortify their defences and wait to see if the Vong attack them as well, whilst Jacen and Anakin debate whether-or-not Anakin should have been the one to fire Centrepoint as his connection to the machine would have allowed the blast to only affect the enemy ships and Han and Leia have a brief call, with Han still staying out in the Galaxy as Leia prepares to leave for Duros.

I can’t believe it took me almost a year to read this book. I finished the previous book in James Luceno’s ‘Agents of Chaos’ Duology last January and started this one immediately, but stopped after about sixty or seventy pages because, as always, I tend to struggle with Luceno’s books, despite how good they are.

And yes, this one is good. The character development for Han that has transpired through this part is starting to bring the old smuggler back into a place we knew him. Still devastated by the loss of Chewbacca, his partnership with Droma really helped break his spiral into darkness. It’s a shame that Droma doesn’t stick around with Han but with the Ryan’s storyline seeming finished now he has found his family I worry that he would become a bit of a one-note character who would (not intentionally) pull Han’s story away from his relationship with Leia which, at this point seems strained as they’ve been apart for quite some time now.

Leia’s continuing mission to seek aid and allies, this time taking her the the Hapes Consortium to meet with her former betrothed Prince Isolder and his mother Ta’Chume provides an interesting juxtaposition to Han’s rough and ready and sometimes muddy (after rescuing Droma from the Salliche Ag work camp and using the river as an escape) mission to one of extreme grandeur, pomp and ceremony. As the Consortium are split over whether or not to help the New Republic, inter-planetary politics leads Isolder to defend Leia’s honour against her wishes and takes part in a duel to secure votes for Leia. It’s an interesting look at what Leia’s life could have been had she chosen duty over love and married Isolder instead of Han and it’s a life I don’t think she would have liked too much.

The Jedi get representation in the book too, with Wurth Skidder allows himself to be taken by the enemy to infiltrate them and use his abilities to manipulate a Yammosk but his plan backfires and he is tortured. Kyp and his crew are working with Talon Karrde to try and locate the Vong’s next target, all the while, Luke stays on Yavin IV as the healing tears given to them by Vergere are seemingly helping Mara keep her illness in check.

The moral debate between Anakin and Jacen continues, the two brothers never quite reaching a mutual agreement about the Jedi’s place in the Galaxy or the ongoing war. With Jacen fundamentally opposed to Anakin using Centrepoint in battle but his younger brother believing that in the war, perhaps if you have the means to prevent a disaster then perhaps causing one against you enemies isn’t morally wrong.

I’m still in the early stages of this series, and despite my personal issues whilst reading Luceno’s books (I don’t understand why I struggle with them) I’m enjoying it. Do I wish we had gotten this over the Sequel Trilogy? Not at all, despite their flaws, the Sequel Trilogy brought a fresh continuation of the Saga. I’m pleased that I listened to most of the Post-Return of the Jedi audiobooks that led to this series, because there are numerous references to them, especially in this book with Thracken Sal-Solo, Kyp Durron, The Hapes Consortium and Centrepoint Station all being integral to the story, that prior knowledge ended up being very useful.

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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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