Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 2

Vader’s punishment continues.

Broken and beaten, Vader makes it to the Techno Union outpost but is being followed by a mysterious character.

Once inside he relives his massacre of the Separatist Leaders whilst he has a group of MSE Droids help attach various droid limbs to allow him full movement.

The mysterious character arrives, introducing himself as Ochi of Bestoon. The two begin to fight which takes them out of the outpost. Vader beats the assassin and threatens his life for answers, Ochi tells Vader that the Emperor is building something which Vader wants more information.

During the interrogation, Vader awakens something from inside a cave which calls to him. Ochi tries to shut the cave by causing a rockslide but Vader gets through where he finds The Eye of the Webbish Bog.

This issue lacks something and I can’t put my finger on it. So far it’s the first issue of the series I have felt disappointed with, I feel like the continued brilliance of the series up to now has spoilt me and this part of the story, which is essentially putting the next set pieces together to build up to a bigger and greater story, but with very little pay off except Vader rebuilding his removed limbs and finally meeting The Eye of the Webbish Bog, which we have had teased for months when Marvel released images of the cover for next months issue.

The build up around the introduction of Ochi the Assassin doesn’t pay off here. To me he looks like a rejected design for ‘Red Hood’ in the ‘Arkham Knight’ game which is disappointing to me, why they didn’t choose to keep him without the mask makes no sense to me, he doesn’t come across as threatening like he does in the brief glimpses we in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ with his face on show. He also comes across as very cocky as he interacts with Vader, again, not something I would have imagined a follower of the Sith would do in the presence of a Sith Lord, even if he is disgraced at the time. I’m sure he will continue to show up in this arc and so hope that the character pays off in the end and isn’t just a tenuous link to the Sequel Trilogy, only there as a small piece of connective tissue.

It’s not all bad however, Vader’s flashbacks to his turn to the Dark Side, where he aided in Order 66 and the slaughter of the Younglings haunts him, we see that Anakin/Vader was hesitant to kill the children but did so at the behest of Palpatine. His eventual attack on the Separatist leaders also causes Vader to hesitate but once again, he follows his Master’s orders. It seems evident that he wasn’t truly converted to the Dark Side until the culmination of his duel with Kenobi where he felt truly abandoned by everyone he loved.

Whilst the story is lacking and the design of Ochi in his armour is lacking, the art in general is stunning and has some of my favourite imagery from the run so far, especially when Vader enters the Techno Union stronghold and finds the remains of the Separatist Leaders.

The issue works in terms of building towards something bigger but with very little pay off it feels a bit ‘filler’, however once the full run has been released it will probably feel better in the grand scheme of the story.

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#CollectionCorner – Winter 2021 Reveals

Over the last few days, Lego have been releasing information about next years Winter sets and THE BROTHERS BRICK put out the Star Wars selection recently.

First up is the new ‘Red 5 X-Wing’, featuring Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and, for the first time, General Dodonna. This is one of the new “Reboot” sets, which come with less pieces, are less detailed but the price is significantly less than normal.

The build is 474 pieces with a price of £44.99 which is a very good price/piece ratio. The last version was 730 pieces and the reduced number does affect the detail of the ship, but as a mid-level build it looks good. In actuality, had I not got the last version a couple of years ago, I would go for this. It doesn’t look like an overly complicated build, but as a representation of an X-Wing it’s really spot on.

Of course, it comes with the pre-requisite Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, it is Luke’s X-Wing after all, it also comes with Princess Leia with her robes, rather than the usual mini-fig legs, which until now was exclusive to the Tantive IV set, making this a more affordable way of getting this version. The final mini-fig has never been released before, General Jan Dodonna.

Next up is the TIE Fighter reboot, again, like the X-Wing, it is smaller with 432 pieces for £34.99, which is an incredible piece/price ratio with three mini-figs, TIE Fighter Pilot, Stormtrooper and an NI-L8 Protocol Droid.

From the images, we can assume that the main area where there are less pieces are the wings, as they seem too small compared to the cockpit, but in terms of displaying and playing this doesn’t feel like a big issue. Again, if I hadn’t go the TIE Fighter from the first ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ wave I would pick this one up.

The new Millennium Falcon Microfighter with Han Solo is next, it’s the third iteration of the Falcon, and second with Han Solo. I understand why they are re-releasing the Falcon as it’s a popular ship but we got on not long back with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ so it feels a bit early. I also feel like there are so many vehicles that haven’t been converted to the Microfighter range that there’s more opportunities to make some different vehicles.

At £8.99, it’s a standard price/size for Microfighters.

A new Microfighter two-pack is coming soon as well, whilst it having any official images released, it was revealed on the box art for the Millennium Falcon. The new two-pack consists of Hoth Luke Skywalker on his Tauntaun against an AT-AT and AT-AT Pilot.

This is the second time we have had an AT-AT Microfighter, but that was all the way back in the second wave. The new version looks to be a huge improvement on the build.

Whilst I don’t generally go for the Microfighters, I’ve bought two over the years and those were for the mini-figs, I may actually go for this two-pack, mainly for the Luke and Tauntaun, the Tauntaun build look pretty impressive and I’d love to pick up a Hoth Luke.

These sets are due for release on 1st January, along with the ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set I wrote about HERE last week (which I will definitely be buying on Day 1).

For me, it isn’t the most exciting Wave of sets, I’ll definitely be waiting anxiously for the Spring releases, but it will give me a chance to catch up on sets from this year that I’ve missed out on so far (an hopefully seeing some reduced prices in the January Sales).

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Lego Star Wars Holiday Special Review

Happy Belated Life Day folks!

I may have forgotten but Disney didn’t this year which I’m thankful for because Lucasfilm and Lego have teamed up and brought us a 47 minute bundle of Star Wars joy to take our minds off of 2020.

The story, set after ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ centres on Rey as she goes on a journey to learn how to be a better teacher to Finn who has begun Jedi Training. Rey goes to a list Jedi Temple and finds a key that allows her to travel through time and space.

At first she observes different Masters with their Apprentices, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Luke and Yoda and then Palpatine and Vader.

But the shenanigans go awry when Palpatine sends Vader to take the key which leads to a lightsaber duel between Vader and Rey and they fall through various time periods, collecting characters from all the films a long the way (even the top half of Darth Maul).

Palpatine eventually gets his hands on the key and they find Kylo Ren (post The Last Jedi) who tells Palpatine how he dies (thrown down a reactor shaft, no one comes back from that) which leads to Palpatine becoming angry with Vader and he takes Ren on as his new Apprentice.

Force Ghost Yoda visits Rey who has brought Luke from ‘A New Hope’ through a portal by accident before losing the key. Yoda teaches her about being a teacher. Rey figures out how to unlock a portal thanks to Yoda’s words of wisdom and arrives in The Throne Room on Death Star 2, as Vader arrives with Luke (ROTJ) and it becomes a free-for-all of fights. Kylo is just angsty as he tells past-Luke’s that he has to pay for what they did to him (they are completely unaware) but eventually the numbers start to thin out as Rey sends people back to their own times.

Vader throws Palpatine down the reactor shaft, Rey takes ‘A New Hope’ Luke home, fixes the timelines by sending everyone back to when they should be, before returning to Kashyyk where Poe, Rose, Finn and Chewie have been setting up and throwing a Life Day party with numerous guests including Chewie’s family, Lando, Jannah, Maz and even Max Rebo.

The story is told with the kind of Lego humour we have come to expect, and of course they have to have toys to tie-in, which will be coming in the Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar.

There are so many great nods to the Star Wars franchise, and even on my second viewing I was noticing more, and it’s all great fun. Watching Attichitcuk chase and try to eat Porgs doesn’t get old, as well as the great banter between Rose and Finn as Poe tries to organise the Life Day preparations.

One of the highlights for me was Palpatine, he’s a great mix of Galaxar from ‘Monsters Vs. Aliens’, Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ and 10 year old petulant child which is not at all what you expect from the ruler of the Galaxy. But that’s what Lego is good at, messing with the characters we know and love, whilst also respecting the stories.

The level of detail on the ships is phenomenal, not a brick out of place on Rey’s X-Wing and the Falcon looks great.

A great number of Star Wars Alumni lend their voices to this Holiday Special, of course, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams return as C-3PO and Lando respectively. Kelly Marie Tran comes back to voice Rose who deservedly gets more screen time than in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, some of her bather with Finn is great fun (and I want a TROS Rose mini-fig). James Arnold Taylor reprises his role of Obi-Wan, this time voicing the character at four different points in time, and a three-way “Hello There!” will surely become the go-to meme in days/weeks to come. Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker and Tom Kane round out the actors from ‘The Clone Wars’, giving me a whole swath of nostalgia for the series, so I’m possibly seeing a rewatch in my future.

It’s decidedly not Canon, but it’s a great, fun adventure that feels like ‘Star Wars’, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all and it keeps you entertained throughout, and the whole family will enjoy it. I hope we’re seeing the beginning of a tradition here, the franchise could lend itself to a Lego Holiday Special each year, or every couple. Just imagine, next it could be all about how Mando gives The Child his first proper Life Day celebration and the usual shenanigans ensue (Disney/Lucasfilm/Lego I want some form of Credit for this if you use it).

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Speculation: The Mandalorian Chapter 14

WARNING!!!

POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Last year, just as ‘The Mandalorian’ was about to come out, Season 2 was in Pre-Production, Making Star Wars was putting out scoops from the set as things were gearing up to film, including THIS, which has been on my mind recently.

In the article, Jason Ward details a chance meeting with some people who worked on ‘The Mandalorian’ and struck up a conversation where they showed him some images from a workshop where there were multiple Yoda species puppets in various stages of construction. He was also informed that George Lucas consulted on the episode (possibly the sixth episode) and gave information on Yoda’s species.

During the first season I was waiting for the sixth episode with baited breath and we got ‘The Prisoner’ which was my least favourite of the first season. But given the timing of the article, my anticipation may have been a bit premature.

What I am thinking is that after meeting Ahsoka, she will either send of join Mando and The Child to locate more of the The Child’s species, but problems will ensue seeing as The Razorcrest is being tracked by Moff Gideon’s forces.

Could we see Mando and The Child go their separate ways here? Will Moff Gideon find all of the creatures and take them all for his nefarious experiments? Only time will tell…

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From A Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back Review

With ‘From A Certain Point of View: A New Hope’ firmly on my list of Star Wars books I’m really not all that keen on, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ version gave me a bit of an internal debate. On the one hand, ‘Empire’ is and always has been my favourite of the films, it’s the one I hold the rest of the films up to in terms of perfect ‘Star Wars’, so to get a new look at the film is something I’d look forward to, but as a follow up to one of my least favourite books in the franchise (Canon, nothing could be worse for me than ‘Before the Storm’, the first part of ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy’) it was a tough one to settle on.

Well I needn’t have worried at all.

Where a group of the authors involved with ‘A New Hope’ decided to inundate the book with stories about the denizens of the Cantina, which slowed the book down to no end, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ doesn’t suffer from this problem.

There are two major locations that we spend a lot of time in, Hoth and Cloud City, where we get stories ranging from ‘Hunger’, or as I refer to it, ‘The Wampa’s Point of View’, and ‘This is No Cave’ that I could have happily skipped and may do in the future, and whilst I didn’t enjoy them, it’s not to say that they are bad stories, far from it, but just not my cup of tea.

For the most part I really engaged with this book and as a huge fan of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I love that the stories shed light on some of those secondary and tertiary characters, even the Imperial Captain who dies in a hologram to Vader gets a story, which ties into another story featuring the fan favourite Rae Sloane.

Fans of the Bounty Hunters are in luck, they all get stories, Boba has his own, as does Bossk, whilst IG-11 and Dengar are thrown together, forming a very loose partnership and another details more about 4-LOM and Zuckuss in ‘STET’ by Daniel José Older which also features the return of one of my favourite characters from his novel ‘Last Shot’.

There are three stand-out stories for me that I would have to give 5/5, those are ‘Rogue Two’ by Gary Whitta, ‘Rendezvous Point’ by Jason Fry and Vergence by Tracy Deonn, which gives a voice (so to speak) to the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, which as I read I could hear it in Sam Witwer’s voice as ‘The Brother’ from ‘The Clone Wars’, unfortunately for me, in the audiobook Witwer narrates ‘Disturbance’ by Mike Chen, which is about Palpatine (for the record I didn’t do the Audiobook for this one, just fan casting).

For me, this collection is a complete step-up from the ‘A New Hope’ version, probably because its my favourite film. For me the pacing of the book, the way the stories are arranged feels much better, they flow together and you never feel bogged down by a single location.

Whilst it’s not one of the best of the current Star Wars book series it’s far from the worst, it’s enjoyable and as I said before, engaging. Well worth a read for fans of the franchise but not one for a newcomer to the books to start with.

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#CollectionCorner – Winter 2021 Mandalorian Reveal

Well thank you BRICK FANATICS for making me even more excited for 2021 than I already was.

Images of the upcoming Lego set based on ‘The Mandalorian’ has been revealed and its shot right to the top of my ‘must buy’ list.

Direct from Chapter 9: The Marshal, this 276 piece set brings us The Mandalorian himself, in his shiny Beskar armour (unlike the previous two mini-figs that depict him pre-Beskar), The Child (at a much more affordable price-point than The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport/Razorcrest set) and a Tusken Raider. Mando and The Child get to ride their Speeder Bike as donated by Peli Motto to aid Mando in his search for another Mandalorian supposedly on Tatooine.

The Tusken Raider also gets some love, with a hut and campfire as well as a giant spear-launcher, both shown in the same episode.

Am I surprised by this set? Not at all. Mando and The Child on that Speeder Bike has been depicted in promotional material for the show, seen heavily in the trailers for the series and a great way to package the two leads in one smaller set. I am however slightly shocked by the Tusken Raider, hut and launcher, I would have thought that Lego would have cashed in very quickly on Cobb Vanth and his Podracer engine-turned-Speeder Bike, but this could purely be hindsight as, at the time this set was devised, the popularity of Timothy Olyphant’s character was known only to the readers of the ‘Aftermath Trilogy’, and I’m sure we’ll get that set in the future.

Looking at the images, this set looks pretty screen-accurate, the Speeder-Bike looks spot on, even for a smaller vehicle and the Hut and Campfire are a really nice detail to add for collectors to display (I’m already planning mine).

In all honesty, this will probably be the only set I pick up in the first Wave next year, with the majority of the sets being updated to older sets (with less pieces), this is the only “New” set. Luckily this will give me a chance to catch up on some of this years sets I haven’t had chance to pick up yet (and focus time to finally build the ‘Ewok Village’).

More info on the set will arrive with next weeks #MandoMonday event, but given the piece-count, I think we’ll be looking at around a £25 price-point, £30 at a push which is pretty standard for this size set.

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Star Wars: The Will of Tarkin Part 2

In the midst of battle, Commander Zahara finally comes face-to-face with her quarry, Leia Organa.

In a flashback, we see a conversation between Vader and Palpatine who tasks Vader with hunting down the Rebels after the events of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ but Vader refuses but tasks Zahara, who has been overseeing an Imperial Mining Operation on Kessel to do the job.

As the Rebels Fourth Division takes the fight to Zahara’s fleet, with Leia on the Seventh Divisions flagship and Luke leading the fighter squadrons against the TIE Fighters.

Commander Zahara leads a Boarding Party who blast their way through Leia’s ship and sabotage the Engines, the only way to get them working again is to send Leia to her and she’ll reactivate them.

Leia goes to Zahara whilst Luke and the fighters along with Lando and Chewie in the Falcon manage to destroy enough enemy fighters to allow Wedge and the rest of the fighters on Home One a chance to join the battle.

Zahara taunts Leia in the engine room, firing at her from the shadows and attacking her with a sword. Zahara is ready to kill Leia but is thwarted by the arrival of Luke. Zahara threatens to kill Luke, but tells him that Vader wants him alive. The Imperial Fleet escapes after Zahara reaches her ship.

Zahara tells Lieutenant Gorr that even though she didn’t kill Leia this time, that she has gotten under Leia’s skin, and that will break Leia’s spirit bit-by-bit, which could lead to a bigger issue for the Rebellion.

This two-part story has been great. Full of action and character development, we really get to know Commander Zahara who looks to be the main antagonist of this run. We finally get a villain on the same level as Leia, Han had Boba Fett and Jabba, Luke had Vader and now Leia has an antagonist who will be a great foil for the Princess. I’d like to see a real game of Cat and Mouse between the two of them to really drive the series forward.

There is some amazing imagery of the space battle and the fighter dogfights, the fleet combat looks great too and the return of Wedge is great to see.

A short but memorable story arc that really places Zahara high on the list of memorable villains, her drive to avenge the memory of her former mentor, Tarkin and prove she is worthy of his forgiveness, even if he’s dead, just go to show how determined she is to accomplish her goals.

And with a new story arc about to start which looks like it will tie-in to the upcoming ‘High Republic’ in a big way, the anticipation can only get higher.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 8 – An Unpacking

This is the eighth episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, This week I unpack some Hasbro ‘Black Series’ figures, and I’m pretty excited.

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Doctor Aphra: Fortune and Fate Part 5

The first arc draws to an enjoyable and an incredible ‘Indiana Jones’ style conclusion.

Now on Canto Bight, Aphra and her crew are the Prisoners of Ronan Tagge, who gets to do a Bond-Villain style monologue about why he wants to destroy the Rings of Vaale (bit of a pain-in-the-ass Kid who is living in his family’s shadow). Aphra, knowing he also want to kill Professor Okka so that all knowledge of the Rings would be destroyed. Aphra sets it up so that Tagge would attempt to destroy the Rings and Okka together whilst testing the Rings powers of eternal life and fortune.

Tagge throws Okka into a disintegration chamber that her Droid TA-148 has accessed and decreased the chambers power. Believing the deception, Tagge takes the rings from Okka and is thrown into the chamber. Aphra resets the chamber and activates it.

The crew escape whilst Lucky, seeing something going on in Tagge’s apartment makes his way there to find the body of Ronan Tagge, still alive but severely injured.

Aphra and her team discuss the recent events and lack of evidence, but Okka’s Droid had made some detailed scans of Vaale and took some souvenirs to prove its existence.

Meanwhile, Lucky visits Ronan’s Aunt, Lady Domina who wants revenge on Aphra.

Whilst being fairly confined to Ronan Tagge’s Penthouse, there’s enough action to make the scope feel much grander. Tagge’s juvenile attitude really plays to the forefront here, his entire plan for the rings is essentially to destroy them in an effort to be noticed and taken seriously as a member of the prestigious Tagge family, but really it comes across as a whiny brat who wants his own way. I’m hoping that if (when) he returns, he’s dropped that element of his personality and comes back as a much stronger villain. I’m not saying he’s a bad villain, he’s exactly what we needed for this particular story but with him surviving it really gives Alyssa Wong a chance to play around with the character and give him some growth, even if it is to make him more villainous.

We get a rare opportunity to see Aphra’s softer side when she talks to Okka about why she threw Okka under the bus, Aphra will always be a shady character, there’s no getting around that but she does have that soft, caring side that doesn’t always get to come out, but when it does it’s lovely. My hope is that, one day the character gets a chance to fully let that side out but that won’t be for a while because there are plenty more stories to tell about the shady rogue archaeologist.

The arc overall has been great, a slap-dash mix of ‘Indiana Jones’ with a ‘Star Wars’ twist with Tagge being an excellent representation of Julian Glover’s Walter Donovan from ‘The Last Crusade’ but a healthy dose of horror manages to keep the story fresh and as always a cute Droid to save the day in a moment that reminded me of when Jon Osterman is blasted in the radiation chamber that transforms him into Dr. Manhattan in ‘Watchmen’.

A successful first arc for Aphra’s new creative team, and the next arc looks to be a heavy one for our beloved anti-hero, with Domina Tagge after revenge and the return of Sana Starros. Very exciting.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 7 – Han Solo

This episode I take a look at the ‘Han Solo’ from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Black Series figure from Hasbro.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 1

Vader is in trouble!

Palpatine is very displeased with his apprentice who has allowed his anger and hate to slip away and become grief-stricken after his encounter with Sabé and the Amidalans.

Vader is struck with the Emperor’s lightning before being attacked by the Royal Guards. Mas Amedda tells Vader that his actions, allowing Luke to escape and not wiping out Sabé and her band of rebels survive, are surmountable to treason and punishable by death but Palpatine doesn’t want to lose his prize pupil.

Palpatine destroys Vader’s cybernetic limbs that replaced those he lost to Obi-Wan before taking him to Mustafaar and dumping him where Obi-Wan struck him down. Palpatine then tells Vader that he must build himself back up on his own, as Vader reaches for his lightsaber with the Force he is chastised and told that if he uses the Force his Master will know and his punishment will be more severe.

Vader manages to crawl towards the Techno Union stronghold where his and Obi-Wan’s battle started whilst Palpatine and Mas Amedda watch from a distance.

Even though we have seen Vader suffer at the hands of The Emperor in the previous Darth Vader comic series’, this issue, for me, really shows the evil lengths the Sith Masters would go to keep their apprentices in line.

Palpatine steps away from his emotional torment of Vader and rather than a mere blast of Force Lightning, he essentially has Vader beaten by his thugs and then in true evil overlord fashion, strikes the final blows by rendering Vader, in a manner of speaking, useless. Taking away three of his limbs and forbids Vader from using the one thing he has relied on for most of his life, The Force.

This issue starts to establish why Vader seems so downtrodden in ‘Return of the Jedi’ when in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ he is on top of his game, after winning back Palpatine’s favour in Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series, but in ‘Return of the Jedi’ he comes across more like a wounded puppy, almost begging his master to acknowledge his triumphs. Vader is used as a messenger in the beginning of the film, and later banished to The Executor. When Vader dares to return to The Death Star with the news that Luke is on the Forest Moon he is questioned, obviously, now we begin to understand why and if Palpatine hadn’t believed him then I can only assume that a similar punishment would have met Vader in the Throne Room. Like ‘The Clone Wars’ giving us more insight into why Anakin turns his back on the Jedi in ‘ Revenge of the Sith’, this series is giving us a deeper look into why Vader is conflicted when it comes down to him fighting Luke, and it’s not just because if he doesn’t he will be killed and I get the feeling this comic run will make us see that duel in a different light once it reaches its conclusion.

This already strong series continues to get stronger in terms of the story and the lore building that goes with it. It’s truly brutal to see and makes you really feel for Vader, despite the evil deeds he has committed and allows us to follow his path to redemption more closely.

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Lego VLog – Armoured Assault Tank

Welcome to the new episode of the Lego VLog.

This episode I build the Armoured Assault Tank.

Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for watching.

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Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn Book Review

I can’t imagine the excitement for fans in 1991 when this book was released after eight years since ‘Return of the Jedi’ has been released.

Of course there had been new content, the two Ewoks films as well as the Droids and Ewoks cartoons, but this was the first story that continued the heroes adventures.

I first read it in around 1994/95. I had just learned that there were Star Wars books and after either Christmas of my Birthday, armed with what felt like mountains of cash I decided to buy my first Star Wars books. After a warning from my Dad, who was worried I wouldn’t enjoy them, to only buy one, I headed to the Sci-Fi section and pulled the ‘A New Hope’ novelisation and ‘Heir to the Empire’ off the shelves.

There’s not a great deal I can really say about this book that hasn’t already been said and discussed ad nauseam in the last 29 years (yikes) as it has been a fan favourite ever since its release and it was an incredibly strong foundation for the franchise to jump off.

It introduced us to some fan favourites who created their own legacy throughout the now ‘Legends’ timeline. The characters Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Captain Pellaeon and Talon Karrde all became staples in the EU.

We also learned about Han, Luke and Leia, struggling to establish the New Republic on Coruscant (originally named here and used by Lucas for the Prequels), had Han and Leia be married, with Leia being pregnant with the couples twins.

Zahn crafts a wonderful image of a Galaxy in turmoil, the status-quo is in upheaval as the struggling New Republic attempts to get a foothold in maintaining a peaceful Galaxy whilst dealing with the strengthening Imperial Remnant, under the command of Zahn’s most influential character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, who’s legacy has stretched beyond the EU and into the Disney timeline after he appeared as a main villain in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ and now four novels set in the timeline, with Captain Pellaeon making a couple of minor appearances.

A few other concepts have been taken from ‘Heir to the Empire’ and introduced into Canon. Of course, Thrawn and his Star Destroyer, The Chimera are the most notable, but Thrawn’s bodyguard, Rukh, and his species, the Noghri, were first introduced here and they appeared throughout the majority of the post-ROTJ era EU novels. Han and Leia being married also made its way into Canon, but that was inevitable really. The concept of The Emperor having storehouses locates around the Galaxy is introduced here, with the Dark Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth guarding Mount Tantiss where Palpatine his some items that Thrawn requires to help restore the Empire to its former glory.

The success of this novel not only garnered another two parts to round out Zahn’s ‘Empire’ Trilogy but laid a foundation for the EU to build upon for the next eight years.

The latest release, to coincide with the start of Zahn’s ‘Thrawn: Ascendency’ trilogy features wonderful artwork which when the covers of all three books in the trilogy are put together make a larger picture. Oddly enough, why it’s being released this year and not next year to mark the 30th Anniversary is baffling, but I’m not a publishing guru so I’ll keep my nose out of that one.

All in all, ‘Heir to the Empire’, for me at least is essential Star Wars reading for fans and non-fans of the EU. Canon junkies will appreciate it for the little things that have appeared in-Canon, fans of ‘Rebels’ get to find out where the character ‘Thrawn’ originated and above all, it’s an incredibly enjoyable read.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – The Battle of the Ringalli Nebula – Missions 12, 13 & 14

The final battle has arrived!

After the Empire’s plot to divers the Starhawk was successful, the battle starts in earnest.

Mission 12 has Vanguard Squadron escorting engineers to the nearby moon of Galitan where old Rebellion Comsats are reactivated for the New Republic to call in reinforcements.

You finally get to pilot a U-Wing, using its support technology to help decent the Comsats against an onslaught of TIE Fighters and Bombers, as well as making sure the engineers are well protected.

It’s back to Titan Squadron for Mission 13. Javes has taken control of Anvil Squadron and they are defending the Starhawk, your mission is to blow a hole in the hull of the warship and fly through the structure to the Tractor Beam generator, but before that, you take out Javes in one-on-one combat. Once the battle is over, Titan Squadron and The Overseer leave the Ringali Nebula, leaving the rest of the Imperial ships to bear witness to the Starhawks destruction.

After the mission, Titan Three (you) are promoted to Flight Baron and Titan Squadron recurve commendations and recognition for your bravery and dedication to the Empire.

With the Starhawk damaged beyond repair and the remaining Imperial ships nearby, General Syndulla puts a new plan into motion, using the last ounces of power from the Starhawk’s Tractor Beam, two Corvettes will tow the ship into a collision course with Galitan. The ensuing explosion will take out the Empire’s forces nearby. Mission 14 has Vanguard Squadron protect the ships until the point of no return. Luckily, Javes wasn’t killed by Titan Squadron and after Galitan explodes, he manages to lead you and the rest of your Squadron to safety by flying through the moon as it’s about to explode.

Once the mission is over, Vanguard Squadron are given high praise and you learn that, even though the prototype Starhawk was destroyed, the New Republic are working on building more of the ships for the future.

As a whole, the Battle of the Ringali Nebula is a great series of missions, with fast paced action, a whole lot of adventure and incredible enjoyable to play. Flipping between the two factions really gives you a great look at the battle from both sides, whereas normally in the films or books we usually only get a one sided view of the action.

The apparent loss of Lindon Javes and his subsequent return felt a little ham-fisted. His death would have really given the story some added gravitas, but seeing as the Starhawk project was under his watchful eye, it would have felt wrong for him not to oversee the construction of more of the powerful ships. His return also frees Hera from the project, ready for her to return to the ‘Alphabet Squadron: Shadowfall’ novel with Vanguard Squadron, seeing as Anvil Squadron is now under Jave’s command.

Overall, ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ has been immensely enjoyable, both from a gameplay perspective and from a story one. The story fits well into the established timeline and gives insight into Vanguard Squadron, and Hera’s mission that took her away from the action in ‘Shadowfall’.

Having both factions have storylines keeps the game fresh, with the two connected storylines fleshing out the events and also allowing players to jump into a wide array of ships which is a treat for anyone who has ever wanted to fly any of the iconic fighters from the Star Wars Saga.

I was also incredibly surprised by the length of the game itself, fourteen missions of decent length for the low price of £35 is pretty unheard of in this day and age of video games, and with a nice selection of multiplayer options (which I am avoiding right now) the price is absolutely spot-on.

I would love to see more stories for both these Squadrons, and would love a ‘Battle of Jakku’ expansion where Vanguard and Titan Squadrons get to face off once again. Of course we know which side wins, but to see the battle play out and to be a part of it would be immense.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 6 – The Black Series Empire Strikes Back Yoda

This is the sixth episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary Yoda.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: The Will of Tarkin Part 1

The origins of the mysterious Commander Zahra are revealed as she prepares to tighten the noose on the struggling Rebel Fleet.

A former protégé of Grand Moff Tarkin, who bested her peers and became Tarkin’s right hand during the final stages of constructional The Death Star. She fell out of his favour when a mission she was sent on to wipe out a Crime Lord goes wrong. She witnessed the destruction from The Death Star as she took an Imperial Shuttle to complete the mission she failed to try and win back Tarkin’s praise.

Meanwhile, the Rebel Fleet put a plan in motion to combat the Imperial ships that are using their communications to hunt them.

Leia has her group send a transmission that lures the Imperials. Zahra’s fleet arrives and begins wiping out the Seventh Group, whilst another fleet arrives at the location of Leia’s group but they have moved on, and arrives to reinforce the Seventh Group in a pincer movement to try and take out Zahara’s fleet.

Getting to know Zahara after her introduction in the last arc was well placed, I imagine that she is the Canon equivalent of Admiral Daala who was introduced in the ‘Jedi Academy’ trilogy in the 90’s who went on to become the head of the equivalent of the Galactic Republic in the Legends timeline.

Her hatred of Leia looks to make some great storylines in this era and a face off between the two, especially with Leia being compromised emotionally due to Han Solo being frozen in Carbonite and the fact that the Rebel Alliance she has worked to build all of her adult life is under threat.

Again though, I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of newer Rebel characters. Of course this is only the first part of a new arc and is setting the story up, but I’m really wanting more Kes Dameron and Shara Bey, who have been noticeably absent since the first issue (well except their cameo at the end of the last issue). This is something I’ve said since around Issue 2, and will probably continue to do so until they get more time in the spotlight.

We do, however, get the token ‘High Republic’ reference we have come to expect from the series, seeing as Charles Soule is involved with the upcoming series, this time its the villains of the series, ‘The Nihil’ being referenced by Tarkin.

A solid start to a new story which I’m very much looking forward to continuing. Zahara looks to be a compelling new villain for our heroes to face-off against and the writing and art are sublime as always.

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Lego VLog – Brick Headz Mandalorian and The Child

‘Mando Week’ continues with a previously unreleased episode of the Lego VLog, this time taking a look at The Mandalorian and The Child Brick Headz Two-Pack.

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Lego VLog – AT-ST Raider

‘Mando Week’ continues and it’s time for you all to enjoy the Life Debt Lego VLog, formerly a Patreon Exclusive, I’m now launching it for the public. This post is both parts of the ‘AS-ST Raider’ vehicle from ‘The Mandalorian’.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 5 – The Mandalorian and Child Black Series Double Feature

It’s ‘Mando Week’ and what better way to kick it off with the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series Mandalorian (from Triple Force Friday) and The Child figures.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Lego VLog Anakin’s Jedi Interceptor

Welcome to the new episode of the Lego VLog.

This episode I build the latest version of Anakin’s Jedi Interceptor.

Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for watching.

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer 2

HOLY SH*T!

Without giving ANYTHING away, the new Trailer has just gone and blown my already in overdrive excitement to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL!

“Razorcrest, stand down!”

The opening takes us to the skies with the familiar shot of the Razorcrest being chased down by the X-Wings as seen in the first trailer. I think we can stop speculating here and determine that Mando is being chased by New Republic forces.

We see the ship enter a snow covered valley and the engine hits the wall, causing the ship to crash land on the snow planet that may or may not be Illum.

We’re back to Nevarro next, with Mando being met by Cara and Greef as Mando explains that he has been “quested” to return The Child to it’s own kind, be that other members of it’s species or the Jedi we still don’t know. He follows this up with a comment about how he needs to find other Mandalorians to help him get The Child to where it needs to go.

A few quick shots of Mando on a speeder bike on what looks Tatooine, Mando outside the crashed Razorcrest on maybe-Illum, then welding something on the ship in the same location.

Then we’re back to the fighting pit, the one-eyed alien and his goons getting taken out by the Whistling Birds, no Baby Yoda closing the crib though (dammit).

Back to new footage, an Imperial Troop Transport flies/falls from a cliff top, inside are Cara and Greef in the cockpit, with Mythrol between them. Probably freed from Carbonite and has some info that they needed. We get shots in a canyon of the Transport being chased by Scout Troopers on Speeder Bikes, with Cara taking one out by crushing them agains the canyon wall.

A few shots of the leads before we get to see them in a facility, possibly Imperial as a door opens, followed by Greef in a gunner seat, possibly in the Troop Transport. Back to the facility interior for a bad-ass walking shot before we get Outland TIE Fighters in the air.

“Here we go!” Mando says as he runs towards the cliff edge before starting his jet-pack and taking flight, probably a part of the canyon chase. I do hope that, if he is carrying The Child, that it’s nice and secure.

I’m not going to dive into wild theories and speculation about the goings on too much, but we can safely assume that the facility will play a major part as well as the snow planet, Tatooine will of course play into the story somewhere and I do have a theory about that having to do with Timothy Olyphant’s character based on rumours from a few months ago.

I do, however have a theory about the Mandalorian Themed Lego Set from the Winter 2021 list I wrote about HERE, the Mandalorian Hero Vehicle that consists of 276 pieces could very well be the Imperial Troop Transport we are in this Trailer. The size would fit the piece count and it could possibly come with Cara and Greef, and maybe even Mythrol. And a Scout Trooper to fight off.

With only 10 days to go, I’m more excited than ever. I can’t wait to see where the story goes and what surprises lie in wait.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 4 – The Black Series Empire Strikes Back Han Solo

This is the fourth episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary Princess Leia.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Lego VLog – Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter Parts 1 – 3

It’s time for you all to enjoy the Life Debt Lego VLog, formerly a Patreon Exclusive, I’m now launching it for the public. This post is all three parts of ‘Major Vonreg’s TIE Fighter’ from ‘Star Wars: Resistance’

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Lego VLog – Black Ace Parts 1 and 2

It’s time for you all to enjoy the Life Debt Lego VLog, formerly a Patreon Exclusive, I’m now launching it for the public. This post is both parts of the ‘Black Ace’ ship from ‘Star Wars: Resistance’

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Doctor Aphra: Fortune and Fate Part 4

The second act of Aphra’s triumphant return comes to a close, her team has been betrayed and they have nothing but desperation left…

After Lucky’s betrayal, Aphra and the rest of the crew are locked in the Workshop, but Okka’s droid finds a way out via the City of Vaale’s sewer system.

Underground, the team feel like they are going mad by seeing the walls move, but this is actually happening, an old security system the Architects built which caused the deaths of everyone in the city.

Luckily they are able to escape the sewers near The Ark Angel but Tagge’s ships arrive and destroy the ship and then the entire City of Vaale.

Black Krrrsantan find a working High Republic era ship that is still operational and the team take it in search of Tagge.

Lucky and his team discuss their soon to be received earnings but Lucky warns them all and gives them the advice to take their money and run. Once they meet with Tagge, they are told that they won’t receive full payment as they only have one ring with them, the deal was for two rings and Professor Okka.

Aphra’s ship arrives at Cantonica and the crew has a plan. The ship is captured and taken to Tagge, Okka and Aphra lead the team off the ship, hoping that the plan works out…

The pace is slowing down for the third act to kick into gear, but it doesn’t slow down in a bad way. The team are still reeling from Lucky’s betrayal and they get to learn more about the City of Vaale on their way, with the living walls that is something that would be right at home in an ‘Indiana Jones’ film, which is fitting because Aphra feels like the Star Wars embodiment of the Indiana Jones character… with a bit more of an untrustworthy edge of course.

I’m loving how the story is going, the writing and art continues to be amazing, there’s a part of me that actually thinks that this would be a series I would like even without the Star Wars title on the front, which, given that I’m only buying Star Wars titles these days says a lot.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – Imperial Retaliation – Missions 8, 9, 10 & 11

After her humiliating defeat in the Zavian Abyss. Captain Kerrill’s Star Destroyer arrives in the Outer Rim, in the territory of Imperial Colonel Gralm who refuses to assist Kerrill’s attack on the Nadiri Ship Yards.

Instead he enlists Titan Squadron to help defend his outpost against Rebel forces. Kerrill devises a plan where she is able to kill two birds with one stone. Titan will protect the outpost whilst stealing the munitions necessary to destroy the Starhawk whilst Gralm is distracted.

Once she has what she needs, Titan Squadron leaves and you are promoted to Squad Leader. After a briefing with Kerrill and Admiral Sloane, you lead Titan Squadron on an attack against Mon Cala to lure the New Republic fleet away from the Nadiri Shipyards.

Once at the shipyards, your mission is to eradicate the defences before loading up with Baradium missiles to severely damage the Starhawk, as well as wipe out evacuees and as many fighters as possible.

Once you have disabled the Starhawk’s Hyperdrive, Kerrill orders a full barrage of Baradium missiles, but the attack is stopped when Javes’ ship returns, right into the missiles path, damaging his ship in the process, but granting Hera the opportunity to get the Starhawk away from the Shipyards.

The chase is on in the next mission, with the Starhawk and New Republic on the run, Titan Squadron has to chase them down in an ambush in a Star Destroyer graveyard where the remains of the old Imperial Ships have been left after being plundered to build the New Republics new ships.

Within the graveyard are a number of reactors, still operational and very unstable. The mission is to damage and destroy as many of the New Republic ships using the reactors, and if that fails, cause enough disruption so that the Starhawk diverts into the Ringali Nebula.

I really love how the story has just ramped up over these missions. The escalation really emphasises Kerrill’s desperation to locate the Starhawk as well as defeat Javes in as brutal a fashion as possible. You spend a lot of time in TIE Bombers, even getting to use a high powered Beam weapon which works wonders against immobile targets. I chose to fly the last mission in a TIE Reaper to enjoy the benefits of having a shield in a pretty intense battle.

With one last mission to go, I have to say that this has been a fantastic gaming experience for me and I’m looking forward to jumping back on to focus on collecting all the medals.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 3 – The Black Series Empire Strikes Back Princess Leia

This is the third episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary Princess Leia.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – Rebel Tactics – Missions 6 & 7

Jumping back to the New Republic part of the story, Lindon Javes has formed a plan to draw Captain Kerrill into a trap, starting by sending Vanguard Squadron to an Imperial Listening Post at Esseles.

You take control of a Y-Wing fighter in this mission, your job is to get right up to the facility and use your bombs on a variety of targets, eventually destroying the station.

You get a choice of ship for the next mission, where you and the Squadron have to escort a convoy of Droid Controlled ships through the treacherous Zavian Abyss.

The plan is to lure Kerrill into a bottleneck where the now fully operational Starhawk will be waiting. The battle is intense, you have to take on numerous waves of TIE Fighters before Kerrill arrives and the Starhawk puts on an impressive display with its Tractor Beam which causes Kerrill’s Star Destroyer a considerable amount of damage before escaping into Hyperspace.

It’s great to jump into a new Fighter. Having played ‘Battlefront 2’ for a considerable amount of time I have become accustomed to the X-Wing and A-Wing cockpits (of course not to the same degree as ‘Squadrons’) so getting to pilot a Y-Wing is a welcome change of scenery.

Being the workhorse of the Rebel Fleet, the Y-Wing has often been depicted as slower and less manoeuvrable than most other Starfighters, I’ll openly admit, when playing the various ‘Rogue Squadron’ games back in the day, I wasn’t a fan of the ship as they felt like moving targets rather than a powerful ship. ‘Squadrons’ gives us a better experience, whilst slower than the X and A-Wings, they don’t fell like they are crawling through the battlefield and are much more manoeuvrable. My only gripe is that it took me a while to get the hang of doing bombing runs as you have to angle the ship just right so the bomb drops onto the target but once I was used to it, it wasn’t a problem.

The story continues to be strong, finally getting to see a Starhawk in action is pretty cool, seeing as all we have “seen” of them is in their introductory novel ‘Aftermath: Empire’s End’.

So, now back to Titan Squadron and Captain Kerrill on the bridge of her Star Destroyer.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – Through Imperial Eyes – Missions 4 & 5

After spending the first three missions with with Vanguard Squadron, the next two missions introduce us to Titan Squadron.

We already know Varko Grey, the Squad Leader, from the short film ‘Hunted’. The other three pilots are just as interesting. Firstly, we have Vonreg, whom I suspect is related to Major Vonreg from ‘Resistance’. Sol is an Imperial fanatic, her parents were members of the Imperial Senate before it was disbanded by Palpatine, she follows Kerrill’s orders without question. The final member of your Squadron is Shen, he has been severely injured in the past and refuses to take off his helmet due to the various cybernetics that have been grafted onto him. He seems to be the big brute of the group and fiercely loyal to his team.

You are recruited into the Squadron by Captain Terisa Kerrill, your former Wing Mate who served with you under Javes prior to his defection. Her first mission for you is to extract an Imperial Spy from a New Republic facility orbiting Hosnian Prime.

Once Agent Thorn is extracted, you take control of a TIE Reaper to spy on a New Republic convoy, taking engineers to Project Starhawk. Unfortunately the mission goes awry when a glory-hunting Imperial Commander attacks the convoy. Instead of tracking them you steal information before wiping the convoy out.

What I really enjoy about the Imperial side of this game so far is seeing the different types of characters we have. Gone are the near automaton Imperial Army, instead this team are able to think for themselves whilst getting the mission complete. We a really are getting to see the Empire in disarray and the plan to reform the Imperial Fleet in the run up to the ‘Battle of Jakku’ really gives us a look at how the Imperial Remnant is being run under the watchful eye of fan favourite? Rae Sloane who we get to see talking to Kerrill

Getting to pilot the TIE Reaper is great fun. It’s the Squadron’s support ship, with Ion Cannons and a shield, which is relatively uncommon for an exploration vessel.

Once again, I have no complaints about this game whatsoever. The gameplay continues to impress me. I’m pleased I am currently playing in ‘Story Mode’, not only to focus on the story, but to really let myself get to grips with the controls, because I really need to pay attention to what I’m doing right now, I’m still crashing far too much for my liking.

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#CollectionCorner – Winter/Spring 2021 Lego Rumours

Thanks to sites like BRICKFANATICS, the rumours of the next couple of waves of Star Wars Lego has been released and I am suitably underwhelmed.

Three Microfighters sets, Millennium Falcon, Tauntaun vs. AT-AT and an unnamed set. I own two Microfighters, The Ghost and Kylo Ren’s Shuttle, and unless these come with a mini-fig I’m after then I’ll be staying away, although I am intrigued to see this Tauntaun. My gut is telling me that the unnamed set will be a ‘Mandalorian’ themed vehicle, probably a Razorcrest with Mando, it would make sense given that we have it as a set and the upcoming Advent Calendar includes a micro version.

The Younglings will be getting a new 4+ Resistance X-Wing. With the limited number of these sets that have been released, it feels a bit too early to be making a new X-Wing. Granted it’s a Sequel Trilogy version but the last 4+ X-Wing came out last year.

Two buildable helmets will be coming. Darth Vader and the Scout Trooper. I’m not a collector of these, but I hope for those who do that the Vader one is better than the SDCC Exclusive from last year that I thought looked pretty poor from the images that came out. It was only a matter of time for the Scout Trooper set, it’s an interesting design and a fan favourite.

I am very interested to see what the Probe Droid looks like. I have a feeling it will be a similar size as the Prog, Yoda and upcoming ‘The Child’ and I may pick that one up depending on how good it looks.

I wonder if the unnamed UCS set is the Republic Gunship which won the fan vote last year. I’m interested in seeing it but as I don’t collect the UCS sets I will just admire from afar. I would love it if they brought a new standard version out next year some time.

The remaining four sets are a mixed bag. Let’s start with the WTF choices, a ‘Red 5 X-Wing’ which is something we got back in 2018 as a pretty solid set. They only changed that could have been made is to age it up, add some new details and include a Rey mini-fig from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. Throw in a Force Ghost Luke and a Ben Solo it could be alright but for me it’d be a fourth X-Wing that feels a bit excessive.

Same with the TIE Fighter. Again in 2018 we got a fantastic TIE Fighter as part of the initial ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ wave of sets, quite easily the best version of the vehicle we have had (with the exception of the UCS version), so why do we need another version a couple of years later? I can only think of three possible explanations. Could the name be a placeholder of sorts, filling in for Kylo Ren’s TIE Whisper from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’? Or could it be Ben Solo’s TIE Fighter that he takes to Exogol? Both could make sense and if the upcoming X-Wing is Rey’s from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ then a Ben Solo TIE would be a perfect pairing, even though it is just a regular TIE Fighter and the big draw would be the Ben Solo mini-fig. The third possibility I have in my head is that it would be a brick built version of the Outland TIE Fighter as seen in the last couple of episodes of ‘The Mandalorian’ featuring Moff Gideon and the Darksaber. Part of me really hopes it is that version.

The third set, which would be another updated set but this time from around six years ago, is the Imperial Shuttle. This makes a bit of sense, Lego do update popular sets to allow for new collectors to get the ones they have missed out on, especially when those sets can fetch a pretty penny on the secondary market, and it would pair nicely with the recent ‘Death Star Dual’ from ‘Return of the Jedi’ that came out in August this year.

And finally, the set that I am most interested in, the “Unnamed Mandalorian Set”. What it is, I don’t know, but given the piece count of 276, it’s not going to be much larger than say, a small Starfighter, like the recent ‘Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter’ or a scene build like ‘Carbon Freezing Chamber’. Whether it’s from Season 1 or 2, I’m very much looking forward to it, and unless Lego go and botch it up really badly then it’ll be top of my list for that wave.

Overall, it’s a fairly mixed bag of sets. I really don’t understand why we are getting new X-Wings and TIE Fighters this soon, especially when there a so many possibilities that haven’t been touched yet.’ With only two sets from ‘The Mandalorian’, as well as the Brick Headz two-pack and the buildable version of ‘The Child’ (which I am avoiding like the plague) so far, surely there’s a tonne of room to play with in that part of the fandom?

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Star Wars: Squadrons – First Impressions and Missions 1 – 3

NEW GAME TIME!!!

Star Wars: Squadrons has finally arrived, and from what I have seen it’s garnered some good reviews so far.

I’ve had the chance to okay a bit of it so far and so I’m going to give you all my first impressions for the first few missions and the story as it’s been revealed at the point I have reached.

Before you jump into a cockpit you’re first task is to customise your Pilots, both Imperial and Rebel. I went pretty generic in their design, we don’t get to see them loads on screen and I opted to go with the randomised names, really because the names also make no difference as you are referred to throughout as your Squadron Call Sign.

The Prologue, set after ‘A New Hope’ has you joining the Imperial Helix Squadron under the command of Captain Lindon Javes. Your mission is to wipe out Alderaanian refugees at Forster Haven. During the raid, Javes defects and helps the convoy evade your fighters.

The second part of the Prologue has you working with Echo Squadron, who are called to the aid of the Alderaanian refugees by Captain Javes and protect them from the Star Destroyer ‘Vigilance’.

The main story, set after ‘Return of the Jedi’, for the first two missions at least, is set from the New Republic perspective. You join Vanguard Squadron, under the command of Captain Javes. The Squadron is being brought into a secret project called ‘Project Starhawk’.

The first mission has you and your new teammates working to reestablish communications throughout the sector as well as locate a group of scouts who have gone missing. Once you locate the wreckage of the scouts, you have to help the rest of the team take out the Imperial Jammers.

Mission Two brings Wedge Antilles into the fold, the mission is to successfully capture an Imperial Star Destroyer, intact, which will be used as part of Project Starhawk.

Mission Three has you jump into the cockpit of an A-Wing to help defend the recently liberated Star Destroyer after its Hyperdrive fails and is in need of aid whilst the Boarding Party repairs the ship. You have to fight of numerous waves of TIE Bombers, Fighters and a few Raiders (like The Corvus). You also learn a new manoeuvre from Tao, drifting, like Poe does at the beginning of ‘The Last Jedi’. Once the Star Destroyer is repaired (for the second time) you are taken to the headquarters of Project Starhawk where Hera Syndulla welcomes Vanguard Squadron to the project.

Having played the Space Battle Mode in ‘Battlefront 2’ and failed miserably when using the first-person camera mode, I didn’t hold out much hope for my abilities in this game but the controls are much more refined and manageable here. So far I am a much more competent TIE Pilot than an X-Wing one but I have time to learn.

The story so far is interesting, tying into both the ‘Alphabet Squadron’ books and the ‘Aftermath Trilogy’ nicely. The former even being name dropped in a conversation with your Squad Leader, Gunny, a Mimbanese U-Wing Pilot. The rest of your team, the Trandoshan, Frisk, who prefers a Y-Wing, Tao, the Mirialan A-Wing Pilot and Grace, a fellow human, who pilots an X-Wing like you (at this point).

The team dynamic is well played out and the writing really gives them a great sense of comradeship that you never really got in the ‘Rogue Squadron’ games.

I’m enjoying the story so far, and as it’s written by the team who wrote the campaign for ‘Battlefront 2’ I have seriously high hopes, but so far I’m not disappointed.

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Lego VLOG – Imperial Shuttle Tydirium

Welcome to the new episode of the Lego VLog. Originally meant to be the 41st Episode, now the series is coming out to the public the release schedule is going to be a bit all over the place.

This episode I build the Imperial Shuttle Tydirium from the 2014 ‘Rebels’ Wave.

Hope you all enjoy, and thanks for watching.

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#CollectionCorner – Hasbro Reveals: The Black Series

Hasbro have announced a boatload of new Star Wars toys and boy do they look good. There’s a new wave for ‘The Vintage Collection’ that finally has a Captain Rex figure, HasLab has opened up preorders for ‘The Vintage Collection’ scale Razorcrest and we are also getting a ‘Black Series’ Ahsoka lightsaber based on Season 7 of ‘The Clone Wars’.

And whilst these are all pretty great things to talk about, it’s not my area of limited expertise, but what I can do is write about ‘The Black Series’ reveals that we also got.

Finally making its way into the hands of collectors is a Jar-Jar figure and Hasbro aren’t holding back and have made it into a deluxe figure with numerous accessories. He comes with a shield, staff and boomer launcher. The detailing here looks lovely and it immediately went onto my Wish List.

The second deluxe figure is Boba Fett, this time from ‘Return of the Jedi’, featuring the accessories you need to reenact his two seconds of screen time during the fight at the Sarlacc Pit. He has a blaster, a broken blaster, a grappling hook launcher and, for some unknown reason, maybe to just fill up space, a flamethrower attachment. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t use a flamethrower in any of the versions of ‘Return of the Jedi’. I’ll be passing on this one in favour of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary version. It’ll look nicer on the wall.

Coming soon is The Armourer from ‘The Mandalorian’. Supposedly meant to be this years Star Wars Celebration Exclusive (I would have totally picked this up there) it’s now a Hasbro Pulse Exclusive for America. More than likely there will be a regular release in an upcoming Wave which will be joining Jar-Jar on my Wish List.

Rey: Dark Side Vision has been teased before the reveal and I’m all in for this. This isn’t an actual image of the figure, but a Digital Render, but if the figure looks half as good it’s going to be great. I love the folding lightsaber and the detailing we get here. My only gripe is the long-winded name. Surely the figure could have been called ‘Rey Palpatine’ or ‘Empress Palpatine’ just to sound cooler.

Hasbro are also bringing back ‘The Black Series: Archive Collection’ with four more additions, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Hoth Gear, Clone Commander Cody (which I thing won a fan poll) and the one that I will be hunting down tooth and nail, Grand Admiral Thrawn! The card back also feature a stamp to celebrate ’50 Years of Lucasfilm’, which is a nice addition.

Overall the reveals are pretty great. The new Boba Fett feels like a massive cash-grab for a handful of accessories, especially so soon after releasing ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Anniversary figure recently. But what can I say, he’s popular and there are always new collectors who missed out on the previous versions and of course the hardcore Fett Fans. Luckily the majority of these are out next year so I have time to save up.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 2 – The Black Series Empire Strikes Back Luke Skywalker

This is the second episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary Luke Skywalker figure.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – ‘Hunted’ Short Film Review

‘Hunted’ is a short CG film that ties in with the upcoming ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ game, and it’s bloody brilliant.

Set in the Var-Shaa system, it follows Captain Varko Grey as Titan Squadron and others from the Star Destroyer Overseer as they fail to protect an Imperial Shipyard.

Grey reluctantly starts to retreat when Titan 3 calls for assistance whilst the Overseer prepares to go to Lightspeed.

Titan 3 is destroyed and Grey’s TIE Interceptor is damaged as the Destroyer leaves the system and Grey behind.

As the New Republic forces get closer, Grey shuts down his fighter, hoping to to go unnoticed but is found by a nosy New Republic X-Wing Pilot who chases Grey onto a nearby planet where Grey races against time to defeat his enemy before his ship shuts down completely.

The animation is wonderful, I hope the graphics in the game are remotely similar to these. The pacing and editing are great, I actually ended up caring about Grey, and hoping he made it. Not that I would be sympathetic towards the Imperial Remnant as a whole but this film is crafted for us to actually like this Imperial Pilot. His attempt to save one member of his Squadron show us that he’s not your average TIE Pilot and I want to learn more about him once the game is released.

The New Republic forces are shown in great numbers. They have a large number of Mon Cala ships in their fleet now, there are three in this film alone, all ones we have seen in the films, but it shows that The New Republic Fleet is getting bigger and the Imperial Remnant are essentially on the run, as Grey says “Another retreat.”

I was already looking forward to ‘Squadrons’ but now I’m chomping at the bit, and I’m gutted we have to wait another couple of weeks.

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Speculation: The Mandalorian Season 2 and The Child

In the words of ‘Blue Harvest Podcast’, I’ve been doing some cockadoody speculating about season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’, the reason for Moff Gideon’s obsession with The Child and perhaps even Ahsoka.

Let me paint you a picture, at the end of Season 4 of ‘Rebels’, Thrawn and Ezra we’re blasted not Hyperspace, most likely into The Unknown Regions.

As we have found out in the recent ‘Thrawn Trilogy’ and in the recent ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ book, The Unknown Regions are very difficult to navigate through Hyperspace and most ships use Force Sensitive navigators to help guide the ships through The Chaos.

As we have learned in other material, such as ‘The Aftermath Trilogy’, the Imperial Remnant went into The Unknown Regions where they eventually became The First Order.

What if…

Moff Gideon is actually looking for The Child to use to navigate his forces to the Imperial Remnant our in The Unknown Regions, rather than spend untold years searching the Region using smaller jumps to navigate. He may well already know about this method through Thrawn or perhaps has already attempted to navigate but wasn’t able but learned about Navigators from others.

This could explain why Gideon is seemingly desperate to get his hands on The Child, to finally reunite with The Empire. We’ve already been told by Faverau that we will see some of the origins of The First Order, where better to see that than where the organisation starts, out hiding in the far reaches of the Galaxy.

“But Jonny, what does this have to do with Ahsoka ?”

Good question. What if Ahsoka is interested in The Child for the same reason, except not to find The First Order, but to finally find Ezra, leaving Mando on his own for a while before The Child returns to him. That could tie into some of things said in the recent EW article that we were told that we would get some stories about other characters, but still giving us a character we are heavily invested in. Which would still allow any series focused on the search of Ezra to have a story to tell but also progresses the search.

We have already seen Mando before having The Child with him in the first episode of Season 1 and having some time with him alone would make for a great way to see how the character has changed during that time and how he copes on his own now.

Like I said, it’s all speculation and I’m probably completely wrong but it’s something to do until we get to 30th October.

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Darth Vader: Dark Heart of the Sith Part 5

Words can’t describe how much I am enjoying this Darth Vader run, so far it’s my favourite of all the Vader comics I have read, and that’s only five issues in.

Vader visits Padmé’s tomb and is followed by Sabé and the other Amidalians. She begs Vader not to exhume her body, but the droid scans the corpse and reveals a medical device that leads them to Polis Massa. Vader tells Sabé to lead her Amidalians there and meet him.

Once at Polis Massa, Vader learns that Obi-Wan brought her there to save her life after Anakin was defeated on Mustafasr. Before he is able to learn anything else the Amidalian Army arrives and are thoroughly vanquished by Vader and his Troops.

Once in the Medical Facility, the Droid finds footage of Padmé talking to Obi-Wan before her death, saying there is still good in Anakin. Upon hearing this Vader destroys the Droid.

He returns to The Emperor, claiming his business is over, but the Emperor isn’t fooled, sensing no fear, anger or hate in his Apprentice, only grief, with Palpatine preparing to retrain Vader in the ways of the Sith.

This issue feels somewhat reminiscent of some parts of ‘Vader Down’, with Vader facing off against an army. Granted this time he has a group of Death Troopers as well but that just makes it even more exciting. Vader is so hell bent on learning the truth about Luke’s birth that he’s ready to face down anything in his path, even an army. It’s almost like seeing Anakin the strategist coming back from The Clone Wars for one last hurrah.

Having Vader going back to Palpatine and essentially going to be going back to Sith School really helps build the idea of conflict within him that Luke senses in ‘Return of the Jedi’. There is a part of me that hopes that this run doesn’t end right before ‘Return of the Jedi’ but actually tells Vader’s story from the film from his perspective, I especially would love to see his thought process during the dual with Luke in Palpatine’s Throne Room and the moment he passed away.

The art and writing continues to be phenomenal, the story is gripping, the twists and turns it has taken has been a thrill ride so far and it gives no evidence of slowing down.

I’ve complained before about there being an over abundance of Darth Vader content nowadays, leaving little to the imagination about the Dark Lord of the Sith who up until recent years was shrouded in mystery, but I regret complaining that we were getting this series because it’s been so good so far. I hope by the time the series ends I won’t have to eat those words. Only time will tell.

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Lego VLog – Tantive IV Full Series

It’s time for you all to enjoy the Life Debt Lego VLog, formerly a Patreon Exclusive, I’m now launching it for the public. This post is ALL five parts of the Tantive IV set from 2018.

Check out the full run below and I hope you all enjoy.

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Thrawn Ascendency 1: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn Book Review

Thrawn’s back baby and this time he’s bringing his fellow Chiss along for the ride.

Set during The Clone Wars (for the most part), we find Mitth’raw’nuruodo during his time in the Chiss Ascendency. Brought in to investigate an attack on the Chiss Homeworld, Thrawn’s investigation takes us on an adventure throughout ‘The Chaos’ (The Unknown Regions) where we meet many new races and an intriguing new foe for our favourite Grand Admiral.

The first part of a planned Trilogy, we get to learn a great deal about the previously u known Chiss Ascendency and how it works, with nine ruling families, various roles and levels within those families and how they adopt promising young Chiss into those families, potentially granting them a high rank where their bloodline becomes an official strand of the family bloodline. It’s all very ‘Game of Thrones’ and the politics of those families can become very intertwined which is a great read, and somewhat refreshing for a ‘Star Wars’ novel.

We also get to learn more about the Sky-Walkers. Force Sensitive children who call it their ‘third sight’ who use their power to navigate ‘The Chaos’. We get to know how this roles works within the Ascendency through Che’ri, the Sky-Walker assigned to Thrawn’s ship and Thalia, a former Sky-Walker who’s admiration of Thrawn drives her to take the role of Care-Giver to Che’ri on the mission.

With the aid of Admiral Ar’alani, whose history with Thrawn has spanned almost her entire military career and General Ba’kif who has supported Thrawn throughout his time as a member of the Mitth family, Thrawn brings the enemies of the Ascendency closer to draw out a warlord, seemingly hell bent on taking control of all worlds in ‘The Chaos’. Thrawn, of course, is the military mastermind, using art from the various races to help his tactics as well as learn and understand those he is fighting to protect.

We also get flashbacks, detailing how Thrawn became a part of the Mitth family, through his early years as a cadet where he met a young Sky-Walker, Thalia, coming to the end of her career and trying to find a. Future for herself and later, on various missions with Ar’alani. These are all told from the point-of-view of the characters whose lives that Thrawn has touched, from Generals, to Path Finders and even the high ranking members of the Mitth family, Thrawn’s influence has a far reach, and it’s not a good thing for some.

The second part of the Trilogy is set up at the end of this one, introducing a new character who seems to have a growing interest in Thrawn after his actions in ‘Chaos Rising’ and I’m hopeful we will find out more about Book 2 sometime in the next couple of months, maybe around the time NYCC would have been happening as there is usually a Star Wars Books/Authors Panel and Zahn is a regular on those things.

Speaking of Timothy Zahn, I wonder if this is a story he has been wanting to write since he created the character in the early nineties. I know that fans have been dying for a chance to learn about Thrawn’s past since ‘Heir to the Empire’ was first released. Perhaps this was brought up back when Zahn pitched his recent Thrawn Trilogy, set amidst the events of the characters appearance in ‘Rebels’, we even get a key moment from one of those novels replayed from Thrawn’s point-of-view which also allows the book to heavily focus on Thalia for a short while as she undergoes a trial of her own.

Not only did I read this book, but I also listened to the Audiobook due to the very little free time I have at the moment and I must say that Marc Thompson once again knocks it out of the park. His Thrawn voice is perfect, a great imitation of Lars Mikkelson who brought the character to life in ‘Rebels’ and the wide array of voices he lends to the group of characters is very impressive. One thing that does stick out to me however, is how the Chiss (other then Thrawn) tens to speak. I have always assumed that they spoke quite like Thrawn (not in terms of accent but how they structure their sentences and the vocabulary they use), but thinking about it, what we read is actually a ‘Basic Language’ translation of the Chiss language and various trade languages used throughout the book.

My usual gripe about using familiar Star Wars music still stands, although it’s not as ‘in-your-face’ as it has been in other Audiobooks, however, being set in a whole new part of the Galaxy, I did have a glimmer of hope that we could hear some new and different music (Lugwig Göransson anyone) to let the listener feel like they are somewhere new and vastly different.

It’s an incredibly enjoyable novel, establishing some great new characters we hopefully get to see throughout the rest of the trilogy, which I assume will lead us to the point where Thrawn is found by the Empire in ‘Thrawn’ which kicked off the previous Thrawn Trilogy.

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#CollectionCorner – SWCE 2016 Kylo Ren Unmasked Black Series Review

This is the premiere episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at ‘The Black Series’ SWCE 2016 Exclusive Unmasked Kylo Ren.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: The Destiny Path Part 6 Review

The final part of Charles Soule’s first arc in the main ‘Star Wars’ run has come to an end, but not with a bang, but a rather satisfying whisper.

After being rescued by R2, Luke learns more about the Jedi from Veela, including the name of his father, Anakin Skywalker. She tells him about an old Jedi Stronghold on Tempes, dating back to the High Republic where Luke finds an old lightsaber.

He sets off a trap however and a vision/spirit of the Grand Inquisitor appears and attacks him, the two battle until Luke manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Vader is told about the trap going off, once on Tempes he berates the Inquisitor who fades away.

Luke returns to the Rebellion, and after a word of encouragement from Leia he ignited his new, yellow lightsaber, bringing hope to the small group of gathered freedom fighters.

The bulk of the issue feels like exposition, leading Luke to learn more about the Force and Anakin, all things that need to be addressed given his knowledge in ‘Return of the Jedi’. The new yellow lightsaber is an interesting addition, and may give him insight to building his new one before giving it to R2.

The mentions of the ‘High Republic’ stuck out, and if I’m not mistaken, the Temple Luke visits on Tempes is the same one Luke takes Lor San Tekka and Ben Solo to in ‘The Rise of Kylo Ren’, also written by Charles Soule, and if it’s not then we are starting to learn more about the Jedi during the ‘High Republic’.

Again, the lack of storyline featuring any of the other Rebels is frustrating, but now we are moving onto a new story arc in the next issue, the focus may start to shift away from the main heroes and focus a bit more on some new characters.

As the last issue in this first arc, it puts a pin in Luke’s story for a little while at least. I won’t be surprised to see him go off on another adventure or two, but hopefully he’ll get some time to decompress a bit as he’s still got to process a lot of traumatic things and has seemingly been running on adrenaline for this arc. Charles Soule has given us a great story so far and I hope that continues for the duration of his run on this title.

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer Reaction

Oh my God!

Oh my God!

Oh my God!

It’s here! It’s finally here!

And! It! Looks! Amazing!

The first half features dialogue between Din Djarin and The Armourer, from ‘Chapter 8’ of Season 1 where she tells him about the old war between the Jedi and Mandalorians and that his task is to reunite The Child with its people.

We first see a damaged Razorcrestheading towards a planet that looks a bit like Sorgan from Season 1.

We find a new location, with Mando and The Child walking through a town, we see it again later when Mando shoots a streetlight with someone hanging from it. I’m assuming this is also the location of the Fighting Ring.

There are a number of shots featuring a snowy planet. I’ve seen speculation that this could be Illum, the planet that becomes Starkiller Base. My concern with this theory is that we don’t see much in the way of the Empire (Remnant or otherwise) and seeing as the planet was being transformed during the Galactic Civil War (as seen in ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’) you’ expect a larger military presence.

There’s some shots on a water planet, first at the docks where Mando sees a mysterious character played by Pro-Wrestler Sasha Banks, there are fans speculating that she could be playing Sabine Wren but I just don’t see it I’m afraid. Mando and The Child also get on a boat which is interesting, first time we’ve seen that in ‘Star Wars’.

We get to see an Imperial Stronghold and some amazing shots of Speeder Bikes in action which are incredibly exciting as well as some Outland TIE Fighters taking off which still hasn’t gotten old. We also get to see inside and it looks very well kept, much like Gideon’s Stormtroopers in Season 1.

A couple of shots of Tatooine confirm a return to the planet, we see a Tusken Raider on a Bantha as well as Mando and The Child on a Speeder Bike.

A few shots of The Razorcrest in action, flying through atmosphere with X-Wings in pursuit. This could be a bait and switch and Mando is leading them instead of being chased, we do see a shot of an X-Wing coming up to the Razorcrest’s cockpit which doesn’t seem threatening based on Mando’s reaction. Could they be attacking Gideon’s stronghold?

Having watched it on Disney+, subtitles reveal the name of the Cyclops alien to be Gor Koresh. His goons pull blasters on Mando who activates the Whistling Birds, causing The Child to close its crib, we hear the sounds of fighting over a black screen until we get Mando throwing a knife into a Zabrak’s chest. I would love it if the scene plays out like that in the show.

There are a few shots of Mano with the Jet Pack in use, so he must have been getting some practice. A shot of Greef and Cara on Nevarro gives us a new look at the two characters, I’m intrigued by what would lead him back to Nevarro, maybe he needs a quick job to get some money in the bank?

Needless to say, I love the trailer, I’m so excited, I can’t wait for 30th October. The episode better launch before I go to work or I will be a very unhappy Womp-Rat!

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Star Wars TV: Animation or Live Action

The age of Disney+ can honestly be seen as a further renaissance in Star Wars. After three highly successful series (Mando, Clone Wars and Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian), and the upcoming Obi-Wan focused mini-series, the Cassian Andor series and the ‘Clone Wars’ spin-off ‘The Bad Batch’, the franchise is certainly picking up speed on the streaming service, which for the fanbase is great, but with more potential live action shows being rumoured the question on my mind is “Will Disney+ eventually shun the animated series and solely focus on live action?”

Honestly I really hope not. We have had three great (Canon) series with ‘The Clone Wars’, ‘Rebels’ and ‘Resistance’. The upcoming ‘The Bad Batch’ has been announced to be an animated series, which is an obvious choice given that it’s a spin-off from a previous animated series but the long rumoured and oft-clamoured for sequel series to ‘Rebels’ that would focus on Ahsoka and Sabine searching for Ezra could go the other way.

With Ahsoka and Sabine being heavily rumoured to be making their live action debut in the second series of ‘The Mandalorian’ and with that a rumour of a live action ‘Ahsoka’ series which would probably follow those characters are n that adventure given the timeline, is the animated version being put o. The chopping block? To me it certainly seems so. Why make two series set in the same part of the timeline? The whole idea makes very little sense.

Given the time it takes to make animated series, if this ‘Rebels’ sequel is animated, surely it would be in heavy development by now? Or was it put on hold to make ‘The Bad Batch’ and the scripts re-tooled to make the switch to live action? But to me it makes no sense to make a live action sequel series to an animated series. Why change the entire medium, the whole look and feel would change. Just look at the style of ‘Rebels’, the show may have looked a bit rough early on (due to lower budgets) but it’s style was very distinct, and a sequel series would look similar to keep the aesthetic, much like how rumours of the style of ‘The Bad Batch’ claim that the show will look similar to ‘The Clone Wars’.

Also, why put a whole series on hold that may already have had a lot of development for a series that might not even go ahead. The Ahsoka/Sabine episode of ‘The Mandalorian’ is supposedly meant to act like a back-door pilot and if the live action versions of the characters aren’t popular enough then would the live action series even go ahead?

My final concern is this, not only is there a rumoured ‘Ahsoka’ series, but there are a handful more series being rumoured, including a Lando series featuring both Billy Dee Williams and Donald Glover as the character. Would all of these series cause an overload of content? Would a constant stream of Star Wars series be healthy for a franchise that has been criticised for its fast release schedule over the last few years.

Of course I am in full speculation here, no inside knowledge just some thoughts and that I don’t want to see animation fall to the way side just to cram more and more live action shows onto Disney+.

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Me and My Padawan: The Empire Strikes Back

I wish I had recorded a commentary on this.

On a recent car trip with Emma, she started talking about spaceships and going into space. I told her that Star Wars is set in space with spaceships. Her growing knowledge of the characters and understanding of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ let me think that it was a good time to give it a go. Whilst flicking through the films on Disney+ she saw an image of Luke and Yoda and told me that was the one we had to watch. Fair enough. It’s my favourite and was the first one I watched so without hesitation I agreed.

Let me get started by admitting we didn’t make it through the whole film. We got to the arrival on Bespin, which for a three year old was pretty good. Also, after the first half hour she went and started playing/colouring but did continue to watch, albeit distracted.

The first half hour I had to explain who was who and what was going on, she was interested and once she found her ‘Forces of Destiny’ Leia and R2-D2 figures so she spent the whole of Hoth waving her Leia doll around every time she cane on screen.

She wasn’t all that fussed about the Battle of Hoth but once Luke was on Dagobah she payed attention to Yoda, the character she has known the longest thanks to a Bubble Bath topper I gave her for a bath toy a long time ago, but even then her interest waned somewhat.

By the time the Falcon was in the Exogorth she was completely uninterested, which wasn’t a problem, she had done very well for her first time but didn’t get me to turn it off, so I carried on watching whilst we played with her Disney Princess Lego sets.

I think we will carry on with the ‘Galaxy of Adventures’ shorts for a while, she definitely does enjoy those and her interest in my POP! Vinyl collection, The Child and more recently the Lego sets I have on display give me the feeling that another attempt at watching one of the films could be getting closer. Maybe I’ll try her on ‘The Phantom Menace’, taxation ploy aside, the bright colours alone may hold her attention a bit longer, she could even realise that Anakin is the same person as that POP! Vinyl figure she pesters me to play with a lot…

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Brick Headz The Mandalorian and The Child

My shameless need to buy products from ‘The Mandalorian’ has finally hit a moment of disappointment.

Having not gone down the Lego Brick Headz collecting route until now, I feel like this purchase was either incredibly impulsive or a much needed revelation that not all Star Wars Lego is good.

When they were first announced and revealed I made the decision to just not bother with them, essentially they are a somewhat late addition to the stylised collectables that Funko has essentially built a whole monopoly on. Except these ones you build yourself.

The set is split into two sections, ‘The Child’ and ‘The Mandalorian’. Each has its own instruction booklet.

The first to build (it doesn’t matter either way, but the booklets are labelled 1 and 2) is ‘The Child’ with its hovering pram.

The pram was an interesting build and looks incredibly accurate to the one seen in the film. At this scale, detail is important to avoid grouchy fans getting hostile online and honestly it looks really great, as does ‘The Child’.

There are no stickers, any added detail is made using printed pieces and the eyes look great with the little dot of light just off from the centre.

In terms of ‘The Child’ merchandise (that I own so far), I don’t feel like this is at the top of my list of greats. The build feels tedious, even though the final product does look good.

Based on the characters design from ‘Chapter 1’ of the series, the Mandalorian Brick Headz looks alright, if a bit messy. The amount of detail that has been put on here far outweighs the size of the build itself.

Sporting his two blasters, Mando is ready for some really blocky action.

Whilst the build was once again tedious, which at a whopping 114 pieces is not a good sign, it does have a couple of interesting building techniques, which at first seem a tad strange but the finished look is good.

Unfortunately the disappointment is much greater than my enjoyment of the finished product. I was really hopeful that I would enjoy a new type of build but in the end it really just wasn’t my thing.

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Balancing the Force 6 – The World Between Worlds Part 2

WARNING!!! SPOILERS FOR ‘STAR WARS REBELS SEASON 4’!

Thanks to Kyle, Marie and Nathan on the latest episode of the ‘Tumbling Sabers’ Podcast (listen HERE), my brain has been going over one particular concept that they discussed in regards to The World Between Worlds, which I wrote about in a previous post, Balancing the Force 4 -The World Between Words.

They posed the question that, what if Ezra uses the doorway to the World Between Worlds that Thrawn had on board The Chimera to escape whatever place that the Purgill take the ship at the end of Season 4?

I can honestly say that I had never considered that before, and so far, Ezra is the only character to actually enter the World Between Worlds. You could say that Ahsoka does, but she is pulled through by Ezra rather than actively locating a doorway and unlocking it.

Think about it for a moment. Ezra could find a way to open the door and travel back to a place he could easily be located, or use it to find Ahsoka and Sabine as they go searching for him (come in folks we all know it will happen is some form one day).

Ezra has this untapped resource at his disposal, and after learning the lesson from Ahsoka that the power to manipulate time could lead to disastrous results in the episode ‘World Between Worlds’, surely he wouldn’t abuse the power but would use it to be found by his friends.

The other side of this could actually be that Ahsoka and Sabine, the only two other characters (that we know of) who have had exposure to the World Between Worlds in some way could actually be looking for doorways into that plain of existence, as a means of locating Ezra. Ahsoka looks like she has been through some stuff at the end of Season 4 when she picks up Sabine so what if she has spent her time looking for any information she can about it and using that research, leads Sabine across the Galaxy in search of the doorways, seeing as it was Sabine who figured out how to open the doorway in the first place.

And just bear with me as I write a tin foil hat type theory that could be very much out there, but what if…

Ahsoka and Sabine locate and enter a doorway and once inside they find an older Ezra who has spent time searching for them in the doorways. They are then drawn to a single doorway that leads them to Mortis (told you it was out there) and the three of them end up becoming the Gods of Mortis, with Ahsoka as ‘The Mother’, Ezra as ‘The Brother’ and Sabine as ‘The Sister’.

Granted, Sabine is not Force Sensitive, or it hasn’t been established yet. But Mortis is a strange and blizzard place where we have seen that absolutely anything can happen. Or they end up taking on those roles but within the World Between Worlds. Acting and defenders and guides of the incredible power that realm holds?

Or, and this could be the most plausible idea, I may be just overthinking the whole thing in a sleep deprived state of mind after working what feels like a very long shift.

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Doctor Aphra: Fortune and Fate Part 3

The misadventures of the legendary Doctor Aphra continues in this third and exciting issue of the new run.

Aphra and her team are held at blaster point by the soldiers of Ronan Tagge, after Lucky, Okka and Black Krrsantan fell into an underground corridor (last issue). They hear Aphra “double cross” them by agreeing to work for Tagge and locate the Rings of Vaale.

Whilst Okka and her two companions try to find their way out, they end up in a room where one of the rings is meant to be kept and are lucky enough to find it, whilst Lucky tries to figure out who among the team is a spy for Tagge.

Meanwhile, up above, Aphra dupes Tagges crew I to setting off a number of boobs-traps that cause the right amount of mayhem, allowing Aphra to confront Detta Yao, who it seems has been quite unscrupulous and Aphra seems some of her in the young trainee archaeologist.

They enter another room where another ring is meant to be but it’s missing. Okka’s team joins them, and whilst discussing the ring that has been found, it’s determined that Lucky stoke it from Okka and he lets in the remaining members of Tagge’s crew, revealing himself to be the spy.

With a great mixture of action, archaeology and good old double crossing, the issue really continues this fun adventure for Aphra. The other characters get moments to shine, especially Okka and Yao. Yao’s conversation with Aphra really goes to show how well Aphra can read people, especially when they remind her of her. We get brief glimpses at her time in the Archaeology University, some of which were hinted at in the Aphra Audio Drama.

I am really, thoroughly enjoying this series so far. Alyssa Wong’s writing is phenomenal and her really gets how to write the character, as well as a great Star Wars story. Cresta’s art is gorgeous and I really hope the two of these creators stay together working on this series as the writing and art wonderfully complement each other.

I can’t believe we have to wait a month for the next issue, I wish it was coming out sooner. Whilst I am enjoying the three current Star Wars comics series, this and Vader are holding the top spot (despite my adoration for Charles Soule’s work on the main title).

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Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price Speculation

In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen.

Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination which began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers.

Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had each other. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t even sure they have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?

In a surprise announcement, which I suspect was meant to be at the cancelled Star Wars Celebration that would have happened in a week or so, the cover image and the blurb for the upcoming final instalment of the ‘Alphabet Squadron’ trilogy were released. The cover features Wyl Lark an the front, as well as the ships that make up the team, with a noticeable lack of an X-Wing.

From here on, ‘Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall’ SPOILERS will be rife.

Let’s start with the heroes first.

The noticeable lack of Yrica Quell’ X-Wing goes to show that the Squadron probably won’t be replacing her, or if they do it ‘lol be a surprise. Given the timeline, this third book could be happening close to the ‘Battle of Jakku’, meaning that the final fight between Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Wong.

Wyl Lark will still be in command of the Squadron, and will have probably settled into the role a lot more. He may still be wary of Nath after the latter caught Wyl trying to contact Shadow Wing the night before the fledgling New Republic forces were about to try to retake Troithe from the Empire.

Nath will continue being the guy who is friends with everyone, maintaining relationships with other Squadrons. Part of me considers Nath to be the heart of the group almost and it’d be very possible that he will be killed at some point, maybe about halfway through which will spur the remaining Squadron members to join the ‘Battle of Jakku’.

Chass will make it to the end, she will be disappointed that she doesn’t get the kind of meaningful death that Jon Erso had, but may possibly return to Troithe to return to ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’, probably because outside of the Squadron, which after Jakku would be disbanded, ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’ is the only place that exists that she felt like she had a place, even though she mocked it.

I hope Kairos has more to do in the next book. She was utilised brilliantly in the first book but in ‘Shadow Fall’ she was sidelined after an injury, only to return at the end, and revealing herself to Nath and Hera to be some sort of humanoid insect-like species. I imagine she would be heavily utilised during the ‘Battle of Jakku’, ferrying soldiers in her U-Wing. It would also make a nice link to Chuck Wendig’s ‘Empires End’ if she was piloting the ship that Jon Barell saved by sacrificing himself.

I’m trying not to speculate heavily on Hera Syndulla’s involvement. I assume she will remain in charge of the Squadron and act as a mentor to Wyl as he takes a heavier command role. I do wonder if we will finally get a mention of Jacen, or his whereabouts, which has been strangely ignored so far in the trilogy.

Now for the Empire.

At the end of ‘Shadow Fall’, Yrica Quell had returned to Shadow Wing and her former Squad Leader, Soren Kieze after her actions during Operation Cinder were revealed to her team. I’m interested to see how her arc plays out in ‘Victory’s Price’. I can’t see her playing double agent and bringing Shadow Wing down from the inside. I’m sure Kieze will be keeping an eye on her.

Kieze, who spent time using an alternate persona, Devon, during the first book, has taken his Squadron back under the wing of the Empire, pledging allegiance to Rae Sloane’s remnant. Their resources will feel infinitely greater than we have seen so far and their threat level will be much higher.

If Shadow Wing is involved with the ‘Battle of Jakku’, I do wonder if the survivors join Rae Sloane and the other escaped Imperials that head off into the Unknown Regions that eventually becomes The First Order, or will Kieze leave and return to his life as Devon? Leaving Quell to lead in his place, which could be a very interesting turn of events.

Needless to say, I am very much excited for this book to come out next year, I have really enjoyed the first two parts of the trilogy and I’m absolutely certain Alexander Freed will knock this one out of the park.

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Queen’s Peril by E. K. Johnston Book Review

Last year I wrote a post about how my appreciation for ‘The Phantom Menace’ grew after reading both ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and ‘Queen’s Shadow’ by E. K. Johnston, which you can peruse HERE.

And then ‘Queen’s Peril’ was announced, the story of how Padmé and her Handmaidens became the really strong team we saw in ‘Shadow’, the early days of Padmé’s time as Naboo’s Queen and the events of ‘Phantom Menace’ on Naboo whilst Padmé is on Tatooine and Coruscant.

We learn about how and why each girl was recruited, a bit about their lives before entering into service and small tidbits on how they feel spending their lives in anonymity.

The book does favour one Handmaiden above others, Sabé, the one closest to Padmé, essentially best friends who work together, but Sabè’s role also creates a divide between the two, which after a sneaky escape from the Palace to see the Star Wars equivalent of One Direction.

We get some insight into another character from ‘The Phantom Menace’, before the events of the film and during. Darth Maul get a couple of moments in the spotlight, the first show him meditating and rebuilding his lightsaber, something he does quite often it seems, the second is him walking through the Theed Palace, planning his attack.

Whilst the first two thirds deal with the growing bonds between Padmé and the Handmaidens, the last portion details the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’. We get observations and conversations not seen in the film, such as after Obi-Wan tells them not to send a reply to Theed, and a touching moment between Padmé and Shmi the night before the Boonta Eve Podrace, and whilst these moments are great, it’s the story of what the Saché and Yané are doing on Naboo as prisoners of the Trade Federation, working with Tonra and Mariek Panaka to form an underground resistance. We learn more about Saché’s torture at the hands of the Federation and how they were able to get people out of the camps to fight in the Battle of Naboo.

One other character, who has a large part in the book is Captain Panaka. We get to learn more about his relationship with Palpatine as well as how he manages a group of young women and how difficult and different he finds it. He almost becomes a surrogate father to them, worrying, being over-protective and sometimes overbearing. One sequence shows is how out of his depth he is and whilst it’s amusing seeing him trying to go about his job, it’s his wife who has to be in charge for a time and puts him out of his comfort zone.

E. K. Johnston has crafted a brilliant Star Wars novel here. Her love and passion of the franchise really shine through and whilst I would have though that this would have been the obvious first choice for her two write over ‘Queen’s Shadow’, there is A part of me that likes that this came out second. I really enjoyed getting to know the Handmaidens, learning about their roles in the employ of the Queen and what measures they all go to to craft the Queen Amidala we meet for the first time in ‘The Phantom Menace’.

Now if you don’t mind I am off to watch it again with an even greater appreciation.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #34 – Darth Vader in Meditation Chamber

Thanks to my amazing wife who knew I needed a pick-me-up, I am now the proud owner of the ‘Darth Vader in Meditation Chamber’ POP! Vinyl and I’m sharing it with you wonderful folks.

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#CollectionCorner – Droid Escape Pod Lego Review

This was one of those sets that I overlooked in my early collecting days, I was more focused on the larger sets in those waves, but when it was offered at a decent price on Facebook Marketplace, along with a few other sets I went for it.

As this is a second-hand set, I can only describe what I have seen. The set comes in two numbered bags with the instructions, and (in pure speculation) the curved walls come in a separate bag altogether.

The first bag builds the core of the set, using the curved walls on hinged plates to allow the Pod to open and close.

There are a few stickers in this part of the build, adding details to the outer hull and also on the interior, with a screen showing the Pod’s trajectory and the other giving us a view port showing the Devastator in a screen accurate image from ‘A New Hope’.

Bag 1 also gives us the first two mini-figs, a Jawa and R2-D2. The Jawa comes with a blaster made up of a megaphone and transparent blue stud. R2-D2 is the same as I’ve seen over the last few years.

Bag 2 adds the seating and controls for the Pod, as well as the final details on the exterior, with the front of the ship and the engines. It also includes as console that comes out of the Pod and includes Death Star plans.

When closed, the set is a spot on representation of the vehicle in the film, and is a decent size.

The second bag also comes with a second Jawa and the required C-3PO.

Overall, this set has surprised me as to how good it actually is. The level of detail provided by the stickers is great. My favourite of course is the view of the Star Destroyer. The mini-figs are pretty obvious for the set, R2 and C-3PO are a must for the Escape Pod and the Jawas are a great addition and accurate for the Droids desert adventure. I’m going to hold strong though and not go searching for a Sandcrawler just yet.

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#CollectionCorner – Imperial Troop Transport Lego Battle Pack

This was one of those sets that I missed out on as I started collecting Lego again. Based on the vehicle from ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ which in turn is based on an original concept that Kenner produced in the 70’s and 80’s as part of a set of smaller vehicles.

It also recently made it’s live action debut in Chapter 7 of ‘The Mandalorian’ so I’m sure we’ll get an updated version at some point.

Because I picked this up as part of a deal on Facebook Marketplace, it was already built, so I have deconstructed it and given it a clean. It originally came in one bag with the instructions.

img_1643

First up, let’s talk mini-figs. Because this is an Imperial Troop Transport, having any other mini-figs other then four Stormtroopers would feel a bit off. They all include stud launcher blasters as is customary for Battle Packs. The four figures are identical and great for collectors looking to build armies.

The build itself is really well constructed and feels like a different type of build than the Battle Packs I have built over the last few years. Firstly, it’s a canon vehicle, which I have only seen once before with the Imperial Speeder Bike from the first ‘Solo’ wave. Secondly, it’s quite large for a typical Battle Pack and has room to store all four Troopers as well as a crate that slides into the middle with four studs as back-up ammo.

When completed, with all the Troopers in place this is a really good looking little set, and it’s set a very high standard for what the Battle Packs could be.

In terms of the screen accuracy, the vehicle is a little small in relation to the figures and there isn’t room in the cockpit for anyone to actually drive the vehicle, but despite that, the vehicle is actually pretty accurate to the ‘Rebels’ stye.

In terms of play features, the vehicle has two push missiles on the top in a rotating turret rather than having more stud launchers. There are two blasters on the front that don’t include play features but are there as part if the vehicles design.

Overall,, its a really nice set but, like I said before, the more recent Battle Packs feel somewhat lacking in comparison. Granted, I tend to get them more for the mini-figs than anything else.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #33 – The Ghost Crew Part 6 Zeb

The sixth and final part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time taking a look at the muscle of the group, formerly the last Lesaat, Zeb.

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Darth Vader: Dark Heart of the Sith Part 4 Comic Review

Thank the Maker this was released this week! Ever since the cliffhanger of the last issue I have been nigh on desperate for this issue to come out, coupled with the fact I have almost finished reading ‘Queen’s Peril’ and I am all in for the stories about Padmé and her Handmaidens.

Vader, Sabé, Tonra and Typho survive the Sandi Aqua Monster attack, with Vader and Zed 6-7 being eaten and subsequently cutting his way out of the beast once it arrives on land.

Vader leads the Droid and his Death Troopers through the fields of Naboo, heading for Padmé’s tomb but are stopped by Ric Olé and a group calling themselves the Amidalians. Vader and his troops make short work of them, with Vader killing the former Royal Pilot himself.

Vader reaches the tomb but is stopped by Sabé, Eiraté, Rabé, Saché and Dormé who are guarding the tomb. They battle Vader who momentarily chokes them but rather than kill them throws them away from the tomb before entering…

This is one action heavy issue, but rather than it be a problem, we get to see how much of a toll this is for Vader with all of the memories of his life as Anakin flooding back, more and more in this issue.

Greg Pak truly knows how to write for Vader and Sabé, it’s obvious that Pak and E.K. Johnston has been working closely to realise her characterisation and the group of Handmaidens who appear later on in the issue, each having a panel or two as well as some context to how Anakin would have known them is just great writing.

This may be blasphemy to some, but this is quickly becoming my favourite story-arc of any of the Vader comics that I have read. The writing, as I have said before is fantastic and the art is beautiful. I really hope that Pak and Ienco stay together for the duration of this run because they are doing amazing work.

For fans of E.K. Johnston’s Padmé books this is a must read, I am certainly hoping she provides us with some backstory of the Amidalians at some point in the future because I am loving the whole idea that was fleshed out in this issue.

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Speculation: The Future of Star Wars Video Games

In June, EA revealed that they will be “doubling down” their Star Wars output, which is much needed given their lacklustre approach to putting games out based on the Galaxy far, far away. Since they got the license in 2013 we have got three console games with a fourth on the way and four for mobile devices, of which there is only one still operational.

I’ll ignore the mobile games for now and focus on the console games for a moment. Out of the three games released so far, only one has come out without facing backlash. The first ‘Battlefront’ was an online only experience, with four DLC add-on’s that when you add them up, equal the amount that the initial game cost originally and the backlash against ‘Battlefront 2’ caused EA to reevaluate their pay-to-win strategy and ended up having to dramatically alter the game after release. Thankfully for EA, their free add-on content has more than made up for their initial blunder. Only ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ came out to fanfare.

The question is, what do we want to play as Star Wars fans?

Honestly, I love story-based single player experiences, so ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ has my full adoration, I do enjoy ‘Battlefront 2’ for both its online and offline options, it’s my go-to game (especially now I have found Co-Op mode). There we have a 3rd Person action/adventure with puzzles, secrets and an incredible story with some amazing characters. The ‘Battlefront 2’ campaign is a 1st Person shooter which is enjoyable to play and takes us on a year long adventure between the Battles of Endor and Jakku. The upcoming ‘Squadrons’ is a flight simulator where you take the controls of the Starfighters we all want to jump into the cockpits of.

But what else could we get? An open world RPG? Well I’d certainly be up for it, but at the same time, just imagine how big it would have to be. Sure, have an open world on Coruscant, but this is ‘Star Wars’, planet hopping is in the DNA of the franchise, and what planets do the creators pick, the Galaxy is vast with several iconic planets or so we get new planets? It’d be a tough choice, and what about the action in Space? Whilst the idea is good, the logistics could be a bit much for one game. Of course it has been done before with ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ which to this day is one of the top ‘Star Wars’ games ever made (and I still can’t get into it).

A 2D side scroller could be fun, but I can’t see an original story working, but I spent a great amount of time in my youth playing ‘Super Return of the Jedi’ on my Game Boy, and boy was that a fun game. Maybe some form of adaptation of all the films would be fun.

I won’t lie and say that I’ve not considered digging out my old N64 and playing ‘Episode 1: Racer’, but what’s stopping developers from making an all out remake? Throw in a feasible storyline for players to follow, throw in cameo’s from known Racers like Sebulba and Gasgano (even Ben Quadrinaros).

One game I did enjoy a lot as a kid was ‘Galactic Battlegrounds’ I spent hours just playing that on the PC. The only problem is that it would be nigh impossible to make a game like that ‘Canon’, seeing as the aim of the game is to win each level playing as whichever army you have chosen. Of course you could have a stand-alone campaign and then have a ‘Free-For-All’ mode which isn’t story driven.

What I’m essentially trying to get at here is that when it comes to ‘Star Wars’ games, the type of game doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, it’s not the franchise to do that in my opinion. What the games need is a solid story, that fits into the Galaxy and makes a solid use of the medium then I’m all in.

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Millennium Falcon (2019 Version)

When it was initially rumoured that we were getting a third Falcon in five years I did wonder if Lego were just putting some placeholder sets out for ‘Triple Force Friday’. That first wave of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ sets were pretty much a bunch of updated/upgraded sets (other than the Pasaana Speeder Chase).

When the first images came out however I was surprised by the Falcon and how the design felt so much better that the previous versions.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both the 2015 and 2018 versions, but they are not without their design flaws and for the most part the new version fixes them nicely.

As always, the Falcon comes in ten numbered bags with a separate bag for those larger parts, a decent sized instruction manual and a sticker sheet.

The first bag, always the dullest but equally important, the Technic built structure with large plates to make up the base of the ship.

The first difference between this and the previous versions is that the space for the cargo hold is now situated in the middle of the back half of the ship rather than the opposite side to the boarding ramp.

The first mini-fig we get is Boolio, the spy who delivers a message from a First Order traitor to Finn and Poe at the beginning of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and voiced by none other than Mark Hamill.

Bag two gives us some interior decoration of the ship, with a nice little kitchenette, a crate and some pipes as well as the cockpit interior (including D-O) and portion of the side and engines which are now brick built rather than a long transparent blue tube and the effect is much better.

And what Millennium Falcon set would be complete without the best co-pilot in the Galaxy? Yes it’s the obligatory Chewie mini-fig complete with stud launching Bowcaster. Not much can be said about this figure as it’s not changed in the past five years (not including the ‘Solo’ versions of course).

Bag number three finishes off the back half of the sides, including a third section of the engines. On the interior we get a hyperdrive as well as two beds which we also got in the 2015 version but these have also been updated, using more pieces to add details that weren’t there in the previous version.

The fourth bag builds the central hub of the ship, with details all around but the big different from before is the computer console, using three stickers pieces, it feels much more screen accurate and streamlined than before.

The upper part of the ship starts to get some detail as well, building up the mid-section in either side and bridging them to the centre which will house the gunners controls.

And returning to our screen and the Millennium Falcon is the former Baron Administrator of Bespin, Lando Calrissian, complete with cane and mini-bowcaster that he uses on Pasaana. Wonderfully accurate with the character in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, this figure was a big draw for me to getting this set. The cape is made out of two parts, the collar and the cape itself. The product images show Lando with the collar up but in the film it’s down, so I’ve fiddled with it to stay that way.

Bag five adds a new and very well detailed, brick built chair to go with the console in the central hub as well as the ‘corridor’ leading the the cockpit.

Bag six adds the Dejarik table, the seating area and the exterior for this part of the ship. Rather than having all three seats connected, this time the designers have made them separate, the two on either side are stuck in place whilst the middle is on a rotating plate which causes it to wobble. Out of the new design additions I feel that this is the most pointless when the previous iterations had a solid seating area.

The seventh bag adds the two blaster turrets as well as the landing gears and completes the storage compartment, which unlike the 2015 version, is properly secured using a Technic pin rather then being flimsy and easily removed.

This bag also gives us C-3PO. Lego have used this version for every iteration of the character, which is understandable because the design doesn’t really change, except of course the red arm which is quickly replaced, but the printed design needs an update because he no longer has the silver leg which was only used in ‘A New Hope’.

The eighth bag builds the two forward mandibles. Not a lot can be said about these really, the design hasn’t been updated other than which parts have which colour plates on them. The flick missiles are the same and their firing mechanism is the same.

Speaking of the same, we get R2-D2 and like the C-3PO mini-fig it’s the same as the one we’ve gotten over the last few years.

Bag 9 puts the upper hull on at the back. Most of the detail is through greenling with the exception of the six stickers to represent the six heat exhaust vents. The central panel lifts up on its own but each of the other two panels lift independently. These are the biggest change to the design, as the three previous iterations had separate panels that opened all around the ship, which left gaps between them. Now this way doesn’t have those gaps.

The tenth and final bag finished off the outer hull and the cockpit. Again some fantasy greebling here and only one sticker to show blaster damage. Like previous iterations, the middle part of the hull folds down towards the mandibles whilst the hull on either side open. The radar dish is present and now uses a Battle Droid arm as an added detail that hold the dis steady.

The final mini-fig is Finn. It’s the same version as the one available in the ‘Sith TIE Fighter. The detail is great and the addition of his bag is a nice touch.

Fully built this is an impressive set (as are the 2015 and 2018 versions). When the ship is closed, the new design works beautifully, those unsightly gaps are no more. The drawback however is that when you open up the segments they feel flimsy, like they could break apart if you held them too hard. Maybe if they had a few more pieces on each one just to strengthen them that problem would be eliminated.

The interior looks good and feels more spacious than before. The new little details like the beds, the kitchenette and the upgraded console in the centre just add more to the set.

I don’t understand why we have a D-O figure in the cockpit. Perhaps it was a previous idea that was planned when Lego started designing the sets that ultimately changed throughout the making of the film.

The mini-fig selection is a mixed bag, with only two that are exclusive to this set, and one of those only appears for a minutes. Luckily the new design of the set is a big draw for collectors so that’s a plus.

Overall, this set is great. It’s fun to build because the new design has changed the order that parts are put together so it feels fresh, which was a bit of a problem for me when I built the 2018 version because for the most part (aside from the interior and a few design elements) it felt just like building the 2015 version in a different colour.

Hopefully now that The Skywalker Saga is over, we won’t get so many Millennium Falcon sets is so short a time. Give it a few years, see what needs redesigning or upgrading, but please, give us five years without a new one.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #32 – The Ghost Crew Part 5 Hera Syndulla

The fifth part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time taking a look at the pilot extraordinaire, the mum of the gang, Hera Syndulla.

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Star Wars: The Destiny Path Part 5 – Comic Review

Well hello there, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this issue for months… oh wait, we have.

But now it’s back and it’s more than welcome. Yes folks, Soule has done it again.

The issue focuses mainly on Luke as he searches for the mysterious woman from his vision in the previous issue.

Based on his description of the planet, R2 takes him to Serelia where he finds the woman working on a fishing boat. He tries to talk to her but she escapes on her boat and Luke follows by commandeering another.

Luke and R2 are thrown overboard whilst the fleeing woman runs into a cave. The two make it to shore and follow her in.

The cave is filled with booby-traps so Luke carries on alone, telling R2 to get a message to Leia if he doesn’t make it back.

Luke ends up captured in a cage which is filling up with water. The woman reveals herself to be Verla, a Force Sensitive woman who may or may not have been a Jedi. She gives Luke a history lesson on Order 66, the Inquisitors and Darth Vader. She senses a shift in Luke at the mention of Vader and probes his mind, revealing Vader’s paternal revelation. Without hesitation she forces more water into the cage, filling it.

Meanwhile, Vader is brought to a cantina where someone is using the name Luke Skywalker to get pilot work. Vader kills him, decreeing that anyone using the name Skywalker will be killed.

Like I said, Soule has done it again, a fun, action packed jaunt through the Galaxy Far, Far Away, adding mystery and lore to the saga we already know and love whilst also developing Luke’s character arc between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ in a much more satisfying way than we got in the nineties with ‘Shadows of the Empire’.

I do hope, however, that the next story arc will start to focus more on the Kes Dameron and Shara Bey storyline which was introduced in the first couple of issues of this series, whilst I do want to see the Luke, Leia and Lando story line develop I would like to see some focus on newer characters and see more of how the Rebellion grows in that time period.

I have been looking forward to the continuation of this story for months and now that it’s arrived I am far from disappointed, the next issue cannot come soon enough.

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Doctor Aphra Audio Drama by Sarah Kuhn

Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra
Jonathan Davis as Boba Fett
Sean Patrick Hopkins as Luke Skywalker
Sean Kenin as Triple-Zero
Nicole Lewis as Sana Starros
Carol Monda as Maz Kanata
Euan Morton as The Emperor
Catherine Taber as Leia Organa
Marc Thompson as Darth Vader

When it was announced, I was so excited to be getting new ‘Doctor Aphra’ content. The previous audio drama, ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ was a great listen so I had the utmost faith that this would be just as good.

Even when we found out it was going to essentially be a retelling of Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series that excitement still held. Why? Because it’s ‘Doctor Aphra’ and she’s a phenomenal character!

Firstly, it’s not a straight up retelling of Gillen’s series. It’s told from Aphra’s perspective. We get her thoughts, her insights, her excitement and her fears of being Vader’s attaché. We also get a considerable amount of back story into her and Sana Starros’ character. Readers of the ‘Rebel Jail’ story arc from Jason Aaron will be familiar with one section of the story too.

Sarah Kuhn has translated Aphra’s story arc into this medium brilliantly and given us some great insight into Aphra’s character and her past before becoming the rogue archaeologist we all know and love.

I really enjoyed the writing more in this audio drama, the narration didn’t feel quite as obvious as it did with ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ and even though it was a story I already knew, it always felt fresh.

I loved Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra. She brings so much life to the character and I would love to get an ‘Aphra’ animated series with Zeller voicing the character.

The rest of the cast were good. It took me a while to warm up to Sean Kenin’s 000, as I had always thought that he would have sounded more like C-3PO, probably with a slightly darker tone to the voice like in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Marc Thompson nails Darth Vader. That’s all I have to say about that really. It’s Marc Thompson, we already know he’s amazing.

Nicole Lewis does a great job bringing Sana Starros to life. It was easy to picture Sana from the comics with Lewis’s voice and it was really fun finding out what had happened between Sana and Aphra when they were younger.

I really hope this is just the start of more Aphra content. I’d be all over a Disney+ series, live action or animated. I’d happily take more audio dramas, especially if the creative team behind this one we’re to return, but I’d like more original stories than any more adaptations. This works as an introduction but I think if they produced original adventures, they could be onto a real winner, more so than they already are with this.

Definitely worth a listen, and it’s a quick one too, at just under 6 hours it’s easy to get through, and worth every second.

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Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed Book Review

Like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Freed has managed to tell a wonderfully personal story for all of his characters amidst a seemingly impossible campaign.

George Lucas has often talked about how ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ has to bring the heroes to a dark place at the end, their victories from the first part almost forgotten due to the heavy losses in the second act, and that is exactly what ‘Shadow Fall’ accomplishes in spades.

Months after Alphabet Squadron’s victory at Pandem Nai, the working group, along with General Syndulla are working to liberate the planet Troithe from the Empire.

Alphabet Squadron use this as an opportunity to lure Shadow Wing into a trap but when Caern Adan is captured, a series of events occurs that splinters Alphabet Squadron, with one member taken away to a medical facility, another disgraced and on a journey of self-discovery, leaving three to pick up the pieces and fight battles both for the New Republic and within themselves.

Freed changes the spotlight in this novel, where ‘Alphabet Squadron’ focused mainly on Yrica Quell, Caern Adan and Nath Tensent, this book changes the focus to Wyl Lark and Chass Na Chadic who both have to step up in their own way once the team is split. Wyl becomes a leader, not a position he ever thought he would be in, and despite some teething problems and some mistakes, he takes to the role well. Chass has to go on her own journey of self-discovery and ends up being taken in by a local cult called ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’ before finding her way back to the fight.

Quell does go on her own journey of self-discovery and ends up on a very different path to her comrades.

We also get to spend a lot of time with Soran Keize, Yrica Quell’s former Commander in Shadow Wing who spent time away from the Empire under the alias ‘Devon’ but returned to duty after Shadow Wings defeat over Pandem Nai. He undergoes a swift rise to power through this novel and in the end is the leader of the 204th Fighter Wing. Whilst he is the main antagonist of the novel, he never comes across as evil, he’s just a man with a vendetta against the ones who shamed his people. He doesn’t fight for the Emperor’s memory, nor the fledgling Empire, but he fights for his people, which is quite a noble trait for an Imperial Officer.

Like the first book in the trilogy, Hera Syndulla plays a minor role, but spends most of the book on another mission, working with Vanguard Squadron, who are the New Republic protagonists of the upcoming game ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’. We’ve seen Hera in one of the trailers for the game so it’s safe to assume that the story for ‘Squadrons’ will take place concurrently with the events of this book. Just a little tidbit that makes me even more excited for the game. I also wonder if part of the game will actually depict part of the book. Now that would be amazing.

Once again, Alexander Freed has delivered a great story. Not bogged down with getting to know the characters and the world they are living in like the previous instalment of the trilogy, this truly feels like a strong middle chapter, much like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and I honestly cannot wait for the third part, especially after the cliffhanger of this one. It better be out next year is all I’m saying.

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