#CollectionCorner – The Razorcrest Lego

It’s with extra special thanks to my wife Sara that this post is possible.

After hunting online for this in all the usual places (Lego, Amazon, Smyths Toys) and coming up empty handed in the run up to Christmas, I had resolved myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to be getting this set until the new year. Was I disappointed? Yes. Out of all the current sets, this was my grail, in fact, it’s the only set I could say that about since getting The Death Star last year.

But my wife, who didn’t want to lose the title of ‘Gift Giving Goddess’ after last Christmas’ Death Star reveal went to work.

And thanks to her intrepid E-Bay skills, mere days before Christmas she bid her final bid and beat out almost 50 other people, throw in a 20% discount voucher, she ended up paying just over the £120 price.

Of course, she tricked me on the day, packing the instructions and the first Bag in a mid-sized box. Let’s just say I was just as surprised as last year. And when she directed me to the box I got an even bigger surprise, the name on the box ‘The Razorcrest’, rather then the Copyright inflicted name ‘The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport’. Whilst not a huge difference, it added something a bit more special.

Naturally, I started building as soon as I could.

The set is made up of 1023 pieces, which come in six bags (and a loose canopy piece) with a sticker sheet for added details.

Bag 1 contains the base of the ship. At this point I had no clue which was the front of back given the design of the ship, it does however give us a look at how the ship will be put together, with Technic pins and supports showing.

Bag 1 also gives us the first two mini-figs for the set, Din Djarin himself with his Ambien Phase Pulse Blaster and a Scout Trooper with Blaster. Mando comes in his Chapter 1 & 2 armour with cape. Leaving the Beskar clad version for this years ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set.

The ship’s layout becomes clear with Bag 2. Detail for the lower deck is built and the top deck is added, including the cockpit. Again there are quite a bit of Technic parts to put the ship together securely, and it’s very secure to say the least.

And we also get the cutest mini-fig ever, The Child (according to the packaging, seeing as his name hadn’t been revealed yet). He has a soft, rubber like head on hip of a plastic body. The details in this are really good given the size and I’ve had a hard time prying him away from my daughter.

The Third Bag gives us a bit of the top hull of the ship, leaving space for the canopy and the middle section. We get a couple of stickers to add the details on either side of the canopy. There’s not a whole lot of greebling here, but the detail is still very, very good and screen accurate. Granted, not many ships need a lot of greebling other than The Millennium Falcon. We also get the IG-11 mini-fig. Which is essentially IG-88. This is probably my one disappointment with the set, as they could have easily altered the design to make him more screen accurate. Three landing gears are added so the ship doesn’t rest on its base when landed.

Bag 4 puts the bulk of the outer hull together at the front and the lower portion of the ship. All of which are connected with clips at the bottom to allow the set to open up to access the interior, which includes a pair of Carbon Frozen Bounties for Din Djarin to deliver to Greef Karga (one of which is Mythrol from Chapters 1 and 12). The design is spot on and looks great.

Bag 5, the smallest of all the sections, builds the canopy in two sections, the back is hinged and opens to reveal a pair of clips to store weapons, the front half lifts away completely and gives access to the seats in the cockpit. The middle part of the top hull is put together in the form of a one-mini-fig escape pod. The main part of the pod fills the missing section nicely and has some nice little details with the two thrusters. The lid of the pod has the outer hull detail and slides on easily.

We also get Magistrate Greef Karga in his Season 1 attire along with his two blaster. It’s well detailed and gives us two expressions, a smug grin and the other grim determination.

The sixth, and final section is the two large engines. Using a large sticker on each, they are solidly built and have some decent detail, especially with the individual flaps that go around the intakes.

Overall, this has got to have been one of my most enjoyable builds in the past year. Taking away the stress of taking apart and rebuilding a pre-owned set (I’m still building The Ewok Village) and the sameness of building new version of older sets (Millennium Falcon, X-Wing and TIE Fighter), tackling a whole new design has been wonderful (not to say that building the other sets wasn’t great).

The selection of mini-figs is accurate but somewhat lacking. I have been clamouring for a Kuill mini-fig since the series came out and it would have fit perfectly with this set, and a more a more screen accurate IG-11 would have worked well too. The Mandalorian was always going to be part of this set, and it didn’t matter which version we got. Greef Karga is a great addition. Whilst not mini-figs, the addition of two Bounties in Carbonite is a very welcome added detail, especially Mythrol. The second Bounty isn’t a named character but it looks remarkably like D.J. from ‘The Last Jedi’.

With some interesting building techniques, good mini-figs and fantastic detail, The Razorcrest is a brilliant set, a fun build and a very welcome addition to the collection. I just hope that my daughter doesn’t take inspiration from Chapter Fourteen (when it gets destroyed). Now I’ve just got to go and move the Grogu mini-fig to a more inaccessible location.

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#CollectionCorner – Summer 2021 Lego Rumours

Thanks to the always informative JediJacPenguin, recently updated with some exciting looking sets, which at this point are rumours, and what’s exciting, a couple of these were even on my recent Mandalorian Lego Wishlist.

Summer 2021

On the list for the Summer, there are seven sets on the list, however not all of them have information yet, so it’s a waiting game on those for now.

First up is ‘The Mandalore Throne and Vault’ coming with Ahsoka and Darth Maul. The piece count is pretty low at 147 pieces but this could be a great set for kids and it’ll be a very affordable way of getting the ‘Clone Wars’ era Ahsoka and a new Darth Maul from the latest season.

One of my Wishlist sets is up next. A 478 piece version of the Imperial Troop Transport, complete with Greef Karga, Mortar Trooper and two Stormtroopers. I’m reserving the right for mild disappointment, only because I would have liked a Mythrol mini-fig. Given the piece count and the two Stormtroopers, I wonder if it includes a Speeder Bike or two?

Next up is a 592 piece version of Slave 1 with Boba Fett and Han Solo. I’m not surprised that we are getting a new Slave 1, especially in the new range with fewer pieces at lower prices.

To coincide with the upcoming release, ‘The Bad Batch Shuttle’ with Wrecker, Hunter, Crosshair, Tech and Echo and 969 pieces is lined up for Summer release, leading me to believe the show will at least be starting around August. But seeing as we are only really getting ‘Clone Wars’ Season 7 sets at the tail end of last year and this summer, then is could very well be a tie-in to that rather than their own upcoming series.

Another ‘Clone Wars’ set looks to be on the cards in the shape of a ‘Mandalorian Fighter’. There’s no rumoured piece count yet, but the mini-fig selection includes Bo Katan, Gar Saxon and a Mandalorian Loyalist. The Bo Katan and Loyalist figures could also be used along with ‘The Mandalorian’ sets.

Speaking of which, the second of my Wishlist predictions is one I am most hopeful for… ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’. An unknown number of pieces but a price of $160 makes me believe that it’s a big one. Featuring Mando, Grogu, Cara Dune, Fennec Shand, Moff Gideon and a TBA mini-fig, this is right at the top of my list.

There is also a Darth Vader Meditation Chamber set on the cards for summer, featuring Vader, Admiral Piett, and a Stormtrooper. This listing has no other details on price or piece count but it does have an 18+ next to it, I’m not really sure what that would mean for a Lego set, seeing as there are other listings for UCS sets. Perhaps one of those Lego Portraits?

Speaking of the UCS sets. There are three listed for this year. The May release has no details, so it’s anyone’s guess right now. Could it be the rumoured 11,000 piece Death Star?

The seconds, with a release date of ‘2021’ is the Republic Gunship, clocking in at 3292 pieces. This was the winner of the fan choice poll in late 2019/early 2020.

The third and final of the UCS sets, with a piece count of 6782 and a release date of 26th November, the AT-AT. There are no rumoured mini-figs yet, but I imagine an AT-AT Driver and a General Veers.

In September there will also be the annual release of the Advent Calendar, which I will make sure is top priority to purchase when it is released. Not missing out on that one this year. It wouldn’t have been so bad last year but I didn’t even get a chocolate Advent Calendar to dull the pain.

I’m infinity more excited for these sets than the one from the Winter and Spring waves (other than ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ of course). Lego seem to be really holding the good stuff back, probably due to the fact that there seems to be a worldwide Lego shortage in the age of COVID so they’re playing it safe and hoping by Summer things will be looking better.

I’m most excited for ‘Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser’ and I’ll be squirrelling away some money every week to make sure it’s here as close to release day as humanly possible. The ‘Clone Wars’ sets look exciting too, I’ve been wanting a ‘Mandalorian Fighter’ for a while now due to their interesting design. And I’ll more than likely grab the two smaller sets as and when.

I’ll reserve excitement for ‘The Bad Batch Shuttle’, I wasn’t the biggest fan of their story in ‘Clone Wars’ Season 7 and, whilst I’m looking forward to the new new series, it’s one I’ll have to bide my time before I invest in it that much especially when the set will cost around £100.

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Star Wars: X-Wing 4 – The Bacta War Audiobook by Michael A. Stackpole

After the majority of the team resigned their post, Rogue Squadron is well and truly rogue and taking the fight to Isaard on Thyferra.

Wedge Antilles and the rest of Rogue Squadron end up on their own after resigning in the previous book, The Krytos Trap. Their newfound freedom from the Politics of the fledgling New Republic allow them to take the fight to Isaard who has been made the ruler of Thyferra, the main source of Bacta in the Galaxy. Isaard is slowly unraveling as the Rogues thwart her plans by stealing/liberating Bacta and distributing it to those in need.

The group also find help from a pair of notorious smugglers, Talon Karrde (who was introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Empire Trilogy) and Booster Terrik, father of Mirax who has become Corran Horn’s romantic interest, the book follows their relationship as it grows rather quickly, which also leads to tensions between Corran and Booster.

The Squadron find a new base of operations within a space station which Booster ends up running, but are soon betrayed by an Imperial spy in Karrde’s operation. They use this to their advantage, luring Isaard’s forces to them whilst the Squadron and some support ships attack Thyferra using a newly liberated Star Destroyer.

The battle is fierce in space, whilst on the ground, Iella Wessiri and Elscol Loro make trouble on the ground, where they find and capture Fliry Vorru, Isaard’s second in command who has seen Isaard begin to go mad and has made contingency plans for his escape which is thwarted not only by Wessiri and Loro, but by Isaard herself who steals his escape shuttle.

Isaard attempts to flee, but thanks to the efforts of Corran Horn and Tycho Celchu, she is defeated in a spectacular fireball.

Once the battle is over and the Imperial forces at Thyferra defeated, the New Republic welcome Rogue Squadron back, along with a number of captured Star Destroyers, including the Lusankya Super Star Destroyer where Corran was held prisoner.

This book feels like a season finale, tying up the story arc started with Stackpole’s first book in the series, which followed the newly formed Rogue Squadron as their missions built to this intense crescendo. Plot threads tie together, questions get answered and we get to see our heroes learn and grow.

One thing that has been a constant in the series has been the romance between Mirax and Corran. The children of two enemies, their fathers fight doesn’t hold the two back from developing feelings for each other, and, although the romance seems to develop quickly in this book (after it starts in earnest at the end of Krytos Trap), they get engaged very quickly, which, given their given professions seems to make sense, they both face insurmountable danger on a regular basis. But by the end of the book they are married. Granted I have been listening to abridged audiobooks so everything moves along at a quicker pace, but the romance feels rushed, they are barely out of the honeymoon period and they are eloping on a captured Super Star Destroyer… come to think of it that would be cool.

In a surprise move, former Rogue Squadron member Bror Jace returns, seemingly from the dead. His death was staged by his family, who owned one of the two lead Bacta manufacturers on Thyferra to make the opposing group believe he had perished so that he could work with a rebel group on the planet to oppose his family’s rivals who favoured The Empire and Director Isaard. His return was timely as he managed to save Corran’s life after he was shot by an enemy.

Stackpole once again utilises characters and scenarios from previous novels to make the growing Expanded Universe feel connected. Having Talon Karrde enter the story as a fellow Smuggler for the newly introduced Booster Terrik to work with was a great choice, especially when Stackpole could have just given us a new character with no ties anywhere. The Katana Fleet, which was a massive plot line in Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ is also mentioned as well as ‘Outbound Flight’. These little connections really help flesh out this series and cement it as part of the overall and growing story that helped develop the Expanded Universe.

A solid end to a great story, I really enjoyed listening to the first four parts of the X-Wing series that really make up this overall story arc. At some point I will start on the next set of books in the series that were written by Aaron Allston but before I do I’m going to do some catch up on the early Expanded Universe novels (in audiobook form), starting with Dave Wolverton’s ‘The Courtship of Princess Leia’.

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Darth Vader: Into The Fire Part 3

Continuing his punishment by Palpatine, Vader encounters The Eye of the Webbish Bog and finds the key to learning The Emperor’s grand plan.

Cut off from Ochi, Vader travels through treacherous terrain, guided by a mysterious voice as he battle creatures and visions until he encounters The Eye where he acquires the Wayfinder that Kylo Ren would find thirty-three years later. As he finds a ship (the Jedi Interceptor that took him to Mustafaar in ‘Revenge of the Sith’) to take him away from Mustafaar, Ochi returns with a squad of Assassin Droids.

An improvement on the previous issue, Ochi takes a bit of a back seat for a bit, I’m still not a fan of his portrayal in this book, but that’s more down to my interpretation of the character based on what little we saw of him in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. I was anticipating more of a silent killer, like Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country for Old Men’ than the talkative ‘Arkham Knight’ rip-off we’ve gotten so far.

Vader’s journey has him fighting the local fauna, firstly the large Flea-like creatures we saw the Mustafarrans in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ riding. Then he encounters a large beast which puts the Minotaur to shame. His visions of Obi-Wan and Luke give us the requisite flashbacks that have been a staple of this series.

The encounter with The Eye reveals that the baby head the weird spider-creature sits on has a body under the water, which is revealed when it hands Vader the Wayfinder.

Part of me expected more from this encounter, probably because I built it up on my head to be grander. Although I expect that Vader will return to converse with The Eye later on in this run, especially seeing as he has to place the Wayfinder in the chest for Kylo to find it.

I’m hoping the Ochi storyline will come to an end soon. We’re this character named anything else I wouldn’t mind but this is the danger of having a head-canon that doesn’t mesh with the story we are given. However, the issue doesn’t suffer for this in my opinion.

Whilst not the best issue of the run, I feel like this and the last issue are building towards something greater, now he has the Wayfinder, the logical theory is that Vader is going to Exogol, where Palpatine’s contingency plan would be well underway.

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#CollectionCorner – The Mandalorian Lego Wishlist

With two seasons of ‘The Mandalorian’ under our collective belts, I can’t help but wonder if, next year, we’ll be seeing some new Lego sets based on the series.

At this point we’ve got four sets, the AT-ST Raider, The Razorcrest (or The Mandalorian Bounty Hunter Transport), The Child Buildable Character and Trouble on Tatooine.

There are still plenty of opportunities for new sets, and even, because of the time line of the series, the chance to update some older sets.

One possible set from Season One that I have been dying to see is a Blurrg and Kuill set, slap a Scout Trooper and a Speederbike in with them and you have a ‘Chase on Nevarro’ set, and whilst they’re at it, throw in IG-11 and Grogu mini-figs for some added fun (and make a way of differentiating IG-11 and IG-88).

Season Two has given us a smorgasbord of potential sets, so I’m going to try and go through some ideas in Episode order to make it easier to follow.

The Marshal – Where was Cobb Vanth’s Pod Racer engine turned Speeder in the Trouble on Tatooine set? With a Vanth mini-fig. Add a buildable Bantha with a pair of Tusken Raider’s and the Weequay Bartender and you’ve got ‘Krayt Dragon Assault’. Or swap out the Bartender for the Hermit looking Boba Fett.

The Passenger – I don’t need much from this episode, just a Frog Lady mini-fig. However, similar to Aragog’s Lair from the Harry Potter Lego Theme, you could have a large buildable Krykna and some smaller ones with a bit of an Ice Cave build. Could be fun. Also, had this years X-Wing not come with Luke, Leia, R2 and Dodonna, just imagine getting Carson Teva and Trapper Wolf with their respective Astromechs.

The Heiress – A couple of options present themselves from this episode. Firstly, the boat that Mando and Grogu take where they are ambushed by the Quarren and then saved by Bo Katan, Koska Reeves and Axe Woves. With Mando and Grogu, add in a Quarren Pirate and one, two or all three of his Mandalorian saviours. Another option is the Gozanti Freighter. We’ve already seen this in the Imperial Assault Carrier set from the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ theme but now it’s made its live action debut let’s get an updated version. Complete with the Imperial Commander played by Titus Welliver, a couple of Stormtroopers, Bo Katan and her followers.

The Siege – Come on, this one’s obvious. The Imperial Marauder Transport complete with Greef Karga, Mythrol, Cara Dune and a Scout Trooper. Throw in a Speeder Bike for the kids to have a play. It’ll be a decent upgrade on the Imperial Troop Transport Battle Pack that came out with ‘Rebels’ and could be a pretty solid set.

The Jedi – What could they do with this episode? Simple, Duel on Corvus. Like ‘Duel on Starkiller Base’ and ‘Duel on Mustafaar’, have Ahsoka vs. Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth. Just think how beautiful that zen garden look would be in Lego form. We’d also get a ‘Mandalorian’ style Ahsoka mini-fig and the Beskar Staff.

The Tragedy – Imperial Dropship! The predecessor to the First Order version that came out in 2015 with the initial wave of ‘The Force Awakens’ sets. Throw in a couple of Stormtroopers, a Dark Trooper perhaps and maybe, best of all, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand. Add a mini version of the Seeing Stone location with Grogu and we’d snap it up in a heart beat.

The Believer – Well, the best we would get, and I admit it would be pretty cool, the Imperial Transport Vehicle, complete with Mando and Mayfeld in their disguises, but we don’t get Din Djarin’s face. Oh no, that’s reserved for something else I have in mind. We’d also get a pair of the Pirates who are trying to blow the Rhydonium up. Hell, give us a Valin Hess mini-fig too.

The Rescue – This is the set that we go all out for. Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser. I’m talking the same size as the ‘First Order Star Destroyer’ from ‘The Last Jedi’. Moff Gideon, Dark Trooper x 2, Bo Katan, Cara Dune, Grogu and an exclusive Din Djarin, with a face. And you know what? Luke Skywalker as well. Just as the cherry on top.

Honourable Mention – Slave 1. Boba Fett, Fennec Shand, Mando, Cara Dune, Mayfeld. But… why release it now, it was only 2019 when we got the 20th Anniversary version. I say wait for 2022 to cash in on ‘The Book of Boba Fett’.

Now, I don’t expect any of these to grace the shelves of the nearest Lego Store, it’s just a bit of fun, but I do think that Lego have been lacking in terms of sets from the series and with a wide range of options, surely it’s time for Lego to cash in?

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Star Wars: X-Wing 3 – The Krytos Trap Audiobook by Michael A. Stackpole

With a terrifying virus killing non-humans, one of their own on trial for treason and another imprisoned, believed dead, Rogue Squadron must save the day on many fronts.

‘The Krytos Trap’ does something I never even thought I would encounter, let alone enjoy. We get a courtroom drama in Star Wars. The trial of Tycho Celchu, for the apparent murder of Corran Horn was a surprise but executed perfectly. Whilst the Rogues are pulled this way and that defending shipments of life saving Bacta that is in high demand due to Ysaard’s Krytos virus. Whilst the Squadron go the the highs of victory and the lows of their losses we learn that there may be another traitor in their midst who has been an informant for the Empire.

Corran Horn, who actually survived the sabotage of his Z-95 Headhunter in ‘Wedge’s Gamble’ has been imprisoned in Ysaard’s hidden prison, Lusankya where the Imperial Director is attempting to brainwash him into becoming a sleeper agent, like Celchu is believed to be. When the manipulation of his mind fails he is thrown into a labour camp where he, using his skills as a CorSec Officer, manages to find a way to break out. His escape leads him to a hidden Jedi Museum where he finds a display about a Corellian Jedi Master Neeja Halcyon. He takes Halcyon’s lightsaber and with the help of his R2 Unit, Whistler, manages to arrive at the courthouse and give testimony that Celchu is in fact innocent, based on records he was able to uncover.

Throughout Celchu’s trial, lawyer and Rogue Squadron Pilot, Nawara Ven finds the Imperial Operative and nemesis of Rogue Squadron, Kirtan Loor, who defects but is later killed by Isaard’s sleeper agent, Diric Wessiri, the husband of Corran Horn’s former CorSec partner, Iella.

Of course, the final battle is fought in the skies of Coruscant, when Ysaard’s Super Star Destroyer, Lusankya, takes off from its underground hiding place, the ship housed the prison the Corran was held in. Unfortunately, the ship escaped after the real traitor is revealed, Flight Officer Erisi Dlarit.

Despite Ysaard’s escape, Rogue Squadron are heralded as heroes. Thanks to Qlaern Hirf, a cure of the Krytos Virus is found and administered. Finally, at a party celebrating the victory, Luke Skywalker arrives and tells Corran that he is actually a descendant of the Jedi Neeja Halcyon, before Wedge, Corran and the rest of Rogue Squadron quit the New Republic in order to bring the fight to Isaard and end her new reign of tyranny on the planet Thyferra.

The plot threads of the previous two novels in the series come together very nicely in this volume, leaving the next book to focus more on the Squadron and their new, self imposed mission.

The plot is paced really well, with political intrigue being a main theme, a far cry from the previous two books, but the story does allow for some great action sequences around the drama of the courtroom.

Given that the audiobook is abridged, I feel that so far out of the three I have listened to, this is the one with the most content cut out. I am really tempted to pick up this book to see if we get more of Nawara Ven doing some sleuthing, because the trial plot line was really interesting as it’s not something we have had much of in Star Wars (obvious exception being Ahsoka’s trial in ‘The Clone Wars’ Season 5).

The series has definitely picked up the pace after ‘Wedge’s Gamble’ felt slow for me, but I’ll be honest, the Audiobook would really benefit from adding the ‘Dramatis Personae’ that is included in the book, there have been times, especially in this one, where it’s been easy to confuse characters because their names sound similar to those of other characters.

If my only complaint is that I wished there was more content in the Audiobook then they must have done something right, and I’m very much looking forward to diving into the next part in the series.

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Star Wars: The High Republic Issue 1

It’s here! It’s finally here!

Having read ‘Light of the Jedi’ last month (Spoiler Free Review Here), I have been waiting desperately for new content from ‘The High Republic’ and after finding out that ‘A Test of Courage’ will be released in February in the UK it’s al down to the Marvel run of ‘The High Republic’ to give me a quick fix.

Cavan Scott leads the way, writing a story set within the timeframe of ‘Light of the Jedi’ towards the end of the book (somewhere between the last chapter and the epilogue) and introduces us to the main character, Keeve Trennis who is on the planet Shuraden with her Master Sskeer, the Trandoshan Jedi Master who was introduced in ‘Light of the Jedi’ who received a rather serious injury in the novel.

Keeve undertakes a Jedi Trial to graduate from Padawan to Jedi Knight by climbing some large stone needles to retrieve a pendant that Sskeer has planted but is interrupted by a swarm of giant space bugs that have been thrown off their natural course by a frequency being emitted from the Starlight Beacon. With the help of Jedi Master Maru she is able to divert the insects (using a Jedi Vector Star Fighter) whilst Maru alters the Starlight Beacon’s frequency.

Once the swarm leaves, Keeve assists the local people rebuild their home when Sskeer returns, calling for a pickup seeing as they no longer have a ship. Once on the Beacon, Sskeer introduces Keeve to Jedi Master Avar Kriss, who has just been appointed the Marshal position on the Space Station by Grandmasters Yoda and Veter. Kriss formerly knights Keeve and she joins the Jedi Knights and Masters on a stage at the dedication ceremony that officially opens Starlight Beacon (which we get to see a visual representation of the scene from ‘Light of the Jedi’).

The first issue throws us in with Keeve, and lets us get to know her through her conversations with a Shuraden native who is fascinated by the Jedi. She doesn’t come across as a typical Padawan, using foul language in front of her Master (and later Avar). What is fascinating for me is that we get to see her undertake a Jedi Trial, something we haven’t really seen before. From the looks of it, I get the impression that a Jedi Master can set any sort of task as a trial, which seems different from what the more formal sounding Trials mentioned in ‘The Phantom Menace’.

The art is beautiful, the scenery, especially the interior of Starlight Beacon really show off the populace of the Galaxy. The design is very similar to the design of the Prequel Trilogy, lots of curves, intricate art work, even on the ceremonial Jedi attire we see them wearing at the end of the issue.

Getting to see characters I had only met in the novel was great as well as seeing some of the designs of their weapons and the Jedi Vector in action is something special, and it really goes to show how much work has gone into ‘The High Republic’, not just in the writing but all of the design work that has gone along with it.

Also, seeing a representation of how Keeve sees the Force and how she connects with one of the insects is beautifully rendered by the artist, Ario Anindito, who has done a wonderful job in this issue.

I suppose now I’ll just have to wait for the next issue, or the next book, whichever reaches these wayward shores first. But I can certainly say that thanks to this first issue, I have certainly got a great adventure ahead of me and I can’t wait to read more of Cavan Scott’s first wave of content from this mass media project.

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Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule Book Review (SPOILER FREE)

Wow!

Just… wow!

Charles Soule has introduced us to a phenomenal new era in the Star Wars saga in a way that, I feel, few others could have done.

From the explosive first chapter right through to the end, Soule gives us a rip-roaring adventure that hasn’t been seen in Star Wars since ‘The Empire Strikes Back’.

I don’t know if it’s down to the COVID lockdown in my area giving me more time, but I real this book very quickly. Split into three parts, I read part 1 the first night I got it, and it was only my incredible need to sleep that made me stop. Part two, which was around 200 pages was the next day, unfortunately, Christmas got in the way and I didn’t finish the third part until after Boxing Day but needless to say I tore through it when I got the chance.

For anyone who read the first eight chapters released back in November, they make up the first 30 – 50 pages and barely scratch the surface of the cataclysmic events that form the main narrative of the book.

The novel follows a number of main characters, introducing us to a few different mindsets and perspectives of the Force, let alone the Galaxy. The Jedi feel a lot looser within the Order. The rigidity that we see in the prequels hasn’t yet taken hold. Whilst their ideals are the same, the Jedi feel more separate from the Republic that what we have seen, despite their role as peacekeepers for the Galaxy.

The introduction of The Nihil, a band of Pirates and Marauders who have a terrifying ability to manipulate Hyperspace in ways the Galaxy only dreams about make them a threat unseen by us or the Jedi before. We learn a lot about The Nihil and their hierarchy through the book and get to know the leaders well. It’s true, we haven’t seen anything like this group before which feels new and refreshing and their threat level is high. I liken them to a more organised and sane version of The Reavers from Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly’ and ‘Serenity’, these evil characters appearing from deep space and taking what they want, when they want and the rest of the Galaxy seemingly unable to stop them, even down to the design of their ships and some of the tactics used in battle, there are some similarities and quite possibly Whedon’s villains were used as a template.

If I had any criticisms, it’s this, the lack of a ‘Dramatis Personae’, with a whole new roster of characters, such a guide would have been welcome, if only to keep track of who’s who, especially at the start when we are introduced to a lot of characters in a short amount of time. Of course, some are there to fill a purpose at the time, but a guide of the main characters would have been handy.

One tiny complaint I have, it’s too short! At just under 400 pages it’s not a short book, but I was feeling very greedy, luckily we’ve got two more ‘High Republic’ books coming in the next couple of months, which I am looking forward to very, very much, especially having read the sampler and getting a look at the stories. Both are referenced in ‘Light of the Jedi’, not in an ‘in-your-face’ manner, but mentioned in passing, which helps bring the stories in the series together to make one big story.

For me, this is required reading for Star Wars fans. It’s fresh, it’s new and it takes us places we haven’t been before in a time we’ve never seen before and it’s incredibly enjoyable too. I’ve been looking forward to this since ‘Project Luminous’ was hinted at back at ‘Star Wars Celebration Chicago’ in 2019 and I was completely gutted when the release date was pushed from August to January, but after reading it, it was totally worth the wait.

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Rebels Revisited: A Life Debt Podcast

Just when you thought it was safe to plug in your headphones again…

Starting today, The Life Debt Podcast is back with a special series that will be released DAILY until 5th March, the third anniversary of the end of the amazing series.

Rebels Remembered was originally a Life Debt Patreon Exclusive, a series of bite-sized reviews of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ but when I made the decision to shut that down, I didn’t want all those episode going to waste, so here they are now for your listening pleasure, including a handful of episodes never before.

You can find the podcast HERE on Anchor.fm, where you can find links to all the Pod-Catchers the show can be heard on.

So, remember to hit that subscribe button folks, and a rate/review wouldn’t go amiss either.

Enjoy the show.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Life Debt readers.

It’s been a tough one these past 365 days but we’ve made it.

I just want to take a moment to thank you all for your support over the past year. It’s been My Star Wars Life Debt’s best year by far beating last years Views/Visitors count in September and far surpassing my goal for the year by over 500.

This time last year I was planning for a bigger year on the Podcast, which unfortunately didn’t come to fruition as I hoped. Reaching the 100th Episode was a great achievement but I needed to step away for a while, bringing it back for Season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’ was great fun but given my work schedule is all over the place, setting a regular time to record is difficult, however, there is something coming up soon which may be of interest that I will talk about in a moment. The YouTube channel was also something I tried my hand at, and whilst it attained some success, it’s not something I am currently planning on continuing at the moment. And of course, the Life Debt Patreon was shut down due to the lack of time I had after starting my new job.

2021 is going to be a big year for Star Wars. We will be getting a brand new animated series, ‘The Bad Batch’ as well as Season 3 of ‘The Mandalorian’ to keep our whet our appetites in terms of viewing, but the books and comics will be giving us a whole array of content, starting with the first two books in ‘The High Republic’ series in the first week of January, all of which I will be reading and reviewing.

In terms of content, I will be adhering to the regular schedule as much as possible, two posts a week (minimum) and of course more as the Star Wars news comes out.

There is some new content on the horizon, The Life Debt Podcast is returning for a special third season, starting January 4th, a daily Podcast which will end in March to celebrate the third anniversary of #RebelsRemembered called ‘Rebels Revisited’. This was formerly a Patreon Exclusive that unfortunately never got finished, but now that all the episodes have been recorded it’s time to release them, so hit that Subscribe Button on your Podcatcher of choice.

I am also toying with an idea to bring back the Patreon for anyone interested in supporting the Blog. In terms of bonus content, I’m skewing away from tonnes of exclusive Podcasts or Blog posts, instead I’m aiming for something fun, but that will be revealed in time.

Once again, thank you to everyone who has read the blog, be it one post or every post, thank you to everyone who has hit that subscribe button on the Podcast, or even just listened to the odd episode. Your support means so much to me and it’s very much appreciated.

So let’s hit 2021 with a bang (as much as the various lockdown regulations will allow) and have a great Star Wars year, and please, direct your attention to the new Life Debt URL mystarwarslifedebt.com.

Jonny

Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 1

Aphra comes face-to-face with Domina Tagge after doing her best to avoid the Bounty Hunters sent after her.

After a great first arc, the adventure continues at a great pace. Told the story is bookended between Aphra’s arrival on Domina’s ship, The Acquisitor and the meeting between Domina and Aphra. The bulk is essential how Aphra evades various Bounty Hunters, including her former partner in crime, Black Krrsantan who informs her of the incredibly high price on her head, which in true Aphra fashion, she completely understands Black K’s motives. I imagine that further down the line they will work together again with no, to very little hard feelings.

Of course, Aphra does end up getting captured by Lucky and his Dr. Mandible looking associate and brought to Domina Tagge. Initially believing that her capture was due to her destruction of Ronan Tagge’s apartment and leaving Ronan for dead, it turns out that she was being tested by Domina on that job, and she passed it.

Domina has a mission for Aphra, to locate a device called a ‘Path Engine’, the one Domina has her eyes on is also of Nihil design. Aphra accepts the job and knows of one person she can turn to for help, Sana Starros.

A meeting between Domina and Aphra was inevitably going to happen after the events of the previous arc in the series, and rather than just dive in, we got an exciting issue full of action to counteract the dialogue heavy meeting.

And nice again, ‘The High Republic’ makes its way into the current timeline. Despite my excitement for the series, I do feel that the current series’ are relying quite a bit on items/locations from the upcoming publishing event as McGuffins for the heroes to find for whatever reason. Granted, we were meant to have already gotten the first wave of books from ‘The High Republic’ by now but they were delayed by COVID, however the reliance of ‘The High Republic’ in the current timeline may become tedious for those who don’t dive into that timeline.

I’m very much looking forward to the next issue, with the return of Sana Starros, who was first introduced in the first Star Wars run back in 2015 and she has made quite an impression on the fan base. My excitement may have to do with the expansion of their relationship as it was detailed in the ‘Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama. The dynamic between Aphra and Sana has always been tense but now with more context I’m sure that whatever we get will be much more enjoyable.

A good issue that sets up the arc in a fun way with great action and fantastic interplay between the characters which leaves us wanting more with a well conceived reveal at the end.

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Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn Book Review

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s grip on the Galaxy tightens as The New Republic struggles against him machinations whilst Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade must face C’boath in a dramatic confrontation.

Thrawn’s machinations reach an all time high, with his development of Clones filling out the Imperial ranks after the acquisition of the Katana Fleet which has left The New Republic in a tricky, and outnumbered position, which only gets worse when Thrawn attacks Coruscant and leaves a trap that keeps them occupied and stranded in the Capital.

Luke forms an alliance with Talon Karrde who in turn gathers a number of his old Smuggling buddies who form a loose alliance to help fight back the Empire, which almost ends with the group believing Karrde to be an Imperial Agent until the true villain is exposed.

After an attack at the Imperial Palace where a captured Imperial Commando claims that Mara Jade is an Imperial Agent, she is sprung from her house arrest by Luke, Han, Chewie, Lando and the Droids and they head to Wayland to destroy Thrawn’s Clone Facility in the Emperor’s store house in Mount Tatniss that C’boath was guarding, leading to the two Jedi facing the insane Jedi Master and his Clone of Skywalker.

Stuck on Coruscant, Leia, Winter, Garm Bel Iblis and Ghent try to locate an Imperial Spy in their headquarters whilst attempting to break out of Thrawn’s trap.

Zahn does not pull any punches in this final act, he throws everything at our heroes, bringing them together again into a final battle, which does emulate the Battle of Endor from ‘Return of the Jedi’ to a degree, but the comparison is even noted by the characters. With various battles going on at the same time both in space, wher The New Republic walk into a trap set by Thraw, and on a planet, with an Imperial Facility being sabotaged as well as a battle between the Light and Dark sides of the Force. Zahn manages to keep the story fresh, it never feels like a rehashing, with the spotlight moving away from the main heroes and gives other characters a time to shine, in the Battle of Bilbringi, even with Wedge being a main focus, we also get to see the events through the eyes of Aves, one of Karrde’s inner circle. On Wayland, the final battle isn’t fought by Luke, Han or Leia but rather Mara Jade who overcomes her programming by Palpatine by killing Luuke, the Clone of Skywalker as well as taking on C’boath and coming out triumphant.

The trilogy comes to a fantastic and nail biting conclusion, with Zahn killing off the fan favourite Grand Admiral in a spectacular moment that comes out of nowhere. Thrawn isn’t given a dramatic death scene, rather the moment, told from Pellaeon’s point-of-view as the Noghri bodyguard Rukh first attacks the Captain before escaping, only after a moment do we see Thrawn, stabbed by his Assassin, uttering his last words before expiring and leaving Pellaeon to lead in his stead.

The first full trilogy of the Expanded Universe certainly had a lot pinning on it and high expectations which I believe are met ten-fold, firmly establishing Timothy Zahn as a Star Wars literary MVP for both the Expanded ‘Legends’ Universe and the new Canon series.

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Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 1

Kes Dameron and the Path Finders are sent on a mission to locate an ancient translator Droid for the Rebellion.

I feel like this is the story arc I have been waiting for in this series. I’ve been hoping to see Kes Dameron and Shara Bey in action after Soule reintroduced them to us in the first issue of the run, and their plan to locate the Starlight Station from the High Republic era to put out a message to the rest of the Rebel Fleet scattered across the Galaxy.

To do this, Leila sends Kes and two other Path Finders, Needle and Frell to a museum on Coruscant with Lando and Lobot to help break them in.

Once inside, Kes and Frell go in search of the Droid in the Curator’s private collection whilst Needle runs a distraction that eventually leads to his death.

Back with the Fleet, C-3PO attempts to access the Droid’s memories but is unable to do so.

I’m really excited that we are starting to break away from Luke, Leia and the rest of the main characters from the films and starting to get stories about other members of the Rebellion, so much happens between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ with the gathering of the Rebel Fleet that if we were only going to focus on the main characters then we would miss out on some potentially amazing stories and great new characters.

Given the title of this arc, ‘Operation Starlight’ and the fact that Charles Soule is the author of this arc and the upcoming novel ‘Light of the Jedi’ which will kick start the ‘High Republic’ series, there is an obvious connection between the two, the title references a Space Station called ‘Starlight Beacon’ which will feature heavily in the upcoming series. Soule has been dropping hints in a number of places over the past year, starting with (as far as I can tell) his ‘Rise of Kylo Ren’ mini-series and now we are going to see the past and present meet, something I feel will be very interesting, and may help Luke learn more about the Force, which would help develop his character growth between Episodes Five and Six of the Original Trilogy.

The arc has started with an explosive bang and I hope that it continues to keep the pace throughout. The expansion of Kes Dameron’s character is a high point for me and I hope it carries on in this run and I really hope we get to see Shara Bey return later in the arc, who doesn’t want to get more time with Poe Dameron’s parents?

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Star Wars: X-Wing 2 – Wedge’s Gamble Audiobook by Michael A. Stackpole

Rogue Squadron take the offensive to the Imperial Capital of Coruscant in the second part of the X-Wing series.

Rogue Squadron infiltrate the planet with a group of former Black Sun operatives who work to foil the Imperial leadership and claim the planet in the name of the fledgling New Republic.

Corran Horn and his Squadron spend most of this story grounded, with only a few instances of in air/space battles.

We also get a lot more Galactic politics this time around, with the New Republic Council appearing, including a scene between Leia and Wedge, two old friends reunited briefly, it’s a welcome cameo and lets us touch base with the heroes of the Original Trilogy without an unnecessary amount of time being taken away from the story.

We also get to see a few well known EU characters, with Councillor Borsk Fey’lya, Winter and Moruth Doole from the Kevin J. Anderson’s ‘Jedi Search’, giving the EU some nice connectivity.

Whilst it doesn’t live up to the previous instalments excitement and fast pace, we do get some well plotted action for the Rogues, however I feel that when you buy into a series about X-Wing pilots, you want as much star fighter action as possible.

Director Isaard’s plans for taking out Rogue Squadron as well as the New Republic come to the fore, which will play a larger role in the upcoming novels in the series, with the Krytos Virus beginning to take hold within the alien species on the planet, and even some non-human members of Rogue Squadron, I feel that the series will ramp up with the next book, and this one was more of a intermediary story, putting the characters in place and building up to the main bulk of the overall story, more like the first half of the second act of a film, with act one having introduced us to the characters in the previous book.

However, the story ends with two of our main characters in serious trouble. Tycho Celchu has been arrested for the sabotage of the Z-95 Headhunter which Corran was piloting at the end of the book and the suspected murder of the lead character. Meanwhile, Corran Horn has been taken captive by Isaard and being transported to the Lusankya, the same Imperial Facility that Tycho Celchu was held before he “escaped”.

Whilst I would say that I was disappointed with ‘Wedge’s Gamble’, it wasn’t exactly what I expected but I’m sure, as with most ongoing series, once everything has been put together it all makes perfect sense.

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The Emotional Aftermath of ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 2

WARNING!!!

SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN SEASON 2 FINALE!!!

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

To preface this post, I am 34 years old, I have a wife and daughter. We own a house. We have four cats. I have depression which I am on medication for.

All in all, I’m an adult.

And Chapter 16 – The Rescue reduced me to the kind of tears I have only seen when I have taken a toy off my daughter after she used it as a projectile. That heavy, hard, ugly kind of crying. And that was on the second viewing, even when I watched the Steele Wars Live Reaction I wept. I said the day before it came out that I wasn’t emotionally ready but I had no idea.

When Din Djarin and his team were trapped on the Bridge with the Death Troopers breaking down the door, I, like many others were probably chomping at the bit wondering how they were going to get out of it. Who would die in the assault? Would Din save Grogu? But Deus Force Machina kicked in, a single X-Wing arrived. I was expecting Carson or Trapper to come over the speakers heralding a New Republic Strike Force. Imagine my shock when a robed figure started laying waste to the mechanical Troopers with a lightsaber, and a familiar looking green one at that.

Luke’s reveal on the Bridge cemented something for me. Favloni can give me the thing I didn’t want and make me love it all the same. It also proved me wrong in that a Jedi would show up and Grogu would choose to stay with Din. It didn’t make sense, Grogu needs training in the Force, but the relationship between Din and Grogu, for me, was the central core of the series.

When Din says goodbye and finally removes his helmet, revealing his face to the being that had become like a son to him, I wasn’t sure they would go their separate ways, and Pascal plays their farewell beautifully. That final look between the two of them speaks volumes, and that just made the sobbing all the worse.

After the first viewing I was excited, I was confused and I was ecstatic. But the second viewing was what hit me on a higher emotional level.

Afterwards I felt broken and hollow. Something didn’t feel right and then it clicked for me and it turns out I was in some state of mourning. But why? In true Filoni fashion, no one died.

Then I realised that I had connected so much with the relationship between Din and Grogu that seeing them separate again, after so short a reunion was heartbreaking. Din so desperately wanted Grogu to stay with him that he instantly told Luke that he didn’t want to go with him. At that moment I think Din would have killed Luke if it meant keeping Grogu, but Grogu made his choice. To go with a Jedi and learn to master his powers.

Din told his son that they would see each other again, and I believe him. So far, Din Djarin has been a man of his word, he has his own code of honour that had led him to this moment and only death would stop him.

As this is set around five years after The Battle of Endor, it’s seems far too early in the timeline for Luke to start his training temple, which if we are led to believe he didn’t set up until Ben was at least in his early teens, so I think Grogu is safe from the Jedi Temple Massacre that led Ben to leave Luke for dead into the waiting arms of Snoke. By then I’m confident that Din and Grogu are together again, the latter probably searching for his father on Mandalore.

Regardless of the future, whether or not ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ will replace Season 3 (I really hope not), the story of Din Djarin and Grogu will always have a special place in many fans hearts and, in time we will see them again (hopefully next year), but I won’t lie, the uncertainty is killing me, c’mon Lucasfilm, give us some confirmation!

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Star Wars: X-Wing 1 – Rogue Squadron Audiobook by Michael A. Stackpole

Please allow me to take you down memory road for a moment…

Back in late 1998, the release of the highly anticipated N64/PC game ‘Rogue Squadron’ was something I was very excited for, that was right at the top my Christmas list.

In my preparation to be the best damned fighter pilot this side of the Rebellion I decided to do my research.

I watched the Battles of Yavin, Hoth and Ensor almost religiously (I even broke the rewind function on my VCR) and I spent that hard-earned pocket money on a new book, ‘Star Wars: X-Wing 1 – Rogue Squadron’ by Michael A. Stackpole.

And I don’t think I ever finished it…

As a twelve year old, for some reason, I struggled with this book. Probably because it wasn’t a how-to guide on piloting an X-Wing, which for some unknown reason I had it in my head that it was.

I tried revisiting it on a few occasions but that first time seemed to have left a sour taste in my mouth and I could never really get into it. And so, as did 95% of my Star Wars ‘Legends’ books, once Lucasfilm reset the Canon I put them out to the pasture, or rather to a book charity.

… Until now…

With the announcement of Patty Jenkins’ upcoming ‘Star Wars: Rogue Squadron’, my mind drifted to those X-Wing books that I never finished, hell, just because I enjoyed the first Chapter of ‘Rogue Squadron’ I bought books 2 and 3 and they never even got opened. So I did a bit of hunting for a copy of the book but they were way too overpriced (£50 for a paperback, you gotta be kidding), but I did have some Audible Credits burning a proverbial hole in my pocket so I picked up the first ‘X-Wing’ Audiobook, read by Henry Thomas (E.T.).

The audiobook has been abridged, so I’m sure listeners aren’t getting the full story, however, I found it to be extremely enjoyable (can someone smack 12 year old me please), and as it’s the bare bones of the story itself, one day I may pick up the book and give it another go.

The story follows Corran Horn, a New Republic Pilot who is picked by Wedge to join the newly reformed ‘Rogue Squadron’. Corran and his wing mates go on their first few missions over the course of the book, and Horn, in a truly stereotypical fashion goes from being the lone wolf type and learns to work as a part of a team. We are also introduced to Tycho Celchu, a former member of Rogue Squadron who has returned after escaping an Imperial Detention Facility, Mirax Terrik, Daughter of Smuggler Booster Terrik who was an infamous smuggler and Corran’s father’s nemesis. We are also introduced to Ysanne Isard, the Director of Imperial Intelligence and the main villain of the series and her subordinate, Kieran Loor who has been tasked with eliminating Rogue Squadron who has a tumultuous past with Corran.

Of course, Rogue Squadron would be nothing without their leader, Wedge Antilles who plays a major part in the training of the new recruits and also acts as a go-between the Military leaders and the Squadron.

The Squadron make their way through three major battles against Imperial forces, two of which are for the planet Borleias which is their first step in making their way deeper into the Galactic Core to retake Coruscant from Imperial Control.

It’s refreshing to see (or hear) stories where the characters do fail as they learn the ropes, and have character flaws that need addressing as the character develops. Corran, whilst being comfortable working as team prefers to work alone because that’s the only way he can be sure the job gets done, but by the end of the book he’s becoming more and more open to operating within the team. He shares some qualities with another well known pilot, he’s cocky and arrogant and he knows he’s a great pilot but the way he comes across at times you’re almost waiting for him to say it to the rest of the team, but this is a very different character to the Corran Horn from the book ‘I, Jedi’, set years later who feels a lot more grounded.

Stackpole’s first book in the series is a strong and enjoyable one, so much so that I have listened to the three hour audiobook twice (I listen at 1.5 speed so it’s shorter than that) and I have been a bit presumptuous and bought books two and three on Audible as well.

Whilst I’m sure Patty Jenkins won’t be adapting this book or series in her film, I do hope that she takes some cues from Stackpole and gives us some great and memorable characters like some we get here.

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#Collection Corner – 501st Legion Clone Troopers Lego

I held off on buying this for quite a while, originally feeling that there were plenty of other ‘Clone Wars’ vehicles we could have gotten instead of another AT-RT and a Speeder Bike, but sometimes those sets you don’t get excited for become a saving grace.

After a pretty rough week, mental health wise I needed some of that zen that building Lego gives me and I just am not getting it from the ‘Ewok Village’ set I am almost finished building (a lot of missing/broken pieces that are hindering progress) so on a trip to the local Supermarket I had to decide between this and the Boba Fett buildable helmet (I still think they don’t look right) and this set won the coin toss.

Split between two bags, the set also has a pretty full sticker sheet and of course, the instruction booklet.

Bag 1 build the BARC Speeder and provides two 501st Troopers and two B1 Battle Droids.

The BARC Speeder is really well designed, it has a sleek design and the little details using the ski’s look really good and not out of place.

The front end has some interesting building techniques to give the Speeder is sleek look. Four stickers add details at the front and back and the pilot seat fits a Trooper nicely and the steering handles fit perfectly into a Mini-Fig’s hand.

In terms of size, the build is bigger than I expected which was a pleasant surprise. Whilst I originally thought that this would be more of a Battle Pack sized build, I can safely eat my words on that one.

Bag 2 builds the AT-RT. This was a sticking point for me when it was first announced, seeing as we got a brilliant AT-RT set last year as part of the 20th Anniversary Wave of sets (check out my review HERE).

The 501st version is slightly smaller with less detail, which I would have thought would be a disappointment but it doesn’t actually bother me at all, the build is still well made, the building process enjoyable and the details the stickers give it are fantastic. The contrast between this and last years green/grey looks great when you look at them both together.

This section also comes with two Mini-Figs. A regular 501st Trooper with a hefty looking blaster and a 501st Jet Trooper, who is easily identifiable in the back with subtle differences in his design and a blue Jet Pack completes the look (although I may steal it for the Beskar Mandalorian in next years ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ set if he doesn’t already come with one).

Overall a surprisingly enjoyable set which I had already mentally rejected. The builds are fun and solid and the Mini-Fig selection is pretty good. However I would have loved to get a Fives, Rex or Jesse Mini-Fig in place of one of the three 501st Troopers, just to add a spot of variety.

At £25 for 285 pieces, the price/piece ratio is very good, we’re not looking a loads of small 1×1 pieces in this set. I can honestly say I’m pleased I picked this up.

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Star Wars Reveals at Disney+ Investor Day 2020

Bob Chapek’s introduction gave us a hint of what we were in for later on in the four hour video aimed at investors, and it was a wonderful hint, 10 new Star Wars series/films.

After the first selection of shows from FX and Star, Kathy Kennedy stepped up to discuss Lucasfilm’s offerings for Disney+.

And initially discussing ‘The Mandalorian’ and its huge success. A brief showreel featuring footage from Season 2, no new footage however it did end on a beautiful showcase of Boba Fett.

John Faverau and Dave Filoni are working in TWO new series set alongside ‘The Mandalorian’, ‘Rangers of the New Republic’ and ‘Ahsoka’. I get a strong feeling that we will be getting a crossover or two, and hopefully a full time acting gig for Dave Filoni as Trapper Wolf. Kennedy also confirmed a Christmas 2021 release for ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 (thanks COVID for making that delay happen!).

Kathy then went on to discuss ‘Andor’, a spy-thriller to debut in 2022 and a special look at the series with behind the scenes interviews and set building. Diego Luna sounds like he is over the moon and a confirmed length of TWELVE episodes, wonderful concept art and a beautiful logo.

‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ gets the spotlight, set 10 years after ROTS and confirmation of Hayden Christensen returning as Anakin Skywalker for what is said to be the “ultimate showdown” with Deborah Chow helming the series. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the special presentation on the live stream for non-investors (might have to set up the Patreon again).

After some ‘Clone Wars’ hype we get confirmation of ‘The Bad Batch’ and a trailer. From the looks of it, these guys will be doing a lot of travelling as well as spending time as part of the Empire, with Tarkin making an appearance. I think it will take place through the end of The Clone Wars and the early days of The Empire’s reign. And from the looks of it, Fennic Shane may be making an appearance. The animation looks beautiful and the style is that of ‘The Clone Wars’ which looks amazing!

‘Star Wars Visions’, an anthology series of Star Wars inspired Anime episodes, directed by legendary Anime creators.

Lando Calrissian will be getting his very own limited series, ‘Lando’, created by Justin Simien (Dear White People) I expect this will be wonderful, I hope this has both Billy Dee and Donald Glover reprising their roles as the iconic character, hopefully joined by Jannah and L3 respectively during the relevant time periods.

Leslye Hedland’s series gets further confirmation, called ‘The Acolyte’ and set during the end of ‘The High Republic’ Era.

R2-D2 and C-3PO will be teaming up with a new droid in ‘Star Wars: A Droids Story’, a series from Lucasfilm Animation and ILM.

After discussing Willow, Indiana Jones and Children of Blood and Bone, Kathy talks briefly about Taika Waititi’s upcoming film (which he is hard at work developing) before announcing ‘Star Wars: Rogue Squadron’, helmed by Patty Jenkins and released Christmas 2023 and will be centred on a new team of Pilots, Jenkins added hype to the announcement by tweeting THIS video of her giving a brief detail on her inspiration for the film.

What a slate of content. Granted we don’t know the timeline for release on a number of these upcoming shows, and the information is pretty sparse, it’s all great sizzle and gives us a shed load of content to get very, very excited over.

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Star Wars: Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn Book Review

The Empire and The New Republic are in a race again time to locate the lost Katana Fleet, whilst Leia and Chewie go on a daring mission to gain new allies, Luke, Han and Lando try to prove Ackbar’s innocence and meet some potential new allies.

This book travels at breakneck speeds, and even when it slows down we can barely catch our breath. Zahn perfectly crafts a Star Wars adventure that keeps you hooked throughout.

We follow the heroes on their various adventures, at times working together but then splitting up only to come back together again for a brief moment before another mission whisks them away again. We get some more great Han and Lando scenes, the interplay between the two is fresh and fun, with Lando being dragged back into the fray because Han needs someone with him to fulfil their mission to disprove Borsk Fey’lya’s accusations of Admiral Ackbar being an Imperial Spy. Doing this they encounter former Corellian Senator Garm Bel Iblis, who has miraculously obtained a small number of ships from The Katana Fleet.

Leia and Chewie go with C-3PO to Honoghr, the homeworld of the Noghri, the creatures that Thrawn has been sending after Leia to bring her to C’boath after agreeing with Khabarakh to go with him to try to free the people from Imperial rule, as she is the Daughter of Vader who brought the Noghri into Imperial service years before. Her time on the planet, whilst fraught with peril at being found by the visiting Thrawn, proves to be a success, with the Noghri turning to her as a leader.

Meanwhile Luke, after helping Han and Lando on their mission is diverted to the planet Jomark where he begins Jedi training under Joruus C’baoth whom Luke learns has gone insane. It’s not until Mara Jade, searching for Luke to ask for his help in rescuing Talon Karrde that Luke is able to escape C’boath’s influence.

It’s their rescue of Karrde that leads the New Republic to the Katana Fleet, whilst Thrawn has used a former associate of Karrde to also locate the lost ships and a final battle over their last remaining Dreadnaughts, seeing as Thrawn’s forces have already taken the majority, where the New Republic are victorious with the help of Karrde’s forces and the appearance of Garm Bel Iblis’ ships.

The use of the known and loved characters really helps legitimise the new characters, Han’s reverie for Iblis helps give the character some weight, with a grounded backstory into his time with the Rebellion in its early stages helps give him a vague recognition whilst the characters introduced in ‘Heir to the Empire’ get a chance to be fleshed out more, with Mara Jade getting a more defined character arc here as well as inner turmoil which gives the character a real edge.

As a continuation to ‘Heir to the Empire’ the book works completely. The two books so far in the trilogy run back-to-back with very little time passing between them. I get the feeling that Zahn was really telling one big story with his trilogy that got cut into three books rather than three stories with a pay off at the end.

This book has it all for fans of the franchise, there’s political intrigue, space battles, shoot outs, gangsters, Jedi, alien races and on top of all that it’s good fun.

I’m seriously looking forward to jumping straight into ‘The Last Command’ because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this reread of the trilogy so far, and with ‘The High Republic’ starting in a few weeks, I want to dive into Zahn’s next book as soon as possible so I can enjoy it without distraction.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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