Happy Holidays!

Nothing to see here, move along. Move along. Ok, I’m kidding. But really, no big updates other than I hope everyone has a good start to this holiday season. And since this is a Star Wars blog, enjoy this picture I took rearranging figures this morning. It sort of reminded me of a comic cover or a splash page. Just ignore the cluttered collection around it (I cropped some out, otherwise your eyes might have trouble focusing haha)

And as always, thanks for stopping by. Happy holidays from The Empire’s Elite. 

-David

Lego Star Wars 2017 – AKA Why My Wallet Cries

The official set pictures and box art are out, so it’s time to talk about them! For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to post the images of the sets themselves and not the boxes. In no particular order, here they are!

The Phantom (75170)

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First and foremost, we’re finally getting a Grand Admiral Thrawn minifigure! I’m going to ignore the fact that in this picture, his eyes don’t appear to be red – it has to be something with the lighting or angle of this shot, because I seriously doubt Lego would mess up the most crucial detail of his face aside from it being blue. The uniform looks great and the actual blue hair, not black, is a great touch. We also get Kanan in his season 3 appearance with the visor/mask he wears after being blinded by Maul. Chopper is here as well, but it doesn’t appear that there is an astromech slot on this ship (much like the original Phantom.) That doesn’t bother me terribly but I believe there is one on the show, though I could be wrong. The colors of this ship look great, and the fact that it’s a Neimoidian (think Trade Federation) design shows how rough and tumble the Rebels are. They don’t have the advantages of the Empire and can’t make all their ships uniform. Looks like the set also includes some thermal detonators and a small storage crate, which probably uses a sticker for that tiny Imperial insignia on the lid.

Dual of the Fates (75169)

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I don’t have very many Episode I sets, so I’m happy to see this set instead of another Naboo starfighter right now. It’s a location, which Lego is trying to pepper in between the usual ships and vehicles, which does a decent job of recreating the fight scene from the movie. Do I love it? Not really. The figures look good and I will probably part this one out honestly. However, the figures this time around look better with the updated printing and ditching the capes. The laser barrier looks a little off but I don’t hate this set. It just won’t be the first one I buy.

Yoda’s Jedi Starfighter (75168)

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I loved the arc of the Clone Wars (part of the Lost Missions) where Yoda goes on a journey on his own, delving into the mysteries of the Force and his own Dark Side. I would have appreciated the set maybe coming with one of those spirit guides of the Force, or maybe a Darth Bane specter-ghost-thing, but this set still looks good to me. In canon, I don’t understand why Yoda needs this chubby, weird little starfighter just because he’s shorter than everyone. But as a collector, especially one who likes Jedi starfighters? I like this a lot. It’s chubby and weird and oddly cute. You get the excellent recently-revised Yoda figure (accurate to the movies, not the cartoony Clone Wars style) and R2-D2.

Battle on Scarif (75171)

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Now this is a good location set. It looks to me like a bunker entrance or small landing pad on the tropical planet Scarif, which is a totally new planet from Rogue One. In addition to what looks like a blast door, there’s some details such as palm trees, sandy walkways, some kind of antenna or generator, and a drawer-like section that reveals storage for weapons and accessories. Figures included are Cassian Andor in his normal brown jacket (not the bulky blue parka he wears on Eadu,) Jyn Erso disguised in Imperial ground crew attire, and two new Scarif stormtroopers/shoretroopers. It’s worth noting that they do not have the blue rank printing like the one included with the TIE striker, meaning these guy are army-building grunts. It looks like you get plenty of gear, too – another orange (Kyber crystal storage?) crate, blasters, thermal detonators, and the Death Star plans to name a few. I’m definitely going to build this one and maybe even find a spot for it in the Star Wars corner of my apartment.

Y-Wing Starfighter (75172)

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Here’s one where my wallet and  I will have words. I already have the last Y-Wing from a couple years back, but this one comes with so much more! It includes a pilot, a blue-complected Mon Calamari named Admiral Raddus, a Y-Wing pilot in navy blue, a stormtrooper, a rebel astromech droid, and the Gigoran mercenary Moroff. I want that Moroff figure bad. As I’ve said before, I love weird mercenary characters, and a towering white Wookiee looking guy with a backpack full of blasters is as weird as they get! There’s also a grounds crew vehicle included to truck around all the extra ammo for the Y-Wing. I don’t know where I’m going to put it, but I’ll be buying this one too.

Rebel Trooper Battle Pack (75164) and Imperial Trooper Battle Pack (75165)

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Another good-looking battle pack I will probably buy five of. Here we get two regular stormtroopers and a pair of Death Troopers. These Death Troopers differ from the specialist variant included with Krennic’s Imperial Shuttle – they have different printing and lack the black pauldrons. Actually a nice touch to differentiate the two, since it is rumored there are only about five or six Death Troopers in the movie – probably an elite squad with a handful of unique troopers. As usual, I can kind of take or leave the actual build in this pack. It’s a weird little walker, like a small open-cockpit AT-ST with big guns and stud launchers.

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This is another great rebel battle pack. I thought the Battlefront one was good (and it is) but this is also great. Like the Battlefront pack, you get a good variety of troops. No aliens, but there appear to be four different face prints here – black beard, brown beard, no beard, and no beard with a dark skin tone. The bodies are also totally different and you get two unique helmets. The build itself isn’t bad either. A speeder bike and a nice little piece of scenery with the gun emplacement? Sold!

Buildable Figures

Scarif Shoretrooper

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Chirut Imwe

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Baze Malbus

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The big figs. I kinda want the shoretrooper, but I could take or leave a lot of the buildable figure line. Like everyone says, the helmeted characters look pretty good, especially as shelf pieces. But the actual human faces look a little weird.

And the Microfighters

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The microfighters are cute but I don’t buy a lot of them, usually just for the good figures. The most exciting ones here are the rebel pilots in their new blue flight suits, which is a striking visual change from the usual bright orange. Also, the Y-Wing is getting an official release! A similar kit was released as part of a book but it is now officially part of the microfighter line.

So is everyone ready to be broke in 2017? Let me know what you think of these kits in the comments! And as always, thanks for reading!

-David

 

 

Definite Article: Mandalorian Mayhem

Head canon wearing the best helmets in the galaxy. Check out the Definite Article for a mix of canon, Legends, and head canon takes on everything Star Wars!

I love the Empire and they’ve done nothing wrong. But when it comes to the vast array of unique races and cultures throughout Star Wars, nothing beats the Mandalorians in my opinion. This race of fierce warriors dates back to the days of the (Legends) Old Republic, where they frequently allied themselves with Vitiate’s Sith Empire as bounty hunters and mercenaries. They were known to wear distinct armor colored to reflect family ties and honored traditions, and their suits of tough armor were also renown for turning the wearer into a walking armory. Mandos get all the coolest gear, from jetpacks and wrist rockets to cutting edge blasters, tether cables, and jetpack-mounted missile launchers. Not only do I love them, but the Empire are apparently fans too. And that’s canon now, so let’s talk about it!

“Imperial Supercommandos,” the most recent episode of Star Wars Rebels, pits Sabine and Ezra against Mandalorians on two sides as they reach out to Concord Dawn to reestablish contact. Mandalorian soldiers loyal to the Empire and lead by former Shadow Collective member Gar Saxon have destroyed the encampment of Fenn Rau, and his forces are killed in the process. Seeking to escape rather than join the body count, Rau escapes in the new Phantom after Ezra distracts the other Mandalorians. Long story short, he has a change of heart and turns back to save Sabine and Ezra from the supercommando team. Okay, so that might be an oversimplification of the episode, but honestly I saw that ‘twist’ coming a mile away. However, I liked this episode a lot. Both the supercommandos and Fenn Rau are sympathetic, even though Rau does put the kids in a rough spot by leaving them behind. The Mandalorians under Gar Saxon want power to restore the former glory of Mandalore, and the only way to stay in power is to side with the Empire. Odds are it isn’t going to pay off greatly for them, but you can sympathize with a warrior culture wanting to stick to its ways while, at the same time, trying to cement a better future and hoping they can outlast the Empire.

This episode makes some great contributions to the new Mandalorian canon established by The Clone Wars series. First and foremost, Imperial Mandalorian soldiers are canon now. Originally that was just an idea back in the day when Boba Fett was just a better version of a stormtrooper, not a bounty hunter, and he wore all white armor.

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Image Credit: LucasFilm

Secondly, Gar Saxon is back and has become a pawn of the Empire, given a title of Viceroy of Mandalore. Sabine doesn’t care much for Gar, and rightfully so – he used to ally himself with Maul, who ruled Mandalore for a short time near the end of The Clone Wars. It’s great to see him back after his appearances in the Son of Dathomir comics. The only thing that bothers me is that he teases a lot of backstory on Sabine and none of it pays off in the episode. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Sabine gets the short end of the stick on this show most of the time. All this backstory is teased yet it doesn’t pay off or actually include her. We learn that Gar knows who Sabine’s mother is and that she is looking for Sabine. We still don’t know who she is, if that’s even true or if Gar is bluffing, or who her mother is. The Sabine episodes tease a lot of what I’m hoping will eventually be a very compelling Mandalorian character. But in the meantime, we’ve had several episodes explaining Chopper’s backstory. Chopper has PTSD after crashing in a Y-Wing during  The Clone Wars, and he was rescued by Hera Syndulla (who also could use some more story time in my opinion.) Chopper can fend for himself, is often violent, and is so stubborn that he will often defy direct orders. What do we know about Sabine? She paints. She’s spunky and quippy. She’s from Mandalore and went to the Impreial Academy there, knows several languages, and has a mother she’s been distanced from. We don’t know how she came to the Ghost crew, much at all about her childhood on Mandalore, or what she’s truly fighting for. It’s arguable that she gets plenty of screen time, but I think her time could be used better on this show.

Moving on, the episode does take some steps in the right direction even if they are just teasing again with more light Sabine backstory. I like that this episode didn’t have a single “look how stupid the stormtroopers are” moment and that the rest of the Ghost crew wasn’t in the episode after the initial few minutes. It’s giving Sabine some time to do her own thing, dealing with people she recognizes in the only way Mandalorians know how; helmets on and blasters out. I was expecting Gar Saxon to have the dark saber but that didn’t happen, at least not yet. But we know Sabine gets it later on, and I think getting it from Gar makes the most sense. Either that or it’s in Thrawn’s collection somewhere. I appreciated seeing some Clone Wars loose ends tied up without having another cameo-of-the-week as well, though admittedly I am excited to see Bo Katan come back later on because it means more Mandalorian-centric episodes this season. Mandalorian participation in galactic events beyond mercenary wok is an interesting step in the right direction. Pre Vizla was shaping up to make big changes before he was killed by Maul. And while we’re on that topic, what are these ties between Clan Wren and House Vizla that keep coming up? How deep does that go?

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Something I’m very excited about is that I think these Mando-centric episodes are going to set up some pre-A New Hope Boba Fett stories. These supercommandos probably don’t survive season three, but who do we know who is also an awesome Mandalorian? Boba Fett! I’d love to see him even if it isn’t until season four. He’s known to work with the Empire and we might even get to see how he establishes his connections with Vader. I’m probably dreaming, but that’ the episode I’d make if I was in charge. Oh if I was in charge…

So what did you think about this episode? Like Mandalorians as much as I do? Leave a comment below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading.

-David

Hovertank Custom

It’s the holiday season and that can only mean two things; overtime at work and stress shopping when the Toys R Us coupons come. Surely it doesn’t mean only those two things, but this does happen every year. So I bought a double of the new Imperial Hovertank and added a custom weapon to it!

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Here’s a less gratuitous shot without the whole rest of my Lego armored division. As you can see there is a beefed-up turret as well as the simple (read: literally one piece) comm antenna. This particular tank, at least as far as I can tell without having seen Rogue One yet, isn’t meant to be a first assault unit. It’s more for ferrying troops and equipment around while more versatile weapons platforms such as AT-STs and AT-ATs fight the real fight. With that in mind, this is a special command-type unit with the added heavy beam cannon and enhanced comms system.

Here’s the beam turret on its own. I was going for something like Battlefront II players might recognize. The Republic and Imperial tanks in that game have open turrets at the top that offer a lot of firepower but little protection for the gunner. The ‘wing’ pieces used as shielding hopefully remedy some of that problem, though a gunner in this position would still be sniper fodder. The main body of the gun is the same piece that makes up Baze Malbus’s gun, with a handle (which mounts it to the hinged tube piece) and studs on each side. The shielding is attached to the T-shaped pipe-looking pieces and set into a stud with a hole in the top for stability. Up top we have a telescope piece attached to a 1×1 stud with a clip to make a scope. And to beef up the gun a bit further, I added a grey cheese wedge to each side and built a stubby, fat gun barrel.

I didn’t go crazy on this mod but I’m happy with how the heavy turret came out. When this set came out I told my fiance I was going to buy a bunch for the tank troopers and other Imperial MOCS. We’re up to two already! I might add some color to this one to give it a little more flair as a higher-ranking vehicle. Any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

As always, thanks for reading!

-David

Rogue One First TV Spot “Together”

With 39 days to go, Rogue One is almost here, and that means the spoiler-ific TV spots are coming! Okay, so this one didn’t say anything we didn’t already know, but if the TV spots are anywhere close in number to the ones from The Force Awakens, you’ll pretty much be able to piece the movie together before it comes out. However, this isn’t a main saga movie and Rogue One is comprised of 98% new characters (barring Darth Vader, Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and the likely Grand Moff Tarkin cameo) which means maybe we won’t know the whole movie before it comes out.

Will this movie break box ofice records like The Force Awaken did? Maybe not. Are the toys and merch awesome? Most definitely. This movie exists in a strange in between part of Star Wars never explored on the big screen before. It stands a serious chance of being my new personal favorite because I love the Dark Times era after Episode III. I think this is going to be a great movie and a strong step into new territory for what these movies can do. We’ll all find out on December 16th. Together.