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.

sketch-02
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?

20161111_114112

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!

20161106_145900

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.

Happy Halloween! 

Happy Halloween from The Empire’s Elite! I hope everyone saw (or wore) some great costumes and enjoyed the holiday.

Image credit: Lucasfilm

So this scene from The Force Awakens is what I was going for. Below is the result, which I’m pretty happy with overall.

Perfect? No. Yes that big hole is a TIE fighter I messed up on. But hey, it looks good with $150 worth of figures in front of it, eh? Besides, I’m an expert in Star Wars and not seasonal carved gourds. Hopefully next year’s pumpkin is even better! 
-David

Mandos on Rebels!

Saxon is back and we might finally get another good Sabine story! This teaser trailer throws a lot at us. Sabine and Ezra appear to be on a solo mission. Saxon, the one in the red armor, used to be loyal to Maul when he ruled Mandalore with his Shadow Collective. Who are the other guys whose armor looks like a hybrid between Imperial ground troops and Boba Fett concept art? Will it become canon that true, independent Mandalorians are more creative because their armor is cooler? Are we getting canon references to the siege of Mandalore outside of that cool Ahsoka panel at celebration and her new book? Hopefully this weekend answers some of my questions! Watch Star Wars Rebels this weekend and find out! Looks like I reread Son of Dathomir just in time for some callbacks too!

Custom Lego Kir Kanos

“There can be no mercy for the enemies of the Emperor!” Whether you would tend to agree or just like Lego figures, check out this purist custom Royal Guard!

The Emperor’s Royal Guardsmen, while never amounting to much in the movies, kicked butt across the expanded universe. After the death of the Emperor, their reputation stood. They were still known as ruthless, loyal, and hard to match in combat. Eventually they were all wiped out, save for one who remained loyal to his Emperor; Kir Kanos, star of the comic series Crimson Empire.

20161023_163140

My purist Kir Kanos figure uses pieces from the Old Republic battle pack featuring Sith and Republic troopers. His body and legs are that of the elite blood-colored Sith trooper, with his arms switched from gray to the same shade of red with grey ‘gloves.’ The helmet and cape, which is two shades of red depending on what side you’re looking at, come from the Death Star troopers battle pack. The hair piece belongs to a Clone Wars Anakin figure, and the face came from one of the Navarro rifleman from the short-lived Lone Rangers themed battle pack.20161023_164351

In this shot you can see his armor details slightly better. While it isn’t 100% accurate to the comics in color, I feel it captures his look quite well. Kir Kanos is something of an antihero, loyal to a deceased villain and seeking to destroy traitors to the Empire. In his comic series, he wasn’t known to make friends. A massive bounty was placed on his head by the Imperial Remnant, and he faced treachery at every turn while on the hunt for his former friend and aspiring Sith Lord Carnor Jax.

20161023_164231

This figure isn’t a very good representation of Carnor Jax, however he is similar. As a Sovereign Protector, the most elite of the Royal Guards, Jax went on to pursue the throne of the Empire years after the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. In his earlier days, he became friends with Kir Kanos, and the pair trained together to become royal guardsmen. His personal guards are the black-armored stormtroopers seen here. I won’t spoil too much of the story, but the Crimson Empire collection is one of my favorite comic series. It mixes politics and action with a good antihero-type lead character who stops at nothing and never betrays his personal ideals. What he does, he does for himself, and while that may sound selfish, there’s more at play with his sense of self as a person. There’s many classic Star Wars themes at play in Crimson Empire, just played from different angle.

20161023_164855

Kir Kanos fights an Empire’s worth of adversaries throughout his books, from stormtroopers to Jax’s elite, black-armored stormtroopers, and bounty hunters sent on behalf of Grappa the Hutt. For cover, Kanos sometimes worked under the guise of a bounty hunter himself named Kenix Kil.

20161023_165025
“Kir Kanos? Haven’t seen him, sir.”

20161023_164701

***SKIP the next two paragraphs to avoid spoilers for the Crimson Empire storyline and the novels Star Wars Aftermath and Aftermath: Life Debt***

Some small elements of the Crimson Empire saga have seemingly been incorporated into the new canon under Disney. While Kir Kanos is absent, one of his adversaries is present in the form of the Imperial Future Council. In Star Wars Aftermath, a group organized under the leadership of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane to reach a settlement on the future of the Empire. Their meeting on the planet Akiva does not go to plan, and the council members are killed, save for Admiral Sloane. It is later revealed that a mysterious fleet admiral named Gallius Rax organized the summit himself, and orchestrated its downfall to eliminate weak leadership in the Empire. He would go on to feed other Imperial targets to the New Republic, shedding further weak links and poor, misguided leadership. Eventually, that’s how the First Order comes into being.

Similarly, Crimson Empire’s Imperial Ruling Council tried to reorganize the Empire after the Emperor was killed. Originally in place even before his death, the council was in a constant state of flux as aspiring Moffs, advisors, politicians, and military minds vied for the Emperor’s favor, later even his title after he had been killed. The span of time that the Ruling Council held sway is a large one, and probably too much to get into with just a simple figure presentation. But let it be known that the intricacies of Imperial politics aren’t entirely lost in the new canon. There’s still plenty of scheming, plotting, and backstabbing not only in the Empire, but also in the fallout after Endor.

***END Spoilers***

EU/Legends characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn and indirect characters like Fenn Rau (who references the concept of the Cuy’val Dar, a group of Mandalorians who helped train the Republic clone troopers) mean anything can happen in the new canon. While I had mixed feelings about the wiping of the Legends canon at first, so far it is going well and I’m enjoying it. That being said, I don’t think Kir Kanos is going to pop up any time soon. However, I don’t think it will be long before we get a new version of his character, a dark, fiercely-loyal agent of the Emperor who stops at nothing to achieve his master’s goals. We’ve seen Royal Guards in books such as Lords of the Sith, and while they aren’t game changers in the canon, they were enjoyable characters throughout the book.

What’s your take on Kir Kanos and the rest of the Royal Guard? Let me know what you think of him and the build in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading!

-David