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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Kir Kanos? Haven’t seen him, sir.”

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***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

Kit-Bashed Kyle

“I’m no Jedi; I’m just a guy with a lightsaber and a few questions.”

My favorite part of building as far as Lego Star Wars goes is building characters that Lego doesn’t officially make, but working within the limits of pieces Lego actually produces. It’s like a puzzle, finding the piece in the right color or printing, finding the right hair, helmet, or weapon to make the perfect vision of your favorite characters. Whether you call it kit-bashing, making a purist custom, or simply part of your MOC (Lego-speak for ‘my own creation’) I can’t leave a toy store without ideas for new characters. So it seemed fitting to make my first posts about custom Lego figures based on one of the first characters I wanted to build; Kyle Katarn from the Star Wars Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, and Jedi Academy video games.

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Image credit: Lucasarts (found on Wookiepredia)

Kyl Katarn has worn many hats, so to speak. He defected from the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps (traitor!) and went solo, eventually becoming a mercenary and smuggler before eventually following the ways of the Jedi. I don’t want to spoil too many of his stories because there are so many and they’re all pretty good. I would highly recommend Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. Not only are they two of the best, most fun Star Wars games I’ve ever played, they’re two of the best video games I’ve played overall. The lightsaber combat system has never been topped by another game, and until virtual reality tech is perfected, it probably won’t be bested for a while still.

So rather than ramble on about one of my favorite Star Wars characters, I took some pictures of little Kyle in action and tried to inject some humor into his story (not that he needs me to do that; Kyle has a very dry, sometimes cynical sense of humor)

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Kyle and his good friend, fellow smuggler Jan Ors. Kyle has been an ongoing project, using the torso from an old Anakin Skywalker, brown pants and hands, and the head piece of a character from the Lake Town Chase set from The Hobbit. Here he is pictured with his blue lightsaber and faithful Bryar blaster pistol. I’m not 100% satisfied with how Jan turned out, but part of the fun is redoing these figures over time. Jan has Rey’s face, a Battlefront Rebel trooper body modified with white arms, and long black hair.
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He was known to get himself into situations where the odds were overwhelmingly against his favor. . .
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. . .but he was just as well-known for lugging around several blasters and other weapons at once. He’s armed and dangerous at all times, always trying to stay one step ahead of the Imperial Remnant (Post-Return of the Jedi in the Legends/Expanded Universe of Star Wars)
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Kyle was strong in the Force and skilled with a lightsaber. . .
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. . .and he battled his own dark side as often as he battled the dark side itself.
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Luke Skywalker, who might know a thing or two about the dark side, helped Kyle through his dark times and helped him become a great Jedi. Together, they trained new Jedi at Luke’s new academy.
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A survivor of trial after trial, Kyle Katarn was an influence on writers of new Star Wars canon material. Kanan Jarus in particular is similar, insomuch as having a troubled past and bouncing from place to place before returning to the Jedi ways. Both characters also have a tendency to block out important people in their lives at times, closing themselves off in attempts to stave new painful experiences. I would love to see Kyle become canon someday! It may not be likely, but with Thrawn becoming canon recently, you can’t rule out a character as well-known and loved as Kyle Katarn! (Note: I’m excited for Rogue One but I can’t help but be a little upset that it will be overwriting Kyle’s first story where he steals the Death Star plans)

Thank you for checking out my custom figures! Let me know if you like this format as I’d like to branch out into doing Lego Star Wars stories (almost like a webcomic) in the future. If you liked the post or have any ides you’d like to see in the future, leave me a comment or visit the contact page. I would love to hear your feedback!

-David

Black Thursday Strikes Back

The Force works in mysterious ways. It binds us, penetrates us, and makes us stress shop. During my technical difficulties yesterday, I stopped by Wal-Mart to see if anything was left in the Star Wars section after Rogue Friday. As luck would have it, I found two more Black Series figures from my wishlist! Check out this special addendum to my previous review with two more figures, Jango Fett and Kanan Jarrus.

Anyone who knows me knows I love Mandalorians almost as much as I love the Empire and finding the last toys on the pegs at the store. Both Jango and Kanan were the last figures I could find at the store, and I have a huge weakness for buying the last thing I can find of anything related to Star Wars. I know I’ll either never see it again (until the price is likely jacked up on Amazon) or I’ll see dozen of them in two months. But I never know which one it’ll be, so buying the last ones usually gets the best of me.

Jango Fett (Attack of the Clones)  is a wonderful figure. He’s heavy with all of his well-detailed armor. The removable helmet isn’t flimsy. The jetpack has three placement pegs to keep the jetpack in place and level. The pistols are also more durable than I expected, which is something I appreciate because sometimes the weapons with these figures can be bent or just downright flimsy and fragile. There’s plenty of detail to take in; dirt and grime in the armor, tarnish marks, the knee-mounted dart launchers, and a nice dent from when he hits his head on Slave One’s loading ramp door in Episode 2. The head mold also looks pretty good. He’s missing the actor’s stubble, but maybe this is just Jango looking a little more cleaned up than normal. The figure looks and feels so right in every other regard that this one detail gets a pass for me, especially since I probably won’t remove the helmet terribly often.

Onto Kanan from Star Wars: Rebels, this is another example of Hasbro stepping it up with the quality of these figures. Taking an animated character and making him look ‘real’ is no simple task, and it was pulled off very well with this figure. All the details are there, from his shoulder armor down to his lightsaber that actually dissasembles the way it does on the Rebels show. The blade is removable, and then the hilt of the lightsaber can be stashed away in two pieces on the frontand back of his belt. Kanan also includes his signature blaster pistol that fits into a hip holster. Out of the few heroes in my Black Series collection, this is definitely a new favorite!

All in all, I love these figures and love that I was able to find them even more! I’m old school when it comes to buying things. I like to hold it in my hands first before I take it to the register. That is especially true with these toys, as their can be flaws such as bad paint and flimsy or bent weapons to deal with. But the other reason I don’t buy many of these online is something I often compare to the philosophy of Batman. Batman never kills the Joker, even though it could save lives every time the Joker escapes imprisonment. He can’t kill the Joker because if he let’s that violent part of him see the light of day, he will never stop, and he would destroy every last one of his enemies and become just as bad as them. My fandom isn’t so dramatic, but it boils down to the fact that if I buy one thing on the internet, I will soon BUY ALL OF THE THINGS.

Go find your toys! Love and support the fandom!

-David

 

Thanks for reading this! If you enjoyed what you read (or even if you hated it, to each their own) let me know in the comments section! Leave a like if you are so inclined and subscribe to get notified every time I post something about my love for Star Wars. If you have an idea for something you’d like to see, let me know in the comments and I might make a post about it!

 

 

Black Thursday: One Big Review

I was going to put this together sooner, but a pesky flu and some technical difficulties got in the way. But now the show goes on as I take a closer look at my newest Black Series figures. Lego will always be my first love when it comes to Star Wars toys, but the Black Series is a close second. Let’s start with the namesake of Rogue Friday, the day these figures were released, with a new character from Rogue One.

I like Jyn Erso a lot so far, and that’s saying something considering we know next to nothing about her yet. The figure has a good sculpt and the normal posability for this type of figure. Something I noticed was that the little strap on her holster comes undone, making it easier to draw and stash away her blaster pistol. I thought this feature was new, but I went back and checked out my Han Solo figure and his holster does that too. You learn something every day! Jyn includes a blaster pistol, which is cool but doesn’t look quite as Star Wars-y to me compared to other weapons. She also has a removable head scarf. It’s easy to get her posed and keep that trademark spunky attitude when on display.

Next is Cassian Andor, the Eadu variant. I didn’t know Target had a 3-pack exclusive of Cassian in another outfit plus Jyn and a Death Trooper variant (more on that later). I’ll have to keep an eye out for that and hopefully it is as plentiful as the last exclusive pack that included Poe Dameron (in the jacket he gives to Finn) plus stormtrooper FN-2199. I like the overall design of this figure with one exception – the face doesn’t quite look like the actor to me. Whether I should chalk this up to variation among figures or just a slightly off sculpt remains to be seen. I don’t hate it, and admittedly it does look a bit more like the real actor when the hat is removed (shame, because it’s a pretty nice hat) Regardless, the jacket is detailed very well with it’s padding and furry hood. The hat has a scarf coming down on one side, and Cassian includes a blaster pistol and blaster rifle.

I bet K2SO steals every scene he’s in once the movie comes out. The figure is quite nice, with a sculpt resembling Imperial battle armor worn by General Veers and the like. The figure is the longest, lankiest droid I’ve ever seen, and he’s very posable. You can see in the third picture of him that he can channel Zenyatta from Overwatch and pose in a meditative state. K2 is nicely detailed and surprisingly can stand without a base, which I was surprised given how tall and awkward he is.

Next is the Death Trooper, part of the Imperial Security Bereau’s special forces under Director Krennic. This is one of two current variants. The other one, which in my opinion is more desirable, has different gear: same guns, but a shoulder pauldron and ARC Trooper style ammo pouches are added to the shoulder. As far as I can tell, that 3-pack comes later this month. Despite being slightly less interesting than that variant, there’s still plenty to like about this figure. He has Darth Vader’s belt buckle, a unique piece of knee armor, green eyepieces in the helmet, and unique weapons. This guy definitely captures the ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe of the Death Troopers. If you have the variant, they make a nice companion to Target’s two pack of shadow troopers. His height over everyone coupled with the black armor just makes him look mean. (Note: If you buy the 2-pack of shadow troopers, which I do recommend, that scout trooper doesn’t come with the sniper rifle; I had that lying around from another stroomtrooper variant and gave it to him)

Wrapping up Rogue One is probably my favorite figure of the Rogue One wave thus far, and that’s the Hovertank Trooper. Like the Death Trooper, he captures that meanness and intensity of the utilitarian armor scheme. The shoulders are a new rubbery material that flexes if you pose the arm too far up, bending it in instead of stressing or damaging the edge. Nice touch there, I like that a lot. The armor is a sort of mash up of stormtrooper gear and scout trooper gear, with stormtrooper-like boots and light torso armor, plus a unique helmet. Instead of full leg armor, the figure wears dark brown pants over the black bodysuit all stormtroopers wear underneath their armor. He also carries a blaster just in case he’d have to leave the armored safety of his hovertank. There’s a lot of nice detail, especially in the dirt and grime on his boots and armor.  This figure is exclusive to Toys R Us.

Lastly there’s the Force Awakens variants. A repackaged Rey now includes a lightsaber along with her signature staff and BB-8. Apart from minor differences, it is the same figure that has been available for a while now. I found her to be slightly difficult to pose when holding the lightsaber with both hands, but I noticed their may be a slight defect in the joints of my figure’s left arm. Could be damage, could be an error. I’m not exactly sure, but I like the figure and had been wanting one with a lightsaber. Kylo also appears to be an identical figure, but with changes to his accessories. This variant swaps his mask (the entire head) for the face underneath. I thought there would be an injured variant with the scar on his face, but I’m sure that will be coming for Episode 8. The other changes are regarding his lightsaber. He now includes two sabers, a new ingnited blade that is molded to the hilt (no weird three-pronged thing with the extra ‘energy’ going around it to hold it together) and an extra hilt with no blade, which can attach to a new notch in his belt. My only complaint, albeit a small one, is that like Cassian, his skin tone isn’t quite right. They both appear a little too pale to me. But skin tone is very difficult to transale into plastic, so I’m not holding that against anyone.

Overall, I enjoyed unboxing all these figures and adding them to my sizeable Black Series collection. My favorites are almost always new Imperial troopers, and this was the case yet again this time around. I was super happy to be able to purchase so many this time around as well. I went rather late in the day on Rogue Friday and was still finding good toys stocked on the shelves. This wasn’t the case for Force Friday, the previous event, where all the Force Awakens toys were revealed. So good on you, whoever makaes that sort of thing go more smoothly. Target had great promotions that rewarded you for going big on your purchases and I hope they do things similarly in the future for Episode 8’s theme day and the eventual other spinoff reveal days. It seemed much smoother this time, so let’s hope it gets even better when we do this all again next year!

-David

Thanks for reading! If you liked this rant and review, leave a like or let me know in the comments. Also, if there’s something you’d like to see, drop me a comment or an email and I might make a post about it!