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“The Potential of Finn”: Mel Milton on His Black History Month Portrait

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 12:00

There is hope in Finn’s eyes. The stormtrooper who escaped from the First Order and went on a secret mission for his friend, Poe Dameron, has become a full-fledged hero of the Resistance. And it’s that story, and the promise of other untold adventures yet to come, that inspired artist Mel Milton when he sat down to create a portrait of the character for Black History Month.

But there’s a complexity to Milton’s relationship with Finn, which is shared by other fans who saw the first look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and expected more from Finn’s journey. After two more films, Milton says he still doesn’t feel Finn’s journey was complete. Finn has shed his armor and his borrowed jacket to become his most authentic self, as seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Yet in this portrait, his eyes are focused in the distance, looking toward the horizon and all that lies ahead. “I myself enjoy this character but there’s also something that was missing for me,” Milton admits to StarWars.com. “To be able to sit and say when we tell people stories, it’s when we overcome something. There’s a moment where the main character overcomes a conflict and it’s like, ‘That’s why I want to be that character! Because I have my own problems. I have my own things to overcome.’ And I think the potential of Finn was that.”

"Storytelling is at the heart of being human and black representation in all media gives us the opportunity to feel like we are a part of the world we are living in. To be seen and heard more gives us a chance to feel like we are understood by those consuming our stories.” 1/3 pic.twitter.com/7nv48oLE6g

— Star Wars (@starwars) February 14, 2021

Milton’s solution was to paint Finn at his best. “I moved him up a little bit, made him more proud to [be] a part of it because that’s how I imagine him to be,” he says. “But I wanted to portray him how I had him in my mind. That hope. Those dreams.”

Milton expected the portrait would generate much-needed conversation around the issue of black representation in media in general and in Star Wars in particular, “because I have that dialogue in myself,” he adds. “This is where representation becomes important. I remember when they showed that trailer and he popped up and everybody was just like, Here it is! Here is this moment that someone like me is on the screen.’ And so I think it built up…especially in the Star Wars realm. To have the representation dialogue gives a perspective from someone who hasn’t been represented very much to those who have been represented a chance to see beyond the labels and stereotypes that having little representation creates. Our country was built on diversity and our stories should be equally diverse to show that richness.”

Growing up half black and half Filipino in a military family, Milton embraced his love of art and Star Wars. But it wasn’t until his family settled in San Diego that he began to understand how his experience differed from that of his primarily white neighbors in California. “I was picked on a lot because of ‘not fitting in,’ which lead me to carry a lot of anger growing up. I understand why I was angry now , but as a child it wasn’t something that made sense. When I got older, then I started looking into this stuff. But as a kid you’re like, ‘Why don’t I fit in? What is that?’”

Overcoming homelessness and drug addiction in his teens that led him to drop out of high school in the 10th grade, Milton went to school to learn graphic design, then discovered his calling in the Artist’s Alley of San Diego Comic-Con. At 21, he planned to move to New York City to become an artist and animator, but made a stop in Utah where he had family and ultimately settled there, where he now has a wife and a young daughter.

Through his art, Milton says he can start conversations and express himself, bringing people joy and making them think. Prior to the release of his Finn portrait on the Star Wars and Disney social channels, Milton had been commissioned to create two Star Wars comic book covers — one with an epic clash between Yoda and Darth Maul and another featuring Kylo Ren. But on his own social media, he frequently posts quick sketches and half-finished works. Along with the phrase “Keep on keeping on,” it’s a reminder to himself and to other aspiring artists to keep doing what they love even when it gets difficult or they don’t see themselves represented in the industry they aspire to work in.

“You want to destroy a civilization? Kill their art. Right?” he says. “Because it’s at the heart of the people. Storytelling is this thing that resonates with people.” As he notes in the post accompanying his Finn art, “Storytelling is at the heart of being human, and black representation in all media gives us the opportunity to feel like we are a part of the world we are living in. To be seen and heard more gives us a chance to feel like we are understood by those consuming our stories. Stories can show how a character can overcome struggles and conflict and to see someone like yourself in that story is a springboard for the imagination. Introduce that to an eager mind of a child and you inspire the next generation of story tellers and beyond.”

And for Milton, that’s the core of why black representation and the celebration of Black History Month and beyond is so important. “To have a time and a place to celebrate, embrace and showcase black creativity and beauty is something that gives me a sense that I am a part of something wonderful and to me that is something that should be shared and experienced,” he says. “When I was growing up, being an artist seemed impossible to me as it wasn’t something that I saw or could nurture properly. I didn’t have a lot of people like me to turn to for advice. In those early years, a lot of people were surprised I said I wanted to be an artist. I’m hopeful for those young artists now and look forward to seeing them bloom as more and more black stories are told.”

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Wherever You Go, The Child Goes in This Unique Floating Pram – Exclusive

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 11:00

On the exhibition floor at the New York Toy Fair last year, the Child was just beginning his reign. Three months after toddling onto our screens, The Mandalorian’s co-star was gaining his own following, as fans clamored for toys and collectibles modeled after the bounty hunter’s green companion.

Among those earliest offerings, though not for sale, one display stood out from the crowd: a floating pram, inspired by the one featured on the Disney+ series, hovering in mid-air, 2.5 inches of its base, and protecting a most valuable plush-and-vinyl asset sculpted by the designers at Mattel. That 11-inch plush Grogu has since won Plush Toy of the Year at the 2021 Toy of the Year Awards, flying off of store shelves faster than the Razor Crest making a daring escape. But a life-size, levitating replica of the floating pram remained an elusive acquisition….until now.

Today, Mattel Creations, in partnership with ProjectArt, will place one specially-crafted hovering pram up for bid through an online auction on eBay and 100% of the final auction price (minus PayPal fees if purchased via PayPal) will benefit ProjectArt, a charity that supports the arts for underserved K-12 students by promoting teaching and learning through visual arts. Bidding is open now through March 5.

But before one lucky fan captures this prized asset, StarWars.com sat down with Mattel designer Michael Kadile to get a full bounty puck of intel on how the display piece was made.

StarWars.com: This floating pram is so unique! What can you tell us about how you took something that is partially in CGI on The Mandalorian and brought it into reality?

Michael Kadile: I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, so you don’t have to ask me to repeatedly watch this incredible new show. After watching The Mandalorian several times, screen capturing scenes and studying every angle, the first step was to recreate a 3D digital replica with the talented Mattel Sculptural Department. After the sculpt was perfected, we printed out massive molds to build a life-size pram.

After several versions of the molds, I then began to experiment with the process of building the pram. I was able to document the process so that the build could be replicated, if necessary. Finally, we painted static models of the pram to best replicate how it looks in the series. To finish the look, we added some stellar work from the Mattel Soft Goods team with custom ornamental blankets and the project was a hit!

StarWars.com: What was the biggest challenge you and the team encountered?

Michael Kadile: We had to install a powerful electro-magnetic levitation system on something that was large enough to be an actual pram. The balance was meticulous and specific. It has to be centered directly and balanced precisely when The Child was set inside of it along with the ornamental blankets. The slightest imbalance, even a gust of air, could have thrown it off if not installed properly.

Then two months after New York Toy Fair 2020, I was asked to replicate the display model for the charity auction. The biggest challenge for this next model was the COVID-19 shutdown. I would need to assemble it from one location (my garage) and working remotely with all the same teams to complete this version.

To show my appreciation for all the people who contributed to this phenomenal project, I insisted that each and every one of them signed their name somewhere on the inside of this collectible art piece. I was thrilled to work on this project and can’t wait to see who gets to enjoy this one-of-a-kind creation in their own home.

StarWars.com: The auction will benefit ProjectArt. Why is that charity important to you as an individual, and an artist yourself, as well as Mattel as a company?

Michael Kadile: ProjectArt focuses on bringing learning through visual arts to underserved K-12 students while also providing a residency program in the public library for artists to create new artwork and mentor youth who don’t have access to art education.  Giving kids the ability to express themselves through art and exploring their creativity is a great passion of mine, and being creative in my childhood ultimately helped me get to where I am today.

Mattel has a multitude of purpose-led brands and this partnership between Mattel Creations and ProjectArt is dedicated to giving back to the next generation of creators, particularly through the arts. Connecting with these kids is something that I find extremely rewarding. It’s amazing to have the ability to potentially impact their future and let them know that they can become anything, even a toy designer, and continue to play well into their adulthood.

In addition to the charity event, Mattel Creations also announced a new collector’s edition plush of The Child in a motorized hover pram, with realistic-looking hair and plush hands and feet, as well as a very limited quantity of autographed 3-packs of the Star Wars x Barbie dolls signed by acclaimed Barbie designer, Robert Best. The Star WarsThe Mandalorian The Child – Collector Edition Plush with Hover Pram and Star Wars x Barbie sets are available for a limited time only starting March 5 at 9 a.m. PST and ending at 9 a.m. PST on March 12.

Bidding on the eBay auction for the Mattel floating pram is open through March 5 at 9 a.m. PST at ebay.com/mattelcreations.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

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Get into the Holiday Spirit Early with Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas – Exclusive First Look

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 14:04

Jabba’s Palace looks downright cheerful decked out for a festive holiday party.

The Hutt’s fearsome guards have exchanged weapons for candy canes. The droids he’s received as a gift from Luke Skywalker are appropriately decked out in red ribbon. Even his favorite decoration, Han Solo, has been freed from his carbonite slumber to mingle with his friends.

And this is but one of the alternate-universe scenes unfolding in Jeffrey Brown’s newest illustrated book, Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas. The author of Darth Vader & Son and Vader’s Little Princess has reunited Darth Vader and his rebellious young twins for a holiday-themed family album that showcases the gentler side of the Sith Lord and the rest of the inhabitants in a galaxy far, far away. There are Force-enabled snowball fights, gingerbread Death Stars, and tauntauns prepared to help Santa Claus navigate through a Hoth snowstorm. Plus, Jabba the Hutt wearing a Santa cap!

“The holidays and Star Wars have always been tied together for me,” Brown tells StarWars.com. “Every year in my stocking would be a new Star Wars action figure, and growing up in Michigan meant that Hoth was always the planet I most related to. So making a whole book of holiday Star Wars gags seemed like a natural, cozy return to familiar and well-loved family!”

As revealed on This Week! In Star Wars today, StarWars.com has your first look at the charming cover art and a few illustrations from inside the new book in Brown’s New York Times bestselling Vader series.

Learn more about Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas and more on the latest episode of This Week! in Star Wars below:

Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas arrives on October 5, 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

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Star Wars Pinball VR Coming April 29

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 13:38

Soon, fans will have a whole new way to play — and experience — Star Wars Pinball.

Zen Studios announced today that its long-running Star Wars Pinball is coming to virtual reality for the first time ever. Star Wars Pinball VR will arrive on Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Steam VR, and PlayStation VR on April 29 — just in time for May the 4th, the Star Wars fan holiday.

Star Wars Pinball VR is set to launch with eight tables: the brand-new The Mandalorian and Star Wars Classic Collectibles tables, along with six remastered favorites, including Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, and Masters of the Force.

Star Wars Pinball VR will also feature some special modifications that take full advantage of the virtual reality experience. All of the action occurs in a fully customizable “fan cave,” which houses your in-game pinball table as well as many Star Wars helmets, lightsabers, and other items earned through successful play. Turn on the pinball table and the room comes to life — not only with a new table to play, but also with life-sized characters and vehicles joining you on either side. Meanwhile, Total Immersion mode allows you to experience everything at table level, and fully 360-degree minigames surround you with iconic Star Wars set pieces.

The game was revealed on The Pinball Show — Zen Studios’ new monthly YouTube show — in a clever video that pays tribute to the classic trailer for the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition.

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Deploy the Fleet for the New Star Wars X Herschel Collection

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 09:00

“If you only knew the power of the dark side…”

When Jon Warren, VP of product design at Herschel Supply Company, and his team sat down to design the new Star Wars x Herschel collaboration, he knew it was the perfect time to incorporate his favorite design details from the costumes of the galaxy’s most captivating villains in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader loomed large, along with the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett. And, of course, the gleaming white legion of Imperial stormtroopers would have to be represented.

But far more than just using the armor and color palettes for inspiration, Warren’s pieces speak to the most die-hard fans with a variety of patterns, quotes, and minute details that connect directly to the original costume design. The zipper pulls on one Boba Fett bag are braided in a nod to the embellishments cascading off one shoulder of his gear. The pinstripe stitching around Darth Vader’s chest plate has found new life on the exterior print of another bag. And the stormtrooper line salutes the gamut of armor and equipment represented by the Empire’s finest, with a variety of screen prints including one emblazoned with a thermal detonator.

To mark the release of the new line, StarWars.com recently sat down with Warren to take a deep dive into his favorite features, and nerd out about how the galaxy far, far away inspired him to become a designer.

StarWars.com: As the first Star Wars x Herschel collaboration, when you sat down to begin designing the line, what were your must-haves for the collection? 

Jon Warren: We wanted to work with the dark side and The Empire Strikes Back right out of the gate — the villains are some of our favorite characters from the Star Wars galaxy. As designers, we see their uniforms as an extension of their story, so we decided to build designs off of what the characters wear and their equipment. We put in a lot of thought into this one. We’re product geeks and knew we had to [deliver] for the fans.

StarWars.com:  How did you stay true to the Herschel brand and aesthetic while incorporating those elements that were unmistakably Star Wars

Jon Warren: When you think of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the stormtroopers, you immediately envision the distinctive gear they wear, which was a perfect jumping off point for the collection. When we began designing the line, we imagined what each character might use if they carried Herschel and pulled specific styles from our product range for each of them, so every set of bags is completely unique. A lot of us at Herschel are huge Star Wars fans. As kids, we would obsess over all of the different movie details, play with the action figures, and role-play these iconic characters so we had a lifetime of imagination to work off of.

StarWars.com: Let’s talk about some of those details in each character collection. The stormtrooper pieces are so crisp and clean, yet evocative of that classic white armor. I love the quilting detail on the straps in particular.

Jon Warren: Every bag in the collection has a cross stitch over a tonal version of Hershel’s signature woven label. This is a subtle nod to Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker crossing lightsabers. The stormtrooper is primarily white, but we screen printed different details of their uniform and equipment on the bags too. My favorite is the thermal detonator that we made out of our Settlement Case. If you’re in the know, you’ll recognize it immediately.

The shoulder strap panels on the Miller backpack were modeled after the way the stormtrooper’s chest plate attaches; when you wear the backpack, you get that hit of black.

The interior liner pattern is rendered with a custom pattern that takes cues from the armor. The color is a nod to the blue air filtration vents found on the stormtrooper helmet.

StarWars.com: The linings on your bags are always really fun prints. For Darth Vader, you went for what looks like a red Death Star lights motif and some of the pieces have a subtle pin striping on the outside. 

Jon Warren: We went all out for Darth Vader. He’s the ultimate villain and might just be the most popular character in all of Star Wars. It was only fitting that we give him two of our most iconic bags — the Herschel Little America backpack and Novel duffle. We opened custom rubber molding on all of the Vader bags to match his armor — this is a particularly special feature since it’s completely unique to the collection. The red on the straps speaks to the red lightsabers used by the Sith. And the liner boasts another custom pattern inspired by the triangular grill on Vader’s helmet. Red is, of course, the color most associated with the Sith and the dark side.

If you look closely, you’ll see that we used a heat transfer printing technique to recreate the pinstripe stitching around Darth Vader’s chest plate. It’s another one of those understated design details we wanted to include for the fans. We also wanted to do something special to reference Darth Vader’s cape. If you flip the Herschel Little America backpack and Nova Mid-Volume backpack over, you will see, screen-printed in Aurebesh, the word “DEPLOY.” And there’s a rain cover for the bag with a reflective Imperial Crest stowed away in a zipper compartment.

We added a small hidden detail behind the woven label located inside of the bags. The front of the label reads, “JOIN THE DARK SIDE,” but there’s a hidden quote behind the label specific to Vader. It reads, “NO, I AM YOUR FATHER.” It’s one of the most iconic quotes in the cinematic world and such a great twist in the film. We had to use it.

StarWars.com: And then there’s Boba Fett! I love the abstract print using some of the colors that we associate with Fett’s armor. It’s very much an “if you know, you know” kind of piece at first glance that I could see would blend seamlessly into someone’s existing wardrobe. How did you land on this more abstract print for this part of the collection?

Jon Warren: As a kid, Boba Fett was the coolest character in The Empire Strikes Back. My friends and I thought he was such a bad ass. His armor is so cool and as an old skateboarder that would frequently shop at army surplus stores, a custom camouflage print for his bags felt natural.

The camo was inspired by Boba Fett’s dinged up helmet. It reminded me of some vintage splinter cell camo I have. I wanted to do something military, but also unique to Herschel and Star Wars. I love all of the styles in the collection, but the Dawson backpacks are my favorite. We created external pockets to mimic Boba Fett’s cargo pockets — a special design detail exclusive to these bags.

Another, darker, feature on the Boba Fett bags is the braided zipper pull you see throughout the collection. It’s a nod to the braids he has hanging off of his right shoulder in the film.

Like Darth Vader, Boba Fett also wears a cape and has a similar rain cover stashed away at the bottom of his Dawson backpacks and Classic XL backpack. His features the Mandalorian Crest instead of the Imperial Crest seen on Vader’s.

Boba Fett’s internal quote label says, “AS YOU WISH.” The interior liner print is a graphic play on his helmet and visor. The mustard yellow colorway is a reference to his knee and shoulder armor.

StarWars.com: Obviously, you are a huge fan based on all the thought and detail you’ve put in here. Can you tell us what Star Wars means to you?

Jon Warren: Star Wars made a huge impact on me as a kid. I saw The Empire Strikes Back in the theater and I was instantly hooked. George Lucas and his team created an entire galaxy with rich storytelling, compelling characters, futuristic vehicles, uniforms, planets, environments, and epic space battles. Everything was original and set my mind wild. As designers, we get to create our own world as well — I try to channel that same type of creativity behind Star Wars into everything we do at Herschel. This collaboration was a chance for us to be a part of the Star Wars legacy, something that has inspired so many across different generations, young and old, and played such an important role in my and other people’s lives.

Shop the Star Wars x Herschel collection now.

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Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

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The Clone Wars Rewatch: Ahsoka and “The Phantom Apprentice”

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 08:00

To celebrate the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us for the weekly #CloneWarsRewatch — you can watch this week’s episode on Disney+ now — and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

131: “The Phantom Apprentice” (Season Seven, Episode 10)

Synopsis:

The battle for Mandalore continues, and Ahsoka finds herself face to face with Maul.

Analysis:

Two apprentices. One dark truth.

In Maul’s estimation, he and Ahsoka are one in the same. Two learners cast aside and forgotten by their mentors. Two students, powerful in the Force yet adrift from those who could nurture and support their abilities. “Every choice you have made has led you to this,” Maul purrs.

But together, they could bring an end to Darth Sidious and his grand plan before it destroys the galaxy as they know it. At least, that’s what he suggests when he offers Ahsoka his hand as an ally and Ahsoka *almost* accepts.

So close.

Anakin is the true phantom apprentice, existing in the shadows, groomed for destruction unbeknownst to those who uphold him as a virtuous Jedi, the best of them in Ahsoka’s eyes. Yet we know that Maul speaks the truth about Anakin Skywalker. He is the key that will bring destruction. Maul’s righteous idea to destroy Sidious and deprive him of his prized pupil could have, if executed, prevented the Empire itself.

But Ahsoka is as flawed as the rest of the Jedi. Given her emotional attachment to her master, she is unable or unwilling to see the truth. And to be fair, Maul doesn’t exactly have a record of being a trustworthy source of intel here. She refuses to believe Maul’s vision, the dream that whispered the name Skywalker and set him on his quest to bring the fight to Mandalore in the hopes or luring Kenobi and his former student to his throne room door.

The precarious duel between Ahsoka and Maul is symbolic of the elusive balance in the Force and the galaxy at large. But in this fight, at least for now, the light side prevails.

Intel:

  • This episode takes place during the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, a fact made clear during Obi-Wan’s communication with Ahsoka and Bo-Katan.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back next Thursday when Order 66 is upon us in “Shattered.”

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Watch all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch Will Come to Disney+ on May the 4th

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 11:51

The Bad Batch’s next mission is about to begin.

Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company announced today that Star Wars: The Bad Batch — the next Star Wars animated series – will debut on May the 4th, a.k.a Star Wars Day, exclusively on Disney+, with the second episode premiering on Friday, May 7. Subsequent episodes will premiere on Fridays. The series follows the elite and experimental troopers of Clone Force 99 (first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch, as they prefer to be called — a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill, which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. 

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is executive produced by Dave Filoni (The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Athena Portillo (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels), Brad Rau (Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars Resistance) and Jennifer Corbett (Star Wars Resistance, NCIS) with Carrie Beck (The Mandalorian, Star Wars Rebels) as co-executive producer and Josh Rimes as producer (Star Wars Resistance). Rau is also serving as supervising director with Corbett as head writer.

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The Classic Republic Commando Blasts onto PlayStation and Nintendo Switch – Exclusive

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 09:58

Boss is back.

Lucasfilm Games and Aspyr announced today that the classic prequel-era shooter, Star Wars: Republic Commando, will come to PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility) and Nintendo Switch on April 6. Originally released in 2005 for PC and Xbox (and currently available on Steam), Republic Commando introduced the elite Delta Squad, a team of clone commandos dispatched to handle the most dangerous missions for the Republic. The game put players in the role — and inside the helmet — of squad leader RC-1138, a.k.a. Boss, with the ability to issue commands to teammates and wield a variety of weapons as they battled across the galaxy. Today, Republic Commando is regarded as one of the best Star Wars games; to mark the news of its rerelease, StarWars.com spoke with Lucasfilm Games executive producer Matt Fillbrandt, who worked on both the original game and its pending digital reissue, about the legacy of Republic Commando and more.

StarWars.com: Republic Commando is one of those games that comes up quite often when Star Wars fans talk about their favorites. Why do you think the game connected the way it did?

Matt Fillbrandt: I think Republic Commando connected with fans because it was the first time they got a look at a story from a clone trooper’s perspective, literally from within the helmet, and it went deeper into the special operations side of the Star Wars military. That hadn’t been done before and it wasn’t shy about trying to project more of a gritty edge. The original trailer did a great job of introducing the game in that way to fans. Being able to contribute to the continuity with this unique perspective, that later made appearances in The Clone Wars animated series, was really rewarding.

Additionally, the idea of a game where you could control an entire squad of characters to get through each mission — “The Squad is Your Weapon” — and give them commands to take out targets, heal each other during combat, was something different that fans had not seen from a Star Wars game before.  Each of the commandos in Delta Squad had a unique personality and voice, which added great flavor to the storytelling of this group. It was a great subject, with interesting characters, in a compelling story, with fun immersive gameplay.

StarWars.com: It was said that part of the decision to return to the Lucasfilm Games branding was to more embrace the legacy of Star Wars games. Is bringing Republic Commando to new platforms part of that?

Matt Fillbrandt: Our fans have so many ways to access this great franchise via films, books, comics, toys, animated and live-action TV shows, and, of course, games. Near and dear to my heart is our legacy of video games, which allow fans to directly connect with the story through game controllers, mouse, and keyboard or mobile devices, which I am very proud to have been a part of for the past 21 years. Republic Commando is a part of that legacy, and for some it leaves an indelible mark on their fandom that they carry the rest of their lives. I hear from fans all the time that it was their favorite game, just like many other games from the original Lucasfilm Games and LucasArts are for so many others. That’s the spirit and feeling we want to capture with the return of the renewed Lucasfilm Games brand.

StarWars.com: You worked on Republic Commando for its original release — what were your goals for the game back then?

Matt Fillbrandt: The goal was to bring together influences from tactical military shooters and other shooters, that were popular around that time, trying to capture the feeling of coordination of a co-op experience within that genre. Those types of games tended to be pretty hardcore and lethal, so another goal was to make it more accessible for a broad Star Wars gamer audience. Those influences contributed to the idea of the player having some tactical control of a squad of commandos that wasn’t overly complex. Really, a very difficult problem to solve was finding a good balance of the feeling of tactical control, that isn’t overly complicated, that is fun and not frustrating — all of which the game does pretty well, and did it over 15 years ago.

StarWars.com: As someone who had a hand in making Republic Commando, how does it feel to release it for new audiences on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch?

Matt Fillbrandt: It’s a very rewarding feeling to see it have such a strong following all these years later and to be a part of releasing it again. It was originally only released on Xbox and PC, so to be able to bring it out on PlayStation and Switch for Star Wars gamers that may have read about it, but never had a chance to play it, is exciting. Looking back, so many talented people put so much of themselves into bringing this game to life. It was a great collaborative effort over 15 years ago, and all of their great work will be available for old Republic Commando fans to play again on PlayStation and Switch, and now for a new generation of fans to try for the first time.

Star Wars: Republic Commando arrives April 6 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 via backwards compatibility, and Nintendo Switch. You can pre-order the Nintendo Switch version now.

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Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Something Lurks Beneath in Marvel’s The High Republic #3 – Exclusive Preview

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 08:00

Keeve Trennis’ first mission as a Jedi Knight is proving to be one filled with mystery…and darkness.

Investigating clues after a deadly attack, Jedi Master Sskeer and Jedi Ceret visited farmers on the planet Sedri. But quickly, something ensnared Ceret. In StarWars.com’s exclusive preview of Marvel’s The High Republic #3, the recently-knighted Keeve Trennis goes to the Outer Rim world searching for her friends. What she senses there, however, is troubling for the young Jedi…

The High Republic #3, from writer Cavan Scott and artist Ario Anindito, with a cover by Phil Noto, arrives March 3 and is available for pre-order now on Comixology and at your local comic shop.

Visit Lucasfilm’s official hub for all things Star Wars: The High Republic at StarWars.com/TheHighRepublic.

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Make a Princess Leia Rice Bowl for Your Next Star Wars: A New Hope Rewatch!

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 08:00

The world was introduced to a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars: A New Hope debuted in theaters in 1977. It was the first time fans met Princess Leia, saw the Millennium Falcon, and wondered why the Lars homestead served up blue milk.

This dinner pays tribute to those iconic moments with a main dish made to look like the rebel princess and her classic hairstyle. Followed by a dessert that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, all washed down with a cold glass of Tatooine’s finest bantha milk.

Revisit the moment that changed everything by making a meal inspired by the start of the original trilogy and watch Star Wars: A New Hope, now on Disney+!

Millennium Falcon Gelatin Treat recipe

Blue Milk recipe

Princess Leia Rice Bowl

You’ll need:

  • Cooked rice
  • 1 sheet nori (dried seaweed)
  • Red bell pepper

Teriyaki beef ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 lb thinly sliced rib eye
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water

Step 1: In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Set aside.

Step 2: Add the oil and sliced rib eye to a skillet over medium high heat. Cook until just browned.

Step 3: In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and garlic. Pour over the beef. And cook for 1-2 minutes.

Step 4: Pour in the cornstarch mixture, bring to a boil just until the sauce thickens.

Step 5: Place the rice in a bowl. Add slices of meat to create the top of the hairstyle. For the sides, roll up a slice of meat to create a rose-like shape. Place on both sides of the bowl.

Step 6: Cut pieces of nori to create the eyes and a small piece of red bell pepper for the mouth, to serve.

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Jenn Fujikawa is a lifestyle and food writer. Follow her on Twitter at @justjenn and check her Instagram @justjennrecipes and blog justjennrecipes.com for even more Star Wars food photos.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Beeps and Books

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 16:03
R2-D2 checks to see if the coast is clear before accessing your book collection.

Go on a Journey of Deliciousness with the Galactic Baking Cookbook

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 08:00

Ready to bring the Star Wars galaxy…to your kitchen? You can soon do so with Star Wars: Galactic Baking, a new cookbook filled with recipes inspired by fan-favorite Star Wars planets. Good for both Padawan and Jedi Master bakers, and featuring beautiful food photography, you’ll learn to make Mustafarian Molten Lava Cakes, Cloud City Marshmallows, Life Day Cake, Loth-Cat Kibble, Keshian Spice Bread, Dagobah Bog Pie, and much more. “I’m constantly amazed at the inventiveness of the chefs and cooks who work on our cookbooks,” says Robert Simpson, senior editor at Lucasfilm Publishing. “It’s fun to see the creative wizards at Insight Editions bring so many treats inspired by the movies and TV shows to edible life!” Before Galactic Baking arrives this April, StarWars.com is excited to offer a sneak peek with this recipe for Bantha Blue Butter Sandwich Cookies. (Any visitors from Tatooine are sure to love ‘em!)

Bantha Blue Butter Sandwich Cookies

When a bantha gives blue milk, you get blue butter. These rich cookies are filled with ice cream to make a two-in-one treat. Enjoy with a glass of blue milk, if you like.

Active time: 45 MIN

Total time: 1 HR 25 MIN

Yield: Makes about 20 sandwich cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon blue food coloring gel

Rainbow sprinkles

1 quart vanilla or birthday cake–flavored ice cream

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with a hand mixer until softened. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and food coloring. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
  2. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until done in center and edges are barely browned. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. When cooled, chill cookies in the freezer for about 30 minutes before filling.
  3. Place sprinkles in a shallow bowl and put in freezer to chill. Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for 10 minutes before filling cookies.
  4. To fill cookies, place a small scoop of ice cream on bottom side of a chilled cookie. Top with another cookie. Press together until ice cream is squished to edges of cookies. Quickly roll edges in chilled sprinkles and place cookie sandwich in a container in the freezer. Repeat with remaining cookies, ice cream, and sprinkles.

Star Wars: Galactic Baking arrives this April and is available for pre-order now.

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Quiz: Complete the Quote from the Star Wars Jedi!

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 08:00

We all know the Jedi Masters and their Padawans are some of the most intelligent beings in the galaxy. From their abilities through the Force to their sage teachings, they give Star Wars fans something to aspire to with phrases that resonate and become some of our favorite lines to quote. But how well do you know the wise words of the Jedi? Test your knowledge in this StarWars.com quiz…and no Jedi mind tricks!

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Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #StarWarsQuiz

Uncover Mysteries of the Dark Side in The Secrets of the Sith – Exclusive Reveal

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 14:19

Readers of Star Wars books, get ready: The Emperor is your master now.

Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith, a new children’s book written by Mark Sumerak and illustrated by Sergio Gomez Silvan, will explore the dark side of the Force — with Emperor Palpatine serving as narrator. Like an artifact found in a Sith temple, The Secrets of the Sith is filled with many elements that some consider to be unnatural, including arcane knowledge, incredible artwork, and other interactive features, such as pop-ups, booklets, and lift-the-flap inserts.

The book, a follow-up to the popular The Secrets of the Jedi, covers everything from the Star Wars films to series to comics and beyond; readers will discover entries on some of the most legendary dark-side warriors, including Darth Maul, Asajj Ventress, Darth Vader, and Kylo Ren, along with Palpatine’s own thoughts on several dark-side abilities. Coming from Insight Editions this August, you can begin your journey to the dark side and check out the cover of The Secrets of the Sith below!

Star Wars: The Secrets of the Sith arrives this August and is available for pre-order now.

See Stars Wars: The Secrets of the Sith and more on This Week! In Star Wars!

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In the New Book Queen’s Hope, Padmé Grapples with the Clone Wars – Exclusive Reveal

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 14:18

It is a time of conflict and Padmé Amidala finds herself cast in new roles as a wartime senator, a wife, and a rebellious woman on a mission.

But still, there is hope.

In her new book, Queen’s Hope, author E.K. Johnston will complete her trilogy exploring Padmé’s life during her early years on the senate floor, on the throne of Naboo, and ultimately entangled with Anakin Skywalker, Jedi General, during a dark time in the galaxy’s history. While Anakin excels at leading the clone soldiers on battlefronts across the galaxy, Padmé is horrified by the repercussions left behind on war-torn planets. Although the peace-loving senator is still an active member of the Galactic Republic’s lawmakers, she employs her loyal handmaiden, Sabé, when duty calls her to a secret mission that forces her double to serve the senate for an extended period, witnessing the war from the political arena.

And, of course, Chancellor Palpatine plays his part, manipulating all sides of the conflict for his own evil plan to give rise to the Empire.

StarWars.com recently sat down with Johnston to discuss this third installment in her Padmé-centered saga that brings a fresh perspective to a fan-favorite character.

StarWars.com: This is your third time revisiting Padmé! How has your process evolved as you prepare to sit down and write this character again?

E.K. Johnston: Coming back to Padmé for a third time was like three more times than I ever thought I was going to get. Every time I come in to write a Padmé novel it’s exciting, it’s a little bit terrifying, and this one was the most daunting because it’s the war book. It’s the book where things start to fall apart. Up until this point it’s been kind of the upswing of her story, but as soon as Attack of the Clones happens, as soon as Attack of the Clones ends, you start to get into the actual tragedy part and I…I didn’t know how I was going to feel about that. Like, am I still allowed to make jokes if it’s going to be horribly sad? This is the start of the downward arc and I was a little bit nervous approaching it. But there’s still a lot of really good things to get into in this part of Padmé’s story. She’s kind of established herself as her own powerful senator… as someone who has power and someone who is good at it. And then, of course, in her personal life things are getting rather complicated.

StarWars.com: Right! Now she’s married to Anakin Skywalker, of course. Can you give us any hints about what new Anidala secrets and romance we have in store?

E.K. Johnston: I’m going to be real with you: Anakin Skywalker is a bit of a downer for me in terms of writing because everything he touches ends badly. Qui-Gon dies, his mom dies, Padmé dies. The galaxy falls apart. It does not go well for people involved in Anakin Skywalker’s story when he’s the main character. However, he’s not the main character of Queen’s Hope. He is the romantic interest.  He’s the love interest. And because of that I was freed up to write him a little bit more fun, I guess. He’s kind of….not happy go-lucky because Jedi don’t really do that. But like his life has literally never been better than it is right now. He’s really good at fighting. He really likes clear-cut “these people are good, these people are bad” conflicts. And he’s married to the love of his life so, ya know, everything’s coming up Anakin at this point, which does make him very interesting to write because, of course, we all know what’s coming. But you get these sort of moments  with them where they do have a genuine love. They like each other so much, they just never have any time and that’s their tragedy. They never have any time to talk, they never have any time to work things out, and I got to write a very, very small sliver of that time, which is something I think people have been looking forward to seeing for a while now.

StarWars.com: What does the title Queen’s Hope mean to you?

E.K. Johnston: I wanted to name this book Queen’s Gambit but then there was that thing on Netflix and, you know, we couldn’t name it Queen’s Gambit anymore. But I fell on Queen’s Hope almost immediately because to me that’s what Padmé is about. No matter how hard things get, she gets up and keeps going, which is one of my favorite things that Star Wars characters do. And as a Star Wars fan, as Star Wars readers, we know what’s coming. We know that nothing — nothing — she’s going to do matters in the long run, except having a baby, and that’s important, but it’s not what she set out to do. So we just have this idea that she’s fighting against this oncoming tide and she’s going to drown.

But she has made differences. She’s touched people’s lives in ways they maybe haven’t realized. She’s made differences in ways she didn’t plan to. And for me her hope is the same as it’s always been, it’s always been Leia and Luke, but other people are going to touch a lot of lives, too. Her handmaidens are going to go out into the world, and if you’ve read the Darth Vader comics you know a little bit about how that works. Bail is going to continue. Mon Mothma is going to continue and they are always going to remember her. And for me that’s how I got through writing the depressing tragedy that is looming at the end of this book, because I know that hope endures, that good endures. And Padmé believed it even right up to the end. I like to think I do, too. I’m probably a little bit more cynical. But that’s what Queen’s Hope means to me. It reminds me every morning to get up and keep trying no matter what happened the day before because today might be different.

To learn more about Johnston’s top three Padmé moments, check out today’s episode of This Week! in Star Wars below.

Queen’s Hope will be available on November 2, 2021, soon after the second book in the series, Queen’s Peril, is released in paperback on September 8. Take a closer look at the softcover below.

Pre-order your own copies of Queen’s Hope and Queen’s Peril now.

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Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Believe Everything You Hear About Gentle Giant Ltd.’s New Bo-Katan Statue – Exclusive Reveal

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 10:00

Thanks to The Mandalorian, last year a larger audience learned what Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans have known for nearly a decade: Bo-Katan Kryze is just about the coolest there is. A Mandalorian who evolved from Death Watch loyalist to freedom fighter, Kryze battled to save her homeworld in the Clone Wars and has stood against both Maul and Imperial remnants, emerging as a warrior and leader who ranks among the best (and most dangerous) of the galaxy far, far away. And there’s good news for the Kryze faithful: Diamond Select Toys imprint Gentle Giant Ltd. is celebrating the Mandalorian legend as seen in The Clone Wars with the Bo-Katan Premier Collection 1/7 Scale Statue, revealed here exclusively on StarWars.com. Limited to 3,000 pieces and arriving this fall, the statue measures roughly 11 inches tall and comes with interchangeable parts, allowing Bo-Katan to be displayed with or without helmet, and with blaster or helmet in hand; the base is brilliantly formed from smoke and dust kicked up from her activated jetpack, creating the illusion of flight. The face sculpt, with wrinkled brow, shows the character’s sense of determination, while the armor is filled with scratches and battle damage that convey all she’s been through. It’s highly-detailed and gorgeous take on the character, and StarWars.com caught up with the designer behind the piece, Barry Bradfield, to find out how this striking tribute — Gentle Giant Ltd.’s first-ever Bo-Katan statue — came to be.

StarWars.com: Your take on Bo-Katan is really quite stunning on a number of levels, from detail to attitude. What were your goals with bringing the character to life?

Barry Bradfield: Thank you! The initial concept was to take the animated Bo-Katan and imagine what she would look like if the final season of The Clone Wars was filmed in live-action. We’ve used this concept on some statues and busts before, such as the recent Ahsoka with Morai statue that I designed, as well.

As with any of the Star Wars pieces I work on, I wanted to capture her personality in a dynamic piece that would look great on your shelf alone or would be unique amongst your other Star Wars statues. The details of her armor all had to be there, of course, but if the personality wasn’t faithful to how she’s portrayed on screen, [fans] would know that something’s not right. The main goal was to make sure all aspects felt true to Bo-Katan.

StarWars.com: How did you decide on the pose, which really conveys her no-nonsense personality?

Barry Bradfield: I first watched all her scenes from The Clone Wars again. I’ve seen those episodes several times before, but once I know I’m designing a statue of a certain character, I find it’s a good idea to refamiliarize myself with them. On casual viewings, I might not necessarily be focusing on specific movements or behavior when there [are] other things happening on the screen at the same time. I like to make sure that my memory of the character is faithful to how they behaved in media, whether it be their overall movement or little details like how they held their blaster.

After that, I sketched out some very rough ideas just to see what might work. I then narrowed those down to the best ones I wanted to explore and fleshed them out a bit. At that stage, I posed an action figure to match those sketches to make sure the poses were working. Sometimes a single drawing can look quite nice, but in the end the statue is not going to be a splash-page from a comic book. The pose needs to be interesting from all angles and should lend itself to being turned around instead of staying locked into that one specific “hero shot.” It’s important to me to not dictate what the “front” of the statue is. That’s for the viewer to decide.

Once I have my ideas, I put them forward to product managers Dev Gilmore and Robert Yee. It’s then decided on which one would be best to pursue. Even after her pose was locked down and I had started the final drawing, we had some revisions. I found her legs were just not in the right position, so I stepped back and reworked the pose a bit more to flow better. I feel statues should have strong silhouettes, as the best historical ones always did. I hope that’s something I can bring to the pieces I design.

StarWars.com: Tell me about the concept for having the exhaust from her jetpack form part of the base, and pulling it off in a way that looks natural. It’s really fun.

Barry Bradfield: I like designing statues that tell a bit of a story and have a sense of movement. Part of this mid-launch idea, instead of being in full flight, also came from the desire to have an unmasked head. It felt off to have her in full flight and not have her helmet on, so the story became that it was the moment just after she fired up the jetpack.

Just having the flames coming from the jetpack didn’t feel like enough though, so I added the forced air kicking up dust on the ground to really drive home how much thrust power the jetpack had. I also thought that the cones coming up from the dust visually linked the cloud to the exhaust flames nicely without connecting the two with a smoke trail.

StarWars.com: I love the changeable parts and options for display, including with or without helmet and blaster. Is that something you stumbled upon in the design stage, or was the idea always to offer some level of customization?

Barry Bradfield: We will often look at the potential for alternate parts if it makes sense for the character. It happens the most with characters that have a helmet, which is typically removed. Sometimes that might happen just as an alternate head, but if the pose lends itself to integrating the removed helmet back into the statue then we will do that. For Bo-Katan, I felt having her hold the helmet worked since she was just launching into action. It might not have made sense if she was in full flight, but since she still had one foot grounded, she could have been holding her helmet prior to firing up her jetpack and taking aim. Moments after this pose she’s going to be putting it on her head to continue the battle that’s begun. Or if you’d like, you can have her starting out with her helmet already in place and her blaster at the ready.

I like when statues have a swap-out element because it lets you engage with it after you’ve set it on your shelf. You can change it up every so often and it brings a fresh look to the piece.

StarWars.com: What would you like fans of Bo-Katan to know about your statue?

Barry Bradfield: It was created with a great respect and love for the source material. I’m a huge Star Wars fan myself, and always want to do right by the characters. I know how much they mean to fans since they mean so much to me. I hope that Bo-Katan has a place in fans’ collections for years to come and know that she’ll be in mine, as well.

The Bo-Katan Premier Collection 1/7 Scale Statue arrives fall 2021 and is available for pre-order starting tomorrow at GentleGiantLtd.com.

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Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

The Clone Wars Rewatch: Skyguy and Snips, “Old Friends Not Forgotten”

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 08:00

To celebrate the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us for the weekly #CloneWarsRewatch — you can watch this week’s episode on Disney+ now — and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

120: “Old Friends Not Forgotten” (Season Seven, Episode 9)

Synopsis:

The Siege of Mandalore begins, and Ahsoka turns to Anakin and Obi-Wan for help.

Analysis:

It’s a bittersweet reunion for master and apprentice, commander and soldier, enemies and friends. And so soon after we see Anakin Skywalker at his best (before, inevitably, we see his fall from grace.)

On the battlefield, it’s easy to see why the Jedi are regaled as legendary warriors, even though — we know. We know! “Wars not make one great.” Yeah, yeah. Yoda, whatever.

In combat, Skywalker is poised and confident. He strides into the fray facing one thousand droids, the wind dancing through his hair, and he seems completely unflappable.

Only the appearance of Ahsoka Tano can knock him off his game. Even though he had her back when she was falsely accused of the bombing at the Jedi Temple, he still lost his student. More than that, her departure meant he had one less friend and ally at a time when conflict and the creeping influence of the dark side are threatening to consume him.

With Ahsoka, Anakin is as unsure as a child. He tries to make both his former master, Obi-Wan, and his former student happy, but it’s a nearly impossible task when their requests are at odds. Ahsoka wants an army to aid the people of Mandalore. Obi-Wan wants to avoid getting dragged into yet another conflict especially at a time when Coruscant is coming under fire, bringing the war to the center of the Republic.

To make matters worse for those of us watching from home, we’re aware of something Ahsoka and Anakin cannot possibly know: this is the last time they will see one another before his turn to the dark side.  It’s the last time Ahsoka will see her master’s face before it’s hidden for decades beneath the mask of Darth Vader.

In that way, this is as much a farewell as a reunion. With a sweet and meaningful parting gift — Ahsoka’s lightsabers returned to her refurbished and now with blue blades, courtesy of Anakin’s ingenuity and spirit — she says goodbye and wishes Skywalker good luck.

And he accepts her goodwill and her support with a lopsided grin, still very much that sweet kid from Tatooine who just wanted to make the galaxy a better place.

Intel:

  • During the recap, you can see Jedi Master Depa Billaba observing the star map with her young Padawan at her elbow. That young man is Caleb Dume, who will change his name to Kanan Jarrus in the aftermath of Order 66 and go on to help teach Ezra Bridger during the time of the Empire.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back next Thursday when Ahsoka must face Maul once more in “The Phantom Apprentice.”

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Watch all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #CloneWarsRewatch

Join the Fight in Star Wars: Hunters, a New Game from Lucasfilm and Zynga

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 16:37

If you’ve ever dreamed of competing in a galactic arena, the roar of the cheering crowd in your ears, a new Star Wars game promises to capture that spirit with all-new characters and Star Wars-inspired locations.

During today’s Nintendo Direct, Zynga and Lucasfilm Games announced Star WarsHunters, a competitive arena combat game coming to the Nintendo Switch system in 2021. Star WarsHunters will bring players together to engage in thrilling, team-based, multiplayer battles featuring a diverse array of distinctive new Star Wars characters.

Set after the fall of the Galactic Empire, Star Wars: Hunters will connect players in real time to battle in arena settings inspired by iconic Star Wars locales. Play as daring Bounty Hunters, heroes of the Rebellion, and an Imperial stormtrooper, in an action game that immerses players in fast-paced and visually stunning Star Wars conflict.

Today we got our first glimpse at some of those new faces, including a Wookiee warrior and a mysterious red lightsaber-wielding fighter, as holograms lining a graffiti-mottled hallway, which you can watch below.

Star WarsHunters draws inspiration from classic Star Wars stories and settings, but with a look and feel that is different from anything we have done before,” says Douglas Reilly, VP of Lucasfilm Games. “We’re thrilled to introduce this wildly creative cast of characters to our fans on Nintendo Switch, where they can join with their friends in thrilling battles at home or on the go.”

Star WarsHunters will be available free to download for the Nintendo Switch, on the App Store and on Google Play later this year. Star Wars: Hunters does not require a Nintendo Switch Online membership to download and play.

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Boba Fett Will Take on the Galaxy’s Worst in Marvel’s Epic War of the Bounty Hunters – Exclusive

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 08:00

Back in 2019, writer Charles Soule created a big pitch document for Marvel’s flagship Star Wars series. It outlined his plans for the title, but also included was one specific story he was itching to write.

Boba Fett clearly doesn’t take Han Solo directly to Jabba’s palace,” Soule tells StarWars.com. “Something had to happen in between that intervening time between Empire and Jedi. And I was like, ‘I would like to tell that story, and I would like it to be about Boba Fett and what happens to him.”

Finally, Soule will get his chance. Following yesterday’s mysterious teaser image of Boba Fett, StarWars.com is excited to announce War of the Bounty Hunters, an epic crossover in the Merry Marvel tradition that will indeed reveal what Fett experienced on his journey to deliver Solo. Running from May through October, it all kicks off with War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 from Soule and artist Steve McNiven (“I think it’s the best work he’s maybe ever done,” Soule says; you can get a first look at the cover and interior art below) on May 5, and will then spin out into Marvel’s entire post-Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back line, including Star Wars, Bounty Hunters, Darth Vader, and Doctor Aphra. The five-issue War of the Bounty Hunters miniseries from Soule and Luke Ross, which will anchor the story, begins in June. From the sound of it, it wasn’t exactly smooth space sailing from Cloud City to Tatooine.

“The main story that we’re dealing with is a Boba Fett-focused crime epic, that involves Boba Fett going up against some of the heaviest hitters in the galaxy. It’s Jabba the Hutt. It’s Black Sun. It’s Darth Vader. And a bunch of others — factions and so on — that I think will be really interesting for the fans,” says Soule. “It’s basically Boba Fett, by himself, against all of these people.”

And what could make Boba Fett take on the galaxy’s worst? There could be only one thing.

“Boba Fett is in possession of Han Solo at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and at the beginning of War of the Bounty Hunters, he is not,” says Soule. “And he is going to do everything he can to get him back, no matter what. No matter who is standing in his way.”

While the inspiration for the story comes from Soule, he’s quick to point out that the overall event is a true collaboration between himself and several of Marvel’s Star Wars creators, including writers Greg Pak (Darth Vader), Alyssa Wong (Doctor Aphra), and Ethan Sacks (Bounty Hunters). “My co-writers on this story, and all of the great artists that we’re working with, it’s a fantastic team. This might’ve come from my brain to a degree, but we’re all adding things to it, and we’re all adding really interesting things to it,” he says. “Everybody’s getting to tell their own story within this over-arching plot of Boba Fett trying to get what’s his.”

War of the Bounty Hunters will be the biggest Star Wars story Marvel has told thus far. And while he can’t say much, Soule promises it will have an impact.

War of the Bounty Hunters is a story about Boba Fett doing his thing, but it builds into something much bigger, and that’s what the best comic crossovers and big stories do. They tell a great story in and of themselves, but they’re also the start of something, and they open a lot of new doors. And this story will absolutely do that.”

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Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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10 Memorable Musical Instruments from the Galaxy Far, Far Away

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 10:00

One of the most beloved and integral components of Star Wars is the amazing music that permeates the storytelling. From the orchestral scores of John Williams to the deep Mongolian throat-singing of the HU in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, music takes an important role in telling us the roles of the characters, the settings, and what we as the audience should feel — you could say that it is instrumental. While much of the music is solely for us, the audience, there is also the saga’s diegetic music: the songs that the characters hear during their adventures. Whether it’s from live bands playing a crowded venue or from some pre-recorded tunes on some kind of playback device, music is everywhere in the galaxy far, far away, and much of that music comes from people playing instruments. From Mon Calamari shell horns to the growdi harmonique, musical instruments run the gamut from the simple to the very complex. Here’s a look at 10 memorable musical instruments in Star Wars.

1. Ewok Drums

One of the most basic musical instruments across the galaxy is the drum. Stretch a tight skin or other surface across a hollow shape, and you’ve got yourself a drum, either played by hand, like parading Gungans in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, or beat with sticks, like the giant drum used on both sides by Ak-Rev and Umpass-stay in the palace of Jabba the Hutt. But perhaps the most well-known drum set in Star Wars comes at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, improvised by the victorious Ewoks. Using the hard surfaces of looted stormtrooper, biker scout, and other Imperial helmets, Brethupp banged out a tune. Sure it looks easy, but have you ever considered how to arrange a bunch of helmets by pitch and then keep them in tune?

2. Blissl

Even in exile on Dagobah, the Jedi Master Yoda needs a little tune every now and then to entertain himself, and so he wears a blissl around his neck in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Similar to a pan flute, the blissl had three little pipes, perhaps not much for a range of notes, but probably a lot easier to keep clean in the mud of Dagobah than a more elaborate wind instrument. In Mos Espa, blissl players at the podrace kept their instruments in pitch with blissl tuners.

3. F’nonc

Canto Bight is a city of luxury, and the resplendent casinos and hotels require their music to be top notch. At the Canto Casino and Racetrack, melodies are provided by the Palandag trio of Jhat, Dhuz, and Hhex, playing on their f’nonc horns. This wind instrument has a long tube that ends in a gas bag. Is this sac helping to hold air to be slowly released like a bagpipe? Or does it simply change the pitch through using a gas with a different density like helium? Whatever the case, the f’nonc horn provides a touch of class to the already ritzy casino scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

4. Horns

While the Ewoks have their battle horns and Wookiees have their clarions sounding a call to arms, the Gungans have a whole variety of horns for a variety of uses. Leading their troops and beasts into battle from the swamps of Naboo in The Phantom Menace, Gungan hornblowers play their didgeridoo-sounding battle horns. Later, Augie’s Grand Municipal Band parades through the streets of Theed with their trumpet-like bawoonkas, accompanied with their drums.

5. Hypolliope

If one horn is good, then a multitude of horns is better, right? Filling that niche is the hypolliope horn cluster, seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As part of Maz Kanata’s house band, Shag Kava, that rocked with such hits as “Jabba Flow,” Infrablue Zedbeddy Coggins is the master of the hypolliope, blowing into a single mouthpiece, and sending the air through a whole cluster of twisting output pipes. If there’s a wind instrument able to sound like a one-sentient band, the hypolliope cluster horn is probably it. Similar to the hypolliope, but on a smaller scale, is the bandfill, a boxy instrument played by Nalan Cheel of the Modal Nodes in the cantina.

6. Valachord

There’s one musical instrument that is mentioned a few times but never actually seen: the valachord from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Tobias Beckett yearns for the time he will be clear of debt and possibly rich from one last score, so that he can finally learn to play the valachord, a kind of instrument played with keys. While not seen in the film, concept art for the movie, found in The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story, reveals that the valachord appears with strings between two arcs, so while played with keys, it is more rightly a stringed instrument, in the style of an open vertical piano. In the Aftermath books, Temmin Wexley rigs the family valachord to unlock a secret door when the right combination of notes is played. Another popular stringed instrument is the seven-string hallikset, as seen in The Force Awakens played by Sudswater Dillifay Glon, and in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order by Cal Kestis.

7. Chindinkalu

The Max Rebo Band is probably the most famous musical group name known to Star Wars fans. One of the key players in the band is Droopy McCool (his stage name, since his real name is unpronounceable set of whistles), and he plays the chindinkalu flute in Return of the Jedi. A long straight wind instrument like a clarinet or an oboe, the chindinkalu flute, when in the hands of the Kitonak, adds a signature tone to the band rocking Jabba’s palace. A flute also appears in the first episode of The Mandalorian, in the hands of a Kubaz, who uses it to summon taxi speeders for Mando.

8. Balaxan

The Aki-Aki of Pasaana treasure music as a way to retell their folklore through song. In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a variety of Aki-Aki instruments are seen and heard from the tambourine-like jangle-deff to the stomp harmonium and the triple ride-rhythm O’Tawa cymbals. One of their more elaborate instruments is the flukebladder pipe balaxan. Looking similar to a xylophone with pipes hanging down below the keys, the balaxan has compressor tome targets on the top, which, when pressed, push sound through the hanging flukebladders. These instruments help bring the tune for Aki-Aki dances, including the largest one, the Lobeha Mwadu, centerpiece of the Festival of the Ancients.

9. Red Ball Jett Organ

When it comes to tickling the keys, no one does it better than Max Rebo, playing in Jabba’s palace. As leader of his namesake band, Max Rebo plays the red ball jett organ in Return of the Jedi. Featuring 21 keys and surrounding the Ortolan musician, the red ball organ, also called a nalargon, provides the percussion sounds that lay down the notes for such hits as “Jedi Rocks” and “Lapti Nek.” Sadly, it’s assumed that Rebo’s organ suffered a poor fate and went down with the explosion that engulfed Jabba’s sail barge. Fellow Max Rebo Band member, Rappertunie, plays a hybrid percussion/wind instrument, the growdi harmonique, in the palace.

10. Kloo Horn

Probably the most well-known and most-loved diegetic music in Star Wars are the jazzy songs played in the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars: A New Hope. Figrin D’an, the leader of the Bith cantina band, the Modal Nodes, plays his signature kloo horn for the hit songs “Mad About Me” and “Dune Sea Special.” A double-reeded wind instrument with a long straight body and a mouthpiece on an S-shaped neck, the kloo horn is a staple of Bith musicians, with Lirin Car’n playing second kloo for the Modal Nodes, and even Figrin’s brother, Barquin D’an, playing one with the Max Rebo Band.

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James Floyd is a writer, photographer, and organizer of puzzle adventures. He’s a bit tall for a Jawa. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesjawa or check out his articles on Club Jade and Big Shiny Robot.

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