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Empire at 40 | Teaching with Star Wars: Lando’s Choices in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 10:00

On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.

Looking for an activity that’s fun, engaging, and educational? Each week, Teaching with Star Wars will offer unique lessons for you and your younglings that promise to foster opportunities for discovery and learning, all through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. And it sounds like the bell just rang, so let’s head to the classroom now. Punch it, Chewie!

Lando Calrissian is a notorious scoundrel determined to make an honest living for himself. He is the Baron Administrator of Cloud City, eager to prove he can leave the shadows of his past, and be a stand-up guy. Change and growth are certainly things to admire, and Lando is adamant that he has made that happen. No one has ever really gotten the best of him, anyway (at least, in his own mind). What could possibly go wrong?

But it’s really difficult to run from your past, as Lando learns in his visit from Darth Vader and the Empire. Vader makes him an offer he can’t refuse, and Lando is manipulated into betraying his long time friends, Han Solo and Chewbacca, as well as Princess Leia. While it is fair to say that not many people would have been able to say no to Lord Vader, it is also accurate that Lando has, once again, deceived Han Solo and taken something precious from him. Lando’s questionable luck and penchant for trickery has not helped him to reinvent himself, as he had hoped. It certainly did not do Han any favors.

Yet, we always have a choice. Does Lando want to let things stay the way they are, or does he want to make things right? The current status quo does not look promising (never make a deal with Darth Vader!), and Lando will have to own up to his potentially fatal decision — his friend’s life is at stake. It takes a big person to stand up to Vader and the Empire, potentially losing Cloud City for good, but it takes an even bigger person to take responsibility for their actions and own their mistakes.

With an ego like Lando’s, that could be even more challenging. However, Lando is not like most people. He chooses to right the wrong — to free Leia and Chewbacca, and alter Darth Vader’s deal in order to save his friend. While it is not successful, Lando has proven that he has changed, even in the face of overwhelming odds. While it is certainly most impressive that he went against Darth Vader, it may be more relatable that he admitted his mistake, and did his absolute best to correct this error.

Ask your Padawan to think about a time that he or she made a mistake and have them think about the following:

  • What two choices did you struggle between and what were the pros and cons of each choice?
  • Why is it so hard to admit when we are wrong? How do we benefit from these choices? Is it ever worth the end result?
  • Have you ever had a different point of view from your friend that led to a disagreement, and if so, how did you handle it?

Thankfully, you will not have to face Darth Vader. But, you may find yourself in a situation where you make a choice you instantly regret. If you do, be sure to think like Lando Calrssian, hero of the Rebel Alliance. Here goes nothing!

Find your favorite stories from a galaxy far, far away on Disney+.Start Streaming

Watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Dan Zehr is the host and brand director of Coffee With Kenobi, a podcast that examines the mythology of Star Wars from a place of intelligence and humor. He is also a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #ESB40

Funko’s SDCC-Exclusive Sith Jet Trooper Pop! Ready for Blastoff

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 09:00

What’s cooler than a Sith trooper? A Sith jet trooper, of course. And soon, you can have one at home.

Vinyl figure masters Funko revealed yesterday their San Diego Comic-Con exclusive: a Funko Pop! Sith Jet Trooper figure, inspired by the memorable Final Order troops seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Featuring intricate armor detail and clever blastoff base, it will make for a unique, Palpatine-approved addition to collections in any galaxy. Check it out below!

Look for the Sith Jet Trooper Pop! to land in July 2020, available for $15 on Funko.com and Amazon.com.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

New LEGO Art Turns to the Dark Side

Wed, 07/01/2020 - 08:00

Even if you aren’t an artist, self-made portraits of Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren are within your grasp thanks to a new line of LEGO Art projects geared toward adult fans.

Using the interlocking tiles as a creative canvas for a new design, pop culture fans can pay homage to their favorite characters from the Star Wars galaxy by creating their very own LEGO artwork portrait to proudly display in their homes, offices or wherever they enjoy their music, film or art.

The LEGO Art sets offer a new creative experience to help you relax and recharge, transforming a blank canvas (or in this case, small interlinking base plates) using LEGO tiles. Each set can be reimagined in a number of different ways to express the personality of each different builder, and to make it easy and simple to refresh the LEGO Art piece on display. Plus, each LEGO Art set comes with a bespoke soundtrack that makes the perfect building companion. Featuring fascinating anecdotes from the creative minds who brought the galaxy far, far away to life, the soundtrack dives deep into the inspiration behind each design for a fully immersive and educational building experience.

The LEGO Art Star Wars The Sith set features 3,395 pieces for a three-in-one portrait set. Choose between portraits that pay tribute to the villains of the Skywalker saga with Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren, or take it to the next level by combining three sets into an ultimate Darth Vader wall piece. And the accompanying soundtrack includes interviews with Doug Chiang, acclaimed concept artist and VP & Executive Creative Director at Lucasfilm, as well as stories from Glyn Dillon, who designed the look of Kylo Ren.

New LEGO Art Star Wars The Sith building set will be available from international retailers starting August 1, and in the United States from September 1.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

The Mandalorian Publishing Program Revealed – Exclusive

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 12:58

Fans of the The Mandalorian will soon go deeper into the world of the Disney+ series than ever before.

StarWars.com is thrilled to announce a new publishing program dedicated to The Mandalorian, featuring books and titles for fans of all ages. The series kicks off this fall, with releases planned through the winter and spring. Check out the list below for a look at some of what’s in store, and get a sneak peek at the cover for The Art of The Mandalorian (Season One) featuring a new illustration by Lucasfilm’s Doug Chiang:

  • The Art of The Mandalorian (Season One) by Phil Szostak; cover by Doug Chiang
  • The Mandalorian: Original Novel (adult novel, Del Rey) by Adam Christopher
  • The Mandalorian: The Ultimate Visual Guide (DK) by Pablo Hidalgo
  • The Mandalorian: Allies & Enemies – Level Two Reader (DLP) by Brooke Vitale
  • The Mandalorian: 8×8 Storybook (title to be revealed later) by Brooke Vitale
  • The Mandalorian: Junior Novelization by Joe Schreiber

In addition, The Mandalorian-inspired comics are coming from Marvel and IDW Publishing, and magazine, novelty, and coloring and activity titles are on the way from Titan, Studio Fun, Crayola, Thunder Bay Press, Disney Publishing Worldwide, and Dreamtivity. Younger bounty hunters can look forward to a Little Golden Book and a Screen Comix retelling of Season One.

Stay tuned to StarWars.com for more on The Mandalorian publishing program. We have spoken.

Find your favorite stories from a galaxy far, far away on Disney+.Start Streaming

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time. 

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #TheMandalorian

Empire at 40 | How Adam Gidwitz Reimagined Empire for So You Want to be a Jedi?

Tue, 06/30/2020 - 08:00

On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the film that made Star Wars a franchise and launched a decades-long legacy, it’s only fitting that we honor the people who were involved in giving life to that film back in 1980. However, it would be a mistake to not also look back on the many incarnations that film has taken over the years.

Unsurprisingly, there have been numerous adaptations over the past four decades. There was the original novelization by Donald F. Glut, which was followed by several comic book (and manga) adaptations, a children’s book-and-record set, a full-cast radio dramatization, picture books, storybooks, video games, and more.

But perhaps the most interesting of the Empire adaptations is a more recent addition to the lineup. In 2015, a trio of authors wrote brand-new Young Adult retellings of the original trilogy…and put wholly unique spins on each.

Adam Gidwitz helmed the Empire novel — So You Want to be a Jedi? — which was a bold approach to the classic story told in second person and interspersed with lessons on mindfulness and meditation. In short, it wasn’t what anyone could’ve seen coming.

When Gidwitz first got the gig, it was obviously a bit overwhelming. Of all the Star Wars films, Gidwitz found Empire to be the most iconic.

“I looked to my internal Yoda and said, ‘You want the impossible.’ But I also couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to have my favorite of all Star Wars movies fall into my lap,” Gidwitz tells StarWars.com.

“Tom Angleberger had asked for Return of the Jedi (because he wanted a place to make his outlandish argument concerning Ewoks — read his Beware The Power of the Dark Side! if you want to know what I mean), and A New Hope was already taken (and ultimately brilliantly rendered by Alexandra Bracken in The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy). So I was like, ‘Wait, I don’t get a choice…and I’m getting The Empire Strikes Back?’ It honestly felt too good to be true.”

But how to put a fresh spin on a story everyone already knows so well? The movie is chock full of scenes and characters that have become not just mainstream but culturally defining. It transcends generations and is immediately identifiable by people who have never even seen it.

Despite his euphoria, Gidwitz suddenly faced an inevitable question: Are there even new stories to tell?

“I took a weeklong trip to an island with a beach just to work on the book, with no distractions. And halfway through, I thought I was going to give up. I remember walking down the beach, furious with myself.

“Forty minutes into that walk, I had the idea to do the Jedi training lessons, drawing on my own karate training and amateur study of Taoism. I sprinted back to the apartment I was renting and started scribbling madly in a marble notebook.”

In that mad scramble back to work and sudden avalanche of ideas, So You Want to be a Jedi? was born. Gidwitz began writing a novel that cast the reader as Luke Skywalker. YOU are Luke. YOU are flying a snowspeeder. YOU are training with Yoda. YOU are confronting Darth Vader.

And interspersed between the chapters are practical lessons on how to be a Jedi and use the Force. These segments are grounded in real lessons (drawn from the Tao Te Ching and other texts by Chuang-Tzu) in how to meditate, center yourself, and practice mindfulness. They advocate for peace and serenity, but at the same time, they’re written with a wink and a nod. They have wit. As if Yoda had a bit of an attitude.

“That’s just how I talk and how I write,” explains Gidwitz. “I was a teacher for eight years, and if you can’t give as good as you get, you can’t be a teacher. You see that with Obi-Wan and with Yoda. They always regard Luke with a wry eye, even if they’re a bit more subdued than I am.”

The trilogy of YA retellings by Bracken, Gidwitz, and Angleberger was markedly different in many respects. Each author put their personal creative stamp on the stories and left an indelible mark. But So You Want to be a Jedi? and its use of the second person is honestly the most different among them.

In his author’s note to the book, Gidwitz explains why it was so natural — and so easy — to write Luke and the reader together as one.

“The hero of a fairy tale must be empty…. These heroes are not full characters. They are empty. Intentionally so. They are avatars for the reader. They are empty so we can inhabit them, so we can do their deeds, live their lives, and learn their lessons. Luke is such a character. Empty as a pair of shoes.”

In a very real sense, Gidwitz puts us in Luke’s shoes. He grants us the power to be a hero and make the right choices. But more important, he shows us what it means — and what it takes — to be a hero and make the right choices.

“For me, the trip to Dagobah is the heart of the whole series. Everything else is fun elaboration. I really think it’s what George Lucas cared about most. It’s certainly what I care about most.

“I feel like my earliest memories of Empire are like Dagobah itself, shrouded in mist and timeless. I literally feel like I have known the X-wing in the swamp scene my whole life. Like it’s an ur-memory.

“For me, Star Wars is the journey we all take from a whining, frightened, skeptical kid into a hero who believes in the power we possess.

“We all have the Force inside of us, and we can do miraculous things with it. I truly believe that. Star Wars is an invitation on a journey of our own souls, from powerlessness to a loving and kind power.”

Find your favorite stories from a galaxy far, far away on Disney+.Start Streaming

Watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

So You Want to Be a Jedi? is available now.

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

“She’s Chaos and Craves Thrills and Danger”: Sarah Kuhn Talks Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original

Mon, 06/29/2020 - 08:00

Doctor Aphra has become a breakout star from Marvel’s modern run of Star Wars comics — popular enough to earn her own ongoing series, as well as action figures. Somewhere between hero and villain, the galactic archaeologist is about to go on a new adventure: Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original, an expanded adaptation of her introduction in Marvel’s Darth Vader, in which she makes a deal with the Sith Lord and begins a memorable (if crazy and dangerous) journey.  The release arrives July 21 and features a full cast, which StarWars.com is excited to reveal below:

Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra
Jonathan Davis as Boba Fett
Sean Patrick Hopkins as Luke Skywalker
Sean Kenin as Triple-Zero
Nicole Lewis as Sana Starros
Carol Monda as Maz Kanata
Euan Morton as The Emperor
Catherine Taber as Leia Organa
Marc Thompson as Darth Vader

StarWars.com caught up with Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original author Sarah Kuhn to talk Aphra’s “immediate chaos,” hearing Beetee’s beeps for the first time, and what the adaptation’s new and expanded scenes might involve.

StarWars.com: When were you first introduced to Doctor Aphra, and what did you think of her?

Sarah Kuhn: I met her like so many of us did, in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s incredible Darth Vader comic series. I loved how she was just immediate chaos — running toward danger, talking way too much, doing all these illicit droid projects. She’s so alive, and she really relishes everything she’s doing, she’s just having the best time. She grabbed me by the throat — when she’s on the page, it’s hard to look anywhere else. I had such a visceral reaction to her right away, I just loved her.

StarWars.com: You’re adapting a comic book into audio form, which is a rare thing. What’s that process been like?

Sarah Kuhn: Fascinating! And also a bit intimidating, because I love Aphra so much and she has been written so brilliantly by Kieron and Simon Spurrier and now Alyssa Wong. It’s amazing to get the opportunity to write a character you adore, but it’s also terrifying, because you really, really want to do her justice. I re-read the Vader comics we were basing the story on, as did my incredible editor, Elizabeth Schaefer. We went through and pulled out all of Aphra’s pieces — fit them together and shaped them into a more Aphra-centric arc (which I think she would appreciate, because obviously she would want to be the star, not Vader!). Then I tried to imagine what Aphra was doing when she wasn’t on the page, and to find areas where we could expand and get into her backstory, her non-Vader adventures, and her hidden vulnerabilities. And probably the most important decision we made was to tell this in her voice, from her POV — which helped me do things like fill in places where maybe you can see something on a comic book page, but you aren’t hearing it in dialogue. More importantly, I wanted Aphra to be able to tell her own story — because you know the way she tells it is going to be super entertaining.

StarWars.com: What do you think the audio form adds to this story?

Sarah Kuhn: One thing Elizabeth really encouraged me to do was to take advantage of the audio format in ways that were very specific to Aphra. She is the most unreliable narrator you will ever meet. She has so much bravado and swagger, and for her, lying is like breathing. I loved thinking of how she would tell this story, how she would spin things to make herself look over-the-top amazing. The framing device is that she’s making a recording about her exploits, so she’ll do things like rewind and delete bits if they don’t sound cool enough and then re-record them — one of my favorites is when, right after meeting Vader, she decides to add a bit where she gives this really awesome speech to him. It’s probably what she wanted to do in retrospect, and it makes her sound more like the dashing, devil-may-care adventurer she wants people to see her as. Exploring all the ways we could really use the format to bring her character out was so much fun, because it made her way of telling us this story so revealing, almost like a character unto itself. And it helps us see her more fully — even the vulnerabilities she’s buried so deep. Emily Woo Zeller gives such a tour de force performance — you can really hear all of this in her voice, just every level. And Nick Martorelli, the amazing producer, created all these beautiful, immersive soundscapes and atmosphere, so you can really sink into it.

StarWars.com: People are going to hear Aphra and the murder droids for the first time. That’s kind of amazing.

Sarah Kuhn: It is, isn’t it? Personally, I have been dying to know what they sound like! I would write dialogue amongst the three of them and just cackle to myself, because it’s so entertaining and they have such distinctive voices on the page. Even Beetee’s beeps are very distinctive! Getting to hear them for the first time is absolutely thrilling. The entire cast for this audiobook just blows me away, as does Nick’s producing — it’s interesting, because I think with most writers, your characters start to talk to you. You can hear them in your head, and they become these fully-realized people to you. And now that I’ve actually heard them, I feel that even more strongly. When I hear Aphra in my head, she’s Emily.

StarWars.com: Can you tell us anything about the new or extended scenes?

Sarah Kuhn: Many of the new scenes involve Sana Starros — I have always been intrigued by that relationship, because I love both of those characters and a lot of what we’ve seen is the bitter aftermath of them. And even in that bitter aftermath, they have so much chemistry! I really wanted to know what they were like when they were together — and how cool that I got this job, because I got to write some of that myself! I also think Aphra is extra fun to write when she’s trying to be smooth, but something unsettles her. And a beautiful, impossibly cool lady that she suddenly connects with at university unsettles her a whole lot. I loved writing them trying to court each other, because of course it is completely chaotic and somehow involves Aphra constantly falling off things and all sorts of other hijinks. But it also reveals so much about both of them, all these softer things they’re trying so hard to keep hidden, all the feelings they’re so afraid of. There are a lot of other new things and expanded parts and I don’t want to reveal too much, but one of my other favorite new scenes is the opening, which is a classic space battle between Aphra and Maz Kanata — I wanted to show Aphra being a badass and being really good at her job right off, so we see where all that panache comes from.

StarWars.com: Finally, why do you think fans love Aphra so much?

Sarah Kuhn: I mean, so many reasons! I love that she resonates with so many. For me, it’s a couple things. One is representational — as a little Asian American girl who loved Star Wars, I didn’t really see myself in it. Aphra’s face looks like mine. I could cosplay as her and I wouldn’t get, “Oh, you’re the Asian version of that character,” I would just be Aphra. I think she’s made a lot of people feel seen, and I love that she is always unapologetically herself and having so much fun being herself. And from a character standpoint, I love that she’s chaos and craves thrills and danger, but she also has this undeniable need to survive. There is an inherent conflict between those two states of being — I loved exploring that, and I hope people love hearing it.

Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original arrives July 21 and is available for pre-order now.

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

Poll: Which Podracer is the Coolest – Anakin’s or Sebulba’s?

Fri, 06/26/2020 - 08:00

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace‘s podrace, in which beings from all over the galaxy compete in a death-defying competition on Tatooine, is among the most memorable action set pieces in the entire Skywalker saga. It’s not difficult to see why. The sequence is very fast, the stakes are high (if Anakin is victorious, he wins his freedom and Qui-Gon Jinn secures the parts to repair Queen Amidala’s ship), and the podracers are awesome. Two engines tethered to a cockpit, they’re vehicles built for speed and, to put it simply, look super cool. To mark the classic Star Wars Episode I: Racer‘s rerelease on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, we want to know: Which do you think is the coolest podracer — Anakin’s homemade, speedy yellow-and-blue vehicle? Or his rival Sebulba’s powerhouse, sleek podracer with massive engines? Get ready to race and vote now in the poll below!

For more on podracers, check out StarWars.com’s oral history of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and to learn more about the rerelease of Star Wars Episode I: Racer, read StarWars.com’s interview with producer James Vicari.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

The Clone Wars Rewatch: Colonel Gascon and the “Point of No Return”

Thu, 06/25/2020 - 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.

100: “Point of No Return” (Season Five, Episode 13)

“You must trust in others or success is impossible.”

Synopsis:

R2-D2 and his team must stop a sabotaged Jedi cruiser from destroying a crucial Republic conference.

Analysis:

Gascon can be a bit of a coward, but with BZ’s brave sacrifice, his courage is reignited.

With the D-Squad ready for action, and Bunny and the rest of the orphaned droids left behind on the ship when their masters were killed by the Separatist invaders, the journey back to the Republic takes one last divergent path.

Yet no one is braver on this mission than R2-D2. Like any good soldier, he sacrificed himself for the benefit of the Republic soldiers and commanders gathered at the strategy conference, the real target of the massive bomb. The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one.

Luckily, unlike his organic counterparts, the little astromech’s parts could be salvaged afterward and rebuilt.

And it seems Gascon has learned a valuable lesson about working together:  one should never underestimate the difference even just one brave and loyal droid can make.

Intel:

  • The Valor station was designed to pay homage to the departure station seen in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.

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 Maul returns in “Revival.”

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

Empire at 40 | Red and Rogue: The Story of the Rebellion’s High-Flying Squadrons

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 10:00

On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.

Ask a Star Wars fan to name a starfighter squadron and there’s a good chance they’ll say Rogue Squadron. Although they only appeared in one film of the original trilogy, Rogue Squadron is known for having the best of the best pilots on their roster and for having an excellent name that rolls right off the tongue. But how did the vaunted Red Squadron carry on and Rogue Squadron come to be, especially given that only Luke Skywalker (Red Five) and Wedge Antilles (Red Two) made it back to base for the post-Death Star celebration? Well, it was definitely a process. And a spur of the moment declaration.

Rebellions might be built on hope but they require a lot more than that to succeed. In the case of the Rebel Alliance, that meant people, weapons, and spaceships, and one of those is a lot harder to get a hold of than the others. Starfighters are expensive, which meant Red Squadron often had more pilots available than ships. Derek “Hobbie” Klivian, a classmate of Wedge Antilles’s back at the Empire’s Skystrike Academy, who had defected along with him, survived because he had been Jek Porkins’s alternate during the Battle of Scarif (and likely Yavin). Col Takbright was another pilot kept out of combat during the Battle of Yavin due to a lack of additional starfighters along with at least four others. In the wake of the almost back-to-back space battles, the Rebel Alliance was victorious, but there wasn’t much left of Red Squadron. They would also have to find a way to rebuild.

Even though Luke Skywalker was the hero of Death Star trench run, he wasn’t given command of the starfighter group, which even he agreed was a good decision. Instead, the Rebel Alliance made Commander Arhul Narra, a veteran pilot, the new Red Leader. He kept both Luke and Wedge on as pilots but made sure they knew that they would not be getting special treatment. While their first action after the Death Star was a failed attempt to stop Princess Leia and Y-wing pilot Evaan Verlaine from leaving on an unsanctioned mission to find surviving Alderaanians, Red Squadron did continue to serve with distinction, no matter where the Rebel Alliance sent them. They were a part of the brutal battle over Vrogas Vas and also part of the team that hijacked the Star Destroyer Harbinger, as well as the follow up mission where the Alliance used the Harbinger to break an Imperial blockade. Both Luke and Wedge also accompanied Leia on a mission to survey Crait’s suitability for becoming the Alliance’s new base, although both left their X-wings behind and had to fly ski speeders.

It wasn’t until the Empire struck back (the first time) over the space docks of Mako-Ta that Rogue Squadron was born, splintering off from Red Squadron. Much like they had years before, the Rebel Alliance found itself in what seemed a hopeless situation. When asked for a call sign after a launch into a desperate battle against orders, Luke remarked to Wedge that it actually was the time for sentiment, and thus, Rogue Squadron in honor of Jyn Erso and her team. As was an unfortunate part of being a member of Red and/or Rogue Squadron, not all of the pilots made it out of that battle alive.

It’s unclear as to when exactly after Mako-Ta Rogue Squadron became established as an official unit within the Rebel Alliance with Luke at their head, but it clearly didn’t take them long to become a well-oiled machine. Slowly but surely, more familiar faces known to fans from the movies started to make their ways towards Red/Rogue Squadron. By the time they got to Hoth, Rogue Squadron had a full squadron’s worth of pilots and gunners once more. Both Hobbie and Zev Senesca introduced themselves to Luke in the mess hall of the space station Mako-Ta prior to the Empire’s attack. It was likely a meeting that would one day lead to them both receiving an invitation to officially join Rogue Squadron (despite Hobbie’s mild case of sudden onset hero worship.) Their roster was also filled with newer faces such as Dak Raltar and Wes Janson, who both served as gunners for Luke and Wedge respectively.

It would be just in time for another crucial battle for the Rebel Alliance. Rogue Squadron flew alongside members of Corona Squadron to buy the Rebellion time to evacuate Echo Base on Hoth and, as always, their efforts came at a cost. Not everyone who jumped into a snowspeeder and went out to face the AT-ATs would return to base to jump into their X-wings and escape. Red Squadron, however, would go on to take on the Empire in the Battle of Endor.

Both Red and Rogue Squadron have left a legacy in the story of the Rebellion, and in the hearts of Star Wars fans.

Bria LaVorgna is a writer who doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t love Star Wars. She also really loves Alderaan, Doctor Aphra, and Inferno Squad. You can follow her on Twitter @chaosbria.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #ESB40

Teaching with Star Wars: Rey and Accepting Change in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Wed, 06/24/2020 - 08:00

Looking for an activity that’s fun, engaging, and educational? Each week, Teaching with Star Wars will offer unique lessons for you and your younglings that promise to foster opportunities for discovery and learning, all through the lens of a galaxy far, far away. And it sounds like the bell just rang, so let’s head to the classroom now. Punch it, Chewie!

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey, a Jakku scavenger strong with the Force, hears an ominous sound from the basement of Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana. She finds a box, and inside, a lightsaber. Upon touching it, she has a vision of many startling images that bombard her with sites and sounds of destruction and chaos. What do these visions mean, and why are they being shown to her? Rey has had enough uncertainty and danger in her young life, and really has no idea what is going on.

Upon exiting the vision, she is soon confronted by Maz, who tells her the lightsaber calls to her and she should embrace this new path. But Rey is not interested and tells Maz she does not want to go near the lightsaber. No, she wants to get back to Jakku.

In the tradition of Joseph Campbell, she refuses the call to adventure, and does not want to do anything that takes her out of her comfort zone. Why can’t things just stay the way they are? Why does she have to take the lightsaber? Rey’s life would be much easier if she did not have to deal with something that was clearly going to guide her in a direction she was not ready for.

However, life does that to us on occasion. You are in a good place, doing your thing, and suddenly life throws you a big curve ball. It can be really intimidating to learn new things, especially when you don’t feel worthy, prepared, or ready to take on the burden or responsibility. But, that does not mean it will not be good for you in the long run.

Have you ever had to learn a new skill, lesson, or task that took you out of your comfort zone? What made you resist? Was it a lack of motivation, fear, or the uncertainty that comes with trying something new? It may have been a combination of all three!

Ask your Padawan to think about a time when they were asked to try something new. It may seem a bit scary at first, but if you stick with it, you might open up your life to a world of possibilities. Yes, change can be frightening, but perhaps it is even scarier not to take that chance in the first place. You never know where in the galaxy that lesson might take you.

Dan Zehr is the host and brand director of Coffee With Kenobi, a podcast that examines the mythology of Star Wars from a place of intelligence and humor. He is also a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning.

Site tags: #TheRiseofSkywalker, #StarWarsBlog

In Shadow Fall, the Dark Secrets of Alphabet Squadron Revealed

Tue, 06/23/2020 - 10:00

In Shadow Fall, the second book in the Alphabet Squadron trilogy, author Alexander Freed continues the story of Alphabet Squadron’s pursuit of the elite Imperial TIE fighter squadron, Shadow Wing. It’s a chaotic time for both Rebels and Imperials trying to find their place in the galaxy after the fall of the Empire and there’s a lot to learn about characters from both sides, especially those who are holding onto secrets from their past. To celebrate the release of the latest novel in the series, StarWars.com spoke with Freed about his experience writing his first canon Star Wars sequel and taking a closer look at the pilots of Alphabet Squadron.

Spoiler warning: Light spoilers ahead!

StarWars.com: How much time has gone by between the end of Alphabet Squadron and the beginning of Shadow Fall?

Alexander Freed: We’re around a month or two post-Alphabet Squadron at the beginning, something approximating half a year after the Battle of Endor. Enough time for the pilots to have settled into a routine, but not enough for their conflicts to have boiled over.

StarWars.com: The past is on the minds (and is catching up) with many characters in Shadow Fall — most noticeably for Yrica Quell and Quell’s former mentor Soran Keize. What is it about a character feeling pulled in two directions that appealed to you as a writer?

Alexander Freed: I think of the year after Endor as a period of transition — the war’s still going on but peace is within reach, and everyone is grappling with what that means for themselves. At this pivotal moment of change, many characters are being confronted with their actual, immutable pasts and how those may contradict their hopes for the soon-to-arrive future. In some respects, that’s the heart of the trilogy.

You can absolutely write a compelling story by saying, “The audience knows who this character is. The question is how will they get through a situation intact or how will they affect the world around them?” But Shadow Fall is largely about characters who haven’t fully decided who they are themselves — and hopefully the reader feels that tension, and wants them to resolve it one way or another. Who will Quell become? What of Devon remains in Soran?

StarWars.com: I enjoyed the relationship between Hera Syndulla and Quell in Shadow Fall. They respect each other but aren’t best buddies. How would you describe their relationship in this book?

Alexander Freed: Hera sincerely wants to mentor Quell, but she’s a general now — she doesn’t have the time to be as hands-on as she was in the past, and has to make do with the opportunities she’s given. Quell, meanwhile, longs for a mentor but isn’t ready to trust Hera with her secrets — even though she recognizes that Hera is the sort of person she aspired to be.

StarWars.com: Much of Alphabet Squadron was about the pilots of Alphabet Squadron coming together as a team while in much of Shadow Fall the team spends time apart from one another. Why did you decide to spend so much time focused on members of Alphabet Squadron on their own journeys?

Alexander Freed: Quell brought the team together, and Quell, in the end, caused them to fall apart. She was integral to Alphabet as a unit, but their bond was based on a lie and that had to reverberate through the whole team. Plus, it’s a Star Wars tradition to split the group in the second part of the trilogy!

StarWars.com: Conversely, why did you have Wyl and Nath spend so much time together?

Alexander Freed: I found Wyl and Nath to be one of the more interesting combinations of characters to write in the first book, and I wanted to get deeper into their relationship for Shadow Fall. Their arc together is an important one for the trilogy — and there’s much more Wyl-Nath content coming in book three.

StarWars.com: I loved how Chass kept comparing herself to Jyn Erso as she was looking for meaning in Shadow Fall. Do you think your experience writing the novelization of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story influenced your decision to mention Jyn here?

Alexander Freed: I’m sure it did! Writing the Rogue One novelization meant living with that film for quite a while. It uses space in my brain in a way the other films don’t, no matter how many times I’ve seen them. So I see opportunities to connect to Rogue One more rapidly than I do with, say, Solo: A Star Wars Story or Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Which isn’t to say I don’t grab those opportunities when they arise…

StarWars.com: There are a lot of interesting moments with Kairos in Shadow FallI’m wondering if Kairos was inspired by a previous Star Wars character from a different story or what made you want to include a character that is such a mystery to others.

Alexander Freed: Kairos was partly born of necessity — I needed a five-person squadron to fill out the different ship types, but I knew it would be a struggle to give ample page time to five different characters in book one. Rather than accept this as a structural weakness, I decided to use it to my advantage and create a character who would be more interesting because of — not despite — her lack of point-of-view scenes. She’s become one of my favorites!

StarWars.com: Who are your favorite characters in this trilogy to write dialogue for?

Alexander Freed: When it comes to dialogue, Nath Tensent probably wins — he’s (to my tastes) the funniest of the team, and it’s enjoyable to bring out his duplicitous side. Ito, the torture-slash-therapist droid, is pretty high on the list as well. Ito has a mixture of craftiness and sincerity that’s appealing to write, particularly when I picture the dialogue coming out of a black sphere of death.

StarWars.com: There’s a new group introduced in Shadow Fall, which one character describes as a cult. Will we be hearing from them again in the next book?

Alexander Freed: Let’s just say that the cult has had a significant impact on one of our lead characters, and that impact will continue to be felt in a major way. Anything else would be saying too much!

StarWars.com: How do you approach writing battle sequences? Do you outline the main points before you start writing or sketch anything out to visualize what you are describing?

Alexander Freed: It depends on how elaborate the sequence needs to be. For a big action set piece like the Pandem Nai sequence from book one or Shadow Wing’s attack on Cerberon, I’ll break it down in great detail as I outline the book — I want to make sure every beat resonates with the characters, figure out the pacing, and know that everyone is where they need to be. Smaller scale battles I’ll often figure out the particulars as I go. For those, it’s usually less about making dozens of pieces align in harmony and more about evoking a visceral physicality — feeling the pain and elation and fear of the characters involved.

StarWars.com: The pursuit of Shadow Wing is unfinished business for Alphabet Squadron, but both groups struggle to destroy each other without destroying other worlds in the process. Do you think the characters in Shadow Fall are driven more by their affiliations with the Rebellion and the Empire or by their individual sense of right and wrong and in some cases personal vendettas?

Alexander Freed: By the time of Shadow Fall, the New Republic is clearly winning the war. That’s a good thing! But if the Empire is going to collapse one way or another, it casts a different light on the question of why a pilot might be fighting. What are they really trying to accomplish? How do they fight — what tactics do they emphasize — when victory seems assured? What vendettas arise that might risk what’s been gained?

StarWars.com: I’m curious if before you wrote the first book of this trilogy, Alphabet Squadron, you outlined all three books and knew how the third book was going to end.

Alexander Freed: I didn’t plot out all three books in exquisite detail, but I had a pretty clear idea of the overall arc. For example, I knew the emotional journey Quell would be going on in book two, that she’d be separated from the team at one point, but I didn’t know exactly the way it would play out — the nature of the Cerberon system, the particular battles, etc. My earliest outline had slightly more detail on book three than book two, simply because I needed to know how the story would ultimately end!

Pick your own copy of Shadow Fall available now!

Amy Richau is a writer, lifelong Star Wars geek, and diehard Denver Broncos fan. You can find her on Twitter @amyrichau and more of her writing on FANgirl Blog.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Empire at 40 | The New Vehicles of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Tue, 06/23/2020 - 08:00

On May 21, 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back made its theatrical debut. To celebrate the classic film’s landmark 40th anniversary, StarWars.com presents Empire at 40,” a special series of interviews, editorial features, and listicles.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back gave us a slew of iconic new vehicles, from the mechanical stomping AT-AT to the elegantly gliding cloud car. Let’s take a look at these new additions to the galactic fleet.

Executor Star Dreadnought

Coming in at 19 kilometers long with 5,000 turbolasers, an ion cannon and a class 1 hyperdrive, this terrifying floating city dwarfed the imposing Imperial Star Destroyer (ISD) II (which also debuted in Empire), essentially relegating them to escort vessels as it jumped into rebellious systems across the galaxy. Serving as the command ship of Darth Vader himself and heading up his aptly named Death Squadron, the Executor carried a flotilla of ships including numerous TIE fighters, TIE bombers, Imperial shuttles and more. A statement of intent from the Emperor, these dreaded destroyers may have been built in small numbers but starkly represented the might of the Empire’s fist.

Behind the Scenes: Models made by the ILM model shop often employed what are known as “greeblies,” adding texture to the surfaces of ships and battle stations. One of the greeblies added to the surface of the huge Super Star Destroyer model was a toy soldier.

T-47 Airspeeder

Retrofit to maintain performance in the thin air of the icy skies of Hoth, the T-47 airspeeder — better known to audiences as the snowspeeder — was a swift and agile atmospheric vehicle capable of taking on the might of the Imperial war machine. Originally built as a cargo vehicle, the militarized version had a pilot to the fore and a gunner to the rear manning the magnetic harpoon and tow cable as well as controlling the laser cannons via targeting systems. The T-47 could be outfitted for water worlds, desert planets, and swamps, but the model would be forever associated with the snow-swept plains of Hoth.

Behind the Scenes: It’s hard to imagine the snowspeeder being anything other than the design seen in Ralph McQuarrie’s concept paintings, but early ideas considered building the speeders from X-wing and Y-wing parts. Those designs later made their way into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the background of the Resistance base.

Rebel Transport

We may have seen one come to a sticky end at the finale of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as it smashed into the ISD Devastator, but in Empire, 13 GR-75 medium transports made good their escape, blasting off from Hoth as the v-150 Planet Defender ion cannon fired from Echo Base, disabling the ISD Tyrant. At 90 meters long with a class 4 hyperdrive, these vessels were never built for speed, but were capable of carrying anything up to 19,000 metric tons of cargo, and of course many rebel soldiers, equipment, and consumables. A malleable vehicle, they could serve as troop transports, medical ships, rescue vessels or in any manner of roles but their lightly armored exteriors meant they had to be shielded and protected by the fleet.

Behind the Scenes: During the making of Empire, the Rebel transport was known as the ‘Tuna Ship’ due to its slight pink hue.

AT-AT

You can thank General Veers for bringing these mechanical monstrosities into the field of battle on the ice plains of Hoth as the Empire’s Blizzard Force advanced toward the shield generator. Over twenty-two meters high, heavily armored, replete with heavy laser cannons, turbolasers and depending on internal configuration able to carry speeder bikes, scout walkers, E-web heavy repeating blasters and up to 40 troops, AT-ATs were often the first vehicle to enter the war arena. Oftentimes, their imposing size and strength was enough to make the enemy yield. Thankfully, the warriors of the rebellion were savvy enough to figure out a way to trip up these technological terrors, slowing their progress enough to allow for the evacuation of Echo Base to proceed.

Behind the Scenes: The familiar sound of the walker was created by the legendary Ben Burtt and used a metal stamping machine, made rhythmic to convey the walking motion and a dumpster lid for the knees.

AT-ST

Made famous later by its appearance in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, the All-Terrain Scout Transport, or “chicken walker” as it is sometimes known, actually made its first fleeting appearance in Empire. Running alongside its more powerful but slower big brother the AT-AT, the AT-ST was a nine-meters-tall, two-crew reconnaissance vehicle that could reach speeds of up to 90 kph on flat terrain and was able to subdue enemy fire from ground-based combatants using its powerful chin-mounted laser cannons. Susceptible to being destabilized as the Battle of Endor would later prove, the AT-ST could easily be taken off its feet by an opponent.

Behind the Scenes: The AT-ST model was originally built by Joe Johnston. After George Lucas saw the model and commented that he thought it was “neat,” the model was stripped, armatures inserted, and the vehicle was added to the Hoth scenes of Empire.

TIE/sa bomber

As the Millennium Falcon fled from the grasp of the Empire, ignoring the odds of 3,720 to 1 and plunging into the Hoth asteroid belt with a Star Destroyer and four TIE fighters on its tail, the piloting skills of Han Solo and Chewbacca were enough to evade capture. Unknowingly hidden from sight in the belly of an exogorth, the Empire was determined to flush them out, so the destroyer cleared a path to allow the TIE/sa bombers to do their work. With its two central pods, one for the pilot and the other for ordnance, this eight-meter-long bomber was often sent in first, to carpet bomb ground installations and weaken the defenses of enemy capital ships.

Behind the Scenes: First seen onscreen in Empire, the TIE bomber actually made its first appearance in fiction over two years before on March 14, 1978 in the 12th issue of the Marvel Comics Star Wars title, “Doomworld!”

TIE/sh shuttle

Of all the new vehicles introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, the TIE/sh shuttle is one that many will be unfamiliar with. Seen only fleetingly as Captain Needa travels from the ISD Avenger to the Executor, this TIE series shuttle was designed to ferry crew and troops between Star Destroyers and Imperial vessels. Slightly smaller in size than the bomber, its wings were bent outwards instead of in, it had no hyperdrive capabilities, minimal weaponry and shielding. The TIE/sh fell out of favor as the more luxurious Lambda-class shuttle assumed many of its duties.

Behind the Scenes: The idea of an Imperial twin-pod boarding vehicle dates back to A New Hope but wasn’t realized until Empire.

Slave I

Attack of the Clones chronologically introduced us to the Firespray-class patrol and attack craft owned by Jango Fett, but in 1980 The Empire Strikes Back first revealed this iconic Star Wars ship. One of very few made, this modified former police craft was perfectly built for adaptation, with a dazzling array of countermeasures, armaments, a military-grade sensor suite, offensive weaponry, and blistering speed all making this a highly valuable vessel for Jango and later his son, Boba. This was the ship that carried Han Solo into the skies of Bespin and to the sands of Tatooine to be delivered to the palace of Jabba the Hutt.

Behind the Scenes: It’s widely believed that the design of the ship was based on a lamp found outside the ILM building, but The Empire Strikes Back art director Nilo Rodis-Jamero has refuted that claim, saying that his design was actually based on a radar dish.

Twin-Pod Cloud Car

Our final vessel, the Storm IV twin-pod cloud car, was a locally built atmospheric repulsorcraft that patrolled the skies of Bespin and Cloud City, escorting — and sometimes firing warning shots across the bow of — visiting vessels. Easily identifiable with its twin hulls — one for the pilot and one for the gunner — and its rusty orange paintwork, the twin-pod cloud car was a familiar sight in the skies of Bespin, traveling between the many tibanna gas mining facilities.

Behind the Scenes: The cloud car was based on an initial design by Star Wars concept art legend Ralph McQuarrie.

Find your favorite stories from a galaxy far, far away on Disney+.Start Streaming

Watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Mark writes for Star Wars Insider, the Official Star Trek MagazineStarburst magazine, and is the editor-in-chief of Fantha Tracks. He’s an honorary member of the 501st and Rebel Legion and when he’s not talking, tweeting, or writing about Star Wars, he can usually be found sleeping, where he’ll most likely be dreaming about Star Wars.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #ESB40

Hasbro Announces New Star Wars Toys for Fan First Monday

Mon, 06/22/2020 - 15:00

The selection of toys celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back this year has been impressive. Most impressive. But there’s even more to come.

During a special livestream fan event earlier today, Hasbro gave us our first look at some new action figures and toys coming from the Black Series, The Vintage Collection, and more. And although these won’t be available until later this year, feast your eyes on the first photos and details on how to pre-order the full collection!

Star Wars: The Black Series

The immaculately detailed six-inch action figure line will continue to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with additions including Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, an Imperial Snowtrooper on Hoth, and Luke Skywalker in Dagobah fatigues. Action figures will be available for pre-order at Amazon and Entertainment Earth.

And the rebel trooper in Hoth gear, which includes interchangeable faces, will be released in the new Black Series packaging. Figures will be available for pre-order at Amazon and Entertainment Earth and releasing this fall.

Star Wars: The Vintage Collection

Reenact Han Solo’s fate on Bespin with the new Carbon-Freezing Chamber Playset from The Vintage Collection. The set includes a stormtrooper action figure and Han Solo in a carbonite block. Available for pre-order at Amazon and Entertainment Earth and releasing this fall.

Princess Leia Organa, ready to make a Bespin escape, is also joining the 3.75-inch range with PhotoReal face technology and realistic detail. Available for pre-order at Amazon and Entertainment Earth and releasing next spring.

Hasbro also announced a few additions from other Star Wars storytelling. Chirrut Îmwe from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will also be added to The Vintage Collection. Available for pre-order at Amazon and Entertainment Earth and releasing this fall.

Bop It! Star Wars: The Mandalorian The Child Edition

The classic Bop It! gets a Star Wars twist with a special edition designed to look like the Child. Players listen to commands made in the voice of the Mandalorian while the giggling bounty makes sounds as you play. Available exclusively at Walmart and releasing in the fall.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Darren Hayes on the Hero’s Journey, Star-Wars-Inspired Stage Outfits, and What He’s Been Doing on Ahch-To

Mon, 06/22/2020 - 08:00

You may know Darren Hayes from his work as a member of chart-topping duo Savage Garden. You may know him from his solo career. But however you know him, you probably know Darren is a huge Star Wars fan. His Twitter is full of Star Wars talk. He once auditioned for a role in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. And he’s even taken inspiration from Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine in equal measure for stage costumes and sets. And as a huge fan of the sequel trilogy — and with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker recently hitting Disney+, Digital, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray — we thought it was time for a chat.

StarWars.com: How did your Star Wars fandom start?

Darren Hayes: I’m an original trilogy kid. My experience with Star Wars was the ’70s, where George Lucas just completely changed the future of cinema. And I was not old enough to see Star Wars at the movies — I think I was a baby when it came out. But The Empire Strikes Back was the first movie I saw in a drive-in movie theater. We had the novelization of A New Hope and I loved the original Greg Hildebrandt artwork. They had maybe six or seven pages of color photographs in the middle of the novel, and I wasn’t old enough to read it but I was fascinated by the design. And then it was on television which was a big, big deal! It was simulcast on FM radio so you could listen in stereo and I was just blown away.

And then really it’s that whole hero’s journey. And I really relate a lot of my life to a lot of those George Lucas and Joseph Campbell reassuring tropes about the journey through life, that we were born with the potential for greatness and that it’s the choices in our life that determine the person that we are. As a young kid I grew up in a difficult family situation. My dad was an alcoholic and he was violent. And later realized that I was gay. So as a young kid, I had a lot of reasons to be inward and disappear into my imagination. But Luke Skywalker was this hero where he literally looked out from his homestead to the stars and imagined that there was a bigger story that he wanted to be a part of. And it just really connected with me.

StarWars.com: That’s such a great scene because in terms of what happens onscreen as it relates to Luke’s story, that’s pretty obvious, but in terms of how every individual who watches it relates to it, everyone has a different take on what that scene means to them. I think that’s part of Lucas’s genius — tapping into those archetypes and presenting them in a way that everyone can relate to in their own way.

Darren Hayes: Absolutely. It’s funny knowing so much more as we do now the way that cinema is a reaction to what’s happening in the world. I understand why there was a need for hope in 1977. Everything was very grim. So the idea that there could be a future of just infinite possibilities for young people who are about to go out into the world is an amazing feeling as a teenager.

StarWars.com: You’re right. If you look at all the other movies coming out in the ’70s, it was grim!

Darren Hayes: Yeah. I absolutely love the new trilogy, as well. And I think of Rey at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, and just the whole idea that you choose your family, it really, really resonated for me. You know, we are Star Wars fans and we are born to pick up on this, but for me it was such a wonderful message to leave it on, which was that this story was ending where it began, where it didn’t matter where Rey came from, didn’t matter if she was nobody or royalty or evil. She got to choose now. And I think there’s something in there that resonates with all of us.

StarWars.com: With The Rise of Skywalker coming out [on 4K HD, Blu-ray, Digital, and on Disney+], what have you been looking forward to seeing?

Darren Hayes: There’s a two hour documentary about making the film and I am so excited! And I’m such a Reylo! I ended up seeing it 18 times at the cinema and I’ll tell you why. So to go back to that little boy that I was, I was growing up the only way you could see the movies — if you went to the movie theater, and the only one of the films I ever saw at the theater was Return of the Jedi. And we could only see it once because we were a normal family in my neighborhood that was sort of under the poverty line. We were okay but we were poor. Movies were really expensive and there was something about the ritual of going to the cinema that and I really cherished. And once video cassettes happened when I was 13 or 14, I loved it because I could get to know the movies so well that I could just put it on and know what was going to happen when, and it was very, very comforting for me to sit back, almost like people listen to a meditation on audio. The seeing of the film became, in a sense, almost like self care. I think as an adult there’s enough drama in the world. Like a lot of my experience in seeing Star Wars movies multiple times is really just to relive that feeling of being a kid. Smelling the popcorn, pretending that I don’t know what going to happen but secretly knowing every twist and turn because I feel safe.

StarWars.com: You were talking on Twitter recently about how you incorporated a Star Wars influence into your stage outfits. Tell us about that!

Darren Hayes: My obsession with Star Wars was an obsession with Ralph McQuarrie, as well. I loved the designs of the universe of Star Wars. Those hexagon shapes in TIE fighter windows and the design inside the second Death Star, especially the fight scene between Luke and Darth Vader in front of the Emperor, I always loved that and it always reminded me of a concert set. So in the very first Savage Garden tour I asked the designers to build a similar staircase topped with a hexagon, and a lot of my outfits were different versions of the Luke Return of the Jedi outfit. I wore boots, I wore these neoprene, almost like, SCUBA-type material pants, and had these hilarious onesie tops that were designed so that my shirt would not untuck. And it was all based off the silhouette of Luke’s Return of the Jedi black outfit.

The second time I took inspiration from Star Wars was on the Time Machine tour and again, a bunch of outfits I would show people for inspiration, I’d allude to Luke’s Bespin outfit, and I worked with a designer who created this leather holster for my microphone. So it was like a gun holster, but it was completely inspired by all the early drawings of Han Solo. And it was just cool! I rarely ever used it, but if I was dancing during the show, I would put my mic where a laser blaster would go. It was such an inside thing!

StarWars.com: While we have you, what are you working on at the moment?

Darren Hayes: I am the least pluggy person in the world! I’ve intentionally gone away to Ahch-To for a long time and I’ve done a lot of things in silence, which has been fun, just kind of prepping to come back. I had 20 or more years really working hard and being a public person, and then at the end of 2012 I just had an epiphany where I realized that I just wanted to stop for a while and do other things. I studied comedy improv for about three years here in L.A. I went to the Groundlings school, where no one knew who I was and I had to make it a break it on my own there. So that was incredibly humbling and just really needed, I think, after 20 years of having one job, to be just in a room with other students and to fail, make mistakes, make a fool of myself, try acting and stuff for the last few years. And then I wrote a musical, which I’m obsessed about! There isn’t any news on that yet, but it’s just written and we’re looking for a billionaire! And then there are some other things that I’m doing and I’m really excited about, but I’m not ready to hype yet. But I guess I’ve been on Ahch-To for a while, but I haven’t been resting on my laurels and I’ve been working very very hard, just out of the spotlight.

Find your favorite stories from a galaxy far, far away on Disney+.Start Streaming

A full-time freelance writer in Melbourne, Australia, Peter Hodgson has covered music and pop culture for over two decades. You can follow him on Twitter @iheartguitar if you don’t mind lots of guitar geekery and cat pics mixed in with your Star Wars discussion.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Pilots Wanted: How Lucasfilm and Motive Studios Hatched Star Wars: Squadrons – Exclusive

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 18:46

One never knows when inspiration will strike. For EA’s Motive Studios, the concept for the recently-revealed space combat game Star Wars: Squadrons came at a rather surprising time: while working on another Star Wars game.

“There are a ton of Star Wars fans at Motive, myself included, with a lot of desire to create our own adventures in this universe. This project is one example where that desire resulted in something new springing to life,” Ian Frazier, creative director at Motive, tells StarWars.com. “Back when the team was working on the single-player campaign for Star Wars Battlefront II, they were having a great time with the space missions in particular, and it sparked an idea. Three of the devs — James Clement, Pat Lalonde, and Steve Masters — waxed nostalgic about the fun times they had in the late ‘90s playing other flight combat games, and formed an early pitch that essentially asked the question, ‘What would a modern-day Star Wars game focused entirely on the pilot experience look like?’ As a huge fan of the classic Star Wars flight games myself, I was very excited to help answer that question.”

From there, that core group at Motive took the first steps toward realizing this idea. “We formed a very small conception team and started working on the game design and art direction. The first thing we built was a 5v5 dogfight prototype,” Frazier says. “From that prototype, the game that would eventually become Star Wars: Squadrons was born.”

And thankfully, they ended up with the support of Lucasfilm.

“So many millions of Star Wars fans have dreamt of being the hotshot pilot that gets to take the one-in-a-million shot. But that shot only lands with careful planning, great skill, and an experienced team by your side. In Motive, we have all of those ingredients,” says Orion Kellogg, senior producer at Lucasfilm Games. “It was easy to rally behind the dream of fine-tuned Star Wars dogfighting and it has been thrilling to see the dream become reality.”

Jumping in the cockpit

Squadrons, coming October 2, 2020, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and virtual reality will be the first major Star Wars flight game released in years, and the first for this generation of consoles. If you’re a Star Wars gamer, that’s a big deal. As Frazier notes, Star Wars space combat games like X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and Rogue Squadron are among the most beloved Star Wars games ever made. That’s something Motive and Lucasfilm did not want to shy away from.

“We’re so inspired by all of the Star Wars stories and, naturally, the games that have come before us. They’ve led to us taking this shot and we’ll give it everything we’ve got,” Kellogg says.

“At a high level, our goal has been to create a new take on the classic Star Wars flight games of the ‘90s, while taking advantage of all the possibilities of modern-day technology to make the most immersive starfighter game we could,” Frazier says. Indeed, from graphics to customization to handling, Squadrons aims to deliver on the fantasy of piloting in the Star Wars galaxy in new ways.

“Fundamentally, we want to let players sit inside an X-wing or TIE fighter and really feel like they’re there, with a level of control and fidelity that makes the whole experience feel real. We want you to master the controls, form up with your squadron, and be an ace pilot in the midst of an epic space battle,” Frazier says.

Lock S-foils in attack position

Squadrons looks to have a major focus on multiplayer, particularly 5v5 squadrons going head to head in dogfights and large-scale conflicts, courtesy of a mode called Fleet Battles. But none of that would fly, pun intended, if it didn’t feel right.

In developing Squadrons’ gameplay, Frazier and his team were determined to get the feel of Star Wars space combat as authentic as possible with the help of Lucasfilm. This meant research and a lot of testing. The first thing the Motive team did, according to Frazier, was rewatch all of the films and discuss how Star Wars space battles are unique from those seen in other sci-fi franchises, making particular note of the influence from WWII aerial combat footage. They also replayed classic Star Wars flight games, as well as the Starfighter Assault mode from Battlefront II and several other space combat games.

“Once the team was in the right head space, we built out the core flight model for the X-wing and TIE fighter, fundamental systems like targeting, and the power management mechanic that lets players divert energy to engines, lasers, or shields, which is where a lot of the interesting moment-to-moment tactical choices are made,” Frazier says. “We got that basic prototype up and running on both traditional display and VR, then started daily team playtests. Each day we’d play PVP dogfights — pure X-wing versus TIE fighter mayhem — debrief and discuss key feedback, then make some changes and give it another go the next day. That constant cycle of playtest and iteration continued as the team and the scope of the game grew, and it still continues today.”

One element stands out to Lucasfilm’s Kellogg, however, as an essential ingredient to Squadrons.

“We’ve known from the early days that teamwork is at the heart of Squadrons,” Kellogg says. “As you watch TIE fighters swarm your position or race to intercept Y-wing bombers bearing down on your Imperial Star Destroyer, you’ll need a good teammate by your side. The voice chat really makes you feel part of a squadron — and the ping system is invaluable and easy to use, even in single-player, where you can ask your buddies to cover your tail. These moments of camaraderie really make the heroic ‘ace’ moments stand out: What’s more Star Wars than feeling like you saved the day for everyone?”

Flying solo

While multiplayer is certainly a focus for Squadrons, there’s also a significant single-player story. Like the multiplayer component, it’s set shortly after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and players will experience the story from the perspective of both the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire. “We’ve had a lot of fun building this story for the single-player side of the game, and as you’d expect, we’ve worked very closely with the Games team and Story Group at Lucasfilm to ensure we’re building something that feels authentically Star Wars, speaks to the fans, and fits smoothly into the universe,” Frazier says.

“We hope you’ll walk away understanding the pride of the TIE fighter pilot or the bravery of an X-wing pilot and what it’s like when two galactic superpowers clash as equals,” Kellogg adds. “Working with Motive to bring the characters and crew to life has been a real treat. We’re very excited to introduce the Empire’s Titan Squadron and New Republic’s Vanguard Squadron to Star Wars fans. I’m also super inspired by some of the environments we get to fly through and stunts we get to pull off as we solidify this exciting point in the Star Wars timeline.”

The timeline setting is also important in that it informs what craft we’ll take to the stars. As seen in the game’s trailers, fans can look forward to iconic ships like the X-wing, Y-wing, TIE fighter, and a few surprises.

Squadrons is set a few months after the Battle of Endor, so our selection of starfighters consists of anything you’d see in the final days of the war. You’ll see many of the ships from the major battles of the original trilogy, plus some cool new ones introduced in Rogue One,” Frazier says. “In addition, the two main New Republic and Imperial squadrons featured in the game have gotten creative and started to modify their starfighters in new and exciting ways after the destruction of the second Death Star, so you might come across modified Y-wings and TIE interceptors packing abilities you never saw in the movies…”

While they can’t reveal the full lineup of starfighters included, both Kellogg and Frazier have picks they’re excited to see players try out.

“Oh, I can’t resist the TIE reaper,” says Kellogg. “Squadrons is the first game really bringing this ship to life and it’s a beauty: it rides low and slow, tricked out with all sorts of ways to help your teammates survive…or to thwart your enemies.”

“I’m going to go with my personal favorite, the RZ-1 A-wing,” says Frazier. “It’s crazy fast and nimble, it can be modified with alternate shield generators and a particularly cool countermeasure system, and it can sustain a longer engine boost that most ships, which opens the door to some insane maneuvers. It’s a challenging ship to master, but I think players are really going to get a kick out of it.”

“Take the winning shot”

What’s it like to pilot an X-wing or TIE fighter? That question lies at the very heart of every Star Wars flight game, and their lasting appeal: They have been a conduit to touching that dream of flying in a galaxy far, far away, which would otherwise be impossible.

So then, back to that initial spark of inspiration for Squadrons — remembering the Star Wars flight games of yesterday and imagining what a modern take might look like. Now that the world knows about Squadron, and Lucasfilm and Motive have brought their idea to reality, it begs the question: How does it feel to carry on the legacy of Star Wars space combat games for a new generation?

“In a word: incredible,” says Frazier. “As someone who grew up with Star Wars and fell in love with games like TIE Fighter and Rogue Squadron, it feels amazing to be able to bring that kind of experience to life for gamers in 2020.”

“It’s very humbling,” says Kellogg. “Squadrons absolutely has the privilege of learning from the great starfighter games that have come before. We’ve also been inspired by moments in the recent films, books, and TV shows that have expanded the pilot fantasy: yes, you can drift in Squadrons. We really hope that Squadrons will make people smile as they take the winning shot — or even as they spiral out and try again.”

“I’m excited to see fans enjoy Squadrons as a new take on classic piloting experiences with an unprecedented level of realism and immersion, while a whole new generation of gamers gets to climb inside the cockpit of these iconic fighters for the first time,” adds Frazier. “Knowing I get to be a part of that, letting players really live out their Star Wars pilot fantasies the way I did as a kid? I’m incredibly grateful.”

Watch the new gameplay trailer and check out more new screenshots below.

Star Wars: Squadrons arrives October 2 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and is available for pre-order now.

For more on Star Wars: Squadrons, check out StarWars.com’s in-depth coverage:

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

6 Highlights from the Star Wars: Squadrons Gameplay Trailer

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 18:43

We’ve had our S-foils locked in attack position since we saw the announcement for the new first-person space combat game Star Wars: Squadrons, available October 2 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and via virtual reality (VR) on PlayStation 4 and PC. And today we got our first look inside the actual gameplay with an all-new trailer for the video game.

A unified squadron is the key to victory, and we can’t wait to jump in the cockpit with the dedicated pilots from Vanguard Squadron and Titan Squadron, two elite crews on opposite sides of the conflict during an original story set in the final days of the Galactic Empire and the rise of the New Republic after the events of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Here are some of our favorite moments and details from the first gameplay trailer!

1. That opening!

We’ve seen Rebel Alliance and Resistance pilots hustling through hangars on film, but from the get go it feels like we’re a part of the action. It’s the perfect introduction to a game that promises to put us at the controls and in the cockpit of some of the most beloved ships in Star Wars.

2. A TIE pilot’s view.

We rarely get to experience the conflict from the point of view of the Imperial fighters, so the view through the viewport of a TIE — especially one firing on a corvette — is a fascinating sight.

3. New gameplay details.

From actual cockpit readouts that you’ll have to monitor to the subtle differences between the game’s ships, Squadrons is completely immersive with great attention to in-universe detail. Plus, the team-centric missions of Fleet Battles mode looks like a dream come true for Star Wars flight fans.

4. Custom cockpit swag.

It’s exhilarating watching dogfights unfold from inside an X-wing or A-wing, but we also really love how this game lets us live our Star Wars dreams of being a Sullustan pilot in a custom-painted ship or a variety of other alien fliers. The spirit of authenticity and making it your own even includes custom trinkets like a sweet little Ewok bobblehead along for the ride on your dash.

5. Head-spinning maneuvers.

Dramatic swooping maneuvers amid a pursuit through the hull of a Star Destroyer? We are here for it.

6. Gorgeous locales.

Soaring among the stars high above new locales including never-before-seen locations like the gas giant of Yavin Prime and the shattered moon of Galitan really makes for some spectacular sights. We just hope we don’t get so distracted that we lose the battle.

Learn more about Star Wars: Squadrons on StarWars.com and check out the new gameplay trailer below!

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. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Buckle Up and Join Star Wars: Squadrons in the StarWars.com Databank

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 18:42

Earlier this week, EA gave us our first look at Star Wars: Squadrons, debuting on consoles and PC later this year. Launching on October 2, the new video game will put you at the controls inside the cockpit of an X-wing (or a TIE fighter if you’re an Imperial at heart) for a first-person dogfighting experience and original storyline set after the events of Star Wars: Return of Jedi.

Who are the daring pilots taking to the skies and the stars during the final days of the Galactic Empire? Learn all about some of the main characters, gorgeous ships, and other new details in the official StarWars.com Databank entries for the game.

Fighting for the New Republic as part of Vanguard Squadron — an elite response unit whose motto is “Fearless to the finish” — we’ll meet combat pilot Lindon Javes.

But Imperial remnants remain organized and intent on bringing down the New Republic. Among those fighters we find Titan Squadron, led by Terisa Kerrill. Like many loyal Imperial soldiers, Terisa credits the Empire for giving her purpose in life.

Players will also see an array of new ships in the Rebel Alliance and Imperial fleets, including the Temperance, the Overseer, and the Starhawk.

Learn more about Star Wars: Squadrons on StarWars.com and check out the new gameplay trailer below!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Get a First Look at New Art from Star Wars: Dark Legends – Exclusive

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 14:30

Sometimes, it’s good to turn to the dark side.

Star Wars: Dark Legends, a follow-up to the acclaimed Star Wars: Myths & Fables, reunites the creative team of writer George Mann and artist Grant Griffin for seven new fables set in a galaxy far, far away. Only this time, the tales focus on all things dark side and spooky. With the book set for release on July 28, 2020, StarWars.com snagged a first look at three of Griffin’s stunning — and creepy — new paintings, along with the artist’s own commentary on his work. (You may want to keep the lights on.)

“Blood Moon

“What I always loved most about the original trilogy is the rich backgrounds populated by repurposed appliances and recycled props. There is something extremely beautiful about mundane objects being turned into iconic droids and characters that still shape Star Wars lore 40 years later. So, when I received the art brief for “Blood Moon,” I was thrilled to do a Rick Baker tribute. Rick supplied the werewolf mask to help build out the cantina scene in A New Hope, and in turn, birthed the Shistavanen species.”

“Master and Servant”

“As this story was one of the last to be added, and due to approaching printing deadlines, I had to proceed with the illustration without knowing whom or what the main characters were. What I did know was that this story took place on Exegol and was going to have a strong Dr. Frankenstein and Ygor vibe. At the time, I only had the trailer visuals to go off of. Inspired by a screenshot, I built up the scene and shrouded our Sith in a hood to hide their identity. With a bit of Force lightning to showcase the villain’s power, I was able to increase the drama in the composition. The curved saber was added later, and if I am not mistaken, is specific to a particular Sith.”

“Predecessor” 

“One of my favorite illustrations from Myths & Fables was the boogie-man version of Darth Vader. It was that piece that spilled over and set the tone for the rest of the art found in Dark Legends. This time, however, I had to illustrate Vader as we all know and love him. And it was this moment when I realized just how beautifully complex the design for Darth Vader’s helmet is. While I was struggling my way through the face mask, we decided to up the stakes and capture the essence of the stories in the reflections of Vader’s eyes, as he ironically Force chokes yet another poor Imperial officer.”

See Star Wars: Dark Legends and more on This Week! In Star Wars!

Star Wars: Dark Legends arrives July 28, 2020, and is available for pre-order now.

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: A Clone “Missing in Action”

Thu, 06/18/2020 - 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.

99: “Missing in Action” (Season Five, Episode 12)

“A soldier’s most powerful weapon is courage.”

Synopsis:

In a nearly vacant town, R2-D2 and his team find a clone commando suffering from amnesia.

Analysis:

This place reminds Artoo of Tatooine, and his friend WAC-47 sounds an awful lot like C-3PO. That seems to make Gregor akin to Luke Skywalker in this analogous tale of a young man who longs for something more than a simple life.

Or perhaps it’s more fitting to compare Gregor to Anakin Skywalker, himself a slave unaware of his potential and strength, toiling for a master who showed him little compassion.

Reduced to eating garbage, Colonel Gascon is foraging in the trash when he first encounters the humble dishwasher Gregor, who has a kind heart and offers to help get him some proper grub. Gascon can be such a whiner, but when he needs to be he’s downright inspiring.

By revealing the truth of Gregor’s bloodline, a proud member of the Republic’s clone forces, and his past, Gascon sets him free. Thought lost in battle but simply waylaid on this dustbowl of a planet with amnesia and the unscrupulous Borkus hiding his armor away, learning who he is gives Gregor the courage to rise up and get back to his roots.

And as a free man, Gregor provides the protection Gascon needs to finally escape the void that is Abafar, with a promise to eventually find his way back to his brothers. And he will.

Intel:

  • That surly Aqualish seen on the streets of Abafar looks an awful lot like the Kenner action figure for Walrus Man from the original film.

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 the gang comes to the rescue of a Republic conference in “Point of No Return.”

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

New LEGO Sets to Celebrate LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Wed, 06/17/2020 - 08:00

Attention, Jedi Masters and Master Builders: we have some exciting news.

StarWars.com is thrilled to reveal several new LEGO Star Wars sets, all of which feature in the highly-anticipated LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga video game. How does that work? For some sets, elements like minifigures and vehicles will automatically be included in the game. For others, you’ll just enter a code provided in the set’s building instructions to bring its minifigures and/or vehicles to life in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.

The releases span the entire saga and beyond, from the original trilogy to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and you can get a first look at all the new reveals below — along with some previously announced sets now confirmed to feature unlockables in the game. Happy beeps, and happy building!

LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar (Includes Unlock Code)

An annual tradition, this year’s LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar will pack six minifigures such as Darth Vader with Christmas sweater decoration and D-O with a festive hat, plus a foldout playmat with an image of the Millennium Falcon with Christmas lights to inspire creative play. The 12 mini builds include Anakin’s Podracer, a Republic Cruiser and Darth Vader’s Castle. 

501st Legion Clone Troopers

Long requested by fans, this set celebrates the elite soldiers of the Republic – the 501st Legion. It includes three 501st Clone Troopers and a 501st Jet Trooper, plus two Battle Droid LEGO action figures, as well as the 285-piece AT-RT Walker and BARC Speeder.

Anakin’s Jedi Interceptor

This set includes minifigures of Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2, and Anakin’s iconic fighter as a 248-piece build. The fighter features an opening LEGO minifigure cockpit, spring-loaded shooters, foldable wing flaps with space for R2-D2, and clips for spare ammo and Anakin’s Lightsaber.

Armored Assault Tank (AAT) 

Another set perfect for fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this release includes two minifigures (Ahsoka Tano and Ahsoka Tano’s Clone Trooper) as well as AAT Driver Battle Droid and Battle Droid LEGO figures. The AAT consists of 286 pieces and includes opening hatches with space inside for the Battle Droids, LEGO minifigures, 2 spring-loaded shooters, and a rotating turret with an elevating cannon.

Knights of Ren Transport Ship

Inspired by Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, this set includes minifigures of Rey and two Knights of Ren, and the villainous group’s ship. The Knights of Ren Transport Ship is a 595-piece build and features hidden “skis” to replicate the hover effect, plus two opening cockpits for the Knights of Ren, a compartment for a captured LEGO minifigure, and two spring-loaded shooters to inspire creative play.

General Grievous’s Starfighter 

Hello there! This 487-piece building set of the Separatist leader’s menacing craft comes with three LEGO minifigures — General Grievous, Obi-Wan Kenobi and an Airborne Clone Trooper.

AT-AT

Straight out of the iconic Battle of Hoth from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the AT-AT is a massive 1,276-piece build, featuring a cockpit for three LEGO minifigures, foldout panels, spring-loaded shooters, a speeder bike, winch, and bottom hatch so Luke can throw in a thermal detonator. The set includes six minifigures: Luke Skywalker, General Veers, two AT-AT Drivers, and two Snowtroopers.

Death Star Final Duel (Includes Unlock Code)

You want this…don’t you? The Death Star Final Duel set features a 775-piece build of the Emperor’s throne room, which includes minifigure Force-jump function, collapsing stairs and bridge, rotating throne, and a reactor shaft. This release comes with five minifigures — Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and Emperor Palpatine with lightsabers, plus two Imperial Royal Guards with Force pikes.

Resistance I-TS Transport (Includes Unlock Code)

Created for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars-themed land at Disney Parks, the Resistance I-TS Transport comes home! A fun and challenging 932-piece build, the top of the shuttle lifts off and the sides open for easy play, and there are four rotating stud shooters by the cockpit and four rear stud shooters for battle action. Includes four characters — Lieutenant Bek and Vi Moradi, plus Astromech Droid and GNK Power Droid LEGO figures — to role-play galactic adventures.

The Razor Crest (Includes Unlock Code)

The Mandalorian’s fan-favorite armored transport shuttle comes to life in LEGO form. This 1,023-piece vehicle features a cargo hold with opening sides that double as access ramps and carbonite bounty elements inside, a dual LEGO minifigure cockpit, spring-loaded shooters, escape pod and more authentic details from the series. The release includes an all-star lineup of characters, including The Mandalorian, Greef Karga, and Scout Trooper minifigures, plus the Child and IG-11 LEGO figures.

For more on LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, check out StarWars.com’s interview with Jonathan Smith, head of production and strategic director at TT Games, and Craig Derrick, managing producer at Lucasfilm Games.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #StarWarsGames

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