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This year marks the 15th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, and to celebrate, LEGO UK launched a competition asking children to design their own dream LEGO Star Wars-themed bedroom. Kicked off in the March issue of Star Wars Comic magazine, the grand prize was a once in a lifetime transformation of the winner’s bedroom based on their own submitted designs/ideas, and built by LEGO in collaboration with Bright Bricks (a professionally certified LEGO building company).

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After hundreds of entries, the winner was unveiled on May the 4th: Milun Simpson, 5, from Knebworth in Hertfordshire was the winner and he his design took inspiration from the Ewok Village on Endor from his favorite Star Wars film. Milun entered the contest after his grandparents bought him the comic as a gift following a holiday to India.

LEGO Star Wars UK brand manager Eloise Kurtis said, “To celebrate 15 years of LEGO Star Wars, we thought what better way to do this than to launch a competition that would capture our fans’ imaginations and give one lucky child the bedroom of their dreams. The certified LEGO builders have been building day and night to bring his fantastic bedroom transformation to life which will bring hours of endless playtime for Milun. Congratulations to Milun!”

Milun’s father, Matt Simpson said, “He loves drawing, he’s always drawing Star Wars characters and making up his own comics and making up his own characters.” When introducing his son to the saga, Simpson took a traditional approach. “He watched the older films first,” Simpson said — who is also envious of his son’s room. “I’m just really jealous. I wish I’d had it when I was a kid. I was a big Star Wars fan as well so I think I was probably as excited, if not more than him, when he won.”

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The winning design features: –

  • LEGO Star Wars Ewok Village Tree House Bed
  • Four meter long LEGO mural featuring a large 3D Millennium Falcon and a life-size Yoda
  • Yoda’s House with hidden drawers
  • AT-AT Desk
  • Death Star Lamp
  • Large R2-D2 Model and lots of other LEGO Star Wars sets.

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Kevin Cooper from Bright Bricks, who turned Milun’s winning design from paper to reality, said, “You can see here [from the drawing] that he’s obviously got the tree trunks coming up the side of his bed, so he’s thought about his bed being the main focal point within his bedroom. I would say there’s about 50 – 60,000 bricks used, because we know there’s 40,000 just in the mosaic itself which obviously spans the length of the room. So the mosaic is about four meters long in total.”

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When Milun was asked what he wanted to be when he was older, he replied, “I want to be a Jedi or an author when I grow up so now I can start training here.” Milun ranks the room a 10 out of 10, and it’s hard to disagree. Everything is awesome about Milun’s LEGO Star Wars bedroom.
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For those that didn’t win, you’ll have another chance to win some fantastic LEGO Star Wars prizes in a new LEGO Star Wars UK competition that launches in September — stay tuned for more information!

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/meet-milun-simpson-lego-star-wars-bedroom-contest-winner

In my last blog, I talked about what a deep well of story possibilities the stormtrooper was. Some of them stand out in my memory as some of the most intriguing, and not all of them would come to mind if you had to guess. Over the years, some of the Empire’s faithful have been featured in books, comics, and animated films where they get a lot more time for development than a feature film can offer. Here are a few of the ones that stick out in my mind for one reason or another, but all of whom have contributed to my own personal passion for troopers.

Davin Felth

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Trooper with a conscience? Unheard of!

Imagine “Joker” from the movie Full Metal Jacket, then add a little ingenuity for advancement and self-preservation, and you have Davin Felth. Bright-eyed and optimistic when he enlisted in the Empire, he quickly learned how to survive the Empire’s grueling training regimen. But he adapted quickly, learning how to survive while still nurturing something unheard of in the Empire: a conscience. Created by author Doug Beason in the 1995 Star Wars anthology Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Felth was one of the sandtroopers on the scene during the search for R2-D2 and C-3P0 on Tatooine. Yep, he’s the guy who holds up the metal ring and utters the line “Look sir, droids.” But you probably didn’t know he later went on to “frag” his commanding officer, Captain Mod Terrik. And before that, he proved himself a natural at piloting an AT-AT and even tried to warn General Veers that an AT-AT in standing position could be brought down by a low-flying fighter with a tow cable. Veers didn’t listen, and Luke Skywalker was probably glad of that on Hoth. So how did Veers reward Davin? Why, ship him off to the desert, of course! Branded trooper 1023 while in armor, Davin wasn’t too fond of the slaughtering of Jawas or the Lars family. So when he sees Han Solo fighting off the stormtroopers in Docking Bay 94, Felth did what anyone sick of his homicidal boss would do: blast him in the back and blame it on cross-fire. Okay, maybe he wasn’t the poster boy for Imperial teamwork, but Davin Felth reminds us even a stormtrooper can have an interesting character development arc.

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Dancing Stormtrooper

Don’t pretend you don’t remember this stormtrooper. Odds are, if you’ve been on the Internet in the last 10 years you’ve seen him, grinding in armor and bringing grins to fans worldwide. Just as the 501st Legion were gaining traction in fandom, this dude typified the fun we were all having with the stormtrooper icon. Playful, funny, and totally irreverent: reminds me of me! Who was he? Not actually 501st, I’m sorry to say, but a bloke at an airsoft tournament in Portsmouth, UK, named Steve McGarry. Legend has it that it was dress-up day at the tournament and some buddies improvised some fun on the spot. The clip went on to fame starting in 2004. It ranks the 52nd most discussed video in YouTube history and spawned scads of tributes. Rock on, Steve! You can learn more about this urban legend at Know Your Meme: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/dancing-stormtrooper

Kneeling Trooper

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Never leave a man behind, especially if he owes you money.

Clocking in at only 4:33 into the very first Star Wars film, and fresh off the amazing introduction of stormtroopers breaking into the Tantive IV, we see a brief glimpse of something out of place. Just as Vader is entering the room a trooper leans over to check on his fallen comrade. What’s this? A few seconds earlier our only impression of these guys is that of shock-and-awe. Then one of them shows some compassion? Or was he just checking for money the guy owed him? Or maybe he wanted to upgrade to the cool new model of helmet and that guy had one. Who knows? I’m not sure how it worked into the script or if it was improvised, but the image stuck with me as a kid. I wanted to know all about these soldiers. So I pondered this image a lot. Maybe these guys could be terrifying and still have a heart? It’s the stuff of great storytelling to get you thinking. Star Wars has always had images and details in it that give the viewer something to think about, little bits that worked in the background subtly to convey a sense of things. That’s why it’s timeless. I’m still scratching my head over this one, and that’s enough to put this stormtrooper into my list of favorites.

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“You won’t find a finer or more loyal trooper anywhere.” ―Anakin Skywalker

No article about stormtroopers would be complete without Captain Rex. The face of Star Wars merchandising for a time, he was _the_ trooper for a new generation of young fans. In the Clone Wars series Dave Filoni took advantage of a rich opportunity to tell the tales of the faceless soldiers. Through Rex we saw a wide arc of character development, from unthinking clone automaton to loyal and thought-provoking individual in his own right. Granted his own name by ARC Trooper Alpha 17, Rex faithfully served Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan, Ahsoka, throughout the war. He was rugged, aggressive, a skilled tactician, and while he put on a stern face in front of his men, he cared for their well-being like the consummate leader that he was. What made him especially intriguing as a trooper in my mind? Maybe it was the scar on his chin that hearkened to Harrison Ford, or the way he groused about the clone trooper upgrades and insisted on welding on pieces from his original suit, or the fact that he took command of the 501st Legion itself? There’s too much about the character to do him justice here, but I loved the guy at first sight. In 2007 I was hanging out back stage at Celebration Japan with Dave Filoni shortly after he previewed footage of the upcoming series. Filoni talked about how he’d always loved stormtroopers too and that this would be a way to finally tell the story of these fighting men. Much like the series Band of Brothers, it would show their loyalty to one another and their courage. I have to say, I was profoundly honored to have the unit I created brought to life in The Clone Wars and led by someone as epic as Rex. Maybe they noticed my bald head and thought it would look great on a trooper? Nah, I’ll just write that one off as coincidence. Maybe…

Anthony Forrest

Rock-and-Roll Trooper

Rock-and-roll trooper.

You remember him as the sandtrooper who stopped Luke’s land speeder and harassed him about his droids, only to be befuddled by that crazy old wizard’s mind trick. Fans worldwide know him as a laid-back, world-traveling musician always ready to chat like a longtime friend. Cast by George Lucas to play Fixer in A New Hope, Anthony Forrest was all set to woo Camie and torment Luke at Toschi Station but unfortunately the scene was cut. Thankfully, Lucas asked Forrest to play a trooper and he got the chance to act opposite screen legend Alec Guinness. The few times I’ve gotten a chance to chat him up, he’s always ready with his summer camp stories: horseback riding with the cast, goofing around with Mark Hamill off the set, George Lucas himself dressing his armor with more and more and more dirt. He almost fell over the first time they put the trooper backpack on him. As many times as I’ve suffered in stormtrooper armor, Forrest was one of the guys doing it in an actual desert! So here’s to Anthony Forrest for setting the bar high on what it takes to be a real stormtrooper — maybe he dropped the ball on finding those pesky droids but, like most of my own trooping memories, he made sure to have plenty fun out-of-armor to justify the experience. Rock on, trooper brother!

Albin Johnson was a lowly stormtrooper on Detention Block 2551 before Lord Vader lost a bet and allowed him to found the 501st Legion, “Vader’s Fist.” He’s also man-servant to R2-KT, “the pink Imperial droid with the heart of gold.” You can learn more at 501st.com and r2kt.com or follow Albin’s off-duty antics at albinjohnson.com.

 

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/stormtroopers-of-great-renown

Marvel Entertainment announced today the release of an oversized dose of a galaxy far, far, away — Star Wars comics are coming to Marvel’s prestigious Epic Collection format — Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1 TPB.

Let the dark times begin! Marvel welcomes Star Wars to the Epic Collection program, with this first volume of a series focusing on the years that follow Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith! After the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic has fallen and Palpatine exerts his ruthless grip on his new Galactic Empire. Now, the few Jedi that remain must decide whether to hold true to their faith, or abandon it completely in the face of a brutal purge — one carried out by the new Dark Lord of the Sith. Rise, Darth Vader!

“We’re thrilled to be bringing our innovative Epic Collections to a galaxy far, far away,” says Marvel SVP sales marketing David Gabriel. “We’ll be bouncing around to different periods of Star Wars history with each Epic Collection, constructing one huge tapestry, collecting full unbroken runs of all the greatest Star Wars comics from the past 35 years.”

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1 TPBwill offer a new way for fans to collect and read iconic Star Wars stories across the past 35 years of published titles. These oversized, self-contained color collections will bring the adventures of the Rebellion, the Galactic Empire and more to the masses with exciting new Epic Collections. Get a first look at the special collection’s cover art below!

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1 TPB

COLLECTING: STAR WARS: REPUBLIC 78-80, STAR WARS: PURGE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — SECONDS TO DIE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE HIDDEN BLADE 1, STAR WARS: PURGE — THE TYRANT’S FIST 1-2, STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND 1-5, STAR WARS: DARK TIMES 1-5

AUTHOR: JOHN OSTRANDER, RANDY STRADLEY, HADEN BLACKMAN, ALEXANDER FREED

ARTIST: LUKE ROSS , DOUGLAS WHEATLEY, JIM HALL, CHRIS SCALF, MARCO CASTIELLO, ANDREA CHELLA, RICK LEONARDI

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

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/marvel-announces-star-wars-legends-epic-collection

It’s Wednesday, which means one thing: new comic books! Check out a preview of Star Wars: Legacy #18, available today!

STAR WARS: LEGACY #18
$2.99
32 pages

Ania Solo and her friends find themselves fighting alongside the Imperial Knights and the Empress herself against a legion of Sith! While the others fight for control of the galaxy, Ania fights to save her friend — Imperial Knight Jao Assam, who has been enslaved by the dark side!

Star Wars: Legacy is essential reading for any Star Wars fan, and it’s one of the best tie-in comics on shelves at the moment. Highly recommended.” — All-Comic

Writer: Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman
Artist: Gabriel Hardman, Brian Albert Thies
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Cover Artist: Agustin Alessio

Star Wars Legacy #18 cover

Star Wars Legacy #18, page 1

Star Wars Legacy #18, page 2

Star Wars Legacy #18, page 3

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-comics-preview-august-27-2014

This summer featured the release of Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return, the finale of Doescher’s masterful re-working of the Star Wars saga into Shakespearean language. Once again, Doescher merges the storytelling brilliance of George Lucas and William Shakespeare to add another dimension to this saga that has become sacrosanct to so many. This series has brought many fans of Shakespeare to Star Wars and vice-versa, which is a testament to the framework that both of these storytellers exhibit through their respective crafts. Shakespeare used many motifs that are present in the saga, and these criteria all resonate to enhance our enjoyment of Star Wars.

Perhaps the most prevalent motifs found in both Shakespeare and Star Wars is the theme of tragedy. In a Shakespearean tragedy, heroes of prominence in society meet a tragic end, while meeting their fate with grace and dignity, thereby gaining the audience’s sympathy. Anakin Skywalker fulfils this category beautifully; as discussed in a previous blog, Anakin is a tragic hero who encapsulates heroism gone wrong, as he turns to the dark side of the Force. Revenge of the Sith provides a canvas for the once promising Jedi to follow a dark path in the name of righteousness, which dooms both him and the galaxy into many years of despair and pain.

 

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Captain Antilles faces the wrath of Darth Vader in William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

Another motif featured in both is the appearance of a ghost that comes to the hero to enlighten them on their quest. Hamlet comes face to face with the ghost of his father’s spirit, who informs him of the journey he must undertake in order to get revenge; this does not end well for the titular tragic hero, but is the catalyst that leads to the climax of the play. Conversely, Luke experiences a similarly transcendent interlocution in the form of his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who plays the role of father figure to Luke. Both Hamlet and Luke Skywalker receive insights that will forever change the course of their respective destinies. Fortunately for Luke, his Jedi training ultimately leads him to a path separate from Hamlet; both face darkness from fathers, but Luke tempers his passion, while Hamlet is devoured by it.

Young love doomed to tragedy is another theme that is crucial to the drama, as both Romeo and Juliet and Anakin and Padmé face obstacles that seem insurmountable. While both couples have tragic destinies placed before them, it is the choices they make that lead inevitably to unhappy conclusions. Both Shakespeare and Lucas let audiences in on the dramatic irony of each story; the audience knows that both couples will meet a tragic end, but experience the drama with bated breath, hoping for a result that will not come to pass. In both stories, the irony is palpable for audiences.

In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo does not receive the letter from Friar Laurence, which contains essential information that his beloved is not actually dead. The ill-fated letter does not reach its destination due to a plague that quarantines the messenger (Friar John), and prevents him from completing his mission. Romeo assumes the worst, and purchases poison from an Apothecary, sealing his fate. Similarly, the inclination of Anakin to be led by his passion leads to death for both himself and his love. Anakin is not poisoned by an Apothecary, but by his blind loyalty to Palpatine, who wears a robe similar to a friar, but with a dark color that mirrors his twisted soul. Ironically, both Romeo and Anakin believe their initial actions will bring a release from agony, but both characters perpetuate their respective demise, and break not only the hearts on their loved ones, but the audiences as well.

Vader in Shakespeare's Star Wars

Darth Vader mourns the destruction of the Death Star in William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

Shakespeare’s works utilize motifs that permeate Star Wars, and help enhance our enjoyment of the beloved saga.  Through the examples provided above, audiences experience the power of storytelling through these archetypes, and these concepts help to magnify the mythological implications through George Lucas’ examination of the Skywalker family.  Ian Doescher created a canvas through which readers can discern the similarities between these two masters of storytelling, and discerning the motifs present helps augment the powerful literacy of Lucas’ genius.

Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and is a  member of the Rogues (as Blue Leader), a network of teachers that incorporate Star Wars in the Classroom. He also runs Coffee With Kenobi (with co-host Cory Clubb), a Star Wars podcast that analyzes the saga through critical thinking, analysis, interviews, and discussion.

 

 

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/studying-skywalkers-shared-motifs-in-star-wars-and-shakespeare

Disney Parks’ Star Tours got a facelift three years ago and became Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The Star Wars-themed ride first opened at Disneyland in 1987 and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando in 1989. The new version of the attraction features familiar features like the StarSpeeder, but the queue and experience got an upgrade and became more powerful than you can possibly… You get the drift.

When it came time to gather material that would be used in the queue, Disney put a request in with the 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison and asked members to appear at a silhouette photo shoot. Though they didn’t know it at the time, the footage would be included in the silhouettes scene featured in the queue of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The panel features the silhouettes of stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and citizens as they walk through the spaceport. It gives you the impression that it’s a hustling and bustling joint.

I caught up with 501st Legion and Rebel Legion member and fellow Star Wars blog contributor Lawrence Green to find out how he got involved and learned how the Force was with him the day of the shoot.

StarWars.com: How did the 501st become part of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue?

Lawrence Green: At the end of of July 2010, then Commanding Officer of the 501st Legion’s Southern California Garrison, Lesley Farquhar, received a request for several 501st members to appear at a silhouette photo shoot for something for Disney. Often in cases like this we also line up a reserve member or two in case one scheduled member is unable to make it, and I signed up to be a reserve Trooper.

On the day of the shoot in August 2010, Lesley called to tell me that everyone who had signed up was heading out but said that if I still wanted to go as a handler and senior member to help and observe I should do so since the event was for something unusual and important.

I’m not sure why and can only attribute it to a disturbance in the Force, but for whatever reason just as I was about to leave, I decided to load my Return of the Jedi Luke and X-wing pilot outfits into my car and headed out, not realizing how crucial that decision would turn out to be upon arrival.

StarWars.com: What was filming like, and who did you end up dressed as?

Lawrence Green: The location we were given turned out to be a small, non-descript studio located in the [San Fernando] Valley. Our four stormtroopers (Tom Brink, Al Eisenmann, Daryl Hokama, and Peter Rode] were already there and had been informed that this was far from even a “special” photo shoot and what was officially named “Project: Lodestar” was to shoot segments for the revamped Star Tours attraction! To say we were surprised would be an understatement. But amidst all the paperwork and NDAs we were filling out and confirming — and before we could really celebrate and contemplate what this opportunity would mean — we had a huge, unexpected problem to surmount: The two Imperial officers scheduled for the shoot had updated to say they were unable to make it!

Although the Imperial officer outfit is not a relatively difficult one to do, finding someone who would fit the role at that moment when shooting had to commence immediately would be impossible.

The director and producer were getting ready to leave the makeshift trooper armor green room to brainstorm, asking us to think of a solution if possible, when I came up with a suggestion and offered that I could go back to my car and combine my Luke boots and belt with the X-wing jumpsuit and gloves. I offered that as long as I kept everything relatively taut, it would look reasonably like an Imperial officer’s uniform except for the completely unorthodox colors and the fact that I didn’t have a regulation Imperial cap. Daryl however had a cap from his TIE pilot outfit with him, and the producer approved the idea on the spot, saying that since we were shooting in silhouette for the new ride it would be perfect. And so literally less than 15 minutes after proposing my idea, I was suited up and on the set by 9:40 a.m. to get things rolling!.

As I wrapped my solo shots, the stormtroopers made their way to set and began both their individual and group run/walks past the window. To specially-emphasize speed and urgency the troopers sometimes ran past the camera and always heavily emoted their movements, and in a few takes, they all had to get a jog-in-place start before being cued to go across the window.

Before we wrapped completely for the day, the producers approached me by way of thanks to appear as a second character. With a quick reshuffling of my outfit and removal of the cap, I also had an opportunity to appear as the character that shows up from time to time operating a large, “hover-platform,” with various items on top.

StarWars.com: How many different characters and costumes were involved? Did both 501st and Rebel Legions participate?

Lawrence Green: All told we had four stormtroopers on site with me in the two make-shift roles in place of the of the members who were unable to make it. Of the troopers, all four are official members of the 501st and both Al and Peter are also members in the Rebel Legion. But, we also had another member of the Rebel Legion make a huge contribution to the revamped Star Tours: if you are fortunate enough to do the Hoth mission as part of your Star Tours adventure, the snowspeeder pilot featured on the comm is Sunrider Base member Rob Howe.

So our collective crew was:
Thomas Brink, stormtrooper
Al Eisenmann, stormtrooper
Lawrence Green, Imperial admiral and hover platform operator
Daryl Hokama, stormtrooper
Rob Howe, Rebel snowspeeder pilot

[Note: 501st Golden Gate Garrison member BH-1034 portrays Boba Fett in the ride.]

StarWars.com: What is it like being part of Disney and Star Wars history?

Lawrence Green: It was and remains incredibly exciting to have been able to help out and be a part of something so special, especially because events like this are very rare. We are especially thankful we could do our part, and make sure everything came together when absolutely needed.

Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with all things Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. You can follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek and keep up with all things geeky at her blog.

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/how-the-501st-and-rebel-legions-became-part-of-star-tours

In my last article I talked about how the Star Wars dreams we had as younglings can come true. For this fan, it turned into the reality of being involved in the making of the saga, starting with portraying Lt. Gavyn Sykes in Episode I. But as my work on the movies progressed, strange events were to unfold that made me question whether the Force had been working in more mysterious ways, to bind true followers such as you and I into that galaxy far far away….

Christian J. Simpson above Natalie Portman on Episode I

Christian J. Simpson (above Natalie Portman) in Episode I.

And now, as production ramps up in London on the latest movie, Star Wars 7 with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and co, though we won’t spoil the secrets going on there or reveal whether any of the Star Wars 7 rumors are in the right galaxy, it was ten years ago that the London shoots of “the latest” Star Wars movie to be released took place — the epic Revenge of the Sith. It was there that I was lucky enough to be Anakin Skywalker’s stand-in for Darth Vader himself — after all, “always two there are.” So why don’t I take you on a small behind the scenes journey into the making of a new Star Wars movie.

Though I have many fantastic tales to tell from my work on this film that began in August 2004 (let me know in the comments if you’d like to hear them!), let’s hyperspace forward in time a little.

It’s January 31, 2005.

It’s the last ever day of shooting on a George Lucas Star Wars movie.

And it’s my birthday.

Christiansimpson is standing-in for Christensen.

It’s all just coincidence, I’m sure. Though, my name causes some confusion for director of photography Giles Nuttgens, so I suggest, “Call me Anakin”, to which he replies, “I probably will!” And he does. As did a certain George Lucas back in 2004, before getting to know me better, even if it was only, “OK, Anakin, move a little to your right!” Can you imagine?!

For some reason, although we’re on the hallowed ground of Elstree Film Studios instead of the usual Shepperton Studios — and are where A New Hope was shot in 1976 – I have to wonder why we are not on Elstree’s new “George Lucas Stage”? And why were we told back in August 2004 that the final day of shooting would specifically wait until January 31? I’m to find out soon enough…

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For this final day, people have traveled from across the world for just five hours work. I ask Cecila Lanza, the sound boom operator, if she’s come here from Italy today? “Too right!” is the proud response. This is Star Wars after all.

Cecilia Lanza operates the boom microphone for Simpson in 2004

Cecilia Lanza operates the boom microphone in 2004.

Before we shoot I have to sign a confidentiality agreement, but instead of “January 31, 2005,” I accidentally write, “January 31, 1973.” My birthdate. This is to prove interesting…

We hurry as Natalie Portman has to catch a 2 p.m. flight back home to L.A. Why she can’t just use the Royal Cruiser — she’s lying unconscious in this scene after Anakin Force chokes her — I do not know. And filming with her is a great Ewan McGregor double, as Ewan can’t make it himself.

 

Portman and Ewans double get set up by the Cruiser sick bay bed

Portman and Ewan’s double get set up by the Cruiser sick bay bed.

As Anakin’s stand-in my primary job is to act the scene out whilst the actors are in make-up, so the lighting, camera, focus, and so on can be perfected for the shoot. Often you have to act all the lines, to perfect the sound, and for the actors to see how the scene has been blocked through. (Somewhere there’s a version of Sith with me playing Anakin!) And blocking is walking through the scene to the various marks your feet should hit on certain words. No pressure then! (Lesson ends.)

For the first shot, Lord Vader (so, I) must lie on the floor in a twisted pose. Oh, the glamor! It’s to reshoot a scene where Anakin landed badly. Twenty-five minutes pass, my elbow digging into the ground, hips contorted. Even yoga never hurt this much (I said yoga, not Yoda.)

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Suddenly I see a dark Vaderesque robotic gloved arm moving down towards me in Force-choke-pose! Aghh, Vader is going to kill me! Wait. Whew! It’s only Hayden Christensen offering me a friendly hand to help me up, and to shake while he’s at it. Once up, I pat him on the arm and say, “Good to see you! So this is it hey? Last day!” He responds, “Yeh, this is it, last day”.

But then I hear George Lucas say something over my shoulder about the “first day” whilst he adjusts a light. George is a hands-on filmmaker, and Mr. Do-It-All is referring to a revelation I shall soon discover…

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I show Hayden where his marks are, where to take his eye line, where to put his left arm, and am about to figure out how to phrase where to place his bottom when luckily he lays in the right place anyway.

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Cut! It’s in the can (no pun intended). Then George says, “We need someone to read the lines with Hayden.” Second assistant director Sue Wood says, “It’s all right, Christian’s doing it!” Yeah, George, it’s all right, Christian’s doing it! She’d cleared it with me earlier.

Then I realize this is a pivotal scene. Anakin has just turned to the dark side and been christened Lord Darth Vader. Mace Windu has just been murdered by Palpatine (spoilers!). So when George and Ben Burtt edit this, they’ll have my voice to guide the timing. This Star Wars lover is Palpatine for this monumental day. How the tables have turned Hayden — first I was merely your stand-in, now I AM THE MASTER! 

No, seriously, all through this scene Hayden actually calls me “Master.”

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I contemplate doing my best Sidious impersonation, and tempting though it is, I instead go for a more professional angle rather than put Hayden off, and so I do my own voice with just enough Sidious intonations.

But George comes over and gives Hayden some direction, then comes over and directs me. At which point the seven-year-old inside you screams, “George Lucas is directing you on Star Wars!

George (to me): “Where you say ‘along with all the senators,’ you can make it a little more menacing when you say ‘senators,’ because his girlfriend is one of the senators so really he’s saying they’re gonna kill her…so make it a little more dark…”

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“More eevil,” I retort. “Yeah, evil,” he says and goes back to the monitors to watch.

I love how he tells me the story in such Earthly terms, as if I don’t know Anakin’s “girlfriend” is Padmé. George, I know your epic story!

Excerpt from Pablo Hidalgos set diary on StarWars.com

Excerpt from Pablo Hidalgo’s set diary on StarWars.com.

We do about 10 takes, and as we go on, Hayden and I find more of a balance with the Force, I get more menacing, and Hayden’s looks back at me react and respond by becoming more disgusted with Sidious, and perhaps himself. And that is what you see in the film. As a stand-in it’s tricky to hold the other actor’s gaze, as I know I don’t look like Sidious, and he knows I don’t look like Sidious (I hope!). But, one time I choose to look at Hayden the whole time, so as to achieve a variety of takes out of such a versatile actor. Here is what happens. Hayden instead says: “I agree. The Council’s first move will be against the Council…” Oops! D’oh! Cut! Then a walkie-talkie interrupts with a blaring, “ARE WE STILL ROLLING IN THERE?” Not missing a beat Anakin replies, “Yes, Master.”

The scene soon wraps, George is happy, and we move on to the last ever shot in a Lucas Star Wars movie.

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While they set up, I sit in a chair and just savor the moment, like I did once back on Episode I, sitting on top of the Naboo Palace steps in the rare British/Naboo sunshine, gazing down over Theed Plaza as Lt. Sykes. Words echo through my mind. You’re here, again, somehow. And you just did a scene with Lord Vader. And Lucas directed you. And you spoke the last Star Wars dialogue ever recorded on film by Lucas. At this point I laugh a little and shake my head. Wouldn’t you?

Vader himself comes over to me and says, “Hey, thanks for reading the lines, you did great! It was perfectly done.”  Whatever you say, my Lord.

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A few takes of a quick “sprinting in front of a one-ton camera chasing you damn fast on its moving crane” scene for me, then Hayden, and then George finally calls time.

“That’s it! Rick, that’s the end, after 28 years.” He sounds understandably emotional. Then there’s a polite and respectful patter of applause. We all know what it means.

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I thank the great Rick McCallum for having me back. He replies, “Hey, thanks for all your help, thanks for reading the lines.” I shake his hand then turn to Hayden who says to me, “Thanks for everything, man.”

“Oh, it was my pleasure,” I say back to the dark lord of the Sith.

But before it is time to go to lunch, George Lucas has a surprise for me — and us all — as he reveals why we’re on this soundstage, on this date.

For this very Stage 8 at Elstree is where Star Wars began filming in the UK back in 1976.

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Wonderful! Yet, why did he pick today, January 31? Well, it seems George Lucas started writing the first draft of Star Wars

When I was born.

His first 40-page handwritten draft was called “Journal of the Whills,” and began in January 1973 with:

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And there I was, on my birthday again, on the exact spot where the first-ever scenes were filmed, acting out the last-ever scene filmed, moments after Palpatine killed “Mace Windy” — the above character first put on paper 32 years ago.

Probably still all just coincidence…right?

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But so special is Star Wars to people like you and I, that it seemed just possible in some mystical way that the Force had perhaps bound this fan to Lucas’ Star Wars from its beginning, to be there on its last day.

Whatever the case, I felt so privileged to be present to share that final moment, and play my very small part in the huge machine. George didn’t know it was my birthday that day. None of the crew knew it. But I did, and that was more than enough for me.

Just like with the Force, we are all bound together, symbiotic life forms as Qui-Gon Jinn might say. We each have a role that we — or others — may not be aware of until much later in life, and it’s an effect like a butterfly fluttering its wings in a land far, far away… So regardless of whether you are apparently “celebrated” or feel seemingly insignificant at times, remember we are all simply equal human beings inhabiting this earth, with our unique part to play on the grand stage of life. And that’s what makes the galaxy go round.

For this fan, that journey was to guide me over the 10 years that followed, from being born a humble (not farm) boy from a small suburb of London, to end up in Hollywood, writing, performing, composing, living with the love of my life, and adoring what I do. That would not have happened if it were not for George Lucas putting pen to paper back in January 1973.

And so I’d love to hear below how Mr Lucas doing that has directly shaped your life, too.

Until next time remember, the Force will be with you, always….

If you would like to hear more of these tales, including ones about holding Luke’s lightsaber, using a Force push against Ewan, standing-in for Anthony Daniels, becoming a female droid, or flying Anakin’s starfighter to the opera, send a comment through the Force, or just type one below.

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/from-fandom-to-phantom-making-the-force-that-binds-us

“This is the sequel to Star Wars,” my sister said, passing the paperback book over the back seat of her Chevy.

“It’s a book?”

Receiving Splinter of the Mind’s Eye as a fourth-grader on the way home from school in 1978, I remember being puzzled. Star Wars was a huge movie — which I’d finally found out the previous year when my sister got me in to see the film after earlier attempts met with sold-out performances. Why, I wondered, would they release the new Star Wars movie in book form first?

I was too young to know that movies came from books all the time, and that even the novelization of Star Wars, ghost-written by Splinter’s author Alan Dean Foster, had come out before the movie did — as did several of the comic books. I didn’t know, either, that Foster had agreed to write Splinter for Del Rey in part to provide the filmmakers with a cheaply filmable story alternative for a quickie sequel if A New Hope had failed financially.

No, I just thought: Man, that’s strange. The next Star Wars is a book? Why wouldn’t they save it for the big screen?

I wasn’t thinking that a couple of years later, when I devoured the Empire Strikes Back novelization two weeks before the film came out. By then, I was an old hand at the whole media tie-in thing. I had read Splinter, and Han Solo at Stars’ End, and the Marvel comics, and the daily newspaper strip. I understood those stories were inspired by Star Wars, were meant to keep the universe alive and the excitement going during the seemingly interminable wait between films. And I knew the books were the books and that the comics were the comics — but that Donald F. Glut’s adaptation was the movie.

Yet knowing that distinction didn’t lessen my interest in the original tie-in stories at all. Not one little bit. In fact, they mattered to me on a scale that I’m reminded of every day of my life.

I have about 50,000 comic books. I sometimes say this like a person at an addicts-anonymous meeting, I know — but it is a circumstance that came about in part because growing up, when kids around me abandoned their interest in comics, I kept going. I kept reading. And the reason was Star Wars comics.

Age 11, in 1979 at a school fair. The Imperials were evidently not Cowboys fans.

Age 11, in 1979 at a school fair. The Imperials were evidently not Cowboys fans.

Like a lot of my friends, I nearly gave up comics in fifth grade because they’d skyrocketed in price. (To forty cents!) But that second Star Wars movie was on the way — and when I picked up an issue of Archie Goodwin’s “Wheel” storyline in the Marvel series, my interest in all comics was renewed.

The stories mattered.

Later, in eighth grade, after Empire’s release, I had nearly drifted away from comics again — again because of prices. (Fifty cents? Horrors!) That time, it was picking up an issue of David Michelinie’s “Tarkin” storyline that got me hooked on comics again, this time for good. My interest in Star Wars, you see, had never flagged. And there was this Revenge of the Jedi movie coming out, and so I had to be where the action was…

Again, the stories mattered. They made a material difference in my life at the time — and in the direction of it ever since.

The dawn of something new. Those books and comics were my lifeline to the films in the original trilogy era, but I didn’t think they would have any impact on them. I know I wasn’t alone in thinking that. At the time those stories came out, very few readers presumed the events tie-in novels and comics depicted would be reflected in the movies they were based on. The films were the source material, after all, not the other way around — and history’s example was powerful.

Tie-in comics and novels had been around for decades by 1977, supporting everything from The Lone Ranger to The Beverly Hillbillies. Thousands of books and comics were out there: many quite good, many by distinguished creators, all requiring a lot of work. And almost all of them were regarded by their licensors as just additional pieces of merchandise. Richie Cunningham may have nearly gotten engaged to Emma Watt in Ready to Go Steady, the first Happy Days novel, but I suspect even its author would have been stunned to hear that fact mentioned on a later TV show. That was the one-way street world Star Wars publishing started in.

A few years later, at a tourist trap in Cherokee, North Carolina. If Yoda hadnt lifted Lukes X-wing with the Force, he could have gone with a trailer.

A few years later, at a tourist trap in Cherokee, North Carolina. If Yoda hadn’t lifted Luke’s X-wing with the Force, he could have gone with a trailer.

But times were changing — and with Lucasfilm’s attention to licensing, Star Wars felt a bit different from the beginning. There were several moments of cross-fertilization in the original trilogy era that caught my notice as a kid. The Kenner Imperial Troop Transport vehicle, not seen in A New Hope, turned up in a Goodwin Star Wars story; Goodwin adapted Brian Daley’s Stars’ End in the newspaper comic strip.

And while Lucasfilm made revisions to a couple of comics plotlines that accidentally predicted events from Return of the Jedi (the aforementioned Michelinie “Tarkin” story being one of them), it also saw that the comics provided some connecting tissue with upcoming original trilogy movies. Before The Empire Strikes Back, Archie Goodwin knew he had to get the bounty back on Han Solo’s head — which he took care of in a sequence at the end of Star Wars #37 that featured the bounty hunter on Ord Mantell. Three years later, the Bothan spy ring was a big part of the last storyline before Return of the Jedi.

“Very cool,” I thought each time. “They’re connected.” No, I didn’t expect to hear the Marvel character Crimson Jack’s name being invoked by Jabba (who, after all, looked nothing like his initial comics incarnation), but I appreciated the effort to tie things together. The stories mattered, regardless of whether they worked together or not — but the connections were a cool bonus.

Wearing a Return of the Jedi shirt at 15 with my first computer. The machine still works, but the shirt no longer fits.

Wearing a Return of the Jedi shirt at 15 with my first computer. The machine still works, but the shirt no longer fits.

I bought my first computer after Return of the Jedi came out and started publishing my own fanzines in high school, but the well of Star Wars stories to write about was already running dry. With the novels petering out after the Lando Calrissian adventures and the comics license ending, it felt like the phenomenon was over. Forget the fall of the Republic: those were the true dark times. For several years, there was only the West End Games role-playing game carrying the torch. It did so admirably, but there was no substitute for having new stories coming out.

That’s why finding Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire on the Waldenbooks shelf in the spring of 1991 was so important to me. I was in graduate school by then, studying Soviet politics by day and tapping away at my own space operas on my computer (a new one, thank goodness) by night. I had no idea Heir to the Empire was even planned.

But unlike my 10-year-old counterpart, I knew immediately what the book meant once I cracked it open. Zahn’s story — and the stories that followed, and Dark Horse’s comics revival — meant no longer having to wonder about the unexplored mysteries of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

Star Wars would go on.

A future in motion. I found myself studying Star Wars from a much different orbit beginning in the mid-1990s, editing magazines devoted to the comics and hobby game businesses. I saw Star Wars a lot, then, covering Dark Horse, West End, Decipher, and other licensees. “Synergy” was one of the corporate buzzwords of the 1990s, particularly in the media business — so it’s not surprising that the post-Heir world took cross-media coordination to a new level.

By the end of 1996, Lucasfilm created Shadows of the Empire, offering prose, comics, gaming, and other merchandising tie-ins. It’s a little startling to consider just how much readers’ sophistication had grown in twenty years, when it came to media tie-ins: here were all the trappings of a movie, with no actual movie. And Star Wars readers took it in stride. By that time, we were used to seeing ideas crossing back and forth between media. West End Games, whose sourcebooks the Thrawn Trilogy had drawn upon, had crafted sourcebooks on the novels in return — and had earlier in the summer of 1996 published a sourcebook on Tales of the Jedi, set in an ancient era created for Dark Horse’s comics. The story engine worked, movies or no movies.

But of course, movies did come along. I’ve always thought Shadows was in many ways a dry run for the prequel films to come, seeing what was possible. The answer: quite a lot. The films were the original source material, and that source was suddenly alive again, generating multitudes of new characters, species, locations, and story springboards; and the tie-in publishers were right there, working with Lucasfilm to support and embellish the overall picture via the “Expanded Universe”. The task of coordinating hundreds of publications was monumental, unprecedented in tie-in history; it led later to the creation of the Holocron, with Leland Chee at Lucasfilm helping to keep track of it all.

George Lucas’ movies remained the preeminent and official document, though it was now a document that occasionally drew here and there from the supporting materials the films had spawned. And this time, when the films ended, the tie-in machine continued on, in perpetual motion. My connection with Star Wars tie-ins as a writer began, then, with my first Star Wars comic book releasing months after the release of Revenge of the Sith.

I met Caroline, the first costumer Id seen who was inspired by a character Id created, at Star Wars Celebration IV.

I met Caroline, the first costumer I’d seen who was inspired by a character I’d created, at Star Wars Celebration IV.

Some fun visits to various corners of the Star Wars tapestry followed, ranging from Knights of the Old Republic comics to Lost Tribe of the Sith short stories to the synergistic Knight Errant comics/novel combination — and, last year, Star Wars: Kenobi.

Doing a reading with the Gryph puppet at Midsouthcon in 2010.

Doing a reading with the Gryph puppet at Midsouthcon in 2010.

The journey has brought some priceless moments. The first time I saw someone costuming as a character that I had created — someone dressed as Jarael at Star Wars Celebration IV — was a genuine delight. There was the time some fans gave me a life-sized muppet of Marn “The Gryph” Hierogryph. And then there was being able to base a starship in one story on a LEGO ship my own son had designed. A lot of circles came full.

Arent these the guys from thirty years earlier? Hmm. I dont have the Cowboys shirt any more  they arent allowed in Wisconsin.

Aren’t these the guys from 30 years earlier? Hmm. I don’t have the Cowboys shirt any more — they aren’t allowed in Wisconsin.

And now there’s another unique experience: Star Wars: A New Dawn, my new book releasing in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook on September 2 from Random House/Del Rey. It’s a book that, many advance readers will tell you, reads and feels like any other Star Wars adult novel; I certainly wrote it with that intent in mind. But it was how it was written that differs, and which represents a change from past practice.

A first step into a larger world. A New Dawn is the first story written in consultation with the Lucasfilm Story Group. The group has representatives who are in the loop on the new sequel movies as well as the upcoming Rebels TV series; their involvement means that events in new tie-in works from A New Dawn forward will be considered as having happened in a Star Wars movie or TV show.

A New Dawn has the important task of revealing how some of the central stars of a new Lucasfilm Animation television series came to meet. It wasn’t a tie-in story removed to a safe distance to avoid stepping on what was happening in the TV show, only name-dropping safe connections here and there. It had to tell the history that these characters carry in their minds as they grow and evolve on the TV show.

This required an unprecedented collaboration between the publishing and film and TV production teams at Lucasfilm, And that connection was made possible with the newly formed Lucasfilm Story Group that, among other things, is tasked with ensuring the universe now expands to a cohesive, grand design.

I didn’t know, as I began writing Star Wars: A New Dawn, that it would have the introductory role that it does. It certainly wasn’t called A New Dawn at the time; in fact, it didn’t have a name for months. It was simply the “Rebels prequel,” focusing on the earliest days of the movement that would later become the Rebel Alliance — and incorporating characters I learned about from consultations with the Story Group and the Rebels executive producers. I was well into the manuscript when I was informed that its release date — which necessarily had to be before Rebels’ — would likely make it the first of the Story Group novels to be released. (But I didn’t believe it even then: until a book’s finished, you just don’t know. When Timothy Zahn and I were invited out to Lucasfilm to make the EU Appreciation video — an episode in which I managed to get one of my favorite authors completely lost as we looked for the building — I had doubts my book would be first, because I was still writing it on the plane!)

With Timothy Zahn, from our visit this year to Lucasfilm. Youd think with Yoda out front I wouldnt have got us lost.

With Timothy Zahn, from our visit this year to Lucasfilm. You’d think with Yoda out front I wouldn’t have got us lost.

But even after I knew for sure, I didn’t change my approach to the novel at all. There’s an old saying in comics that every book is someone’s first; you don’t want new readers to feel as if they’re missing something. I try to live by that. The book does draw upon known names and concepts, just as Rebels does; as the press release said, creators of new Star Wars stories have full access to what came before. But the book gives you everything you need to know about the valuable compound the Empire is after, for example, without any need to have read the 2008 comic book story that introduced it. It happens not to have changed since that earlier depiction: the thing with legends is that parts of them are true.

The title became A New Dawn, a reference to a new beginning for those resisting the Empire — and a book whose acronym, “AND,” says a lot about its approach. It’s for EU veterans and first-time readers. I’m writing for the “lifers” like me — and the people we all want to be lifers, those kids getting copies handed to them in the car while on the way home from school.

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Ready to launch. In one sense, I have the same job as Kanan Jarrus, star of Rebels and the new novel. As we find him in A New Dawn, Kanan is a freelance pilot delivering high explosives for Moonglow Polychemical. Getting to his destination and returning the ship in one piece to the company that owns it: that’s a successful day. I’m a freelance writer, using the ship of Star Wars to deliver an adventure to readers — and like Kanan, I have to make sure to get that ship back to the yards in one piece.

As with Kanan’s job, some missions are trickier than others; some loads more explosive, some routes more challenging. But I don’t think about that when I start the ignition. Because it’s something I’m trained to do — and second, this is writing Star Wars we’re talking about. You want to know what’s a difficult job for a writer? Writing something you don’t care about. I spent a year early in my career ghost-writing interviews with sawmill owners for a lumber magazine. Anyone taking an EKG of me while writing that stuff would have declared a time of death.

Yes, writing Star Wars can be hard work — as is editing the books, drafting the art, and all the jobs that go into delivering the stories — but during every minute of it, you’re alive. Alive, and aware that you’ve got one of the coolest gigs ever. It’s a privilege — and you guys are a privilege to write for. You care about Star Wars, and you care about what we do. You can’t beat that.

What I said in my acknowledgments to A New Dawn is true. While the stories we love may not always fit comfortably in a timeline, they will always matter. I do not know what the future holds for Star Wars; I do not know what storylines are on offer, or how they will or won’t relate to things that have been written before. That’s above my pay grade; I’m just a pilot for hire. But I know that I — and everyone else who produces work for the Galaxy Far, Far Away — will do our best to keep you entertained on the journey.

That’s all. Engines are revved and ready. Were a little rushed, so if you’ll hurry aboard, we’ll get out of here…

John Jackson Miller is the author of Star Wars: A New Dawn, releasing Sept. 2 from Random House/Del Rey in hardcover, audiobook, and electronic formats. Learn more at http://atrandom/a-new-dawn. He is also the author of the Scribe Award-winning Star Wars: Kenobi, as well as more than a dozen Star Wars graphic novels. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jjmfaraway, and visit his website at http://www.farawaypress.com.

 

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/the-journey-to-star-wars-a-new-dawn

Luke Skywalker calls Dagobah something out of a dream and a slimy mudhole. Even in his playful trickster persona, Yoda objects to Luke’s statement because this slimy mudhole has been his home for more than 20 years (which took roughly only 2.5 percent of Yoda’s entire life). During a story conference for The Empire Strikes Back in December 1977, the possibility of a swampy, eerie and misty bog planet is mentioned as the place where Luke learns about the Force. In a mythological point of view Dagobah functions as a sacred grove. Ralph McQuarrie designed a lot of creatures for Dagobah, but none of them would actually make it into the final movie. Earthly animals were eventually used to populate Yoda’s home, such as American king snakes, a water monitor, lizards, and toads.

Artoo lands near the remains of an unknown creature

Artoo lands near the remains of an unknown creature.

Before the prequels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars we assumed that Yoda took refuge on Dagobah simply because nobody knew of its existence and because the planet had nothing to offer. A possible explanation was given in the Legends novel Heir to the Empire. Zahn’s novel mentions a dark side presence on Dagobah (the “dark side cave”) that neutralized Yoda’s presence on the planet. But in the prequels, and more recently in The Lost Missions of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we learn the true value of Dagobah. According to the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn, Dagobah was one of the purest places in the galaxy. The Living Force thrived on Dagobah and therefore it was the best place where Yoda could learn from Qui-Gon Jinn how to preserve his consciousness after his physical death. Yoda spent the last decades of his long life in solitude, only in the presence of many strange invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians. Let’s slither, hiss, and croak along with them!

Creepy and Crawly

When Yoda first visits Dagobah near the end of the Clone Wars, several bogwings are curious witnesses of his arrival. The bogwing is a flying reptavian native to Dagobah. Several types of of these territorial creatures live in the different layers of the ecosystem where they feed on small creatures and where they give birth during flight.

Bogwings and Picobi

Bogwings and pikobi.

It also appears that a certain species of pikobi, fast-moving and flightless reptavians, call Dagobah their home. Pikobi have long pointed beaks which they use to spear their prey. Their web-like feet are adapted to live in swampy environments such as Dagobah, but they also live in the swamps of Naboo and in the jungles of Onderon.

Dragonsnake

Dragonsnake

R2-D2 has a really close encounter with a dragonsnake during Luke’s first visit to Dagobah. These long and slender aquatic reptiles reside in Dagobah’s many primeval bogs. The lagoon near Yoda’s hut is even known (probably just by Yoda) as Dragonsnake Bog. One particular dragonsnake was hungry enough to devour Artoo when the droid was swimming to the shore. Luckily the Astromech didn’t taste very well and the creature spat the droid into spooky branches where he landed near the skeletal remains of an unknown creature. Dragonsnakes can also be found on Nal Hutta.

Vine Snakes

Vine snakes

Among Dagobah’s residents are many kinds of vine snakes; some smaller specimens even reside in Yoda’s hut. Another vine snake — hiding in the X-wing — startles Luke when he is about to leave Dagobah to rescue Han and Leia.

When Luke enters the domain of evil to confront a vision of the future, he’s being watched by two creatures. The reptilian sleen is a slow omnivorous swamp forager. It also eats insects and seeks out dark and damp environments. The nudj is a small reptile that also favors moist caves and marches. It’s considered extremely docile despite its fearsome appearance.

Nudj and Sleen

Nudj and sleen.

Dagobah also features some creatures that have never been named, such as a reptile resting on another large skeleton. The origin of both large skeletons, that can be seen during Luke’s time on Dagobah, remains a mystery. Miniaturized versions of the can-cell, the gelagrub, and the ginntho are also crawling around on Dagobah’s soil.

Tales of Legends

While the screentime of the Dagobah creatures may be limited, several Legends sources offer more information on the wildlife. The comic Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes (2010) adds a surprising element to the dragonsnake that attacks Artoo. That particular creature was supposedly the king of the dragonsnakes and a much larger and ferocious specimen that terrorized his fellow dragonsnakes. Luke conquers the king and he seeks out his treasure, which turns out to be a tasteful accipiptero egg. After Luke defeats the king, the other dragonsnakes turn on him and the king loses his reign over the swamps. The comic offers a good amount of creatures from Dagobah throughout Luke’s adventure.

Swamp Slug vs. Dragonsnake (McQuarrie)

Swamp slug vs. dragonsnake (McQuarrie).

The first book that expanded on the Dagobah fauna was The Illustrated Star Wars Universe (1995), written by Kevin J. Anderson and beautifully illustrated by Ralph McQuarrie. The book tells the spooky in-universe tale of Galactic Republic scientist Halka Four-Den who leads a scientific mission on Dagobah, gathering information on several creatures. One of them is called the knobby white spider. This strange arachnid already appeared in McQuarrie’s production paintings and is described as a mobile root of a Dagobah gnarltree. When it gathers enough nutrients, the spider settles down and its legs transform into the gigantic roots of the tree. Another arachnid, though smaller and more dangerous, is the butcherbug. This creature is able to spin deadly invisible webs that are able to tear their prey apart. The spotlight sloth is a peaceful herbivorous mammal with bioluminescent patches on its chest. This creature only has to fear the largest predators on Dagobah. One of the large creatures on Dagobah is the swamp slug. This giant gastropod is considered the alpha predator of the marshes along with its archenemy, the dragonsnake. A swamp slug can grow to eight meters in length and devours all it can find. Because this creature has very few vital organs, it’s very hard to kill. The swamp slug may not have appeared in the movies, but some of its relatives did. The Nos Monster was meant to appear in Revenge of the Sith (but wasn’t used in the final movie), and the Kwazel Maw makes an appearance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Rodia where it befriends Jar Jar Binks in the episode “Bombad Jedi” (Season One).

Knobby White Spider (McQuarrie)

Knobby white spider (McQuarrie)

The Wildlife of Star Wars (2001), illustrated by Terryl Whitlatch, shows a fantastic view on Dagobah’s wildlife. It features the amphibian scrange, nharpina and morp, three creatures that were originally designed by McQuarrie to appear in Episode V. The Dagobah python is another nightmarish predator that hunts by draping itself around low branches of gnarltrees. The book has a magnificent overview of the different layers in the Dagobah ecosystem, starting on the bottom with the marshes and ending above the canopy where the reptavian accipiptero rules the misty skies. Other, not so dangerous, creatures on Dagobah are the jubba bird and two species of rodents: the leaf-tail and the spade-headed smooka.

Dagobah ecosystem by Terryl Whitlatch

Dagobah ecosystem (Whitlatch)

Zoologists from Coruscant to Zardossa Stix would probably have the time of their lives, examining and cataloging all the strange creatures on Dagobah, but some places are just not meant to receive visitors. — except from a Jedi Master in exile who made Dagobah his new home, living in harmony with the planet’s many life-forms.

Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), is an administrator for Yodapedia, and has written four character back stories in ‘What’s the Story?’.

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Article source: http://www.starwars.com/news/meet-the-creatures-of-dagobah

”I think he’s a she…and I think she’s a changeling.” — Anakin Skywalker

Shapeshifter, changeling, skin-changer, polymorph, quasimorph, amorph. All terms used for a range of species that fall within one classification, but could not be more diverse. It includes beings that have no “true form,” and species that are able to manipulate their bodies to the point where they may be unrecognizable or even mimic others. Note that shapeshifting in the classical definition describes the ability to change ones physical appearance, and the term is in no way limited to those beings that can imitate other life forms. Also, shapeshifting is sometimes confused with metamorphosis, a biological process in which species undergo a process of transformation from an immature life stage into their adult form. This is a process that occurs in a wide range of species, but is usually irreversible. A Wyrwulf would only change into a Codru-Ji once, and a Chroma-Wing could never morph back into a Ruurian. Although the shapeshifters occur on all ends of the biological spectra, they can be roughly divided into three groups.

Masters of Disguise

The first group of shapeshifters include those species that come to mind first when thinking about this subject. Beings that are specialized in altering their physical appearance to imitate other species. The most famous of these is probably the Shi’ido from Sh’shuun, who have made shapeshifting into an form of art. In their natural appearance they have pale skin and faces with a wide mouth and deep set eyes. Having skeletons of thin but very dense bone and detachable tendons, they have the ability to move their inner workings around their body, and their pliable skin can accommodate for a wide range of physiologies. The Shi’ido are true masters of disguise, being able to take on the form of most humanoid species. Their skin can change to adopt the texture of scales, rock, and even fur. One of the best known Shi’ido is Senior Anthropologist Mammon Hoole, who has used his abilities to study sentient life by disguising and immersing himself in their cultures. Legends even tell of him taking on the shape of a Whaladon once. Another Shi’ido disguised himself as an Aqualish, and served as Senator Po Nudo’s aide during the Clone Wars. His name and intentions, however, are still shrouded in mystery.

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The Clawdite are a species of reptomammals from the Mid Rim world of Zolan. They are actually a product of genetic manipulation by the Zolanders, who activated the dormant skin-changing genes while researching a way to protect their people from dangerous solar radiation. The abilities of a Clawdite to change appearance are nowhere near as good as those of the Shi’ído, and they are more limited in the forms they can take on. Radically different body shapes are very difficult, although their abilities grow with age and can be improved with training. Clawdites mainly use their abilities to hide from others, acting as bounty hunters or assassins, such as the famous Zam Wesell. Changing shape actually brings discomfort for the Clawdites, and relies heavily upon their focus. Any distractions, such as being injured or surprised, can cause them to slip from their disguises.

Qiilura, a temperate world in the Mid Rim, is inhabited by the Gurlanins. Resembling marsupial canines with black fur in their normal state, these polymorphs are able to take on many forms, including that of a human being. Not much is known about the Gurlanins, as they have resisted most forms of study by keeping to themselves. Several members of the species were active as spies during the Clone Wars, but only to get rid of the Separatist occupation of Qiilura. Even more mysterious are the Gupins. Anthropologists have not been able to pinpoint their planet of origin, although several came to the world of Endor, probably aboard the Starhunter Dhelba. Vaguely resembling diminutive human beings in their regular shape, the changing abilities of the Gupin seem unconfined to any boundaries normally created by a species’ skeletal or muscle structures. They can morph into quadruped monsters, flatten themselves or even assume shapes much heavier than their natural form. Many of their abilities have been linked with their highly attuned connections to the living Force, and the abilities of the Endorian Gupins are presumably amplified by a Force relic stored in the Juniper Chest.

Stennes Shifters are often lumped together with this category of shapeshifting species as well, but are no true changelings. While it is true that they can adjust their appearance, their ability is not a physical one, but rather a mental one. They possess a clouding ability that utilizes the Force to alter an onlookers perception of their physical form, without actually changing. A similar process may be what lies behind the extraordinary abilities displayed by the Gupins.

Fluid Forms

The second category of shapeshifting beings can be, more-or-less, classified as “amorphic” (literally “without shape”). These are species that have the ability to adapt their physical shape due to the fact that their bodies have no true form. This allows them to take on a multitude of shapes, sometimes even mimicking other species. One such a species is the Polydroxol, a denantium-based organism from the Outer Rim world Sevetta. Denantium is a silver-colored, mercury-like substance. The fluid nature of a Polydroxol enables it to recuperate from wounds and replace lost body parts, although there is a limit in how much damage they can suffer. As Imperial scientist Trem DeSalvaine discovered during his study of a captured Polydroxol, they are able to take on the shape of other species, in addition to almost any conceivable form, but can only adapt their coloration to imitate metallic compounds and plastics. As such, the Polydroxols can never truly resemble a human being, as it is unable to replicate skin texture.

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Some other life forms bear more resemblance to flexible gelatinous or mudlike blobs. One example is the Pulra of Kuras III, whose shapeshifting abilities are mostly limited to camouflage and manipulation of their surroundings by forming specialized appendages. One unique characteristic, however, is their ability to “join” with other Pulras to form a collective entity that combines the skills of all involved individuals. Their flexible genetic code even allows for them to join with beings from other species, functioning as organs or limbs. The silicon-based Proteans discovered by Imperial scientists on Nathas I, in the Questal Sector, look similar to the Pulras, although they appear to be made out of clay rather than gelatin. Their natural camouflage makes studies difficult and therefore unreliable. Proteans possess a central circulatory and nerve cluster that limits their bodies from taking on very thin shapes. And while they can survive in vacuum for extended periods of time, they do need gravity to keep their bodies together. Proteans can change color and mimic natural patterns, helping them disguise themselves in natural environments. Although it is not in their nature, they can be taught to take on humanoid forms.

Somewhat similar, but largely unknown in its biology or functioning is Mnggal-Mnggal, a mysterious entity from the Unknown Regions. On first glance, it looks like nothing more than a thick gray ooze, but has the ability to quickly mold (parts of) itself into a broad variety of forms. Its disguises are nowhere near as complex as for example those of a Shi’ido, but it possesses the ability to infect and control other beings. By exposing nearby individuals to a spray of droplets, it is able to enter their system, slowly digesting their victims and replacing their innards with the same gray ooze that makes up the “parent.” These husks are under full control of the Mnggal-Mnggal and form an adequate disguise. However, they do not last long, as Mnggal-Mnggal is unable to preserve the hosts.

Yet another amorphic species is the Filar Nitzan, a gaseous life form native to the Wild Space world of DNX-N1. Also known as “cloud demons” or “gas devils”, these mysterious aliens resemble a cloud of colored smoke or mist. This physical state allows them to manipulate their body into any shape they want, even changing their density, and makes them impervious to any kind of physical damage. As gaseous beings, the Filar-Nitzan are nearly impossible to notice by even the best guards, and very difficult to detect by anything but the most expensive surveillance systems. An investigation by the Task Force on Alliance Security into Vacander, a Filar-Nitzan associated with high-ranking Imperials, showed how good they are in covering their tracks, revealing not much more than some message drop points.

The Ugor are unique in the sense that they are one of very few unicellular species that have achieved full sentience. While hard to believe when looking at the sheer size of their bodies, an Ugor consists out of one single cell. They are able to manipulate their body into a wide range of shapes, often forming appendages to manipulate their environment or specialized pseudopodia that act as sensory organs. In their natural form they resembles large blobs, but when dealing with outsiders they usually wear environmental suits take on a humanoid form.

One or the Other

The third group of shapeshifters consists of species that have developed the ability to alternate between two distinct physiologies. Such behavior is seen in the Neti, the sentient plant species that live on Ryyk. They have the ability to change from their humanoid form into a tree-like being that can stay dormant for thousands of years.

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The Dazouri, natives of the Outer Rim world of Gibbela, appear to be short, hairless humanoids on first glance. However, if they are in any way threatened, wounded or irritated, they transform into hulking savages with large claws and fangs. In this “rage state”, they grow to three times their original height, and will attack everyone around them in a homicidal frenzy. The Empire once made an unsuccessful attempt to claim their world, but their scouting party never made it back. The Lahsbee of Lahsbane have a similar trait, although their transformation into the savage Huhk is a permanent change upon reaching puberty — they are therefore, not true shapeshifters. Some researchers believe there may be a genetic connection between the Lahsbee and the Dazouri. The Vilosorians were also able to repel the Empire from their homeworld with their shapeshifting abilities. In their case, their transformation follows a seasonal cycle, where they morph into dangerous carnivores during the warmer periods, as opposed to the docile creatures they are during the winter.

An analogous behavior to the Dazouri transformation is observed in the Felacatians, polymorphic felines from the Outer Rim world of Felacat. In their normal state, they have a humanoid build, not too different from humans save for their fur and tail. Under stress, or when exposed to prolonged hyperspace travel, they transform into their “animal form”, a panther-like creature with quills on its back and huge fangs. The transformation is almost instantaneous, taking only seconds, and makes the Felacatians extremely dangerous by enhancing their strength and senses. Practiced Felacatians can alternate between the two forms at will. Mikans have perfected their shapeshifting ability to the point where they can transform into a human shape. These beings from Mika (or “Jellyfish Cove”), in the Arkanis Sector, resemble purple jellyfish in their natural form, but use the human disguise to lure targets, usually as beautiful women. Their liquid tissue solidifies upon contact with sunlight, so they are only active during the night. There are no stories of Mikans ever taking on other shapes, but then again, encounters are usually fatal.

There are many more forms of shapeshifters out there in the galaxy, including non-sentients creatures. Who doesn’t know the gelatinous Umgullian racing blobs, who are the main attraction to Umgul’s many gambling visitors? And spacers bring back the weirdest tales about Quarfs, that can transform from horse-like creatures into dragons. Stranger legends speak of changeling creatures known as Sasori, Gyaos, and Clados, and there’s even rumors of a shapeshifting Wampa. Just remember, looks may be deceiving, don’t always trust what your eyes see!

Selected Reading

Adventure Journal 12: Shape-shifters (Pablo Hidalgo, 1997)
Alliance Intelligence Reports (Bill Smith et al., 1995)
Castaways of Endor (Daniel Wallace and Amy Pronovost, 2008)
Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races (Troy Denning, 1989)
Republic Commando: Hard Contact (Karen Traviss, 2004)
The Essential Guide to Alien Species (Ann Margaret Lewis, 2001)
The Feral Queen (Robin Etherington, 2011)
The Unknown Regions (Ray Vallese, Bradley Will et al.

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