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Whether Greedo shot first is still up for debate. (So let’s not go there.) But is thrilled to reveal that the roasted Rodian is definitely first in something else: Funko’s awesome new line of Star Wars Hikari vinyl figures!
Greedo figure - Funko's Star Wars Hikari

As seen in the photo above, Greedo has a beautiful gloss look (Hikari is Japanese for “light”) and a super-deformed style that hearkens back to classic vinyl toys. Impressive. Most impressive.

The Star Wars Hikari line is inspired by cool retro ’60s and ’70s Japanese vinyl known as sofubi or kaiju. Funko’s CEO, Brian Mariotti, is a collector of sofubi figures and wanted to bring that aesthetic to the company’s licenses.

Japanese Hikari figures

Each of Funko’s Hikari figures is hand-numbered and limited edition. Look for more heroes, villains, and creatures from a galaxy far, far away to join Greedo in 2015, with Darth Vader, Bossk, Clone Trooper, Storm Trooper, Wampa, Boba Fett, and C3PO coming soon to the Star Wars Hikari line.

So, raise a glass of blue milk to Funko’s Star Wars Hikari figures and to Greedo — finally first, and available soon! All Star Wars, all the time.

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Every collector has their specific passion, or “sub-genre,” they gravitate more to than others. For me, this is one of the most amazing and engaging aspects of Star Wars collecting. There’s literally something for everyone to enjoy. No matter where your passion lies there’s always something to find. These different focuses all contain their own gems, and to help you out, I’m breaking down some great pieces to add to your collection if you don’t have them already. We’re going to kick things off with a look at the vast world of Star Wars video game memorabilia!

Collector’s purchase items for a variety of reasons. Some are completionists who need to have one of everything in a specific category, while others like to hunt for items that are unique or different from the norm. Regardless of how you do it, if your focus is on collecting Star Wars video game memorabilia, there are some items you should definitely have in your collection and out on display.

EmpireStrikesBack Atari

EmpireStrikesBack Atari 2

1. The Empire Strikes Back (Atari 2600)

If you’re going to collect Star Wars gaming merchandise, then Parker Bros.’ The Empire Strikes Back is a necessity. Technically speaking, this is where it all began. Shortly before the original trilogy concluded with Return of the Jedi, fans got their first taste of Star Wars gaming on the Atari 2600. The gaming industry may have still been in its infancy, but George Lucas and Lucasfilm Games (before they became LucasArts) saw the potential and desire in fans to experience the galaxy far, far away in the interactive format.

Empire Strikes Back was a simple game, a basic side-scrolling shooter, and gamers are tasked with defending Echo Base from invading Imperial AT-ATs in one of the most iconic battles of the Saga. It was the first step into a much larger world for the franchise and gave fans a hunger to interact more with their favorite characters and settings. Sure, if you were to pop it in and play through it now, you might not enjoy it as much, but many of us will hold on to it for collection purposes rather than actual play time.

The greatest thing about this piece, however, is that, despite its age and historical significance, it’s relatively easy to find on the cheap. A search through a local store that sells retro video games will likely result in you finding multiple copies of this game for around $4-5. While a mint and sealed copy of the game will be a tad more difficult to find, snagging a clean, working copy is still a great addition to your collection to showcase the franchise’s roots in gaming.

StarWars GigaPets

Star Wars Giga Pet instructions

2. Star Wars Giga Pets

One of the great truisms in geek culture is that if something is popular or trending with audiences, the Star Wars license will soon attach to it. Pogs, playing cards, Mighty Beanz, miniature skateboards, and the recent string of mobile games all provide evidence of this fact. So it’s no surprise that during the 90s when Tamagotchi virtual pets were all the rage, a Star Wars version wasn’t far behind to give fans their own option on the craze.

The Star Wars Giga Pets (Tiger Electronics’ answer to Bandai’s Tamagotchi) hit in the later 90s around the Special Edition releases and gave people three options to choose from: a Rancor, Yoda, or R2-D2. Seems odd an Ewok wasn’t considered, but then again these weren’t exactly treated like pets. Rather than “raising” them, they’re presented more like mini-games you can play and mess around with.

This might account for the reason why they never really caught on. Aside from the Rancor, in which you could feed him whole people to make him happy, none of them were very enjoyable and lacked some of the appeal other virtual pets had. Regardless, these are still collectibles worth adding in to your gaming collection simply because of their uniqueness.

Sure, it’s a fad that didn’t pan out for the license, but in my experience, oftentimes those make the most interesting pieces in a collection. The nostalgia factor kicks in when on display, encouraging questions and discussions from visitors. This in turn gives you the chance to open up more about your collection and show off the wealth of Star Wars merchandising knowledge at your disposal. These Giga Pets are conversation starters and provide insight to the history of the license in the gaming industry, which are primary factors in finding interesting display items.

Falcon CD Rom Playset

3. Star Wars Millennium Falcon CD-Rom Playset

Many Star Wars games seek to put the gamers in the experience and help them live through the action, but the Millennium Falcon CD-Rom Playset tried to do so literally by putting players “in” the cockpit of Han Solo’s iconic spaceship. The cockpit playset sits over the top of most standard computer keyboards and snaps into place. From there you take control of the Falcon and zoom off on various missions.

The entire idea is more of a gimmick than anything else, and the game itself isn’t what many would call, “fun.” However, this little piece of gaming history is worth hunting down and adding to your collection. It’s an interesting gaming experiment for the franchise, and it’s a pretty nifty crossover piece, managing to be both a game and toy collectible.

Let’s face it, most Star Wars collectors dip their hands in all variety of collectibles, and having an item that manages to fit into multiple areas of collecting is a boon. It gives you many things to talk about and can be displayed in a multitude of ways.  This is especially true with this specific playset since its packaging is ideal for display, for those of you who prefer to keep things nice and neat in the box (like me). It has a large plastic “bubble” window that allows you to see the entire set, ooh and ahh over it, all while remaining sealed.

Additionally, while this came out nearly two decades ago, it’s fairly easy to find at a reasonable price. Dig around the vendor booths at any of your local conventions and you’re likely to find this for around $15-20. Even in the online shopping realm, if you search hard enough you’ll find a mint one for around the same price, and it’s totally worth it.

Vader Holder

Vader Holder 2

4. Darth Vader Wii Sensor Holder

In order to get the motion controls to work on the Wii, Nintendo included a motion sensor to go with the consoles. Gamers could affix the sensor to either the top or bottom of the television screens…but we’re Star Wars fans and something so plain simply won’t cut it. If we’re going to game, it’s going to be in style. Thus, we have the Darth Vader Wii Sensor Holder, for those fans who enjoy showing off their passion for gaming and Dark Lords of the Sith all at the same time.

I always thought this idea was kind of neat. While the Wii received some other Star Wars attention in the form of the snap-on lightsabers that attached to the Wii-motes, they weren’t always the most useful items. The Darth Vader sensor holder, however, was incredibly practical and looked great on your home entertainment setup. This isn’t a cheap plastic holder that feels flimsy. No, this is pretty much a high quality sculpture, cast out of a high density resin, meaning this thing is going to last and continue to look good for many years.

I love collectibles which can be easily displayed within the house without looking obtrusive or out of place. Having action figures hanging on the wall in your living room might seem a little off-putting to some, but a well-crafted sculpture on your entertainment center can mesh well with regular, non-geeky, decor in your household.

Perhaps best of all, if you’re one of the gamers who’ve upgraded to Nintendo’s Wii U, you can still use this bad boy for holding your sensor bar.  Since the Wii U sensor bar is exactly the same, it’ll fit nice and neat in Darth Vader’s Lightsaber, which means it’ll continue to be a practical part of your collection for at least another few years (longer if you hoard your consoles like some of us do).


xbox limited_edition_star_wars_themed_xbox_360_shows_your_love_to_r2d2_and_c3po_1

5. Limited Edition Star Wars Xbox 360

Sure, Star Wars accessories that go with your gaming console are cool, but you know what’s even better? An entire, officially licensed, Star Wars console. Revealed a few years ago at SDCC, fans instantly went nuts for this R2-D2 themed console, and with good reason.  This wasn’t a simple decal or skin marking the console (as many special edition consoles tend to be), this was a full takeover of the Xbox 360.

The plastic casing was entirely redone to make it appear more like the iconic astromech, which even incorporates his telltale boops and whistles when you touch any of the face buttons. The controller is patterned after C-3PO (because you can’t have one droid without the other!), and the disc tray has “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re My Only Hope” printed on the inside. In short, this is a very thorough Star Wars console that looks amazing.

From a purely gaming standpoint, you get a quality version of the Xbox 360, with an impressive sized hard drive. It’s a practical piece of hardware (even if you’re already onto the next generation) that also happens to be one of the better looking pieces of gaming memorabilia out there. Sure, there are various Star Wars “skins” or snap-on plates you can affix to virtually any console you can think of, but this is so much more than that. It can easily become the highlight of your Star Wars video game collection, as it’s great for displaying and looking amazing regardless of whether you’re actively using it or not.

Despite being a limited edition console, it’s still fairly easy to find one either online or on your local hunts, though it’s going to cost you quite a bit more than the other items I’ve discussed. I can honestly say, though, it’s well worth picking up and has been an integral part of my personal Star Wars gaming collection.

There are many other fine collectibles you can discover on the video game side of Star Wars collectibles that span throughout the decades. Undoubtedly you’ll want to track them down and add them to your collection as well. If you’re kicking off a new gaming focus, or simply want to add in some gems to your existing collection, these pieces will do nicely.  They’re all excellent conversation starters, and they show off the various gaming trends throughout the decades.

Jordan Maison is an artist, writer, father, and avid Star Wars fan who tries to intersect all of those at every possible junction. To hear him talk about more nerdy things and his art, you can follow him on Twitter @JordanMaison or Cinelinx where he serves as editor in chief. 

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As a member of the (very small) social media team here at Lucasfilm, I have the honor of reading, responding to, laughing at, loving, and sharing all of your Star Wars conversations every day. Our fans are creative, passionate, funny, and very active across the Internet; every Friday, I’ll share my favorite social media posts from the week in the Social Scanner, so show me what you’ve got!

With the blizzard in the northeast, there were a lot of Hoth jokes. We hope everyone’s tauntauns made it to their markers safely.

Oh, look. I found the ONE and ONLY positive thing about snow: recreating scenes from the Hoth system. #hoth #starwars #googleglass #throughglass

A photo posted by Virginia Poltrack (@virginiapoltrack) on Jan 7, 2015 at 12:16pm PST

More love for BB-8! This little guy seems to really resonate with people.

A video posted by Chuck Skoda (@skoda) on Jan 29, 2015 at 9:53am PST


If the sheer awesomeness of Star Wars #1 is any indicator of what else Marvel has up their sleeves, consider me properly hyped for this mysterious upcoming miniseries.

Speaking of reading, this might just be the coolest Little Free Library I’ve ever seen. If you’re not familiar with the movement, these are homemade boxes that neighbors use to lend and borrow books with each other on the honor system. It’s a great way to spread the Star Wars love.

While out this weekend I found this Star Wars themed tiny library! #starwars #literacy

A photo posted by Ian K. (@iankhardcore) on Jan 28, 2015 at 8:53am PST

Andi Gutierrez is the Star Wars social media correspondent and host of Rebels Recon. You can follow her on Twitter

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Ever since the original Star Wars was released in 1977, fans have always been dreaming about living in that galaxy far, far away. While that may be just a little difficult, there are still the real-world locations that served as various worlds during filming, and they can be visited. In Galactic Backpacking, we explore these locations by country, looking at their histories and current attractions.

In A New Hope, Luke told C-3PO and R2-D2 that Tatooine is the planet that is farthest from the bright center to the universe. When we saw this bright center in The Phantom Menace we saw the big sprawling city world of Coruscant. Along with many other scenes throughout the saga that consisted of sets, Coruscant was filmed entirely in studios. Most of these studios stood in the United Kingdom, making the UK in many ways the real bright center of the Star Wars Universe and the location of the heart behind the movies. Production returned to the UK earlier this year to shoot Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the Pinewood Studios.

General information

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as is the full name for the UK although it is also loosely called Great Britain (which is actually the name of the island), is a constitutional monarchy lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea in the east, the English Channel in the south and the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Besides Ireland, the closest neighboring countries are France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. The only proper land bordering the UK has is with the Ireland. With an area of 243,610 square kilometers (94,060 sq. miles), the UK is the 11th-largest country in Europe and has an estimated 64.1 million inhabitants. When people talk about England, they do not mean the entire country, but in fact talk about one of the four constituent nations that form up the United Kingdom. The other three are Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

In 2004, the UK ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world with London receiving the most international visitors of any city in the world. Tourists flock to the many major cities like London, the 25 Unesco World Heritage sites or the stunning countryside, proving that the UK is much more than rain and visiting Buckingham Palace to see if the Queen is at home.

Quick facts

Capital: London

Official languages: English

Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Currency: Pound sterling

Time zone: UTC, UTC +1 during “British Summer Time” (BST)

Roads: Drive on the left

Climate: The United Kingdom has a temperate climate with temperatures varying by season, but seldom dropping below −11 °C (12 °F) or rising above 35 °C (95 °F). And yes, there are many places in the UK where it rains a lot, but contrary to popular belief some locations are surprisingly dry, among them London, where less rain falls per annum then in cities like Sydney, Rome, and New York.

Best time to visit the shooting locations: During the spring or summer would be best, when the nature in the Whippendell Woods is fully in bloom. The shooting there took place in September 1997.

Map of the United Kingdom showing the shooting location and other important destinations.

Map of the United Kingdom showing the shooting location and other important destinations.

How to get there useful links

With all the locations being in the London area, you are most likely to arrive at one of London’s six airports, with London Heathrow (LHR) being the biggest for people coming from North or South America. The other airports are Gatwick (LGW), Stansted (STN), Luton (LTN), City (LCY – European destinations and only one business class only flight to New York JFK), and Southend (SEN — which is not that close to London at all).

For Europeans there is the possibility to go to London by car, by using the Channel Tunnel that goes from Calais, France to Folkestone, UK. The trip through the undersea tunnel takes about 40 minutes, and upon arrival you can take the M20 that goes directly to London. Before entering the tunnel you will have go through customs.

A third alternative would be to go by train. Eurostar is a high-speed train connecting London, trough the Channel Tunnel, to Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille (Europe), Calais (Fréthun) and Brussels (Zuid-Midi). For people coming from the Netherlands and travelling via Brussels it can be cheaper (and more flexible) to book an “Any Dutch station” Eurostar ticket that permits connection to/from any Dutch station provided the itinerary doesn’t use the more expensive Thalys or ICE services.

Immigration and visa requirements: While the UK is a member of the European Union, it does not fully implement the Schengen Agreement, which means that travel to and from other EU countries (except Ireland) involves systematic passport / identity card checks at the border and separate visa requirements for several countries. A visa is not required for EU, EEA, Swiss, United States, Australian, New Zealand and Mexican citizens. Be sure to check with your local embassy to be sure.

Great Britain tourism board

London Heathrow


Elstree studios, official website

Pinewood Studios, official website

Leavesden Studios, official website

Warner Bros Studio Tour, London

Ealing Studios, official website

Shepperton Studios, official website

Hever Castle, official website

Elstree Studio in 1977 (top) and present (below)

Elstree Studio in 1977 (top) and present (below).

Elstree Studios

Shenley Road, Borehamwood

Located in Borehamwood, near London, the Elstree Studios have been described by Rick McCallum, the producer on the prequels, as the home to Star Wars. This is not surprising because Elstree is the studio that was the first one that the production decided to use. The decision to go to Elstree was made in 1975 due to it being able to offer nine stages (minus Stage 5 which was used by Paul McCartney) with the best facilities. Scenes shot for A New Hope include the Death Star interior scenes, the Millennium Falcon and the Tantive IV. After Stage 3 burned down during the filming for The Shining, a new stage was build and named the Star Wars Stage. The Star Wars Stage was used for some of the larger scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. These scenes all had a fully build Millennium Falcon as the centerpiece, around which they built the sets for the Hoth hangar, the interior of the asteroid the Falcon landed in and the landing pad on Cloud City. In 1981 production returned to shoot Return of the Jedi here with important sets like the Emperor’s throne room and the Ewok village.

The original buildings have been sold and razed to the ground to become a supermarket. Some of the Studios have been subsequently restored and were re-opened in 1999. These days Elstree is again an important aspect of British filmmaking, with the BBC operating there with shows like The Voice and Strictly Come Dancing, which is hosted on the newly build, and equipped with brand new HD technology facilities, George Lucas Stage.

Because Elstree is a working studio, it is not open for tours. There are shows being filmed there with a studio audience, tickets can be bought for that.

Shepperton Studios, clockwise from top: H Stage; End Ceremony set; Rebel hangar set; Galaxies Opera House set in 2004

Shepperton Studios, clockwise from top: H Stage; End Ceremony set; Rebel hangar set; Galaxies Opera House set in 2004.

Shepperton Studios

Studios Road, Shepperton

Ever since the 1930s Shepperton Studios has a long history of film making that continues to this day with movies been shot there like Captain America: The First Avenger. For A New Hope, Shepperton was chosen to be the second studio to shoot at because the two largest scenes wouldn’t fit on any of the Elstree stages. These scenes were the Rebel hangar on Yavin Four and the end ceremony; both were filmed on Stage H, with the hangar set reusing the big stone pillars from one side. In 2004, production returned to Shepperton Studios to shoot pick-up scenes for Revenge of the Sith. These four to five hundred shots were mostly done with blue and green screens with just a few set pieces added. Most of the principal cast was present. Among the scenes shot were the Galaxies Opera House on Coruscant, including Palpatine tempting Anakin with the story of Darth Plaguies, Anakin choking Padmé, some parts of the fight scenes with Obi-Wan vs. Anakin and Mace Windu vs. Palpatine.

Just like Elstree it is not possible to get a tour of the studios.

Leavesden Studios

Leavesden Studios, including the creature shop and sets.

Leavesden Studios
Warner Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire

Starting as an Aerodome to build and house fighter craft and bombers during the Second World War, Leavesden was acquired after the war by Rolls-Royce to become a factory producing engines for airplanes and helicopters. It was not until 1995 that the, by then abandoned, buildings were first used as a studio for a major movie production. The production team behind the James Bond movie Goldeneye quickly converted the factory into a studio and in August 1996 Leavesden became the primary studio for The Phantom Menace.

Leavesden had many advantages for the production team; not only would the tradition of shooting a Star Wars movie in England be continued, the site was also large enough to accommodate the many required sets, including the huge outdoors back lot in which the staircase of Theed’s Royal Palace, along with streets was built. Because it was possible to lease the entire studio for a two and half year period, sets could be stored for a period long after the principal photography was done, something that is not regular in the movie business where a studio would want the production team of a movie to be cleared out quickly so that a new production could begin. The list of scenes that were shot here are too numerous to list but basically everything that required actors and was interior on Naboo, Tatooine and the Royal Starship were filmed there as well as everything on Coruscant. Departments inside the studio included the Creature Effects Department.

After The Phantom Menace the studios became property of Warner Bros, who used the studios for every Harry Potter movie. Unlike the other studios, Warner Bros offer the possibility to visit the studios with an impressive display of Harry Potter sets. Visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour, London link as mentioned above for more details and tickets.

Ealing Studios (top)  Pinewood Studios (below)

Ealing Studios (top) and Pinewood Studios (below).

Ealing Studios

Ealing Green, London

Ealing Studios opened in 1902 and is to this day the oldest continuously working studio facility for film production in the world. From the period of 1955 until 1995 the BBC even owned the studios and produced many of their series there.

While the primary studios for Attack of the Clones (and Revenge of the Sith) were the Fox Studios in Australia, the production turned to Ealing Studios when it was time to shoot some additional scenes in the pick-ups. In the first pick-ups, scheduled from March 24 to April 8 2001, the scenes on Geonosis with the conveyor belt were shot as well as the scenes with Anakin and Padmé’s starship scenes when they arrive at Geonosis. However, after seeing a cut of the movie, George Lucas felt that some more scenes were missing, and on November 6th they returned to shoot the elevator scene between Anakin and Obi-Wan, as well as the scene where Count Dooku is given the secret Death Star Plans in the Geonosis War Room

Pinewood Studios

Pinewood Road, Iver Heath

The Pinewood Studios is another UK-based studio with a long filmmaking history. Pinewood is considered to the home of James Bond considering that most of them were filmed there and they named their largest sound stage, which is one of the largest in the world, the Albert R. Broccoli’s 007 Stage, after the producer who was so important to this film series.

On May 16, 2014 production started here for The Force Awakens.

Just like Elstree and Shepperton it is not possible to get a tour of the studios.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, used for Naboo exteriors.

Hever Castle

Hever, Kent

Hever Castle was build in the 13th century and was the seat of the Boleyn family from 1462 to 1539. The second queen consort (wife) of King Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn grew up in this castle. In 1903 the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, from the Astor family who is well-known for the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, owned the castle as his private residence and added the Italian style garden to display his collection of statuary and ornaments. The castle and grounds became a tourist attraction in the 21st century.

A very short, and ultimately deleted, scene for The Phantom Menace was filmed in the Italian Garden: the arrival of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jar Jar Binks in Theed. They climb out of their bongo sub only to find the current dragging them towards a waterfall. With help of a tow cable they manage to make it to land where they pass by a fountain. This scene can be seen on the DVD.

Whippendell Woods map

Whippendell Woods map.

Whippendell Woods

The Whippendell Woods are seen in The Phantom Menace as the woods where the Jedi first meet Jar Jar Binks, where the Gungans’ secret place was and later in the movie when the heroes are plotting to take back the Palace. These locations can be a bit tricky to find so it may be advisable to bring some sort of GPS tracking device with you, as well as the above map and good reference shots of the trees. Here are some good reference photos; this excellent YouTube video below was made by Colin Kenworthy, who allowed me to share his work here.

Location 1 – GPS coordinates: 51°40’24.04″N, 0°26’26.62″W

Right across the street from the Grove Mill Lane parking lot you will find the area in which queen Amidala plots the attack on the Trade Federation to get her planet back. This one should not be that difficult to find if you line up the reference shots.

Location 2 – GPS coordinates 51°40’16.69″N, 0°26’35.56″W

Not that far into the park from the parking lot, you will find the area in which the STAP attacks the Jedi and where they meet Jar Jar for the first time. The STAP crashes trough a gully and some of the trees can be identified by their knots and markings.

Location 3 – GPS coordinates 51°40’16.49″N, 0°26’35.65″W

The gully/hollow where the STAP crashes into also identifies the location for the Gungan Sacred Place. Captain Tarpals can be seen striding past a knotted tree in the movie, which makes an easy identifying point to look for.

Location 4 – GPS coordinates 51°40’15.76″N, 0°26’36.97″W

And a little further into the park is the location where we can see Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon walking away. The identifying marker for this scene is a distinctive ‘kinked’ tree trunk.

Location 5 – GPS coordinates 51°40’6.81″N, 0°26’49.80″W

This last location will be the hardest to spot when you travel here. Around here the Jedi and their Gungan companion arrive at the shore of the lake that they then dive into to reach Otoh Gunga. However, the water is CGI and the trees are less distinct from the other locations.

London's Tower Bridge by night

London’s Tower Bridge by night.

What else to do in the UK?

With a rich history of filmmaking, the country is filled with many amazing shooting locations that you can visit, so it will be impossible to list everything here. But some noteworthy ones are:

Indiana Jones: The Royal Masonic School For Girls, Rickmansworth, was used in Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade to depict the school Indiana Jones teaches. London’s Royal Horticultural Hall was used to portray Club Obi-Wan in The Temple of Doom. The Tilbury Docks in Essex were used for a portion of the Venice boat chase from The Last Crusade. Stowe School, Buckingham was the place where the Berlin book burning scene took place.

The popular, and British, TV series Doctor Who has been filmed in many locations around the UK including the Forest of Dean (also seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Bristol and around Cardiff, which is also where the main production is based. Cardiff Bay Roald Dahl Plass has been made famous for being the location of the Torchwood headquarters.

London – When in London to visit the Star Wars shooting locations, make sure to visit: The Tower and Tower Bridge, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square.

Oxford – Well-known for its University, must-see places include: Bodleian Library, Hertford Bridge and of course the University of Oxford.

Other important cities worth a visit include: Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh

Shakespeare enthusiasts should visit Stratford-upon-Avon, where there is a square with the master surrounded by statues of his famous creations, as well as the birthplace and other buildings important to his life.

And of course there is Sherwood Forest for the Robin Hood enthusiasts among us.

Join us next time for a trip to America, where we meet the Ewoks on Endor and battle on the Naboo Great Grass Plains!

Map courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, adapted by Stefan Pfister.

 Special thanks go out to Colin Kenworthy for his images and video!

London’s Tower Bridge image courtesy from Wikimedia Commons

Sander de Lange (Exar Xan) from the Netherlands worked on the Rogues Gallery feature in Star Wars Insider and has written the backstory for Niai Fieso through “What’s the Story?”. He is an editor for TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub, and an administrator for the Star Wars Sourcebooks page on Facebook. Being born in Deventer, a city used to shoot the world-famous movie A Bridge Too Far, he always had a passion for shooting locations and tourism, in which he hopes to find a job.

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Legged vehicles, commonly known as walkers, had taken an important place in many armies, especially in the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars and in the Imperial Army of the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. Some walkers were used for reconnaissance, while others were lumbering giants, reminiscent of behemoths from legends. Driving a walker successfully was performed by specialist drivers who were trained in handling specific walkers.

Built at the factories of Kuat Drive Yards (KDY) and its subsidiary Rothana Heavy Engineering (RHE), walkers certainly weren’t indestructible, but they could function on multiple terrains and often inspired fear to those who awaited their arrival. Walkers were instrumental in numerous battles, from the Battle of Bothawui in the Clone Wars to the infamous Battle of Hoth. Let’s check out the best known walkers from historical battles in a galaxy far, far away…

Galactic Republic

: The All Terrain Attack Pod was a late addition to the Grand Army of the Republic by KDY. Basically a mobile artillery unit, the Attack Pod was a cross between the older AT-PT and the AT-TE. The AT-AP had an adjustable suspension system and a third retractable leg that offered additional balance when the projectile cannon was fired. The top-mounted heavy blaster cannon was best operated by an outside gunner. Another gunner and the pilot were seated in the cockpit. The AT-AP saw action during campaigns on Kashyyyk and Felucia.

Walkers 1

AT-OT: The All Terrain Open Transport was developed by KDY and was an overland troop carrier. The AT-OT was a late addition to the Clone Wars and wasn’t really meant to participate in direct combat. It was armed with four laser cannons, but it performed better in a safe zone outside the battlefield. It could transport about 34 troopers in seated positions, but more when the troopers were standing. The AT-OT’s body was supported by eight powerful legs and it could go as fast as 55 km/h.


AT-RT: The All Terrain Reconnaissance Transport was a light one-man biped walker, mostly used for patrolling, police support, civil defense and during reconnaissance missions. Sometimes they were also used to support the infantry. The AT-RT was an open walker and it was armed with a repeating blaster cannon. It could attain a speed as a high as 90 km/h. The AT-RT saw a lot of action during the Clone Wars during which it was often driven by ARF troopers and specialist AT-RT drivers. They participated in combat missions on Ryloth, Christophsis, Kiros, Umbara and Kashyyyk among many other locations.

AT-TE: The six legged All Terrain Tactical Enforcer was one of the heavyweights during the Clone Wars. Developed and produced at RHE, the AT-TE already made its debut on Geonosis. The AT-TE wasn’t the fastest vehicle around, but it had an excellent stability and it even could function in outer space or climb steep hills with magnetic clamps. The walker was heavily armed and it was able to transport up to 40 clone troopers into the battlefield. The large projectile cannon was manned by an exterior gunner. AT-TEs were sometimes dropped by LAAT/c gunships into the middle of a battle. These walkers were known to be vulnerable against mines and other attacks from below. AT-TEs saw action on many worlds, including Geonosis, Teth, Muunilinst, Christophsis, Ryloth, and Felucia. A volley from an AT-TE tried to eliminate General Kenobi on Utapau, right after Commander Cody had received Order 66.


SPHA-T: The Self-Propelled Heavy Artillery-Turbolaser was an atypical walker developed by RHE. It was a lumbering giant (40,15 meters long), supported by twelve legs that provided the walker with excellent stability on a variety of terrains. The SPHA-T wasn’t built for speed or finesse, but for the raw power of its huge heavy turbolaser cannon that could even damage capital ships. Additional blaster cannons provided cover on certain models. Anakin Skywalker made the suggestion to position SPHA-Ts in the ventral hangar bays of Venator-class Star Destroyers to augment the firepower of the ships. During the Battle of Geonosis, a group of SPHA-Ts managed to destroy several Lucrehulk-class Core Ships that were trying to escape.


Imperial Walkers

Though the Imperial Army continued to use the Republic’s walkers, additional models were built as well.

AT-AT: As soon as the All Terrain Armored Transport was developed, it became a symbol of the Imperial Army. Although it was basically a transport, the AT-AT carried heavy firepower and had armor that was nearly indestructible by blaster fire. Measuring over twenty meters in height, the mere sight of an AT-AT already generated fear into the hearts of the enemy. Most of the AT-ATs were produced at KDY and a walker was controlled by a commander, a pilot and a gunner. It could transport at least 40 troops, heavy weaponry and speeder bikes. Some AT-ATs were adapted to carry AT-STs or INT-4s. An AT-AT could be destroyed by focusing fire on its neck or by using cunning tactics directed towards the legs and stability. General Veers commanded Blizzard Force on Hoth which allowed Darth Vader to land and to infiltrate the almost abandoned Echo Base.

walkers 2

AT-DP: The All Terrain Defense Pod was a bipedal walker used as a police vehicle and to protect Imperial installations. It was also used during scouting and patrolling missions. An AT-DP was crewed by a pilot and a gunner, usually combat drivers. This walker was armed with one laser cannon and could attain a top speed of 90 km/h. Lothal was one of the planets where this walker was a common sight.


AT-ST: The All Terrain Scout Transport, nicknamed Scout Walker, was an agile bipedal walker. It was lightly armed, but fast (top speed of 90 km/h) and it could quite easily target its enemies with its maneuverable cockpit. AT-STs sometimes provided cover for larger vehicles, such as AT-AT walkers. An AT-ST was at its top in confined, urban environments, as was proven by the Ewoks. During the Battle of Endor the diminutive warriors lured more than one AT-ST into one of their primitive, yet deadly, forest traps.


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) and has written four character back stories for “What’s the Story?”.


Battles for the Galaxy (2011)Complete Vehicles (2013)
Imperial Handbook (2014)
Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels (2005)

Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide (2014)

Star Wars Sourcebook (1987) Databank

The Clone Wars Campaign Guide (2009)

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The Empire Strikes Back is widely hailed as the best of the Star Wars films — the most humorous, the most romantic, and the most emotionally complex. On December 18 of last year, Film Independent (a non-profit organization that helps filmmakers and triumphs independent movies) paid tribute, holding a live table reading of Empire as part of its Live Read series for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The brainchild of Jason Reitman — director of modern classics like Juno and Up in the Air, and altogether one of today’s finest young filmmakers — Live Read features all-star casts performing table reads of classic screenplays, and is a celebration of the world’s favorite films, no matter the genre, setting, or era. The reads are not recorded, not streamed, and not downloadable, making them true you-had-to-be-there events. (So, consider joining.) For Empire, Reitman assembled a powerhouse group, including Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, and Ellen Page as, yes, Han Solo. Oh, and in a surprise appearance, Mark Hamill as the Emperor, Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. recently spoke with Reitman about the unusual structure of Empire, how he convinced Hamill to join in, and what would happen if two of his characters wandered into a galaxy far, far away. To start, where did the idea for Live Read come from?

Jason Reitman: It came out of a conversation I had with Russ Smith and Lianne Halfon, these producers I work with on movies, about how much we enjoy doing table reads of our films, and how much fun it would be to do a table read for one of the great scripts. See what the writer wrote in the description, hear the dialogue in a different cadence. When Elvis Mitchell took over programming film over at LACMA [Los Angeles County Museum of Art], he asked me if I had any ideas for screenings. I said, “Well, what if we did some readings of classic screenplays and got great actors?” And he really liked the idea, and I started approaching actors about doing the first one. We started with Breakfast Club.

I didn’t really know if it would work. I thought, “Well, maybe people will get bored 10 minutes in.” Instead, by virtue of how great these scripts are, there’s about 10 minutes of just joy of watching new actors read classic dialogue. Then you fall into these stories. That’s the kind of great moment of each one of these reads: you stop watching the actors and you really start listening, and you fall into these great scripts by great screenwriters.

The Empire Strikes Back Live Read poster So, why Empire Strikes Back now?

Jason Reitman: Well, a variety of reasons. Certainly, I don’t know a human being that’s not excited about [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] coming out. We’re always trying to balance the lineup of live reads between traditional, Oscar-nominated screenplays and the benchmark screenplays of our youth. Star Wars, for me, kind of falls into that category with Princess Bride and Ghostbusters. Movies that we just know inside and out and take us back to what it feels like to be 12 years old. The great compliment that I keep hearing and feeling about the Force Awakens teaser is that in less than a second, you are 12 years old again. And for me, Empire is the most profound of the Star Wars screenplays. Outside of the fact that they did not put this on paper [in the script], so to not create a spoiler, Empire is the movie that contains “Luke, I am your father,” and it contains, even though this is an on-set created moment, “I love you. I know.” Despite the fact that, “I love you. I know,” was scripted on-set, the idea is inherent. Those are two really powerful ideas. They raised the stakes emotionally, I think, in Empire.

Jason Reitman: I guess that’s what’s amazing about Empire. You’re not thinking about the Death Star in Empire. You’re thinking about humanity. Empire is about Luke searching himself, learning about where he comes from. It’s about the unthinkable love triangle between Luke, Leia, and Han. [Laughs] These are the powerful dramatic concepts that move that story forward. Even though we have these images burned in — AT-ATs and tauntauns and things like that — at the end of the day, I think the reason Empire is so powerful is because it has the most complex human narrative. Right. There’s a lot of heart in that movie.

Jason Reitman: A lot of heart, and a lot of confusion. You know, Luke and Leia have an affection for each other, and they don’t know exactly what it is. They’re confused by it. And Han and Leia have an affection for each other that they can’t quite put into words, and they’re not sure if they’re bonded by their work or an actual love for each other. Darth Vader has one of the great moments of all time, where he’s slowly mutilating and killing his son. He’s chopping his son’s hand off with one hand, and reaching out with the other to save him, saying, “Let’s rule the universe together.” And then Luke makes this harrowing decision to plunge to his death. It’s so emotional. As a director, compared to what it meant to you as a kid, what do you appreciate most about Empire?

Jason Reitman: Probably everything that I’m talking about. All these things that I felt as a kid and didn’t know why. As a kid I watched this movie, and the emotionality was profound, but I didn’t understand why. Now I know what it’s like to fall in love. Now I know what it’s like to be a father. So, all these decisions and this heartache that the characters are feeling is way more complex for me. I find that when I watch Empire, and my heart is 12 and my brain is 37. And Empire attacks both.

It’s so unusually built, too. That’s the weirdest thing about reading that script. My memory of that movie is, “The first act is on Hoth, then they leave…” Like, the first 60 pages are on Hoth! [Laughs] It’s just an insane amount of page count for what I always thought of as not dissimilar to the opening of a James Bond movie. I always thought of Hoth as the cold open — not to make a horrible pun — and it’s not. It’s half the movie, and then you have, like, a quarter in the asteroid field and Dagobah, and a quarter in Cloud City. That’s the script, which is so bizarre! So bizarre. No screenwriting book would ever say, “This is how you structure a film.” But it works. It totally works.

Jason Reitman: It works beautifully, and not that much happens.

Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.

Jason Reitman during the live read. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage. Courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent.) In preparation for the live read, did you do any kind of research or rewatch the movie?

Jason Reitman: I did. I rewatched the film. Readying a script for the live read is very hard, and Empire was one of the hardest because we had the original script, and so much was different. The tauntauns are called lizards, and so much of the dialogue is gone, and there’s a lot more on Hoth. What I find is, the best experience for a live read is when you feel like you’re getting some stuff that was never in the finished movie, so you get this kind of behind-the-scenes peek. And then you need to add stuff that is in the movie. You cannot read Empire and not have “I am your father,” and you can’t not have “I love you. I know,” [which were not in the shooting script]. So, all those little moments had to be added. When I heard that you did this, I first thought, “Awesome,” and then I thought, “How did I now know about this? I wish I was there!”

Jason Reitman: [Laughs] Yeah. Have you gotten that response from people?

Jason Reitman: The big question on Live Read is always, “Why do you not record it? Why do you not stream it?” The answer is two-fold. One, there would be no way to secure the rights to these screenings. I can’t get into the business of trying to secure the rights to have a version of these out there. It would be expensive, and we’re raising money for Film Independent and LACMA, and that’s just not how we do it.

As soon as I realized that, a more profound thing hit me, which is that everything is available, everything is streamable, and I enjoy the fact that this is not. I enjoy that this is something special for the people in the room, and we’re doing something unique. We’re taking a group of actors that have never performed together, never even rehearsed together, and we’re putting them in a safe environment where they can try things and make mistakes, and attempt a screenplay for an audience who are going to have to carry it in their hearts and not their iPads. There’s something about being in the room. There’s something about talking to people who were at the concert that there is no footage of. It’s a live read. If you hear about it and you love it, find a way to come to one, and be part of that shared experience.

Aaron Paul, Jessica Alba, Stephen Merchant, Dennis Haysbert, Rainn Wilson, Mark Hamill, J.K. Simmons, Ellen Page and Kevin Pollack.(Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage.)

Aaron Paul, Jessica Alba, Stephen Merchant, Dennis Haysbert, Rainn Wilson, Mark Hamill, J.K. Simmons, Ellen Page, and Kevin Pollack. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage. Courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent.) Can you talk about the casting? You made some really fun, interesting choices.

Jason Reitman: The first person that came to mind was Aaron Paul, who did our first live read with Breakfast Club. I just thought, “What do we do with Luke? You know, he’s such an innocent. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we had this actor, who’s kind of most known for playing this petulant young man on Breaking Bad, and just take [Luke] in a new direction?”

I started talking to some of my friends. Stephen Merchant — perfect C-3PO. There just isn’t a better person. I thought Kevin Pollak could do a dead-on Yoda.

Then I was like, “I wonder if Ellen Page could play Princess Leia — wait, I wonder if Ellen Page could play Han Solo!” [Laughs] And it just clicked. At that point I was like, “Okay. I think we have something special here.” When I saw that, I was like, “Huh. There’s something that strangely works about that.” I could totally see it.

Jason Reitman: Yeah! Han Solo is such a unique character, right? I mean, particularly in a strangely kind of religious universe, where people believe in a concept called the Force, and the people you meet in the first film are sweet farm people, and really earnest. Then you meet this guy who doesn’t care. He’s very unique to the Star Wars universe in that he is the single ironic character. No one else has irony in that film, and Ellen has tons of irony. That’s kind of what makes her perfect. Personality-wise, she is Han Solo. I knew that would be fun.

Then it built from there. I asked Jessica Alba. I asked Rainn Wilson if he would come and play Chewbacca, and I knew that would be a fun surprise for the audience. I asked J.K. Simmons, who I see all the time right now because of all the success he’s having with Whiplash.

And then two days before [the show], I was talking with my buddy Anthony Breznican, who writes over at EW. He talked about doing this Return of the Jedi screening at the Egyptian [Theatre] in L.A., and how Mark Hamill came. It just kind of hit me, and I said, “Do you think you could put me in touch?” It was like the longest of longshots.

It was [Mark] and his wife’s anniversary. This is kind of a real tribute to his character: he just said, “Is this for charity?” I said, “Yeah,” and he goes, “All right, I’m in.” It was awesome. He was so sweet, and totally understood why it needed to be a surprise until the last second.

Look, he is Luke. To watch someone else be Luke must be mind-blowing. And to play Obi-Wan and the Emperor! So, he is being his own mentor and his own enemy. [Laughs] Did you assign those roles to him?

Jason Reitman: Oh, yeah. I said, “Would you play Obi-Wan and the Emperor?” And he loved it. There’s the irony factor of Mark playing these other roles, but also — and this is not hyperbole — he’s probably one of the best voice actors of all time. So, it’s exciting in that regard.

Jason Reitman: No, you’re right. In voicing the Joker and voicing villains, it’s kind of interesting that you would use his voice today for the Emperor.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Jason Reitman, Stephen Merchant, Dennis Haysbert, Ellen Page, Jessica Alba, Aaron Paul, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Pollack, Rainn Wilson and Mark Hamill perform a live reading at the Film Independent Live Read: The Empire Strikes Back at Ace Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)

Mark Hamill is introduced. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage. Courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent.) Did you give any kind of direction beforehand? What’s the process?

Jason Reitman: The process is this. We get backstage, they’re all a little nervous because, remember, we don’t rehearse these. We go onstage, no one knows what each other is going to do. That sounds like a small thing, but imagine going to do a four-part a cappella group, and you don’t know if the other person is gonna go soft, or loud, or fast, or anything. All you know is, you’re singing the same song. So, everyone’s a little nervous.

I generally say two things: keep it fast, and don’t do impersonations. Imagine you got cast in Empire Strikes Back. What would you do? They didn’t show up here to hear you do impersonations. They showed up to hear the dialogue through a new voice. Now, every once in awhile, you get someone like Kevin Pollak, and what’s the point? Just do Yoda. Well, it’s like, everybody has a Yoda. So, to get a chance to do it in a kind of official way is a special thing.

Jason Reitman: Yeah, exactly. But even Chewie, that was like, Rainn Wilson’s Chewie. [Laughs] That wasn’t the original Chewie. Were there any performances that got a surprising reaction from the audience?

Jason Reitman: I think Stephen Merchant kind of stole the night. People laughed at every syllable, and he did that very unique thing of paying [homage] to the original performance and, simultaneously, completely made it his own. I think all the little Han Solo asides by Ellen Page — “C’mere, sweetheart” — were just kind of perfect. Dennis Haysbert, as Lando, made it really flirtatious. [Laughs] With J.K. Simmons, I picture J. Jonah Jameson meets Darth Vader.

Jason Reitman: It’s interesting. Again, I didn’t know what he would do. J.K. went with total gravitas. It wasn’t menacing at all. It was just low and powerful. It was pretty amazing. After the show, did Mark Hamill relay what his experience was like?

Jason Reitman: Mark Hamill was really emotional. In talking to him, it sounded as though he had a profound experience. That was what I noted after, and that was a great surprise for me. I just presumed, okay, here’s a guy who’s living in the Star Wars universe every day of his life. He can’t escape that. And yet, this was a seemingly very emotional and powerful experience for him. I’m not sure if it has to do with the timing of The Force Awakens only being a year away, and coming to really embrace what a special thing it is to be part of this universe, or the perspective of just watching all these other actors read this movie that you know so well.

I’ve had people come down before [for movies they were in]. Sam Elliott came down for Big Lebowski and read his role. Susan Sarandon took part in Bull Durham, and Cary Elwes and Rob Reiner came down for Princess Bride. So, I’ve had people there before [playing their roles], but never on a film — maybe Princess Bride withstanding — where the actor is so consumed in their life by the original film. It’s gotta be like being a Beatle.

Jason Reitman: Yeah, that’s an amazing comparison. And I think you’re totally right. The only question is, which Beatle? Well, Luke’s my favorite character and Paul’s my favorite Beatle. So, I’m going to say Paul.

Jason Reitman: There you go. I think that makes sense, too.

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18:  Jason Reitman, Stephen Merchant, Dennis Haysbert, Ellen Page, Jessica Alba, Aaron Paul, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Pollack, Rainn Wilson and Mark Hamill perform a live reading at the Film Independent Live Read: The Empire Strikes Back at Ace Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage)

The entire cast onstage, performing a Hoth sequence. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage. Courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent.) Was there a highlight of the evening for you?

Jason Reitman: It was all really special. Introducing Mark was probably the highlight. Just saying there was one more [actor], feeling that anticipation, and knowing we’d kept that secret. Somehow, we held that secret — no one knew. Watching J.K. introduced as Darth Vader, flanked by stormtroopers, [was also a highlight].

Oh, and we had a couple of guys dressed as X-wing pilots. Ellen and Jessica had a couple of pronunciation questions right before we started, and it was really funny to watch them talking to actual X-wing pilots, about like,”How do you pronounce this system?” [Laughs] Last question: I was thinking, I would love to see Empire with Juno and Paulie Bleeker in the Leia and Han roles. How do you think that would go?

Jason Reitman: [Laughs] Well, you know, Juno and Leia are both tough women. So, I think there’s a really nice parallel. Bleeker and Han are very different characters. [Laughs] I don’t think Bleeker shoots first. Right. He probably wants to talk it over.

Jason Reitman: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly. Bleeker just wants to talk about it. He’s like, “Look, can’t you just tell Jabba that I’m like, really sorry?”

Jason Reitman and Aaron Paul signing Live Read posters. (Photo by Araya Diaz/WireImage. Courtesy of WireImage and Film Independent.)

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer, and spends his days writing stuff for and around He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.


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fanzine Alderaan 10

From the outset of organizing the 501st Squad in 1999 into a meaningful structure of units around the world, it was a question of how to best keep the feel of a fictional military unit while creating practical regional chapters. Luckily I had a consultant in my old college buddy Alan Isom, TK820. One of the original troopers there in 1998 at the first Dragon Con meeting, he’s had twenty five years in the National Guard. I asked him, “How do we do this as a tribute to the military without posing as a paramilitary group or insulting the armed services with terminology that mimicked theirs?”

Alan was the perfect person to ask. On top of from his military experience, he and I share a love of military history. So we agreed that anachronistic terms would work and still capture the feel of something a “long time ago.” If the Legion was an Imperial unit occupying earth, as many of our early advertisements hinted, then what would a stationary unit covering a large area be called? Garrison made sense, the Romans stationed Garrisons all over their conquered lands. But what about a small unit in a remote land with only a handful of soldiers? Outpost seemed to fit best. And later, when our membership covered every incarnation of Imperial several times over, I thought it best to organize similar costumes into themed groups. Well, Alan pointed out, any specialized group sent on a mission could be called a Detachment.

501st Rebel Legion Dual Coin

Two mighty Legions in one coin!

All of this has led to a quasi-military culture in the Legion that has been fun, tongue-in-cheek, and apparently a big hit with current and former service members from all over the world. Not only does it capture the feel of an Imperial army, which was the original point, but it lends structure. And along with military culture come some interesting traditions.

The military challenge coin was not something with which I was familiar before the Legion. The basic rule of a challenge coin is to carry the coin of your military unit with you at all times. If you’re out drinking with another service member and the topic of your unit comes up, then it’s customary to throw down your coin. If the other person can’t reciprocate and produce their coin, then he or she fails the challenge and buys the drinks. Simple.

According to Scott Will, TK408 and Branding Officer for the Legion, the 501st challenge coins were first introduced in September 2005 by Florida Garrison member Mike Lee. Mike is an Army helicopter pilot so he was very familiar with the challenge coin tradition in the military. As far as he can tell, the first garrison coin was made by the Midwest Garrison. It was simple and elegant and represented the pride of the MWG troopers. Before long the flood gates opened.

first 501st coin

Artwork from the first ever 501st challenge coin

So the very pride I’d hoped would grow in the Legion’s units became the fuel for creating coins to boast of their membership. Soon the sound of coins being slapped down in challenge could be heard at every convention. From this tradition a lot of fun stories have taken place and they are some of my favorite accounts from around the Legion.

Steve Welnicke, RC10136, was given a coin by a Garrison mate, goading him into finishing his Republic Commando armor to qualify for the RC detachment. It worked: Steve put in the work and got into the detachment, as well as the Ice Squad in Wisconsin and even earned dual membership in the Rebel Legion!

Sometimes the coin chooses you!

Sometimes the coin chooses you!

The coin’s symbol of membership is a strong message, and appeals to non-members who can see the benefit of such fraternity. Jamie Tobitt, TI-67076, told me, “I went to the San Diego Squad’s Holiday Party not yet sure if I wanted to join. During the evening of meeting and chatting to the members about their costumes. Dean Amstutz, TK-2643, coined me with a garrison coin. Seeing that coin in my hand set the hook in me and that was all she wrote.”

At conventions it gets particularly intense. Zac Birrer, DZ2613, says always carry at leasttwo coins on him at all times. “My friend Joe and I were at our local con talking about coins and Joe is talking up his collection. Of course, I just had to drop my KTB on the table. Everyone starts laughing, digging in their pockets or groaning. I look at Joe and he has a look of panic on his face. I had to quickly slip him one under the table. In his rush to get out of armor and kilt up for drinks he had left them in his room.” At a Celebration 501st mixer challenge coins appear everywhere in rapid succession. Romain Ruth reported getting ambushed while in the bath room. Alas, he was finally caught without his coin.

Coins have very personal meaning, too. Trooper D’on Lane Noakes, TI 31073, shared the story of one coin. “This is my favorite coin. It originally belonged to my friend and fellow Bast Alpha Garrison brother Scott Smith, who passed away back in October. I keep it in my wallet.”

Treasured memento of a fallen trooper

Treasured memento of a fallen trooper.

Coins don’t always fit the standard mold. The New England Garrison works so closely with their Rebel Legion unit that their coin has the Alderaan Base logo on the other side. Now that’s dedication to teamwork! The Ghetto Garrison, a group of Garrison Tyrannus members in Virginia, moonlights in low-grade costumes for fun outside of the Legion. Legion Archivist Cheralyn Lambeth, TB 976, suggested they have their own challenge coin, and offered Mark Cabacungan, TI 091, metal washers that said ‘ghetto garrison’ in sharpie. Shabby chic!

alderaan base coin

Celebrities have gotten into the act too. Among our esteemed Honorary Members is Seth Green, who goes crazy at Celebration events collecting 501st swag. During the Clone Wars premiere some of our SoCal Clone Troopers showed up and were surprised when Seth whipped out his 501st coin. Coined while on duty! But Kit Sovine reports “I coin checked Seth Green (who said after we gave him one for his HM, he’d always have it on him) at the 30th anniversary screening for Return of the Jedi. Guess what? He didn’t have it. Revenge of the Coin!

Cris Knight, TK770, now owes some drinks

Cris Knight, TK770, now owes some drinks.

This story wouldn’t be complete without my own tale. I’ve been coined hundreds of times in 18 years, and only failed three times. Marching in the 2007 Rose Bowl Parade with 200 troopers from around the world, I knew I had a target on my back. So I made sure to tape my coin inside the drop-box on the side of my armor. You just never know! But at Celebration VI in Orlando I was at a 501st party when Dean Plantamura, TK899, led the Legion documentary film crew over to see if I was on my toes. Having dressed down after a dip in the pool, I was caught completely off guard. The crew had a good time ramping up the drama in a great film clip to capture the moment. Visit the link below to see if I made it on time!

hq default

Do I make it in time? See for yourself.

There are so many coins it would be impossible to list all the stories here. Perhaps we will visit “Tales of the Coin Challenges” again one day. In the meantime, remember: May the Coin be with you (or you’re buying)!

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 and or follow Albin’s off-duty antics at


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In November, I looked at the original trilogy and the significance of meals; sharing in sustenance is important in literature and film, and encourages the audience to realize that something important is going on. This is also prescient in the prequel trilogy, with many examples that demonstrate the important character moments and themes present in Episodes I, II, and III. Breaking bread means community, and sharing that with others indicates a strong bond is being formed through the experience. Much can be gleaned from a simple meal, and may reveal significant foreshadowing to the fate of respective characters.

Obi Wan  Qui Gon

The Phantom Menace reveals this recurring motif at the very start of the film. Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi wait at a table for the arrival of the Neimoidians to help negotiate an end to the blockade of the planet Naboo; drinks are presented by protocol droid TC-14, but instead of imbibing fully, the Jedi are treated to noxious gas and an empty table. While not proving as damaging as the disastrous table scene in The Empire Strikes Back, the intent is still present. The Neimoidians have no intent of arranging a peace treaty, let alone a meal of nourishment for the Jedi. They seek to destroy the universal cultural moray, and tarnish their own image, as well as the trust the Jedi have placed in them. An abandoned meal reveals abandoned principles and deception, and the Jedi escape, betrayed, as well as wiser for the experience.

Ep 1 Eating Scene

A more positive dining experience occurs later in the film, when Qui-Gon, Padmé, and Artoo-Detoo meet Shmi and her son, Anakin Skywalker. A meal is shared while discussing the possibility of training Anakin to be a Jedi Knight. Through the breaking of bread, Anakin begins the journey to break from his mother, and enter into a new family, the Jedi Order. While the results of this may be debated, the significance is clear. Only at the table could a transition of this importance take place.

Episode II Eating Scene

Attack Of The Clones also features a telling sequence that is centered around a meal. While acting as bodyguard for Padme, Anakin has a meal in Naboo with her and her family. Instead of simply passing food across the table to the senator, he elects to use the Force to allow the food to glide across the table. The act is ostentatious and unnecessary, but Padmé is nevertheless pleased with the experience, and appears to fall more in love with the Padawan. Anakin takes the easy way, instead of the more acceptable way of the Jedi, and demonstrates early on that the Force serves him, and not the other way around. This seemly innocuous moment is a harbinger of the eventual fall of the mighty Jedi, as Anakin illustrates that he believes the Force can and should usurp the natural order of things.

Vader on Table

Never is this more true in the prequels than in Revenge of the Sith, featuring the pivotal battle that truly begins to eliminate the humanity of Anakin Skywalker; things will never be the same. In this film, the critical scene that takes place at a table is that of the emergence of Darth Vader. His famous rise on the table of his rebirth indicates that here, at a place sacred to family and friends, Vader has desecrated the place where community is fostered, and instead, serves to sever his place in the community he has know since he left Tatooine. He succumbs to his own hunger for power, his ravenous desire to have power over death, and his fall to the dark side is complete. Isolated from his own humanity, both literally and figuratively, Vader leaves Anakin Skywalker behind at the table, and elevates himself above a cultural symbol of community, and into a place of terror and isolation.

Much like the original trilogy, the prequel trilogy features many important moments that showcase an important event around the table. While food and drink are provided, community is also shared and fostered. What happens while breaking bread may occur is significant, and helps the audience to examine critical cultural paradigms that offer insights into character development. This longtime trope of storytelling helps to enhance our understanding of these characters, and to enrich our experiences in a galaxy far, far away.

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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The Mos Eisley cantina is a well known location in the Star Wars universe. It’s where we see Ben Kenobi use his lightsaber for the first time, it’s where Han Solo and Greedo have a standoff, and it’s where Ben and Luke Skywalker meet Han and Chewbacca. Beyond those key moments, think of the quotable lines that were spoken. “Sorry about the mess,” “You’ll be dead,” and “I’m not such a bad pilot myself,” were all uttered inside the cantina’s walls.

I think the cantina also has appeal because it’s like dive bars in real life. You can tell there are regulars and the bartender probably knows their names, the drinks are likely cheap, and they have entertaining live music. Seedy atmospheres do have their perks… and also secrets. Here are seven things you might not know about the Mos Eisley ,antina:

cantina outside

1. The Mos Eisley cantina is everywhere.

The popular cantina in the most wretched hive of scum and villainy was assembled from a mixture of shots from three different locations. A structure in Ajim, Tunisia, served as the exterior of the cantina, but interiors were filmed in two other places. Most of the interior action was filmed at Elstree Studios in London while several alien close-ups were filmed at Hollywood Center Studios.


2. Greedo speaks.

Stuart Freeborn designed Greedo, but the mask initially didn’t have any mechanisms to move the ears and mouth because they thought the alien would be a background character. The shop got the head back to install a mechanism, and then the Greedo and Han Solo scene was shot separately at a completely different time and place from the main cantina action. [Source: Starlog Magazine 11]

Jenny Cresswell

3. Han Solo had a lady friend.

Cut footage from A New Hope revealed that Han Solo had a girlfriend — or at least someone he was flirting with. The scene between Jenny (played by Jenny Cresswell) didn’t make it into the final edit, but you can still spot the character in the cantina. She’s speaking to a Rodian. You can watch the cut scene in the extra features on the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray.

Cantina Creatures

4. The cantina creatures were made in 10 weeks.

Makeup effects artist Nick Maley told me in an interview that they had 10 weeks to make as many creatures as they could for the cantina scene. The crew in the shop worked late each day but still didn’t have time to finish it all. Other effects guys such as Rick Baker had to make more creatures as inserts. Maley said, “We were just a bunch a of guys sitting in a little room trying to make aliens for this scene where it [the script] said, ‘It’s a bar full of crazy aliens.’ We were just trying to do what we could.”

Terminal Man

5. Frankenstein’s monster in the house.

Trinto Duaba’s, a.k.a. Terminal Man, mask wasn’t made for the purpose of going on an alien denizen of a cantina. Rick Baker made the mask years before A New Hope as a concept for Frankenstein’s monster. [Zbrush]


6. What’s in a name?

When Kenner first released action figures of characters in the cantina in 1979, they were called by their nicknames: Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, and Walrusman. The characters were later named Momaw Nadon, Zutton, and Ponda Baba respectively.


7. Ponda Baba’s poor severed arm.

Ponda Baba probably thought he was going to have a great day when he walked through the doors of the Mos Eisley cantina. Alas, he was the first character we saw lose a limb. First of all, the severed arm is furry with claws even though his other hand looks like a fin/flipper. And then there was the blood. It was made from raspberry yogurt and red tempera paint. Lorne Peterson rigged the arm so it would twitch on the floor, but Gary Kurtz nixed that idea. But, it’s weird that there is any blood since lightsabers typically cauterize wounds. Theory: Aqualish blood doesn’t cauterize.

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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They hang out with General Veers, they drive one of the coolest vehicles in the galaxy, and they can blast snowspeeders with ease. AT-AT drivers — Imperial soldiers trained to steer massive transports of destruction — are awesome. Now, thanks to ANOVOS’ Empire-approved new ensemble, available for pre-order, Star Wars costumers can wear screen-accurate outfits made famous by the Rebel-base destroyers.

With a design based on the threatening TIE fighter pilot gear from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, combined with more pronounced elements of the classic stormtrooper look, the AT-AT driver outfit is familiar but unique — and singularly of the Empire. For their new ensemble, ANOVOS went straight to the source — the Lucasfilm Archives — to study actual artifacts from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, in which the AT-AT drivers made their debut during the Battle of Hoth. And the suit features all the hardware and soft goods seen in the film. With ANOVOS’ AT-AT Driver ensemble, you will feel ready to take on the entire Rebellion yourself. Check out a special preview gallery below!







Here’s everything included in the ensemble:

  • Helmet with finished, lined interior and adjustable helmet suspension rig, meant for even the largest heads.
  • Built-in environmental / air system in helmet for comfort.
  • Bubble lenses installed in helmet.
  • Chest armor and chest box, with flexible hoses.
  • Canisters on end of hoses feature magnetic points, thereby allowing easy attachment to the magnetic points at the helmet’s back “mohawk” for easy maintenance.
  • Chest box features functional LED screen, mirroring faux indicator functionality of artifacts as used on screen.
  • Back armor with distinctive computer-board style.
  • 100% polyester gray jumpsuit, with pockets and zip-front.
  • Lower-leg harness connected to back plate.
  • Faux leather gloves. Left glove features greeble, as seen from original artifact.

Note: Boots and AT-AT are not included due to current licensing agreement.

Construction Details

  •  High-quality ABS plastic armor pieces with finished undersides, backs, and interiors — no unfinished parts to this uniform.
  • Gray armor coloring, inspired by the actual artifacts as used in the production of The Empire Strikes Back.
  • 100% polyester one-piece coverall jumpsuit, with details inspired from artifacts.
  • Gloves patterned from artifacts and replicated using faux leather.

In addition to the AT-AT Driver ensemble, ANOVOS has also opened pre-orders for costumes (and the standalone helmet) of the Empire’s cold weather killers: Snowtroopers.

ANOVOS Snowtrooper

ANOVOS Snowtrooper

ANOVOS Snowtrooper

Visit for more on these stunning outfits — and prepare to crush the Rebellion in style. All Star Wars, all the time.


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