Vader is full of hot air.

86' of pure evil

86' of pure evil

Imagine waking up one blustery morning.  You’re sitting at your coffee clutch taking in the morning news with your berber slippers on when you notice the sun is slightly darkened and you have suspicion that the dark side of The Force is upon you.

You quickly look out your window, your bear claw dropping to the table when you see an 86 foot tall visage of Darth Vader rising over the horizon.  Queue up the Imperial March theme and behold.

Well, on April 16, 2007 the image became reality when the Vader balloon was first inflated and took the sky.

You can visit the official site here and read the story how this casual idea became reality.

Pretty darn cool if you ask me.  Hopefully they’ll make a Fett head, or maybe even R2 or Yoda.

Review: Sacrifice (Legacy of The Force #5)

Darth Caedus revealed

Darth Caedus revealed

Wow.  I just finished the paperback by Karen Traviss (Bloodlines, Hard Contact and a few other Star Wars novels) and have to agree with some other reviewers and bloggers that the ‘Legacy of the Force’ series is one of the best Star Wars series in a long time.

There are some fine stand alone novels (I, Jedi for one) and a great trilogy series in The Jedi Academy and Thrawn trilogies, but the last few major series ‘The New Jedi Order’, while there were some interesting elements and ideas, seemed to drag on much longer than I would have liked.

On the other hand, this newest series really seems to take Star Wars back to its roots, and is able to balance a somewhat cerebral tone as well.  Meaning, it has great action and climatic battles in every book thus far, but weaves a more politically motivated tale akin to those novels spun by Tom Clancy or Larry Bond. 

The build from the previous installments is still escalating and there is quite a bit of political intrigue and thread weaving that all seems to make sense.  Karen Traviss does a fine job in taking the second tier Star Wars universe characters and really fleshing them out and making them the forefront of this tale.

Lumiya, Jacen Solo, Ben Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, Boba Fett, Mirta Gev (to name a few) all play prominent roles in shaping the direction of the galaxy after the Vong war and a very solid foundation in which the rumblings of the once powerful Sith culture and religion begin to take shape again and usher in a new era for the galaxy akin to the Empire.

As it stands the stand-off between Corellia and the Galactic Alliance grows as planets begin to take sides.  The jedi order wishes to maintain a certain level of neutrality whereas Jacen Solo and his secret police (The GAG) begin to squash splinter cells and dissenters.  With the ousting of Cal Omas (Galactic Chief of State), Jacen and Mon-Cal Admiral Cha Niathal assume a new role as ‘acting’ dual head of state.

Ben is tasked by Jacen to do something unspeakable at the request of Lumiya to either proved Ben’s worth and loyalty or destroy him in the process.  This act alone had a profound impact on Ben, and forces him to grow up in a way he never intended or wished.  He first wants to hide this from his parents, but his conscious eventually gives way and he tells Mara.

At this point Mara has her own personal revelations about Lumiya and Jacen and decides that something must be done, even if Luke is slightly hesitant and Mara begins to slip into her old ways as The Emperor’s Hand.  By the end of the novel Mara is cast in a whole new light and the reader can sympathize with her dual role.

At the other end of the galaxy, Boba Fett and his granddaughter Mirta begin a quest not only to restore Boba’s failing health, but a Mandalore discovery prompts Fett to become the leader he was always tapped to be to the people Madalore.  However, he hasn’t forgotten about the death of his daughter at the hands of Jacen Solo.  But the re-emergence of the people of Mandalore and their place in the galaxy, and what side they are about to choose is an interesting chess piece that author Traviss reveals and begins to explore.  By the end of the novel, it is clear which side Boba has chosen and he also receives some shattering news that even the most stoic of all bounty hunters is shaken to his core.

Luke’s showdown with Lumiya towards the climax and the events that lead up to it has the reader once more excited about the Luke Skywalker of old, as he’s on a personal quest now letting his emotions triumph over his Jedi training.  I’d hate to be in his way now.

Finally a new Sith Lord arises, Darth Caedus, who begins to full fill his own destiny as he proves good on the prophecies Lumiya speaks of.  The galaxy, the characters, and the Star Wars universe is about to change very dramatically.  What Traviss reveals and executes on in this book all serves purpose and really makes this series shine.

A Long Time ago, In a Target Aisle, Far, Far away…

Battle damaged Vader

Battle damaged Vader

What stupendous luck I had on Wednesday of this week.  Just by chance with a little extra time on my hands I decided to venture into my local Target store.  I rarely go through the front door any longer, I find that all the areas I’m interested in (toys, electronics, video games, bbq equipment) are closer to the garden entrance located to the far side and hence brings me better time efficiency when looking to blow my money on.

It just so happened that on this particular Wednesday, I happened down the action figure aisle where they display the Star Wars toys next to G.I.Joe, WWE, DC & Marvel heroes, and Indiana Jones and I had to pinch myself for what I saw.  Not only where the Star Wars figures reduced to $4.64 each, but there was a single Battled Damaged Darth Vader from the upcoming ‘The Force Unleashed’ video game tie-in.

And even better?  It was in mint condition!  No wear or tear on the card, no bend in the cardboard stock, no puncture in the protective plastic clam shell.  No, it was perfect and it was the only one.  I grabbed it just in time too, as I sensed another gentleman just seconds after I snatched it was also on a quest for rare Star Wars figures.

I’ve been very impressed with the imagination of the The Force Unleashed line of figures, from the various dark Jedi to the specialized Stormtroopers.  I nearly have all of them now.

I used to collect ‘all’ the Star Wars figures, but somewhere in my early thirties I decided that Kenner/Hasbro would keep churning out the same figures over and over again with slight variations in the name of the almighty dollar and profit and preyed on collectors like me who had to have ‘every’ one.  I mean how many R2-D2’s, Luke Skywalker’s, and Darth Vader’s are there now?  It was getting a bit ridiculous.  Even the clone troopers were using the same sculpt, just a different paint job being applied on them and, voila, you had another five or six figures that collectors had to had.

But despite the ten different Vader’s I already own, this one is exquisite the exposed face, torn cape, to the pop-off chest piece, I’d have to say my favorite aspect is the exposed mechanical leg and detail to the scared face and damaged respirator.  Truly a work of art and a stunning variation of the character as a whole.