Monday, 24 December 2012

Star Wars

I was five when I saw my first Star Wars movie - the Empire Strikes Back. Prior to this I had already been buying the toys and had watched on television at an all too tender age the Star Wars Holiday special. Luckily at four years old the special was actually really enjoyable! Star Wars came to dominate my life as a child - I watched the movie, listened to the records, played with the toys, coloured in the books and wrote stories about my favourite characters. I even had Mum make me a waistcoat just like Han Solo's. Hang on, that was last month...
Waistcoats with big pockets are cool, no matter what anybody tries to tell you.
Now I know that there are many people for whom the prequels poured burning acid into their childhood memories, and theoretically I fit the profile to be one of them. An obsessive geek with extreme StarWars addiction. But I love the prequels. There is nothing in there that I find disturbing. Midichlorians? Why not? Jar Jar Binks? Slightly annoying but he grew on me.
'Thanksa Mr Natholeon. Yousa my bestest friend!'
OK, Jar Jar, don't get carried away.
Pod racing eight year olds that grow up faster than the elected teenage space queen that they have developed a crush on, marry them secretly, keep it secret from a whole bunch of Jedi, get her pregnant and then try to kill her? Sure, whatever floats your boat George.
You see, Star Wars is not sci-fi. It is not meant to be hard, gritty and have all possible plot loopholes sealed solidly shut. It is fun. I have seen it described as a Space Opera, but this is a dumb name for it. For a start there is no singing (except in the Holiday Special - and that is best not remembered), and the only fat people with Horns are Gamorrean Guards who don't speak a word of German. No, Star Wars is best described as a Space fantasy, and above all it is meant to be fun to watch. 
'Offended by the prequels you are? Get a life, you should.'
The Star Wars moment for me out of all of the movies comes in Episode Two when Yoda duels with Count Dooku. What Star Wars fan in their right mind did not feel goosebumps when they saw that scene? I had a stupid grin on my face the whole fight. The prequels gave me that moment to treasure forever, not to mention some of the other fantastic battle scenes.
Latterly the Clone Wars is giving me a lot of viewing pleasure. There are times when it tries too hard to use memorable lines from the movies, like 'I've got a bad feeling about this', but in general it is a great series with real character development for some fringe members of the Star Wars universe.
I'm glad Disney is going to produce another three movies. I hope it doesn't screw with the expanded universe too much, but there is one thing that I'd be glad to see banished - the Yuuzhan Vong. This smacks of somebody's attempt to put a hard-core sci-fi element into Star Wars and to be honest, I think that it blows.
'You don't like us? Fine, we'll go to Warhammer 40,000 then. Should fit right in there.'
Gaming Star Wars

'Unflocked my base is. Naked do I feel.'
Thank goodness Wizards of the Coast made the Star Wars Miniature Battles figures. These pre-painted plastics have given me a lot of fun in the last couple of years. I'm just annoyed I didn't really get into buying them before production stopped. Nevertheless I've got a couple of reasonable sized forces that I play with using the FUBAR rules. I've played around with these simple one page regulations to make the characters a bit tougher, especially the Jedi, because no Sith Master should accidentally die when he climbs into a tank in order to get some droids to advance (Dooku, I'm looking at you!). And with my Star Wars games I prefer to umpire. This is because I can vary scenarios on the spot, putting in balance when I sense that it is starting to tilt a bit, and sometimes to unbalance forces just for the fun of it.  I also do things like make people who produce the best sound of a spaceship landing receive reinforcements, or make people resolve ties by having fake lightsaber battles.
'If we stand behind this tank we won't get hurt - unless it explodes. But what are chances of that?'

Cannon fodder... er... I mean Clones.
I toyed with the idea of repainting these figures, like I have with the Heroclix, but to be fair I don't really feel like I need to. I've had so much fun with them in their 'raw' state, and have so many other projects to get on with, that these chaps will probably just stay the way that God and Wizards of the Coast intended - barring the basing, which I am currently working through in a not very methodical way.
The only repaint that I have done has increased the fun factor by exactly 0%. So why bother?
Finally there is X-Wing, which I have not yet played, but am accumulating fighters for. The tally currently stands at 2 starter sets, and the new year will hopefully see more added. Bloggers throughout the wargaming world seem to be wrapped with it.
X-Wing - I've read good things.
I'm looking forward to lots more Star Wars games in 2013, by far the most fun wargames that I've ever been a part of. And looking forward to Disney's films in a couple of years time.



  1. Like you, grew up with and cut my teeth on Star Wars... then came prequels, seen through adult eyes... special effects and settings were way cooler, but story line, and some of the characters, meh!

    I often wondered why a range of metal/pewter figures weren't released/licensed to somebody to produce??? And a set of wargames rules released for them...

    It could be likened to my gaming past - I played WFB way back when as that was the closest thing to LOTR... I guess people played 40k coz that was the closest thing to Star Wars???

    If there was a Star Wars games, perhaps 40k wouldn't have become so popular...?

  2. In the 1990s West End Games actually produced lead miniatures and published a game. I've got a collection of random figures from the range sitting in my cabinet. I don't think the marketing was that strong and then their license expired. I expect that had the internet been as big back then as it is now that it would have exploded.

    I actually preferred the more complex storyline of the prequels. Some of the acting is pretty bad, but not too much when you compare it with Mark Hamill...

    undoubtedly my favourite Star Wars franchise is the Clone Wars. If you haven't seen any of this animated series, go rent a DVD now!