Sunday, 7 July 2013



Written by Ryder Windham

Illustrated by Chris Trevas and Chris Reiff

Published by DORLING KINDERSLEY books

Reviewed by Scott Weller

When the original, all defining space fantasy STAR WARS first came out in 1977 and spread its wings of popularity and imagination across the world, which boys and dads didn’t want to dream of the chance to be in an X-wing fighter and go off into both adventure and battle alongside Jedi-to-be Luke Skywalker and the brave men and women of Red Squadron. Just seeing that end scene in the film- pretty much 15 minutes of wall to wall dramatic space battle conflict the likes of which had never been seen before cinematically, and initiating similar scenes in sci-fi movies following in the films mighty wake, which really were just pale imitations- was pretty staggering, and you felt like you were in the middle of it all- almost like being in a real roller coaster ride at Disney. Alongside these soon to be legendary attack craft were the Rebel Y-wing fighters, equally intriguing to look at from a design directive and just as fast as their rival ships-both were the most sleek looking spaceship craft ever built yet, and it was their grubbiness, the looks of decay and wear and tear on them, the pitted scars and the oil leak mark on their hull that made them seem further realistic and even more visually attractive- the first time a science fiction/fantasy universe had had that intriguing quality, the lived in look, and the ships, alongside the films other technology and environments, proved relatable in the same way that the legendary British Spitfires were to us all in images and footage from World War II, or seen for real at air shows. I’ve always loved fighter craft and planes in general-though I’d be too terrified to pilot one. There would be one exception, though, and that would be within the STAR WARS universe-where I’d be a crack pilot capable of handling anything, and especially an X-wing fighter! Yep, I reckon that if I lived within George Lucas’s incredible STAR WARS universe I’d give one of those babies a try, and especially now that I have the incredible schematics and details of not just this ship, but others being used within the Rebel Alliance, plus related technology, in the new, second book batch of superb blueprints from DORLING KINDERSLEY. Like the superb previous ULTIMATE EDITION, the two Chris’s -Trevas and Reiff- return to add their distinctive graphic works to the mix, alongside the skilled STAR WARS history compiling talents of Ryder Windham. This new book, with their combined multi-media talents, tell us everything we’ll ever need to now about the formidable Rebel Alliance and the not new, but souped up to their best abilities technology they would use, against all odds and despite their beaten down conditions, piloted/used by brave men, women and aliens, to defy a galaxy spanning, totally overwhelming force of Imperial Tyranny.
The skillfully designed schematics are, as before, excellent, and Windham’s notes are all encompassing in their detail within the ever expanding framework of the STAR WARS Expanded Universe. You’ll find out where these ships come from (in a now official history that, since the nineties and the Prequels, has always been different and adjusted to how I originally read them from when STAR WARS was released, especially with the X-wings (I always recall reading that the X-wings, and not just the Y-wings, were old types of fighter from before the Empire (long before EPISODE III’s introduction of the similar looking ARC-170 fighters), yet now the X-wings had been specially made for use with the birth of the Rebel Alliance). Why and who made these changes I don’t know, but I’m guessing it was indeed the early nineties that the revisionism happened and LUCASFILM have stayed with it), how they work (in which readers can finally discover where everything is inside them and all their vital functions), and their defining battles within the saga, past and present, with further info on some of the bold star warriors that have used them. And it doesn’t just stop with the fighters, we also get the same insider depth with the wonderful Rebel Blockade Runner from STAR WARS (the first vehicle and technology seen in the original 1977 film) and REVENGE OF THE SITH, the heavy weaponry used by our heroes (including Chewbacca the Wookiee’s distinctive Bowcaster and crack shot Princess Leia’s retro cool-looking defender blaster), and, in a special treat for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK fans, complete schematics of every facet of the incredible Echo Base facility on the fifth planet in the Hoth system, where Luke, Han and the others took refuge-find out where the command center and medical areas are that played viotal parts in the film’s early beginning, alongside areas of the base we never saw, and find the correct locations of the Millennium Falcon smuggling vessel, fighters, transport ships and Snowspeeders in the various hangar levels (which, I’m assuming took a lot of work and planning, bravely tries to explain all the differing visual continuity changes with the vehicles seen in the film’s Hangar bay scenes), and discover more about the intriguing, powerful defense systems and devices used to protect them from what will eventually be overwhelming Imperial attacks both from above and on the ground.
With such excellent notes and superb technical details/layouts which are pleasing to eye, their printing up as high quality large scales posters is a terrific bonus, and they make you want to delve into them constantly for lots of close-up examination, as well as proving very durable as wall hang ups. There’s also some very nice rare photos that I hadn’t seen before accompanying the text (including a deleted scene – perhaps in recognition of the upcoming Blu-ray release of EMPIRE), which will be of note to archivists like me.
As with the prior ULTIMATE EDITION, you’re guaranteed to be looking at this 32 page book and blueprints for hours, enjoying the high dedication to detail that these STAR WARS projects have initiated (where you’ll also re-admire the beautiful work done for the films in 1979, 1982 and 2003 by Lucas’s very talented art teams). We look forward to further exciting volumes in the continuing series, though I think the Classic Trilogy is the area that should be examined the most-its more iconic and intriguingly accessible design wise.
AFICIONADO RATING: With such unparalleled research and access to the craft and other visual materials from LUCASFILM,  great care, attention to detail and love of the project can be seen within this new blueprints edition. Another smashing book that’s a worthy addition to the collection, and a further STAR WARS project that breathes new life into an old idea. Now, the only things missing from our lives now are the fully function technology and vehicles themselves! 9 out of 10   

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