Rebels Review: Legacy of Mandalore

Listen. I know that I have a Mandalorian bias and an even stronger Sabine Wren bias but “Legacy of Mandalore’” is an incredibly solid follow up to “Trials of the Darksaber” and it’s a damn shame they were split up by the break. It’s also a damn shame that we won’t be seeing much of Sabine for the foreseeable future while she tries to help clean up Mandalore and help free her people from the Empire’s choke hold.

It’s not a very happy homecoming for Sabine as her clan initially starts shooting at her when the Phantom appears in Clan Wren space. The episode goes pretty much how you’d expect from there including an awesome duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon. It doesn’t matter if the plot is predictable though because this is a continuation of Sabine’s story as she confronts both her past and her family and finds a new way forward. Continue reading

Review: Sabine: My Rebels Sketchbook

Here at Tosche Station, we don’t dive into the Star Wars children’s books very often but Sabine: My Rebel Sketchbook by Dan Wallace and Annie Stoll is just so awesome that we had to talk about it here. Just like it says on the label, Sabine’s Sketchbook is written like it’s Sabine’s latest sketchbook (the seventh this year!) and is filled with her artwork, thoughts, and random notes. Given that this is a children’s book, there’s much more writing and explaining that I would actually expect to see in the dozens of sketchbooks that Sabine undoubtedly has stashed in her cabin but that does nothing to detract from how thoroughly enjoyable this book is for all Rebels fans.

Like a sketchbook would, the book clearly takes place over a period of time. Towards the start, Sabine details everyone’s call signs but only goes up to Spectre 5. As the book progresses, they eventually add Ezra to their little crew and it covers the timeframe for all the episodes from the first half of Season One. While the book is intended for kids, adult fans of Rebels will undoubtedly get a kick out of reading it too. Throughout the book are tons of little tidbits about the crew of the Ghost and about Sabine herself. I feel like this book actually gave us more insight into who Sabine is as a person than eleven episodes of the television show which is a nice feather in the book’s hat. Expanded Universe fans will also enjoy spotting all the little bits that find their way back into canon status thanks to this book. (I won’t spoil the surprises for you.)

Much like a comic book, Sabine’s Sketchbook is a collaborative effort between Dan Wallace and Annie Stoll. I found myself lingering on each page so I could catch every last detail that Stoll worked into each page. Her use of different styles is perfect for an experimental artist like Sabine and the varying “completeness” level of each piece (some are just pencil sketches while others are finished works) gives a feel of authenticity to the book. Honestly everything about the artwork in the book is perfect from the graffiti to the quick sketches to the more completed and colorful works. It’s clear that Stoll really gets Sabine and I can’t imagine another artist working on this project. Honestly, everything about this book just confirms that Sabine Wren is a great character to have in the Star Wars universe: a woman of color who unabashedly loves the arts and explosions and who can hold her own.

The only thing that I wasn’t terribly fond of in the book was the number of “official artwork” pieces that were included on the pages. I’m not sure if the promo shots or the episode screenshots were more jarring. Annie Stoll’s art is so good and perfect for Sabine that the book didn’t really need them. This is a relatively minor issue but I hope that if they make a second Sketchbook (and oh boy do I hope they will!) that they’ll use far less of it and more of Stoll’s work.

I give Sabine: My Rebels Sketchbook two thumbs up and strong recommendation to pick up whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Thank you to Studio Fun for providing us with a copy of the book for review purposes.

Where’s Hera? (And Sometimes Sabine)

January 4th, 2015 and I’m already tired. Why? Because I am sick of it. Because I’m sick of death of having to constantly fight and ask for female representation in merchandise when there’s absolutely no good reason not to include it. Are you a fan of Star Wars Rebels and love the ENTIRE team? Well good luck finding merchandise that includes Hera or Sabine let alone both.

If this is sounding familiar, it’s because we’ve been through this before. We wondered where Black Widow was in all the Avengers gear after the film came out in May 2012 and then we asked again in August 2014 when Gamora was almost nowhere to be found. (Amy Ratcliffe detailed the latter over at her blog.) At this point, it’s an easy choice to call it a pattern of marketing (especially Disney in this situation) purposefully eliminating female characters from their products. This is hardly also a new battle for Star Wars. Those in the fandom will likely recall the uproar when Daisy Ridley was originally the only new woman in the Episode VII cast and then again when Hera and Sabine were not announced with the first wave of Rebels action figures. (And hey, that’s just the highlights from 2014.) Unfortunately, it looks like it’s time to start up a hashtag for #WheresHera.

Let’s take a look at some of the Star Wars Rebels merchandise out there. Over the weekend, I found myself at the Disney Store, a calendar mall stand, and Jo-Ann Fabrics. While this is not a comprehensive listing of places that sell Star Wars gear, I found the products there to be fairly representative of what I’ve seen other times.

I found this set of kids’ PJs in the Disney Store. Notice who’s missing?IMG_1411I don’t recall seeing anything with either lady on anything in the store but I DID see a girl of perhaps five eagerly grabbing for a Star Wars lunch box. Much of the rest of the items featured Darth Vader, clone troopers, and the Inquisitor. (It took effort not to explain the Inquisitor’s lightsaber to the confused dad holding it.)


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Spark of Diversity: What Sabine Wren Means for Star Wars

SabineWrenI’m an impatient person. I really thought that I could hold out until the official Rebels premiere on October 3rd but then they bumped the online release date up to Friday and… I watched it. Because I’m impatient person. I’ve known for a while now that I was excited for Rebels to start. It featured a family-like crew filled with characters who seemed right up my alley.

What I didn’t realize until I sat down on my couch to watch Spark of Rebellion is what seeing Sabine Wren on the screen was going to mean to me. Finally, after twenty-four years, there was a main character in a Star Wars film or television show that looked like me and the full impact of this hit me like a ton of bricks as she took her bucket off for the first time.

It’s not like I didn’t know that Sabine was going to be there. I was amongst those who loved Sabine’s character design from when they initially debuted it, wondered if she was human or alien, and then rejoiced when they confirmed that she was a human character of color. There’s been plenty of time for all of this information to sink in but somehow watching the episode made it seem so much more real to me.  Sabine Wren was the sort of character I’ve been waiting to see my entire life.  All of this brought forth a giant mess of emotions that are difficult to fully describe if you’ve been able to see a hero who looks like you in Star Wars before.

I wish that I’d been born later. I wish that I could’ve had the opportunity to watch Star Wars Rebels as a kid and see a teenage girl who looked like me up there on the screen. I wish that I could’ve had the opportunity at a younger age to watch an Asian woman be an integral part of our team of heroes with no one commenting on her race or gender as she blows things up to stop the enemy… artistically. I wish I’d been able to see a capable lady in the Star Wars universe who looks like me and who does more for the plot than serve as space scenery.  I wish I’d had that extra positive reinforcement that Sabine will give all these young girls out there.

At the same time though, I’m happy. Tiny explosion obsessed Bria may not have had Sabine to look up to but there are hundreds if not thousands of young girls of color out there who can now look at the television screen each week and smile as they watch her kick butt across the galaxy. Some of them may be conscious of how important she is and some may not but the important part is that she is there for them. My heart will probably grow two sizes when I see a little girl dressed up as Sabine and running around playing Rebels with her friends.  (Add in another size if I ever see a Sabine joined by other girls dressed up as Leia and Padmé.)

So thank you, Rebels. Thank you to everyone involved with creating this show and creating a character like Sabine and then casting an actress of color to voice her. Thank you Rebels for giving us an Asian human female hero who not only can hold her own but has more to her character than being action girl. Thank you for finally bringing a character like this to the forefront for hundreds and hundreds of young girls to look up to.

Sabine Wren’s not just the sort of character that we Star Wars fans deserve—she’s the sort of character that we need.

Rebels Clip: Art Attack

The second of four Star Wars Rebels shorts has arrived!  In the second of four clips that originally premiered at Star Wars Weekends, Sabine Wren sneaks onto an Imperial base to decorate.  Explosively.

Somewhere, Grand Admiral Thrawn is sitting back and stroking his chin and saying, “But it was so artistically done.”