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Baron Fel & Hobbie Klivian

SW: X-Wing Rogue Squadron
by yo go re

It's ridiculous to think that the end of Return of the Jedi signified the end of the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. Yes, they blew up a Death Star and killed the Emperor; and? The Empire was a highly organized political body with a capable hierarchy and thousands of ships at its disposal. Was it really just going to roll over and play dead just because it lost one space station? Of course not, but it fell to the Expanded Universe to tell those stories.

Rogue Squadron is sent to Brentaal IV, an important trading planet held by Imperial forces. The elite squadron's mission is to take control of the planet, but to do that they will have to defeat Baron Fel's formidable 181st Imperial Squadron - no easy task even for "Hobbie" Klivian and the other ace pilots in Rogue Squadron. Unknown to them, they are being used by bickering Imperial forces in a devious plot to consolidate their power.

A superb pilot, Soontir Fel was placed in charge of teaching cadets at the Imperial academy, where one of his students was Biggs Darklighter - in fact, Biggs' defection to the Rebels was part of the reason Fel was reassigned to the 181st Imperial Fighter Wing, generally considered the worst unit in the service. He managed to whip them into shape, and happened to have a decisive military victory the same day the original Death Star blew up: the Empire, wanting to downplay news of the Rebels' victory, made a hero of Fel and eventually granted him the title of baron.

Fel is based on Tim Bradstreet's cover for X-Wing Rogue Squadron #25 (not the heavily retouched cover of the Blood and Honor tpb), which is kind of a problem. Bradstreet based the character's look on his brother Bob, and the figure matches the art well, but sometimes that's not enough. The problem? Other than this figure and Bradstreet's two covers, every representation of Fel has had a goatee. That's a pretty substantial error. Yes, you can add your own with paint or a Sharpie, but that doesn't mean the omission isn't wrong.

The figure is an entirely new piece, and gives us Soontir in his Imperial flight uniform. He's not wearing the all-black seen on most TIE pilots, but rather a grey jumper with a gray shirt and fancy gauntlets. The red stripes on his sleeves are painted well, though if they weren't going to get painted, the interior of the shoulder joints probably should have been molded from red, rather than grey.

The baron has a balljointed neck, shoulders, elbows and knees, and his wrists, waist and hips swivel. His accessories include a scout trooper's pistol, removable chest armor, a TIE pilot helmet, and a life support chest box. The helmet, armor and chest thing all plug together, but he still looks kind of under-dressed with the grey suit and the bare hands.

Facing off against Baron Fel is Derek "Hobbie" Klivian, one of his former students. Basically, it's one of the generic schmucks in an X-Wing pilot's uniform that you can't tell from any of the rest. If you believe his Expanded Universe history, this particular schmuck has had it pretty rough, losing both an arm and a leg (and possibly his genitalia) for the Rebellion, suffering facial wounds, massive infections and much more. Of course, maybe it's not so bad: he was supposed to be killed in Empire Strikes Back, but that scene was cut. What are mangled genitals in relation to that? I'm sure they can fit him with a prosthetic pair of spaceballs.

Hobbie is actually a character from the film, portrayed by Richard Oldfield - he even got a line, where he questioned Princess Leia's evacuation plan from Hoth. "Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?" There's your moment of fame, Hobbie! The likeness is decent, but that could be attributed to the fairly generic look. He does seem to have the right nose, though. Just as in the film, Hobbie's wearing a gray cloth skullcap under his removable helmet.

The figure is wearing the standard orange jumpsuit with white vest and black gloves/boots. The mold is (mostly) re-used from 2004's Gold Leader figure, and the articulation definitely shows its age. Four years ago balljointed knees, a swivel neck, shoulders, hips, right elbow and left glove would have been great, but now it's lackluster. The chest has been somewhat retooled, but it's the same basic sculpt underneath. Other than the helmet (and a removable tube on his torso), Hobbie's only accessory is a BlasTech DH-17 blaster, a pointy gun.

This set includes a reprint of X-Wing Rogue Squadron #24, which has a decent story, but crummy art. And there's one clever bit about using detonators to blow up an Imperial base, except the idea is brought down by a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept being used. Here's a hint: binary counts only in ones and zeroes; there is no "two." Still, it's an entertaining issue (even if #25 would have been a better choice, so atleast the baron would have looked somewhat right), and it's free, so either like it or ignore it.

The reason I bought this comic pack was a simple one: removable armor. Love that stuff. I had no idea who Baron Fel or Hobbie Klivian were, but being able to dress them down was cool. Neither figure is without its flaws, but they're both fine, and more interesting than they seem at first glance.


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