Saturday, 7 February 2009

14. The snow-man cometh...

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh lanugage and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

February 2009. It snowed this week, and the UK almost ground to a halt.

Some places had it worse than others, of course, but on the first day of snow, the public transport across London was closed by dear old Boris, for the first time ever since the system was set up. Bless 'im. As far as I know, the worst affected areas only had about a foot of snow (about 30cm). Hardly 'The Day After Tomorrow', but enough to slow the UK down. The problem is, you see, that we're not used to it. Not that much, anyhow. Even the Emercency Services were stretched to breaking point as a whole new generation of drivers had to tackle snow and ice for the first time.

Here in Oxford, it didn't really snow significantly until Wednesday. We got around 5 inches (12cm ish), max. Nice snow. Good for making snowmen and that. It occurred to me that the last time I saw snow like this, was probably in the late 80's, when I lived up in Durham. I've got great memories of the school being closed (either boiler-problems, or none of the teachers could/would make it in), and playing Gauntlet and Bruce Lee on the Amstrad464 at home, and occasionally venturing outside to do the snow-thing before realising it was just too damned cold to stay out for long.

Of course, the snow also brings back another part of my childhood. Y'know, the part that never really left me. In 1980, I had the Empire Strikes Back sticker album, being the SW obsessed child that I was/am. It's got to have been either Christmas '80 or '81 when I got the AT-AT, and from that moment on, I prayed for snow at every viable opportunity (viable for snowfall, not viable for prayer-time).

Why? So that I could take my toys out into the back yard and re-enact the Battle of Hoth properly, of course! In the sticker album, for all the stills from the movie that depict the Hoth battle, and for all the other concept-art by the fantastic Ralph McQuarrie, there was one picture that called to my imagination every time I saw it, and still does...

I'm not sure why it's this one over the others, there's just something about the speed I suppose. The snowspeeder is whizzing past, the walker is crumbling like a felled giant, and the troops are running in, all at different speeds to each other, which is amazing to be able to capture in one painting.

So, there I was outside with my toys whenever the snow came. AT-AT, Snowspeeder, Luke in his pilot gear, the other rebels in their Hoth gear, and my solitary snowtrooper left to fight them all off (which is the major drawback when you have one of each figure). And about twenty minutes later, I'd get too cold and bring the whole lot inside before the stickers on the vehicles got too wet and started to peel.

Of course, since then, Hoth isn't the only planet in the GFFA we've seen with a snow/ice theme. Thanks to various Expanded Universe sources (and one more of the movies, of course), we've had Mygeeto (Episode III), Alzoc III (Jedi Outcast demo), Orto Plutonia (Clone Wars), Fest (Dark Forces), Anteevy (Dark Forces) and Rhen Var (Battlefront) to name a few.

(Those aren't necessarily the first appearances of the planets, just the references that belong to those screenshots). So it's at times like these that I'm kicking myself for not buying Hasbro's Ultimate Wampa when I saw it in TRU for a tenner :(

But... we make do with what we've got. And this snowfall was enough to have me raiding the toybox again :D First up...

Luke is unable to bear the freezing conditions of my back garden...

Wasn't able to pick up the detail on Spirit Obi-Wan (Endor three-pack version, not mailaway), unfortunately. And the geek worth his salt will also notice that it's not Luke in the snow, it's the Rebel Soldier from the PotF2 '97 Laser-Cannon-Deluxe pack. The irony is, I've actually had two of the Hoth Luke figures, and customised them both (IE pulled the heads and hands off) to make Jaden Korr from Jedi Academy's Hoth levels.

(I made it during the summer months, so the photo was taken then )

General McQuarrie is captured during the battle of MyGardann

Really enjoyed setting this one up. TAC General McQuarrie (ironic for reasons stated above), Saga General Veers and Snowtrooper, PotF2 Snowtroopers and Probe Droid, and from way back, that's a vintage Kenner/Palitoy MLC-3 Mini-Rig. Inside the MLC3 is a Saga AT-AT Driver, but the camera didn't really pick him up, and it could be Snaggletooth in there for all you'd know.

Ki-Adi Mundi wades into snow... and trouble.

Yeah, Mygeeto was more of an ice planet than a snow planet, but the photo wouldn't have looked as nice if I'd taken it out on the road at the front of my house. RotS Ki-Adi Mundi, TAC Galactic Marines, Saga Clone Trooper and Airborne Trooper from Mace Windu's Attack Battalion, RotS AT-RT walker, and PotF2 Endor Bunker. And the snowman's in the background, not on top of the bunker

And yes, I'm aware that the bunker features in the timeline 25 years after the Clone Wars, but I figure the Republic/Empire has been using the same hardware all that time. The interior shots we're seeing on the Clone Wars animated show certainly seem to suggest so, with all Republic ship and base corridors looking like the interior of the Death Star.

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So there we have it, that's what I've been doing this week - playing in the snow, apart from other things.
Next time I'm heading down to the beach, I'll take a bantha and some sandpeople with me

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Not all those pics are mine, mind, and I'm not pretending they are. References are on the pics where applicable.

• PotF2 (Power of the Force 2 - 1995-2000), RotS (Revenge of the Sith - 2005), Saga (The Saga collection - 2002-2004, 2006), TAC (Thirtieth Anniversary Collection - 2006-2008). Just so you know

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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