Thursday, April 29, 2021

Death Star Chic: The Imperial Navy in 28mm

The first rule of good fiction is to make the audience identify with the villain. When it comes to Star Wars, George Lucas couldn't allow us identify with the morality or outlook of the Imperials -- they are, after all, genocidal space Nazis. So he cunningly got us to sympathize with the Imperials on another level: aesthetically. 

Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man. At least this girl is. And I'm especially fond of the sailors... that is to say, the uniformed members of the Imperial Navy. Sure you have your glistening Stormtroopers, and we all owe Her Maj Darth Vader a debt of gratitude for marrying cybernetics with high-camp drag (that wide belt! that cape!). But I'd trade them all away in a heartbeat for the choke-collars, double-breasted woolens and saucy kepi caps of the Imperial Officer corps. 

The strong sense of fashion filters down from the officers to the Imperial Navy's rank-and-file, who look just stunning in their flared helmets and high "fuck-me" boots. So let's commence a brief tour of Death Star chic, using some re-painted Wizard of the Coast plastics:

First up are some standard issue Imperial Navy Troopers. I've always thought that such troopers are sadly under-represented in Star Wars wargaming. The elite nature of the Stormtroopers is lost if they appear willy-nilly in every battle. Note the hesitant aiming, clenched fist and chin-straps. Doesn't it all just cry out, "I'm a big boy now!"

Next comes the Death Star Troopers. These are the elite that Grand Moff Tarkin hand-picked to man his planet-destroying battle station. I wonder if he was the one who chose the butch black uniform:

Lapdogs are strictly forbidden aboard the capital ships of the Imperial Navy, so the officer class occupy themselves by coddling the MSE-6 Mouse Droids:

Here is a RA-7 Protocol Droid, also known as the Death Star Droid. I said a few weeks ago that the twins Aleksin and Pavol are the first openly gay figures in the Star Wars canon. That may be true, but protocol droids have long been recognized as LGBTQ+ icons. Writing in Mel Magazine, Jospeh Longo described C-3PO as "science fiction's first great queer character" and "a wiry, aging twink droid in love with an old queen, R2-D2." 

The Death Star droid certainly fits that pattern. With his dignified mince and belly-exposing crop-top, this darling is practically begging for a night at the Rail.

And finally, I present Grand Moff Tarkin, who is absolutely rocking the angry daddy vibe. Princess Leia probably said it best: "Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash."

"...The Empire Strikes Back is heavily indebted to girls, to gays, to drag, to dance, to European traditions of camp and opera and being too much, with its excesses manifesting in spectacular effects, in the availability of male bodies for desire and consumption..." 
Rebecca Harrison, "Queer Empire", LA Review of Books, May 21, 2020

Stay safe, my friends!



  1. Wonderful work on all Matthew, a great diverse group you have on show, been looking for some of those myself

    1. Thanks Dave. I'm really happy to have that Death Star Droid. I think he's my favourite of the bunch.

  2. The Imperial Officer uniform is my 2nd fav of the bunch in StarWars. (Following closely on the BikerScout uniform) Were I to get back into StarWars costuming, I'd definitely head that direction, though for me cos it's the sinister clean lines and colouring I appreciate rather than any LGBTQ-etc connotation. :)
    But that's preference or some such I think.

    Per usual mate, your paint jobs are stunning and doubly so this post cos they are of my fav Imperial types too. Totally agree that the regular rank and file of the Imperials is woefully underrepresented in Star Wars - in the West End Games supplements from the 80's or 90's, those were the actual troops doing the fighting in the Empire's wars with the Stormtroopers being used for special missions. As it should be. Sad that is not the case in the current films or series.
    (Did they even make Imperial army trooper sculpts? I've no idea myself.)

  3. Fantastic literature quote. I really like the colour you used on Tarkin. Any chance you recall your combo of paints and inks you used?

  4. Well, next time I watch Star Wars will be with very different eyes after that :-) Great job on these, I really struggle to make blacks and greys look like anything other than, well, grey! So nice work.

  5. This is an impressive work indeed. The way you managed all those different greys is really something. And the droid turned out really well! I love them all.

  6. Lovely stuff! I'd love to see more of the jockeying for favour amongst the upper echelons that was briefly addressed in 'Rogue One'. There must be an overlap with North Korean generals as well.

  7. Well I've learnt a few things about myself and my love for the Empire's haberdashery thanks to this post! Lovely work on these and inspiring stuff for me to get round to painting the large pile of Imperial Assault minis I have patiently awaiting the paint brush.