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"Starring Mark Hamill"

That was the first time most people ever saw the name Mark Hamill. I was six years old when I learned it, long ago. Long enough now that I can barely remember a time when I didn't know who Mark Hamill was. 

Mark (if I can call him Mark) is a friend of mine.

Oh, I don't mean that literally. I've only ever been in the same room with him once, but that doesn't matter. He is absolutely a friend, and one of the best I've ever had.

Today is his birthday, and it's time we all took a moment to say "Happy Birthday, Mark!"

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Like I said, I was six the first time I met Mark on Tatooine. He was 23 years old when he played Luke Skywalker - a moisture farmer near the Jundland Wastes. I spent the next three years playing as a miniature version of the character Mark brought to life in STAR WARS. 

It was fun, but it was about to get a whole lot cooler.

"1980" means The Empire Strikes Back, and where A New Hope had provided unlimited play - Empire unlocked a whole new level. 

It was darker, more "real", and in it Luke had to grow up even more than he had the last time we saw him. Mark Hamill was older too, and so was I.

It was harder to pretend that I was Luke Skywalker, but action figures stood in perfectly well, and my Bespin Luke Skywalker figure went everywhere I did. When that thing wasn't being chased by a little plastic Darth Vader, it was in my pocket.

Perfect in his Rebel Fatigues uniform - that figure went bike riding, shopping, to school, to church, and even the doctor's office. 

In a way Mark was the best friend a kid of nine could have. Ready to play whenever I wanted, and always there. 

The costume Mark wore for most of Empire became something that I wanted to have myself, especially his jacket! "Bantha Tracks" - the newsletter of the Official Star Wars Fan Club (of which I was a member in good standing) even offered a kid's version. A jacket that by now I would have long ago grown out of. 

BUT, I do have a uniform that I'm wearing as I type this. It's one of my all time favorite STAR WARS pieces, and I wear it whenever I get the chance. It's a perfect replica of the costume Mark Hamill wore, and of the uniform Luke Skywalker was wearing the first time he faced Lord Vader.

It's been a few years now since "Empire," and I've grown up & have my own nine year old who loves STAR WARS as much as I do. 

It's fun watching "Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker" in the sequel trilogy with her. He's awesome in "Rise of Skywalker," and it gets me every time he raises Red-5 from it's watery resting place. 

As the years go on I hope there’ll be new Mark Hamill performances to look forward to. In a way he's been there my whole life, and if you ask me it'll never be time for THE Jedi to end.  

Happy Birthday Mark, I hope there's many many more to come!


John N Cooley 

-Jedi Knight and friend of Captain Solo   

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John Cooley September 25, 2020 0 tags (show)

23 Weeks of NEW Trek | Badgey

The 23 Weeks of Star Trek just keeps giving us new things to play with, and last week didn't disappoint.

On Star Trek Day, we talked about one of our favorite shapes in the world - The Starfleet Symbol. 

Who could have guessed that by the end of that week we would be given a floating, anthropomorphic version of that very icon?

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Badgey is...let's be honest, one of the best things to have come out of Star Trek in a long time. 

He's yet another gift from the amazing creators of STAR TREK: Lower Decks, and whatever else he is - training program, assistant, friend, foe, nemesis - Badgey is a hell of a lot of fun. 

Just don't make him mad.

I just can't get enough, and it really seems like the rest of the fandom can’t either.

Over the last few days we've seen memes & videos, gifs & animations, wallpapers, and at least one t-shirt (btw, my daughter wants a plush Badgey). 

And I know for a fact that there's more Badgey stuff to come.

I suppose it was inevitable. It was a matter of time before the Starfleet badge became a character itself within the franchise. 

To be fair, Badgey (brilliantly voiced by Jack McBrayer) is fun, and based on time honored tropes of 24th Century Star Trek. Transporter glitches and simulations that develop their own personality and sense of self awareness. 

From McNary and Minuet to Moriarty, Badgey takes his place in the tradition of Holodeck characters gone wrong.

My guess is that we haven't seen the last of Badgey. I hope he sort of becomes a Q-like character, or at least something like TNG's Professor Moriarty. 

Someone (somebadge?) that can pop up from time to time over the course of the whole series.

Love ya, Badgey! Please don’t hurt anybody.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 24, 2020 0 tags (show)

Imperial Stormtroopers -- The Shoretrooper

When Rogue One: A Star Wars story was first revealed, the excitement for a prequel to the original trilogy was palpable. As excited as most of us were for a new story and hopefully a few new planets to explore, I personally know that a good chunk of us were the most excited for something else that popped up in the trailers -- the apparent presence of some never before seen Stormtrooper variants.

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Particularly captivating were the new Coastal Defender Stormtroopers, also known as Shoretroopers

Sharp eyes noticed them in the very first teaser trailer for the new movie and speculation about their identity swirled heavily until the premier. The new armor even toured and made several appearances at events leading up to the big day and fans combed the internet for any information they could find about the new baddies. 

Throughout the galaxy as a whole, Shoretroopers are considered fairly rare. Stationed at tropical and coastal bases, they are specially outfitted to handle combat in their wet and humid environments. 

For their appearance in Rogue One, they patrolled the Imperial security complex (and its surrounding beaches) on Scarif. 

The weaponry we know that they employed, at least, included the E-11 Blaster Rifle, the E-22 Blaster Rifle, and thermal imploders. 

In the extended universe mobile game, Star Wars: Commander, Heavy Shoretroopers who specialize in heavy artillery makes a rare appearance. 

It remains to be seen if further variants will be established in future canon.

Rank is established by unique armor markings of at least three known types;

Foot Soldiers have a red right bicep plate, Squad Leaders share the red plate but also sport an blue band across their chest and shoulders. 

Shoretrooper Captains are by far the most decorated with a red arm band, full blue chest plate and further blue and yellow markings on their left side. 

It’s also interesting to note that the shoretroopers are missing the upper leg armor of their fellow stormtroopers, presumably to aid in mobility on sand and other uneven terrain.

While we may not know much about the formation of the troops and the backstory of these variants is limited (for now), it’s hard to deny that they’re captivating. 

We can only hope that more is revealed about them in the future.

Maybe it’s not so bad to be a stormtrooper if you get to serve your duty in a tropical paradise!

Amanda Avery          
Amanda is a blogger based in Anaheim, CA

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Amanda Avery September 23, 2020 0 tags (show)

23 Weeks of New Trek | Lower Decks ST Day Panel

The 23 Weeks of Star Trek dropped a fun present in our laps with the first coordinated, multimedia observance of STAR TREK DAY! 

September 8th has always been Star Trek's birthday, but this year was different. Twenty four straight hours of Star Trek love, in what I hope is only a taste of future Star Trek Days to come.

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There was a lot to enjoy starting with a marathon of curated episodes from every show. Midday brought us live panels celebrating every Star Trek series (almost, sorry TAS). 

There were exclusive memorabilia drops, and trailers for Lower Decks & Discovery Season three

There was even a Star Trek Day Pub Quiz to end the event with a fun trivia game. Really, it was one of the single best days ever to be a Star Trek fan.

But, if there were some sort of media content award for "Most Fun" it would have to go to the team for STAR TREK: Lower Decks! They really went above and beyond. 

Lower decks creator Mike McMahan and his cast took to the screens for their panel and brought their unrestrained love for each other and their show with them. 

Here's a tip - find someone that loves you as much as that cast loves their show, and you'll be happy all your life.

They brought with them a trailer for the back half of season one that (if you don't mind spoilers) is just amazing.

And as if that wasn't enough, Titmouse, Inc - the company that produces the animation for Lower Decks - even provided a fun, small coloring book specifically for Star Trek Day (which you can find here)

If you missed it, don't worry. 

All the panels, trailers, and bonus content from Star Trek Day can be found at Star Trek Dot Com, and at the CBS All Access YouTube channel. 

I definitely recommend watching the Lower Decks panel and mid-season trailer. They're both too much fun!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a coloring book to tend to. Au revoir.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 22, 2020 0 tags (show)

The Mandalorian | Season 2 Official Trailer

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September 15, 2020 0 tags (show)

The Belt of a Gunslinger - Exploring Han Solo's Iconic Look

"Look, Your Worshipfulness, let's get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me."

Take a look at almost any Han Solo action figure you have. 

It's fine, I'll wait. OK. Good. Now consider the things that make it look like "Han Solo." If it's an original '78 Kenner figure there's not much to go on. Likeness? OK. Vest, boots, check and check. Belt rig? Wow, that really looks like his belt. In fact for an early action figure that's soft on detail, it's one of the elements that the sculptor, and painter made fairly accurately. From that first action figure to the latest hyper detailed statues, Han Solo's right handed belt rig is one thing that all of them get right.

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Han Solo's large hexagonal belt buckle is one of the most recognizable aspects of his traditional uniform. Worn front and center in five of the six films Han Solo appears in - it's one of the defining traits of his look. For 1977's STAR WARS, costume designer John Mollo created a style for Han Solo that recalled the gunslingers of the Spaghetti Western genre. He wore an old shirt & vest with a pair of military striped pants, and riding boots. But, what really anchored the design was this particular piratical cowboy's gun belt. Carl Schmidt of Bapty & Co Ltd. crafted it alongside Roger Christian who, as Star Wars' set decorator - had been tasked with creating Han Solo's DL-44 Blaster along with all the other weapons needed for the film. That belt and buckle design became iconic, and has been worn in that configuration for nearly all of Han Solo’s appearances over the years.

Part of what goes into developing a successful costume, particularly for high adventure, superheroic, or science fiction stories is crafting something that can be dynamic when framed on screen. Han Solo's costume consists of mostly dark pieces broken up by his shirt and gunbelt with the belt's buckle acting as a kind of focal point and image break. Think of it like Batman's yellow utility belt, an artist's tool to add something visually dynamic to break up a silhouette & catch the eye. Han Solo's belt buckle acts exactly in that fashion on screen, and in real life.

I tend to wear my Han Solo buckle a lot. I paired it with my (very old, heavy, well worn) favorite belt, and it gets the occasional complement from people who recognize it. I can't wear Han Solo's full gun belt around town, but I can wear my buckle when I pick my daughter up from school.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 11, 2020 0 tags (show)

JOIN THE EMPIRE - Part Three General Hux

Armitage Hux is the only one of our three subjects that actively sought to enlist with the Imperial Army. In fact he didn’t just seek it, he pursued it with a ruthless focus that consumed the entirety of his life. 

Born the bastard son of Commandant Brendol Hux and a kitchen servant, Armitage not only had to live up to his father’s famous name but also overcome the scorn and mockery that followed him from a young age due to his mother’s lowly status.


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If you missed the previous articles of our ongoing series following Enlistment in the Imperial Military, you can find them here.

PART ONE - FN-2187 

PART TWO - Galen Erso

His father was a powerful but truly unloving man. Hux found himself the subject of constant abuse and beratement. This only furthered his intense desire to prove himself in the ranks of the military and gain his father’s full acceptance. 

Of course, by the time he had come of age the Galactic Empire had already fallen. For a while there were no proving grounds for Hux to dedicate himself to. Then, at last, the First Order was formed and Hux was able to follow in his father’s footsteps as a General.

Hux became consumed by a lust for leadership. Understanding his father’s true feelings for him and growing to resent him even further, Armitage resolved to remove the obstacle that was his father by having him killed by Captain Phasma. 

Convinced that he had eradicated the final barrier between himself and unlimited power by eradicating his oppressor, Hux pursued military advancement with a steadfast intensity. Before long, he had worked his way up to the position of one of Snoke’s right hand men, alongside Kylo Ren.

Hux’s bloodthirstiness would ultimately prove to be his downfall. Once Snoke met his demise and Kylo Ren ascended to his throne, the new supreme leader found Armitage impossible to trust. While Hux swore loyalty to Ren, he would ultimately betray him by acting as a spy for the Resistance. 

At the end of the day, Hux’s only loyalty was to his own upward momentum and he was willing to sacrifice everything to get back at the man that stole that from him, even willing to die.  

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Amanda Avery          
Amanda is a blogger based in Anaheim, CA

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Amanda Avery September 09, 2020 0 tags (show)

STAR TREK DAY - The Starfleet Symbol

Happy STAR TREK DAY everybody!

I've been thinking alot today about all the things I love in STAR TREK. The adventures, stories, the characters, settings & ships, and of course - the costumes. 

And worn on nearly every Starfleet Uniform we see is my favorite shape in this world - The Starfleet Symbol.

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A stylized delta - it’s derived from a combination of the vector component of the original NASA "Meatball" logo & the 1961 USAF Space Command insignia. 

The Starfleet Starship Duty Insignia worn in STAR TREK: The Original Series was created by costume designer William Ware Theiss & production designer Matt Jefferies with input from producer Bob Justman & series creator Gene Roddenberry. 

The delta, sometimes referred to as "The Flying A" by the show's producers and “The Arrowhead” by Bill Theiss - has evolved into a beloved symbol that today represents the entire STAR TREK Universe.

Originally, the delta conveyed information about the wearer’s duties aboard ship using a series of division symbols. 

When paired with a distinctive, elongated “star” the insignia represents someone assigned to the Command division aboard ship. 

When it displays the “planet” symbol, it represents the Sciences division.  

A stylized “e” stands for Engineering (later Operations), a red “Swiss Cross” is worn by starship personnel assigned to the Nursing Corps, while a block letter “C” stood for “Cadet” and was only seen in “The Cage.” 

I've worn the Starfleet Insignia in one form or another almost every day of my life since the age of four.

And in 2007 I had it tattooed on my left arm (it can truly be said that I wear my heart on my sleeve). I doodle it during long meetings, I see it in cloud formations, and I had one in my pocket the time I broke the sound barrier. I took a look around my house this morning and tried to count all the Starfleet deltas I found. I lost count.

In all the versions of that shape seen in the over fifty four years of the franchise, I have a clear favorite. 

I still love the one designed by John Eaves for GENERATIONS, and the one Rick Sternbach & Michael Okuda helped Bill Theiss with for TNG. I love the design that Robert Fletcher & Mike Minor came up with for STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan. And I love the version made by Mario Moreira and his prop team for DISCOVERY, and on and on.  

But, all of those designs are based upon the original. 

Worn week after week for seventy nine episodes, the Original Starfleet Insignia Patch is hands down my favorite version of the symbol. 

There's something so appealing about its shape, and satisfying in it's tactile form. It is a symbol I enjoy looking at, and something I enjoy wearing even more.

So yeah, I wear Starfleet deltas, alot. 

That symbol projects hope and the determination that our future will be better than our now. It also invites comment, conversation, and comradely. It conveys a little bit about myself to those who recognize it. 

I suppose it says "I like Star Trek'', and asks "Do you like Star Trek Too?" Friendships have started over the shared recognition of that shape, and that's really what STAR TREK is all about isn't it? To seek out new friends? That's one way to interpret Captain Kirk's invocation, and a great symbol to have on STAR TREK DAY!


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 08, 2020 0 tags (show)


Happy STAR TREK DAY everyone!

If you consider yourself a Trekkie, Trekker, Trekkor, Trekkist, or merely a STAR TREK fan - this day is yours. Celebrate it! 

September 8th is when we commemorate the birth of Star Trek Fandom; what better way to celebrate this day than by giving thanks for everything "The Great Bird of the Galaxy" Gene Roddenberry has bestowed upon us.

On this day in 1966, NBC aired "The Man Trap" -the first televised episode of Gene Roddenberry's new show STAR TREK. 54 years later we live in a world that was in part shaped by his creation. From the Padd (sic) that you may be reading this on, to the cell phone in your pocket, there's very little in the technology we use every day of our lives that hasn't been influenced by STAR TREK. If the 20th Century was "The Atomic Age", then the 21st could well be called "The Star Trek Age."

Star Trek Day
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September 8th kicks off a Star Trek Day filled with panels, special guests, activities, and more.

Check out the latest updates on STARTREK.COM!

When the first U.S.S. ENTERPRISE flew on to screens in 1966 it did so in a nation with many struggles.

Uncertainty with our rival super power in Russia, problems with China, a foreign war without a clear end, and racial inequality erupting into unrest.

Sadly, in 2020 - many of these challenges are still with us. 

But so is Star Trek's hopeful view of the future. 

Gene Roddenberry once said that "Star Trek speaks to some basic human needs: that there is a tomorrow—it's not all going to be over with a big flash and a bomb; that the human race is improving; that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids—human beings built them, because they're clever and they work hard. And Star Trek is about those things.

STAR TREK's real power though isn't in anticipating the technology that we could use in the future, but in demonstrating how we can interact with each other. 

Built into the very DNA of Star Trek is the idea that though we may be different from one another - we can live, work, and dream together. The "other" is not something to be feared, but something to be sought out. Not for what we can take from them, but for what we can share together. Knowledge yes, but deeper than that, understanding. 

The current STAR TREK universe of shows confirms Gene's message. Star Trek is set in a future beyond our current problems. It shows us one possible future where we are stronger because we learned to take special delight in our differences and used that strength to achieve anything, even flying faster than light. 

In 1966 Nichelle Nicholls broke barriers playing an officer aboard the ENTERPRISE - in a role that captured the imagination of people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In 2020 Sonequa Martin-Green is the lead of DISCOVERY, while Tawny Newsome is first on the call sheet in LOWER DECKS. 

And in the years between Lt. Uhura & Cmdr. Burnham - Avery Brooks, and Kate Mulgrew sat in their own respective captain's chairs. 

STAR TREK has gone further into the frontier than any other show in demonstrating how much stronger we are when we work together.

Together is how we should celebrate STAR TREK today! 

Whether your favorite show is TOS or Deep Space Nine. Maybe you prefer Voyager and DISCOVERY or really love Lower Decks. Perhaps Enterprise is your thing, or The Next Generation & PICARD. Perhaps the Animated Series or you love The Motion Pictures and maybe even Short Treks. 

The point is that there is STAR TREK enough for everyone, with even more to come. 

In production - Strange New Worlds, Section 31, & Prodigy with more seasons of Discovery, Picard & Lower Decks already on the way. An amazing story for every taste, and a taste of every kind of story. STAR TREK has it all! 

It's here for every one of us to enjoy, and maybe we can even learn something about ourselves while watching our heroes boldly going where no one has ever gone before!

Have a happy STAR TREK DAY, and Live Long and Prosper!


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 08, 2020 0 tags (show)

23 Weeks of NEW Trek - Captain Christopher Pike

These "23 Weeks of Star Trek" are quickly becoming our favorite season this year!

It's hard to believe that we're just four episodes into STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS, and simultaneously that much closer to the Premier of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY's third season! AND the Star Trek Universe is about to welcome a whole new group of fans as DISCOVERY's inaugural season will air on CBS starting September 24th!

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Between new episodes of LDS, I've been re-watching DISCOVERY season two. I love it! As an old ORIGINAL SERIES fan, I can't help but love the introduction (reintroduction?) of Captain Christopher Pike. 

Anson Mount was perfectly cast as the modern incarnation of Jeffrey Hunter’s classic, prime timeline character.

He was the perfect counterpoint to season one's duplicitous Captain Gabrael Lorca.

Christopher Pike is literally the prototype of a Starfleet captain as originally created by STAR TREK’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. The Captain Christopher Pike we meet in "The Cage" was designed to be the very model of a thoughtful, measured, compassionate, leader. Qualities that were transferred whole cloth to Captain James T. Kirk when STAR TREK's second pilot was made a year later. 

The transition from Pike to Kirk was an invention of necessity when Jeffery Hunter was unavailable for "Where No Man Has Gone Before," but Pike has always represented a path not taken. What would the adventures of the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE have been like with her original crew of Capt. Pike, his first officer Number One, and their "half-Vulcan science officer" Spock? We're about to find out!

In 2021 (hopefully) we will see the first episodes of the new series, STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS! It will recount the adventures of the original Enterprise, (NCC-1701) years before Jim Kirk assumes command. It will also be a return to a more episodic version of STAR TREK, very much in line with TOS itself. 

While there will be a thorough line of character growth and development, this new show returns to the "planet" of the week sort of format so familiar to generations of Trekkies & Trekkers. More than that, it's a return to STAR TREK's original concept & characters not seen (depending on your point of view) since "The Menagerie."

I can't wait. THIS is (almost) everything I've ever wanted from the franchise. NEW, weekly adventures aboard the original - albeit visually updated - U.S.S. ENTERPRISE / NCC-1701 ("No bloody A, B, C, or D")!

What all this means is that for the first time since "The Cage" we'll all get to watch STAR TREK on our TVs as it was originally conceived by The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself!

Really, more than ever before, STAR TREK LIVES!


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 03, 2020 0 tags (show)