Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

Lucasfilm has slowly been revealing new characters and details about the forthcoming new publishing initiative Star Wars: The High Republic. But what we haven’t seen yet are some of the new vehicles that have been imagined for this new series of adventures set 200 years before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

But even though it’s set two centuries before the sequel, Lucasfilm concept artists have taken inspiration for Star Wars: The High Republic vehicles and ships from how the prequesl reimagined the saga’s aesthetic by going in a more elegant and refined direction. So with this new era, they’ve also refined the look of the the Republic a bit. On top of that, they had a chance to create new vehicles for the villainous marauders known as the Nihil, and they were even able to use some ideas originally created for the Star Wars sequel trilogy that didn’t make it to the big screen.

For the general vibe of the new vehicles, Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo explained to StarWars.com:

“We all found a lot of inspiration in how the prequels opened up a more refined era of the galaxy, but by virtue of those films’ proximity to the originals, it had to start showing early signs of corruption. By moving further in time, away from that downfall, we’re able to see the Republic at its height in this storytelling. In the Core Worlds especially, that’s reflected in fashion and technology. A lot of the visual exploration in the High Republic is taking what we know, but idealizing it.”

Here’s the new design for the starfighters that the Jedi are cruising around in during this time period:

Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

It’s called the Jedi Vector, and Pablo Hidalgo explained that their design explorations included a lot of ideas that had a “delicate, streamlined feel that felt relevant.” For this ship specifically, they wanted it to have ” an angular and elegant design befitting this gilded age.” If the design feels familiar, that’s because it’s derived from a piece of Revenge of the Sith concept art by Warren Fu for a Republic clone fighter, an alternate take on what we know as the ARC-170 starfighter.

Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the more industrial ships created for the savage marauders known as the Nihil. They’re a departure from the look we’ve come to expect from scavengers and pirates in the Star Wars universe, but they’re clearly not in the same vein of anything we’ve seen from the New Republic, Rebel Alliance, Empire or First Order. Above is the Nihil Tempest Runner and below is the Nihil Stormship.

Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

Though these ships were created from scratch for The High Republic, as we saw with the Jedi Vector, the creative minds of Star Wars never let a good design go to waste. So for some of the other new ships, they looked at some concept art originally created for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. This is something done frequently at Lucasfilm when a new Star Wars project is coming together. It just so happens that Lucasfilm’s creative art director Phil Szostak had just put together “playlists of hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of unused concept art images from across all eras of Star Wars filmmaking” for another project. Szostak explained:

“Due to the sheer volume of unused concepts I was selecting from, I used George Lucas and Doug Chiang’s ‘three second rule’ to choose candidates that clearly and quickly read as potentially appropriate to each High Republic need. And those subsets of art would then get passed along to [Lucasfilm Publishing creative director] Mike Siglain, Troy Alders, Pablo Hidalgo, and myself for further discussion and refinement.”

For those who don’t know, the three-second rule is that when the audience sees something new on screen, they have to immediately connect with this new item. They have to understand what it is within two or three seconds. So that’s how Szostak plucked the next two ships seen below.

Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

Above is the Republic Longbeam with a design that was originally created as a Resistance bomber for the opening sequence of The Last Jedi. But now James Clyne’s originally art lives on as a new ship in The High Republic.

Star Wars: The High Republic Vehicles

Meanwhile, the design for the ship that sparks The Great Disaster when its destroyed while flying through hyperspace is taken from an early design for The Force Awakens. Known as the Legacy Run, the ship was originally created as the freighter that Han Solo and Chewbacca were cruising around in, which is why you can see the Millennium Falcon in the artwork seen above. Hidalgo explains what was appealing about this design for their purposes:

“It tells a story that this isn’t a luxury passenger liner, but it’s all some people can afford. You can tell how it operates just by looking at it. And it isn’t fancy. In this case, it didn’t matter that it came from the Resistance/First Order era, because this design is likely hundreds of years old. Star Wars designs are shaped more by culture than they are by innovation, so this is much more a working ship.”

Since this is Star Wars we’re talking about, we’re bound to see many more new ships from The High Republic, especially when the comic books come around with plenty of illustrations. But these designs will help give us some idea of what to imagine in our heads as we’re reading the first books from Star Wars: The High Republic starting in January.

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