Disney will be relaunching the animated branch of the Star Wars universe in 2014 with Star Wars Rebels, a series set during the twenty-year interim between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, exploring how the rise of the Galactic Empire and first beginnings of The Rebellion, with some central characters caught in the middle.
A carefully-orchestrated promotional rollout has been steadily introducing us to the characters and villains of Rebels. So far, we met former Jedi-turned-space cowboy, Kanan ( voice of Freddie Prinze Jr.); Ezra, a street rogue with mysterious Force powers (voice Taylor Gray); the grumpy droid Chopper and the cunning and evil Sith Lord known as The Inquisitor. Today, we add more names to the Rebels character roster.
In the video above you can find out all about Zeb (voice Steve Blum), the alien warrior whose design is inspired by the original Chewbacca concept by Original Trilogy conceptual designer, Ralph McQuarrie. In the video below, meet Sabine (voice Tiya Sircar), a female Mandalorian who sports a familiar-looking style of armor... (franchise icon Boba Fett is also Mandalorian).
Both Zeb and Sabine were teased at the 2014 Toy Fair, and became instant fan-fixations. Zeb seems like an interesting contradiction; an alien brute with the intelligent mind of a sophisticated warrior. The distinction of personality and intellect instantly makes him more than a "knock-off Chewbacca" to Kanan's Luke/Han mashup personality.
Then there's Sabine... When the Mandalorian armor is on and she's infiltrating and/or sabotaging Imperial sites, she's a pretty cool character. However, when that helmet comes off, and the 'spunky, hipster street artist' persona starts, Sabine (at least for me) becomes one of those obnoxious animated characters that looks like it was cooked up in a focus group. It was almost painful listening to the cast and crew of the show try and sell Sabine's persona (from 1:20 on in the video).
So far, Star Wars fans haven't been all that quick to accept Rebels as a suitable replacement for Clone Wars. Whether it's the premise, or the animation style, or what they are slowly-but-surely learning from each of these character featurettes, the new Disney era still doesn't seem to be clicking into place with the core fanbase. And that's a problem which could plague J.J. Abrams's upcoming Episode VII movie, if the trend holds.
Star Wars Rebels is expected to kick-off with an extended animated feature, airing on Disney XD sometime in 2014. Stay tuned for the premiere date.