The Colonel’s Pants

So before you read any further I must warn you that I am about to discuss some very obscure Star Wars material, and will be arguing a point that may very well only be important to me.

Now, when I say obscure I don’t mean a Wedge Antilles or Bossk level obscurity, think more obscure!  I’m talking about a specific character so minor that they only appear on screen for a few seconds and have absolutely no dialogue.  On top of that I’ll be nitpicking the details of that characters costume and posit some ideas which may go against the standard conventions for said character.

So if you’re not ready for some serious Star Wars deep cuts then get the fuck out!

Ok let’s talk about Colonel Wullf Yularen.

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That is a name which in recent years has become only slightly more recognizable with Star Wars fans.  Before that Colonel Yularen was a character with very few background details and even fewer fans who seemed to give a shit about him.

In the original Star Wars (A New Hope) from 1977 Colonel Wullf Yularen appears in a single scene (though later in this essay I will put forth the theory that Yularen actually appears a second time in that film).  The colonel’s only film appearance (though possibly first of two, see previous parenthetical) is during the infamous Death Star Conference Room scene where Grand Moff Tarkin informs his heads of staff that the Emperor has dissolved the senate and later Darth Vader chokes a guy.  Sitting directly next to Admiral Motti (the haughty Imperial who gets Force choked by Vader) you will see Colonel Wullf Yularen in his distinctive white uniform jacket.

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From the years of 1977 to 1995 the character was left unnamed and without a title or any background information whatsoever.

However in 1995 Colonel Wullf Yularen was first named and given a brief biography within the Star Wars Customizable Card Game put out by Decipher.  At the time the names and lore text of those cards was considered canon and it was there stated that the colonel was a leader of the Imperial Security Bureau contingent aboard the first Death Star.

After his inclusion in the card game the character found his way into subsequent Star Wars encyclopedias and information tomes that would be published later but little was done to further his biography.

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The Colonel Wullf Yularen card was printed in the original release of the Star Wars CCG

It was from this glance of the character of Yularen in the CCG and his concise but interesting biography which really made me a fan.  I would often try to include the colonel in my Star Wars decks despite the fact that he was not that powerful and his abilities not all that impressive.

Regardless Yularen still intrigued me.

I mean this is the guy who was apparently briefing Grand Moff Tarkin on stuff and who was apparently in such good standing with the Emperor that he’s the one Palpatine sends to ensure everyone on board the Death Star is towing the Imperial line.

Eventually in 2006 an action figure of Colonel Wullf Yularen was created in a special boxed set of the Death Star Briefing Room.

It was a joyous day for Yularen fans in particular or Imperial officer completionists in general.

However despite my personal excitement I was confused by the look of the figure whose uniform was revealed to be entirely white, which is unlike any other standard Imperial uniform seen in the movies or the books.

In the expanded universe books Grand Admirals did wear all white uniforms but those uniforms were also adorned with golden epaulets and the corresponding double rowed rank insignia.

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“Oops looks like my pants got mixed up in Thrawn’s laundry again and his with mine!”

A mystery and controversy had begun.

The controversy lies with the fact that Yularen was clearly defined in the lore as being part of the ISB, the Imperial Security Bureau.  The uniform of the ISB would eventually become associated with the black cap, white coat, and black pants which is seen worn by various officers in various background shots of the first Death Star.

Conversely the black/white/black uniform of the ISB was always sort of a mystery because it only ever appears in the first Star Wars movie and is only ever seen on the Death Star.  Until it was established as the accepted ISB uniform those Imperials were simply known as “Death Star Officers” or “Imperial Fleet Officers.”  Now as stated before Yularen only appears in A New Hope and is only seen on the Death Star and was later established as a high ranking officer in the ISB.

Do you follow me so far?

So with all of that in mind shouldn’t the pants of the action figure for Wullf Yularen have been black, and not white?

To me the answer was obvious, and clearly Hasbro had made a mistake.  That being said however he is such a minor character and the pants in question are never actually visible while the character is seated at the Death Star conference table, so there is really no way to prove otherwise.  Oh well, what can you do?

The issue of the all-white uniform became further compounded when in 2008 a younger version of Wullf Yularen was included in the prequel cartoon series The Clone Wars.

In the series Yularen is given the rank of Admiral in the Republic fleet and works closely with Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker as they battle the forces of the Separatists.

Another banner moment for Yularen fans!

Who would have thought that we’d ever get more Wullf Yularen!  But alas this inclusion in the Clone Wars brings with it further Yularen scandal.

The wonderful Dave Filoni, show runnder of the Clone Wars and it’s followup series Star Wars Rebels, has stated that they decided to include the character of Wullf Yularen as a nod to the original trilogy and gave him the rank of Admiral in order to show his rise through the ranks to the position of Grand Admiral, a rank which the show’s creators mistakenly thought the character had attained at the time of A New Hope as signified by his white uniform jacket.

Once this mistake was realized a good old fashioned retcon was deployed which stated that Yularen had retired from the Navy at some point after the Clone Wars with the rank of Admiral but was later at the time of A New Hope was personally asked by the Emperor himself to reenlist with the ISB in a new position as colonel aboard the Death Star.

However the damage was already done.

Despite the relatively unadorned rank insignia of Wullf Yularen (three red squares and three blue squares) along with a pre-established history, the idea that Wullf Yularen was a Grand Admiral at the time of A New Hope seemed to have found a foothold within the fandom.

Until now!

It is at this time that I would like to get to the point of this entire post and present my evidence of precisely how Colonel Wullf Yularen should be depicted and to firmly establish his position as colonel within ISB operations.

First of all as most of us know by now the Expanded Universe was completely wiped out just prior to the release of the newest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens.  That meant that pretty much anything was once again up for grabs in the Star Wars universe and unless something explicitly took place in the first six movies or the Clone Wars cartoon it was no longer considered Star Wars canon.

The first expanded universe book of this new canon was titled “Tarkin” and documented the rise to power of the titular character.  In that book Wullf Yularen made a few very minor appearances and thankfully was firmly reestablished once again as a colonel in the ISB (and also, yay more Yularen!).

So that bit of business is taken care of.

Now for his uniform.

A couple of years ago I put together an ISB uniform of my own to wear to conventions, Death Star briefings, or fancy dinners.  I figured an Imperial officer costume would be a nice alternative to my much more cumbersome stormtrooper armor.  Wanting to do something a bit more unique then the typical grey fleet officer I decided to go with the Imperial Security Bureau look.

Black cap, white officer jacket, black pants.

As a fan of Yularen I gave myself the rank of colonel and adorned my costume accordingly but I wanted to examine the movie with a fine toothed comb and seek out as many of the ISB uniforms as possible in order to make sure the details of my costume were precise.

Through my observations I found that there are actually two variations of the ISB uniform in A New Hope.  One with the typical imperial cropped riding pants and tall boots and another with a straight legged pant and dress shoes.  Not a huge difference and from all observations my costume was spot on.

Below are most of the uniforms appearances in the film.

 

Now here’s the big moment!

As I was going, frame-by-frame, looking for ISB officers aboard the Death Star I came across the scene where Han and Luke, disguised as stormtroopers escorting Chewbacca, are awaiting a turbolift to the detention area.

In that scene our heroes are passed by a pair of ISB agents.  These two agents are actually the clearest examples of the uniform in the movie and as I was examining them I realized something.

The officer on the right is Wullf Yularen!

Could that be?

Is that Colonel Yularen out and about walking the Death Star corridors?

It certainly appears that way to me, despite the addition of the black cap everything is exactly the same down to the rank insignia.

Unless there were two actors with the same face and same pristinely trimmed mustache on the set of Star Wars then I had to be looking at what was essentially an unacknowledged second appearance of Wullf Yularen!

Here take a look at the side by side comparisons.

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A second appearance by the colonel is completely in keeping with the rest of the film seeing as several of the Imperials from the conference room scene appear later in the movie.

Admiral Motti and General Tagge discuss the fate of Princess Leia with Tarkin and Vader after the conference room scene.

Chief Bast is seen in several scenes before and after, most notably as the officer who warns Grand Moff Tarkin that the Rebel’s attack against the Death Star might be more dangerous than previously expected.

What this whole long drawn out rant is trying to explain is that Colonel Wullf Yularen wears black pants and it’s irrefutably proven in one quick scene.

With the discovery of that full body shot of the colonel those black pants should now be considered official canon, despite the implications of the white panted action figure.

From everything that I’ve researched no one seems to have realized that one quick corridor scene is in fact a display of Wullf Yularen’s full uniform in motion.

So in the future whenever you’re discussing Star Wars or Star Wars Costuming with your friends, family, and colleagues and find yourself in an argument over the uniform of Wullf Yularen or of the ISB in general (as I’m sure happens on at least a weekly basis) feel free to point them in the direction of Mindless Philosophy and I’ll be glad to set them straight!

 

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A piece of fan art in the Clone Wars style which incorrectly depicts Wullf Yularen wearing white pants.

 

That is all!

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 6 (Terrordrome Sponge Bath)

Well the day has finally arrived, my G.I. Joe cleaning and restoration project has at last reached the final stage, that’s right the Cobra Terrordrome has been completely renovated and restored to its former glory! I knew that cleaning up the Terrordrome would be a considerable undertaking, but it proved to be more difficult than I imagined. Just by looking at the thing I could see it was a filthy mess, the compartments around the base of the Cobra headquarters and the circular command center at the top seemingly served as a great nesting ground for the rodents that made their home within the large cardboard box that stored the Terrordrome and the other Joe toys. Dust, debris, and blotchy brown mouse stains covered every part of the Drome of Terror. The real problem however wasn’t with how dirty the thing was, it was how huge it is! Originally I had planned to take the whole thing outside with a bucket of soapy water and the garden hose and clean it in my backyard. I nixed that plan however when the weather refused to cooperate and after about the third week in a row of rain my impatients and curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do what I could in the basin sink in my basement. Thankfully it worked out, but I had to do some serious wrestling with several of the wide, unwieldy sections of the Terrordrome in order to get them thoroughly cleaned.

Starting out I first completely disassembled the base, removing every wall panel and accessory that was still attached. After that I just made a few twisting maneuvers and was able to separate the top of the Terrordrome from the launch silo and the base. I was hesitant to take it apart completely; worried that it would be a pain in my ass to put back together. As I said earlier my first thought was that I would be able to just haul it outside and wash it down without having to completely break it down. Thankfully the base is designed in a fairly foolproof manner that makes it more or less impossible to put together wrong. The only concern was a few accessories that could be attached in various positions depending on your aesthetic.

Once the whole thing was taken apart the cleaning began. I started with the smallest parts first, the pie shaped retracting silo covers and the wall and door sections. Then came the dark blue ramparts that attach to the top of the base emblazoned with the Cobra insignia, they are actually some of my favorite features of the base. The large main turrets were cleaned in my initial wave of cleaning when I took care of all the loose guns and parts that were floating around in the bottom of the box, but the smaller rear turrets and the outer bay doors of the Terrordrome were taken care of this round.

Then it came down to the biggest sections, the top and the base. The top wasn’t too bad, after the cobra insignia ramparts were removed it was far more streamlined and fit easier into the basin sink, it was just a matter of turning it like a wheel and flipping it around in order to get it all cleaned. I abandoned most of my brushes which had served as my cleaning implements in previous stages, and took up a sponge that would be easier to work into the nooks and crannies of the Terrordrome’s varied layers. I suppose you could say I literally gave the Terrordrome a sponge bath.

That last part of the base, was the bottom with the launch silo still attached, together it barely fit into the sink enough to clean it. I had to wedge it in at an angle turning the faucet to one side leaving just enough room to be able to turn the water on and off and reach down to a small bucket of soap and water. It took a good twenty minutes to scrub that sucker down, twisting, pulling, shifting, lifting, and reaching around it in order to make sure it was spotless when I was done with it.

After that workout I decided to just leave it all out to dry and come back to assemble it later. When it finally came time to put the Terrordrome back together I was pleasantly surprised, as I said before it was fairly foolproof to reassemble. When it came to the minor details I was fortunate to have some of the original instruction sheets as well as the packaging images to refer to in order to figure it out.

Now that it is all cleaned up and reassembled it is a glorious sight to behold. The Terrordrome is a thing of beauty! They simply don’t make toys like this anymore, or else kids just aren’t interested in these kinds of things nowadays. This Terrordrome in particular is in great condition! Considering how much evidence there was of mouse activity within the Terrordrome itself there really wasn’t that much damage from the mice, not as much as there was with some of the other stuff. There are only few incidents of them chewing on the plastic parts, one of the turret seats have been gnawed on and a wall section has a few nibbles taken from it. The only other problems with it are minor ones, a few stickers in the wrong place, and two of the gun caps are MIA. With those few exceptions the Terrordrome is in surprisingly pristine condition and in fine working order.

But enough of me going on about the thing, take a look for yourself! Below are the pictures of the last of my cleaning efforts (click on the images for a larger version), but fear not this does not mean you won’t be seeing these G.I. Joe and Cobra toys again! I have been pondering what to do with these treasures and I have a few ideas in mind for a photography project that would make use of this stuff. In fact, there might be a clue within the pictures below as to what that project might be . . . . .

The base of the Terrordrome after being diasassembled

The various doors and walls of the Terrordrome

The top of the Terrordrome with Cobra insignia ramparts still attached

The base and launch silo in the sink mid-cleaning

Terrordrome in the process of being reassembled

It is complete! A fully assembled Terrordrome!

A shot from above, a chair for every computer terminal, and a computer terminal for every chair

Finally Cobra can get back to work terrorizing the world and the forces of G.I. Joe

There are three garage bays with deployable refueling stations

There are two smaller rear turrets that can swing out to fire on enemy forces, also pictured the launch lever for the silo

A prison cell for captured G.I. Joe forces, let's see them get past that "laser" gate!

The common area/ party room/ storage. This is where they have company birthday parties.

A closeup of one of the main turrets

That is all . . . . for now . . . .

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 3

So the clean up effort of the recently acquired G.I. Joe toys continues. 
 
Yesterday was a fairly straight forward round of detailed cleaning.  There were one or two decal scares where I scrubbed some of the vehicles a little too hard and nearly lost some of their decal stickers, but thankfully everything is still intact.  Good decals were the best, I always loved putting them on vehicles and toys as a kid.  It could be a maddening process sometimes, trying to get those tiny stickers to line up properly, or working to fit them onto awkwardly angled surfaces.  I would occasionally take some liberties with my decal placements moving them around if I didn’t think they looked good where the instructions wanted me to put them, but only occasionally.  Star Wars vehicles often come with great stickers, one of my favorite examples is the recently rereleased B-Wing bomber which came with squadron markings, and little kill tally counters for the side of the cockpit in three different shapes for TIE fighters, TIE bombers, and TIE interceptors.  There were quite a few of the markings so I put some on my B-Wing and used the rest to decorate my X-Wings, A-Wing, and Y-Wing with some kills as well.  Ninja Turtles toys also had great decals, those toys were just fantastic and the stickers were ridiculous and awesome.  There was one figure in particular, Mondo Gecko, which was a skateboarding gecko who came with a small sheet of stickers to decorate his shirt and board with.  Good times.

Anyway!  Back to this G.I. Joe cleanup project.  Thanks once again go out to YoJoe.com for their great site that had the visual aids I needed to make sure these things were put together as much as possible.  I have a small box full of missiles and rockets that go to the various vehicles and having those visual references has been invaluable in pairing them up.  As another quick tangent I always liked the ridiculous amounts of missiles G.I. Joe vehicles had attached to them.  The missiles very rarely actually fired from the vehicles, they were just attached on pegs and you’d have to pluck them off and toss them over at the enemy.  I  suppose it added a bit of strategy to the play of the toys perhaps?  You couldn’t just point the vehicles and push a button you would have to create some type of rule for your battles, such as: “You have to flick the rockets with your finger and however far they go is it!” or “You can only throw them with your throwing hand touching the vehicle!”  Again I have to say I didn’t have these toys as a kid so I didn’t play with them that often but I remember arranging these mini Geneva Conventions beforehand on the rare occasions I did play with Joe toys at friend’s houses.  Maybe it was just me?

Also as a side note I learned from reading some posts on YoJoe.com that hydrogen peroxide can be used to whiten plastic on toys that has gone yellow over time.  I’ve had this problem with some of my Stormtrooper toys in my Star Wars collection and I know I’ve heard other toy collecting comrades complain about the same thing on Transformers toys and others.  The posts did mention that hydrogen peroxide should only be used on white plastic parts, and could fade the colors of other parts, so be careful to use it delicately around those colored sections. 

Ok tangents ended.  Below are some before and after pics of what I cleaned up this round.  From the  G.I. Joe Battle Force 2000 collection the Marauder and the Eliminator.  From the Cobra fleet of vehicles, one of my personal favorite names of all time, the Stellar Stilleto, and I also washed a couple of the smaller vehicle accessory doohickies.  So take a look!

 

The Marauder cleaned up and fully assembled.

As you can see the Eliminator was one of the grimier vehicles.

 

The Eliminator ready for battle after it is cleaned up.

The Eliminator in transport mode.

 

The Stellar Stilleto was in pretty good shape, just needed cleaned and have it's missiles attached. My favorite Cobra, Firefly, at the helm.

 

Some of the other vehicle accessories that I cleaned up. The two HALs, and some trailer that transforms into a command center, I don't know that is.