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Aayla Secura (Jedi Knight)

SWIII: Revenge of the Sith
by yo go re

Though all the male Jedi seem to wear the same basic uniform, the dress code for the ladies seems to be signicantly more lax. Yes, there are some, like Stass Allie, who wear the standard robes, but then there are others, like Luminara Unduli and her padawan, who get a bit more exotic. Of course, it doesn't get much more exotic than Aayla Secura.

Aayla Secura is an empathic and highly intelligent Jedi Knight with impressive fighting skills. During the Clone Wars, she leads a battalion of clone troopers against the Separatist forces on the planet Felucia.

As Obi-Wan keeps reminding Anakin, Jedi are supposed to be chaste and ascetic. Why, then, does Aayla dress like Britney Spears? Well, as a race, Twi'leks are athletic, graceful and sensual - they probably find wearing any clothes restricting and unnatural. Remember, the first Twi'lek we meet in the movies is Oola, Jabba's dancing slave girl, so we're lucky that Aayla's wearing more than a sheer mesh bikini.

[Obviously you and I have vastly different definitions of "lucky" --ed.]

Aayla's dressed in brown leathers: head band, knee-high boots, dark pants and strange folded vest/wrap thing with one sleeve. The head dress has a few thin bands that circle down her cranial tenticles ("lekku," they're called). The paint apps are very good, giving the different fabrics varied looks. Her blue skin has some nice shadows on it, as well.

The figure is more poseable than the one the character got from Episode II, with joints at the neck, shoulders, right bicep, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. She's also got a torso joint that's rather like the Marvel Select Black Widow - you can rock her to the side a bit. Though the knees and ankles are swivel/hinge balljoints, the peg hips keep you from doing much with her legs. The lack of any elbows is particularly odd - a bicep joint doesn't make up for it. And while we're on the subject, why doesn't she have any articulation in her left arm? It's really distracting.

The figure does come with her lightsaber, which features a removable blue blade and can be stored on her belt when not in use. She doesn't have any action features, thankfully, so Hasbro could spare a few cents to give her a display base. Hers is the "natural" version, as opposed to the Royal Guard's "technological" base - it's got dirt and plants, all painted in earthy browns and yellows. Like that other base, this one is also designed to be modular, fitting together with others to create a nice diorama. The base has one footpeg to support our little blue Jedi.

Twi'leks in general and Aayla in particular have a surprisingly non-canonical history. Though we first saw the tentacled Oola in Return of the Jedi, her alien race wasn't named in the script or any production sources, so it fell to the writers and editors of the late-80s roleplaying game to come up with something. By the time work on the prequels and the Special Editions had begun, the name had been adopted into the official materials.

Aayla, similarly, was created for Dark Horse Comics' ongoing Star Wars series by writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema. Originally intended to die in her first story, Aayla survived mainly because Duursema liked her so much. Impressed by Jon Foster's cover painting for one of the issues featuring Aayla, George Lucas declared that he wanted the Twi'lek Jedi in Episode II, making her the first "Expanded Universe" character to ever graduate to the "real" world.

But by the time Lucas decreed this, Ep.2 was well into post production, so the crew had only two weeks to get her in place. Rather than deal with a long casting process, they grabbed ILM Production Assistant Amy Allen, painted her blue, whipped up a comic-accurate costume and shot all her scenes in four days. Not bad for a character who was supposed to die within a few panels of her first appearance, eh?

-- 06/27/05

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