Drawing on early artwork from a catalog of imagery by the likes of Ralph McQuarrie, Galoob created the Action Fleet: Series Alpha vehicle line. Continuing into the Prequels, four Episode I ships (Naboo Starfighter, Droid Starfighter, Queen?s Royal Starship, and Sith Infiltrator) were released at retail in late 1999/early 2000. To follow up these great sets, two more Series Alpha vehicles were well into development when all production ceased. Previewed at 2000?s San Diego Comic Con, fans and collectors got a brief glimpse at what was yet to come...
Before the final versions of the podracers we already know and love were completed, designers at Lucasfilm came up with dozens of different concept pods. Among those designs was an image of a pod destined for the Series Alpha line. Unfortunately, the closure of the Galoob division and an unfriendly marketplace put plans for this vehicle on indefinite hold. First reveled at San Diego's Comic Con 2000, the finished concept podracer would have featured a metallic blue and yellow color scheme, as seen in the book The Art of Episode I. Early in the design stage, the vehicle sported an orange and black scheme, in keeping with the deco of Sebulba's Podracer.
Rebelscum spoke with Jim Fong, designer for the Action Fleet line, about the change from one color to the next. ?I wanted to use a "sporty" Ford Mustang color from the 60's/70's. I believe there was a color called "Competition Orange" and I decided to go with that color. Of course, I spoke to Doug [Chiang] about it and he was fine with it. Marketing was not in favor with that color, so we went with blue.? Shown here is a painted prototype of the pod that was on display at the San Diego show as Jim Fong originally envisioned it. This model, shown in several presentations and product reviews all over the world, has suffered a few broken parts here and there, but certainly details many of the features the toy eventually may have offered...
One of the most interesting features of this concept racer would have been the drop-down cockpit. The cockpit itself was mounted on a sliding joint attached to the forward rigging. When the rigging was lowered, the cockpit would have slid down and come to rest at the bottom of the rigging, lining up both oval view ports. Unlike the San Diego Comic Con version, this particular model is no longer capable of displaying that feature. What the San Diego images don't show, is that the rigging also operated "air brakes" located on each of the pod engines. Depending on the position of the rigging, up/closed or down/open, the panels operated automatically. Finally, of particular interest is the detail found in the pod's cockpit. Even among other Action Fleet vehicles, detail of this kind is rare. It's not known if any of these features would have been changed for the production version of this vehicle, but it's easy to see what direction the design team was going in before work was stopped.
Despite Hasbro's announcement that they are brining back an 'Action Fleet' line, chances this pod will see production are slim indeed. Any new rendition of the line is sure to focus on movie vehicles first, before ever dipping into the "concept art" pool. Regardless, as a hand worked prototype, tooling for this toy was never completed. For now, and perhaps forever, the Series Alpha Podracer remains one of Star War's greatest lost toys.
In stark contrast to the artistic, flowing designs of the Naboo, the functional, utilitarian look of the Trade Federation spoke volumes about their heavy-handed approach to intergalactic commerce. One of the most interesting designs in all of the early concept art for Episode I was this version of the Trade Federation Tank (AAT). Bristling with weapons and ready for action, it?s clear any enemy of the Federation stood little chance of resistance. So impressive the design, Galoob naturally selected it for their Series Alpha Action Fleet line. Shown for the first time at Comic Con 2000, this Series Alpha vehicle was on it's way to production when the line was placed on hold. Had the toy gone to production, it would have offered an impressive design, tons of detail, and healthy amount of interesting features.
Packed with punch, the Series Alpha AAT would have featured no less than fifteen (!) cannons. Each of the side mounted guns feature 360-degree rotation. The main gun, at the bow of the vehicle, rotates from side to side and houses a firing projectile. Opening hatches at the top of the ship offer places for possible mini-figures (shown here with the concept Battle Droid from the Series Alpha Droid Fighter). Hidden in flight mode, this model also featured two clear retractable supports for display off the stand.
Clearly, had it gone to production, the Series Alpha AAT would have been one of the highlights of the 2000 line. The model shown here is a hand-tooled prototype, and according to our source, production tooling was never begun. Starting from scratch, it seems highly unlikely Hasbro would revive this heavily-armed project, but with the new Action Fleet in production now, anything is possible...