Size Matters Not: A Review of the Black Series Stormtrooper

Welcome to the first ever review in StormtrooperLarry.com!

One of our biggest stars is none other than Stormtrooper Larry himself, in the form of Hasbro’s Black Series 6-inch figure! So it’s only fitting that our first review will be of tiny Larry.

Packaging:

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The contents consist of a no-frills window box, the figure, a blaster rifle, and a blaster pistol. The only difference between this and the SDCC-exclusive stormtrooper was that the latter came in a fancier packaging and included a mini booklet of the stormtrooper’s evolution. Otherwise, both figures are the same.

Interestingly, the stormtrooper is packaged holding the blaster rifle in his right hand. This has led to some warping issues, where the rifle becomes slightly bent if not packed properly in the cutout. Stormtrooper Larry is one such victim of this warping issue. Perhaps his bent gun is the reason he can’t hit anything.

Sculpt

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No complaints here — Hasbro did a wonderful job capturing the stormtrooper’s many details, from the greeblies on the helmet to the small latches on the chest. However, there ARE two flaws:

  • The nose area is too recessed. While it looks okay from the front, it becomes apparent when looking at the figure straight on.
  • The boxes on the front of the belt should be three separate pieces. Here, they are molded as one and painted with black lines to simulate separation.

Paintwise, the helmet and chestpiece get the most accurate treatment. The painting accuracy degrades slightly at the belt and the bottom of the thigh armor, but not too much. The worst paint application is on the thermal detonator, which looks like it was painted by a half-blind 3-year old with cerebral palsy. Thankfully, since it’s in the back it won’t get noticed too much.

Accessories

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The Black Series figures come with two accessories. For the First Order trooper, they are the standard F-11D blaster rifle and the Sonn-Blas SE-44C pistol.

Both firearms come with pegs that slot neatly into the thigh armor. However, the pistol has a tendency to fall off and could easily get lost.

In terms of accuracy, both are molded clearly enough to make out fine details like the backwards scope on the rifle and the AR sight on the pistol. The rifle is even painted in three tones, including the silver accents on the scope holder and eyepieces.

As mentioned previously, the rifle has a tendency to warp at the muzzle tip if it is not packaged properly. This can be fixed by immersing it in hot water and straightening the bent before it cools.

Poseability

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According to Hasbro, the FO stormtrooper has 27 points of articulation, which is impressive given its small size. Since I’m too lazy to list them all down, we’ll just focus on the shortcomings.

The most glaring one is the lack of double-jointed elbows, something which the original trilogy trooper has. This means the First Order version has limited flexibility when it comes to holding his rifle and aiming:

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While that pose above looks natural from the front, Larry is actually holding the rifle away from his body just so it lines up properly in his hands. Honestly, this is an accurate representation of the real thing: the actors who played First Order troopers in the film reportedly can’t move their elbows much because of the gaskets.

Finally, the figure also can’t sit down properly. This is due to the belt pieces getting in the way of the thigh armor. The best you can do is make him squat:

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So is the Black Series FO stormtrooper worth it? The answer is: YES.

The Bandai 6-inch figure may be more poseable, and the similarly sized Revoltech may be more accurate. However, both of them are plastic model kits that are more fragile and can easily come loose. The Black series trooper is tougher, made of more resilient materials and can easily withstand the weekly abuse of doing ridiculous poses for his Saturday snapshots.

Just make sure you get the ones without the warped guns, to help them shoot Resistance scum more reliably.


Make sure you read about Stormtrooper Larry’s adventure in the raid on Jakku!

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Rogue One Trailer: The Frame-by-Frame Lowdown

There was a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of geeks cried out in awe, and were suddenly silenced.

The Rogue One trailer must have happened.

This is it. After months of endless speculation, the salivating masses of Star Wars fans finally got their first fill of Rogue One. And it’s beyond everything we ever hoped, and more.

Let’s take a look.

The opening shot shows Felicity Jones’ character Jyn Erson being led down a familiar ancient temple / hangar.

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As her list of crimes are read out, everything from forging Imperial documents to aggravated assault and resisting arrest, we see the group grilling her:

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Yes, that’s THE 1977 Mon Mothma, in the operations rooms of  Yavin IV!

Mon Mothma says Jyn is aggressive, reckless, and undisciplined, to which she replies, “This is a rebellion isn’t it? I rebel.” And the next shots show exactly that.

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After a montage of rebelling and kicking hapless stormtrooper ass, the sirens blare. We get our first look at Ben Mendelsohn’s villain.

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Is he a Grand Admiral? An ISB bigwig? The white opposite of Lando Calrissian? Who cares, that immaculate cape, chilling stare and mindblowing background  all combine to say “I have manners, impeccable taste, and a penchant for blowing up entire planets.”

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Next we see the height of the Empire, with stormtroopers strutting, citizens cowering and a new Hasbro toy lumbering down the streets.

But not everyone bows down. Here we see Jyn and a fellow saboteur running from something, along with the stripped down droid from earlier in the trailer:

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Why are they running? Because stormtroopers. And tan troopers.

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And don’t forget the famous Shadow Trooper, finally seen in action. (Side note: maybe black armor isn’t the best when fighting in jungle terrain).

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Our heroes fight back, blowing up a landing barge that looks closer to Kylo Ren’s shuttle than a Sentinel-class craft:

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In the aftermath, we see Mr. Immaculate Cloak striding down the body-strewn battlefield. While Tarkin and his ilk lead from the polished floors of the Death Star, this is one admiral who isn’t afraid to go down in the trenches and get dirty.

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But the carnage wasn’t limited to stormtroopers. As Jyn and her misfits rush through the tropics, they come face to face with the Empire’s towering monstrosities. We finally get to see the famous walking artillery in a landscape other than Hoth! (And with a shitty tan camouflage at that. Did the Empire really think they will blend in with those trees?)

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As Forest Whitaker asks, “If you continue to fight, what will you become?”, we see a final shot of Jyn disguised as either a TIE pilot, Death Star gunner, technician, or random guy who cleaned the detention-level toilets.

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A lot is riding on Rogue One. A billion dollars worth, to be exact. As the first Star Wars film to venture outside the main story arcs and John Williams, it will be the benchmark to see if further Star Wars stories can be spun independent of the trilogies.

But judging by this trailer alone, it looks like the dark lords of Disney already have a winner on their hands. This film is even more Star Wars than the The Force Awakens. Take a look at the many homages and incredible attention to detail packed in that one and a half-minute trailer.

For instance, that famous shadowtrooper mug has its roots in the EU’s dark trooper and Ralph McQuarrie’s original concepts:

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They even got the Star Destroyer right. The Imperator Mk 1-class in the opening scene of A New Hope was slightly different from its later sister ships in ESB and Return of the Jedi:

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And finally, take a look at the Yavin scene. Not even 20 seconds into the trailer, we’re already treated to several cameos: the bushy bearded General Dodonna, complete with the iconic Rebel roulette table that doubles as a countdown timer! Seeing this scene alone, approximately 500 geeks fainted.

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Despite being billed as a different, grittier version of Star Wars outside of the main stories, Rogue One may end up as being the most Star War-sy film outside of A New Hope. 

And that’s a good thing.

The Saddest Thing about The Force Awakens

Back in the olden days of Return of the Jedi, we were treated to a happy ending.

The second Death Star was destroyed, along with Vader and old man Palpatine. All over the galaxy, repressed citizens crowded the streets in jubilation. The last shot of the original trilogy had the heroes of the Rebellion celebrating while the force ghosts of Ben, Yoda and Hayden Christensen looked on.

Against all odds, the ragtag alliance won the war and ushered in the fall of the Galactic Empire.

returnofthejedix05The last time they will ever be happy together

After all they’ve been through, our heroes earned a well-deserved break, right? The old Expanded Universe thought so.

Luke started a new Jedi Academy, while Han and Leia settled down and pumped out Jedi babies. They had 3 kids, and Luke and his wife Mara Jade had one. Leia later became the New Republic head of state, and Han settled down to a comfortable life while occasionally going on adventures with Chewie and Lando.

With the release of The Force Awakens, the overlords of Disney wiped away all of that.

Instead, thirty years after the fall of the Empire, our heroes were actually worse off than before. Let’s take a look:

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Luke – Tried to start a new Jedi school, but ended up with a wholesale slaughter of his entire student body.

He failed so massively that he fled from the rest of the galaxy. He abandoned even his own sister, best friend, and his loyal droid. And as the opening crawl says, it was in Luke’s absence that the First Order grew stronger and spread tyranny across more worlds.

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Leia – Once a distinguished Senator, respected warrior, and royalty, she faded into political obscurity. In fact, she was considered a liability by the new government. According to the novelization,

Leia bit down on her lower lip. “So much time has passed. There was a time when they were at least willing to listen. And of course, the Senate’s makeup has changed. Some of those who were always willing to pay attention to me have retired. Some of those who have replaced them have their own agendas.” She smiled ruefully.

There’s even a scene where Leia straight up tells her envoy that if she went personally, something bad might happen to her:

“But why don’t you go yourself, General? An appeal of this nature is always more effective when delivered firsthand.” Leia’s smile thinned. “I might make it to the Senate, yes. I might even be able to deliver my speech. But I would never, never get out of the Hosnian system alive. I would have a terrible ‘accident,’ or become the victim of some ‘deranged’ radical. Or I would eat something that didn’t agree with me. Or encounter someone who didn’t agree with me.”

In short, Leia was coldbloodedly telling someone else to take the risks for her, and being frank about it. Now we know where Kylo Ren got his evil from.

In the end, we have Leia carrying on her lonely fight for freedom, after being abandoned by her husband, son, brother and the galaxy at large.

And what about poor Han Solo? He won the princess, saved the galaxy, and got his precious ship back from a suicide mission.

Thirty years later, he was estranged from his wife, disavowed by his son, lost the Falcon, and went back to his old conman-smuggler routine.

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And after managing to survive a hand-to-mouth existence, he gets stabbed in the heart with a ragged lightsaber by his own offspring.

Then there’s our beloved droids: C3PO and R2-D2. As usual, nobody listens to Threepio, and nobody even gives a fuck to paint his replacement arm. Meanwhile, Artoo becomes a hermit just like his master — shoved under a dusty tarp in a forgotten corner, he is absent for most of the movie in favor of BB-8.

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And in case you’re wondering about Lando, there’s no mention of him at all. It’s like the Hero of Tanaab and the Guy who Blew Up Death Star II didn’t exist. Maybe he died during a stimspice-and-hooker collision with a star cruiser. Or he got shanked in a dingy casino in Nar Shadaa. That would be the best outcome, so he wouldn’t see how low his friends have sunk.

And you know what? This may actually be better. It means that there is no fairy tale ending, and not everything has to end happily ever after. That is the cold, hard reality not just in the Star Wars universe, but our own. 

Quite a lesson for kids, right?

You might argue that even the old EU had its tragic moments. One of the Solo brats goes dark, the galaxy gets invaded, and Chewie dies. And yet, at the very least our heroes never got sidelined. Luke was still Jedi Master, Leia stayed in the political limelight, and Han was a respected General. And most importantly, they never abandoned each other.

With The Force Awakens, we have a virtual Shakespeare tragedy: an emo recluse who gave up on the galaxy, a faded princess abandoned by her whole family, and an aging con-man back to his old tricks. Each one of them going on their own separate path.

I really hope Lando wasn’t around to see any of that.

starwarsep6_ending“Look at them clueless fools. They have no idea what’s going to happen them.”


Hungry for more Star Wars stuff? Check out the story of stormtrooper FU-1287, and his experience in the raid on Jakku!

What Most Sites Missed About Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn’t due in theaters for 9 months, and yet the interwebs are more full of speculations than a Star Destroyer packed with bored stormtroopers.

In fact, the most thoroughly examined piece of Rogue One is this publicity photo released last month:

Slobbering SW fans have been speculating on anything they can get their grubby hands on, from the giant podracer-style engine in the back to R2-D2’s supposed dome head captured somewhere in the background.

But while most sites have gone over the photo with a microscopic lens, a lot of them seem to have missed something right under their collective noses: the clothes.

Specifically, these ones:

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Do you see it yet? Here, let me jog your memory:

  • That first guy is wearing cold-weather gear. The heavy fabric, thick sleeves, gloves and more importantly the fur-lined parka should look veeerrry familiar if you’ve seen The Empire Strikes Back:

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  • And what about those two (expendable) rebels on either side? Take a look at their hats and goggles:

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Mmmmm, toasty, wouldn’t you say? Maybe not for the frozen hellscape of Hoth, but just about right for a frigid planet.

All of these fits in with the spoiler unintentionally leaked by a cast member’s wife. Cissy Wang, wife of actor Donnie Yen (that guy with the Tusken stick on the right) posted this on Instagram:

Cold weather clothing, plus the iconic T-47 snowspeeders? Remember, the flying door wedges were regular airspeeders modified by the Alliance for cold climates like Hoth.

Finally, there’s the leak from the clip preview to Disney shareholders:

an image showed two AT-ATs that had a slightly different look with the door panel on the side of the body painted a lighter beige color.

Tie it all together and you have the classic showdown of Rebel troops and snowspeeders versus the Empire’s lumbering behemoths. Definitely not on Hoth, but another chilly planet.

Does this seem like a rehash of ESB, in the same way that Force Awakens liberally borrowed from A New Hope? Let’s hope not. If it is, at least they might throw in Darth Vader wreaking havoc on the field, ala Battlefront.

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Every Saturday, we feature a snapshot of Stormtrooper Larry and life in the Outer Rim!

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When you’re too short to be a stormtrooper.

Showdown on Sunset Boulevard

He stood in the shadows, waiting.

So far today, he had already dispatched three: one human, one Tydian, and even a droid, an old 2-LOM model. And he had only been trailing the boy for six hours.

Overhead, the twin suns of the desert planet beat down relentlessly. Cloaked figures rushed down shaded avenues to escape the stifling heat. Grimly, he knew that on planets like this, beings tended to stay indoors during the day, and activity tended to pick up at dusk. Three were already down — several more to go at sundown.

One hundred meters away, the subject of his attention turned to look at some useless baubles on a dusty window. The blonde head swung to and fro, like the hyperactive arm of an oscillator set to overdrive. The boy’s wide-eyed innocence at all the things around him was refreshing, if not mildly amusing.

What the boy found fascinating, his watcher considered little more than a hellhole. In fact, just the latest in a series of hellholes he had to live in, after the fall of the old system and the rise of a new order. Mos Etnoh considered itself a cosmopolitan place, with its rundown tourist attractions and “historical” landmarks that were likely put up a fortnight ago. Whereas Mos Espa prided itself on being a gambling zone and home of the Boonta Eve, and Mos Eisley was unabashedly a smuggler’s hive of scum and villainy, Mos Etnoh still clung to its pretensions of being the planet’s cultural center, if ever the world even had one.

Further ahead, a female voice called, calling the boy back to his guardians. The watcher took the opportunity to cross the street, ending in the same dusty window formerly occupied by his charge.

Without meaning to, he caught a glimpse of his reflection: a hooded figure in brown, with a graying beard and the tanned leathery skin of an old desert hand. Had he really aged that much? Even the most brutal years of the Clone Wars did not take such a toll on him.

His musing were cut short by movement to his right. An old Xhillian rushed down the street, muttering about the infernal heat. Xhillians were a long-lived species, easily matching a Hutt. By the mottled gray skin of this one, he was obviously past the 500-year mark. And yet, he moved faster than a newly hatched spawn.

The bearded man pretended to study the same baubles that fascinated the boy, watching the Xhillian’s reflection on the unwashed pane. A moment later, his suspicions proved correct — there was a brief flash of silver on the old being’s sleeve. The split-second glint would have been unnoticeable to most, but not to the watcher. It was the unmistakable silhouette of a holdout blaster.

Slowly he turned. The Xhillian glanced once in his direction before hurrying on, intent on pursuing the same quarry. That was his fatal mistake.

After making sure there were no additional eyes on the street, the watcher lashed out, catching the alien midstride. The blaster, already primed for action, fell from his robe.

The Xhillian’s gray hide briefly flashed yellow in alarm. As the blaster clattered loudly on the ferrocrete, his skin took on a deep crimson red. Anger.

The two figures faced each other in the canyon of the alley: one snarling, the other quietly confident.

In the blink of an eye, the red alien raised his other sleeve, revealing a second holdout blaster. But the tanned human was faster — before the arm was even halfway up, its owner was already embedded with three prongs of a Kamino saberdart, coated with their trademark poison.

The Xhillian fell. The human remained standing over his quickly graying corpse.

The only witness to the duel was a hunched beggar, who quickly learned to look away and mind his own business.

The watcher hurried on to catch the boy. Four down so far, several more to go. Dusk was quickly approaching.

As he moved, he turned to look back at the being whose life he just took. Unlike before, the man no longer felt any pangs of regret, no sudden bouts of conscience in his new role. His head swung back to his fair-haired quarry. The Xhillian was already the past — he had to focus on the present.

As he did, a sudden tingle of alarm gripped him, the same sense that enabled him to survive all throughout the Clone Wars and the turbulent period that followed. There was something familiar about that beggar.

Just as he turned to look, a sudden flash of emerald brilliance bathed the street, before being quickly extinguished. The watcher looked at the cauterized hole on his chest, gasped, and staggered.

A hand steadied him. The old beggar.

“Quietly now, my friend.”

The man looked up at a face much like his own. Graying beard, tanned skin, crisscrossing lines of worry permanently etched by years of hardship and countless battles. But the blazing blue eyes were unmistakable.

The shadows deepened and dusk settled. As his breathing shallowed and faded, the watcher mused on the irony of it all. After three long years, he had finally tracked his ticket to a Core promotion: the rumored son of Skywalker himself. Only to be caught by the boy’s real guardian, a figure who was long thought to be dead. A figure that he had served with during the Clone Wars, no less.

Before he slipped into oblivion, the watcher’s last thought was how bitterly unfair it was that the Emperor or anyone in the ISB would never know what he discovered.

Overhead, the twin suns set. The old beggar blended back in the shadows, as the boy and his adoptive guardians went on their way, across the undulating sands of the Dune Sea.

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The Right Mix

Lora Hex smiled. After six long years, the seeds of her revenge were ready to be planted.

It had taken six long years to turn abstract idea into actionable reality, an idea that began its first stirrings as soon as she was taken from the New Republic world of Poctoris.

It had taken half that long for the First Order to trust her with a task other than mere theory building and paperplast shuffling. On the third year of her forced servitude, the former Sr. Researcher of Profile Training and Psychoanalysis was finally promoted. From mere lab hand, Lora slowly climbed the ladder back to junior analyst in her new home, the Star Destroyer Ravager.

It helped that half of the FO scientists were moronic yes-men who wouldn’t have passed the first year admission exams in a Republic institution, much less wear a lab coat. It also helped that she began sleeping with the vessel’s Director of Science, a morbidly obese man whose academic credentials consisted of being related to the sector Moff.

On the fourth year, she gained clearance to the tightly guarded Recruit Training Program, the First Order’s conditioning process for the conscripted soldiers that formed its military backbone. Lora felt a special kinship with these recruits — like her, they were forcibly taken from their homeworlds, never to see their families again. Unlike her, the “blaster fodders” were taken at a very young age, the better to mold them for a lifetime of unquestioning service to the Order.

At first limited to observer status, within six months Lora became Program Assistant. Her meteoric rise came from improvements she made in the regimen’s Logical Reasoning, Cortex Development and Abstract Thinking classifications.

On the fifth year, the death of her elderly superior catapulted Lora into the position of Program Head, Level 1 Recruit Training and Conditioning. It was the break she was looking for.

She began with minuscule changes to the basic regimen. A slight tweak to the Creativity course here, a small dip in the Obedience programming there. All over her various postings, Lora sabotaged the conditioning process of FO foot soldiers more effectively than any Republic battle fleet or resistance spy. Approximately 120 new graduates of the FC batch on the fortress world of Thosis II received a boost in independent thinking. Onboard the Decimator, 70 recruits of the FL batch were given a sense of survival, while 30 new FN troopers destined for the Finalizer were given a moral conscience. The First Order wanted the perfect stormtrooper: smart, unquestioning, and uncaring. Lora was giving them the exact opposite.

Unfortunately, her sabotage was shortlived. After several incidents of insubordination among the FC batch, the entire wing was sent to a penal colony for reconditioning. Of the FL batch, an attempted mutiny by FL-1366 led to the summary execution of six squads and the whole legion’s quarantine. In her zeal to topple the enemy from within, Lora’s altered troopers stood out like flashing distress beacons and were ruthlessly suppressed.

But not anymore. On her sixth year, Lora Hex finally found the right mix for her revenge. The latest batch was independent enough to think without being hardheaded, creative enough to adapt while seeming obedient, and ethically aware without being obvious. Best of all, they were programmed with a delayed fuse. Instead of being fanatically opposed to tyranny like the first ones, the new ones will blend in and quietly disrupt the First Order from within.

The FU batch was her crowning gift to the powers that destroyed her life.

As Lora closed her datapad, the door to her cabin chimed, announcing the arrival of unexpected guests. On the monitor, two black-clad agents of the dreaded Internal Security Directorate stood waiting outside, alongside a handful of naval troops. After two years of causing havoc, the ISD had finally caught on to her.

Lora Hex looked out her window. She closed her eyes, imagining she could see the emerald seas of Poctoris one last time, rather than the featureless gray of a warship’s bulkhead. She reached for a button under the desk.

The soundless explosion briefly blossomed from the destroyer’s right flank, incinerating Lora, the two ISB agents, a whole detention squad, and all historical records of Recruit Training and Conditioning, Level 1.

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All things Star Wars, by a wacky First Order stormtrooper in the Outer Rim!

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