How The Mandalorian’s Amban Phase-Pulse Blaster Went from Holiday Special Joke to Nerf Toy

Bearing voice performances by the movie cast, the short segment introduced Fett (voiced here by Don Francks) to the Star Wars universe, and predates his canonical debut—not counting Kenner’s 1979 mail-away action figure or the onscreen cameo inserted into the 1997 Special Edition of 1977’s A New Hope—as the stoic, Carbonite-Han-hauling bounty hunter in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. However, while the segment shows Fett in a now-familiar form (albeit distinguished by pastel animation aesthetics), he happened to brandish a menacing forked rifle that he wouldn’t bring to his subsequent live-action movie appearances, relegating it to legend.

Star Wars Holiday Special Boba Fett

However, in “Faithful Wookie,” the weapon we now know as the Amban phase-pulse blaster served a different purpose than Din Djarin’s version, and was instead used by Fett as a glorified cattle prod for the docile, but stubborn giant dragon that he was using as a steed to traverse the planet Panna Prime. Here, the rifle is depicted as firing a clear energy stream that—at least when used on the sizable creature—has a stunning shock effect. While the campiness of the blast seemed to be a joke that belied the menacing look of the rifle, it was used to foreshadow the Imperial-aiding intentions of mysterious bounty hunter Fett—who presented himself as a friend to a crashed and stranded Luke, R2-D2, and C-3PO—when he used the rifle to cruelly punish the creature he was riding.

Nevertheless, we would not see the see the Amban again (at least, canonically) until The Mandalorian’s 2019 inaugural season, as brandished by Din Djarin. Yet, this version of the Amban was a clear contrast from the goofy ray gun we saw in the Holiday Special, and Djarin devastatingly demonstrated the weapon’s true capabilities in the heat of battles against Jawas, Guild Bounty Hunters, Klatooinian Raiders, and remnant Imperial Stormtroopers, proving that it’s no joke at all, since a single shot is shown to instantly disintegrate a normal-sized humanoid. Even the goofy “cattle prod” function seen with Fett’s version was redeemed in season 2 during a battle with a Krayt dragon. While the rifle’s blast wasn’t even able to mark the creature’s tough exterior, Djarin ultimately used the stun function to electrocute the creature from the inside, resulting in a messy, viscera-splattering end to the giant beast.

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With results like that, it’s no surprise that the Amban achieved redemption in the Star Wars universe as the signature weapon of the typically-sidearm-slinging Djarin. Moreover, it now provides key context to a movie line famously uttered by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back when addressing the lineup of bounty hunters regarding the Millennium Falcon and its occupants. Upon completing his briefing, Vader specifically turns to Fett—likely knowing about his past use of the Amban—and emphatically states, “I want them alive, no disintegrations.” It’s a caveat we would learn later in the film was motivated by a desire to see his son Luke survive capture.

However, the Amban’s ascension to the annals of Nerfdom arrives at what seems to be a bittersweet moment, since (SPOILER incoming) a recent episode of The Mandalorian saw Djarin’s battered-but-beloved ship, the Razor Crest, reduced to rubble, along with its contents, which, at that moment, appears to have included his Amban blaster. Consequently, it will be interesting to see if a similar weapon were to appear again, especially since (coincidentally) Djarin subsequently hopped a ride with none other than a resurfaced Boba Fett (the Amban OG) in his Slave I ship. Might Fett still have his old Amban in the cargo hold? Might that one somehow end up with Djarin?

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