When Star Wars fandom was preparing itself for the start of the long awaited Clone Wars in the upcoming movie Attack of the Clones, publisher DeAgostini released its very first issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File on December 27, 2001. Fact File would eventually run for 140 issues, filled with Star Wars lore about characters, ships, locations, technology, and much more. Now, Fact File has returned for another series of 120 issues!
The original Fact File was developed in the UK and translated into many languages, such as Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Surprisingly, Fact File was never properly distributed in the United States, though it did get released across the Atlantic in Mexico and also in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Several large binders, also released by DeAgostini, were used to store individual issues. The first issue came with a large poster of the Star Wars galaxy (pre-Essential Atlas times). Most countries only got 120 issues, but they sometimes had different content and more articles in each issue.
Because of the 140 issues, Fact File became the largest printed database of Star Wars lore, including information from the movies, comics, novels, and games (unfortunately, the television spin-offs and cartoons were neglected). The issues were beautifully edited with nice, large photographs and they sometimes had exclusive art by Carl Lyons (mostly Expanded Universe characters). The topics were divided into six categories: Battles & Events, Characters, Planets & Locations, Droids, Weapons & Technology, and Vehicles. Because DeAgostini was able to create so many individual issues, they weren’t limited at all to talk about the most important characters or events. Of course, they delivered plenty of information about Han Solo or Darth Vader, but also about Expanded Universe characters, such as Lowbacca or Savan. For seasoned fans, the articles about lesser known subjects and technology were the most interesting, since these topics don’t always get a lot of attention in books. General topics, such as “garments and couture,” “smuggling and smugglers,” “Outlander patrons,” “manufacturers,” or “Tusken weaponry” were superbly edited. The locations also featured some rarely-visited places and had a very detailed report of some planets, including information about their society, architecture, and wildlife. The top three locations were Tatooine (represented by 62 pages), Naboo (50 pages), and Coruscant (42 pages). One of the biggest assets of Fact File was the inclusion of articles from Attack of the Clones. The last issue was released in 2004, so information from Revenge of the Sith (we all thought it would be the last one, didn’t we?) never found its way into the original Fact File.
The Fact File managed to deliver a solid summary of information that had been previously printed in other publications. IT wasn’t really known to present new information, though it did include new canon from time to time. Rebel Commando Nik Sant first received his proper name in Fact File, for example, and so did the ship of Ponda Baba, the Angry Ranat. Fact File ended in 2004, though DeAgostini did release three other series of issues that included beautifully sculpted figures and ships/vehicles. The first publications were Star Wars: The Official Figurine Collection (60 issues) and Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection (80 issues). Compared to Fact File, these issues also contained behind-the-scenes information, which was never included before. In 2010 DeAgostini also released a series called Art Treasures in some countries that came with Star Wars chess pieces (64 in total).
After silence had fallen for almost 10 years, it seemed that Fact File was returning in 2013, but after three or four issues, the publication suddenly stopped. Now, Fact File is indeed back in full force, ready for another 120 issues and several (unique) binders! The new Fact File once again feature six categories: Humans & Aliens, Droids & Machines, Planets & Locations, Battles & Events, Starships & Vehicles, and Weapons & Technology. It’s been more than 10 years since the original first issue was released, so there’s plenty of new information that will be used to update the files of characters, droids, locations, and weaponry. The first issue can be read online and it has information about the Battle of Yavin, Darth Maul, Pistoeka Sabotage Droids (a.k.a. Buzz Droids), Felucia, Darth Vader’s lightsaber, and more.
A really cool feature of the new Fact File is the information from Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series! It’s great to see General Grievous finally making his entrance in the series. The new Fact File will even include facts about the “missing” episodes of The Clone Wars, which are yet to be screened (or told in other media). DeAgostini is working closely with Lucasfilm to see that the collection will be fully compatible with the new Star Wars Rebels series and all known future developments. Finally, the entire collection has been beautifully edited and redesigned to reflect the latest Star Wars canon and any new images that have become available since the original series was created. For example, this includes newly-created, sharp computer-generated images alongside original archive photos.
The first issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File costs 50p and weekly Fact File issues (released on Wednesday) will be £2.99. Issue #1 also comes with a gigantic poster/map of the Star Wars galaxy and #2 will be accompanied by the first binder.
Visit the website of the Official Fact File for more info!
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium does research for and takes care of the Rogues Gallery feature in Star Wars Insider under the supervision of Leland Chee. He’s president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He’s an administrator for Yodapedia and has written the back stories for Swilla Corey, Tzizvvt, Wam Lufba, and Maxiron Agolerga.