Holidays are a prime shopping time in many cultures. Seasonal sales drive economies in our world — as they likely would in worlds across the Star Wars galaxy, too. There are several planets famous for their luxury tourism and shopping, including Coruscant, Nar Shaddaa, and Bespin. So if you are feeling a bit bedraggled with the holiday retail experience here on Earth, it can be a fun, temporary escape to imagine what a day in a locality like Cloud City might be like instead!
Hit the Platform With Your Gonks Running
Your shuttle might arrive on landing platform 327, on a glorious Cloud City morning. You would anxiously gather your personal items (and your younglings, if you have any), and head out the airlock and down the ramp. The first thing that would hit you is a blast of wind, sending your coat tails around your elbows and your hat sailing into the air and past the towers beyond the platform (what a pity)! As a gas planet with a complex atmosphere, Bespin might be prone to strong wind gusts.
As you march across the walkway, you might look back toward your shuttle, the Gorse Forsaken, and observe a little procession of droids disembarking, just as another gust of wind sends an unfortunate mini gonk droid skidding across the platform and plummeting to the gassy planet core below — Gonk! Gonk! Gonking all the way! The droids would probably swap concerned looks as you all hurry a little faster to get inside the terminal.
An attendant droid would likely greet you inside. “Welcome to Bespin Cloud City, a premier luxury destination and industrial mining zone! We have gas!”
If you have children, they are probably nagging you already to stop at the nearest toy store (and truth be told, if you are reading this, then you are probably dying to see what’s in stock there, too)! Imperial action figures would probably be the first thing to catch your eye. What better way to inspire tomorrow’s Imperial officers than to feature stormtroopers, TIE pilots, and the occasional Moff in their playtime? Of course there would be rows of dolls too — a pink and purple-striped tooka, a cuddly thranta, and maybe even the celebrated Talz trio of Chrimed, Chricha, and Adawambo. There might also be a few candy-laden piñatas hanging from the ceiling, perhaps in the shape of the much-loved narglach, Coltak-Sen.
On your way out of the store and onto the promenade, you may pass an astromech and protocol droid playing holiday music in outlandish costumes. The little astro droid looks like he’s really enjoying the performance, but you overhear the protocol droid muttering more than once, “This is so embarrassing!”
You look above and notice a marquee over the promenade, listing the shows going on around Cloud City today. The Small Scuif Story Troupe is performing their play, “Rumors, Legends, and Cannon Fodder,” in the Fandom Theatre tonight. Meanwhile, the Bespin Aquarium is featuring a holographic documentary of sea life on Kamino, presented by the Keeper of the Holo Prawns. Then you spot what you are looking for — a sign advertising “Stann’s Previously-Owned Hats, Formalwear, Undergarments, and Prosthetic Limbs: a boutique fantasyland for the spacer who needs everything.” You’ll need to replace the hat you lost earlier!
Fashion and Ugnaughts
On your way in the store you pass racks of capes with brightly-colored patterns from cultures across the galaxy. In another row you might spot a second-hand snow suit and sharp-looking jacket, piles of used Ugnaught underwear, and a gem-studded metal bikini top, appropriately sized for Mama the Hutt. In the back of the store you find a talkative Stann, eager to help.
First Stann might show you a tattered old hat with a wide brim and concave crown, sitting on a top shelf. He assures you the dark fuzzy hat is authentic — he would never sell you something phony. He might even inform you that the former owner is rumoured to be the “true puppet-master” behind the entire Clone Wars! “I wouldn’t tell you no bologna!” he says.
Perhaps it’s not your thing, so you might hand it back. Next he may pull out an odd disk-shaped hat with a stripe down the middle. “It’s very popular. Everybody is wearing it this year,” or so he tells you — everyone from Imperials to bounty hunters. You might find wearing an oversized metal platter on your head a tad uncomfortable though, and hand it back.
Lastly he might uncover a pointy blue hat from behind the counter. He may mention it once belonged to a powerful apprentice, lost to legends. It’s a bit garish for a night out, but you might decide it’s fun to wear for working around your house.
As you exit the shop, you might spot a mother ugnaught leading her litter of uglings and uglets. Or maybe it’s the father? It’s hard to tell with ugnaughts. If you are feeling generous and in good holiday cheer, you might try to hand them each a piece of candy –until you realize your mistake, when they begin jumping up and down in a frenzy, squealing and snorting as they bite the candy right out of your hand!
Next you might decide to have lunch at one of Bespin’s many outdoor cafes. The maître d’roid, UL-L0G, seats you at your table and spits out a menu card. In a few moments another waiter droid, UL-T1D, comes and hovers by your table, taking your order.
As you wait for your glazed nuna and glass of sparkling Kawakian jelly-nectar, you notice a foul sulphury odor. You look around and see other café customers using their capes to cover their noses or seeming to fan something invisible away. It might occur to you that the breeze has wafted a cloud of tibanna gas through the city… and perhaps now you might guess why capes are so fashionable on Bespin!
After lunch you might get around the city a bit more. Big Ponda Bubba’s Porcine Pottery is having a sale on traditional Ugnaught ceramics, so if you are a fan then you might wish to head there first. Across from the Yarith Bespin Hotel you find a shop owned by a lively Xexto tinkerer, where you pick up an artful little lamp fashioned from recycled IG-series droid parts. In the Grand Bespin Hotel lobby you encounter delightful holiday decorations, festive music, and an antique blaster rifle and thermal detonator show. A little “Soco-Jarel Special” might catch your eye. If so, the lumbering Ithorian attendant may tell you the hold-out blaster once belonged to the city’s administrator… and he can sell it to you at a special holiday discount!
Taking the Tibanna Train
After spending most of your credits, you might decide to end the day with a scenic sunset tour on the city railway. The nearest station is just a short walk along the promenade. Once you are aboard, the conductor droid, ER-1C, would probably start the ride with an introduction.
“Welcome to the Nien Newmban Tibanna Rail Line, where passengers ride in one of formerly six, now seven, vintage cars. The cabins have been renovated many times for continued comfort, but always with the vision of the original engineer. Your tour includes insightful commentary on the sights and history of Cloud City, musings on Bespin’s place in the galaxy, windows into the nature of the Force, and testimonials on the benefits of Tibanna gas as a sustainable fuel source! Come for the luxury, leave as super-fans of Tibanna gas!”
The fiery Bespin sunset would stream through the car windows as the rail weaves it’s way between the Figg Art Museum and the Kerros Tower. The glimmering lights of the Royal and Trest casinos catch your eye, as does a morbidly obese Hutt and his entourage entering the nearby Holiday Towers.
Passing near the edge of the city perimeter, the wind howls and whistles against the windows. In the distance, glowing orange lanterns — the bioluminescent bladders of giant beldons — float among the purple clouds. Closer to your car, swarms of fairy air shrimp flash warning colors in the night skies, first electric green and then red, as they are chased by nocturnal predators.
After your tour and a pleasant day’s shopping on Cloud City, you head back to the shuttle transit center, and prepare to depart. Then again, you could just get a hotel and spend the whole weekend! Your time on Bespin is limited only by your imagination… or perhaps the free time you have to daydream as you sit waiting for someone else, in an ordinary shopping mall back on Earth…
Author of DK’s Star Wars: What Makes a Monster?, Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide, and LEGO Star Wars: Into Battle, follow Adam Bray on Twitter at @authoradambray.