Monthly Archives: March 2024

This Droid Is Your Friend

This week, let’s take a step back and revisit an older recreation of mine and, in the spirit of last week’s post, take a closer look at the context of its inspiration from the real world. The decoration in question is the Propaganda: Fight for the Meatbags poster that players originally collected as a log-in reward during Knights of the Fallen Empire, but it can now be purchased from the Galactic Seasons tokens vendor. I’ve covered many of SWTOR‘s propaganda posters over the years, but I want to dive a little deeper this time.

Recently, quite by accident, I encountered what was likely the direct inspiration for at least the text of the HK -55 decoration: a series of World War II posters. The reason they did not come up in my initial research was because these posters were not meant strictly as propaganda, but as informational signs designed to help American troops entering the war recognize their fellow Allied forces. There are variants of the poster for Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, English and Ethiopian soldiers and sailors but the most well known version depicts a Russian soldier. If you click the image below, you’ll find it alongside an additional poster that I created in a fit of whimsey, which characters in the Star Wars galaxy could have discovered on a trip to Copero.

SWTOR’s poster sports a very different graphical design, but the text clearly is a playful riff on the message of the original. Given the intended use of the wartime poster, it’s amusing to think that anyone would mistake HK-55 with his bold yellow paint job and unambiguous in-combat declarations for anything or anyone else. That said, when it comes the various HK model droids, we can never really be sure whose side they are on until they pull the trigger.

The poster’s graphic design draws inspiration from classic propaganda posters of not only World War II, but also from those of the post-war Soviet Union and China during the time of the Cultural Revolution, and I’d like to highlight a few here.

The most distinctive propaganda posters typically feature illustrations of heroic soldiers or workers or political leaders. Over the decades, the artists and designers of these posters demonstrated great skill at working within the limitations of these cheaply printed and mass produced posters, and they created images famous for their bold sense of design with flattened, halftone color palettes. In particular, the element of the radiating lines of a sunburst behind the protagonist has become almost a clichéd aspect of these propaganda posters, and clearly SWTOR’s HK graphic shares in that general aesthetic.

Finally, I’ll just finish on a quick note that a second HK-55 poster “Propaganda: Victory Protocols Activated” has long been included in the game’s data files, and you can even look it up in the Decorations interface, but it was never made available to players. This one has a design closer to the Allied posters of the Second World War, and I hope that one day it might find its way into players’ Strongholds.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Aurebesh to English, General SWTOR