The first live action Star Wars show to be produced, The Mandalorian has given us some truly interesting ship designs, like the title character’s personal vessel the Razor Crest, but some of its ideas have been met with head-scratching online. Enter the newest TIE Fighter to roll off the line in Star Wars canon, a ship which merges another familiar design to questionable results.
Nearly every Star Wars movie, TV show, or other visual medium (and plenty of books) have introduced new variants of the TIE Fighter, even in stories set before TIE Fighters technically existed. It is, after all, an iconic ship, both from a visual standpoint and an audible one; its H-shaped profile is almost as well known as its screeching engines and green double-laser blasts, elements which have been mostly consistent in every model. The TIE is also highly popular within the Star Wars universe, due to how cheap they are to mass-produce by a galaxy-spanning Empire, which accounts for how many different types we’ve seen over the years (and how easy they are to blow up).
From the common TIE Interceptor to the fan-favorite TIE Defender, we’ve had a lot of new takes on the Imperial ship. But The Mandalorian’s latest model is a bit… different. It’s called the Outland TIE Fighter, and it appeared with almost no fanfare as a graphic t-shirt design released on DesignByHumans. It has a standard “body” or pod shared by most TIE variants, but its two parallel wings have been folded out to become twin sets of V-shaped wings. It’s also been given four “feet,” presumably to assist with landings. The end result is, admittedly, a little silly, but Reddit has already pointed out its near-identical look of this ship from an ILM portfolio of concept art for The Force Awakens. According to some sources, it was originally meant to be a bomber for the First Order.
Of course, the Outland TIE Fighter also shares some obvious visual similarities with an equally famous Star Wars vehicle: the X-Wing, specifically the T-65 model used by the Rebellion during the Original Trilogy. There’s good reason to believe this may be an intentional choice, seeing as the X-Wing was, in fact, commissioned by the Empire in its early days, before the Rebels took the design as their own. It could be that the in-universe corporation behind the X-Wing, Incom, worked alongside TIE manufacturer Kuat Drive Yards in order to produce the Outland TIE Fighter.
Alternatively, it could have something to do with the time period of The Mandalorian, in which the remnants of the Empire are struggling to survive after losing the war against the Rebels. Some sources have indicated that the First Order (which, during the time of the show, is just getting started) took lessons from the X-Wing and implement them into their own TIE Fighters, adding more powerful defenses, two-pilot seating, and a hyperdrive. The same idea could be at play here, with the Outland TIE attempting to use the Rebels’ superior ship design to its advantage.
Whatever the in-universe reason, though, the Outland TIE Fighter was probably made for two real-life purposes: to get people talking and, hopefully, to sell toys. The former has definitely been a success, with the online conversation about the design likely to get bigger as more voices jump in. Whether it catches on enough for the latter, or whether this X-Wing/TIE Fighter merger is too absurd for people to enjoy the same way they do other versions of the classic starfighter, is yet to be seen.