Anakin’s podracer is certainly one of the most memorable images to come out of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Its unique design has given it a surprising amount of staying power – who can forget the classic arcade game based around it? – but Star Wars fans never expected to ever see the craft show up again in the franchise.
Well, it might just have done that. In the season premiere of The Mandalorian (read our review), a new character named Cobb Vanth joins lead character Din Djarin on a quest across the desert. While Djarin is riding an all-too-familiar speeder bike, Cobb Vanth enters the frame in this vehicle that certainly hearkens back to Anakin’s podracer:
Upon first glance, there is absolutely reason to believe that this could be the very same engine from Anakin’s podracer. And in a way, it is. The engines that Anakin used for his podracer in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace were 620C racing engines made by Radon-Ulzer Repulsorlift. From what we can see of the engine that Cobb Vanth is using for his speeder, it certainly looks like the exact same model from Anakin’s podracer.
However, the idea that this could be the very same part from Anakin’s podracer is highly unlikely. That podracer existed decades prior in the Star Wars timeline and would have been subjected to a number of different degradation factors. The sands of Tatooine are not the most hospitable to its inhabitants, and it surely does incredible damage to technology over a period of many years. It also looks like this speeder has been custom-fitted by wither Cobb Vance or someone else with other modern speeder bike elements.
Still, it is likely that this is another model of the same engine that formed the basis of Anakin’s podracer. We can see some differences in coloration around the turbine of the two models. And if the orientation on the engines is the same, it looks like one of them is operating upside down. We can see the two forward prongs on Anakin’s podracer are found more towards the bottom of the engine, whereas Cobb Vanth’s speeder has the two forward prongs on the top. It will be interesting to see if this gets an official explanation from Disney as to how this particular model of engine is supposed to function.
Even though it is almost certainly not Anakin’s podracer, it is still a winking acknowledgment from the creatives behind The Mandalorian to the long-term fans of the Star Wars franchise. It also helps reinforce the world of Tatooine as one that is behind the times in comparison to the rest of the galactic society. The fact that the same kinds of engines are being used by the poor desert folk of Tatooine reminds us of just how low on the totem pole of existence they are. Everything seems to be scrapped together from old technology. Anything they can get to survive.
We will have to wait and see if Disney or anyone involved with The Mandalorian ends up answering just how Cobb Vanth ended up with a speeder bike that calls back to Anakin’s famous podracer. We are sure we will be seeing an action figure and a LEGO playset getting announced any day now.