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New 'Star Wars Rebels' teaser has 'Force Awakens' lightsaber, Darth Vader, Leia and Yoda

Connections to the latest Star Wars film, "The Clone Wars" and the original trilogy appear on upcoming episodes of the animated series.

Darth Vader returns to "Star Wars Rebels," and he's ready to fight.
Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

While many fans can't get enough of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on the big screen, viewers of "Star Wars Rebels" will be delighted to learn more tie-ins to the hit movie are coming to Disney XD's animated series.

Not only will fans be getting a glimpse of a young Princess Leia (voiced by Julie Dolan) long before her days as a general in the upcoming episode on "A Princess on Lothal," but a cross-guard lightsaber that looks like Kylo Ren's weapon from "The Force Awakens" will also be making an appearance on the show.

This season of "Rebels" is set 14 years after "Revenge of the Sith" and three years before "A New Hope." The main "Rebels" story centers on a ragtag crew made up of cowboy Jedi Kanan (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr.), ace pilot Hera (Vanessa Marshall), street-smart teenager Ezra (Taylor Gray), the "muscle" Zeb (Steven Blum), warrior Sabine (Tiya Sircar) and grumpy old astromech droid Chopper. They embark on adventures and become heroes with the power to ignite a rebellion.

The new mid-season trailer for "Star Wars Rebels" bridges the old with the new by showing Ezra igniting the lightsaber shaped much like Kylo Ren's red cross-guard lightsaber, but in green.

Jedi Master Yoda also makes his first appearance on "Star Wars Rebels" in a vision to teach Jedi-in-training Ezra the ways of the Force.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

"I wanted to put a nod to this new history we're seeing in 'The Force Awakens,'" executive producer Dave Filoni told Entertainment Weekly. "Here you find a sword we've encountered before and it gives a little more context to something that turns up later."

The trailer also hints that the young Jedi may cross paths with Jedi Master Yoda himself in a vision, though he might look slightly different than the wrinkled Jedi teacher in both the "Star Wars" prequels and the original trilogy films.

"A huge influence was the old Kenner action-figure of Yoda," Filoni told EW. "We stopped short of giving him the orange snake. We highly considered it, because I've never seen that orange snake, and I thought, 'We could be the ones to finally put that orange snake in there!'" But alas, high animation costs meant no orange snake for Yoda this time.

Near the end of this season, fans will also see the return of Darth Vader voiced by James Earl Jones, as well as a character called the Seventh Sister voiced by "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Alert fans may also spot quite a few "Clone Wars" characters in the new "Rebels" trailer below. In addition to Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein) who has already made an appearance on "Rebels," we also spot Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter), Twi'lek warrior Cham Syndulla and Sabine Wren. There is also the possible cameo of "The Clone Wars" version of Darth Maul, who in the trailer may be the one cloaked in a robe and now going by "Old Master."

"Star Wars Rebels" airs January 20 in the US at 9 p.m. ET on Disney XD. The show also airs internationally on local Disney XD channels in the UK as well as Australia.