- EDITORIAL: What's the deal with Star Wars on TV, why are we waiting so long to hear anything? Both the CGI Clone Wars animated show and the live action series have been pushed back several times now, and while we're being told '08 is the year for the cartoon, the live action seems to be "at least 2009" which is hardly encouraging. I'm hoping we get an update on the live action at Celebration IV, but I won't be surprised if we get silence instead. Why so tight-lipped on the project, is it really underway or is it on Lucas' back burner and he plans to get to it "some day soon"? He seemed pretty gung-ho right after ROTS came out, saying that TV was the episodic medium he felt would best serve future Star Wars concepts, and at the time he seemed to have the momentum and fan-backing to go to lightspeed, but since has let that drift away.This week's column includes a short editorial about the lack of Star Wars TV updates, a lot of collecting news, and Tycho praises the upcoming Comic Packs wave.
Jedi Mind Tricks: Episode VI - Here Comes That Luke Guy
I'm not even sure I want Star Wars TV myself, my opinion of the Ewok movies and Lucas' beloved Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (where prequel-producer Rick McCallum came into the Lucas spotlight) are pretty low, but it seems like Hasbro is holding their breath on some fan-requested items to see if they'll make it into the show. I don't want Star Wars collecting plans to be held up by something this tenuous, that's not looking forward, that's holding ones' breath. With luck, Lucas will blow us away soon with some huge announcement that restarts public interest in the project, but either way the Star Wars franchise in general should prepare to plan ahead without it or suffer a stall far worse than the months-long setback recently suffered by the Force Unleashed video game.
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- COLLECTING LIGHTHOUSE: Sideshow says their 12-inch Plo Koon figure is expected to ship at the end of May - just in time to show up at your house while you're at Celebration IV, I guess. In less popular news, they also say the 12-inch Leia as Boushh has been delayed again, this time till the 3rd quarter of the year, for quality assurance. Although the exclusive version sold out in an hour waaaay back in early August of last year, the regular edition Leia as Boushh is still available for preorder and they still haven't announced the edition size.
· In other Sideshow news, the company has announced an exclusive accessory for this year's San Diego Comic Con, that of the Neimoidian walking mechano-chair with Darth Sidious hologram (aren't all your chairs holoprojectors too?), straight out of Ep 1. The price hasn't been determined yet, preorders hit June 14th for attendees and 15th for non-attendees.
· The next wave of Hasbro Star Wars Comic Packs have been sighted at Target and showing up from online orders, this is the wave with Marvel Luke Stormtrooper & R2-D2, Clone Wars Obi-Wan and ARC Trooper Alpha, and ToyFare magazine poll-winner Quinlan Vos & Vilmarh Grahrk. (Although Vos got the most votes in that poll, Hasbro had slated him for production so he couldn't technically "win", giving that honor to Darth Revan from Knights of the Old Republic.)
· The second TAC (30th Anniversary Collection) wave of basic figures seems to be hitting more locations across the country, though supplies are still in such light enough that the demand has them rarely lasting the day. I've been noticing a lot of folks having more trouble finding the McQuarrie Stormtrooper from wave 1 than wave 2's McQuarrie Boba Fett and my guess is because wave 1 is still so slow to hit. Simultaneously, the V-wing / Sith Infiltrator wave of vehicles has been slowly showing up in more locations as well.
· Speaking of TAC wave 2, I finally got my hands on the wave's Death Star Trooper, the army builder in the group (some collectors are treating the Rebel Honor Guard as such, but I suspect that'll dry up fast since he's boring and barely in the film), so here's my comments on him... The Death Star Trooper is half a head taller than the VOTC Stormtrooper and a full head taller than Luke Jedi Palace. The sculpt is adequate, it's got that overly-texture costume that we've seen on a few previous figures but it works better in this black color I think. The body isn't beefy thankfully, and is posed neutrally; the shoulders have a rounded down shape to hide their universal-jointed nature. The figure is "super articulated" but it already annoys a lot of folks as the elbows, knees, and ankles don't integrate that well leaving a little gap and rounded shape, but I think only the elbows really suffer, the ankles are hardly noticeable and the knees are supposed to be poofy - it's the upper legs I think don't hold up their part of the "puffy pants" aspect. The head is ok, not great, he looks Imperial but my problem is it's sculpted a little jowly and slightly off-center so he wants to tilt sideways. The helmet is a great accessory, but the chinstrap holds the helmet a little low and the figure's eyes painted looking upwards. They included a stormtrooper blaster which fits in the skirt's hollowed out holster, it's actually the wrong blaster (the DS Troopers use the Rebel Fleet Trooper blaster) but is nice to have and they painted the barrel with a little silver weathering. Overall, even with his flaws this is a major improvement over the POTF2 Running Man, he has a lot of room for creative subtle posing and makes a nifty background Imp, I'm not sure I want to army-build him but I did buy 2 when I found him and don't regret that.
· The TAC Battle Packs and Coin Album with Darth Vader (a reuse of the ROTS version) have started going on clearance at Target stores across the country, and are disappearing fast. The "Capture of Tantive IV" battle pack is among them, but finding them at prices like $13 for 4 army builders and a Vader is already proving difficult. Hasbro had already stated that the coin album would run its course through March, so it's no surprise that it's already being clearanced out - there are isolated reports of the same situation at a few Wal-mart stores - but the TAC battle packs I thought would stick around longer, I suspect Target is clearing house to make room for the summer reset as a number of other brands also had toys hit clearance. Good hunting to us all.
· The TRU-exclusive Bantha & Tusken Raiders battle pack is out, it's actually been out a few weeks but somehow keeps slipping my mind. It apparently comes with a variation, regular tan Tusken figures and redder Tuskens. The thing is $45 which seems grossly overpriced to me, but the real problem is that they took the POTF2 Bantha and slapped curly hair on it when the original's straight hair was accurate. Plus the pelt-wig they glued onto the body is very sloppy around the eyes and mouth. This is definitely a "what were they thinking?" item, I suppose it'll satiate some of you guys who have been clamoring for the Bantha's rerelease, but you deserve better than this mess.
· Hasbro's confirmed the "I am Your Father's Day" 2pack figure set, exclusive to Wal-mart. This set looks really boring because the figures are just slapped in a tray, no cool pose, no Vader reaching over the railing to Luke clinging to the vane, just packaging that can be turned into a gift box. The figures are the Saga Throne Room Duel Vader and Bespin Duel Luke, but because they didn't want a sweaty, unhappy Luke in the set, they used the head from Saga Jabba's Palace Luke instead - an ROTJ head on an ESB body.
· Author and Lucas Books editor J.W. Rinzler's "The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film" hit bookstores last Tuesday in both hardcover and paperback editions. The weighty tome is over 300 pages, stuffed with lost interviews and behind-the-scenes photos about the first Star Wars movie, and truthfully I'd rather be reading some more of it right now than writing this column. ;-) Flipping through the book hits you with joy after joy, filmmaker Peter Jackson's foreward alone brings back such a refreshing joy for Star Wars and how it inspired so many. My favorite image is on page 33, it's one George Lucas drew for Ralph McQuarrie on the back of an envelope at their first meeting back in '74, a simple pen sketch but even then Lucas has outlined incredibly recognizable versions of the now infamous X-wing Fighter, TIE Fighter, and Death Star. And page 10's handwritten "The Star Wars" image should give any fan a jolt. Track it down or order it online if you haven't done so already.
· Although some preorders for the 4 exclusive Titanium Series Ultra 6-inch vehicles were accidentally canceled by Toys R Us' website, others have been shipped out and arriving at customers' doorsteps. My order for the 2 new ships (I have the original versions of the others) was in a pretty big box, but there was nowhere near enough packing material with just 2 limp airpacks so they were rattling around loose, luckily the Titanium packaging survived without trauma.
· Coming up soon are Master Replicas' scaled replica Helmets, the first 3 being Boba Fett, Stormtrooper, and Luke X-wing helmets, plus a Wedge Antilles repaint exclusive to Celebration IV. The line is starting with reissuing Riddell's helmets from 10 years ago, which were .45-scale (the same scale as Master Replicas' series of scaled lightsaber hilts), made of high-quality plastic with metal accents, accurately detailed inside and out, and securely pop via ball joint onto their included stands; Master Replicas will be branching out from here though with new designs. These didn't catch on at the time but were made famous when KB Toys' previous website clearanced them out at very low prices and got snapped up fast. I have all 5 of the original Riddell helmets (the other are C-3PO with light-up eyes and Darth Vader that comes apart in 3 pieces) and let me tell you, these were so ahead of their times that they're still marvelous a decade later, they have great detail and substance and are among my favorite collectibles, I still look over at them every day (and occasionally dust them, which is a miracle in my collection). Do yourself a favor and don't miss this line.
· Finally, this year's Battle Packs Unleashed 2nd wave (more ANH Tatooine) have started showing up at stores. Does anybody still care about this line?
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- A SOLO THOUGHT: Have you noticed that, despite official claims the entire saga is portrayed, the upcoming US Postal Service Star Wars stamp pane is missing any stamps from Ep 2: -Attack of the Clones? It's true, all the other movies are there - Ep 1 is there twice with Maul and Amidala - except for AOTC, which apparently mouthed off to Han Solo and found itself floating home instead. Granted, Ep 2 is hardly my favorite of the saga, even the prequels, but maybe Padme Amidala was better represented by her TPM costume - I guess falling out of a Republic Gunship isn't the moment a character should best be known by. Does this mean we'll have to petition for a second set so Ep 2 can join the party?
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- TYCHO'S MOUSE DROID REPORT: I had a great surprise last week with the pictures being revealed of the next wave (#3) of the Expanded Universe Comic 2-packs. About 10 years and 5 months ago, I came aboard SirStevesGuide particularly amped about the Expanded Universe, bringing the site my Comics and Books reporting and the SSG e-zine, "Rogues' Gallery," which was easily named because of the implied reference to my screen name and Rogue Squadron's first officer, "Tycho Celchu".
I loved the fact that Star Wars would continue in an on-going continuity carefully coordinated at Lucasfilm, and give us more than just the 3 original movies that were out at the time. With the new, realistic action figures arriving, including ones never made before in the vintage years, not to mention the EU collection beginning with Shadows of the Empire, I wanted all the EU figures we could get. It was the only way I could approximate displays/dioramas of what the continuation of the saga would look like, since our action figures looked so real (compared to the Kenner ones of yesteryear).
Today I love what Hasbro's doing with the comic 2-packs. Back when I was writing Rogues' Gallery, I coordinated with Rebelscum's Mark Hurray, we set up independent polls with pictures and voting on all the most-wanted Expanded Universe characters and forwarded our results to Hasbro for EU era after EU era in chronological order (getting a strong demand for Tales of the Jedi figures, I might add). Well, we only got so far as some of the pre-TPM stories before events out of our control ended our efforts. But we had a great time doing it for 10 or more polls.
At the same time, I drew an entire Heir to the Empire product line (figures and vehicles) and sent my suggestions off to Hasbro. Their lawyer contacted me and suggested I get a toy broker's patent and approach them through professional channels. It was rather impersonal and unrewarding after my enthusiastic fanboy effort. (Darrel DePriest wasn't with the Hasbro Star Wars brand then. Today he does a great job with fan relations.)
But now my wishes are finally being fulfilled. I've been out trying to hunt down my Quinlan Vos and Villie figure set - multiples of them. But look at the next wave! I knew that The Dark Woman and A'sharad Hett would most likely be new sculpts - but they are so articulate! Then Luke and Mara: wow! I just figured the 1998 hard-to-find Mara would be re-released. People would have bought that regardless of it being rather inferior next to today's standards due to rarity. But Hasbro started over and super-articulated her, too. Then Luke: in 1996 with all the X-wing and Dagobah Luke pegwarmers, I picked up some and customized this Heir to the Empire Luke. On the hot planet of Myrkyr, he tried to find some relief from the heat by stripping off as much of his flight gear as he could. Because the orange flight suit is a one-piece, he could only tie the top around his waist - he still wanted to wear his pants! But I did the best I could by taking Dagobah Luke's top and putting it on X-wing Luke's bottom. I still have that figure. Now Hasbro could have done that too, but instead we get a super-articulated sculpted on with the X-wing flight suit's top molded as tied around his waist. How cool is that? And Infinities, while not even my tenth choice for a figure source, gives us an actual new sculpt of Vader and a Leia that could be the spitting image of her daughter, Jaina Solo as she gained control of the Force in the New Jedi Order.
It would be an understatement to say I'm pleased. Add to that the value, after tax a single carded figure at Target is $7.14 in Southern California, and a comic book is $3.22 out-the-door. So 2 figures and a book would cost about $17.42 at retail. While some stores (Kmart) are carrying these sets for $2 more than their intended $9.99, you are still getting a great value with 2 brand-new sculpts and a comic book for under $20! It's either on par for what you'd ordinarily pay for these items, or you'll pick it up at a great bargain. To top everything else, these figures are better than most of what I've seen from the carded TAC (exceptions made for TAC Wave 1's clones).
Hasbro: when you deserve to be told this - nicely done!
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- FIN: And thus ends the 6th Jedi Mind Tricks column, I'm sure you'll be telling your grandchildren all about that in the years to come ;-) but I do hope you've enjoyed the column and have found it informative. Feel free to leave any sort of comments / questions / midichlorian counts in the Comments System, or in this column's forums thread. Until next week, remember: Do not underestimate the Emperor, or suffer your father's fate, you will.
- PREVIOUS COLUMNS: Episode I - 3/26/07; Episode II - 4/2/07; Episode III - 4/9/07, Episode IV - 4/16/07 , Episode V - 4/23/07
note: the opinions stated in this article are not necessarily those of SirStevesGuide.com or its owner. JediTricks is not an accredited psychologist nor a state-licensed therapist, but has seen plenty in his time... and they thought he was mad, MAD they said! Well, where are your straightjackets and electroshock now, Doctor Katz? Squiggle-vision cannot save you now, ah ha ha ha ha!