Star Wars Episode IX Cast Revealed

The official Star Wars website has revealed the vast for the upcoming and as of yet untitled Star Wars Episode IX. You can read the announcement below.

UPDATE: Actress Keri Russell has been added to the new cast joining the franchise. She previously worked with J.J. Abrams on his series ‘Felicity’ and had a role in Mission Impossible III which Abrams also Directed.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IX CAST ANNOUNCED

RETURNING AND NEW CAST MEMBERS WILL JOIN TOGETHER FOR THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF THE SKYWALKER SAGA.

Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.

Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Episode IX.

Star Wars: Episode IX will be produced by Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Michelle Rejwan, and executive produced by Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin. The crew includes Dan Mindel (Director of Photography), Rick Carter and Kevin Jenkins (Co-Production Designers), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Neal Scanlan (Creature and Droid FX), Maryann Brandon and Stefan Grube (Editors), Roger Guyett (VFX Supervisor), Tommy Gormley (1st AD), and Victoria Mahoney (2nd Unit Director).

Release is scheduled for December 2019.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

So what do we take from this? Let’s go in order shall we? Production starts on August 1st at Pinewood. That’s next week!!!

It’s the final instalment of the Skywalker Saga. Does this mean no more episodic films in the future? Can we have episodic films without Skywalkers? Is this just smoke and mirrors? Could be. Kylo is technically a Skywalker and they might not kill him off at the end. Just saying.

New cast members!!! Naomi Ackie who I can’t say that I have seen in anything. I might have seen her Doctor Who episode but I never really kept up with the series and Richard E. Grant of ‘Withnail & I’ fame.

Anyone notice who was missing from the returning cast list? Gwendoline Christie? Could Phasma be dead or is this more smoke and mirrors and we get a Phasma surprise?

And look who is coming back, Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker… Force Ghost??? I’m wondering if Luke will be in it quite a bit or Mark Hamill is coming to England for a holiday with a day, or maybe two of filming like with The Force Awakens.

And finally, the part I am the least sure about… Leia Organa will be played by Carrie Fisher by utilising unused footage from The Force Awakens. I’ll be honest, I’m a little worried about that. Of course it depends on the footage and the size of the role in the film. If I remember correctly, there was a sub-plot involving Leia’s aide, Kor Sella taking a message from Leia to the Senate and then boom, Hosnian Prime blows up… if it’s a craftily waited version of that message then my fear will be unfounded but if she is playing a substantial role in the film and they have written a script around her old lines then it seems a bit iffy to me.

So there we have it, Episode IX is about to be filmed. I’m thinking that in a couple of months we will get the Omaze charity video which will give us a brief look at some bits and pieces and maybe some set pictures but seeing as it’s J.J. Abrams directing I reckon it will be very hush, hush.

If you would like to read the Press Release on the official site you can visit it HERE.

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Why I Didn’t Star Wars for Two Weeks – Part Three: The Future

During my Star Wars hiatus I did a lot of thinking about the blog and the frequency of posts.

One big concern was that I was going to burn out with doing so many posts, a podcast and making more plans for the future.

With this in mind I have decided to reduce the amount of regular posts.

During the hiatus the last part of the #SoloSunday series came out, which cuts out one post per week, but with so much Star Wars content coming I wanted to make a further reduction so that when Star Wars:Resistance is released and I write about that (because we all know I will) I wanted to cut something else out. But what?

The next big change is that #ToyTuesday posts will be renamed as #Collection Corner and become part of the Friday rotation of posts, a long with the Speculation, Fandom and general blog posts. They won’t always be a weekly occurrence from now on (but there could be a few in a row at times) and I will be fishing out some new (old) toys to write about.

And thirdly, the Life Debt Podcast will air on alternate Wednesdays making way for new content that is in the works.

I have also altered the Patreon a bit, there are two tiers available and we are on our way to reaching the first goal of $20 which will enable me to sign up to a Star Wars Funko Pop! Vinyl Subscription service and Patreon Members will get exclusive unboxing videos. Blog posts will also be available to Patreon Supporters a day early. Currently Podcasts will be available to everyone on Wednesdays.

I am also working with a local artist, Andy Bailie, on some exclusive My Star Wars Life Debt art and there will be more on that in the future.

I will be attending this years Linc-Con, a geek convention in Lincoln, UK, most likely as a visitor (I have been in touch with them but not heard anything back yet) but I will be giving out art cards featuring the art from Andy Bailie. Please give his work a look at his website HERE.

And finally, in November applications for Star Wars Celebration Chicago and I will be submitting an application, so please show support by sharing the blog and podcast with as many people as possible.

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Life Debt Podcast Episode XIII: Whilst I Was Away/Why I Didn’t Star Wars for Two Weeks Part Two

The latest episode of the Life Debt Podcast is now live. You can listen to it HERE.

This week I discuss some of the Star Wars news that was released during my two week break, including the announcements from San Diego Comic-Con.

You can e-mail the show at lifedebtpodcast@outlook.com

And if you are a member of Anchor.fm you can leave a voice message for the podcast. Just search for My Star Wars Life Debt and click the ‘Leave Message’ button.

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Why I Didn’t Star Wars for Two Weeks – Part One: Jonny vs Twitter

On 3rd July, when I got home from work to find my Wife and Daughter were out I settled down in the arm-chair and opened Twitter. I was planning on doing some retweeting of blog posts. That didn’t happen.

All I saw on my timeline were Star Wars fans and podcasters fighting. One podcaster who I looked up to seemed to be revelling in his one-liner put downs when people were voicing their opinions which were different to his.

For the record I don’t agree with the opinions of those he was putting down with the one-liners but what I did disagree with was the way the ‘good’ fans, like this podcaster and a few others were treating others. Essentially the bullies (who are opposed to non-white male leads in Star Wars films) were being bullied.

That night I recorded an episode of the Life Debt Podcast which you can listen to here. I vented my frustration and posted it straight away. It had the best day one listens out of any of the episodes. A pair of co-workers who listen both told me it was their favourite episode so far. It was the honesty, the fact that I didn’t hold back and they got it.

That night I tweeted, I don’t normally get involved with the Star Wars Twitter fights, but I just had to vent some more, this is the tweet.

Yes, I muted people I am a fan of, who I have supported on social media and who have supported the blog in the past but every tweet I was seeing was just bullying disguised as fighting the good fight.

The day after the podcast was released I spoke to a friend of mine who is also my sounding board for stuff to do with the blog and told him that I wanted a holiday. A holiday from Star Wars, no blog writing, no podcasting, no watching the films or TV shows, no listening to the soundtracks or podcasts and most of all, avoid Star Wars talk on social media. The only Star Wars thing I would do is promote the blog. I made sure I had two weeks of blog posts scheduled and I sat back and stepped away for a while.

And it felt good. The anger, the hate, the vitriol all gone.

I did my blogging duties and promoted the new posts but I didn’t linger on Twitter it any of the Facebook groups. Occasionally I would catch glimpses of news.

One such instance was that one of the main instigators of the sexist/racist/vile remarks had left Twitter (not sure if they signed up again with a new handle) and had put out some statement to another vomit-inducing podcast.

So again, the bullies had been bullies off of Twitter. This was after some of their sponsors had revoked their sponsorships of the podcast and they had turned a large amount of the Star Wars fandom against them with the mid they were flinging. The essentially wrote their own eulogy in the fandom.

In my absence I can only assume that there was another round of fighting but I avoided it.

In the last podcast episode I did I said that I had considered giving up the blog and podcast and just going back to watching the films and TV series, listening to podcasts and that I had decided against that. But I’ll be honest it wasn’t until the end of that first week off that I came to the decision that the My Star Wars Life Debt blog and podcast would continue.

There will be some changes to scheduling but those will be detailed later this week.

I have come back with all guns blazing, this week is all about what’s happened in the past two weeks but next week we will be starting with our new schedule.

I would also like to thank everyone who visited the blog and listened to the back catalogue of podcasts in the past two weeks despite there being less promotion than normal.

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Star Wars Over-saturation

Is there such a thing as too much Star Wars?

Well I’d say that depends on how involved with the stories you are.

You could be the casual fan, watching the films and forgoing the ancillary material.

A slightly less casual fan, watching the films and the TV shows, Clone Wars, Rebels and later this year Resistance.

Major fans, read the books and watching the films and TV series.

Hardcore fans, read the books and comics, watch the films and TV stuff.

Hardcore Obsessed, consuming as much as possible in all mediums and have a full working knowledge of all canon materials.

Personally I’d put myself firmly between hardcore and hardcore obsessive. I feel the need to learn all I can about the timeline but I don’t remember all of it, just most of it.

Why is this relevant to the question about over saturation?

Well, personally I would have to say, depending on your interest level, you could start to get bored of the ongoing releases of stories across different mediums.

We are living in a time where there is more Star Wars readily available. New films every year. Multiple comics series. A new book every few months and until sometime next year at least one TV series. And it’s not showing signs of coming to a stop any time soon.

In the past six months we have had announcements about a new animated series, Star Wars: Resistance, a trilogy of new Star Wars films from Rian Johnson and a series (yes, series) of films from David Beniof and D. B. Weiss, which is rumoured to be at least five films. So we are looking at a minimum of eight films there. Not including Episode IX and the rumoured 2020 ‘Star Wars Story’ film. That makes it at least 10. A whole decade of new Star Wars films. Too much?

In a world where we get multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe films a year can we really say that one Star Wars film a year is excessive?

For the casual fans, I’d say yes. The different films will be taking place in different time periods with new and different characters, making them tough to follow timeline-wise. I am frequently being asked by a couple of casual fans about what films go where. I’m happy to answer but if casual fans are struggling to keep track then is that going to be a bigger problem further down the line? Perhaps. But how would we fix that problem? Star Wars films seem to take about two years to make (I’m talking filming and post-production) so we won’t be getting episodes of a trilogy year-after-year from either Johnson or Beniof and Weiss. The two series will probably alternate and if more films are announced then will we get more than one film a year?

And that’s not including the TV side of things. In the next eighteen months we are going to be getting Season 1 and 2 of Star Wars: Resistance and the first season of Jon Favreau’s live action post Return of the Jedi series and Disney head-honcho Bob Iger has hinted at even more. And we can’t forget about Forces of Destiny.

And with all of these new timelines and characters and planets we will be getting more novels and comics set across the galaxy. Making book shelves across the world bend and snap under the weight of the new canon.

Is it too much? I’m sure the abundance of Star Wars will start to wear down the fans. Do we have to be fans of every aspect? No. But we will try to be. But sooner or later will we be thinking ‘enough-is-enough’. I hope not, but I’m sure some will.

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#Toy Tuesday – Millennium Falcon (2018)

When the first wave of Solo: A Star Wars Story Lego sets were announced I immediately asked my wife to get me this for my birthday (with help from other members of the family). It was an immediate must-have. I love the TFA Millennium Falcon set and I love the new design of the Falcon from Solo, so after a couple of months of asking me if I was sure, my birthday and around and there it was.The Kessel Run Millennium Falcon has an RRP of £149.99 for 1414 pieces, 6 mini-figs and a buildable droid. Slightly more than I would be happy to pay but as it’s a Star Wars set I always expect a bit of a mark-up in the piece to price ratio.The set comes in 10 numbered bags, some loose large plates and engine tube, a ticker sheet and a decent sized instruction manual.The first bag gives us our Han Solo and Kessel Droid mini-figs and the full base of the ship. The second bag, however builds some of the interior layout of the ship.Bag 3 adds more details to the interior as well as the structure for the attachment of the forward mandibles and the central column, inside which the removable gunner seats go.Bag 4 adds the front walls as well as the cockpit (I couldn’t wait to put Han in the pilots seat). Up to this point we’ve not had any new mini-figs except for those in Bag 1 and I was getting somewhat impatient (I was building it over a few days) although it’s at this point that I feel the set is really starting to take shape.Bag 5 is about the rear walls and engine housing which holds the blue tube that represents the engine glow.Bag 6 fleshes out the structure of the cockpit and some details on the outer hull of the ship. We finally get the new Chewie mini-fig and the buildable droid.Bags 7 and 8 finish the majority of the outer hull with all of the details, including the radar dish and gun turrets.Bag 9 finishes the Millennium Falcon we all know and love. We also have Lando and Quay Tolstite mini-figs.The final bag finishes the ship with the new escape pod and the Qi’Ra mini-fig.I love this set so much. It really captures the new (old) design of the Falcon with is Lando flair whilst still feeling familiar and fun to build.We also get an idea of the interior of the escape pod and the design behind it, but I do wonder how much is creative licence from the Lego designers because it’s not like we see it in the film properly.Lando has a bar!!!Han and Chewie, off to meet a big time gangster who’s putting together a crew.Even though it is a very similar build to the TFA Lego Falcon I loved building this just as much. This is my favourite ship from the franchise so I think I would love building any Falcon set that came my way. The mini-fig selection is great. I would have liked an L3-3T instead of one of the Kessel droids but if they put all of the lead characters in one set then why would we buy the other sets? Other than building the collection that is?Thank you for visiting My Star Wars Life Debt.If you have enjoyed this blog, please like/share/comment/follow.If you would like to contribute to the upkeep of the blog please visit the Patreon page here.

My Star Wars (Life) Reviews -The Clone Wars: Season 1 Disc 3 Part 2

Rather than write about The Clone Wars episodes individually or by story-arc, I have decided to review it by disc as they are in the Blu-Ray Box Set releases.

In this post the episodes I will be talking about are Storm over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, Liberty on Ryloth and Hostage Crisis.

Storm Over Ryloth starts the amazing Ryloth arc. This episode focus’ on Anakin and Ahsoka who’s mission is to take out the Separatist blockade above the planet Ryloth.

Ahsoka is given the job of leading the Clone Fighter attack run against the Separatist ship. The battle doesn’t go well for the Republic and Ahsoka’s entire squad is defeated when she disobeys orders from Admiral Yularen, finally relenting when Anakin forces her to retreat. The bridge of their cruiser is destroyed and Yularen injured.

Anakin reprimands his Padawan for disobeying orders, to which she points out that he disobeys orders all the time. He agrees but points out that he does so knowing the repercussions all too well.

Ahsoka becomes despondent and Anakin’s attempts to reach her fall on deaf ears. Ahsoka sits by Yularen’s side believing him to still be unconscious and she apologised for her recklessness. Rex arrives and tells her Anakin wants to see her.

Anakin has a plan, he is evacuating the cruiser, Ahsoka is to plan an attack whilst Anakin takes the damaged ship and ‘surrenders’ but will actually use the ship to ram the Separatist blockade. Ahsoka is hesitant but when Anakin leaves she tries to do as she is asked but is being scrutinised by the Clones.

Ahsoka comes up with a plan to use a cruiser to block the Separatist attack by facing the lower hull towards the attacking ships whilst the bombers out flank the Separatists leaving Anakin’s way clear. Yularen arrives on the bridge in time to hear the plan and agrees with it.

The plan works and the Separatist Blockade is destroyed and the Republic forces are able to land on the planet.

We haven’t had a clot of episodes where Anakin actually teaches Ahsoka so its interesting to see that here, he seems to only get into ‘teacher’ when he’s angry with her. She has been learning from his example but she hasn’t learned all of the emotional truths Anakin has had to learn through experience.

Seeing Ahsoka go from being overconfident at the beginning of the episode to feeling despondent and seeking forgiveness helps us see how she learns from her experience and allows her to grow, not only as a character, but as a Jedi and a leader.

Innocents of Ryloth shows Obi-Wan’s part of the liberation of Ryloth. Obi-Wan, Cody and their troops are tasked with landing on the planet and disabling the Separatist Surface-To-Air Canons.

After the initial skirmish, Cody sends two troopers, Waxer and Boil to recon one area whilst he and Wooley scout another. Cody finds that the Droid Army are using the local Twi’Leks as hostages to stop the Republic forces from blowing up the canons. Obi-Wan has a plan but a Separatist Probe Droid relays it back to the Tactical Droid in charge.

Waxer and Boil encounter a young Twi’Lek orphan, Numa who is afraid of them. They take off their helmets and she warms to them, calling them both ‘Nerra’. They leave, Waxer reluctantly but when Numa gets ahead of them they decide to let her join them. She leads them to the ruins of her home where she picks up her old stuffed toy.

Cody notices the absence of Waxer and Boil before the group are to move out. This is relayed to the Tactical Droid who unleashes a group of ravenous animals, called Gutkerrs. Boil and a Waxer receive Cody’s transmission but are cornered by the animals. Numa leads them to a hidden path.

The Gutkerrs attack Obi-Wan and his troops. Obi-Wan uses the Force to lure the creatures into a trap where Cody and his men blast the cliffs around the creatures to capture them, but allowing Obi-Wan to Force jump to safety. They meet with Waxer, Boil and Numa and after Obi-Wan an Numa talk they form a plan to rescue Numa’s people whilst Cody and the rest of the Clones divert the droids attention.

The Twi’Leks are freed and attack the Tactical Droid, tearing it apart. Mace Windu’s ship arrives and he commends Obi-Wan. Numa is reunited with her family and as she waved goodbye to Waxer and Boil she calls out ‘Nerra’. They ask Obi-Wan what it means, he translates it for them, ‘brother.’

This is a great episode. It’s predominantly a Clone-centric episode with Waxer and Boil’s storyline but the inclusion of Obi-Wan and his troops keeps the narrative going towards the end goal, which is part three of the arc.

Having a Waxer and Boil interact with Numa shows a different side to the Clones, which is nice and welcome.

The Tactical Droid is a formidable opponent, it successfully spies on the Republic forces and has spent time torturing the Gutkerrs to make them ravenous and hostile.

This episode is great and can easily be watched on its own or as part of the bigger story arc.

Liberty on Ryloth concludes the Ryloth campaign and story arc. This time following Mace Windu’s attack against the capital to capture Watt Tambor and free Ryloth from the Separatists.

Windu’s forces are ambushed and he looses a lot of troops and equipment in the battle. During a hill-meeting with the Jedi, Ryloth’s Senator Orn Free Taa and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, Windu announces he will get help from Cham Syndulla, a revolutionary leader who once opposed Senator Taa. Mace is undeterred.

Mace and two troopers find a squad of Battle Droids who are attacked by Syndulla’s freedom fighters. Mace tries to get him to join with him and his forces but Cham refuses. He takes them back to the Resistance stronghold whilst the rest of Mace’s troops reach a village.

In the capital, after defying Count Dooku’s orders to evacuate and destroy the city, Watt Tambor sends Hyena Bombers to destroy all the nearby villages. When Mace’s troops begin handing out rations to the villagers they are attacked and the village is destroyed. Commander Ponds contacts Windu and Syndulla who decides it is time to take action, first by talking to Senator Taa.

Tambor is loading transports with Twi’Lek treasures ready for the evacuation. His Tactical Droid tells him that two more are on their way.

Syndulla and Taa speak. Taa promises to make sure Ryloth is not invaded again whilst Syndulla promises to not seek power. Mace orders Anakin and his pilots to destroy any Hyena Bombers they can.

At the capital the following day, the two transports loaded with treasure are nearing the capital, and the plasma bridge that leads to it. Mace and two Clones get on board one of the transports and make it half way across before they are picked up on scanners. Mace and the Clones make it to the opposite side. Mace fights the Battle Droids whilst the Clones make it in to the control room and reactivate the plasma bridge allowing Mace’s troops and Cham’s forces to enter the city.

During the siege, Tambor’s Tactical Droid escapes on a shuttle, leaving Tambor to be captured. As the battle draws to an end a group of Hyena Bombers approach the city but are destroyed in the nick of time by Anakin and Ahsoka. Watt Tambor is arrested and Ryloth is once again free.

Liberty on Ryloth is a brilliant episode. It really shows how powerful Mace Windu is and how he operates as a tactician in a way we never got in the films. The animators nailed the fighting styles that was developed for the character.

I really enjoy the political side of this episode with the rivalry between Orn Free Taa and Cham Syndulla.

The episode features one of the best moments from the season, when Mace and the two Clones are on the plasma bridge as it is deactivated works brilliantly, the sound design is flawless, taking out most of the sound and making us feel like we are in Windu’s head as if in a Force Trance.

The final episode of the season was Hostage Crisis, this episode introduces us to two of the shows future recurring villains, the Duros Bounty Hunter, Cad Bane and Aurra Sing. Bane and his crew infiltrate the Senate Building whilst Anakin tries to convince Padme to leave on a two week holiday with him, she says she can’t and has a lot of important work to do in the Senate. In an effort to convince her, Anakin gives Padme his lightsaber saying the weapon is his life and he trusts her with his life.

They are interrupted as C-3PO and Bail Organa arrive to escort Padme to a senate meeting prior to a vote. Anakin hides and Padme has to hide his lightsaber up her sleeve.

Meanwhile, Bane and his goons shut down the power to the Senate building and then take the Senators, including Padme and Bail Organa hostage. Anakin sneaks through the vents but is spotted by Bane who sends a thug and assassin droid to deal with the Jedi.

Anakin manages to communicate with Palpatine who tells Anakin that he needs to get to the power core and call for help.

Bane contacts Palpatine and delivers his terms, he will restore power and turn the captured Senators Free for the release of Ziro the Hutt. Palpatine doesn’t agree.

Anakin manages to evade the goons until he reaches the power core where he is overwhelmed by the thugs, including Aurra Sing. He is brought back to Bane who sets up a series of bombs around the Senators and Anakin. Bane contacts Palpatine again who relents and sends Senator Orn Free Taa to deal with Ziro’s release.

Bane leaves the captured Senators and along with his goons, leave to pick up Ziro.

Ziro’s release is botched when Palpatine orders the Clones at the prison to arrest Bane. After they escaped with Ziro, Bane sets the charges to explode as they escape.

In the Senate building, Anakin wakes up in time and after Padme gives him back his lightsaber after making it sound like he dropped it, Anakin cuts a hole in the floor, dropping the captive Senators to the floor below just before the bombs go off.

I love this episode. Why? Cad – frickin’ – Bane. He is one of the best Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars franchise. I love the look, very Spaghetti Western, the voice is great and the way the character comes across is brilliant. This was a great introduction to the character and we get to finally see another notorious Bounty Hunter in action, Aurra Sing. A crack-shot with a sniper rifle and dangerous in hand-to-hand combat she is a force to be reckoned with.

We get to see more of Anakin and Padme’s relationship in this episode. They clearly need to spend more time together but can’t because of their duties, despite Anakin’s best attempts to whisk her away.

Ziro the Hutt returns after being imprisoned at the end of the Clone Wars film. Unfortunately this storyline doesn’t pick up again until Season Three, so its quite a wait.

A great end to the season. Even though they could have ended it with the three-part Ryloth arc which was grandiose enough to give the season a satisfying end I like that they gave us one last episode to nicely introduce us to Cad Bane, who will feature more prominently as the series progresses.

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Lando and L3’s Reunion – The Empire Strikes Back

If you have listened to the Steele Wars Live Solo Reaction Show then you will have heard ‘Fanboys’ Director, Kyle Newman drop some absolute knowledge about L3 and her installation into the Falcon and what it means over the course of the Original Trilogy.

If you haven’t heard it, visit THIS LINK and listen, it at about 31:00 and it blows your mind (in the video stream available on YOUTUBE Anthony Breznican mimics this to Hawes Burkhardt) and well worth a listen.

If you don’t have time, here’s what he said about L3’s integration into the Falcon.

“The system picks Bespin, you know that? Like where we gonna go? And the computer brings up Bespin, which is Lando.”

Mind blown yet? Thought so.

L3 tells Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO to go to Bespin, or as she calls it ‘the Lando System’. Obviously everyone’s favourite Droids Rights protestor still harbours whatever droids have in place of feelings for the smooth talking former smuggler and her former companion.

Now we don’t know if Lando interacts with the Falcon between the events of Solo and Empire Strikes Back, but if he doesn’t and by the time Han is taken away by Boba Fett and Lando, Leia, Chewie and the droids escape Cloud City, go back and save Luke the finally escape Vader and rendezvous with the Rebel Fleet, Lando probably didn’t have enough time to take a break and reconnect with his former partner.

But what about when Luke is having his new hand attached? We know Lando raids Han’s wardrobe but would Lando take the time to reconnect with L3? Surely just because she is one with the ship this doesn’t mean she is unable to communicate via the computer? We know she talks to C-3PO in ESB and in The Last Jedi novelisation we learn that R2-D2 communicates with one of the droid brains on the Falcon, which given the fact said brain likes dirty jokes, we can only assume it’s L3 he’s talking to.

I like to think they would have had a somewhat sweet reunion and maybe Han gave Lando the Falcon to pilot against the Second Death Star because he knew that Lando and L3 working together would be able to pull off such a crazy stunt as going up against a bigger, badder Death Star.

On the other hand, would L3 be angry with Lando because he did use the Falcon as currency in a Sabacc game, granted he thought he would win by cheating but got caught out by Han. Surely Lando would explain himself to L3?

Right?

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#Toy Tuesday – Imperial TIE Fighter (2018)

Thanks to the first wave of Solo: A Star Wars Story sets from Lego I can finally say after two-and-a-half years that I have an Imperial TIE Fighter set.

Up until now I had a few TIE Variants. Vader’s TIE Advanced, the TIE Striker, Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer and the First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter. All of which are on display here

Not bad right.

But I digress. I bought the Imperial TIE Fighter with Amazon gift cards I got for my birthday for £59.99 which is less than the usual RRP of £64.99, which for 519 pieces and four mini-figs (three of which are new characters) is still a bit steep but for a set that had only been out a month and a half I wasn’t going to complain.

The mini-figs that are included are Han Solo in his Imperial outfit from the Mimban sequence. Tobias Beckett in his Imperial disguise, the new Mimban Stormtrooper with a new helmet mould and the pre-requisite TIE Fighter Pilot.

The first two bags build the cockpit and wing pylons. The details on this section is great, even though it’s grey and another shade of grey. The build looks almost spherical and the new and improved wing connectors look nice and sturdy.

Bags 3 and 4 give us the two wing panels. Bag 3 is the main bulk of the wing with Bag 4 adding the details.

Being similar in size as the First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter I though that I wouldn’t enjoy bathos build because building the FOSFTF was tedious and very repetitive but I really loved building this set despite the repetitive nature of the wings.

My only grip is the missiles that stick out at the back of the set, but that is the nature of the missiles and the size of the cockpit. Also, can’t we get green missiles for the TIE Fighters to be more screen accurate?

I really love how the control yoke is built, it looks and feels very screen accurate.

A great but slightly over-priced set. The new mini-figs look great, the dirty, grubby details on Han and the Stormtrooper make them look like they have been on Mimban for a long time. If you need a TIE Fighter for your collection I recommend running out and getting this one, but if you wait a bit longer the price will drop to a better piece to price ratio.

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My Star Wars (Life) Reviews The Clone Wars Season One: Disc 3 Part 1

Rather than write about The Clone Wars episodes individually or by story-arc, I have decided to review it by disc as they are in the Blu-Ray Box Set releases.

In this post the episodes I will be talking about are Trespass, The Hidden Enemy, The Blue Shadow Virus, Mystery of a Thousand Moons, Storm over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, Liberty on Ryloth and Hostage Crisis.

Trespass in the series introduction to the Pantoran Senator Chuchi and the Chairman Chi Cho who have requested the aid of the Jedi when a Clone Outpost has been attacked.

Anakin, Obi-Wan, Rex and a group of Clone Troopers arrive and they investigate. The Chairman is adamant that it’s the work of Battle Droids.

Rex and some Clones find a crashed Separatist ship and when the Jedi investigate, Anakin finds a large footprint. Anakin and Obi-Wan follow a trail and arrive at a settlement of Talz (Muftak from Mos Eisley). The Talz were defending their home from invasion.

When the Jedi report back, The Chairman is ready to declare war, believing the planet belongs to his people as it was believed to be uninhabited and the Pantorans had laid claim to it.

The Chairman meets with the Talz Chieftain, Thi-Sen and openly declares war. Anakin and Obi-Wan return to the base with the Senator to appeal to the Pantoran Assembly as Rex and the Clones escort the Chairman via Speederbike. The Talz attack the Clones and mortally injure the Chairman. As the Talz advance and start to corner the Clones, Senator Chuchi and the Jedi receive word from the Pantoran Assembly that the Chairman is acting incorrectly and must be stopped.

The Jedi arrive in time to stop the Talz from killing Rex and his men, as the Chairman dies, Senator Chuchi meets with Thi-Sen and makes peace, agreeing that the Talz will be left to their own devices and the Pantorans and the Republic will leave the planet.

This episode gives us an insight into the role the Jedi played before the Clone Wars began, acting as mediators and advisors in difficult political matters, much like when Anakin and Obi-Wan went to Ansion to help settle the border dispute that they returned from just prior to Attack of the Clones.

The Hidden Enemy is another Clone-centric episode, much like Rookies from Disc 1 but this time has a sub-plot featuring Anakin and Obi-Wan. Also, it’s worth noting that the events of this episode occur prior to the Clone Wars Film.

In the episode, the Republics forces are being overrun after being ambushed and Anakin and Obi-Wan call for a retreat. At the base, it is discovered that there is a mole working for the Separatists.

Obi-Wan and Anakin leave Cody and Rex to investigate the mole whilst they go behind enemy lines after deciphering intel from a stolen Tactical Droids memory.

Anakin and Obi-Wan find out that it was a trap laid to lure them to the Separatist base and they are attacked by Assaj Ventress.

Cody and Rex, with R2’s help discover the terminal where the mole is communicating from. They question Slick and his Troopers, all of whom have alibi’s. One trooper, Chopper, who has broken protocol by taking Droid Fingers as souvenirs claims that he saw Slick going towards the control room. Slick gives himself away and is chased through the base by Rex and Cody. He is captured but only after destroying the weapons store.

Anakin and Obi-Wan escape Ventress’ trap only to find thousands of Separatist droids ready for battle. They get back to base but they know the Droid Army isn’t far behind.

Another solid episode which makes the beginning of the Clone Wars film make more sense as the Republic forces are low on supplies and awaiting a delivery.

The banter between Ventress and Kenobi is brilliant, almost flirty but full of disdain for each other.

I really enjoy the Clone storylines in the series, it gives a lot of character to a group of soldiers who are all fundamentally the same person. The voice actor, Dee Bradley Baker is amazing at giving each Clone a distinctive voice and personality with the slightest variation in his voice.

The Blue Shadow Virus has a Separatist scientist, Dr. Nuvo Vindi (a brilliant guest appearance by Michael York) has recreated the long extinct ‘Blue Shadow Virus’ a water based poison and has now develop an airborne strain.

After a leak from the hidden lab near the Naboo Swamplands, Padme and Jar-Jar investigate with the help of Gungan farmer Peppi Bow and find the hidden entrance but are surrounded by Battle Droids. They are taken before Vindi who tells them his plan to plant bombs on key Republic planets.

Peppi Bow, having been sent back to Theed by Padme, is enlisted by Anakin and Obi-Wan to lead Ahsoka to the swamp where Padme and Jar-Jar were last seen. They find a security camera and hide.

Back at Theed, with the help of Captain Typho, Anakin and Obi-Wan map out the lab and identify Vindi. They come up with a plan for the three Jedi, Rex and the Clones to infiltrate the Lab.

Ahsoka, Rex and their team enter first and draw Vindi’s droids to their location whilst Anakin and Obi-Wan enter undetected. Anakin reaches Vindi who is torturing Padme and Jar-Jar. Anakin and his troops lay down their weapons and Vindi escapes. Obi-Wan and the Bomb-Squad finds the bomb room as Vindi activates them.

Anakin and his troops over power the droids holding them and chase down Vindi. The Bomb-Squad finds that one bomb is missing which Padme finds and as Vindi is about to set it off the Bomb-Squad deactivate the bomb and Vindi is captured.

The continued attempts at developing biological targeted weaponry incredibly logical for a Droid based army and with a great 1950’s inspired mad scientist at the helm of this plot it works brilliantly.

It’s nice to see Naboo, such an important planet in the Prequel Trilogy should make an appearance in the series.

Anakin’s struggle to keep his emotions in check really helps develop his character in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and make his fall that more believable.

Mystery of a Thousand Moons is the follow-up to Blue Shadow Virus. Following on directly from the previous episode, one of the many vials of the Virus shatters, infecting Ahsoka, Rex and the Clones. Jar-Jar and Padme are safe wearing the Star Wars equivalent of a Hazmat Suit. The group follow a squad of Battle Droids who have stolen another vial of the Virus and are attempting to escape. In the fight Padme’s suit is damaged.

Anakin and Obi-Wan take Vindi to Theed and after analysing the virus they find a possible antidote in the roots of a plant native to the Separatist planet Iego.

When they reach the planet, they realise that the Separatists have left and a young boy, much like Anakin, was good with machines and has reprogrammed the Separatist Droids left on the planet. He points the Jedi to where they need to go.

Anakin and Obi-Wan manage to acquire the root but are warned that if they leave they will be killed. Anakin risks it and as he and Obi-Wan leave they are turned back by an energy field that engulfs the field of moons around the planet. Back on Iego, they make a plan after getting information from locals and an ‘Angel’, an inhabitant of one of the moons effected. They put the plan into action and manage to destroy the energy emitters, freeing the planet and escaping to Naboo.

In the lab, the Clones start to succumb to the virus, only Rex, Ahsoka and Padme are still suffering, Jar-Jar is safe in his suit. Ahsoka passes out, Padme calls to her but she passes out too a moment later.

The infected wake up, being removed from the lab having been given the antidote. Anakin shares a moment with Padme before seeing Ahsoka and praising her for doing well under pressure.

This episode really gives us a look at how attached Anakin becomes to people. He allows his feeling to get in the way, especially when it comes to Padme and he receives a few interesting looks from Obi-Wan.

The events in the lab really give Ahsoka and Padme time to get to know each other, which could be dangerous but after the events in Forces of Destiny, we find out that Ahsoka knows about Anakin and Padme’s relationship.

We also get to see not only the planet Iego, but one of the Angels Anakin spoke of in Phantom Menace.

It’s not one of the best but definitely not one of the worst of the season, a nice post-script to the ‘ Blue Shadow Virus’ episode.

A solid first half to the final disc of Season 1, all four are very solid episodes that really show different aspects of the Star Wars galaxy during the Clone Wars.

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#Solo Sunday – The Finale – The Original Soundtrack

I have listened to the Solo: A Star Wars Story soundtrack by John Powell a few times and it is high on my list of favourite Star Wars Soundtracks. John Williams has set a very high bar for any other composers who work within the Star Wars franchise with his scores for the saga films, the themes are universally known and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t hum or whistle one or two different themes whilst going about my day-to-day life.Outside of Williams, we have had Kevin Keiner compose all the music for the Clone Wars film and series and the Rebels series and his work is phenomenal, Michael Giacchino worked on the Rogue One soundtrack with only four weeks to write and record the whole score and he did brilliantly and as I have already said, John Powell knocks it out of the park.Where Giacchino toes the line of using any of the already known themes from John Willams’ soundtracks (with the exception of the Imperial March a couple of times) Powell uses them throughout his score and uses them beautifully. Two of my favourite tracks are ‘L3 & Millennium Falcon’, I seriously get goosebumps when the Falcon theme plays when Han first sees that magnificent ship and ‘Reminisce Therapy’ which has themes from ANH and ESB melded beautifully together. The original Imperial fanfare from A New Hope starts the track which encompasses both the TIE Fighter Escape theme and the Asteroid Belt Chase theme together to give us a fun and exciting theme to the Kessel Run. Using older themes for the Kessel Run is a great idea. Fans have been wondering about the Runnfircyears now and I doubt that any new music would really sit well with the fandom but using these iconic themes really hits home with the fans.John Williams contributed a brand new theme for the film specifically for Han Solo. When I first saw the film I couldn’t figure out what the theme was but after listening to the theme itself and then then soundtrack its easily playable throughout. I liken the soundtrack as a whole as an album of great driving music, I won’t lie but I have put the soundtrack on whilst driving and really gotten into it.It’s a great soundtrack, John Powell has done a fantastic job. It’s full of themes we know but gives us a lot of new and memorable themes. Enfys Nests theme is a stand out new track and the Han and Qi’Ra theme will one day give Across the Stars a run for its money.The only track that I really don’t enjoy is the musical number from Dryden Vos’ party, called ‘Chicken in the Pot’. Not that the track is bad but it doesn’t fit in with the soundtrack as a whole.This ends the run of #SoloSunday posts, thank you for reading this limited series of posts.Thank you for visiting My Star Wars Life Debt.If you have enjoyed this blog, please like/share/comment/follow.If you would like to contribute to the upkeep of the blog please visit the Patreon page here.

What If… Qui-Gon Had Survived the Battle of Naboo?

Maul is pacing in front of the energy field, Qui-Gon Jinn is meditating. Obi-Wan is eager to finish the battle.

The energy fields open up. Qui-Gon and Maul begin to fight again and Obi-Wan runs to aid his master. The eagerly field closes again, he’s so close.

Maul and Qui-Gon are fighting. Maul hits Qui-Gon in the face with his lightsaber hilt. The Jedi Master stumbles as Maul spins…

Qui-Gon manages to avoid Mauls killing strike but is wounded, a limb lost. The Jedi Master falls to the floor and just as Maul is about to finish the job Obi-Wan intervenes.

The rest of the fight plays out the same as the film but Qui-Gon survives. Obi-Wan is granted the level of Jedi Knight and Anakin becomes Qui-Gon Jinn’s new Padawan Learner.

As Qui-Gon’s apprentice, I believe that Anakin’s training would have been very different. Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council trained Anakin as if he were any other Padawan learner, not taking into account his older age and relationship with his Mother, Shmi.

Had Qui-Gon survived I feel that he would take all of this into account and trained Anakin in a way that would, to the rest of the Jedi Order, be unconventional.

We already know that he doesn’t match to the beat of the Council’s drum at times and this method of training would cause clashes with the Council but it wouldn’t be about what the Jedi think is best but what would be best for Anakin.

I have heard it said a few times, especially on the Idiots Array PODCAST that the Jedi Council has the means to free Shmi and relocate her, and if they had, perhaps Anakin’s training would have gone better. He would have still had that connection and he wouldn’t have been overcome by missing her as much as he did in the ten years between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Qui-Gon would have known this and acted on it, freeing Shmi and having her close-by, not all the time mind-you, but enough to keep Anakin emotionally settled. But maybe the Council wanted Anakin, a child brought to them in special circumstances, a prophetic Chosen One and they choose to act like he’s not special? So they say that an unexperienced, recently initiated Jedi Knight should take him as an apprentice.

Obi-Wan’s lack of experience in being a teacher led him to be quite patronising towards Anakin, even into his adult years Obi-Wan treated him like a child whilst he was still his teacher. Qui-Gon never came across as that kind of teacher, in any of his interactions with either Obi-Wan in his mid-twenties to Anakin at the age of nine.

Part of me think that Qui-Gon would have left the Jedi Order at some point, perhaps to train Anakin in the way he saw fit without interference from the Jedi Council. Had this happened, the influence of Palpatine would have never reached Anakin and it’s doubtful, with a more understanding and experienced teacher, an altered method of training and the removal of outside influences, Anakin would never have fallen to the Dark Side.

Would this have ended the Clone Wars? It’s doubtful. Palpatine’s scheme would have come to fruition anyway. Order 66 would have been carried out but with Dooku by his side, I have doubts that the Jedi Temple would have fallen in the same manner. A number of Jedi verses Count Dooku would have resulted in the Sith Lords demise.

Even if they stayed in with the Jedi, Qui-Gon would never allow Anakin to become close with Palpatine or agree to send him on his own with his boyhood crush, removing two of the major factors that led to Anakin’s turn.

Of course, this is all speculation into alternate timelines that we’ll never see nor read and that’s ok, just something that’s been milling around in the brain-pan for a while.

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Life Debt Podcast Episode XII – Let The Hate Flow Through You

The latest episode of the Life Debt Podcast is now live. You can listen to it HERE.

This week I rant about the hatred within the Star Wars fandom. Caution – this weeks episode is full of explicit content.

You can e-mail the show at lifedebtpodcast@outlook.com

And if you are a member of Anchor.fm you can leave a voice message for the podcast. Just search for My Star Wars Life Debt and click the ‘Leave Message’ button.

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#Toy Tuesday – Han’s Speeder

I have been after set since it was released in April, so much so that I was willing to pay the full price of £25.99, which, if you have read previous #toytuesday posts, you will know that I try to buy sets reduced. But £26 for 345 pieces is nothing to scoff at based on piece count.

It comes in three numbered bags with an instruction booklet separate and doesn’t have any stickers, all details are printed or done with blocks.

The first bag gives us the base of the Speeder as well as the Han Solo mini-fig with blaster and the new Corellian Hound figure. The printing on Han is great and recreates his outfit from the opening of the film brilliantly. The Hound is a moulded 2×1 size and easily sits on a single stud.

The second bag gives us the Qi’Ra mini-fig and adds more details to the back, front and sides of the speeder, it’s at this point the build starts to really take shape.

The third bag adds the bonnet/hood of the Speeder, adds the spoiler and engines, adds wheels to the undercarriage and adds details to the cockpit.

From the top we can see the printed pieces that make up some of the cockpit details. The steering yoke is made out of a 1×1 clip and an antenna piece. The bonnet/hood also has printed pieces that add a lot of detail to the Speeder.

When the bonnet/hood is removed, we get a decent sized storage compartment built to house the included spanner and spare missile, a long with a built engine. The storage area is also big enough to hold Han and Qi’Ra’s blasters.

The underside has two sets of wheels that are hidden within the base of the vehicle to give it the ability to roll across a surface with the illusion of hovering. The two missile launchers are also hidden down here. Unfortunately when loaded the missiles stick out at the back so I have chosen to not have them loaded when displaying the set.

The finished set is well detailed and great fun to build. It’s surprisingly large and heavy for the number of pieces which I think is great. It’s incredibly sturdy and a fun set to build for fans young and old.

For a set this size it comes with a good number of play features, missiles, the under bonnet/hood area and a hidden compartment for our heroes to smuggle the Coaxium from Moloch and Rebolt (included in the sister-set to this, Moloch’s Speeder).

Well worth the price and a great set, I can’t recommend it enough.

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My Star Wars (Life) Reviews The Clone Wars Season 1: Disc 2

Rather than write about The Clone Wars episodes individually or by story-arc, I have decided to review it by disc as they are in the Blu-Ray Box Set releases.

In this post the episodes I will be talking about are Bombad Jedi, Cloak of Darkness, Lair of Grievous, Dooku Captured, Gungan General, Jedi Crash and Defenders of Peace.

First up, Bombad Jedi. Padme, C-3PO and Jar-Jar go to Rodia to talk to the Senator, a long time family friend of the Amidala family who is considering defecting to the Separatist regime.

When they arrive Padme is taken hostage and detained until Nute Gunray arrives. In the meantime, Jar-Jar and C-3PO end up trying to rescue her, and Jar-Jar is mistaken for a Jedi when he finds a Jedi Robe on Padme’s ship.

Wackiness ensues as Jar-Jar and C-3PO make their way through the palace. Padme escapes on her own, C-3PO contacts the Republic and the three of them manage to destroy Gunray’s Droid battalion and Rodia’s Senator helps Padme capture Gunray because it turns out but was all a trap to begin with.

It’s not exactly the most original story-line in the series, and the episode gets grief for focusing on Jar-Jar. But we do get to see Rodia, a planet we visit in Kevin Hearne’s novel, Heir to the Jedi, when Luke Skywalker visits the planet, learns about the Jedi and gets weapons for the Rebellion.

Cloak of Deception continues the Nute Gunray captured story arc where the Viceroy is being transported to Coruacant on board a Republic Cruiser. Assaj Ventress infiltrates the ship and sabotages the hyperdrive as a distraction.

Jedi Master Luminara Unduli, a long with Ahsoka and Senate Commando Argyus are in charge of keeping Gunray prisoner but Ventress bests Unduli and Ahsoka disobeys the masters orders and leaves Gunray under the watchful eye of Argyus who breaks the Viceroy out and reveals himself to be a Separatist spy.

Argyus and Ventress escape with Gunray only for Ventress to kill Argyus.

This is definitely the better part of this mini-arc, seeing Ahsoka interact with another Jedi Master really brings to light how Anakin’s training doesn’t conform to the usual Jedi methods but as always her unconventional training and mild disobedience comes in handy as she saves Luminara but at the same time allows Gunray to escape.

So far, nine episodes in, we have had two storylines with Separatist spy’s within the Republic. I get and can believe there are spies in both camps but to have it happen mere episodes apart feels a bit sloppy to me.

Lair of Grievous is, by far, one of the best episodes of the series. After Nute Gunray is rescued, Jedi Master Kit Fisto is sent to investigate a tracking beacon from the ship used to free Gunray. When he reaches the co-ordinates he meets with his former Padawan, Nahdar Vebb and together with a group of Clones, infiltrate a large, castle like building.

They soon realise it’s a trap when they find the tracker with a group of Battle Droids. As it turns out this is General Grievous’ stronghold and this is a trap, set by Count Dooku to test the Droid General’s abilities after so many defeats at the hands of the Republic.

Despite injuring Grievous, the Jedi and Clones struggle to subdue him and the Clones are taken out. Grievous is repaired and the Jedi split up. Master Fisto destroys Grievous’ medical Droid in the control room and bears witness via holo-cam as Vebb attacks Grievous but is killed when the Droid General shoots him during their duel. Kit Fisto escapes but Grievous is victorious.

This episode was guest directed by Atsushi Takeuchi, who had previously directed the acclaimed anime film ‘Ghost in the Shell’.

It’s a brilliant and beautifully atmospheric episode and it gives us insight into the character of General Grievous and his mentality over his transformation from warrior into a cyborg General. His halls are lined with statues of his transformation and he has rooms filled with spare parts.

This episode has the first appearance in the series of Kit Fisto, a fan favourite from the Prequel trilogy. He comes across as incredibly relatable yet wise and his disappointment at his former Padawan’s eagerness to engage Grievous highlights the ways the Jedi teachings are failing during this time of war, all part of Darth Sidious’ master plan.

Dooku Captured has Obi-Wan and Anakin infiltrate Dooku’s flagship and as the Jedi duo are about to apprehend the Separatist leader Dooku escapes. Anakin and Obi-Wan split up but Dooku manages to escape on his Solar Sailer. Anakin and Obi-Wan chase him in a Separatist shuttle and manage to damage Dooku’s ship, causing him to crash land on a nearby planet.

Dooku is apprehended by a band of Weequay Pirates led by Hindi Onaka. Anakin and Obi-Wan try to locate Dooku but are trapped in a cave-in with a giant and angry Gundark.

After subduing the Gundark using the Force, after Anakin has lost his lightsaber and Obi-Wan’s is broken they are rescued by Ahsoka and Rex.

At the Pirate stronghold, Hondo contacts Chancellor Palpatine and offers to hand Dooku over for a hefty reward. Padme suggests they send Anakin and Obi-Wan to verify Dooku’s identity.

The Jedi meet with Hondo and interrogate Dooku and report back to Palpatine and remain at the Pirate Stronghold until the reward arrives.

The episode starts and ends strongly with the Jedi and Dooku, they way Dooku toys with Anakin and Obi-Wan is great interplay, and reminiscent of his taunting of them in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, but I have some issues with the middle of the episode.

The whole cave-in sequence with the Gundark is just a device to make the heroes loose their weapons and it makes the two of them look like fools. Dooku’s capture by Hondo and his goons doesn’t play right with me either. Yes he’s outnumbered but he’s a powerful Sith Lord, surely he could have taken them all out and stolen their ship? Surely he’s not just playing the victim? Unless of course he’s not as powerful as he’s boasting.

This episode does, however, introduce us to a new and incredibly fun character who appears a few more times, Hondo, the leader of the pirate group who continues to return to foil Obi-Wan, of course to no avail.

Prepare for the collective groan…

Gungan General has Jar-Jar leading a group of Clone Troopers to drop the random to the pirates in exchange for Dooku after a group of the pirates decide to double-cross Hondo and take it for themselves by attacking the Republic Transport and killing the Senator in charge of the mission leaving Jar-Jar in charge.

Jar-Jar and his group are successful in taking out the pirates, even though the Clone Commander using Jar-Jar’s clumsiness to their advantage.

Meanwhile. Anakin and Obi-Wan have been drugged and are now hostages with Dooku and they are all tied together. The three of them try a number of escapes but can never totally work together with foils their attempts.

Anakin and Obi-Wan are taken away to be tortured as a punishment and as Hondo is electrocuting them, Jar-Jar manages to (accidentally) disable the power to the Pirate stronghold, which allows Dooku to escape. Obi-Wan and Anakin turn the tides against Hondo, taking him captive until they can reach the Twilight where Jar-Jar and his Clone Troopers have arrived and with the ransom.

They leave Hondo and his group, with no hard feelings but remind the pirate leader that Dooku won’t feel the same way.

Yes it’s a Jar-Jar heavy episode but it’s not bad, in fact the Gungan’ antics are used well and actually help move the plot and action a long and he even comes up some good ideas, watching the local wildlife he is able to find somewhere for him and the Clones to hide from the pirates in a geyser and knowing the time to get away before it erupts, then riding the wildlife to chase the pirates.

The Anakin/Obi-Wan/Dooku story is a conventional idea where the heroes and villains need to work together to escape. Like the previous episode, the interplay between the three of them works really well and is very entertaining.

There is a great little Easter egg as well. When Jar-Jar buries the dead Senator he places a staff the Senator has held earlier, the top of the staff is the headpiece of the Staff of Ra (minus the red jewel) from Raiders of the Lost Ark, pretty neat.

Jedi Crash is one of the best episodes in this season (after Lair of Grievous that is). After a huge battle where Anakin’s fleet comes to the aid of Aayla Secura’s fleet, Anakin, Ahsoka, Aayla, Captain Rex and Commander Bly, a long with some of Bly’s Troopers crash land on a distant planet.

Anakin, who was injured during the battle is left at the crash site with Rex whilst the rest go in search of aid.

Through the night, strange creatures (Mastiff Phalones) attack both parties. Fighting them off Ahsoka’s group find a settlement of Lurmen, a group of pacifists who are opposed to the war and have relocated to the planet Maridun to avoid the conflict.

The elder, Tee Watt Kaa sends his son, Wag Too, the village healer to help Anakin.

After fighting off another wave of Mastiff Phalones, Ahsoka, Bly and Wag Too bring Anakin back to the settlement where Aayla and Tee Watt Kaa have been discussing the morality of the Clone Wars.

This episode has it all. An epic battle, high stakes and a great deal of emotion, definitely one of the best episodes of season one.

This is the introductory episode to Aayla Secura and she spends a bit of time with Ahsoka. Any episode where Ahsoka spends time with other Jedi are great as it highlights Anakin’s more unorthodox training but also helps develop Ahsoka.

Defenders of Peace follows on from Jedi Crash. A Separatist fleet, led by General Lot Durd (voiced brilliantly by George Takei) arrives at Maridun and begins to ransack the the Lurmen village before setting up a strong hold. Anakin, Ahsoka, Aayla and the Clones watch as Lot Durd makes an impassioned speech before his Droid soldiers and unleashes a new Separatist prototype weapon. One what destroys all living matter, leaving non-organic matter unscathed.

The initial test goes well and the Separatists prepare to do a test on the Lurmen village. The Jedi and Clones return and convince the Lurmen to accept their help. Using stolen Shield Generators they manage to hold back the weapons destructive wave.

Durd sends Battle Droids in to take on the Jedi and Clones but are easily thwarted with the help of Wag Too, the chiefs son who wants to help defend their home.

The Separatists are defeated and the Republic fleet arrives for our heroes.

Another great episode. George Takei is a phenomenal guest actor and plays the Nemoidian General brilliantly. The ‘defoliator’ weapon is one that I expected to see at some point being used by the Droid Army and it’s handles well, in that Lot Durd is the brains behind it and with his capture so ends the weapons development.

Anakin is still injured after the events of Jedi Crash and it’s good to see him not up to his full potential which gives other characters a chance to shine, of course he wins the battle which is expected but with having another Jedi to show off their skills I liked seeing him take more of a back seat in the action.

This disc is full of good episodes but they get overshadowed by the great episodes, Lair of Grievous and Jedi Crash wipe the floor with Bombad Jedi and Gungan General. Ahsoka’s character development continues with having her working with other Jedi Masters and Captain Rex.

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#Solo Sunday – Last Shot: A Solo Audiobook Review

As a recent convert to audiobooks when my Wife told me she had a spare credit on her Audible account I leapt at the chance to get ‘Last Shot’ by Daniel Jose Older, read by Marc Thompson, Daniel Jose Older and January LaVoy.

I really want to say I loved this book. I really want to say it’s in my top five canon novels but I just can’t do it.

It’s really good but, for me it took too long to get into the meat of the story, about a third of the way through and it really kicks off but by that point I was starting to lose interest and I struggled to get back into it after a break.

The story covers four time periods, three years after Return of the Jedi where the bulk of the story plays out with Han and Lando putting a team together to find a mad scientist, Fyzen Gor, who has a device that will turn all droids into murderous machines when he connects it with a transmitter called the Phylanx.

Then “About Fifteen Years” before with Lando and L3 that has L3 dragging Lando away from a party to enter an ice asteroid field so L3 can investigate a laboratory full of mutilated droids before finding the Phylanx and scanning it before returning to the Falcon.

Then “About Ten Years Ago” with Han and Chewie teaming up with Sana Starros to find part of the Phylanx and sell it for profit.

And finally “About Twenty Years Ago” detailing how Fyzen Gor, a promising medical student became interested in splicing droids and biological creatures and starting his grand scheme to rid the galaxy of sentient biological beings to make way for droid dominance.

Firstly, the Lando and L3 segments are placed incorrectly in the overall timeline. 15 years prior to the main narrative would have the events happening AFTER Solo: A Star Wars Story. At the time of release this has not been corrected by anyone at Lucasfilm. I can only assume this is a huge oversight or the timeline was altered whilst Solo was filming and a change was made and couldn’t be changed in time, but isn’t this why the Story Group exists? But in my head-canon I place it roughly 17 – 18 years before the main narrative. The rest of the timeline fits correctly but I guess they can get away with it by saying “About” Fifteen Years Ago. But still, not great.

The Lando and L3 story starts well and builds to what could be an amazing end but actually ends very abruptly. The same could be said for the young Han and Chewie segments, the ending of which feels very anti-climactic.

The main story, set after Return of the Jedi starts well and slows down to let the team get put together before becoming a well paced adventure. I really feel that had the book had more to do with this than jumping around the timeline and had the backstory told more succinctly it would have worked better for me and rather than having whole sections dedicated to Fyzen Gor’s history it could again have been told much better as part of the main narrative or exposition than a handful of forced flashbacks that really detract from the story.

I said I liked the book, and I really did but it has a lot of issues, but also a lot of great parts. Firstly, we get to see Han as a family man who feels like he’s getting it all wrong at being a husband and a parent.

As a father to a one-year-old daughter I could really relate to Han in his moments of parenting doubt. He feels like he can’t get it all right all the time and I’ve been through that. I still go through that. And sometimes it’s nice to see the issues we deal with in our heroes (fictional or otherwise) because it helps us relate to them. His final conversation with Leia is touching as she helps him realise he’s actually great at what he does with her and Ben and that’s a conversation my wife has had with me on occasion.

I loved having Takodana in the book in Han’s younger years which establishes his relationship with Maz in Force Awakens.

Having Sana Starros appear was a great nod to the comics, further integrating different mediums together to make a more cohesive universe, although we still have yet to find out the job they pulled where they got fake married.

We got more L3. Who doesn’t want more L3?

The new characters, Kasha, Lando’s maybe-girlfriend who has known Lando for years and they are only now getting together works well and gives Lando a decent amount of character growth.

Peekpa, the slicer Ewok. Hilarious. Love the idea and it’s well executed.

Taka, the pilot who Han and Lando hire who turns out to be a New Republic agent is great fun who winds Han up to no end at first but by the end we get to see the paternal side to Han coming out and we get a glimpse into a possible future he could have hand with Ben.

But the problems. Oh the problems.

Firstly the deus ex machina was a bit much. An army of L3 battle droids? Really? Poignant yes, necessary? No.

Chewie gets shoe-horned into the main narrative. It’s great to get more Chewie, but having him join Han and Lando’s crew and having a minor sub-plot involving missing Wookiees that it turns out have been captured and mutilated by Fyzen Gor jut screams of poor writing. Chewie doesn’t need more of a reason to join the crew other than his involvement with Gor during his and Han’s younger days.

The pacing, or lack there of really bothered me. It’s probably more to do with the structure, rather than jumping around the timeline I would have preferred each character arc be told as different parts, with the exception of the very end of Lando and L3 ‘s story that could only work as part of the epilogue. But even that would work better for me.

Overall the book has a lot of issues with overall continuity and pacing but looking past that it’s a very enjoyable book. The characters are written brilliantly and Han and Lando’s development post Return of the Jedi is believable.

The audiobook version is performed brilliantly by the whole cast, but like I said about The Last Jedi audiobook, the music from the prequel and original trilogy soundtracks was a bit jarring. I would like some more original compositions with themes from the films as opposed to Across the Stars playing anytime Lando and Kasha has a moment together.

Definitely worth checking out but to avoid disappointment I’d wait for the paperback version.

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Speculation: Boba Fett – A Star Wars Story

This is all pure speculation for what I think could make a decent Boba Fett film. I’ve tried my best to keep the events as ‘in canon’ as possible.

Title Card: By the age of 21, Boba Fett was one of the most notorious Bounty Hunters among the criminal Underworld, finding work with some of the most ruthless Crime Lords and Imperial leaders.

Title Card: At 35, he handed over the Carbonite encased Smuggler, Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt. A year later a freed Solo managed to get the drop on Fett, sending him into the mouth of the dreaded Sarlacc.

Darkness. Nothing but darkness and pain. Grunting, Boba Fett climbs up bit by bit, a faint light ahead.

Finally he climbs out of the Sarlacc’s mouth and out of the pit leading to the beast. Taking one look back at the wreckage of Jabba’s Sail Barge, he begins to walk across the Dune Sea.

He reaches a settlement and visits a junk trader. Removing his armour he gets paid and buys some farmers fatigues before making his way to a Cantina. He overhears a pair of farmers talking about an abandoned Moisture Farm, everything in decent working order but needs some work. Fett “interrogates” them both and takes one of their Speeders and goes to the former Lars Homestead.

He arrives at the wreckage of the homestead. It’s been abandoned since the events of ANH. Fett enters and surveys the damage. Mostly cosmetic from smoke.

He enters the garage, Owen’s Speeder and Luke’s old T-16 Skyhopper are still there, and droids. Lots of droids.

He returns to the junk trader and sells the T-16 for power generators and spare droid parts. The junk trader asks him his name, after a moment Fett replies, Jaster Mareel.

Five Years Later – Jaster Mareel is a well known and very wealthy Moisture Farmer. He’s well liked and has a dedicated team working for him. No one suspects a thing about his former life. He overhears a rumour of a gang made up of locals who, since Jabba and his operation went up in smoke, have been cleaning up the mess. Former associates of the Hutt are turning up dead or dying, and the leader, Boba Fett.

In a Cantina, far from Jaster, a man in familiar looking armour walks through the room that is filled with dead bodies, this is Cobb Vanth and he is the self-proclaimed Sheriff of Tatooine. He talks with a member of his gang. This new crime group has spread across the planet, cells are popping up in all of the large settlements and they have had complaints from moisture farmers who have been blackmailed for ‘protection fees’.

At the former Lars Homestead, Boba is working on a droid when he is called to the entrance. When he arrives he is met with a weasely looking criminal sort with a tough looking alien. They try to convince Fett to pay protection fees. When Fett declines he is attacked, he defends himself and sends the criminals running. He tells his workers that they have a choice, leave and be safe or stay, fight and possibly die. They stay. He has them fortify the farm and they wait for the attack.

The attack happens at night and with Fett’s experience the farmers are victorious in sending the criminals on their way with heavy losses.

News of this reaches Cobb and he decides to visit Mareel’s farm. When he arrives he meets ‘Mareel’ Fett plays it cool. Vanth offers him a place on his crew, but Fett declines, quoting his father, saying ‘I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the galaxy.’ Vanth appreciates this but gives him a comm-unit. If he ever needs Vanth’s help all he has to do is call.

The gang starts to tighten its grip across Tatooine. Vanth and his crew are being overwhelmed.

In a settlement, one day, Boba is trading when a mob of gangsters approach him, knowing it was him and his crew who fought off their cohorts. Fett is able to subdue some of them but there are too many of them. Some locals who are friends of his come to his aid fight off the mob, Fett survives but is badly beaten.

Another mob have managed to capture Vanth and he is brought before their leader, Rotta the Hutt. Vanth is beaten within an inch of his life and taken out to the Judland Wastes to die.

On his way back to the homestead, Fett comes across Vanth and takes him back to the farm.

Alone in a room, Fett confesses to Vanth who he really is and that the armour Vanth wears was his. As Vanth dies he tells Fett to reclaim his armour. Fett looks at the helmet on a table, pondering his future.

Rumour of Vanth’s death travels from settlement to settlement and more and more the population starts to allow Rotta’s criminals take control.

News reaches Rotta, who has taken over his fathers’ palace on Tatooine, that they have lost Mos Espa and another couple of settlements. When Rotta asks how he is told that Vanth is back from the dead and his crew grows with every victory. Soon he has an army following him.

When they reach Rotta’s Palace they are met with an army of criminals and bounty hunters. Fett is able to pick out the leaders and makes it his job to take them out. Once a path is cleared to the door, he uses his jet-pack mounted missile launcher to blow a hole in the door. He makes an announcement, no one else is to fight, only himself and the Hutt.

Rotta agrees to the terms, and Fett, who is carrying a lot of concealed explosives walks through the wrecked door of the palace towards Rotta’s throne.

Fett and Rotta discuss the Hutts operation on Tatooine and Fett gives him the choice to leave and never return or die. Rotta finds it amusing and reveals an ambush. Fett is stripped of his weapons and armour and is about to be killed when he sets off a beacon he has kept hidden in. Suddenly, Jabba’s former Rancor Keeper, Malakilli rubs into the room followed by a not too large but still terrifying Rancor.

The beast sends the gangsters running and it sets its sights on Rotta who is too slow to escape the Rancor.

Fett and his army of locals destroy the Palace after taking what was left of the Hutt cartels valuables that hadn’t already been stolen. Fett watches it burn through the night, throwing his armour into the smouldering wreckage. He keeps the helmet.

When he returns to his farm, he takes the helmet and hangs it on a stake in the ground as a marker for Cobb Vanth’s grave. Fett walks into the Homestead, his life as Boba Fett over once again, the life of Jaster Mareel is beginning.

I hope you have found this little bit of speculation enjoyable. It was fun to write and I would love to see if a Boba Fett film would be anything remotely like this, which I doubt but as a Star Wars fan it’s fun to speculate.

Having it set post-ROTJ would bring back Temura Morrison in the Fett role, having only voiced the character so far. True he’s not a big-named actor but there are plenty nod other roles to fill with a big name. Cobb Vanth could be the role that is filled with the big name and his crew could have an ensemble cast of well known actors/actresses. And there would have to be a couple of high up members of Rotta’s gang who could be played by well-known actors/actresses.

If the rumours that James Mangold is directing the rumoured Boba Fett film I doubt, but would love to see a retired Fett coming back for one last job, but would it be too similar to ‘Logan’ for him?

Having a film centred on an older Fett doesn’t rule out having Daniel Logan come back to play the younger version of the character for any more films featuring the character, but there’s so much story to tell about him that it’d be sad to see them focus solely on the character between ROTS and ANH. Plus Morrison is an phenomenal actor and would pull this off brilliantly.

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Life Debt Podcast Episode XI – The Stand-Alone Kerfuffle

The latest episode of the Life Debt Podcast is now live. You can listen to it HERE.

This week I talk about the rumours from last week and give my thoughts on the best way to release the future Star Wars Stand-Alone films.

You can e-mail the show at lifedebtpodcast@outlook.com

And if you are a member of Anchor.fm you can leave a voice message for the podcast. Just search for My Star Wars Life Debt and click the ‘Leave Message’ button.

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#Toy Tuesday: Lego AT-ST (Readers Choice Winner)

When the first wave of Rogue One sets were announced I did have to wonder why Lego were putting out an AT-ST set.

When I saw the film I got it. One AT-ST in the Jedha street skirmish.

The set has now been retired to make way for the updated First Order AT-ST from The Last Jedi, yes the one with no head. It came with 449 pieces and three mini-figures. A Rebel Fighter, an AT-ST Driver and the big mini-fig draw, Baze Malbus.

The build is pretty solid, the legs are sturdy and it stands well. The head is incredibly well designed, especially with the angles on the side panels.

The chin blasters also have two missiles that can be fired and are well hidden and unobtrusive, which I find is key when integrating them into the sets.

The cockpit, even though it only houses one mini-fig when the onscreen version holds two, is nicely detailed. The top hats also opens giving the player/displayer the opportunity to have the figure standing guard.

The knob on the back of the ‘body’ rotates the head. Which works well and keeps the head stable rather than having it on a spinning block where it would swing wildly.

There are a few stickers to this set but they all add more detail than having plain blocks.

A very screen accurate exterior, the only quibble is that the interior of the cockpit doesn’t hold two pilots but at the same time if they were to do that, this set, that at £45 was very reasonably priced, would have been quite disappointing at twice the size and price.

Thank you to the voters who participated in the ‘Readers Choice’ poll. The poll for next months will be going live today so check out the Twitter feed to see next months choices.

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My Star Wars (Life) Reviews – The Clone Wars Season 1: Disc 1

Rather than write about The Clone Wars episodes individually or by story-arc, I have decided to review it by disc as they are in the Blu-Ray Box Set releases.

In this post the episodes I will be talking about are Ambush, the Malevolence Story-Arc, Rookies, Downfall of a Droid and Duel of the Droids.

Ambush, the pilot episode of the Clone Wars series (if you don’t include the film released in 2008) is a great stand-alone story that focus’ on Yoda as he attempts the thwart a trap set by Assaj Ventress at the command of Count Dooku to have the Toydarian King side with the Separatists over the Republic.

The main focus of the episode is Yoda and three Clone Troopers who have survived the space attack and landed on the moon where the meeting with King Katunka is to take place. The Toydarian Monarch agrees to hold negotiations with the Separatistsif Yoda fails to meet him.

Yoda and his troops manage to thwart Ventress’ Droid battalions and, in true Yoda fashion imparts his wisdom to his Troops, which sets up the way the Clone Troopers are handled throughout the series as having very distinct personalities which makes each one a completely different character. I mean, by the end of the series would you really confuse Rex with Echo or Fives? Of course, Yoda saves the day and meets with the King, foiling the Separatists attempt at having the Toydarians side with them.

As a pilot the episode works incredibly well. It sets the tone of the series and gives us an introduction to a fan-favourite character in a different medium. We get to see different sides of Yoda through the episode, which speaks to fans of different generations. The serious, intense Jedi Council member we have in the prequels as well as the mischievous little imp-like character we get in Empire Strikes Back is also present.

The Malevolence arc is the first long story arc we get, which details the Republics attempts to find and destroy a Separatist super-weapon, which in the first part we find out is a high powered EMP canon that disables enemy ships and allows the Separatists to destroy their enemies with ease.

In part one, Rising Malevolence, Jedi Master Plo Koon and his Clone Troopers are ambushed and whilst attempting to escape in an Escape Pod they are hit by the EMP. Cue the unsanctioned rescue mission by Anakin and Ahsoka who manage to save Master Plo and the surviving Troopers from his Escape Pod and narrowly evade their own destruction by General Grievous and the Malevolence.

Part two, Shadow of Malevolence shows Anakin leading a squadron of Y-Wing fighters in an attack on the Malevolence to try to stop Grievous from attacking a Clone medical facility. He leads his squadron, including Ahsoka and Plo Koon through a nebula where they have to evade space manta-rays before attacking the Separatist super-weapon. They manage to disarm the ship and when Obi-Wan shows up with a fleet of Republic Cruisers they disable the Malevolence’s hyperdrive.

This episode really shows off what the animators can do, the Nebula is a beautiful sequence and works well as a break from the tension created by Grievous’ devious plot to attack the medical station.

We really get to understand Anakin’s character in this episode, especially his fear of loss. During the battle against the Malevolence, Anakin takes every loss personally and to heart. He cares for all of the soldiers under his command, something we see more and more through the series.

In part three, Destroy Malevolence, Count Dooku has laid a trap for Padme who is captured by Grievous on board the Malevolence, which is being perused by Anakin, Obi-Wan and their Clone Troopers. When Anakin finds out his wife is on board the Malevolence he, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Rex and some Clones make their way on board to try to destroy the ship and rescue Padme.

The episode gives us our first look at Anakin and Padme’s secret relationship in the series. It’s so obvious I want to scream at Obi-Wan and Ahsoka to open their eyes but it’s a cartoon and they won’t hear me. It’s great to see Padme and Ahsoka holding their own against the obstacles thrown at them. Padme, even though captured by Grievous is never actually held prisoner and spends her time on The Malevolence trying to find a way out. Obi-Wan has his first encounter with Grievous and manages to escape back to his and Anakin’s ship whilst R2 meets up with C-3PO and, as usual gets the protocol droid out of trouble.

Our heroes, of course complete their mission and send The Malevolence crashing into a nearby moon. Grievous of course escapes and so do all our heroes.

It’s nice to see some Anakin and Padme interactions that isn’t full of angst like in the films and their banter on the Malevolence’s bridge give us a glimpse into what their life would be like if he wasn’t a Jedi.

The fifth episode, Rookies, focuses on a group of Clone Troopers who are manning a Republic Listening Post. The Troopers, Hevy, Cutup, Echo, Fives and Droidbait along with their Sergeant, O’Niner are yearning for some sort of adventure, as opposed to having not much to do on the Outpost.

A surprise meteor shower is actually an infiltration party consisting of Separtist Commando Droids who infiltrate the base, and dispatch some of the Clones, including the Sergeant. The survivors make it outside only for Cutup to be eaten by the local wildlife. Above the moon a Separtist fleet appears out of hyperspace, their target, Kamino.

At this point, Commander Cody and Captain Rex arrive to perform an inspection of the Outpost.

All the Clones team-up and take back the Outpost and more Droids are sent to take it back. The Outpost rigged with Thermal Detonators and fuel bombs and as the Droids make it inside the Clones escape but Hevy stays behind when the detonator fails and has to be operated manually. Fives, Echo, Rex and Cody escape.

When the Outpost explodes, the Republic fleet arrives, making the Separatists run away. Echo and Fives become members of Anakin’s 501st battalion.

This is the first non-Jedicentric episode and it works really well. It gives us another chance after Ambush to get to know some Clones well. Fives and Echo become key players in the series as it goes on and the team are seen during their training in Season 3.

And now we get to the Droid two-parter. I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of this arc.

In part one, Downfall of a Droid, Anakin and R2 are in Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter. It gets destroyed. Anakin is rescued but R2 is believed to be gone with the ship. Anakin receives a new service Astromech that Ahsoka affectionately nicknames ‘Goldie’.

Goldie just keeps messing things up for Anakin, who believes R2 to still be alive, he receives a communication from R2 and after confessing that R2’s memory has never been wiped, thus knowing a lot of Republic Army strategies Obi-Wan grants him clearance to locate the lost droid.

Anakin and Ahsoka’s search takes them to a Trandoshan salvage dealer and after destroying some security droids are kicked off his ship, which is the same ship that R2 is on.

The dealer contacts General Grievous who sets up an exchange.

In part 2, Duel of the Droids, Anakin, Ahsoka, Rex and a handful of Clone Troopers locate R2 on a Separtist Listening Outpost and make their way to rescue him.

Once in the listening post, Anakin races off to save R2 whilst Ahsoka, Rex and the Troopers sabotage the Listening Outpost but they are stopped by General Grievous, who easily dispatched a pair of the Troopers but Ahsoka distracts him and the Droid General decides to fight her instead.

The Grievous/Ahsoka fight is actually quite nail-biting. When this first aired, all we knew was that Ahsoka wasn’t in Revenge of the Sith so anything could happen to her. Their fight well staged and atmospheric, taking place in a dark room full of obstacles, it’s almost reminiscent of the Raptors in the kitchen and Ellie in the maintenance shed scenes from Jurassic Park. It’s also at this point we learn that the useless astromech Goldie is in-fact a Separatist spy.

Anakin finds R2 and as they escape they get split up and a fight ensues between R2 and Goldie. R2 wins, by cutting a wire that Goldie had connected to R2 which made the spy droid fall off the Listening Outpost and R2 uses his rockets to get into Anakin’s new Starfighter.

These are not my favourite episodes in the series but they have great moments so I’m not inclined to write them off as filler, just personal preference gets in the way when a story-arc boils down to two Astro-Droids fighting with built-in tools.

A solid first set of episode for Season One of Clone Wars.

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#Solo Sunday – Most Wanted: A Solo Book Review

Warning – Spoilers about Star Wars: Most Wanted and Solo: A Star Wars Story are in this post.

‘Star Wars: Most Wanted’ is the Young Adult Prequel to ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ written by Rae Carson. It is set not long before the events of the scenes on Corellia, a year before at most seeing as in a conversation between Han and Qi’Ra in the book she says she is about ‘eighteen-ish’ which is roughly their ages at the beginning of the film.

The book starts out setting up the world of the White Worms, the scrumrat gang that Han and Qi’Ra belong to, run by Lady Proxima. They, a long with Rebolt (he has the Corellian Hounds in the Corellia scenes and a Lego Mini-Fig) are vying for the position of Head Child within the gang.

Han and Qi’Ra are sent on separate missions both part of the same job. Qi’Ra goes to an auction where the White Worms bid is “insultingly low”. The auction becomes a shoot-out when the Droid Gotra gang wins and the Kaldenia representative gets trigger-happy. Qi’Ra escapes and manages to get into the sewers, the best way to return to White Worm territory.

Meanwhile, Han is sent to a factory where he meets with his droid friend, Tool who is there to represent the Droid Gotra. This meeting is where the merchandise is to be handed over. Again the Kaldenia representative decides to enter ‘aggressive negotiations’ and Tool gets the merchandise, a Data Cube to Han, protecting his escape into the sewers.

Han and Qi’Ra are reunited on the run and soon realise that not only are the Kaldenia after them but the White Worms as well. Han leads Qi’Ra to a safe area, the den of a crazy homeless character called Powolo whom Han has befriended and get a message to their fellow WhiteWorm whom they both think they can trust, the tech-savvy Rodian, Tsuulo who joins them.

They escape capture by the White Worms and reach a safe house that Qi’Ra has set up by stealing Tsuulo’s brothers’ Speeder, and after some much needed rest, form a plan to try to get out of trouble.

Their adventure takes them to the heart of Coronet City, Corellia’s capital, to a luxury Space Yacht and and into the heart of the Imperial presence on the planet, barely stopping to let the reader breath. There’s danger and double crossing and loss, all of which lead Han and Qi’Ra to make the choices and make their attempt to escape the White Worms at the beginning of the film.

The book is an incredibly fast paced page turner. I read it in three sittings and was always surprised by how much I had gotten through in each one. It’s so action packed we only get a breather when our heroes do and that’s not very often.

The spotlight is focused on Han and Qi’Ra and it’s great to get to know them prior to the events of Solo. Han is written brilliantly and every bit the character we get at the beginning of the Solo film and the rest of the Star Wars saga. I can easily picture the Han from the book growing up into Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens.

The book is told from both Han and Qi’Ra’s perspectives, and it’s great to get to know Qi’Ra more. When I saw the film I didn’t quite know if we could trust her. Was she using Han at the beginning to essentially help her escape but the book clears that up. Qi’Ra does care about Han. Not at first because they care in competition but they become close friends by the end after all they go through on their adventure. It doesn’t end with them romantically entangled but near-enough that they mention the possibility of a date at some point.

Qi’Ra is a natural strategist and plan maker which comes in handy for the three heroes (I’ll get to Tsuulo later) and she can’t quite understand how Han is able to talk his way into and out of trouble so easily and he can’t get behind her need for a well thought out plan but both qualities end up working to their advantage.

We are introduced to a young Rodian White Worm called Tsuulo, he carries a datapad and knows his way around technology. Out of the three lead characters, Qi’Ra is the brains, Han is the brawn and Tsuulo is definitely the heart of the group. He understands basic but can’t speak it, relying on Han to translate his Huttese speech. He’s the most religious, having read about the Force in an illegal museum on Coruscant before coming to Corellia with his family, only for his parents to be killed in an accident which put him and his brother on the streets. His brother turned to street racing, Tsuulo turned to the gangs. Tsuulo started praying to the Force and does so through the book, Han scoffs at the thought but never mocks Tsuulo for it, showing off his good traits whilst giving us a hint of the Han we know from the Original Trilogy.

The book is well written, Rae Carson took on a difficult task of writing a Han Solo we know but want to know more about, giving us enough of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo whilst cementing the character as the Alden Erenreich’s Han and she fabulously develops Qi’Ra who comes across so well and you can see how she becomes the character we see at the end of Solo when she kills Dryden Vos and takes his place within the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate.

Carson gives us some brilliant new characters. I really loved Tsuulo throughout this book, he really shone through the muck and grime of Corellia for me. We get a little bit more of Rebolt, who cements his place as a nasty piece of work with his Corellian Hounds but his role is minimal at best but he was needed to tie the book to the film, even if it was only for a small sequence.

We learn more about the White Worm gang and Lady Proxima, the Grindalid matriarch who rules the White Worm gang. She’s a vile character and it’s great that we see more of her and why Han and Qi’Ra want to escape her clutches.

I have enjoyed all of Rae Carson’s work in the Star Wars book world, her short stories in both the Canto Bight and From A Certain Point of View collections were high points for me and this novel has granted her a place in my top Star Wars Authors, right there with Claudia Grey, Chuck Wendig and Timothy Zahn and this book is in my top five of the new canon.

I can’t recommend it enough, if you like Star Wars books or a fan of Solo: A Star Wars Story it’s essential reading. A solid 5/5 from me.

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Fett, Phasma and Nest: Cool Costumes! Is that it?

Solo Spoilers in this post.

When we first see Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back he’s cool. He looks cool, he sounds cool and the guy is being told by Darth Vader, the baddest of bad-asses in the Galaxy to not disintegrate people.

He makes us wonder who this character is. He tracks down the Millennium Falcon and takes the carbonite encased Solo to Jabba the Hutt, only to get hit in his rocket pack by Solo and fall into the Sarlacc Pit. Bye bye Boba.

There were stories written in the Expanded Universe about his survival and return, but the fans wanted more.

And thank the maker (George Lucas) who re-introduced the character in Attack of the Clones and fleshed out more of his back-story in the Clone Wars but the best and most notorious Bounty Hunter in the galaxy gets owned by a guy who can’t see and gets a lucky shot in. Poor show.

Phasma has been the biggest grease in terms of characters in the Sequel trilogy. When she was described as The Force Awakens’ Boba Fett no one thought it meant less screen time as Fett got in the Original Trilogy. In fact across two films she still has less.

Phasma was all over the promotional material for TFA and when we see her in the film she stands around and talks and deactivates a shield. I’m sorry but why the fanfare?

Then in the run up to The Last Jedi we got a comic mini-series and a novel about her backstory. Great, more Phasma, surely all this promotion for the character means she’ll have more to… oh, two scenes. Less dialogue than before but there is that fight scene which is great, but the deleted scene version was better. The character is a huge disappointment and if they don’t give us a great pay-off for the character in Episode IX then it’s a waste of a great actress and great character potential.

And in Solo: A Star Wars Story we get Enfys Nest. Through the promotional material I really struggled to get invested in any way. The character has a great costume and comes across as mysterious but if history has told me anything it’s to not be invested in those kinds of characters.

When the merchandise started to come out Enfys was on a lot of stuff, then a clip from the film, featuring the character was released. All I could think was how disappointing the character would be.

Then I saw the film and was pleasantly surprised.

Granted, she didn’t have a lot of screen time the character was had something to do and had a purpose other than killing or hunting the heroes. She even takes off her mask and talks about the larger politics of the galaxy and even tried to recruit Han and Chewie into the newly forming Rebellion. Finally the cool costume and huge merchandise presence has paid off and I really hope we see more of the character in the future.

When characters are pushed heavily during the marketing, fans have expectations. Look at Constable Zuvio. Loads of his figures continue to like the shelves because he wasn’t in the Force Awakens. The same goes for Phasma for two films. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed Delilah S. Dawson’s origin novel about Phasma but to have it be a part of the initial push of marketing for The Last Jedi made the fandom get excited to see the character get some more screen-time. Has Lucasfilm learned from the Phasma disappointment? Only time and more films with more cool looking characters will tell.

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Life Debt Podcast Episode X – Star Wars Moving Target Review

The latest episode of The Life Debt Podcast is now live.

You can listen to it HERE.

In this episode I review the fantastic Young Adult, Solo: A Star Wars Story tie-in novel, Star Wars: Moving Target by Rae Carson.

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#Toy Tuesday – Lego Vader’s Transformation

I’ll be honest, I was quite disappointed by this set. It was one that I wanted to get when it was announced. It looked cool and the selection of mini-figs was pretty good. Darth Vader, injured Anakin Skywalker and Darth Sidious. It even comes with two very screen accurate buildable medical droid figures. And £19.99 for 282 pieces is a decent bargain.

Building the outer ring was a fairly repetitive process, broken up with a lever at the 3 and 9 positions which are meant to topple the block built structures that sit on top of them. The mechanism at the 12 position lowers Vader’s helmet down onto his head (if positioned just right) and at the 6 position is the main play feature, the operating table, where, in Revenge of the Sith Anakin is put into the iconic suit.

Like on the Carbon Freeze Chamber I wrote about in a previous #Toy Tuesday post, the main play feature is operated with a rod that when it is pulled and twisted, turns the operating table which is built with room for a mini-fig on either side, evoking the transformation effect.

And a swift manoeuvre with the rod and voila…

The helmet can then be lowered by sliding the mechanism up and down. When positioned correctly you can get great images of that iconic moment in Revenge of the Sith.

You get the idea.

And another operation of the rod and the table raises to an upright position, allowing the Dark Lord of the Sith to step away from the table.

Like in the film, you can make it look like Vader is throwing a Force tantrum by using levers on either side of the set to knock things over.

As I said before, I felt disappointed by this set. I really hoped for something more like the Carbon Freeze Chamber with great detail. This set, for me ended up being about the mini-figs.

The set is still available but I have a feeling that it may be up for retirement in the next six months to a year. It still retails on the Lego Web-Store for £19.99 which is reasonable for the number of pieces, it’s a nice set but it left me feeling underwhelmed.

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My Star Wars (Life) Reviews – The Clone Wars (2008)

Released in the Summer of 2008, after two of the best comic book films ever were released, The Clone Wars came and went with very little fan-fare. This was during my period of Star Wars apathy, so to speak and even though I kept reading about the animated series coming out I never jumped on board. I was happy with the films and the books that I would occasionally watch or read.

The release felt rushed and what advertising there was, was minimal to say the least and the reviews were shockingly poor. I was working in Edinburgh when it came out and even though I had the time to see it I never took the plunge, thinking that I would one day pick it up on DVD and that would be that.

I got the chance to watch it on a flight from Australia after my brothers wedding in early 2009. I had a row all to myself so I spread out, got comfy and started the film.

It was enjoyable. That was all I could really say about it. I thought that for what it was, a three episode story-arc put together to make a film to promote a new TV series, but was it cinema release worthy? Not really. Straight to DVD? Most definitely.

But it did the trick, I wanted to watch the series and I did when I could, which wasn’t often given that I didn’t have the means to do so easily.

I bought the film on DVD around the same time I got Phantom Menace on DVD in 2015 and have since watched it a few times and it’s incredibly enjoyable when watching it with the series although the change in voices of Mace Windu and Count Dooku is jarring if doing a marathon. Going from Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee in the film to Terrence Carson and Corey Burton just doesn’t sound right, but agin that’s only when watching it as a marathon.

The film sets up the series really well. We are introduced to Ahsoka, Admiral Yularen, Captain Rex and Assaj Ventress, all new characters who are important in the series. We learn the Anakin and Obi-Wan dynamic has changed drastically from when Anakin was a Padawan Learner, they are more friends now than in Attack of the Clones which ties in with their relationship in Revenge of the Sith.

We also have returning characters like Jabba the Hutt and Count Dooku, Jabba plays a major role in the story and it’s his decision that will turn the tide in who Jabba will allow to utilise the Hutt controlled Hyperspace routes through the Outer Rim. Dooku is vying for the Hutt’s favour by manipulating events which lead to Rotta, Jabba’s son, being kidnapped. The Jedi are framed but it was actually Ventress, Dooku’s assassin.

The score is phenomenal, I found myself, as I watched the film again before writing this, blown away by Kevin Kiener’s score. From the opening fan-fare that is familiar yet different to the mixtures of instruments and musical styles. The stand out moment is when the Republic Forces start climbing the cliffs to the Teth Monastery, including a few AT-TE’s. The music is completely different from any track in a Star Wars film and it works beautifully.

The characterisations of familiar characters are on point. It’s hard to think of Obi-Wan and Anakin not being portrayed but James Arnold Taylor or Matt Lanter even though we know Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen play them in the films, but they are written so well in the series that both sets of actors blur. We get to see Anakin in a much less angsty time in his life, which my wife enjoyed when she saw this a couple of years ago.

The film didn’t do brilliantly in cinemas and the reviews weren’t amazing, but for what it is, a three part story-arc put together as a film it’s pretty darned good. Should it have been a theatrical release? Not in my opinion. Maybe a straight-to-DVD film or TV Special a couple of months ahead of the series starting (like Star Wars Rebels -Spark of Rebellion) and maybe it would have been more favourable at the time. But nowadays it’s essential viewing for anyone wanting to get more into our favourite galaxy far, far away.

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#Solo Sunday: The Spoiler Filled Blog Series Part 3

If you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars then this is NOT the blog post you are looking for and move along to one of the many great, spoiler free blog posts here.

I’ve not been subtle about my live of the film, in fact my two Solo podcasts were just full of adoration, the latest of which can be listened to HERE.

Before we get started, I would just like to say that I originally wrote this post on the 11th June and believe it or not the next day, NEXT DAY, three new sets from Solo were announced for Summer release.

Through July, the #Toy Tuesday posts will focus on the three Lego sets from Solo I own (I already reviewed the Battle Pack HERE) so I won’t go into much detail of them here, other than that they are really great sets. This week I will be talking my Solo Lego wish list for the future waves.

With the Summer/Autumn Star Wars Lego sets already revealed which can be viewed at THIS LINK we know that the next time we could get a Solo related set is Winter. But what could they be, here are my theories. UPDATE: Three Solo sets have been announced for summer.

Maurauders Battle Pack – Includes a Swoop Bike with 2 x Range Troopers and 2 x Maurauder mini-figs. Play features could include stud launcher and winch on Swoop Bike and stud launchers for the mini-figs.

Enfys Nest Savareen Stand-Off – Includes Enfys Nest’s Swoop Bike, a second Swoop Bike and a Village Dwelling with Enfys Nest, Beckett, Maurauder and Dryden Vos Bodyguard. Play features could include winches on both Swoop Bikes, stud launchers for mini-figs. This set would be the one that included Enfys Nest with and without the helmet so it would require a separate hair piece.

UPDATE: The Enfys Nest Swoop Set has been announced. It features two Swoop Bikes, Beckett, Enfys Nest and Weazel mini-figs. Info can be found HERE.

AT – Hauler – The AT – Hauler ship with opening cockpit and manoeuvrable wings. Includes Conveyex Container with Val, Rio, Vandor Han, Range Trooper and Maurauder mini-figs. Play features could include winches to lift the container, missile launchers for the ship, interior details of cockpit and Coaxium storage in the Conveyex Container.

UPDATE: This set has been announced as part of the Summer wave. It comes with Rio, Val, Qi’Ra and Dryden’s Henchman. Info can be found HERE.

Conveyex Transport. The cockpit, one carriage with two containers and one carriage with one container (the other comes with the AT – Hauler set). Mini-figs would be Vandor Beckett, Enfys Nest, 2 x Range Trooper, Vandor Chewie (with goggles) and and Imperial Commander. Play features could include different interiors for the containers, one can have a seating area for Troopers, one stores some Viper Probe Droids, an Imperial single person vehicle could be in the third. The cockpit would open up and have a detailed interior. Missile launchers would be included also. The only problem with this set would be how best to display it, the Conveyex is able to rotate around a track so it would be hard to utilise that as a play feature.

UPDATE: This set has been announced as part of the Summer wave. It includes Han and Chewbacca, both with goggles and two Range Troopers. Info can be found HERE.

And finally, a Sabaac Table/Droid Fight Arena. Similar to the Mos Eisley Cantina set from earlier this year, it would have a space for Han and Lando to play Sabaac and also have a second room with separate fighting ring. Mini-figs would be Han and Lando, L3-3T, the Mean Man (Clint Howard), two buildable fighting droids and a fellow Sabaac player (Thurm Scissorpunch perhaps?).

I do hope that Lego do put out more Solo sets despite the films lacklustre performance in cinemas. It’s a solid film and the fan reaction has been very positive. Hopefully the home release will give it a significant bump in earnings so we can get more toys and more Solo films.

UPDATE: Its great that we are getting more sets from Solo, and hilarious that I found out about the three upcoming sets the following day. I would like to see a set with L3-3T and some more Marauders so hopefully we will get some more Solo themed sets in the Winter. It has also been announced that the three upcoming sets will be released on 1st August, not sure if that’s worldwide or specific to a country.

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Speculation: Kenobi/******** A Star Wars Story

First off I would like to thank the crew of the Star Wars Underworld for their Solo Reaction Podcast for inspiring this post.

Secondly, Solo: A Star Wars Story SPOILERS AHEAD! Do not read if you don’t want spoilers.

The SPOILERS start right after this sentence.

In the Podcast they talk about the Maul cameo and their thoughts on how it effects canon with the ‘Twin Suns’ episode of Star Wars: Rebels.

His role as the head of the Red Dawn Crime Syndicate, which based on the end of Clone Wars fits with his character and there’s at least seven years before he shows up in ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’ meaning about 16 years of stories to tell between Clone Wars and his death in Rebels.

My theory, rather than have the rumoured Kenobi film be solely about Obi-Wan on Tatooine but have the film be about BOTH Obi-Wan and Darth Maul.

The film is told through a series of flashbacks, the framing device, a live action version of their interaction in Twin Suns.

Have the film start before Revenge of the Sith with Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka on Mandalore repairing to take on Maul and the Shadow Collective (as should have happened according to Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo from the Celebration 2016 Ahsoka Lives Panel) and let us see the events on Mandalore after Obi-Wan and Anakin leave.

Have them get older and have some adventures so to speak. Ahsoka and Maul could have an ongoing rivalry whilst Obi-Wan protects the Lars Homestead from Gangsters and Tusken Raiders.

We get to see how Maul lives and builds his new Crime Syndicate, Crimson Dawn and drawing the attention of The Emperor . We get to see more of Obi-Wan living on Tatooine.

We have a time jump and we see Maul’s life as a criminal overlord end at the hands of Darth Vader in an impressive duel which Maul barely survives and he slinks away to find a way to defeat Vader and finally get the revenge on Darth Sidious he desperately which leads him to be stranded on Malachor, hunted by Vader’s Inquisitors. A brief live action recreation of his exit from Twilight of the Apprentice and his location of the TIE Advanced Prototype he stole from the dead Inquisitors and then some of him on Tatooine searching for Obi-Wan.

And the director? Give it to Dave Filoni. The man deserves the opportunity to finish the stories he started in Clone Wars.

As I said, this was inspired by what I heard on a Podcast episode from The Star Wars Underworld and doubt it will happen this way but I like it, until the real Kenobi film happens (if it happens).

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Life Debt Podcast Episode IX – The Clone Wars Season One Appreciation

The latest episode of The Life Debt Podcast is now live.

You can listen to it HERE.

In this episode I sit down and ramble on about some of my highlights from my recent rewatch of The Clone Wars Season One.

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#Toy Tuesday – Lego Carbon Freezing Chamber

I got this set as a gift for my Birthday in 2016. It was the first set from the Original Trilogy that I got and what more could I ask for, Boba Fett and Han Solo mini-figs, excellent.

This set has now been retired but when it was released it was priced very reasonably at £19.99, which is pretty good for a set with 231 pieces and three mini-figs.

It’s a relatively small set but it packs a lot of detail in with a few little play features.

It includes a manually operated lift.

A fold out bed, much like the prison cell that Han, Chewie and Leia are held in during The Empire Strikes Back.

And of course, the main play feature, the Carbon Freeze mechanism itself. This is done by pulling and twisting a rod from the front of the set. It starts here with Han preparing to be frozen.

A quick manoeuvre with the rod and hey-presto, the Carbonite encased Han.

The printed detail is fantastic on the Carbonite block.

The use of the orange transparent pieces with the grey and black really evoke the look of the Carbon Freeze Chamber from the film.

As I said it is quite small, the section with the bed and console is on hinges so it can fold in or out depending on how you want it displayed.

I really like this set, for its level of detail and if I was a kid, the play features would keep me entertained, especially if I had extra mini-figs to add to the fun. A Bespin Luke and Darth Vader would look pretty cool posed at the top of the stairs.

If you are a new collector or just happened to miss out on this set I really recommend trying to find it in a shop or online. It’s a good build and it looks great.

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My Star Wars (Life) Reviews – The Phantom Menace

To put this one into context a little, I rewatched The Phantom Menace on 19th May. Nineteen years since it was released in the US and Canada. Us Brits had to wait until 16th July. Talk about painful.

I still remember the first time I saw it at the cinema and when I got it on VHS. I loved it so much, it became my favourite Star Wars film.

Over the years my love for it dwindled. I fell hard for the beginning of the Clone Wars in Attack of the Clones, and I fell out of love with a certain Gungan who, according to the final part of the Aftermath Trilogy, became a street performer in Theed.

I wrote in a previous blog that in 2015 I bought the DVD and rewatched it for the first time in years, firstly I had to text my friend Andrew for confirmation, did George Lucas add more to the Podrace and to the scene where the Queen’s ship landed on Coruscant? Yes he had. Interesting.

I have watched it a few more times since that first rewatch in 2015, at least six times ( a rough guess) and I’ve definitely moved on from my teenage opinions on Jar-Jar. Sure he’s annoying but so what? I actually think that Phantom Menace is the most Star Wars feeling film in the Prequel Trilogy. It still had practical effects, real sets and there is something about it that screamed of Lucas and Co. circa 1977.

The appeal to a younger audience always sat wrong with the older fans who had grown up with the Original Trilogy. Granted I had grown up with those films and Phantom Menace didn’t bother me in the slightest back then and now, despite the fact I have a few problems, mostly with some of the poor CGI shots that either had to be rushed or were added last minute, it is still a very good film.

What’s not to love, it shows us not only the Jedi at the height of their power. We see the opulence and grandeur of the Galactic Republic and how the Galaxy operated on a political level. We get a brief history of the Sith and we got Darth Maul and the Dual of Fates.

The Phantom Menace is also incredibly important for the development of technology that, at the time was unheard of and has become almost second nature in Hollywood nowadays. Motion Capture technology. First used to bring Jar-Jar to life, a few years later we got Andy Serkis performing Mi-Cap on Gollum on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and now our biggest blockbusters are filled with Mo-Capped characters. We even got Andy Serkis in to play Supreme Leader Snoke in the sequel trilogy. All because Lucas wanted that annoying Gungan in the film.

It may have its detractors, and I was one of them for years but Phantom Menace is a great and enjoyable film that has had unfair treatment over the years. But us long-time fans who started with the Original Trilogy were not the target audience. Star Wars is and should always be primarily for children. They are who the films should be aimed at and Phantom Menace was. The main protagonist is a 10 year old kid, he has a comedic creature sidekick and is the best race-car driver around. Anakin follows the same pattern as Luke, both are unsuspecting and don’t have much in the way of life but they become great and powerful and become legends, and now in the sequel trilogy Rey is following that pattern too.

And who doesn’t love Qui-Gon Jinn?

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#Solo Sunday: The Spoiler Filled Blog Series Part 2

If you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars then this is NOT the blog post you are looking for and move along to one of the many great, spoiler free blog posts here.

I’ve not been subtle about my live of the film, in fact my two Solo podcasts were just full of adoration, the latest of which can be listened to HERE.

Last week I covered the main characters from the film. This week I will turn my attention to the secondary characters who really made this film what it was, some of whom were taken from us too early.

Firstly, Beckett’s right hand woman, Val, played by Thandie Newton. A hard-case crack shot who doesn’t suffer fools and wants to get paid. She knows her stuff when it comes to blasters and bombs and isn’t afraid to let people know that she’s not afraid to use them.

She has a dry sense of humour from the moment we meet her, when Han mistakes the disguised Beckett for an Imperial Captain, Val can’t hold back the wise-cracking at her partners expense. Her prowess with the blaster is never truly displayed but mentioned whilst her and Beckett are planning to steal the AT-Hauler. She’s more than capable of taking out a number of Imperial troops, and in what would need to be record time to avoid detection. Her hand-to-hand combat skills must be top-notch because when she decides to shoot Han when he figures out that Beckett, Val and Rio are thieves in disguise, Beckett tells her to break his neck.

She is against having Han and Chewie join the crew for the Conveyex heist but Han sweet-talks Beckett enough to get them on board. Val sees through Han’s bravado, she’s probably seen more youngsters trying their hand at the criminal life who have messed up than she can count and why should Han be any different? He’s not at that point.

Her dedication to her crew is admirable and despite her feelings towards Beckett, she puts the job first. Sacrificing herself to complete her part in the plan by blowing up a bridge the Conveyex must cross. Unfortunately she is pinned down by Imperial Security Droids and the only way she can protect the crew and finish the job is to go down with the bridge.

It’s a great loss, Val is a brilliant character who deserved more time to shine. She could have had a great character arc through the film, even have her secretly being either a mole for Dryden Vos or even Enfys Nest which, for me, would have been amazing, had they not been in the same scene together during the train job.

With a Beckett One-Shot coming from Marvel later this year I hope we get to see more of Val, kicking ass and stealing with Beckett and Rio. Hell, I want a novel or two. Audiobook versions read by Thandie Newton. Someone call Lucasfilm, I’m on to something here.

Beckett and Val also worked with an Ardennian pilot by the name of Rio Durant (voiced brilliantly by Jon Favreau). He’s the comedian of the crew who has lived an interesting life and knows comfort (curled up in a Wookiees lap so he says). He’s the pilot who Han has to replace during the train heist.

His physiology makes for an interesting piloting method, swinging across the AT-Haulers cockpit, flicking switches and using the controls, all with a smile on his face. It’s obvious he’s been working with Beckett and Val for some time, and it’s hard on Beckett when he not only has to bury his partner but his friend too, after Rio was fatally shot by one of Enfys Nest’s Marauders who broke into the AT-Haulers cockpit during the Conveyex job.

If Beckett was the brains and Val was the muscle then Rio was definitely the heart of the crew, an easily likeable guy who makes you feel welcome, even if Val is calling you and your new Wookiee friend ‘morons’.

If we get more stories about Beckett and Val then we need more Rio in them as well. Out of the two deaths on Vandor, Rio’s was the most necessary for the plot so that Han could take the role of Pilot for Beckett’s crew but his death came too soon for us fans.

Dryden Vos! Yes he is the main antagonist of the film and played brilliantly by Paul Bettany. He’s a brilliantly sinister high-up member of the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate who we learn isn’t very forgiving, his introduction shows him killing the local Imperial Governor for whatever reason, we never really find out why.

His control over Qi’Ra is disturbing, he calls her his top lieutenant but the way he acts with her seems almost territorial and abusive. And given the audience’s knowledge of hers and Han’s past we automatically dislike him.

Bettany plays the character so well, in one moment he’s asking Han how he’s doing, almost believably concerned and the next second threatening to kill Han if the job goes wrong. I

He has a vast collection of rare artefacts in his office, the most notable of which on display is a set of ancient Mandalorian armour and an ancient Sith Holocron. Most of which gets destroyed in his attempt to kill Han and in his fight with Qi’Ra. As a fighter he’s incredibly accomplished, a master of Teras Kasi and proficient at fighting with blades weapons (and more than likely just as handy with a blaster).

The great thing about Star Wars is the abundance of great characters, both major and minor, all of whom have a story for us to see, read or hear. I can’t wait to get more stories featuring the new characters from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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Speculation: A Star Wars Story

In the past few months rumours have been piquing the interest of us Star Wars fans.

In August last year a rumour circulated about a Kenobi film in pre-production with Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) rumoured to be directing. Around this time Ewan McGregor who has said since Disney bought Lucasfilm that he’d love to reprise the role. He even did an Obi-Wan line in the Force Vision in The Force Awakens.

Then mere weeks before ‘Solo’ was released, a new rumour, that Kenobi was in active pre-production at Pinewood Studios and crew contracts had been extended to accommodate the filming time in late 2019 for a 2020 release.

The first rumour came from The Hollywood Reporter, in an article by Borys Kit. The second from a fellow Star Wars Fan Site Fantha Tracks and written by Brian Cameron.

Borys Kit had a fresh rumour that came out on The Hollywood Reporter on 24th May that James Mangold (Logan, 3:10 to Yuma) is co-writing a script with Simon Kinberg (Star Wars: Rebels, Fantastic Four) with Mangold Directing.

The Boba Fett film has been long rumoured, and was in development when Disney bought Lucasfilm with Fantastic Four’s Josh Trank in the Directors chair. But after backlash towards the film and his very public disdain toward 20th Century Fox he was let go and the film put on the back burner. Kathleen Kennedy even confirmed that there was even a sizzle clip developed and was to screen with Gareth Edwards Rogue One sizzle clip at Star Wars Celebration 2015 during what was meant to be a Future Directors Panel that became rather quickly a Rogue One Panel. The Boba Fett film should have been released in May this year but Solo took its place.

The one thing that these rumoured films, however credible the sources have is a lack of confirmation from Lucasfilm.

Both are believable concepts, fans have wanted a Boba Fett film and a Kenobi film since the prospects of the stand-alone films was even mentioned. But are the rumours true?

One part of the Kenobi rumour mill I can believe is active pre-production and contract extensions at Pinewood. Star Wars has taken Pinewood over in recent years and it’s hard to believe that it will change in the near future and it’s always good to keep the same crew who know how the studio works and departments operate.

Aside from that I’m holding on the excitement for either film. Why? Because I’m a skeptic at times and until I see an official announcement from Lucasfilm confirming that one or both are being made then I’ll sit back and wait.

But I would love to see both those films. Just saying.

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Life Debt Podcast Episode VIII – Solo: The Fallout

The latest episode of the Life Debt Podcast is now live.

You can listen to it HERE.

In this episode I talk about the underperformance of Solo: A Star Wars Story before going on a rant about the toxic fans that are giving Star Wars fandom a bad reputation. Sorry.

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#Toy Tuesday – Lego Phantom II

Because I didn’t get into Lego until late 2015 I missed out on the initial wave of Rebels sets that came out, including The Ghost and Phantom I, which have both since been retired and cost a fortune on the secondary market, I’m eagerly waiting for a reissue or updated version of both sets.

But that didn’t stop me from buying a few Rebels themed sets since then, the first being the two-Pack of Vader’s TIE Advanced Fighter and A-Wing Star Fighter, then the micro-fighter version of The Ghost and finally, the Phantom II.

To place it in context within the series, after Ezra messes up a mission the original Phantom was destroyed and later on in Season 3, on a planet that was still controlled by Separatist Battle Droids, our heroes take a Trade Federation shuttle to escape and then give it a Sabine Wren makeover.

A Lego set then came out in December/January 2016/2017. This set was hard to find and based on piece count (269) the price was very, very high (£39.99) and it has since been retired.

The set is average size for the piece count. The build itself is very interesting and fun to build based on its odd shape, it lends itself to a Lego builder looking for something a bit different. But that doesn’t warrant a price tag of nearly twice what other sets of its size.

Why did it cost so much? I can think of two possible reasons, the one most likely is the pale blue bricks the set uses. These, as far as I can tell are not widely used and bespoke bricks like this warrant a higher price tag to cover the costs of production. Other bespoke pieces that come with this set is Kanan’s head-piece which has his Season 3 mask and ponytail. The second reason is the fact that this is the one and only set that has ever included a Grand Admiral Thrawn mini-fig.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great mini-fig, even if his rank-insignia is wrong (its Lego, who cares?).

The new Kanan mini-fig is great also.

This Kanan is completely new from the body up. The detail in the eyes under the mask is great. And of course we also get Chopper who hasn’t changed since the first iteration of the figure in 2014.

The rear of the ship lowers as a ramp and it comes with a cargo crate. Inside you can put spare blasters and the set comes with two printed Thermal Detonators.

The canopy detached to fit a pilot mini-fig and Chopper (or other Astromech Droid figure) slots in behind the cockpit.

The legs/landing gears are pose-able to recreate the look of the ship when in flight and it has two projectile launchers that are well concealed and triggered by using the yellow lever above the rear access ramp.

This set had quite a few stickers, but they all add much needed detail to the build to make it look screen-accurate, it does have one major flaw with its screen-accuracy which is size. In the series, Phantom II’s cockpit can hold a pilot and co-pilot and the rear hold has room for passengers, not just cargo. But why let that get in the way of a great little build which is a great size for both display and play.

My only issue with this set has only ever been the price. Even with the reasons I gave earlier in mind I still think it is massively overpriced. Take the Ahch-To Training set, a similar piece count has an RRP of £25.99, given the bespoke pieces on Phantom II, I would been more comfortable paying £29.99 for it. Alas, as I got it at the then-recently opened Lego Store in Leicester Square I didn’t think much of the price, I was in London after all.

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My Star Wars Life Part 16: Solo (Jan – May 2018)

Honestly, not a great deal has happened this year.

I started the year as I have done the past few years, binge-reading new Star Wars Books. I blazed my way through Cobalt Squadron, Canto Bight, Shadows of The Empire (I had the urge to dip into the Legends timeline) and From A Certain Point of View, and of course the audiobook for The Last Jedi.

The post-Christmas Amazon voucher spending spree granted me the Defence of Crait Lego set and a couple of the books mentioned above, I also bought the Ahch-To Training, Resistance Transport Pod and First Order Specialists Battle Pack Lego sets, helping my collection grow nicely.

In February I decided to start writing this blog, which has been a nice little getaway from thinking about the real world just long enough to write some words about Star Wars.

February also brought us the first two trailers for Solo: A Star Wars Story. The first look we got managed to almost quiet the growing fear that the film was awful. Well from what little we saw at the Super Bowl Trailer then the second trailer on the following day I think those fears were put to bed with a nice glass of milk and a bedtime story.

The Last Jedi was released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital in March/April and the special features were worth the cost alone, forget the film (which is great), the behind the scenes documentary, The Director and the Jedi was a beautiful look at the filming of TLJ and gave us an intimate look at what it was like for Rian Johnson to undertake such a monumental task of making the second part of the Sequel Trilogy.

March also heralded the end of an era. Star Wars: Rebels came to a monumental and glorious end that tugged the fans’ heartstrings for three weeks, from Kanan sacrificing himself, finding out more about Ahsoka’s fate and then that hour-and-a-half season finale. Dave Filoni gave us some amazing characters and stories over the past four years throughout Rebels and he ended it perfectly. And it was only a matter of time before Lucasfilm announced Filoni’s next series, Star Wars: Resistance, which I hope will be just as amazing.

In April we started to see the big marketing and merchandising push for Solo, starting with a new trailer and followed by all the toys and TV spots and as April turned to May, the onslaught of interviews and behind-the-scenes features just gives us more and more hope that Ron Howard has knocked this film out of the park.

He has. Solo is amazing. It’s a fun filled adventure with phenomenal performances and a brilliant story. So far I have seen it once and can not wait to see it again, and hopefully it won’t be long before I do.

The weekend before my birthday I got my first Lego set from Solo, the Imperial Patrol Battle Pack, a fun little set which ended my three month Lego drought and I got the Solo: A Star Wars Story soundtrack by John Powell (with the track ‘The Adventures of Han’ written and composed by John Williams) which I have really enjoyed listening to.

Since the release I have been eagerly awaiting Solo reaction episodes from my favourite podcasts. I’ve listened to quite a few but none more inspiring that the Solo Reaction Show From the Star Wars Underworld Podcast, I say inspiring because I have written a blog post based on their conversation which will be released on 15th June.

And now, on the 31st May (my birthday), the expert gift giver (my Wife) organised a collective gift, the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon Lego set. I’m two bags in and it’s looking to be a great set and the building will continue after the Falcon because I just ordered the Imperial TIE Fighter from the Solo: A Star Wars Story line.

And that’s that for this run of ‘My Star Wars Life’. Next week a series called ‘My Star Wars (Life) Reviews will start, reviewing the films, tv shows, books, comics and any other medium we get Star Wars stories.

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#Solo Sunday: The Spoiler-Filled Blog Series – Part 1

If you haven’t seen Solo: A Star Wars then this is NOT the blog post you are looking for and move along to one of the many great, spoiler free blog posts here.

I’ve not been subtle about my live of the film, in fact my two Solo podcasts were just full of adoration, the latest of which can be listened to HERE.

What did I love about it?

It was a great, fun film which just so happened to be set within the Star Wars universe. I honestly think it it wasn’t a Star Wars film I would have enjoyed it almost as much. It’s funny, full of adventure, great characters and a good story, what more could a movie-goer want?

Is it my favourite Star Wars film? No. Empire Strikes Back still wears the crown in my eyes but it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t need to break new ground like The Last Jedi did, like it or love it TLJ had a lot of work to do with the new characters, old characters and continue the Saga. Not an easy job really.

All Solo had to to was tell the story of a young man trying to find his place in the galaxy (if you boil it down) and does so in a highly entertaining way.

It has been said before, this could easily be the first part in a series of young Han Solo Adventures and I would be first in line to see them. I love Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han and his interactions with the other characters. Of course Chewie, Joonas Suotamo is amazing, I never thought anyone would do as good a job as Peter Mayhew but I was wrong. Joonas is just as much Chewie as Mayhew now and long may it continue. The scene where Han is thrown to ‘the Beast’ and it turns out to be Chewie is amazing. When Han speaks Shyriiwook to tell Chewie his plan to get out was great.

The growing bond between them is great to watch play out, from the scene on the AT Hauler where Han finds out his name, to Han giving Chewie weapon in the Kessel Mines all the way to Han shooting Beckett to save his Wookiee friend.

Qi’Ra is a great addition to the Star Wars universe, I found it hard to trust her at the start, does she really have feelings for Han or is she just playing him for a chance to escape Corellia. We know that Han has genuine affection for her which is his driving force for joining the Empire for a chance to return to Corellia and save her.

When Han meets her at Dryden Vos’ little shindig he’s over the moon to see her. She has to play it cool because of her position and you can tell that Vos has somewhat of a thing for her. The question is does she keep playing with Han to get the job done? It’s hard to tell really. I think the only genuine thing she said to him was after she tells him to save Chewie from Vos that thinking about going on adventures with him made her smile whilst she was doing the things that would make him look at her differently.

When she plays Vos and ends up killing him, I doubt it’s to really save Han’s life, but she’s looking out for herself really. She’s making her way up through the ranks of Crimson Dawn and now she has an audience with the head-guy himself, Darth Maul.

Lando is perfect, the right level of cool and suave and just plain awesome. Donald Glover made all the right choices when playing the character, his relationship with L3-3T is brilliant and the are they/aren’t they dynamic add a great comedic layer to the film that we’ve never had in a Star Wars film before. L3 is not like any Droid we have had before, all the others have in some way served but L3 doesn’t and you can tell that when her and Lando are alone, she’s the one in charge.

I love the fact that L3 becomes part of the Falcon. In The Last Jedi novel there is a passage where R2 is communicating with one of the droid brains in the ship, the one who likes bawdy jokes and doesn’t like C-3PO. I wonder why, 3PO doesn’t exactly line up with L3’s ideas on Droid Rights. L3’s integration with the Falcon really makes moments from the Original Trilogy mean a whole lot more. During the Death Star escape Han says to the ship “Hear me baby, hold together.” Is he actually talking to L3? As Kyle Newman points out in the ‘Steele Wars Live Solo Reaction Podcast’ in Empire Strikes Back, the Falcon directs them to Bespin, to Lando. L3’s at it again. Even the sound of the ship changes to the one we know when she is integrated.

Han may be our eyes and ears through the Underworld in this film but Tobias Beckett is our guide. He teaches Han what he needs to know about this criminal life he has undertaken by signing up with Beckett.

Beckett gives Han and Chewie advice from who you can and can’t trust (trust no one), who will and won’t betray you (everyone could betray you, don’t be disappointed), always think a few moves ahead and that you should always pay your debts or someone will kill you.

Beckett spends the film telling us what is going to happen. Trust no one and you will be betrayed. Beckett betrays Han and the group by telling Dryden Vos about their plan with Enfys Nest to take the Coaxium and the money and run. What’s in it for him? More money. And what happens when he finds out he’s been played a little? He makes a new plan, after shooting Vis’ goons because he was thinking and ‘I like to be the only one with a gun when I do.’

Beckett has a history in the Underworld, his crew knows Bossk and other scoundrels they could work with to get the job done. He was also involved in the death of famed bounty hunter Aura Sing, but he ‘only pushed her, the fall killed her.’ Yes, Beckett is also blessed with great wit and comedic timing.

Of course, Han shoots him after Beckett took the Coaxium and Chewie hostage, but there were no hard feelings, it’s what Beckett would have done. When Beckett claims he’s leaving for Tatooine to meet a big time gangster I did hope that he would pop up in another Solo film because I really liked this character but when he was revealed to be Vos’ informant it came as no surprise.

This post has run away with me and I’ve barely covered my adoration so keep your eyes peeled for the next one.

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My Star Wars Nerdgasms Part 3 – Identites

Back in February of 2017, my wife and I went to London to visit family and to go to an exhibition at the O2 Arena.

Star Wars Identities was in London and we had been given money for the tickets for Christmas. What better for my heavily pregnant wife to walk around one of the biggest nerdgasm’s I have ever had (she has been involved with my three biggest, lucky woman).

We were given wristbands that we had to scan at certain points and answer questions and it would create a Star Wars character, and this was all surrounded by costumes, props and production artwork.

I could list it all here but I’ll save the boredom, but I’ll give you a rundown of the feels and some highlights.

Obviously I was in awe. One of the first displays had an Original Stormtrooper, a First Order Stormtrooper costume, BB-8, Artoo, Threepio, Boba Fett and more to boot. Of course I start pointing out the most innocuous information about Stormtrooper helmets to my wife. You could hear her eyes rolling.

In another room a huge cabinet was full of ships. There was a Star Destroyer! A blooming Star Destroyer. That thing was huge! Luke’s X-Wing from ANH, his Snow Speeder from ESB. All the ROTJ Starfighters, Mon Cal cruiser, Slave 1. In another cabinet the Millennium Falcon, I got a picture of me with it.

I took a couple of selfies, one with ROTS Chewie and one with ROTJ Vader.

There was an incredible amount of original Ralph McQuarrie artwork. Lots of Vader sketches and the Emperors throne room ideas.

Oh, and an original Yoda puppet.

It was truly an amazing experience that I can’t recommend enough to anyone who gets a chance to go.

#Toy Tuesday: Lego Imperial Patrol Battle Pack

My first Solo: A Star Wars Story Lego set. OK it’s the Imperial Battle Pack releases for the film but I’m still pretty excited for it.

It’s a Battle Pack so its not a big build and its main focus is the mini-figs. As usual there are four in the set. An Imperial Officer, an Imperial Check Point Operative and two of the new Patrol Troopers that were introduced in Solo.

For the first time that I have noticed, this Battle Pack contains a build that is actually in a film, the patrol bike that we see chasing Han and Qi’Ra in the trailers for the film.

The set contains two bags of pieces and a loose instruction booklet, which has 32 steps to build the set. The set contains 99 pieces.

It’s a simple build, but the design looks impressive and is achieved by pieces folding down on either side to give it the angled look.

The Patrol Bike has room for one mini-fig to sit at the controls and two mounted stud-launchers, one in either side at the front.

I love the little details, especially the 1×1 printed Imperial logo. My only issue is that it sits on the ground when in the film it obviously hovers, a couple of clear pieces would have been nice to give that impression.

The mini-fig details are really good, I love the details on the new Patrol Troopers armour and helmets.

The set has an RRP of £12.99, basing the price on piece count and mini-figs I think it’s a reasonable price, especially with new prints on pieces and new helmet sculpts.

A decent price, a great build and a new Stormtrooper variant. A set I can highly recommend for kids and collectors alike.

My Star Wars Life Part 15 – The Last Jedi

Oh 2017. What a year.

The first few months were spent prepping for the baby, whose due date was 1st May. Now my wife’s family has a history for late babies and I was a month early… so I figured that our baby may be Kate but not as late as my wife and her siblings were… ok, I was aiming for May the Fourth. By now you can’t be surprised at that.

My friend Andrew texted me one afternoon telling me that Episode VIII had a title, ‘The Last Jedi’. I liked it. It worked on a lot of levels.

January to March were also filled with Lego goodness. I completed the list of Rogue One sets I was after (Imperial Tank, AT-ST and TIE Striker). Then Lego Store did a sale on sets that were going to be retired so I leapt at the chance to get the Resistance Transport from The Force Awakens an the A-Wing & Vader’s TIE Advanced Fighter set from Star Wars Rebels.

In the February, my wife and I went to London to visit family and to go to Star Wars: Identities. I had been given money to buy tickets for Christmas, so we went and it was amazing. There was a Yoda puppet from Empire!!! I’ve written the third ‘My Star Wars Nerdgasms’ about Star Wars: Identities and it will be out on Friday. We also went to the newly opened Lego Store where my Wife bought me the Phantom II from Rebels Season 3, which included the Thrawn mini-fig.

Funko also announced their Rebels Smugglers Bounty Box, and being a huge Rebels fan and having got the Ghost Crew plus Ahsoka and Chase Variant Sabine Pop! Vinyl figures I was desperate to get the two exclusives from that collectors box, Maul an Captain Rex. Unfortunately those boxes weren’t available in the UK but there were a few companies who would import them. So I ordered one.

We found out that due to medical reasons (nothing sinister) my wife would have to have labour induced a couple of weeks early, which was the same weekend of Star Wars Celebration.

She was to go into hospital on the Friday, on the Thursday she did her best to relax and be zen, I did the same, by watching the live streams from Celebration. I missed the 40th Anniversary and Carrie Fisher Tribute Panels but enjoyed the Dave Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo panel, the Ian McDiarmid panel and Ray Park panel.

The next day, as my wife went to hospital I was at work an I managed to download the audio for those missed panels from the day before. I shed a tear or two during the Carrie Fisher tribute and then was overcome with jealousy towards all the audience in the panel when John Williams performed live.

When I finished work I went to buy my wife some bits and went to the hospital. She was watching a film so I hopped on the hospitals free Wi-Fi for half an hour and watched the just released The Last Jedi teaser. I watched it a few times in that half an hour. Then texted with Andrew as we tried to dissect the teaser as much as possible.

As per our arrangement, my Mother-in-law came to the hospital to stay with my wife for the day, we were splitting the time up between us so we could rest, and seeing as neither my wife and I got a lot of sleep it was good to go to bed for a few hours. I also got to watch the Fridays Celebration panels.

That night, my wife’s waters broke, so again another sleepless night, staring at monitors and drinking a lot of free coffee, I went home for some sleep when my mother-in-law came to relieve me.

Again I watched more panels, the one on the top of my list, the Rebels panel. Oh it was good and then Filoni dropped the bomb, Season 4 was the final season.

I got to the hospital that evening, my Mother-in-law left for a little bit, she was coming back as the two of us were my wife’s birthing partners. And after a few hours of active labour, at 3:31 am our daughter was born. A couple of hours later, when it was just myself, my wife and our daughter, my wife went to sleep (who can blame her) and I walked the hospital halls taking to my baby, who I instantly nicknamed ‘Princess’ because we hadn’t thought of a name yet for a girl. We hadn’t found out the sex at any of the scans but we had an inclination that we were having a boy. I will admit, I did consider bringing ‘Carrie’ and ‘Leia’ to the table but neither would have been picked.

We went home the next day and I was off work for two weeks Paternity leave. Whilst I was off and learning how to take care of a baby, my wife bought me a couple of Lego sets. Luke’s Landspeeder (last weeks #ToyTuesday post) and Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle. The Rebels Smugglers Bounty Box also arrived.

After two weeks off it was back to work and my birthday was approaching, which of course meant more Lego. The collection grew quite a bit, Max’s Castle, a Rebel Alliance Battle Pack and the Special Forces TIE Fighter joined the growing ranks. I even managed to buy the Desert Skiff set a few days beforehand on sale.

I hadn’t been focusing on just the Lego collection. The Funko Pop! collection had grown as had my book collection. I had focused on the Exclusive Star Wars Pop!s, like Mace Windu and young Anakin, but the one I was happiest to get was the Celebration 2017 Exclusive Grand Admiral Thrawn. But things slowed down after that, like they tend to do when babies are involved.

I had saved the Amazon vouchers I got for my birthday for Force Friday and on the day I ordered Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer. A great set that looks great and was a brilliant build. I also wrangled myself a SDCC Exclusive Hologram Supreme Leader Snoke Pop! Vinyl which glows in the dark.

My annual bonus arrived in October and I got myself the First Order Heavy Assault Walker (AT-M6) and I got the Phasma novel.

After that the purchases stopped, we went on a family holiday to Center Parcs and on a pottery painting session I turned a Penguin into a Porg.

Not bad right?

Of course in October we also got the final The Last Jedi Trailer which was amazing. Midnight ticket was bought, Dad booked tickets for us for release day as well.

Then the TV spots started. I watched a handful but had to put myself of a TV spot embargo when I saw the one where Rey ignited Kylo’s lightsaber.

Of course I saw the film and at 3:30 am I walked from the cinema to my car in absolute shock. I couldn’t believe I had just seen Luke Skywalker become one with the Force. When my wife and daughter woke up, my wife asked if I enjoyed it and I honestly told her I wasn’t sure. She had me tell her the whole film and by the end I had come to the realisation that I did enjoy it, I just needed to process it. Needless to say I loved it when I saw it later that day.

As Christmas approached the Amazon Wish List was scoured and for Christmas I got the Lego First Order Star Destroyer. And after Christmas I got my hands on the Lego First Order AT-ST.

I tried my hardest to avoid the internet vitriol that was all over the Star Wars Fan Groups after The Last Jedi came out, but it was hard, and put a bit of a cloud over the fandom for me, but of course we only had to wait almost six months for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Solo: A SPOILER FREE Review

If you have listened to my reaction podcast (It’s right here if you haven’t) then you know I loved the film, if you could discern that in between the gushing praise and wow’s.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a love letter to the fans. It’s full of references to stuff from the Prequel and Original trilogies and even a few Clone Wars references too, which, seeing as everything is connected, feels perfect.

Alden Erenreich is an amazing Han Solo. He plays the character so well with perfect levels or cockiness, arrogance and heart.

Donald Glover nails Lando. He’s smooth and suave and just oozes the Lando charisma. He really deserves his own Lando film. Hands down, give that man his own film.

Joonas Suotamo has Chewie down. The walk, the mannerisms and the soul that Peter Mayhew brought to the character are still very much present. The character is in the best hands and Chewie has so much to do in this film and he steals the show.

Woody Harrelson is great as Tobias Beckett. He plays the mentor role brilliantly, teaching Han and Chewie about the criminal underworld. He’s intriguing and funny and I really can’t wait to get more material about the character.

Emilia Clarke as Qi’Ra is a great addition to the Star Wars saga. A complex character who brings an air of sophistication to an otherwise rag-tag group.

Paul Bettany plays a terrifying Crime Lord, Dryden Vos. He’s a brilliantly sinister villain and you just love to hate him.

Thandie Newton’s Val fits right in to the known Star Wars underworld and her character is up there with the ranks of ‘Most Bad-Ass’ with Boba Fett and Praetorian Guards.

Jon Favreau voices the CGI character Rio Durant. He’s fun, funny and is essentially a four armed space monkey. His character alone is worth the price of admission.

Tonally, the film is a fun adventure set within an aspect of the Star Wars Universe we’ve seen in mere glimpses but now we get to dive head first into the criminal underworld and it’s a great place and as Han as our guide we get to learn about it through him and Chewie.

The Han and Chewie relationship is the centre of the film and Alden and Joonas pull it off so well. From the unexpected beginning of their relationship to the final shot they get closer and their bond gets deeper.

Cinematically this film looks great. Bradford Young has shot a beautiful film. Every planet looks different, not just in terms of location but the lighting and camera techniques used.

The music is glorious. John Powell mixes old and recognisable themes from previous Star Wars scores with amazing new music. There’s not one track that feels out of place.

Solo feels like a Star Wars film made pre-Disney. There’s a definite George Lucas feel to the whole film, which is understandable, Kasdan did start work on Solo before Lucasfilm was bought by Disney.

The script is incredibly well written. Laurence Kasdan has written more Han Solo than any screenwriter and he knows the character so well, and Jon Kasdan has helped craft a beautiful story that works on so many levels, for hardcore and casual fans alike. They know their Star Wars and they know it well.

Finally the Director, Ron Howard. He has shepherded this film from the brink of disaster and made it the crown jewel of this summers cinematic onslaught of popcorn films. I was always dubious about Phil Lord and Chris Miller directing Solo and the only reason I was shocked when they were fired was because how late in the filming process it happened, but as soon as Ron Howard was announced I did take a deep breath and held out some, but not a lot of hope. Kathy Kennedy made the right choice, why throw out such a great script and make the actors uncomfortable by making them improvise? I’m. It saying Lord and Miller are bad directors, I love The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street is a fun film, and I can kind of see why they got the job on Solo but it wasn’t meant to be. Ron Howard deserves the keys to the kingdom after this and I hope he agrees to do a Solo sequel because there are plenty more stories to tell about this younger version of our favourite scoundrel.

I love this film, and I can safely say that even though I’ve only seen it once but I’ve been thinking about it non-stop. Now, stop reading this blog and go see this film. Now.

A spoiler-filled post will be out next week.

My Star Wars Nerdgasms Part 2.2 – Celebration 2016 (Saturday)

Buckle up baby, this is going to be a long one.

I woke up at 2:30 and was in the queue by 3:15 (I got slightly lost). There I met my fellow queuers Carlos, Jonny (what a coincidence) and Craig. We waited, we chatted, we tried to get some sleep but it wasn’t happening.

One big topic of conversation was the exclusive Black Series Kylo Ren figure, you needed to get a ticket to buy it and we were eyeing that queue with trepidation.

We finally got our Rebels wristbands and the four of us walked rather brusquely to the Kylo queue. Tickets acquired they headed off as I went into a third line to get a wristband for the EA panel.

The wait was laborious. I could have gone back to the hotel for another hour or so of sleep but I had got my plan together and I just knew if I deviated from the plan it would go horribly wrong. So I loaded myself up on caffeine and croissant and waited.

The doors opened at 10 (ish) so the massive line to get in the convention hall was my next destination, where the tenuous waiting began.

Not far from me, I could overhear a conversation between two older guys and a younger guy. The two older guys had been to a few Celebrations and their whole spiel was how Lucas had been wrong with everything he did since 1983. Special Editions were bad. Prequels were terrible, even in 3D. And this poor younger guy was a relatively new fan and here he was being preached how bad it all was.

I couldn’t quite figure out why would you spend so much money to travel and go to conventions and see the films if you hate it that much? I still can’t quite get my head around it. But what do I know?

The wait for the queue went on, and on but frivolity arrived by the appearance of two Jedi Jokers. They were hilarious, they were both there to do the autograph and photo-op with Mark Hamill.

The first stop I had planned was the queue for the Celebration Store. I was sidetracked by Dave Filoni who was near an exit taking pictures with some fans. I didn’t get a photo but I saw him and he said he had to go. I ended up getting a pass to the store later in the day, as I waited for my slot by the door someone came by saying ‘excuse me.’ I moved out of the way as PETER MAYHEW(!!!) went by on a scooter.

I went to a couple of panels, a publishing one which was slightly disappointing, they didn’t touch on the novels but talked about the Rogue One DK books, the Adventures in Wild Space series and other younger reader stuff. And after a mandated break that my wife said I had to take (I hadn’t stopped since the convention opened and was getting tired and hangry). I went to the Marvel panel, where some future issues were previewed. I left during the Q&A to run to the Rebels panel.

That was the Celebration highlight for me. Filoni on stage with Tiya Sicar and Sam Witwer. Hosted by Warwick Davis.

The room exploded after the Season 3 Trailer. The crowd chanted ‘Thrawn’ for a good minute. A video from Timothy Zahn followed, showing his involvement with the series and the first Thrawn novel was announced.

Then they showed the Season 3 Premiere, Oh it was glorious.

After that I went back to my wife for a little bit, slumped over the table until it was time for the EA panel, which was fun, with a couple of minor announcements for Battlefront, Galaxy of Heroes and KOTOR. Although the big video presentation that they showed had been released a couple of weeks earlier and they had Amy Hennig there to show us an already seen clip from what was called ‘Project Ragtag’ that has since been cancelled to tell us that they were still working on it… yeah that was it.

And with that my time at Celebration came to an end. Room Service was bought and eaten. Then I fell asleep, forgetting to set an alarm. Oops.

My Star Wars Nerdgasms Part 2.1 – Celebration 2016 (Friday)

Buckle up baby, this is going to be a long one.

For my 30th birthday, the gift-giving queen asked me what I wanted and after some thinking and a modicum of research, I asked for two day tickets for Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London and a T-Shirt and Badge Set, I got tickets for Friday and Saturday. She agreed and said she would join me on the trip and act as bag lady, so I would be able to buy as much as I wanted and she would look after it in nearby location.

As the convention approached, all necessary arrangements were made. We got a hotel room not far from the convention centre, spending money was saved and/or given for birthday, research was conducted on Convention Exclusive merchandise and a plan of what panels I would attend was made.

So on the 15th of July, I woke my wife up at 5 am and we drove to London. The goal, to arrive in time for the doors to open and total geek immersion to occur.

I timed it really well and was able to run to the Underground Toys booth first to buy the four Con Exclusive Pop! Vinyls before going to the Ahsoka Lives panel with Dave Filoni, Pablo Hidalgo and Ashley Eckstein.

I then went to a DK Books panel with authors Pablo Hidalgo, Jason Fry and artist Kemp Remillard. I asked Pablo where the little tid-bits of backstory, such as where Phasma got her armour (in universe) cane from and was told that generally he comes up with them but runs them by the film directors first.

Then the three of them signed my copy of The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections. Major geek moment, I met Pablo Hidalgo!!!

I went back to my wife, who had been sat in the food court with all of our luggage just as the Running of the Willrow Hoods. It was incredibly surreal. My wife told me about an incredible Darth Maul cosplayer she had seen but he had left the area by then.

The Rogue One panel was streamed into the main where hundreds of us were gathered, after the Behind the Scenes clip I went into the nearby EA booth and played some Battlefront, on the new and upcoming Bespin map. We got a free t-shirt from EA, and whilst it may not look like much it now holds incredible sentimental value, it was the t-shirt I wore when my daughter was born.

Anyway, after that it was the ‘Hanging with the Fetts’ panel with Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan. It was a fun panel and they both answers my questions, which can be seen on the Star Wars YouTube channel. I’ll let you guess which one I am.

And after that it was off to the hotel, a quick walk down the road and it was full of Celebration attendees (I made the assumption by the amount of Star Wars t-shirts by square foot). An early night was had ready to wake up early to get in the queue for the Rebels panel on the main stage, wristbands were being handed out at 6.

#Toy Tuesday: Lego Millennium Falcon (2015)

This set is the one that dragged me back into the world of Star Wars Lego. The last set I had bought was in 2005, the Grievous Chase set with Obi-Wan on Boga and Grievous in his Wheel Bike. I had admired the Star Wars Lego from afar for ten years until I got the Lego Force Awakens Millennium Falcon for Christmas.

The set took roughly 8 hours to build. I had to keep track as my Mother-in-law was adamant that I took my time and enjoyed building it, and oh boy did I enjoy building it.

Once you got past the first couple of bags which made up the framework that the base of the set was built on you could see the iconic ship taking shape.

The interior is well detailed, with the Dejarik table and couch towards the front with the navigation console that Han sits at in A New Hope as Luke trains with the remote and at the back a set of cargo containers, the hyperdrive and two beds it makes the space inside feel used but not cluttered, leaving enough room to display mini-figs if you so desired.

The cockpit can fit two mini-figs, with a console and lever right at the front. The canopy is printed a printed piece, thankfully, as adding stickers to a clear piece can be difficult at times.

The top gun turret opens up and inside is a block where you can seat two mini-figs to ‘man the cannons’.

Both sets of cannons can rotate and are on hinges so they can be played with in a screen accurate fashion.

Inside, there is also a hidden smuggling compartment which I use to store weapons in, but it’s a great play feature.

And on the other side is the ramp. Which given how low the ship is to the ground on its landing gear, feels a bit redundant and is barely noticeable on the outside.

As far as screen accuracy goes, for a non-UCS set the details are brilliant. The utilisation of small pieces on the hull really make the Falcon look like the ship in the films. There are some minor inaccuracies but they don’t reduce the quality of the set in my opinion. Firstly, the Falcon’s landing gears raised it higher from the ground. The gun turrets are too big and the cockpit should be able to hold four crew.

But at the end of the day, as I have said in previous Lego reviews, we don’t buy these sets for screen accuracy. The build is fantastic and seeing as this is for all ages and not like the £800 UCS Millennium Falcon that looks 100% screen accurate, I’m not going to hold the inaccuracies over its plastic 1×1 head.

The mini-fig selection is pretty solid, we get five heroes, Rey, Finn, BB-8, Han and Chewie and we get Tasu-Leach and a random Kanjaklub Gang Member for them to fight. All the humans (and Wookiee) get weapons, the heroes look almost right for their characters but the villains get a musket and old-timey pistols from Lego Pirate sets, which are kind of fitting for the characters but don’t really look Star Wars.

Unfortunately, this version of the Millennium Falcon has now been retired to make way for the new Kessel Run Millennium Falcon set from the Solo: A Star Wars Story range of sets, which I hope to be getting soon, so watch this space for a review in the future.

This set is still, by far, my favourite Star Wars Lego set that I have ever built. Is it because it’s the Falcon? Maybe? Did it make me feel nostalgic for 1999 when I first got Star Wars Lego? Possibly? Whatever the reason it doesn’t really matter.

An incredible set, a very fun build but slightly repetitive when building the outer hull plates but not as repetitive as building a TIE Fighters wings. If you haven’t got this set then I do recommend looking for it in stores or on the secondary market because I’m sure it will be a while before we get another OT/ST style Millennium Falcon.

My Star Wars Life Part 14 – Rogue One

2016 started with me reading Alan Dean Fosters novelisation of The Force Awakens and seeing it for the third time at the cinema, this time with my wife and her family.

Over the next couple of months I binged on Star Wars books. The three Journey to the Force Awakens junior books were great fun, I loved the new written adventures of Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia and I finally read Lost Stars by Claudia Gray (which is still one of the best books in the new canon).

I also developed a very unhealthy obsession with Funko Pop! Vinyl. Within a month my collection had gone from seven that I got for Christmas to almost twenty. I tore myself away from them briefly to buy the Lego Rey’s Speeder set, not a long or big build but a nice looking set nonetheless.

Finally the home release of The Force Awakens came out in March and on top of that, I was able to convince my wife to buy me tickets for Star Wars Celebration in London for my birthday (I was turning 30 and wanted to do something memorable).

Then one day we found out that the Rogue One teaser trailer was coming out the next day.

The next day, at work I was at my computer at lunch and the news broke, the trailer was online. I plugged in my headphones and set it off.

Two co-workers were in the room, the looks on their faces said it all. I was a geek. Not only that but when the alarm was sounding through the trailer, I had the volume so loud they thought I was listening to cats being injured. I didn’t care and watched it a couple more times and went back to work.

I started a Star Wars/Pop! Vinyl review channel on YouTube which can be viewed HERE. But it was short lived when collecting started to become a chore instead of fun.

By now, my wife and I had been trying for a baby and we finally found out one afternoons that she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the next day my wife suffered a miscarriage.

Over the next few weeks we threw ourselves into whatever we could to take our minds off of it. For her that meant clothes, me, Lego and Pop!s. One afternoon, in a weird and disturbing flashback to years before, after my Dad and I watched The Force Awakens on his 55 inch TV, I bought a Lego set and sat on the living room floor and built it. The set in question, Poe Dameron’s X-Wing.

Not long after, my birthday arrived and with it a slew of Lego sets. I was building for what felt like days, it was great. And of course, Star Wars Celebration was getting closer.

Celebration was amazing, just absolutely amazing. So amazing in fact that I have written about it in two… yes TWO blog posts that will be out later this week.

In August, whilst away on a family holiday with my in-laws news got around that a new Rogue One trailer was coming out the next day. So when it did I became rather anti-social for a few minutes and hid in a room for five minutes and left with a huge grin on my face. Unfortunately that was also the week that Kenny Baker passed away.

September 1st was Rogue Friday. Oh the beautiful, beautiful toys. I went to Tesco at midnight in hope of buying up some new goodies but left disappointed. But when I woke up I was able to reserve a Lego set, the U-Wing and picked it up after work. Then on the Saturday after I went to Toys R Us and got the Jyn Erso and Scariff Shoretrooper TRU Exclusive Pop! Vinyl figures. A quick stroll through town brought my attention to HMV where they had some Pop!s for sale and I got a discounted Leia in Boushh Disguise for over half price. And to top it off, not long after my wife and I found out that she was pregnant.

I had to hold back my collecting for the rest of the year. My mother-in-law took note of the Rogue One Lego sets I was after and so I was forbidden to buy any in case they got me it for Christmas. So I limited myself to amassing an army of Pop!s instead. By now I had filled shelves and my Dad and I had put more shelves up in the Man Cave to accommodate the growing collection. If you have seen the pictures in the post Collecting: Lego and Pop! Vinyl (read it here) then you know I’m almost out of space again.

Just before Christmas, Lego released their Winter wave of sets, and having just received a bonus from work I bought one of the new sets from Rogue One, the new Y-Wing. It was a great build and a huge improvement on the version I had bought back in 1999.

As Christmas rolled around again I was able to figure out (ok my Wife flat-out asked me for confirmation on what set I wanted) which set my in-laws we’re buying me, Krennic’s Shuttle.

Of course I had seen Rogue One by then, three times in fact. Midnight screening, once with my dad and as I was nearby on the night of our work Christmas do I saw it after the meal before I went home. Luckily my Wife was already asleep by the time I got home.

On 23rd December it was revealed that Carrie Fisher had suffered a medical emergency on a plane 15 minutes before landing in L.A. Reports that came out after that claimed she was in a stable condition. I, like many other fans felt like things would be ok. Sadly I was wrong.

On the 27th December, during a family gathering at my wife’s grandparents house she called over to me, telling me Carrie had passed away.

I can’t describe what I felt, it’s not like I knew her personally, I hadn’t even met her at a Celebration after deciding to avoid any autograph or photo-op lines. But hearing about her passing affected me, along with the rest of the fan base as I later found out when I finally got the courage to listen to Steele Saunders Live Call In Show that was recorded that day.

That night as I watched the news (the only time I ever did by choice) and saw the piece on her life, I sat on the front room floor, building Lego in a state of mourning.

Of course, the internet showed it’s ugly head. So many fans were bellyaching about the future of the character and demanding answers. It was only to be expected I suppose, that’s the internet for you these days.

And the last days of the year went by and the Rogue One hype carried us through and Episode VIII was on the horizon.

My Star Wars Nerdgasms Part 1 – Secret Cinema

Let’s be honest, 2015 was a massive year for us fans.

And as my excitement for The Force Awakens grew, so did my book collection and as my birthday approached, my wife began plotting gifts.

And bang, she knocked it out of the park, two tickets to the Secret Cinema: Empire Strikes Back.

True to the name, we had no idea what to expect. We didn’t even get a location until a few days before the event. We were sent instructions to dress according to a faction we had to discover by taking a test (we both were smugglers), and that we had to go and buy props.

I made myself a rough but ready Han Solo outfit, my wife dressed somewhat smuggler-y. We drove to London, went to the shop and bought some props (goggles, a coloured scarf, a couple of patches) and made our way to the secret location.

We all lined up by a building and then, in small groups , we were welcomed to the Rebellion and to avoid the Empire’s agents we had to run through a London street. It was nuts. Amazing but nuts.

After signing in and sealing our phones we went inside into what was a Rebel hanger bay.

We got loaded into a shipping crate and General Madine told us that we were going to be shipped off to the Rebel base. We were taken into the ‘ship’ and watched through the view screen as we took off, a Star Destroyer hovered over the city. We went into space and then to lightspeed.

We came out of lightspeed and landed, only to be boarded by an Imperial Officer and two Stormtroopers who captured someone. We then disembarked with instructions to find currency to barter our way into a ship.

We found ourselves in Mos Eisley!!! I was so excited! They had built a set in a warehouse. Characters moved around the place, lots of Stormtroopers. Boba Fett walked past us. Luke, Ben and the droids drove past us. We went to the Cantina where a band was playing. When they played the Cantina music everyone got up to dance.

Suddenly there was a commotion and we saw Han and Chewie run from the bar. That was our cue to leave to go to the transport.

Where we ended up on The Death Star!!! We milled around until a Stormtrooper told us to go to the lower level where we all gathered and watched as Tarkin had Alderaan destroyed, Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie fought Imperial forces. Obi-Wan and Vader fought and after the briefing from General Dodonna, Luke’s X-Wing flew overhead, I will admit, at that point I had a tear in my eye. Then he landed and we saw the medal ceremony before being taken into a screening area where we watched the film.

Not only did we watch the film, the actors also re-enacted some scenes. Leia led Rebel forces through Echo Base past us. We saw the Han & Leia kiss on a platform above us. Vader marches by through a corridor next to us and right above the screen we saw Luke and Vader fight, Luke lost his hand and fell from the platform to escape.

As we left, a giant smile plastered on my face, a big party kicked off in the main area and I saw Lobot doing The Robot.

I spent the whole drive home being so slobberingly grateful I’m sure my wife was sick of me by the time we got home. It was amazing. A truly immersive and memorable Star Wars experience.

Solo: One Week To Go

Spoiler Free Zone!!!

With only one week to go until Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out my anticipation levels are very, very high.

The only problem is, unlike the previous three cinematic instalments to the franchise, there is a longer gap between the premiere and general release.

Meaning, the reviews are starting to come thick and fast. I’m trying to avoid any that don’t say ‘Spoiler Free’ in the title or at least the first paragraph, one such review was from Making Star Wars. Net by Jason Ward that you can read here.

I also took a quick peek at the Empire review to see how many stars they gave it (4 stars).

I tried to spend the past couple of weeks avoiding all things Solo related but the masses of news, pictures and general internet buzz last week for the premiere just got me hyped and I caved. I watched everything the Star Wars Youtube channel has to offer, plus the clip from one of the Tonight Shows that Woody Harrelson did an interview on where *** talks to ******* and *** about the ******* ***** in *** *******. Yeah. You know the one I mean.

John Powell has also released the track listing for the score, which thankfully doesn’t give us a ‘Qui-Gon’s Noble End’ type reveal. But now I’m in full speculation mode I wonder if the tracks are in the order they are in the film, so I’m trying to sort the timeline in my head, something I’ve done for the last three films, and usually I am completely wrong. It’s still fun though.

One thing I can safely say, based on the little tid-bits from headlines and the Jason Ward review I linked earlier, the reception for the film is positive. I’m sure many fans had had worries that within would be the worst of the latest films given its very public production woes but those seem to have been swept under the rug now the film has been seen by some.

Frankly, a week feels too long to wait and the spoiler dodging will be difficult. But in seven days the effort will be well worth it, roll on 00:01 on 24th May.

#Toy Tuesday: Lego Luke’s Landspeeder (2017)

This set is quite special to me because of when I got it. Our daughter had just been born and my wife thought it would be nice to splurge a little bit, she bought herself some stuff and asked me what Lego I would like. So I gave her a list.

The next day this set arrived.

The latest version of Luke’s Landspeeder. A great little set and fun build. It come with four mini-figs; Luke, Obi-Wan, C-3P0 and a Tusken Raider (pictured below) and a rat… yes, a rat (not pictured at all). The R2-D2 is from a 1999 set, but I added it on here to make is screen accurate for display purposes.

Its a quick and easy build, but to get an updated version is great, I have the original version from 1999 in the shed which I really want to rebuild at some point.

The detail is, as always with Lego, fantastic, I love the way the beams are used to make the front/side detail and, even though I’m not a great fan of stickers, the sets would look rather bare without them and they are more cost-effective than Lego making loads of bespoke, printed bricks which make the price jump up.

The printing on the mini-figs is lovely, and the C-3P0 and Tusken Raider head sculpts are spot-on.

Of course no Lego set can come without some play features. Luckily they have steered clear of any projectile launchers and kept it simple and within the realm of realism (within Star Wars) and gave the set a cargo hold at the back which fits a lightsaber and pair of Luke’s binoculars from the deleted scene is A New Hope where he sees the battle between the Devastator and Tantive IV.

The recommended retail price for this set is £19.99. Of course it can be found cheaper if you go searching for it but for what you get with the set, four mini-figs, a nice vehicle and a small grey rodent (to represent a Womp Rat I can only assume) the price reflects what we get. The set may only be 149 pieces but the mini-figs make up for the extra cost in my eyes. A great set for beginners and collectors alike and I highly recommend it.

My Star Wars Life Part 13 – The Force Awakens

To say that I was excited for December would be an understatement. New Star Wars!!! Better than Christmas!

I did my best to play it cool, but by March I couldn’t hold it any longer.

I bought The Phantom Menace on DVD, finally and at the end of March, I took a week off work, to use up the last of my holiday. One thing I put on my agenda, watch the Saga, in chronological order. Monday morning I popped in Phantom Menace.

It was the first time I had watched it for years. My VHS copy got chewed up in the video player years before and I never replaced it until then.

And even though I went in with trepidation and memories of disappointment, I really enjoyed it. I could have done without the extended Pod Race but overall I gained a new found appreciation for it.

I planned to watch one episode a day. My wife was working all week so I had that option, but I needed to fill my days with more Star Wars… so I found a website where I could watch Clone Wars episodes.

But like Anakin I wanted more (have I already used that line on a post). So I did some research into the new Canon books and bought A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and anticipated its arrival.

Tuesday I watched Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Plus more Clone Wars.

I did a small filming job which are into my viewing schedule but as the footage converted I managed to get more views of the stories from that far, far away galaxy in.

By the end of the week I had watched two and a half seasons and all six films. I had even bought the Clone Wars film on DVD and had ordered Heir to the Jedi and I had been consuming the Marvel Star Wars series on a monthly basis so I was doing well.

Then one day in April I faced my wife’s wrath. I got home from work and found that Star Wars Celebration were live streaming the Force Awakens panel. I pulled my chair up to the computer and watched in awe.

My wife called, asking me to go and buy something for dinner. I agreed, knowing she wouldn’t be home for a while. So instead of going out then and there I carried on watching.

The trailer hit. Those infamous words, “Chewie, we’re home.” echoed through my head. I watched it a couple more times and went out to buy the food.

Luckily my wife got home as the food was nearing the end of cooking, but it was close.

For my birthday, my wife kept going on about how much I was going to love my present, how she was excited to see my face when she showed me what it was.

She caved a couple of weeks before my birthday when she finally got tickets, we were going to Secret Cinema: The Empire Strikes Back, a totally immersive experience that I have written about in detail in this Fridays post.

Needless to say it was amazing.

As the year went on, we got the Behind the Scenes reel from SAN Diego Comic-Con, so much more stuff for us to sink our teeth into.

Force Friday brought floods of merchandise, I got a Deluxe Finn with Armour the day before from the local super market, and I spent Force Friday sat in my house, locked in a room with two cats as we had all of our windows and doors replaced and I watched Clone Wars episodes. Eventually I went out and bought the Journey to the Force Awakens trading card binder and some packs of cards.

I finally got my hands on Chuck Wendig’s first novel Aftermath and devoured it.

In October we got the last trailer and the tickets went on sale. Midnight screening booked and I was ecstatic.

As more and more TV spots showed up I put myself on a Star Wars embargo, no more Force Awakens media for me. So I bought Star Wars Battlefront and played it night after night.

The day finally came and my wife asked how I felt, I told her I was nervous. What if it sucked?

It didn’t.

That Christmas was a Star Wars extravaganza, two collections were started, the Funko Pop! Vinyl collection with Yoda and Boba Fett and the Lego collection with the Millennium Falcon.

Through December I saw The Force Awakens three times (tried to go more but life got in the way).

That New Years, someone said that it was 365 days until the next New Years. After a bit of maths I said it was 350 days until the next Star Wars film. And so we entered 2016 and the year of Rogue One…

Speculation: What Will Lucasfilm Learn From the Sequel Trilogy for 10, 11 and 12?

When it comes to fan opinions, Star Wars fans are very vocal about ours, at times this can be good and lead to great conversation but other times it’s terrible, which leads to very opinionated fans barraging people who work on our beloved franchise with hate-tweets and not-so-constructive criticism about the direction they take a film or tv series.

But sometimes, just sometimes the criticism is constructive and on occasion fan opinions can help direct where a franchise will head. Was it pure luck we got a fan-favourite character from the Legends timeline added into canon via Rebels (talking about Thrawn there). Or did the fan base have something to do with it?

We can all predict that sometime after Episode 9 we will get another trilogy featuring our new heroes a bit older facing a new galactic threat, what it will be and when is up in the air and purely speculative but will Lucasfilm listen to some of the criticism that has been given to them from the fan base?

One huge area of criticism has been a lack of direction for the sequel trilogy. George Lucas oversaw both the Original and Prequel trilogies. Granted he wrote and directed the Prequel trilogy in its entirety so he had complete control let’s put that on one side for now and focus on the Original Trilogy.

Lucas says he always had a grand plan for the saga. Whether or not this is strictly true I don’t know. Some believe he did, others believe he had some of the big moments planned and the rest was made up in the writing. Who knows other than Lucas.

But he did come up with the stories for all three films. He wrote A New Hope and had other writers come on board for Empire and Jedi but they followed Lucas’s plan. In effect he oversaw the trilogy, he had some plan and the trilogy followed it. This cannot be said for the Sequel Trilogy. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan wrote The Force Awakens and came up with ideas for where they would like to see the trilogy go. Rian Johnson wrote The Last Jedi, and according to cast members he didn’t exactly follow the plan as laid out by J.J. Now Abrams is back what direction will he take Episode 9?

What I am getting at here is that there is no ‘overseer’ on this trilogy. Now, in my opinion this hasn’t been a problem and doubt it will be, but will Lucasfilm give one person the reigns for the next saga trilogy?

Rian Johnson has got his own trilogy that he is working on. It’s doubtful he will direct all three parts, rather I suspect he will write and direct part one and write treatments or at least working drafts of the second two instalments. Beniof and Weis are overseeing a series of films. Will an overseer be tasked with shepherding the next saga trilogy? I’m not saying that their word is 100% law but more like a guide to keep the overall story on an agreed track.

Maybe they won’t announce the directors too early. J.J. Abrams was a shoe-in in my opinion. Honestly he was the name I always had at the top of my list. The shock came when they announced Rian Johnson. I never thought he would be on Lucasfilm’s list of directors. Now I love Rian Johnson. I have enjoyed all of his movies to date and cant wait to see what he does next. But it wasn’t long after that they announced Colin Trevorrow to be directing Episode IX.

It wasn’t surprising but something didn’t click right for me on that one and I couldn’t put my finger on it. His previous work was good, I enjoyed ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ and I thought ‘Jurassic World’ was a great addition to that franchise (the new one that comes out this year however looks awful). And then he got the sack and replaced with J.J. Abrams. Good choice there I think.

Was Trevorrow’s involvement announced too early? Yes. I honestly think the big problem was that it was announced very early on. Look at what happened between his announcement and his subsequent sacking. He made a film that the world hated, this causing the fans to riot and demand his removal. The passing of Carrie Fisher caused behind the scenes problems, no more Leia, what do we do now? The pressure must have certainly been getting worse by then. He was working on Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom quite heavily, taking him away from the writing on Episode IX. And if you want to believe the rumours he was kicking off about wanting Luke to not die in The Last Jedi. Not to mention the rumours that all of his successes were going to his head and making him difficult to work with.

What I think Lucasfilm should have done is keep his involvement quiet and before the big marketing push for The Last Jedi the Episode IX director be announced. Have the issues be dealt with in secret, instead of essentially adding another notch to Kathleen Kennedy’s belt of fired/replaced directors. It doesn’t look good for Lucasfilm really.

The next Trilogy will have to focus on the Sequel Trilogies main characters, whilst adding new characters. A big complaint has been that the legacy characters have been pushed to the sidelines. The next Trilogy really should focus on Rey and Co. facing a brand new enemy, not another Empire inspired group but something new and more dangerous. Sure, kill off one of the leads, give the story some weight but don’t just sideline Rey, Poe, Finn and Kylo and please give Chewie something to do other than try to eat Porgs.

And lastly, don’t just introduce big mysteries that won’t get the pay-off the fans want. I have no problem with the Snoke and Rey mysteries from the Sequel trilogy and how they played out but having too many mysteries that we don’t get closure for would really divide the fan base and we don’t want that now do we?

#Toy Tuesday: The Maul Pop! Vinyls

So far, Funko have released two Pop! Vinyl Darth Maul figures. One from Phantom Menace and the other from Rebels.

The Phantom Menace Maul was released early in the Star Wars range of Pop! Vinyls and is a nice looking figure in the usual hero pose that Funko adopted for the early Pop! figures. It is well detailed and the facial tattoos are incredibly accurate and I love the red swirls in his eyes to symbolise his Sith-ness.

The lightsaber is my only issue with the figure, the rear blade is bent on mine, an issue with the packaging perhaps?

Here you can see the bend in the lightsaber more clearly, but the detail we get in the figure from all angles is incredible and it’s a brilliant representation of the character.

The Rebels Maul Pop! figure was a Smuggler’s Bounty Exclusive for their Rebels box in February 2017, a long with the Rebels Captain Rex. I can very easily say that the Rebels Maul is one of my favourite Pop!s of all time.

This figure is a testament to how the Pop! Vinyl range has evolved over the years. The detail has always been fantastic but this Maul figure is just gorgeous. The full body detail and the sculpt of the lightsaber hilt just blows me away.

The full body tattoos are well painted and the robotic feet look great.

The second Maul figure has a nicer head sculpt, the horns are smaller which I like more and unlike the Phantom Menace figure the head is smooth.

Both figures are great and putting them side-by-side really shows the evolution of Funko’s style, they are, to quite General Grievous, “fine additions to my collection.”

My Star Wars Life Part 12 – The Disney Acquisition

It was quiet.

Too quiet.

They announced a writer, Michael Arndt. He had written some films I liked. This was promising.

The speculation on who would direct. Would they follow George Lucas’s original idea. Would we seen the original characters in these new films? Will they follow the EU?

A lot of people got it right and it was finally announced that J. J. Abrams would direct. Excellent news.

Then Lawrence Kasdan was announced as a writer for the film. It was like all the stars were aligning and the road to paradise was being shown to us.

Rumours circulated about more films, the stand-alone Star Wars Anthology films. Boba Fett was heavily rumoured as well as a film called Rogue One and the Han Solo film. Episodes VII, VIII and IX were obviously happening of course.

It was announced, on 25th April 2014 that after 35 years the Expanded Universe was being discontinued and a the new canon timeline would include the Clone Wars and upcoming Rebels TV series and any books released from then on. Comics were not canon until the franchise returned to Marvel in 2015.

For many this was sacrilege. For me it was a smart move, having fallen significantly behind with my EU reading, I was really not up to date with the goings on in that far, far away galaxy.

It also gave the makers a fresh new playground to roam around in rather than be stuck with a huge continuity that new fans would struggle to catch up with.

A few days later we got the cast announcement and table read photo. The old guard and the new. Speculation was rife. Who were all these new actors playing? The sons and daughters of our heroes? Only time could tell.

The build up for Rebels grew and it was released later that year. I didn’t jump on that bandwagon at the time, not having Disney access was a big factor. But I read about it and liked what I saw.

And then one November afternoon a teaser trailer was released. I was at work and after we closed for the day myself and two co-workers gathered around a computer and played the video.

Wow! I came straight home and watched it on the tv. Names were released for the new characters, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, BB-8 and Snoke.

And as the year came to an end, my anticipation began to grow…

Speculation: Episode IX

Just saying before I begin. This is all pure speculation, just ideas I have about the upcoming film based on my thoughts and views of the Sequel Trilogy so far.

There should be a time jump of at least 5 years.

Opening crawl – we find out that Leia has died. Either succumbing to her injuries in TLJ or assassinated by Kylo’s forces. Possibly even the Knights of Ren.

Rose, Poe and Finn are leaders in the new Rebellion.

At some point after TLJ, Leia negotiated an alliance with the Chiss and (maybe) Mandolrians.

Rey has started training a small group of future Jedi, learning from the Ahch-To books. They are more balanced in their use of the Force rather than the ‘Light’ side as shown in the prequels.

A battle goes wrong for the Rebels and Finn goes to Rey and her Jedi for help.

Rey and her Jedi will take on Kylo and the Knights of Ren.

Rey and Kylo will be evenly matched. So much so that neither can actually win in a fight.

Finn is severely injured or killed in an attempt to subdue Kylo long enough for Rey to capture him.

Ren is imprisoned, and will stay imprisoned until the next Trilogy.

The Rebel army enlists more soldiers and ships to their cause and they take on Admiral Hux and his fleet. The First Order are caught off guard when the Chiss and Mandalorian armies arrive and are overrun by the opposing forces.

The First Order flagship is destroyed, killing Hux and leaving the rest of the fleet in disarray as they are now outnumbered.

Phasma has survived, but is horribly scarred after her last encounter with Finn. She leads ground troops against the Rebel army led by Rose. Rose and Phasma have their face off with Phasma finally biting the dust.

Rey and Poe (maybe Finn if he survives) manage to unite the galaxy under the Galactic Alliance.

Toy Tuesday: Ahch-To Training

This was the set I was desperate for. And it wasn’t released until January this year.

Firstly, it has the first Lego Mini-Fig of post-Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker. To say that it was highly desired is an understatement.

The mini-fig is in the white robes from the end of The Force Awakens and a few scenes from The Last Jedi, and if I were to be picky I would say that this is the wrong outfit for this set and he should be wearing the outfit from the rest of the Ahch-To scenes.

But it’s Luke. Who cares?

Then we get Rey in her end of Force Awakens and most of Last Jedi outfit, or Resistance Outfit as Hasbro coined it when the figure came out. Of course she comes with staff and Lightsaber.

And there is a Lego Porg. Need I say more.

The set itself was a decent build. At 241 pieces it is well detailed and fun. The exterior looks pretty spot on for Luke’s hut from TLJ. The only issue is the door is cloth on the set but in the film it’s made from the wing of an X-Wing. But who will take apart an X-Wing set just to make a door?

The attachment with the spinning ground and boulder play feature can be attached to either side of the hut, depending on preference. The boulder separates to give us a Kyber Crystal, not from the film but a nice play feature.

The interior has a living space for Luke. A kitchen and bed with a bunch of bits and bobs to fill out the kitchen area. Missing are Luke’s relics but at the time of designing this set I’m sure the designers didn’t have a lot of information to go with.

The roof is detachable for easy access to the interior and one play feature emulates the scene where Luke breaks up the scene between Rey and Ben by using the Force to explode the hut. That little black handle on the back can be turned to knock over a section of the wall.

Overall I love this set. The mini-digs are great and as I said before it’s a great build. RRP is £25/£26 but most retailers have it down to £20/£21. Full price for two brand new mini-figs, a Porg and a great build are well worth the price.

My Star Wars Life Part 11 – The Dark Times

I’ll be honest. After Revenge of the Sith came out I went through a sort of Star Wars apathy.

Every now and then I would watch the films and I kept up with rumours about the live action TV series and the proposed animated Clone Wars series. I didn’t keep up with the comics either. I didn’t really get invested in anything pre-Phantom Menace and after missing out on the last few New Jedi Order novels I didn’t really want to carry on with the post Return of the Jedi era books either.

I dropped out of Uni and worked for a year before going to do a Media course. My friend Aaron was into acting and stage combat, we choreographed a Lightsaber duel. We did it so well we could rival the Obi-Wan vs Anakin duel for speed alone. We filmed it for a project but had to slow down as we were that quick.

In 2008 we were getting the Clone Wars movie to kick-start the TV series in that September/October. I wasn’t keen on the trailer that we saw and work commitments over the summer prevented me from seeing it at the cinema.

I started Uni again and when I did Clone Wars started on TV, I didn’t have access to it so I had my parents record it on their Sky Box. Over that Christmas break I watched what had been recorded and I enjoyed it but due to space issues they cancelled the recording schedule.

I went to Australia for my brothers wedding and on the flight home I finally saw the Clone Wars film, it was enjoyable but I saw why it got bad reviews, it was a three-part story arc they edited together and got Samuel L Jackson and Christopher Lee to go in and record the dialogue. But it was fun.

Over the my second and third years at Uni I managed to keep relatively up to date with the series but as I was relying on streaming sites to do so my efforts sometimes didn’t pan out as I hoped.

After finishing Uni and moving in with my girlfriend (now wife), I found myself a job in a high class establishment. One day we were told that the next day a celebrity was coming in, an apathetic ‘who?’ was uttered by a team member. “Warwick Davis.”

My jaw hit the floor. I begged. I pleaded. I offered my first-born (the offer was not taken) to be his server for lunch. I got my wish.

My plan was to play it cool, and I was thwarted when our team leader took him and his wife to their table and told him I was a huge fan. I did my job, I took their orders. And after their main course his wife asked me how big a fan of Star Wars I was. Well that was it.

I told him that when I first saw Return of the Jedi as a child I got upset because an Ewok that looks a bit like Wicket got killed and I thought it was him, only to be happily surprised to see him later on. Thank god!

We had a very nice chat, I wasn’t just geeking out over his Star Wars roles, I added Willow, Harry Potter and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to my nerd repertoire. And after his meal he was kind enough to sign my waiter-pad.

A year or so later after a few Saga re-watches I got home one day from work to find some huge news.

Disney has bought Lucasfilm, and we were getting more Star Wars.

Speculation: Filoni’s Finale

Just so you know, I wrote this post a week ago prior to the announcement of Star Wars: Resistance on Thursday. I’ve decided to keep this post because it just shows how our speculation can be wrong and not get belligerent over it. Am I disappointed that the following theories are wrong? Not at all. Now please enjoy and then take a look at yesterday’s post.

I don’t think the series finale of Rebels Season 4 could have been any better, especially the epilogue about the Ghost Crew post Return of the Jedi. But it left us with more questions about the future of the animated side of the franchise.

We do know that they are working on a new series, Dave Filoni has admitted as much. They have probably been working on it for a while. Filoni and Pablo Hidalgo have said that what we get on TV is about a year or two behind the writing room.

Meaning they have probably already got Season 1 written and being animated. However this does not mean we cannot speculate on the nature of that series.

So, here are my ideas on what it could be about.

One route they could go down is the Luke and Ben Solo Jedi Adventures. Essentially a few seasons of Ben’s Jedi training and Luke’s Jedi Training Temple. We could have a group of Jedi trainees and they go on Jedi related missions and learn about the Force. And at some point Snoke would be introduced and start to see Ben’s turn to dark.

Problem is, do we want an all Jedi series? Sure it will sell a bunch of Lightsabre toys and everyone loves the Force, but it could get old very quickly.

The other possibility, the one I think is most likely, is rounding out this loose Trilogy that Filoni has created. Clone Wars is the opening, young Ahsoka and detailing the last years of the Jedi. Rebels gave us an older Ahsoka, not a Jedi and showing the life of a Force user during the Imperial rule. The third part would have an older Ahsoka on her last mission, to find Ezra with Sabine.

This third series would round out Filoni’s Ahsoka Trilogy, giving us the much needed closure for the character. Should she die in the series? Probably. She needs to fulfil her promise to find Ezra and after that the two of them could start to rebuild a group of Force users, but not have an over abundance of Force users.

This series could also give us (and Filoni) closure on the loose plot threads of Rebels and the characters that we were introduced to in Clone Wars and Rebels. What happened to the Bendu? Where did Ezra and Thrawn end up. What does Ahsoka get up to? Will we get a new Jedi Order? We could explore a new side of the Star Wars Galaxy, the Unknown Regions and we have an opportunity to introduce new villains, different from the Empire or First Order.

Do I want this to be Filoni’s last series set in the Star Wars Universe? Not at all but I think we need to move on from the current timeline of the Prequel, Original and Sequel Trilogies and focus on other time periods within the Star Wars Galaxy. Maybe a KOTOR series to please those fans? Or maybe tell some new stories set after Episode IX and whilst they are at it, give Filoni a shot at directing a live action film.

Whatever this new series will be and whatever Filoni does in the Star Wars franchise I’ll be watching with anticipation. Kathleen Kennedy may be in charge but George Lucas also gave Filoni the keys to the kingdom and I can’t wait to see what he does.

Well I Got That Wrong Didn’t I!

Created by Dave Filoni and set before The Force Awakens, this new series will follow the adventures of Pilot Kazuda Xiono who is recruited by the Resistance and sent on a top secret spy mission. The series will feature new characters and also include fan favourites Poe Dameron, BB-8 and Captain Phasma.

The series will be done in a 2D Anime style, meaning Filoni is going back to his Last Airbender roots, which is fun and will be released sometime in the Autumn (Fall).

We have been clamouring for any and all info on both what this new series will be and more stories from this time period.

Based on the known timeline, Leia Organa formed the Resistance six years prior to the events of The Force Awakens in the novel ‘Bloodline’ so its safe to speculate that this series will take place in that six year time period.

Looks like my ideas for a Luke and Ben series or Ahsoka and Sabine looking for Ezra series are not coming to fruition. Oh well there’s always time and plenty of books and comics to come. Well that’s the nature of speculation, sometimes you are wrong.

For the full press release, click HERE for the article on the official Star Wars website.

Toy Tuesday: Lego Ski Speeder

Every Tuesday I aim to write about/review a toy in my collection, be it Lego, Funko or a random action figure I will write about it.

For the inaugural post, this is the Lego Ski-Speeder from the ‘Defence of Crait’ set released as part of the Winter 2018 wave of Star Wars Lego.

“I don’t like these rust buckets and I don’t like our odds.”

Poe Dameron – The Last Jedi

First of all this is a great and well detailed build. It really captures the vehicle from the film brilliantly.

It looks like the set should feel flimsy but it is held together very solidly by the Technic supports in the middle. The use of coloured bricks and stickers give it the incredible detail, I honestly think that this is one of the most screen-accurate sets out there, and I think the Star Wars Lego range is incredibly screen-accurate. All it needs is a block that falls off to reveal Poe’s foot.

This was one of the sets that I was gutted didn’t come out in the initial wave for The Last Jedi, because I liked the look of them since the first teaser back in April 2017, but it was definitely worth the wait (even after it was released Amazon UK sold out quickly).

The body and head of the Poe mini-fig is the same as the AT-M6 set from Force Friday but we get a new hair sculpt with headset for screen-accuracy. The printing on the figure is great, and I’m always happy for a new Poe mini-fig, he is my favourite character from the new trilogy.

This is a great set and it also comes with one of the Crait weapons towers with a Resistance Trooper, General Emmatt and a First Order Snow Trooper, which all in all puts the piece count to over 750 and well worth the retail price of £75.99.

Play features include a removable engine and firing missiles on the Ski-Speeder and Turret Cannon.

My Star Wars Life Part 10 – Revenge of the Sith

So the run-up to the most anticipated film since Phantom Menace began.

Like with Attack of the Clones, we were graced with preview figures for Revenge of the Sith. General Grievous was the one I bought, with removable cape, a blaster and a lightsaber. And the one purchase I couldn’t stop myself from making, Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter. Damn it was a nice looking ship.

The prequel novel, Labyrinth of Evil was released, the events of which led directly into ‘Sith’ was released in the January, and it was amazing.

Rumours were flying around like Mynocks in a Space Slug, some had some weight to them, others were dire, as is always the case.

The second of April was the big merchandise push and that morning I went straight into town with my first weeks wages from my new holiday job working in a scaffolding yard.

The first purchase, the official novelisation by Matthew Stover. I then made my way to Toys R Us. I felt very restrained when I only bought the Obi-Wan and Anakin figures (but got a free Holographic Yoda). I was so excited to read the book that I started reading it as I walked home.

A month later, my action figure collection had grown exponentially, the Lego Anakin’s Starfighter set had been built and the next merchandise push was underway. I got the game on the Nintendo DS and then the soundtrack which included a DVD of specially made music videos. That soundtrack worked on so many levels, Anakin’s Betrayal is still one of my favourite tracks on any Star Wars soundtrack.

The day finally arrived. Mum had made me a Jedi Robe that I wore to the first showing.

Dad had bought us tickets for the afternoon. Watched it twice in a row. I cried a lot that day, good tears. Well, emotional tears for the story and characters. I loved the film.

The cinema ran a promotion. Basically watch the film four times and each time you got a new poster. There was Yoda, 501st Clone Trooper, Vader and Anakin Vs Obi-Wan. I saw it four times in four days. I got them all.

Star Wars fever was high for that year. Dad worked away and he was able to get some bootleg DVD’s one time and he got us Revenge of the Sith.

I remember fondly one night I was watching it in the front room as my folks were in the kitchen and he came in and handed me a beer, sat down and we just watched it.

Of course, when the actual DVD was released I bought it on the day of release. There was something bittersweet about buying it though, now that I had all the films on DVD, that was it. Lucas had said he wasn’t making any more Star Wars films. There were rumours about TV shows but that was just speculation at the time. The big question was ‘what’s next?

Review: Star Wars From A Certain Point Of View

I have finally finished this book.

It has been tough going.

I loved the idea behind the book, retelling A New Hope from the perspectives of background or minor characters. 40 stories for 40 years of Star Wars, another great idea. In execution, not exactly my cup of tea.

Overall, the Mos Eisley sequence goes on too long. I understand why, it’s a hot bed of characters with plenty of stories to tell. But the execution fell short. I could have happily removed at least three and the sequence would have flowed more smoothly (for me).

I enjoyed the glimpse into life on board the Death Star, ‘Of MSE-6 and Men’ was especially enjoyable, being told entirely from the perspective of the Mouse Droid that Chewie roars at on the way to the Detention Block, but I didn’t need 16 pages on the Dianoga from the Trash Compactor.

The final third of the book was great. A lot of call backs to Rogue One and a Lando story, what more could I ask for in the lead-up to Solo?

To say this is a bad book is harsh. As with any short story collection there are going to be stronger and weaker stories all depending on taste, none of the stories are badly written but content wise I hoped for more from some of them

Stand out stories were:

  1. Rites – John Jackson Miller
  2. Master and Apprentice – Claudia Gray
  3. Beru Whitsun Lara – Meg Cabot
  4. The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper – Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction
  5. Laina – Wil Wheaton
  6. Eclipse – Madeleine Roux
  7. The Trigger – Kieron Gillen
  8. Of MSE-6 and Men – Glen Weldon
  9. There is Another – Gary D. Schmidt
  10. Sparks – Paul S. Kemp
  11. Duty Roster – Jason Fry
  12. Desert Son – Pierce Brown
  13. Grounded – Greg Rucka
  14. Contingency Plan – Alexander Freed
  15. The Angle – Charles Soule
  16. By Whatever Sun – E. K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein

Again, not saying the rest of the stories are bad but just not my cup of tea.

Am I glad I read this book? Yes, as tough a read as it was I did enjoy it. Could I have waited a bit longer and got it in Paperback for a bit less? Yes, I could have waited.

Star Rating… 3.5/5

Star Wars A Certain Point Of View by Various.

Published by Century in 2017