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

Fan Speculation: Fun Fandom or Dangerous Path

I thought that I had better address this before continuing with an idea I’ve had for some upcoming posts.

Fan speculation.

For years, as we watched the Original Trilogy, be it as far back as 1977 or as recent as 1999 (pre May) all of us Star Wars fans have speculated on what could/would happen in the future films.

Just look at the EU, twenty-plus years of speculations about the future of the characters we loved.

Who didn’t speculate on the events of the Clone Wars or how and why did Anakin become Darth Vader?

I even went hunting for books about the events prior to A New Hope when I was younger after my Sister had told me that George Lucas had written it. I hadn’t realised that she meant a script that would become The Phantom Menace. My bad.

As the Prequel Trilogy hit cinemas we finally got the stories that we had speculated on for years, the meeting of Anakin and Obi-Wan. The training of Anakin. The fall of the Republic. The Clone Wars. The rise of the Empire. The transformation of Anakin to Darth Vader.

Speculation was rife after the announcement of the sequel trilogy and continues to be as more and more films and tv shows are announced.

And we sit and we think about ‘what will happen?’

And it’s all good fun.

But it’s not is it? But why?

When did this fan base-wide enjoyment become so toxic for lack of a better word?

People have criticised the sequel trilogy for not following their own personal fan theories. Rey is Luke’s daughter!!! No she’s not, according to Lucasfilm. The fan base goes rabid. Luke Skywalker sacrifices himself for the good of the Galaxy. Well according to Mr. So-and-so from Bumblescum in mid-Europe he should have rebuilt his X-Wing using the Force, flown to Crait, used the Force to destroy the First Order forces on the ground and run off to have more adventures. Not what happened and now they attack Lucasfilm, Kathy Kennedy and anyone else they think ruined Star Wars where in fact they didn’t follow Mr. So-and-so’s theory.

At what point did the fan base decide that everyone’s individual theories were canon and then become so angry when the people who are paid the large sums of money to create, write, plot, film, edit, film some more, edit some more then release these films do their jobs?

If every armchair director got the film they wanted the franchise would be down the toilet. He’ll if every armchair director actually went to film school then the film industry would be overflowing.

Trust me, I make short films, and as much as I would love to work on a Star Wars film I really wouldn’t write or direct, because, despite the issues they have had with some of the creative teams, in my opinion they are doing the best job.

And like everyone I had theories. The one that came to pass was Rey’s parents and I LOVE THAT IDEA. But if it was revealed she was Luke’s daughter I wouldn’t complain because as much as I love Star Wars, it’s not all about me and what I want. There is a massive fan base out there and even though no Star Wars film will please everyone they still need to reach the largest possible audience.

And now the reason I am writing this post, in the coming weeks I will be posting about MY speculation on the future of Star Wars. Episodes IX, X, XI and XII, the next animated series and beyond. And whilst it may not come to pass and I may be completely wrong it’ll be fun writing and hopefully fun reading but I won’t be mad if it doesn’t happen.

My Star Wars Life Part 9 – The Prequel Expansion

As life geared up towards the next round of government mandated exams I found great ways of avoiding the work. Game Cube was a great way, with Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron being my go-to Star Wars game of choice, soon followed by Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and the Attack of the Clones tie-in Star Wars Bounty Hunter.

We were also given our first insights into the infamous Clone Wars. The first part of the Cartoon Network Micro Series aired, fun five minute episodes showing glimpses of battles the Jedi were obviously winning until the big reveal… General Grievous.

The Star Wars: Republic line of comics gave us new characters and conflicts to enjoy. This was when I finally got into the Star Wars comics so it was all new to me.

And the novels. I lost interest in the New Jedi Order series to a degree, after Star by Star nothing really held my interest too much and I gravitated to the Clone Wars novels, starting with the Mace Windu novel Shatterpoint. We were finally given some insight and back story to the Head of the Jedi Council and as the series grew and continued right up until the eventual release of Revenge of the Sith we learned more and more about the biggest mystery in the Star Wars Universe since Obi-Wan name dropped the Clone Wars in A New Hope.

But as life got in the way my fandom began to wane somewhat. The comics weren’t holding my attention much, I wanted more Anakin and Obi-Wan and yes, there were some storylines featuring them but the majority I got were about Quinlan Vos’s melodrama. As cool as the character was I got bored of that storyline.

As the books continued I enjoyed the ones I was able to get but my attention was being diverted by raging hormones and late-teen angst and nights of underage drinking.

I became friends with a group of slightly older people, some of whom shared my liking of Star Wars but the vitriol towards Phantom Menace was toxic, and in an effort to fit in I bought into it and that was it for my watching of Phantom Menace for many years. I know I tried to watch it a few years later in my early twenties but it wasn’t favoured.

As I left school and headed off to university, Star Wars made an unexpected return, the first DVD release. I bought it as soon as I could, forgoing a couple of nights out in Freshers Week just to afford this glorious purchase. Totally worth it. My waning passion was rekindled, especially by the ten-minute behind the scenes of the as of yet untitled Episode III.

Due to a couple of reasons, I was coming home every weekend from Uni, and on the hour and a half commute from Uni to home I would read, not Uni books but fiction. The DaVinci Code lasted a couple of weeks but then I found out that there were quite a few Clone Wars books I had missed out on.

I bought a couple, the first of the Medstar duology and the Yoda-centric Dark Rendezvous. Not great, in my opinion. Which was disappointing. But that Christmas I got my favourite of the Clone Wars novels, Jedi Trial. And I read that book quickly.

As we approached Christmas we started to get bits and pieces of info. We got the first picture of Anakin onboard the Tantive IV corridor set. A friend called me as soon as he saw it and started asking me questions, the biggest was ‘Where did he get that nasty looking scar?’ And due to my comics reading I was able to tell him, Assaj Ventress caught him with her lightsaber.

My girlfriend at the time called me on a very special Friday morning on her way to work, telling me to wake up and watch morning TV because she’s just seen that the teaser trailer was going to premiere.

When I met her after she finished work she asked me about it, as I recounted the two minutes is great detail I noticed a slightly glazed over expression… so I stopped and just said something like, ‘ Yeah, it was great. I can’t wait.’

Collecting: Lego and POP! Vinyl

One of the best things about buying a house, for me, was getting myself a little room that I can call ‘my own.’ And for the first year or so I didn’t have much to fill it with.

I put up six shelves and filled them with odd bits and pieces. My wife bought me some very nice Dark Knight Trilogy figures that have pride of place on on one of them.

Until I had some storage solutions, comics and graphic novels filled a couple. Then a few Star Wars books made their way in.

Then the first Force Friday happened. I wish I could say I went on a spending spree but I was quite reserved. I got a deluxe Finn 3.75 inch figure with an armour attachment. And then a Poe Dameron from the same range (yes the one that looks like he had a stroke).

Until Christmas I managed to get a few of the Force Awakens figures and some of the Rebels characters that came out around the same time.

Then for Christmas I was told that I was getting a few Funko Pop! Vinyl figures from some friends of ours because, for some reason I was considered hard to buy for and a small collectable thing like that would make it easy for people to buy for me. Fair enough.

Christmas Day. My wife had bought me two Pops. Yoda and Boba Fett, sweet. Then a large present was placed in front of me. It rattled a lot, it sounded broken. It was from my in-laws.

A bit of back story. They had been asking my wife what I wanted for Christmas and I had always responded with a shrug, you see my wife if one of the best gift givers I have ever met. She’s always bought me the best presents and under her guidance I was sure I would love it. As Christmas approached my Mother-in-Law kept saying how amazing my present was and my wife was nervous about it. I was confident it would be great no matter what.

It exceeded all of my expectations.

Lego Millennium Falcon from The Force Awakens. Gift Level – Expert. It was so unexpected and definitely the biggest surprise of the day but I knew that it had been my wife who had inspired the gift.

A few weeks before Christmas my wife and I had gone on a shopping trip to get the Christmas shopping over and done with at Meadowhall (a giant Mall filled with every shop I don’t want to go in) and as we walked through the first shop we came across a stand full of Star Wars toys, one of which was the aforementioned Lego Falcon. My wife asked if that would be a dream gift and I said of course it would but it would never happen. Well it did. And I also got the Lego Darth Vader buildable figure.

Then I added five new Pop’s to the budding collection, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, Batman, Danerys and The Hound (Game of Thrones). Shelf contents got shifted and a POP! Shelf was started.

I built the Falcon in around 8 hours, spread over a week and to this day it is still my favourite set. Don’t ask why, I couldn’t tell you.

The POP! Vinyl collection started to grow at an alarming rate. Any spare cash went on a new POP! I signed up to a subscription service to get a mystery one every month. I hunted for the limited editions and store exclusives. That March, my wife and I went to London to visit family and on a trip down Oxford Street we came across the Disney Store. The ground floor was full of Star Wars stuff. The purchase of the day was the exclusive Rey with Goggles. Days later I bought a multi-pack of TFA Pops. In three months the collection had grown from 5 to 20. By the following Christmas it was at least 60. Now it’s 120. At least 90 are Star Wars.

The Lego collection was a slower one to build (pun not intended). Not long after Christmas I bought Rey’s Speeder on sale (£14 instead of £20) and in the April I got Poe Dameron’s X-Wing.

For my 30th Birthday, the Lego was strong. I got a few Lego buildable figures, Commander Cody, Jango Fett, Obi-Wan and Rey, and the Carbon Freezing Chamber from family and birthday money was spent on finishing off the first wave with General Grievous.

A trip to Star Wars Celebration increased the POP! Vinyl collection by 5. All the Convention Exclusives and a half price Wampa.

I held myself back from buying more sets until Rogue Friday that September when I rushed to Argos after work to get the U-Wing set. It was built in 3 hours and all I wanted was to take it apart and do it all again, why? Because I had found my Zen. Blocking out the world and focusing on building the set calmed me incredibly.

Life got in the way until Christmas when more sets were added. I spent a portion of my Christmas Bonus on the new Y-Wing set, a vast improvement from the 1999 version and that years gift from my in-laws, Krennic’s Shuttle, which I restrained myself well and savoured that build for 3 days.

Over the next few months I added the rest of the Rogue One sets I craved to the collection. Imperial Tank, AT-ST and TIE Striker. I got the Resistance Transport and the Rebels A-Wing/Vader’s TIE Advanced for half price in a Lego Store sale.

By now, my Lego collecting was a topic of conversation at work. Frequent updates and pictures were shown to those who at least feigned interest. And the POP! Vinyl collection expanded. The whole Ghost Crew came in one go thanks to a pre-order.

My now pregnant wife and I took another trip to London for the Star Wars Identities exhibition and we also took a trip to the new Lego Store. I came away with the Phantom 2 set with the one and only Grand Admiral Thrawn mini-fig and I saw the holy grail. The £410 Death Star (I will have it one day).

Over a year later, if you were to go into my ‘Office’ at home you would see a menagerie of Lego and Funko.

Space has become an issue and I’ve had to put the 3.75 figures into storage. Lego covers most of the free space. Four shelves are full of the Star Wars Pops. A fifth shelf has the rest of the Pop collection. Lego on another shelf and two shelves of books (one shelf is dedicated to Star Wars novels). I have two Black Series figures still in their boxes hung on the wall, one of which is the Unmasked Kylo Ren from Celebration 2016, the other TFA Rey with BB-8.

It’s official, I’m almost out of space. Will that stop me? Not at all.

I’ve already put in a birthday Lego request, the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon from the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story and I’m keeping an eye on the price of the Resistance Bomber set.

And of course, I still hope to one day build the Death Star set… if anyone has £400 they want to send my way I’d be eternally grateful.

And lastly, it was thanks to the love of Star Wars Lego that, through a mutual friend, I was introduced to Tom, a fellow collector and frequent poster of pictures of his collection, of which I have been jealous of a few times. We initially shared updates and pictures of our respective collections and now, despite our not ever having met, have developed quite a good friendship, which in the end is what fandom is all about, meeting and sharing our mutual love of Star Wars Lego.

My Star Wars Life Part 8 – Attack of the Clones

2002 was a big year.

I had my GCSE exams in the May/June period. Which was key Star Wars time.

In the months leading to the film coming out there was the trailer which was mind-blowing. The merchandise which was plentiful, I got my first figure in the January, a preview figure of Jango Fett, stuck in a crouching position with two blasters. I had him stood on the desk next to the computer as I chatted with the group in the Holocron chat rooms.

In the April of that year the inevitable wave of merch happened. I used to babysit a family friend on Saturdays and the weekend the toys came out my friend Andy and I took the kid to Toys R Us and we stood in awe of all the new toys. Andy and I gravitated to one in particular, Kit Fisto. We were transfixed by the tentacle dreadlocks. The kid bought a Jango Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi with Assassin Droid.

The next day, babysitting cash in hand, Andy and I went to town and I bought The Art of Attack of the Clones, which included the script.

I read it. I enjoyed it a lot.

I should have been reading text books, oops.

The tickets were released. I booked tickets for the Saturday and Sunday, Saturday with Andy and our friend Nick and Sunday with my then girlfriend (who was a Star Wars fan) and her friend Kealy.

Then one Thursday morning, when we should have been revising, Graham and I were in town and he asked if I wanted to go to the cinema. I said of course, anything to avoid the dreaded revision. He said Star Wars? I took a moment and realised that it was out. It was opening day. The cinema was only just about to open. Attack of the Clones first screening on opening day. This was unheard of in my mind. I agreed with little hesitation.

Now at this point, even though I had read the script and was able to shed some insight, Graham was a master of the Star Wars lore. If I had a question he would more than likely be able to answer, if not him he knew someone who could. We kept sharing info as the film played. We were in heaven.

Needless to say we did not revise much that day.

Friday I revised. I think.

Saturday, Andy, Nick and I watched it. My only criticism was the CGI Yoda. I understood the reasoning, look at what Yoda does in the film.

Then Sunday. Waiting for my girlfriend and her friend I waited in Game playing Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2. That was the deciding factor, at some point I needed to get me a Game Cube.

Third time was a charm.

The novelisation was a birthday purchase. So far I have only ever read it the once. I remember enjoying it but the DVD came out the following November, not like Phantom Menace that I read a couple of times before it came out on VHS almost a year after the cinema.

I saw it a fourth time, with someone I had never met before. Andrew (not to be confused with Andy), one of my closest friends’ (Charlie) boyfriend who lived in Ireland and had come over to visit and as it turned out he is a Star Wars fan. We went to see it one afternoon whilst Charlie was at work.

Fourth time and I still loved it.

I did buy a few figures but I really wasn’t a fan of the Attack of the Clones figures. I’m not much of a fan of figures stuck in poses and with annoying play features, like Obi-Wan with a magnet in his hand stood in a karate pose which wouldn’t work in a toy lightsaber fight and the Anakin with one magnetic arm and one that spins when you turn the wheel on his back. Not a fan of that.

The one toy I did buy, before the film came out, was the Lego Jedi Star-fighter that I bought on a family visit to London.

When it came to the DVD release it took me a while to buy it, it came out at the same time as a few other DVDs I was after, Fellowship of the Ring Extended Cut and Spider-Man. But the unspoken love of the Galaxy far, far away won and AOTC was the one I got when it came out.

As always, at that time when I got a DVD I went straight to the special features and even now as I write this I’m rewatching the documentary, ‘From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II’.

And so, as Christmas passed and the New Year loomed we knew we had to wait another two and a half years for the next film.

Andrew is now a Lincoln-based artist, follow him on Twitter @SpireGallery for more on his works.

Solo: A Star Wars Trailer “I have a really good feeling about this.”

You know its important when I actually wake up to my first alarm.

New Star Wars trailers fit into that ‘important’ category.

I’ll do a breakdown later on, when I’m not having to go to work in half an hour.

Firstly – This looks amazing. The heist, western tone is giving me a Firefly flashback and I love it. The Western feel is throughout, the town Solo walks through at the beginning, the bar, Enfys Nest, the fireside handing of the gun, the train job. Amazing.

The actors are all doing amazing work. Ehrenreich as Han is really good, they downplayed him in the last two trailers but this one shows him in fire and with great comedic timing (190 years old? You look great!) and Donald Glover IS Lando. We get to see more of the cast, Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra seems to have a decent sized role and I hope it’s more than eye candy, she’s brilliant in Game of Thrones and want to see her kick some Imperial ass in this film. A couple more shots of Thandie Newton looking bad ass as Val, L3-3T by Phoebe Waller-Bridge finally gets some lines and action and of course there is Woody Harrelson playing… Woody Harrelson.

The relationship between Han and Chewie seems on-point. The banter we get in this trailer really puts that across. And Chewie is with another Wookiee, Malla perhaps?

The Empire is around but not all over this trailer like the previous ones and what we do see is new enough to not feel stale, in construction Star Destroyer and Range Troopers look great. Was that an AT-ST in the dust cloud thing? Obligatory TIE Fighter shot.

And Thurm Scissorpunch was sat next to Lando in the Sabaac scene. Praise to the Scissorpunch.

Overall a great trailer and I can’t wait to see this film next month.

Musings: The Star Wars Podcasting Community

After The Force Awakens came out I felt the desire to be involved with as much Star Wars conversation as I could, but I didn’t really know anyone with the same passion for it as me. So I turned to the one place I could get as much Star Wars talk as I could manage. Podcasts.

The first one I listened to was ‘Now This is Podcasting!’ From the Making Star Wars. Net Podcast Network.

I was quite familiar with the site but had never ventured into the podcasts but it was a needs must situation.

I dove right in with what was the latest episode and after listening to a couple more to really get a feel for the show I was an avid listener, going back a few episodes to satiate my Star Wars talk needs, discussing the news, spoilers and various musings of the Star Wars Universe. These guys were even my soundtrack as I walked around Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016.

Then I dove headfirst into The Cantina Cast, another member of the Making Star Wars Podcast Network, where the hosts dissect and analyse the characters and events from the films to the slightest detail. Again this was perfect for me and by now I have listened to the majority of their catalogue of episodes.

This network had more shows that I could sink my teeth into, Tarkin’s Top Shelf where they discuss the novels and Idiots Array were my next ventures into the aural world of Star Wars conversation.

More shows have come and gone on the network. Most of which I listen to on a regular basis. Some I avoided for a while, such as Steele Wars, by comedian Steele Saunders. I never gave it a chance until he was a guest on Now This is Podcasting and he was incredibly entertaining, so I gave in and started listening some time in late 2016. The first episodes I listened to were the Blog Pods from SWCE where Steele was recording stuff from the convention (I was even sat behind him in a couple of panels working on the episodes and I never put two and two together). Listening to those episodes gave me such Celebration nostalgia it was almost depressing.

In early 2017 I jumped on to Rogue Won: A Star Wars Podcast For Winners, a great series hosted by three of the nicest guys in all of Star Wars fandom. And recently I have started listening to another podcast from one of those three hosts called Blue Harvest, which I tried to listen to a year ago when they first joined the MSWPCN but either the episode wasn’t for me or I wasn’t in the right mood for it but after getting into it recently I can’t quite understand what my problem was, Hawes Burkhardt is a Star Wars podcasting legend.

My love of Star Wars Rebels led me to finding The Star Wars Underworld Podcasts, especially at the time their ‘Live From Lothal’ series and I started listening to the rest of their shows.

I have listened to others, sometimes for one episode, sometimes more, usually if a host from one of my regular listens guests on another show I’ll more than likely give it a go, and then download a tonne of episodes, trust me, I need them to get through work.

It probably sounds silly but having the near constant stream of Star Wars discussions makes each work day that bit more bearable and any car journey, no matter how short is usually accompanied by a Podcast.

Now I don’t only listen to Star Wars podcasts but the majority are.

Whether it’s up to date Star Wars news from Randy, Jason, Sal and now Corey (and occasionally Steele) on Now This is Podcasting, or Steele interviewing someone who loves the franchise almost as much as him or Johnny, Hawes and Mike waxing lyrical and holding fake phone calls with each other I can’t get enough. It’s like sting back and listening to different groups of friends chatting away whilst you sit back and listen.

I can’t thank any of them enough for what their contributions to the fandom have done for me personally but what I can say is, if you like Star Wars and you like podcasts give these shows a go (and trust me, they haven’t paid me for this adoration filled post).

My Star Wars Life Part 7 – Expanding My Universe Even More

The year 2000 or, the year after Phantom Menace came out in cinemas, I got the video on the day of release in April and I waited to see if there would be any new books that told us any stories about Anakin’s training.

The only one that ever did was ‘Rogue Planet’, and I never read it. My attention was diverted elsewhere in the Expanded Universe, set 25 Years after A New Hope.

On a trip to London to visit family with my Gran, I got a book. It was part of a new series. The New Jedi Order – Dark Tide 1: Onslaught.

Doing what little research I could I found that there was one book that preceded it, ‘Vector Prime’, but seeing as I was in a mini W.H. Smiths at King’s Cross Station with not long before my train was going to leave my choice was pretty limited. So I got it.

The train left the station. I was handed a bag of sweets and I started reading. It was confusing to say the least. What were the Yuuzhan Vong? Sure I learned what I needed to but when you miss the first part of something you always have a few questions.

And then I learned the shocking news. Chewbacca was dead.

OK, this was serious. They killed Chewie. No one kills Chewie. Chewie is Chewie! But it had happened. He was gone, crushed by a moon after saving Anakin Solo. Oh man that was tough.

And I was hooked.

I went back and read Vector Prime. I got Dark Tide 2: Ruins and read that. These Yuuzhan Vong meant business.

The following year I continued to read my way through the New Jedi Order novels, the Edge of Victory duology were great. The first of which I picked up at that same mini W.H. Smiths.

But it was that November that I read my favourite EU novel. Star By Star by Troy Denning.

My friend Graham had borrowed it from his local library and after reading it told me I had to. I devoured it and I did so very, very quickly.

It was through Graham that I joined my first Star Wars fan community, The Holocron.net, where I would spend many nights chatting with like-minded folk across the world.

And then, as the year began to come to a close… the teaser trailer fore Attack of the Clones was released.

Clone Wars!!!! The Clone Wars was coming!!!! Lots of Jedi fighting!!!! Clones!!!! So excited!!!!

#NotMyLukeSkywalker

Ugh!

If I have to read any more posts on Social Media by people who wanted the same old Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi I may have to vomit.

I don’t think I saw or heard one complaint about how the characters of Han and Leia had developed from the Original Trilogy to the Sequel Trilogy.

But as soon as you get a Luke Skywalker who has gone through some character development between the two trilogy’s then everyone looses their minds.

If we got Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker then what would the point be of having the character return. Same old, same old doesn’t work over 30 years.

If you asked any of the #notmylukeskywalker wingers who had grown up with the films from 1977 until now and asked them if they were the same person now as they were 30 years ago I guarantee they would say ‘no’. Ask them why and you’ll be told that life experience has changed them in some way.

Then why can’t the same happen for a fictional character?

Well?

I can wait for the answer.

Is it because of the Legends/Canon debate? Were people really expecting the Luke of the EU? The one who at one point lived in a castle on Coruscant and walked around naked in front of Han being all weird like in ‘The Approaching Storm’? Or the Luke Skywalker who was sat having holiday on a Coruscant resort as the local security come to arrest him in the middle of the Yuuzahn Vong conflict only for him to throw some Peter Parker style quips? Because for me, that’s #notmylukeskywalker.

When I watched The Last Jedi I loved the Luke character. The progression was believable especially after we get the back story of the Luke/Ben altercation that led to Ben destroying Luke’s Training Temple.

I’m not going to recount the events of the end of the film, you’re reading a Star Wars blog, you probably already know, but here’s how it affected me.

As I left the cinema, at almost 3am carrying the two free posters that were given out after the screening I walked to my car. For the whole five minute walk all I could think was ‘I don’t believe it. What just happened?’

The drive home passed me by in a blur, I’m still surprised I didn’t run a red light or something. All I could think about was Luke’s passing.

The next morning, my wife asked me firstly, if I enjoyed it. I said that I didn’t know. Then she asked me to tell her what happens in the film. So over the next hour or so (stopping and starting whilst doing other stuff) I recounted The Last Jedi.

When I got to the Luke and Leia scene on Crait I broke, yes I cried. My wife told me to ‘man up’. I then told her about the death scene and it happened again. It turns out that reliving the story allowed me to essentially come to terms with the loss of my childhood hero. And you know what, it felt right. We got Luke’s story. He’s passed the Jedi mantle on to Rey.

I saw it again that afternoon with my Dad, I grieved. I let it all out in that screening and at no point did I even think that the character of Luke had been used in a wrong way.

Then the click-bait hash-tag hate mongering started. Based on something Mark Hamill said in the previous April at Celebration 2017 about fundamentally disagreeing with Rian Johnson’s take on the character and then admitting that he (Mark Hamill) was wrong.

At work the next day I listened to a few podcasts where the film was discussed, one of which was an episode of Steele Wars where the host, Steele Saunders and his wife Jaqueline discussed the film in the car on the way to the airport (Steele Wars Episode 155: In the Car The Last Jedi SPOILER reaction with Jaqueline) where, when asked what his favourite moment of the film was, Steele said, after starting to cry (and mocking himself for crying),

“My highest point is that Luke Skywalker came back and was a hero.”

I don’t think I could put it better myself, but in memory of our favourite Jedi Master let’s set Twitter ablaze with a new hash-tag

#lukeskywalkerismyhero

Check out Steele Saunders’ Steele Wars Podcast HERE

My Star Wars Life Part 6 – June – December 1999

Oh June was an expensive month.

After that initial spending spree, I still had the monetary gifts that came from the rest of my family, and as it was half-term I had a week of shopping ahead of me.

A trip to town, more specifically the book shop was fruitful, The Phantom Menace novelisation and the Making Of books were purchased with no second thought. The soundtrack was next. Even trips to the supermarket yielded results, I managed to get a rather elusive Qui-Gon Jinn figure from Tesco.

I was going on a week-long school trip to France the week of release, so I persuaded my Mum to let me tag a long with Vix’s Dad and younger brother whilst our mum’s hung out and talked about whatever it was parents talked about.

And so, that warm July afternoon (yeah us English had to wait nearly 2 months after America), sweets and drink in hand I was sat in the cinema and those ten beautiful words came on screen.

The music played and the title exploded into view.

And I loved every damned minute of it.

The child, however did not. He actually said he preferred the Mike Myers vehicle, Austin Powers 2. But what did he know, he was 6.

I managed to see it 3 times during the theatrical run.

The rest of July was spent hunting down action figures, whilst Mum and Nanna were doing some catering work one Friday or Saturday evening I was able to run across the road to Toys R Us. There was the hard to find Darth Maul figure. A family of collectors were also there and already had two in their basket. One to keep in box the other to play with. There was one more Maul figure and they helped me hide it so I could run back to my Mum and pleaded for the £5 to get the last Maul on the shelf. She relented, maybe to shut me up. But I got it. Thank the maker.

As school came to an end I was given a present by my Dad for doing well in school. I opened the bag and inside was my holy grail at the time, the Obi-Wan Kenobi figure from Phantom Menace. This was harder to find than Darth Maul in my experience and I was so happy. Finally I could stop using a Luke Skywalker figure as an Obi-Wan stand-in.

That summer we visited my Aunt and Uncle in London, which of course warranted a trip to the biggest and best toy shop in all the land, Hamleys.

As we got in the shop, the beeline was made to the escalators and up to the fifth floor we went and there it was, the Star Wars display and there were new figures I had never seen before (at hugely inflated prices). The Battle Droid commander OOM-9 and Captain Tarpals were added to the ever growing collection.

The rest of the year was filled with playing Star Wars games, specifically the Phantom Menace demo on repeat, I was only allowed on the internet for half an hour a night back in the old days of dial-up and so I used a weeks worth of internet use to download the demo, playing as Obi-Wan on the Trade Federation starship.

After Christmas, I bought Darth Maul’s double bladed Lightsaber. What a grand purchase that was and I had it for years until life imitated art and one evening, during an alcohol fuelled lightsaber duel, they hit the handle of the Maul saber and cut it in two. Although I salvaged it with electrical tape. Days later we welcomed the new millennium and a whole new decade of fandom awaited.

Musings: Canon vs Legends

One of the most frequent and diversifying topics in the Star Wars fandom has been the removal of the EU from the Star Wars Canon and calling it ‘Legends’ whilst restarting the EU with books, comics and games where it’s now all part of the ongoing Star Wars continuity.

I understand the vitriol that came from that announcement in 2013/14. Since 1991 we had a whole range of Star Wars stories and a slew of characters we had grown attached to in the ongoing books and comics; The Solo children, Ventress, Quinlan Vos. George Lucas even used Aayla Secura in the films after she was introduce in the comics. For it all to be gone like that would be hard for some to stomach.

But they’re not really gone are they? They are still available to purchase. Collectors still own them and can read them at their leisure.

Hell, I’ve read a bunch of the ‘Legends’ novels since the EU was made non-canon and I still enjoy them the same as I would were they still considered Canon.

The change all occurred because J.J Abrams wanted a clean slate when he took on the directorial duties of The Force Awakens and who could blame him? I’m a Star Wars fan but by that point there was so much stuff that had happened in the EU he had no clue where to start. Best to start afresh and build the new EU from there.

But i think it was in Lucasfilm’s best interests to do this anyway.

Now follow me down this rabbit hole if you will, just say the Legends timeline was kept and Episode VII is announced, a brand new story set in the SW universe we all know and love and yo really understand and appreciate this film you need to have read EVERY book set after Return of the Jedi. Chewie’s dead by a moon landing on him. Han and Leia have had three kids and only one is left alive after one was killed at the hands of an alien race that had messed the galaxy up beyond comprehension and the other followed in Vader’s footsteps, turned to the Dark Side and ruled his new Empire only to be killed by his surviving twin sister. And after that the Jedi are essentially shunned and Luke goes off into the far reaches if space with his son, whose mother was a servant of the Emperor who wanted to kill Luke but then married him only to be killed by the same Solo child who turned Dark.

It’s a lot to take in really.

Long time fans would have little-to-no problems but wheat about the casual fans or new fans? Disney want to make their investment back, and they paid a lot to buy Lucasfilm. They want as many people to watch the films and buy merchandise, how do you do that with an already established franchise, do the best you can to start from as close to scratch as possible. In the case of a Star Wars, make it do that anything that isn’t a film or recent animated series (Clone Wars) is no longer canon.

It was a great way to make the future of the franchise as accessible as possible. For me it was a great decision. I wanted to get back into reading the novels but had no idea where to start. Then it was announced, the first book in the new canon was ‘A New Dawn’ the prequel novel to the new animated series ‘Star Wars: Rebels’. Now, to me at least it was accessible, and not in the way that every Marvel Comics ‘Reboot’ has been accessible, this was a real clean slate.

What I don’t get is how there are fans who refuse to accept the Disney SW canon. I do understand that they have invested a lot of time and money into the old EU but really, what does it matter? Isn’t it more important that we are getting any new Star Wars stuff at all?

I stopped buying the novels after Revenge of the Sith. I was really behind on the New Jedi Order series, and was struggling to keep up with the continuity. I had no interest in the Old Republic era of the EU, and the different Clone Wars material kept contradicting each other. I tried to keep up with the ongoing stories using plot outlines and wookiepedia to give me an idea of the goings on but it was a lot.

Now I have almost read every new SW novel that has been released, even the children’s books, because they are all canon and I’ve jumped in head first and loved almost every word of it.

The fan base has grown in the past three or four years and it will only continue to grow and had the d EU stayed in tact I seriously doubt the franchise would have been as successful as it has been had they kept the Expanded Universe intact.

My Star Wars Life Part 5 – Jan – May 1999

It was a slow start to the year.

After the Phantom Menace teaser trailer I was looking for anything Star Wars I could find.

For the Christmas just gone I received Star Wars: Rogue Squadron on PC and I spent most of the early months playing it to death.

I was snatching up the Official Magazine any time I could find it just to see more TPM behind the scenes pictures or any official pictures.

When the posters came out I made sure to buy them, who didn’t love the teaser with Anakin stood in front of a wall where the shadow of Vader loomed over him?

It was in April that I hit what I considered the mother-load. A Toys R Us trip yielded the most fruitful of results. Brand new and oh so glorious…

Star Wars Lego!!!!

X-Wing! Y-Wing and Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter! Luke’s Landspeeder! Speederbike Chase! Snow Speeder!

Oh! My! God!

I bought the X-Wing then and there and I built that thing straight away!

Now I was a Lego fan growing up and had quite a few sets. Then I would try to build new things, including Star Wars ships but with no luck. Now I could build them and do it properly.

A few days later, I got the Y-Wing/ Vader’s TIE set. And not long after that my Grandparent’s bought me Luke’s Landspeeder. I was building myself a little fleet, literately.

Looking back the sets didn’t look all that great, there were a lot of details missing but at the time they were amazing and I still have fond memories of building them. Luke’s Landspeeder was built on a train on our way home from a trip to London, Grandpa surprised me with it, passing it to me over the table as I ate sweets whilst reading something or other. Nanna told me later on that they had been out one day and he’d pulled into the Toys R Us car park, ran in, leaving her in the car and came out minutes later with the surprise gift.

Needless to say, those sets have been built and rebuilt many times and are currently in pieces in a couple of boxes in the shed. I hope to rebuild them all one day.

The next bit of amazing news was on a holiday to France with my parents and there was a news article on TV about the new Phantom Menace merchandise being released soon. More toys!!!

Not long after that I had ventured into town for an afternoon with a few quid (£14 to be exact). I went into the local bookshop and I was blown away. The Phantom Menace books were out. The children’s adaptation of the story, the adult novelisation by Terry Brooks, the Making of and the Illustrated Screenplay. I bought the children’s version and the Screenplay.

I read the children’s adaptation that afternoon. Loved it! The Screenplay just made me want to make a Star Wars film so bad.

Then came the toys. They were released a week or so before my birthday. Again I went to town with strict orders to not buy any Star Wars toys. I went to Toys R Us to have a look. I came out with Mace Windu, oops.

Happy Birthday to me!!!

All I asked for from family was money. I had a lot of stuff to buy. That morning my Mum handed me £100 and we went to Toys R Us ready for opening time. The first item in the trolley… the Commtech Reader that you placed the Commtech chips that came with the figures and it played lines from the film.

After that I loaded the trolley with £80 worth of figures and Lego.

We were out in 20 minutes, Mum said it was the fastest £100 spending spree she’d ever seen.

My Star Wars Life Part 4 – Baited Breath

It was sometime in early 1998 when I came across the Star Wars Magazine (the UK version of SW Insider until recent years). As I was flicking through a couple of things caught my attention, 1 – a mini-guide to the last few levels of a game called Jedi Knight and 2 – on set pictures of Star Wars Episode I.

Now, imagine this, a world where the internet is not everywhere. That was me. We had no internet at that point and so I had to wait another month to find out new Star Wars info when the next issue came out. And all we got was set pics, sometimes with an extra or two but nothing on the story. But there was a new Star Wars film coming out.

Until then I had to be content with what I could get my hands on. More toys of course. New books, definitely and after my birthday, on the required birthday money spending spree I got one of my favourite PC games ever, Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. By today’s standards it looks shoddy but at the time it was beautiful. The cinematic cut scenes were amazing. The story was fantastic and you could choose to be Light or Dark side with different Force powers. So obviously I had two saved games.

Towards the end of the year rumours started up about the teaser trailer for Episode I. The title had been announced some time before if I remember correctly. On the rumoured day of the trailers release Dad and I were going to the cinema to see ‘Mark of Zorro’. I even asked him if he thought we’d see the trailer. He doubted it.

We sat through the trailers, obviously forgettable. The curtains closed. They opened again and the trailer started.

The Gungans coming out of the swamp. Wide shots of Theed. The title cards. ‘Every generation has a legend… Every journey has a first step… Every saga has a beginning…’ The space battle. Young Obi-Wan. What was that weird frog like thing? A droid army? Yoda? Prophesy? Balance in the Force? DOUBLE ENDED LIGHTSABER???

Needless to say I did not pay attention to Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins fighting for freedom in Mexico that night.

And I had to wait another 8 months to see it.

My Star Wars Life Part 3 – 1997

Star Wars Special Editions were on the way. And so was more merchandise.

I was never a big crisps eater. But when Walkers Crisps did their collectable Star Wars Tazos (like Pogs but not quite) I ate crisps like nothing else. I had almost the whole collection and I even had the special folder to store them in. But there were an elusive set of 10 that you could only get by eating a specific brand that neither me nor my parents ate. I was gutted. But some family friends came through and I got all but one, the Wampa. Oddly enough I managed to complete the set about two years ago when I found that last Tazo at my local comic shop. Best 10p I ever spent.

The weekend Star Wars: A New Hope SE came out I was staying at a friend of the families house and we were all going to see Space Jam. I was a late addition to the group and it was questionable that I would get a ticket to see the Warner Bros crew team up with Michael Jordan, so I said if I couldn’t see that maybe, just maybe I’d be able to see Star Wars. I’m afraid it was not to be that day, but I did watch the Behind-the-Scenes special that was on TV that evening. My friend Vix joined me in front of the TV, and when it finished she said she wanted to see those films having never seen them before.

A couple of weeks later Vix and I were sat in the cinema with my Brother and Sister and a few of their friends and it was amazing. We were so in awe we stayed until the end of the credits with my Sister who proclaimed that you hadn’t fully seen a film unless you watched the credits. This was before post-credits scenes were a thing so god knows why. I remember enjoying the new and altered scenes. CGI Jabba was a novelty and something I remembered from the novelisation. The Death Star hanger bay where Han runs in and then away made sense and the new Battle of Yavin shots with more X-Wings and more dynamic shots was mind-blowing.

My Dad took me to see Empire. He hadn’t seen that one before, only having seen A New Hope and Return of the Jedi when they came out originally. I pointed out the stuff that wasn’t in the original cut. The changes to Empire, aside from the Wampa sequence were subtle and welcome. Cloud City looked so much better with windows and the fly-through was great. The new Vader shuttle sequence was one of my favourite changes. Always like more Vader but why was Luke screaming when he let himself fall down the shaft after the revelation? Wasn’t so sure about that.

Vix joined Dad and I for Return of the Jedi. At the time I loved Jedi Rocks (I have since seen the error of my ways). The Sarlacc changes didn’t bother me much. But the ending, the celebration across the galaxy. Wow. The new music was great, it still gives me chills now, and I loved Yub Nub growing up but this was something else entirely.

Of course Star Wars fever carried on through the year, books were read and toys were bought. I was over the moon when on Christmas Day I opened a present to reveal the Special Edition Box Set (Gold). Just in time as well, I was wearing my previous versions out through repeated viewings.

A New Dawn Book Review

Potential Spoilers for A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller and Star Wars: Rebels. You have been warned.

I really enjoy this book.

I’ve now read it three times since I got it in April 2015. That’s how much I like it. It’s the only book in the new Star Wars canon I have read multiple times. I felt compelled to read it after the Rebels episodes ‘Jedi Night’ and ‘DUME’.

Like many, this was my introduction to the story of the Ghost Crew, specifically Kanan and Hera and a new mainstay character from the new novels, Rae Sloane.

Kanan is a great character. In the book he’s a lost man who drinks too much and fights even more. He doesn’t stay in one place too long and doesn’t get attached to anyone and hiding a massive secret, he’s a former Jedi Apprentice called Caleb Dume. I really like this younger Kanan, seeing what he was like before he joined Hera.

Hera is a badass! She’s almost ninja-like with her infiltration skills which she utilises a few times through the book, which is a pity when she doesn’t do this much in the series. She’s dedicated to revealing how bad the Empire really is, almost a pre-Rebellion rebel.

The new characters are well fleshed out. Skelly the Clone Wars veteran explosives expert. Zaluna the Sullistian surveillance operative, these two help Hera and Kanan in their plot to bring down The Empire’s operation on The planet Gorse and it’s moon Cynda. Okadiah, the Obi-Wan to Kanan’s Luke, minus the Force but has plenty of alcohol. And how can we forget Captain Rae Sloane, who through the short stories/novels has moved up the ranks of the Empire from a Cadet in the short story ‘Orientation’ to Grand Admiral by the end of the Aftermath trilogy and Count Vidian, the cyborg efficiency expert who’s schemes are thwarted by our heroes.

As far as the story goes it flows quite nicely, if probably a bit by-the-book, which is not a complaint by any stretch. Through the plot we find out how far the Empire is willing to go to help fund and expand their resources, essentially strip-mining planets and even willing to go as far as blowing up moons to get the resources they need. Kanan is the reluctant hero, Hera is the idealistic Rebel. Their paths cross several times before they end up working together with their rag-tag team to stop Vidian’s plot to double-cross the Empire.

The book acts as a brilliant introduction to Kanan and Hera. My only issue there is that it’s set quite a while before the series so there’s quite a time jump between the two. On the other hand this means that there are plenty more adventures they could go on and stories that could be told to further develop them into who they are in the series. I’ve always wondered how they recruited Zeb and Sabine. Those are stories I want to read now.

Until we get them, however, I’ll be content to re-watch the whole series.

The Last Jedi Audiobook Review: Or How I Had to Hide at Work So No One Saw Me Cry

I am a recent convert to the world of audiobooks. My wife, Sara, has an Audible account which I have access to and so far this year I have plundered it when i’ve exhausted my podcast library.

The other day I asked if she had any spare credits. She did so of course I had to get The Last Jedi, written by Jason Fry and narrated by long time Star Wars audiobook narrator Mark Thompson.

First of all, it’s great. I love the writing. So far out of the recent novelisations it’s my favourite. Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of The Force Awakens was dire. Badly written and the additional material was lacklustre at best. I loved Alexander Freed’s Rogue One adaptation. Lucasfilm hired the best guy for the job after the stellar Battlefront: Twilight Company. He really got into the characters heads and motivations and his writing of battle scenarios was phenomenal. But The Last Jedi by Jason Fry just knocked it out of the park.

Spoilers Ahead

The prologue, a dream Luke is having about what his life would have been like had he not ventured off with Obi-Wan and handed the droids over to the Empire in A New Hope, where he lives the life of a moisture farmer, marrying Cammie (from the deleted scenes of ANH) and carrying on running the Lars Moisture Farm is a welcome surprise. Additional scenes between the Tico sisters before they are split up, carrying on from where Elizabeth Wein’s Cobalt Squadron finishes and expands Paige’s role in the evacuation of D’Quar. The inclusion of deleted scenes, such as Luke’s third lesson to Rey on Ahch-To is a welcome addition and of course the innermost thoughts and small tidbits of backstory that flesh out these film novelisations and makes us fans go nuts.

We get a minor history of the creation of the First Order, the Phoenix Rising from the ashes of the Empire, the grand plan of Emperor Palpatine. A tiny bit of Snoke’s backstory, aiding the rise of the First Order and their domination of the inhabited worlds in Wild Space. Luke deciding he has to leave with Rey only to find out she’s Force-Skyping with Ben Solo and a beautiful and incredibly emotional scene between Leia and Chewie in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit after the Resistance escapes Crait which had me hiding at the other side of the warehouse because I had tears running down my face.

Someone, get Jason Fry to write an original Star Wars novel (adult, I know he’s already written loads for kids and the recent cross-sections books).

What really excited me about this novel is that Rian Johnson was heavily involved, giving these additions a lot more credibility.

Marc Thompson absolutely blew me away with his narration. The character voices are pretty good, his Poe Dameron sounds amazingly like Oscar Isaac it’s scary and the inclusion of sound effects and John William’s music works well.

I do have a couple of tiny issues though. Firstly why does the audiobook only use music from the Prequel films? Not to say the music choices are bad, they fit the scenes perfectly, but the is a score for The Last Jedi, why not use that?

My second minor gripe is with Rose Tico. NOW I love the character in the film, Kelly Marie Tran was brilliant, I loved her interactions with Finn and DJ and her character arc was fantastic. I don’t know if it’s the way she was portrayed in the book or the way Marc Thompson portrayed her, she came across as quite catty, especially when Finn is talking about Rey, which is not how I would have ever pictured her in the film. I’ll find out when I get around to buying the book and reading it.

Overall an amazing novel, a brilliant novelisation and a really fantastic audiobook. Well worth a read or listen or both.

God Speed Rebels

In a matter of hours we will be witnessing the end of an era, the end of Star Wars Rebels.

Rebels has been a divisive element of the Star Wars Universe in the years since Disney took over, having The Clone Wars be cancelled mid-way through the production of Season 6 and then given what, on the surface seemed like a watered down, overtly kiddified idea of what a new Star Wars animated series could be.

The announcements of the characters were underwhelming. A pilot, a grouchy droid, the alien muscle, the artsy warrior, the fallen Jedi and some street urchin that may or may not be Force – sensitive. I was dismayed, given the time period and two leads being Force Users all I could think was ‘can’t we move away from the Force and just see what the Rebellion was all about before A New Hope?’ (Cue Rogue One). And I held out watching with when it finally started airing.

I had read A New Dawn, my first book in the new canon and very much enjoyed it, so much so that I am currently reading it for the third time, so it felt right that I dive in head first to the series.

My initial reaction was that it had promise but it was very much aimed for children. Given the channel it was shown on I was hardly surprised.

As I made my way through season one I was drawn in. The Grand Inquisitor made for a top notch Star Wars villain. The development of the characters was good and by the end of the series we started to see the formation of the Rebel Alliance.

The second season opened brilliantly. ‘Siege of Lothal’ will remain in my top 5 episodes for years to come. Same for the finale ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, that music still gives me chills.

I was at Star Wars Celebration Europe (London) in 2016 and I was in the Rebels season 3 panel queue from 3.15am. I met a few people I am now connected with on Facebook and later that day I was stood 2 foot away from Dave Filoni. I was just too slow to get a picture with the legend but the memory remains.

I was in the room when they announced Thrawn in the season 3 trailer. I joined in with the almost football stadium chant of ‘Thrawn! Thrawn! Thrawn!’ And smiled with unbridled glee when we watched the season opener.

Season three scratched my itch for character development. But was underwhelmed by the lack of direction for Zeb. The filler episodes slowed it down, much like season 2 and even though it was great, the finale wasn’t up to par with season 2 but I was not dissuaded. How many filler episodes did we have to deal with on Lost? And that was an amazing series.

And here we are. Season 4. By far the best season we have had (my opinion). Like season one the shorter season has worked in its favour, less filler episodes and after the ‘In the Name of the Rebellion’ 2 parter we have had a season long storyline with no deviations. Since our heroes landed on Lothal my anticipation for what could come has been through the roof.

And the last four episodes have been stellar. (Spoilers) Kanan’s death hit me hard. I love the character and I have loved watching him develop over the past four years, from the cocky, overconfident yet drunken former Padawan to the wise and powerful Jedi Knight (surely he could be classed as a Master now though) who sacrificed himself for the cause. The episode ‘DUME’ will be long remembered as the Ghost crew dealt with the loss, and so did the fans.

And a last week we were introduced to the Star Wars concept of time travel. Which until I saw the episode I would never have thought it would happen and in fact hoped it wouldn’t but it did and it worked. It was great to have Ahsoka back even for one episode and gave us the closure we have needed from two seasons ago, Ahsoka lives!

And here we are, waiting for the end as the hour gets ever closer. As I am UK based I can’t watch it live, but my alarm is set so I can try to watch it all before I go to work. It’s the end of an era and I don’t want spoilers.

Will anyone else on the crew die? Any of the supporting characters? I don’t know. All I know is Hera, Chopper and the Ghost make it out safely.

Do I know what I want from it? A satisfying ending, that’s all and given the great things he has done so far, I fully trust Dave Filoni to give us such a farewell to these now beloved characters.

And so I quote Amilyn Holdo’s final words, “God speed Rebels.”

Star Wars Lego Review – Resistance Transport Pod

I just finished building this nice little set. Overall it took about an hour (I was taking my time) and I’m pretty chuffed with it as an overall set.

At 294 pieces I was actually expecting it to be a bit smaller so I was pleasantly surprised by the overall size, especially as I have held back from buying this set based on the price.

I got this set for £24 where it usually retails for £39.99 which for just under 300 pieces, most of which are small, to me feels a bit too much. Especially when the Ahch-To Training set is £15 less and has more pieces (another great build I’ve done recently).

For the size I’m loving the detail that has been put into the set. The engines on the back look great with the framework and I’m liking the new steering columns we are getting.

I was shocked by how many stickers were included with the set, 13 in total and most of them used on the canopy which was not my favourite place to stick stickers. I have seen complaints about this in other reviews but never took much notice because most reviews wings about stickers at some point. There are 7 on the canopy… yikes, don’t want to get them wrong at all.

Of course it comes with the pre-requisite stud launcher and firing missiles like most sets do these days but none are obtrusive. The missiles are tucked away underneath the ship and the stud launcher doesn’t look out of place either.

It comes with two minifigs, Finn and Rose. Both have great detailing on the bodies and reversible faces. I especially love the stitching on the back of Finns jacket that according to the Last Jedi Visual Dictionary was something Pod did whilst Finn was in his induced coma. Rose even comes with her shock stick which is a nice touch. The set also comes with a BB-8 who can hide in the back.

Overall a nice little set but hold on until it’s on sale, a solid 8 out of 10.

My Star Wars Life Part 2 – Expanding My Universe

As with any obsession, more is better.

That was how I felt about Star Wars and I didn’t care how, like Anakin I wanted more.

First of all, toys. And my first ever Star Wars toy was a C-3PO ‘Bendems’ figure. It came with a collectable Trading Card from Topps and I loved it. I got as many as I could get my hands on, each with a trading card. My collection was growing and I hadn’t even realised. Then Christmas ’95 something happened that changed my life forever.

Power of the Force Action Figures.

My face lit up like a thousand Christmas Trees when I ripped open the wrapping paper to find an X-Wing toy. The wings opened up. It made sounds. And you could put a figure inside. I tried to stick my bendems Luke Skywalker in (one of the two I owned, the first ones hand came off and I refused to get rid of it due to screen accuracy) but he was too big.

A day or two later, my parents took me on the obligatory post Christmas ‘spend your money’ trip. To Toys R Us we went and I got myself a Luke Skywalker, a Darth Vader and to complement the X-Wing in my imaginary dog fights, the TIE Fighter.

Who cared that Luke looked like a He-Man reject and the Lightsabers were ridiculously out of proportion? Not me. I could finally tell my imaginary Star Wars tales with five points of articulation and we’re less likely to tear if bent in the wrong way.

Over the years the collection grew. Pocket money was thrown to Hasbro in droves, I had to have them all. Like faced Vader often and always on a high ledge, provided by my removing a shelf from its brackets and using them as a battle platform. The only one I couldn’t find for years was the Stormtrooper, which I remedied years later when I got the Luke in Stormtrooper disguise and never took the helmet off. Easy.

It wasn’t just the toys that had captured my imagination. I had also heard, from my older sisters Uni roommate that there were Star Wars books.

Now, as a kid, I was a big reader. And not to toot my own horn but I read at a higher level than my peers. Sure I was a fan of the age appropriate fare, such as Goosebumps but I was also starting to read longer, more adult fiction. My greatest achievement in reading at the time was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. So after some pleading with my folks I was granted permission (I was 9 at the time) to traverse the ever expanding Star Wars Universe. The first books I got were the novelisation of A New Hope by George Lucas (ghost written by Alan Dean Foster) and Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn.

I completed Zahn’s Empire trilogy and jumped into Kevin J Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy. This was phenomenal. New stories. New worlds. New characters. Wow, just… wow.

In early ’97 I picked up the paperback of Shadows of the Empire. My original plan was to complete the Young Han Solo Trilogy by A C Crispin but something about Shadows drew me away. Xixor. I had got the action figure the previous Christmas in a 2 pack with Darth Vader (with a proportionate lightsaber) as well as the Millennium Falcon and AT-ST, and so I put my education about Han Solo’s history on one side (still not finished the trilogy) to read the connective tissue between Empire and Jedi.

It was also during this shopping trip that I learned an incredible thing.

The Star Wars Trilogy was coming back to cinemas.

My Star Wars Life Part 1 – The Journey Begins

I can’t remember the first time I saw a Star Wars film. Not the opening to a blog about Star Wars but it’s true. It was however sometime before 1993 when the Holy Trilogy was released Digitally Remastered but somewhere on the cusp of living memory. Bear with me on this one.

At some point in my early years I am sure my Brother and Sister (from my Dads first marriage) had me watch one with them and I am convinced that it was Empire Strikes Back for the sole reason that I had a memory of seeing Luke fall down the shaft on Bespin when I finally watched it properly in ‘93.

Before that night, in front of the ‘big’ TV in the front room and with no memories of any pre-recollection viewings the most Star Wars I got in my life was descriptions of moments by my Dad. One such conversation happened in a hotel room in France on a family holiday, we had been talking about Sci-Fi, and at the time the only Sci-Fi I had seen was old episode of Doctor Who and Star Trek (was not a fan of either) and my Dad told me about this fabled film called Star Wars. He waxed philosophical about the huge Sandcrawler and the two droids C-3PO and R2-D2. How real it all felt, with bizarre aliens, not like Trek where it was just painted people, these aliens looked weird. I was intrigued.

A trip to Disneyland Paris only piqued my interest more. Walking through the park, wide eyed and in awe of the magic all around (and yet to be bored senseless by Its a Small World) there was this amazing looking space plane high above my head, I asked my Dad who told me it was an X-Wing… mind blown… What on Earth is an X-Wing? I must know more. And then there was Star Tours. The queue was long but all I could do was marvel at the scenery and those fabled Droids my old man had described to me only nights before. Then of course we went on the ride. I couldn’t get over Captain Rex, (a real droid pilot!!!) and was blown away by what was on screen, unfortunately I don’t remember what mission we went on but I do remember loving it. I begged to go on again but it was a resounding ‘No.’ and off we went to explore the magical kingdom.

A year or so later and a VHS from 20th Century Fox heralded what could only be my own personal Mecca, the Star Wars Trilogy on VHS. And like any impetuous child I pleaded to get them, and my Mum told me to ask my older siblings if they had a copy on video. I was in luck and so was passed down the first item in my Star Wars collection, The Empire Strikes Back from the 80’s on VHS.

Once home that night I put in the VCR and pressed play. After making it through trailers for Chariots of Fire and the Mel Brooks vehicle, To Be Or Not To Be there was a trailer for Star Wars. Oh boy. Wow! And then the main event.

It was glorious.

It was the best thing I had ever seen.

I don’t know at what point my Mum came in but as Vader revealed the most devastating news anyone could hear I turned to her and I had to ask ‘Is he really?’

‘You’ll have to find out.’ She said to me. To this day I don’t know if she was trying to keep up the mystery or had no idea.

I didn’t find out until Christmas that year when I got A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. Life was complete.