Monday, February 1, 2016

I Will Finish What You Started

Hot Toys, Sideshow Collectibles, Funko, Lego, Hasbro, Disney, Mighty Muggs....
you name it, there's a Vader just waiting to be bought.
Ever since the original Bad Boy of Space, Darth Vader, stepped through the smouldering doorway of the Tantive IV his likeness has been the cornerstone of the Star Wars Universe merchandise machine. From candy and cereal boxes to action figures, statues and life-sized replicas of the Sith Lord there is no shortage of his presence when it comes to cool shit to buy. There isn't a rebel in the galaxy who even comes close to the force of his selling power.
I've been riding the Vader train for quite some time now and, even though I have more Sith than I can shake a lightsaber at, I know it's only a mere fraction of what is actually out there. So where is all the love coming from? Vader is the bad guy after all, isn't he? Aren't we supposed to root for the rebels? Han has swagger. Leia has the gold bikini. Luke has... The Force I guess. What is it? Is it the cape? Or is it simply that Darth Vader is so frickin' cool looking that nobody cares that he hunted down and killed all the Jedi (including a room full of children which is a pretty big douche-bag card to overlook).
I can't speak for everyone, especially the new generation of Star Wars fans or the poor souls who were introduced to the franchise via The Prequels, but I think I touched on the reason at the start of all this. As a kid I had no idea what to expect when I went to the theatre to see Star Wars other than it was a space movie. At 10 years old I'd never seen one in a theatre before. I honestly don't even know if I'd seen one on TV except for maybe an old black and white Buck Rogers episode here and there. So, yeah, sitting there watching this giant laser-shooting triangle space ship swallow up a tiny little blockade runner was very much a, "holy shit this is cool", moment that lead right up to the introduction of the man in black. The dude just strutted on in like he owned the place, barked a few orders through a black helmet and mask combo, swished his cape, picked up a rebel with one hand and then choked the life out of him all before breakfast. It. Was. Awesome. Vader was going to be our tour guide on this wild adventure and as a kid the idea of being the guy that had a sweet black suit of armour, fearsome voice, wicked red laser sword and who didn't take crap from anyone was just perfect. I was sold at that moment and today I'm still buying.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

If you haven't seen The Force Awakens yet, then, shame on you! Regardless I will point out this random babbling could contain spoilers so you should quit reading now if you want everything kept under wraps.

Last chance.

So it appears Kylo Ren is just an emo punk Sith full of daddy issues and unresolved angst. The real puppet master is some bad guy named Snoke who likes to make himself look larger than life via holographic imaging. Man, I hope this doesn't turn out to be some Wizard of Oz thing and it's actually a disgruntled Ewok behind a curtain. First of all Snoke doesn't really sound all that menacing of a name for an evil overlord in the Star Wars universe. Adding "Supreme Leader" doesn't do much to make it more evil sounding but I'm guessing Darth Snoke was too cliché. Love it or hate it you still need to wonder, who the hell is this guy? He looks human enough although the face needs a lot of work. Anakin looked like a beauty queen by comparison even after the Mustafar barbecue scene. Well, we have a few years to hypothesize before we get closer to a real answer.
I have my suspicions. There are a couple of possible origins of SLS and two of them could be of clone origin. A clone of Anakin or a clone of Palpatine. Hell, you could say a clone of Luke Skywalker if you really wanted to go wild But none of those are my first choice. 
Galen Marek wins it for me. I mean, technically it would be a clone of Galen Marek because the original died in The Force Unleashed story line but the age would be about right (I think), knowledge of the force is there, potential for Sith traits is there and if you are going to go through the trouble of building a big-ass planet destroying weapon you may presume there is enough ego present to name the thing after yourself; The Starkiller base. It may be a long shot but I'm sticking to my theory for now. Sometimes I'm right about these things. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

They're home!

A while back I mentioned that my collecting had shifted focus on to the higher-end collectibles offered by a Hong Kong based company called Hot Toys Limited. The first of the Original Trilogy cast has finally arrived and I am not disappointed. The Han Solo and Chewbacca set is gorgeous. I am always in awe of the incredible detail this company can put into their 1/6th scale figures. The fur on Chewbacca is very well done. I was a little wary of what to expect, because real fur is often poorly done, but they delivered a perfect wookie in my books. Han Solo's face sculpt is bang-on too. It's the first time I've ever seen a Star Wars collectible that captures Harrison Ford's true likeness and his notable chin scar is like the icing on a cake.

Quick on the heels of Han and Chewie's arrival was the old wizard himself, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sir Alec Guinness would have been pleased with the final product Hot Toys created... or perhaps balked at the commercialization of his likeness from a silly space movie. Either way I'm very glad to own this figure. Again, the detail is superb in every way right from his wise, all-knowing stare to his multi-layered, Tatooine weathered Jedi robes. I cannot wait for Vader to arrive. There is an epic duel begging to happen on my shelves.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Star Wars Is Not For Girls

That's right. Star Wars isn't for girls. Well, at least that's the message I get when I try to buy female Star Wars characters for Disney Infinity 3.0.
I know... you will argue that there are a few and, to be completely honest, it is true. The problem is that unless you are willing to purchase the Starter Pack with Ahsoka, or the Rise Against the Empire Play Set with Leia or the Force Awakens Play Set with Rey the only choice you have left is Sabine Wren (who is very cool according to my daughter) as a single figure.
And guess what? Even when you hand over $39.99 (plus tax) for a Play Set you are stuck with having to use a male character during play which really sucks if you have two daughters who want to play together. Seriously... nobody likes to play as Fin... at least not in my house.
Hey, Disney? Can we gat an all-female Play Set? Or at least put the limited number of female characters out as singles for father's like me who are finally rejoicing that their daughters are showing an interest in Star Wars. #DisneyInfinity #StarWars #StarWarsIsNotForGirls

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Spoiler Free!

It was hard but somehow I managed to stay spoiler free for The Force Awakens until I finally got to see it 4 days after its premier. My daughter fell victim to some douche-bag's attention seeking on the Minecraft servers two days earlier but I threatened to leave her at home if she even hinted at what the spoiler was.
The movie was great! J.J. and Disney delivered everything the cast has been promising and even my wife, the tolerant spouse of a Star Wars fan, gave it a "two-thumbs-up" rating. My youngest daughter wants BB-8 for Christmas (finally, real toys!) and both are arguing over who gets Rey for Disney Infinity 3.0. Better late than never for this old man!
So, without spoiling anything or divulging any particulars, I'm only going to mention that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the new cast is as energizing as the original cast was. While I appreciate having the gang back for the seventh film I honestly believe Rey's tale would have been strong enough to deliver the same great movie even if none of the original cast had signed on. It's that good and I'm definitely looking forward to the next instalment.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What A Piece Of Junk!

The much anticipated update to the Star Wars Battlefront game has finally been released on a multitude of platforms and after having been mostly underwhelmed by the Beta version I can say that the full release isn't much better.
It is a beautiful looking game. It looks and feels like the scenes we've watched on the big screen and you do get to immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe for some fun Stormtrooper blasting (or Rebel blasting if you join the Dark Side) but the controls and general interface of the game are clunky, cumbersome and downright a pain-in-the-ass to use.
First off, for the main screen interface, you need to be born with Hawkeye's abilities from The Avengers. The fonts and icons are incredibly small and that's me playing on a 47" Flatscreen from nominal viewing distance. I think it was developed for computer platforms rather than gaming systems.
Part of the lack-luster game-play may come from the sense that I have been playing Bungie's Destiny for the past year and a half and its game flow is far superior. It's like driving a Ferrari for a living and then being told you will have to commute to work with a Smart Car.
If you are not a fan of Star Wars I honestly believe you will get absolutely nothing out of Star Wars Battlefront. It is definitely not a game worth owning. I'm extremely glad I passed on the $69 Season Pass.
All that said the game does have one redeeming quality. You do get to do missions with vehicles (although not in space). X-Wings! TIE Fighters! This is something that has been missing from the gaming world for a long while. Is it worth the price tag? I feel a bit ripped off having paid $89 plus tax for the Deluxe Edition but at least I'm having fun behind the cockpit of an X-Wing.
Maybe there will be some upgrades to the gaming engine down the road, but until then this game rates two stars out of five for me. I'd rather be levelling up my Warlock and putting a few new holes in Oryx, The Taken King.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Where's Luke?

There has been a net-wide flurry of chatter over the absence of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) from The Force Awakens trailers. We have yet to see a character specific poster for the aged Jedi either unlike the other prominent Original Trilogy cast members.
So where is Master Luke?
Has he become an old hermit like Obi-Wan was in A New Hope? Has he turned to The Dark Side and is secretly Kylo Ren? Is he dead and just a Jedi Spirit along with Yoda, Ben and Anakin? There is no shortage of theories amongst fans for Luke's well orchestrated absence so I will throw my own hat into the ring.
I believe Luke has exiled himself after failing at trying to rebuild the Jedi Order. His failure comes at a cost that is deeply personal and has put a wedge between him and his sister Leia and the heroes that helped bring down The Empire. The Force is strong in his family and this includes his nephew whom he took it upon himself to train in the ways of the Jedi despite Han and Leia's disapproval. Kylo Ren is Luke's failure. Kylo Ren is Leia's son. Han is the father.
I could be completely wrong but if the trailers aren't laced with "fake" scenes then it makes the most sense to me story-wise. And Rey? Rey could be Luke's daughter or Han and Leia's but the former feels more plausible. She's no one... A young woman without a mother (possibly killed by an angry young Jedi turning against his master) and abandoned by a failure of a father (said Master).
So how do you defeat a rising new order ruled by someone you still love? How do you repair so many relationships entwined with a common thread? After 30 years what will bring everyone back together to save the galaxy and where do you go from there?
What happens when The Force Awakens?