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Star Wars Celebration is set to happen next month and it will feature all sorts of amazing Star Wars goodness, including this mural. It’s the work of artist Robert Burden, who spent 2,000 hours over 18 months to see it to completion.
The work measures 15-by-8 feet and is an oil painting tribute to all those classic Kenner toys we played with when we were kids. There are over 150 characters and vehicles represented in their original forms, so you’ll immediately recognize them from playing on your bedroom floor.
Although his focus was vintage toys, he wasn’t limited by them and included some more modern Hasbro toys like Qui-Gon Jinn, Queen Amidala, and Darth Maul. There are also images that aren’t Star Wars at all, but hat-tips to things that influenced the franchise. You’ll find a toy Nazi solider in there and Yul Brynner from The Magnificent Seven.
This incredible work will be on display for the first time at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim from April 16-19. It will also be for sale if you want to take it home, but will cost you a whopping $200,000. If you can’t afford that without wiping out the college fund, then head over to Burden’s website, where you can buy a limited edition 24-by-36-inch print for $250.
There are only 200 being made and each is signed, numbered, and stamped, making it a very special Star Wars collectible.
Please forgive my cursing, but I am a Breaking Bad fan. If you love the show like I love the show, you’d get the above reference—and maybe even the action figure pictured above.
This is the newly announced Jesse Pinkman 6-inch collectible action figure, which is coming soon from Mezco Toyz. It’s Jesse dressed in his best blue hazmat suit and comes with a teeny gas mask, a container of chili powder, and a sizable batch of Blue Sky. According to Mezco Toyz, it’s a limited piece, so you might want to snag one when it starts popping up in comic book shops in late July. Otherwise, Amazon plans to start shipping pre-orders on August 20, 2014.
Now, I have to admit: The competing Entertainment Earth Jesse Pinkman figure may be slightly cooler, but it’s also $31 more. For that, you get the orange jumpsuit, a gas mask, a tub of the blue stuff, and a package with a Vamonos Pest sleeve. You’ll also get a bit of a wait, since that one won’t start shipping until October.
Both of the sets have been given HBO Global Licensing’s blessing and both have some incarnation of a few of the same characters.
Funko already has a slew of Game of Thrones dolls—the kind that I could definitely build a nursery around. Now, the company is getting ready to release its first Legacy Collection, a set of action figures with at least 20 points of articulation and plenty of removable accessories for each.
At launch, the lineup will include Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, Tyrion Lannister, Ned Stark, and White Walker. The Legacy Collection will be a Barnes & Noble exclusive starting February 18, with the set getting a wider release on March 4. Additional figures will then follow sometime this fall.
If you’re willing to wait, you may want to mark your calendar for Dark Horse’s latest GOT release. This line is non-articulated, with each figure measuring about 7.5 inches tall.
The company had previously released figures for Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, with Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo, and Ned Stark all coming in time for Season 4’s April premiere. The newest announcement is that Cersei Baratheon, Arya Stark, Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, and White Walker will join the collection in July, with five more coming sometime in November 2014. That lineup has yet to be announced.
Dark Horse has already made some figures that any GOT fan would be proud to put on display. However, I’m partial to moving parts and add-ons. Choose your favorite weapon (and character), but know that Funko has priced the Legacy Collection at $19.95 each, with Dark Horse coming in at $24.99.
I’m old enough that I saw all three of the original Star Wars trilogy movies in the theater. We didn’t have a lot of money, but my sci-fi-loving mom made sure that we saw them all. And my sister and I each had one action figure. I had a little R2-D2, and she had a C-3PO. R2’s head clicked as you turned it around. That was about all he did, but I loved him.
Much more recently, I’ve been really pleased to see so many action figures for the new Star Wars movies (even though I’m not a big fan of them), and for other movies and franchises out there. But since my only childhood action figure was R2-D2, I have a soft spot in my heart for figures from that series.
The characters are very detailed and well done, large enough to play with on a decent scale. Each character comes with accessories, such as lightsabers and/or blasters, and in the case of R2, all of his tools that come out of his panels.
Each figure comes attractively packaged in a black box with a description of the character and a well known quotation on the back. I got my hands on two of the larger series figures, X-Wing Fighter Luke (at least that’s what I call him) and R2-D2. Luke’s quotation is, “It’ll be just like Beggar’s Canyon back home.” A classic for sure. R2’s quote is, naturally, “Beep BEYoop whyEET bip beep boop!”
Fully articulated, the X-Wing Fighter Luke comes with a helmet, a blaster, and a lightsaber. He even has a trigger finger positioned perfectly for the blaster. It is obvious that Hasbro paid a lot of attention to detail with this series. The plastic is ever-so-slightly flexible, to allow for easy off and on of the helmet, and to make sure the lightsaber doesn’t break.
R2-D2 has a third leg that can be used or stowed, and wheels on the bottom of all three of his feet. He has panels that open or come off, and accessories such as Luke’s lightsaber (from Return of the Jedi, obviously), tools, and scanners. He is also as articulated as can be possible for this kind of droid.
While the whole set might cost more than people can afford, picking one (or two, or three) of your favorite characters are an affordable choice. These are high quality, detailed, and great for play or display. I recommend them to any Star Wars lover.
I was slightly too old to be the proper demographic for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television show back in the late 1980s. It came out when I was fourteen. So I missed it the first time around. Others were more fortunate, though, and I’m learning more about the Turtles as time goes on.
Several months ago, Nickelodeon started a new TMNT series, and has put out a series of toys and action figures to go with it. Since I’m dating someone younger than I am who was fortunate enough to get into the original series when it originally aired, I got a little (read: a lot of) help from him reviewing the toys. Thanks, Rory!
In short, the action figures are very well done, are of high quality, and are worth your money. But here’s a much more thorough look.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line based on the new Nickelodeon show are all extremely well articulated. Each one is well equipped with many accessories. Even the tiny accessories are detailed and the figures can get a decent grip on them. There is very little wasted plastic. There are definitely more accessories than necessary, but that just adds to the versitility of play. The vast majority of the figures (with one exception) stand independently very well. And the toys are very archtypical, fitting into the theme or mood of that character.
Everything is packaged in ways that make sense, with stretchy plastic ties holding the pieces in place, instead of the infernal zip tie types. The toys are made by Playmates toys, and are for kids ages four and up.
Though there are a few other toys in the line, these are the ones I was sent for review.
Michelangelo: He has a matte finish with a good paint job. The plastic is flexible, and the figure has good storage for the interesting weapons that come along with it. The weapons come in the car model plastic mold type thing, where you have to twist the pieces off. The weapons didn’t come off too easily, so parental involvement here is a good idea. The very small throwing stars have a specific hole for the figure to grip them in his fingers, the chain scythe can be gripped with both hands at the same time, and he has a back belt that is flexible and holds the nunchucks securely.
Leonardo: He comes with detailed swords that were well packaged to protect the tips, and are very flexible. He has a back belt that holds a shoulder strap that holds his swords, which snap in place. The coloration on his hand and foot wraps is different from the others; detail is obviously paid to each individual Turtle’s coloring. He has a third, extra sword in case one of the others gets lost. He has two more blades that are alternate sizes, one larger and one smaller than the usual swords. This is before the Kris’, of which he has three, along with two additional throwing stars.
Raphael: This Turtle is easily the most detailed character. He has a distinct expression on his face, though all have an angry look. He even has the crack in his shell that’s his signature thing. Raphael has fewer weapons than the others, but they are decidedly detailed. You should probably cut out the weapons, though, or else they’ll fatigue and discolor.
Donatello: He has the most detailed weapons. He has a three part nunchuck, a pair of throwing stars that are more detailed than any other weapon, his traditional staff, and then a staff sword. Has a more mild expression than the others, and is the only one not showing teeth. His staff weapon is extremely durable. He’s better packaged then any of the other Turtles, and none of them are packed poorly.
All of the Turtles have flexible belts, but I don’t think they are meant to be removed. They might break or stretch out.
Dogpound: This figure is well thought out and packed extremely well. Because he’s such a large figure, he was packed in pieces to be able to be in the same sized package as the other figures. He also has an awesome paint job.
Metalhead: The paint on this figure is a little off, and it doesn’t quite line up right on the pieces. There is a separate laser piece which is easy to lose and doesn’t stay in his hand very well. Also, the laser doesn’t launch. He is fairly articulated but less so than the other toys. But over all, despite all this, he’s pretty genius.
Fishface: He has a ridiculously awesome weapon, along with a very tiny weapon. He is the least articulate of all the characters, and is fairly unimpressive, but as Rory says, “C’mon, it’s Fishface.”
Shredder: This figure “includes battle armor” but the battle armor is not detachable. He has a puny, less awesome version of Leonardo’s sword, but also has substantial ninja stars. His paint job is very well done. There is especially a lot of detail in the armor. He’s a good stand-alone toy with the same articulation as the Turtles. He even stands better than some of the Turtles do, even though he has smaller feet.
Foot Soldier: He has two swords, each with its own sheath. The sheaths are connected to each other and can then plug into the back of the foot soldier, if desired. He’s easily the best of the bad guys, and probably worth investing in more than one. He has the same level of articulation as the Turtles, but doesn’t stand as well as the other toys. “The foot soldier is an awesome villain toy,” says Rory. “Kudos to Playmates for the design of the Foot Soldier weapon carrying setup.”
The Kraang: This figure has hardly any articulation and can only stand in one way. Has the most substantial and sturdy weapons of any character, though, and are also very detailed and the best weapons of the bad guys. Not on the same level of the Turtles, but decent. Still, overall the toy is disappointing. It is unbalanced with weapons in hand, to the point where it can’t stand up. Also, the brain portion of Kraang is so rubbery that it might not wear as well as the rest of the toy.
Being the expert, I’m deferring to Rory on the overall review. The Foot Soldier is his favorite out of all of the figures, including the Turtles. It has great attention to detail, including a perfectly painted headband. It compensates for the fact that the other villains are frail and not versatile, and have worse weapons than the Turtles in general.
Additional Toys in the Line
“Oh yeah, dude.” – Rory, when opening the Michelangelo Ninja Combat Gear.
We were also able to review the Michelangelo Ninja Combat Gear. The advertised sound effects in the nunchucks means a twisting ratcheting sound. This means that there isn’t a meaningful sound, but it also means no batteries and no annoying electronic sound. The gear also includes Frisbee-like throwing stars and an orange mask that fits kids best but can go on an adult if needed. Overall, this toy is slightly underwhelming after the other toys, but allows kids to get in on the action, playing their favorite Turtle. They offer toy sets for each of the Turtles, in addition to other toys in the line.
At around six years old, my friend BJ and I would play Star Wars in his basement. He had this white mountainous set where our dolls — oh, excuse me, action figures — would have adventures. I got to play Luke, since BJ always wanted to be Han Solo.
My sister was never interested in this game, but sometimes BJ’s older brother Michael would come down to mess it up. He always said I should be Princess Leia and should buy one. I would shrug my shoulders and grab Luke before he could.
I didn’t want to be Princess Leia. I was mad at her. At that point in the series, I didn’t know she was Luke’s sister, but Luke liked her. My feelings were conflicted about Luke at six years old. I both wanted to be him, the hero, but also wanted him to look at me the way he looked at Leia.
But didn’t every little geeky girl want to be Leia? Not really. She was so out of reach — a beautiful, grown lady. I couldn’t possibly be anything like her. She could tough talk the men, shoot a gun, and wear a sexy outfit while strangling that creep. Way out of my league. Somehow imagining myself as a clueless boy was easier.
As I got older, I moved away. There wasn’t another BJ who wanted to play Star Wars in my new town. I moved on.
As an adult, I got back into the geeky culture. Princess Leia in that gold bikini always popped up. Personally, I thought she looked cooler in the white outfit holding a gun because now I wouldn’t mind being her. She was a strong leader, and still won the heart of the sexy guy. But I hated that bikini shot. As if her entire character was summed up by a salivating nerd-boy fantasy.
In fact, the lack of other cool lead female characters in that series turned me off to the whole thing. If I wanted to cosplay, I had one option — Leia. And if I didn’t wear that bikini, no one would know who I was anyway. No thanks.
Then I attended ConnectiCon where I saw a woman in that bikini surrounded by storm troopers. She looked awesome, happy, and confidant. It turns out she was a belly dancer in the area with a Star Wars routine. I watched her dance and was mesmerized. Now I wanted to be Leia! I wanted to be that Leia in the costume — choosing it because she had power. Showing her belly because she could shake it!
That belly dancer changed my perception of Leia. Even though the character on screen would have never chosen that outfit– a sign of being a slave — a fan took it back. Changed it from a sex symbol to a powerful female art form.
I like Leia. She’s cool. And she still left Luke for me
Bif Bang Pow!, the company that brought us the 2010 SDCC Exclusive Henchman 21 figure, have teamed up with NBCUniversal Television for their next line. Based on Battlestar Galactica — the classic, not the new series — they will produce bobbleheads and articulated action figures in the “Mego” style, pictured above, that was popular in the ’70s and ’80s. What makes this different than any other release? Well, for me the highlight would be the episode-specific fabric clothing that takes it to a whole new level. I’ve watched action figures roll off the shelves with slight interest for years: my father owns a toy store with a focus on Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and the like, and it was always the companies that went the extra mile that intrigued me the most. Black-haired Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the Slytheen from Doctor Who. Specifics, and not generalities, take my interest, and so I find this new line appealing. The fact that all involved seem equally excited is just icing on the cake.
“Battlestar Galactica continues to be one of our most enduring franchises and we’re very happy to be working with Bif Bang Pow! to bring the classic versions of these iconic characters to diehard collectors everywhere,” said Chris Lucero, Director of Global Licensing for NBCUniversal Television. “Fans have been demanding new toys and collectibles from the classic series for years and together with our partners at Bif Bang Pow!, we can now respond with a very enthusiastic, ‘by your command!'”
John Booth, fantastic writer and good friend of mine, takes us back 30 years, sharing his myriad and detailed memories of being an early Star Wars fan in his book, Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek – The First 30 Years. John has been a Star Wars geek from the very beginning, being the right age when the original movies came out. At one point more recently, he decided to write down all of his recollections surrounding any part of Star Wars history, and has collected them into a fantastic book.
Each chapter in the book is a bit of a vignette, with plenty of detail and some stream of consciousness, as memories usually have. In between are sections entitled Proof of Purchase, each one a much shorter vignette, often addressing a more tangible memory of an item, such as an action figure or a cake. As I measure life by where I lived and by the birth of my children, John includes Star Wars events and dates in his life measurements.
John’s book inspires others to share their Star Wars memories as well. I, myself, was only four years old in 1977, so my memories are fewer than John’s, who is a couple of years older. But I still have my original Star Wars trading cards (with the blue border) and a few of the Return of the Jedi ones (with the red border), and still hold out hope that my R2-D2 action figure will turn up in a box. I also remember the month when I was a kid that HBO played Star Wars on frequent repeat, and I saw it probably 20 times that month. That contributed to the fact that I can practically recite the entire movie, even to this day.
John is masterful in recreating how it felt for him (and countless other Star Wars fans that were kids at the time) when he coveted that new Star Wars guy, or when he arranged his sets, or when the next movie was coming out and the anticipation was killing him. John can paint a picture with his words that pulls you into the story instantly.
Obviously the book has a star destroyer full of Star Wars references, but I love how he also inserts them when you aren’t expecting it: “They were just swordfighters, no matter how clumsy and random they thought blasters were.”
Throughout the book, John talks about his friends and classmates by first names only. We have no idea exactly who his first-named friends were. But we aren’t meant to, and it isn’t important to the story. John is just letting us into his childhood, to help us relive our own, or to see what we missed by being born at the wrong time. Or for those who perhaps weren’t lucky enough to get into Star Wars the first time around.
Throughout the book, John inserts his own form of humor, which only adds to the pleasure of reliving Star Wars memories. John is very clever and this comes out in his writing.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when he includes his recollections of writing with a friend a continuation of the story following Return of the Jedi. That story is actually incredibly creative and certainly no more cheesy than the original storylines. I wish John and his friend had done more with it at the time.
It was great to learn more about the movies themselves, especially The Empire Strikes Back, through the eyes of a child, including the impressions and some misconceptions that come with being so young. Personally, I only actually remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater, but I know I saw them all. I had just been too young to remember the occasions of seeing the others. (Of course my family made up for that with countless Star Wars movie retrospectives at home when I was a kid. Thanks, Mom!)
Some of John’s writing stirred memories in me that I’d only just forgotten, buried just under the surface. One example was about Luke’s fight with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi where Luke cut off Vader’s hand, and then the camera showed Luke looking at his own gloved hand. Like John, I, too, thought that somehow Vader’s hand had ended up on Luke!
John’s conversational style in this book helps along the feeling that you are reminiscing together, that he’s telling you a story while being in the same room. You can feel his enthusiasm coming through.
A little over halfway through the book, the story takes a more serious turn, still telling John’s Star Wars tale but through the eyes of a young adult going through regretful experiences and other events. Star Wars still had an influence on his life at that point, but it had evolved into a slightly different kind of influence. This part was hard for me to read, mostly because I know John personally, and have also had some of my own regretful experiences at that time in my life.
John eventually gets to the prequels and deals with them fairly. They can’t compare to the originals, but they were better than nothing. (Maybe, says me.) In all, the book is a very personal look at one boy/man’s journey through the Star Wars universe.
The book is also available as an ebook, which has plenty of bonus material. In the ebook, after the main narrative, John has included interviews, updates, and extras. John’s writing here is a bit different, though. You get to see his journalistic side, his more polished and less personal side.
Star Wars has always been there for John Booth. Through the good times and the bad, from his youth to adulthood and parenthood. Thanks to John, I was reminded of my own childhood, with our family Star Wars retrospectives, frequent Star Wars cable TV airplay, and continually recited lines.
With Collect All 21!, you get the complete Star Wars memory of one John Booth.
‘Tis the season to start my holiday shopping. Before my oldest was born I was usually done shopping by July. After she was born, I was able to finish before Thanksgiving. My son was born in April and I haven’t had time in six months to do anything with his baby book, let alone do any Christmas shopping.
Thumbing through my digital Target ad this morning looking for Christmas presents, something spectacular caught my eye. I know, I know, my oldest does NOT need any more toys. However, it was the packaging that jumped out at me and brought such a wave of nostalgia that I may not be able to resist.
Being a child of Star Wars, my brother and I had several action figures and even the Princess Leia doll. Alas, I was hard on my toys. The figures ended up in pieces and Leia ended up on the roof for a time and then in a bush in the front yard. When that bush was removed, I expected that doll to be there, but she had vanished. Sinister. Anyway, back to the nostalgia. Hasbro is releasing a set of vintage Star Wars action figures. The classic characters have been retooled a bit with added articulation points and different sculpts, but the packaging looks to be the same as circa 1970’s right down to the Kenner logo. These figures also seem to be widely available so hoarde yours — I mean get yours — today and save them for Christmas.
This summer was the first time for my oldest to see the original trilogy and she is caught, hook, line, and sinker. I managed to find a Leia doll, though not the one I had, on eBay for her birthday. Now she can have the action figures of her favorites too, or at least look at them on mom’s shelf. Either way, what bliss.