Star Wars and the Power of Costume Kicks Off 12-City Tour in Seattle

Photo: Kelly Knox

The famous metal bikini. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Say what you will about the Star Wars prequels, but you can’t deny that Queen Amidala’s gowns are breathtaking. In fact, from Princess Leia’s white gown to a Jedi’s robes, the costumes of Star Wars are now ingrained in pop culture. They are instantly recognizable and unquestionably memorable. Star Wars and the Power of Costume, an exhibit presented by the Smithsonian, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Lucasfilm, celebrates the amazing costume achievements of the Star Wars trilogies with almost 60 original, handcrafted costumes from every film.

This exhibit is making its way to 12 cities across the U.S., starting at the extraordinary EMP Museum in Seattle on January 31. This incredible exhibit cements the EMP’s status as a geek mecca. Star Wars and the Power of Costume covers two floors of the museum, with a few costumes displayed elsewhere in the museum.

Photo: Kelly Knox

Photo: Kelly Knox.

The moment you enter the exhibit and hear the familiar music play, it’s not hard to imagine you’ve just stepped into Star Wars. (I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open the entire time.) Each costume has been meticulously cared for and in practically perfect condition. It’s always amusing to see just how your favorite characters actually size up, from the small waist of Natalie Portman or how much Chewbacca would tower over you, but the exhibit goes into much, much more interesting detail about each piece.

Every costume has a story. Many are inspired by multiple cultures throughout history, like the headdresses of Mongolian royalty for Queen Amidala’s wide red headpiece and the samurai helmet resting on Darth Vader’s shoulders. Lucas drew from fascist regimes for the look of the Empire, the swagger of a gunslinger for Han Solo, and the humble simplicity of monk robes for Jedi. Each part of the exhibit includes fascinating details about the inspiration and creation of the piece, each a work of art in their own right.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume

The evolution of an emperor. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Costumes inspired the actors and vice-versa; both Ewan McGregor and Samuel Jackson were giddy at the prospect of wearing Jedi robes, while Harrison Ford insisted his shirt look a certain way. Be sure to spend some time listening to the interviews with the actors, designers, and concept artists peppered throughout the exhibit for a truly inside look behind Star Wars.

Young kids may not get much out of Star Wars and the Power of Costume, although seeing Darth Vader, Jedi, Chewbacca, and the droids “in person” should hold their interests. This is a rare opportunity to see the incredible detail of Amidala’s lavish gowns, the worn robes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, or the famous metal bikini from Return of the Jedi. In short, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you need to see this exhibit, with or without the kids in tow.

Luminara Undili and Mace Windu take on the Emperor. Photo: Kelly Knox

I was certain the Emperor was going to move. Photo: Kelly Knox.

Star Wars and the Power of Costume is at the EMP Museum in Seattle from January 31 to October 4, 2015. Tickets are timed for entry, so plan ahead by choosing the best time for you and your family online. Tickets to Star Wars and the Power of Costume include access to all other EMP Museum galleries. (General admission gives access to all of the galleries except Star Wars, so double-check that you’re buying the correct one.) Don’t miss Icons of Science Fiction on the bottom floor!

GeekMom attended a promotional press preview.

Comic Book Corner — Star Wars, The X-Files, & Princess Ugg

Star Wars #1 (Art by John Cassaday) © Marvel

Star Wars #1 (Art by John Cassaday) © Marvel / Lucasfilm

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week the Force is with Kelly as she checks out Star Wars #1. Sophie tackles the latest in The X-Files. Meanwhile, I take a walk on the barbarian side in the world of Princess Ugg.

Kelly Knox — Star Wars #1 by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday (Marvel)

I didn’t plan on liking Star Wars #1. Oh, sure, I’m a diehard Star Wars fan, so of course I bought it, but I was already skeptical about another comic series re-treading the same ground that I enjoyed so much when Dark Horse Comics released their Star Wars books in 2013. After all, Princess Leia kicked some serious butt, and the entire series just felt like Star Wars. No way that could happen again, I decided.

I was wrong.

© Marvel

© Marvel /Lucasfilm

I highly recommend picking this book up in print, because once you flip the pages and see STAR WARS blazoned across the two-page spread, you can practically hear the Star Wars theme. The story even opens similarly to A New Hope with a ship floating above a planet to give readers the familiar feeling of being back in the galaxy far, far away, while it sets up our favorite heroes’ current escapade on Cymoon 1.

If you can’t tell by the images above, I needn’t have worried about Princess Leia sitting back and not getting in on the action. She’s unabashedly bashing, punching, shooting, and giving Han Solo a hard time, and doesn’t hesitate to make the right calls. And Darth Vader… I won’t spoil it for you here, but Darth Vader is properly ominous and ruthless.

While I’m still far more excited about the Princess Leia mini-series coming up in March, this first issue of Star Wars has given me a new hope for the ongoing series. (Groan, I know, but I had to say it.)

Age Recommendation: 12 and up

Dakster Sullivan — Princess Ugg #6 and #7 written and drawn by Ted Naifeh (Oni Press)

Princess Ugg continues to be my favorite series with a strong female lead. The last time we saw our heroine, the carriage carrying her and her fellow princesses was being attacked.

Princess Ugg, never one to stand down from a fight, kicked their tails and then some. Unfortunately, in the end, the bad guys got away and Princess Ugg was left standing with the Captain of the Royal Guard.

The attackers wanted a ransom for the safe return of the princesses, and while the Captain was happy to do things in a diplomatic way, Ugg was less inclined and took after the men.

After a bloody battle between Ugg and the men who attacked them, the girls are back on their way to see Queen Astoria of Atraesca, Issue 7 opens up and we immediately see how the other princesses have changed their opinion of Ugg. She’s a valiant warrior and by saving their lives, apparently has earned their respect and friendship.

Julifer is the only one that doesn’t want to give Ugg a chance and despite saving their lives, is still against her. Tired of Julifer’s bickering about Ugg, one of the other princesses reveals that Julifer is the least royal of all the princesses (her father is a Prime Minister). Ugg on the other hand, has more royal blood than all of them combined.

Once in the audience of the Queen, each perform a talent to entertain the court.

When it comes time for Ugg to entertain the Queen, she is embarrassed because her instrument and her dress were destroyed saving her classmates. One of her fellow princesses convinces her to go back to her roots and hands her the original outfit she wore to the school. Since her instrument was destroyed in the fight, the Queen asks Ugg to sing instead. Princess Ugg obliges and sings a lullaby common to her people. It’s a depressing song about loss, and it summed up why Ugg went to the princess academy to begin with and what she wants to prevent when it’s her turn to rule. Her voice blows everyone away and they see that Ugg can do more than wield a sword.

The issue doesn’t end well for our heroines and with Princess Ugg’s story ending in March, I’m interested to see how the issues following this one tie up her story with how this issue ended.

Age Recommendation: 12 and up due to some flying heads and bloodshed.

Princess Ugg: Vol 1 is available in comic book stores now.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy of this title. 

Sophie Brown — The X-Files: Season 10 #20 by Joe Harris with art by Tom Mandrake (IDW Publishing)

Following up last month’s issue focused on government experiments with hallucinogenic drug G-23 comes The X-Files: Season 10 #20 and a conclusion that I think I needed to be high to fully comprehend.

The X-Files Season 10 Issue 20 \ Image: IDW Publishing

The X-Files Season 10 Issue 20 \ Image: IDW Publishing

The last we saw of Agent Mulder he had been dusted with G-23 and was hallucinating an image of Scully smoking a cigarette and wearing fishnets. Rather than picking up immediately where we left off, #20 begins with a flashback to a younger Mulder visiting a head shop with his then-girlfriend Diana Fowley and spotting a certain iconic poster. It’s a scene once very vaguely described in an episode of the TV show and it’s nice to see that note picked up, however briefly. Of course we then realize that this might too be part of a hallucination and not an accurate recounting, as Mulder wakes up back in the desert. The hallucination-Scully whom Mulder takes to calling Red is still around, only now with significantly less fishnets and more cleavage. The story takes a surprisingly violent turn for the series until Mulder blacks out again.

Mulder and Red take a confusing drive filled with bizarre occurrences, presumably imaginary cliff edges and ballet moves on top of a moving roof, before ending up at the ruins of the facility we saw last issue. The artwork here is spectacular, all black, haunting silhouettes against beautiful skies as Mulder discusses his father’s work with Red before finding himself in the dark depths of the old facility. Mulder finds something he believes is his final truth, only to wake up back on the surface with nothing. It’s a fairly typical X-Files resolution, only this time, thanks to the hallucinogens, we have no idea how much of what we just witnessed happened anyway. There’s also a minor subplot involving Langley waking up in the desert and having some hallucinations of his own, however these play absolutely no part in the storyline and seem at best pointless.

There are a lot of unanswered questions going on here. Mulder clearly moves from the site where he was sprayed with G-23 to the location of the old facility, but how? Did he drive himself while hallucinating Red entirely? Was Red actually a real person and Mulder projected the image of a warped, buxom Scully onto her? If so, who was that person? And as for the G-23 that supposedly “brings out the worst in people,” why did Mulder seem pretty much himself while on it? Where other characters have turned horrifically violent, Mulder just had a few visions. Does that mean Mulder is already so close to his own “worst” incarnation that we fail to see a difference? The concept of something causing people to see their worst fears has a strong precedent on The X-Files: We’ve seen it in Wetwired and again in X-Cops, but G-23 wasn’t explained well enough to really deliver the high it could had done.

Age Recommendation: 18+

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy of this title.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Aquaman #38
Arkham Manor #4
Batman #38
Batman Eternal #43
Bodies #7 (Of 8)
Catwoman #38
Deathstroke #4
Earth 2 World’s End #17
Effigy #1
Flash #38
Flash Vol. 5 History Lessons TP
Gotham Academy #4
Gotham By Midnight #3
Green Lantern By Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 1 HC
Harley Quinn #14 GM
He-Man The Eternity War #2
Infinity Man And The Forever People #7
Justice League Dark #38
Multiversity Guidebook #1
New 52 Futures End #39
Red Lanterns #38
Secret Origins #9
Showcase Presents Blue Beetle TP
Sinestro #9
Star-Spangled War Stories Featuring G.I. Zombie #6
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #12
Vertigo Quarterly Black #1
All-New Invaders #14
Amazing X-Men #16
Cataclysm The Ultimates’ Last Stand TP
Deadpool #41
Deadpool The Ones With Deadpool TP
Guardians Of The Galaxy / All-New X-Men The Trial Of Jean Grey TP
Inhuman #11
Marvel Previews #138 (February 2015 For Products On-Sale April 2015)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man Web Warriors #3 Kid-Friendly
New Avengers #29
New Warriors Vol. 2 Always And Forever TP
Nick Fury Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Classic Vol. 2 TP
Nova #26 GM
Secret Avengers #12
Spider-Man 2099 #8
Spider-Man And The X-Men #2 New Series GM
Spider-Man Big Time The Complete Collection Vol. 3 TP
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man Vol. 3 Game Over TP
Thor #4
Uncanny Avengers #1 Reboot
Uncanny X-Men #30
Wolverine And The X-Men Vol. 2 Death Of Wolverine TP
Wolverines #4
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Angry Birds Comics #8 Kid Friendly
Angry Birds Transformers #3 (Of 4) Kid-Friendly
Creature Cops Special Varmint Unit #1 (Of 3) New-Mini Series
Doberman #5
G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #210
G.I. JOE The IDW Collection Vol. 5 HC
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #20
Judge Dredd #27
Judge Dredd Classics The Dark Judges #2 (Of 5)
Katabasis I TP
Life Eaters TP
Maxx Maxximized #16
Maxx Maxximized Vol. 3 HC
My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #27 Kid-Friendly
October Faction #2 New Series
Powerpuff Girls Super Smash-Up #1 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Rot And Ruin #5
Skylanders #5 (Of 5) Kid Friendly
Squidder TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics Vol. 3 #2 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters #4 (Of 4) Final Issue Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 10 New Mutant Order TP
Transformers Drift Empire Of Stone #3 (Of 4)
V-Wars #10
Winterworld #7
X-Files Season 10 #20
Captain Midnight #19
Captain Midnight Vol. 4 Crash And Burn TP
Colder The Bad Seed #4
Conan The Avenger #10
EC Archives The Vault Of Horror Vol. 4 HC
Eerie Archives Vol. 18 HC
ElfQuest The Final Quest #7
Eye Of Newt HC
Father’s Day #4 (Of 4)
Halo Escalation #14
Mind MGMT #30
Predator Fire And Stone #4 (Of 4)
Savage Sword Of Conan Vol. 18 TP
Sundowners #6
Tomb Raider #12

Acronym Key: HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

Little Boy Sees Star Wars for the First Time, Completely Loses It

Star Wars came out a decade long, long ago when the only way to see the movie was in a theater. I was seven, so my Dad took me to see it and the movie completely and utterly blew my little mind. According to him, I watched half the film with my jaw dropped down to the floor. Now kids see it for the first time in the comfort of their own homes. This 3-year-old boy is one of those kids and his reaction is brilliant.

It appears that he’s already familiar with the characters as he calls out Darth Vader and “Storm Woopers.” Storm Woopers? I will now think of them this way forever and until the end of time. It makes them much less scary and makes this kid unbearably cute. He’s adorable and the way he keeps adjusting his glasses to be sure he doesn’t miss anything is just killing me.

His dialogue is great, but his physical reactions will have you giggle-snorting your coffee onto your monitor, so be warned. He shushes Dad with a finger held up as the movie starts and then he has the most incredible freak out. There is jumping up and down. There is flailing. There is dancing and there is a huge smile.

Since I saw the movie for the first time in a theater, I could not jump up and down, but if I could have, I’d have done exactly what this kid did, right until they kicked me out. If we’re being totally honest, and we are, that’s exactly what all Star Wars fans do inside every single time that music starts to play.

The completely rapt look on his face is how we’re all going to look when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters in December. You guys, that’s this year! Yup, absolutely flailed my arms at that thought and barely refrained from jumping up and down at my desk.

(via NerdApproved)

Beautiful R2-KT Ring Inspired by a Dad’s Love For His Ailing Daughter

R2-KT Ring

Image: Paul Michael Design

This Star Wars R2-KT ring is beautiful all on its own, but becomes exquisite when you know the story that led to its creation.

R2-KT is a little astromech droid that came in to being thanks to 501st Legion founder, Albin Johnson, whose daughter, Katie, was battling brain cancer. Her diagnosis came in November 2004 when she was only six years old. She underwent treatment that included chemotherapy and Katie bravely fought the disease.

One day during her treatment, her family took her picture in front of a church where Katie noticed that one of the windows looked a lot like R2-D2 and an idea was born. Her dad decided to create a very special pink astromech, R2-KT, to watch over Katie.

He brought his idea to life with the help of the R2 Builders Club who hurried to complete the droid and present it to Katie. She was able to spend some time with a prototype R2-KT in all its pink glory before she passed away on August 9, 2005.

The full, complete R2-KT was presented to Katie’s family the following July and now serves to help others, just like the 501st Legion, making appearances at conventions, charity events, and children’s hospitals all across the country. The little droid inspired by a child’s vision of R2-D2 in a church window now helps other children fighting their own battles.

This beautiful R2-KT ring was made by Paul Michael Design to look just like the little pink astromech. It joins a long list of nerdy designs that includes Cylons, X-Wings, and even a TARDIS necklace. Many of his creations are available on his Etsy site and he is happy to work with you on a custom designed piece.

 

Happy Chinese and a Movie

Photo illustration modified from Morguefile.com stock image.

There was no Christmas tree in our house. There were no stockings, and Santa never came down the chimney. This is how I grew up. Seven percent of Americans do not celebrate Christmas. That includes members of many religions (including some Christians) and other Americans for whom, for whatever reason, it’s just not a holiday. I grew up in a Bahai household (just like Rainn Wilson), and we didn’t observe Christmas. Or any other winter holiday, actually. Bah humbug.

Chinese and a movie is a cliché among Jews, but it’s actually pretty standard for  anyone who doesn’t celebrate. Everything closes on Christmas, except a few Chinese restaurants and movie theaters, so if you want to go out and do something on your day off, that’s about all there is to do. Sometimes it was TV dinners and a rental.  And like the rest of you, I pretend the Star Wars Holiday Special never existed.

[Read more…]

The GeekMoms’ Christmas Trees and the Geeky Stories Behind Them

A collection of the GeekMoms' trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

A collection of the GeekMoms’ trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We would also love it if, in the comments, you shared images of your Christmas trees—via a link to your photo(s)—and the stories behind them.

Without further ado, let the sharing begin!

GeekMom Andrea’s Christmas Tree

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

GeekMom Andrea had this to say about her tree:

I did the unthinkable this year and suggested that for the first time in our family’s history we buy a fake tree. Every year as December approaches my husband and I have moved around the furniture in our cozy living room until it looks like something closer to a garage sale than a celebration in order to fit a giant, live tree in our space. It makes no sense. Plus: I come from a long line of fake-tree people. Pink trees. Aluminum trees…

It was time to stop living the “real tree” lie. It was time for a narrow white tree. With fiber optics. I think our tree this year is fabulous. My dream is to decorate it in an Atomic Ranch style—lots of spaceships and sputnik stars and robots and optimism about the future.

GeekMom Ariane’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Ariane Coffin

Photo by Ariane Coffin

GeekMom Ariane had this to say about her tree:

Here’s my crazy tree. How my husband puts up with it, I’ll never know. Much like the rest of our house, it’s all about BRIGHT OBNOXIOUS COLORS! And Hello Kitty. And being that generation who never has actual prints of photos… I keep thinking, “This year will be the year I insert photos in all of the photo ornaments! I’ll put them in the tree to remember to do it!” Yeaaaaaah, no. It never gets done.

GeekMom Judy’s Christmas Tree

Individual images by Judy Berna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual images by Judy Burna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Judy had this to say about her tree:

Every year we pay ten dollars for a permit that enables us to cut our tree from the National Forest here in Colorado. It helps the forest, by thinning out smaller trees, and it is a grand family adventure, no matter how old our ‘kids’ get. We hike through the woods and try to keep in mind that a tree that looks ‘normal sized’ in the forest is actually big enough to take up our whole living room. We get teased by family members who live in other states that we’ve become the Griswalds (from the Christmas Vacation movie) when we hike out into the woods, but we don’t mind. That’s what family memories are made of!

Geeky Jules’ Christmas Tree

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Geeky Jules had this to say about his tree:

While my tree isn’t geeky, the fact that my OCD took 13 hours to decorate it kind of is. Plus, I’m still fiddling with little things here and there until my OCD is happy. But not only that, it’s a completely different concept than trees of past. This is the first year I haven’t used garland or tinsel, and decided to go with a very specific color scheme.

In response, GeekMom Ariane said on Twitter:

My response was:

OMG, this is so me!

Oh, how I laughed.

GeekMom Kay’s Christmas Tree

Kay's tree

Photo by Kay Moore

GeekMom Kay  had this to say about her tree:

We are themeless, no geekiness at all. My mom spent several decades collecting handmade ornaments, and I gave her one for Christmas each year. A few years ago, when we were in town, she retired from holiday entertaining and invited the extended family over to take turns selecting favorite ornaments. So now I have a bunch of old family favorites, including some that I made many many years ago as gifts for my mom.

I cherish a handful of handmade embroidered, needlepointed, knitted, etc., ornaments from our crafting family and friends. Our actual stockings are cross-stitched by my mom and me.

The other sort-of theme we have is to hang sturdy, survivable ornaments on the lower branches, where the cat’s mischief wreaks havoc.

We usually have a gold garland, but not loose tinsel. My husband likes loose tinsel but he usually is doing other things during the tree decorating. We often have bubble lites. I like best of all sparkly reflective ornaments, which conflicts with my textile sensibility.

Oh, I make mini stockings. I give one to my mom for each family member below her on the family tree, and I have a small, less custom, collection for decorating a mini tree.

GeekMom Lisa’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Lisa had this to say about her tree:

Our main tree has always been just a collection of our loves, memories and travel, with several geeky highlights throughout—Batman, TARDIS, Disney, comic book, and video game inspired ornaments— but we felt the ultimate Star Wars vs. Star Trek geek war needs to mingle in a little “Peace on Earth… and Beyond” tree with several ornaments from both franchises. Last year, we also updated our wreath to have a Hobbit theme as a perfect welcome for friends and family. Our girls have created their own little “Ever After” tree with Disney Princess, fairies, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony, as well as decorating their “Doctor” for the season.

GeekMom Maryann’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Maryann had this to say about her tree:

In our house, it’s all about the collections. For years, the boy and I have been adding to our snowman, snowglobe, nutcracker, elf, and ornament collections. We make lots of trips to the local thrift stores looking for new treasures. It’s a real joy each year to unwrap long lost friends and arrange the collections for enjoyment. It’s not so much fun wrapping them up safe and sound until next year. I also pride myself on spending hours taking Christmas pictures of my tree, as well as local neighborhood displays. The geekier, the better.

GeekMom Natalie’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Natalie Zaman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Natalie Zeman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Natalie had this to say about her tree:

We’ve had an artificial tree for about ten years, so I was very excited to get a real tree into the house again. Our ornaments are a hodgepodge of things we’ve collected over the years and things my children have made, and they all go up every year. The oldest is a little book, Saint Nicholas that
my mom had since before she was married—she’s 86, bless her—and the newest is a 3-D version of Edward Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”–I got him last week when I was on Cape Cod doing research–and I *finally* got to go to the Edward Gorey House. It was loads of fun and very special–his cousin gave us a tour of the place.

GeekMom Patricia’s Christmas Tree

he Vollmer family's new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

The Vollmer family’s new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom Patricia had this to say about her tree:

I love our family’s new Christmas tree. After a couple years of wishing, we finally made the splurge for an LED prelit tree that changes colors. The particular one we got changes the colors very gracefully, slowly transitioning between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The decorations plan on our tree has evolved over the years into numerous geeky “zones”: Disney, trains, Penn State (our alma mater), Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other geekery (such as The Simpsons and Ghostbusters). Our 9- and 12-year-old sons have taken over most of the decorating duty, and they are very good about keeping to the zones. In addition to the zones, we have many traditional ornaments, such as souvenirs from our travels, commemorative ornaments, and kids’ homemade ornaments.

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

GeekMom Rebecca’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Rebecca had this so say about her tree:

We do have regular decorations collected over the years, but I rarely put them up. I like to think up a theme of some sort, like origami or completely edible. This year it was knitted: so almost everything is a knitted thing of some sort. Our geekier side comes out in the other decorations. My son has three locations for extensive Lego Christmas displays, usually with some silly stuff happening with random figurines. I included a picture of Wolverine hanging a wreath.

GeekMom Sam’s Christmas Tree

Sam Collage 2

Individual photos by Samantha Cook. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sam had this to say about her tree:

Our family has a pretty traditional looking tree with old fashioned glass ornaments. But every year we all pick a new ornament, and write the name and year with Sharpie on the bottom. It is a wonderful way to remember holidays and interests past. When you look closer, you can see our ornaments tend to be on the geeky side!

GeekMom Sarah’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sarah had this to say about her tree:

I love Christmas trees. I have far more ornaments than I could possibly put on one tree. Before we had kids, we would put one up in the kitchen that had just our Disney ornaments on it, then the main tree in the living room with as many of the others as I can possibly squeeze on. My favorite ornament is my Department of Homeland Security Ornament. I found it in Boston shortly after I became a US citizen. We have many, many Hallmark ornaments, as Ben’s maternal grandparents send everyone a new ornament from that collection each year.  Ben has 22 of his own, we have 12, and the boys have six and three respectively.

It’s a beautiful tradition that I plan on continuing with my own grandchildren, in about forty years time! We have a lot of Disney ornaments, because I am a Disney nut. But my favorite kind of ornaments are the traditional glass kind. There are only two on our tree this year, but I love to find traditional baubles in unusual colors, or to find unusual glass figurines. We have a glass robot and a hiking Santa that are simply beautiful and they are on the tree. With a five-year-old and almost three-year-old in the house, my other glass baubles are still in the box! Last year, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought new lights. I love them with a fervor that is not normal.

GeekMom Sophie’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Sophie Brown

Photo by Sophie Brown

GeekMom Sophie had this to say about her tree:

Here’s ours. It’s a complete mishmash, too: stuff from when I was a kid; ornaments we’ve collected on trips; things Fin has made at school. I like my trees to be totally chaotic but also totally balanced. It takes me forever to decorate them to a level I can cope with!

We don’t have a theme, but there’s a lot of Disney stuff on there. There are several painted porcelain discs from WDW, two of the custom ones you can have personalised at Downtown Disney—one is our wedding, another for Fin’s first Christmas—some special baubles that commemorated the 35th anniversary. This year I’ve added a set of the singing busts from Haunted Mansion. It’s kind of funny because the busts are nestled up next to completely traditional things like robins, angels, and Santas.

I have tiny tree in my office that’s about one-foot high, including the pot. That has a pin badge of Castiel at the top of it! I kind of want to make a Cas costume for one of my old Ken dolls so it can go on top of the tree next year. Not sure what my husband would think of that!

Oh, and we have a Christmas pterodactyl in the living room! #sixseasonsandamovie

Please share images of your Christmas trees and the stories behind them. We’d love to see and read them!

 

Watch the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer in Lego

Star Wars Screen Shot

Image: Screen Shot

The first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has only just made its debut but already people are having their way with the video. YouTuber Snooperking wasted no time putting together a Lego version of the trailer that includes everything from the trisaber to the Millennium Falcon’s triumphant return.

Don’t miss the subtitles that were not in the original trailer and add a nice dose of humor. Also, be prepared to worry over whether or not you remembered to turn off the oven.

(via NerdApproved)

Exclusive Clip: Mark Hamill Sends Chills Through Jake and the Never Land Pirates

Jake-ShiverJack

Mark Hamill voices the title character in the “ShiverJack” episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Photo: Disney Junior.

Avast, me Star Wars fans!

Mark Hamill, who will always be best known as Luke Skywalker, will be guest starring in a very special episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates on Friday. Well, at least his voice will be guest starring.

He’s voicing the scurvy pirate ShiverJack, who wants to turn Never Land into his own personal icy domain. Arrrgggh, is right! Not to worry, though. Jake and his crew have Captain Frost on hand to provide a little backup.

This is Hamill’s first appearance on the Disney hit, but he’s certainly is no stranger to animation. He’s done a lot of voice work since his days on Tatooine, but is probably best known as The Joker, since he’s voiced Batman’s arch nemesis in films, TV shows, and video games.

The “ShiverJack” episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates will air Friday, November 21, at 9:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on the Disney Channel. For a sneak peek at his creepy, chilly role and the episode, check out GeekMom’s exclusive clip below!

 

Comikaze Expo: Pop Culture and Parenting Panel

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Pop culture and parenting panel photo: J.R. Roughton, Kendra Moras, Melody Mooney, Kelly Spears, Shawn Thomas, Jennifer Estaris, and Theresa Wollenstein. Photo: Jennifer Etaris.

Is your kid turning you into a geek, or are you a geeky parent wondering how to navigate life with a kid in tow? Join us for a rousing discussion of modern-day parenting, including best habits for device use for parents & kids, cosplaying, online privacy, using tech to make you a better parent, when is best to introduce kids to the Star Wars movies (and in what order?), and more! Bring your kids and your questions!

This was the description for the pop culture and parenting panel I was a part of last weekend at the Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.

There were six of us parents and it was moderated by Theresa Wollenstein. Theresa is the co-founder of the League of Extraordinary Ladies and the assistant organizer of the meetup.com group I created, Geeklings and Parental Units.  It is important to mention here that Theresa completed the entire panel while wearing four-month-old Leia and being the solo con parent to her two-year-old! Truly a Marvel Mom.  

Also aboard were Kelly Spears (president, Valley Moms meetup group), Kendra Moras (portrait photographer), Jennifer Estaris (baby-wearer and game designer for Nickelodeon, Disney, Atari, and Majesco), J.R. Roughton (runs JAG Gym and the Character Counts! sports organization; USA Gymnastics-certified director and business executive; and Character Counts! Certified character educator), and Shawn Thomas (story editor at Disney Channel , writer for Dog with a Blog, and CEO, vice president, and craft services at Mystify Productions).

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Theresa Wollenstein moderates while baby-wearing. Photography by Kendra Jean Moras.

There was a nice turnout of parents and geeklings. The hour was spent sharing personal parenting experiences along with laughs at ourselves.

Screen time and devices has become a hot topic in the parenting world. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) had recommended no television or screen time to babies under two and limited exposure in general with children and teens. With so many geeky parents being first adopters to all things tech and social media, we explored what the realities and pros and cons to these recommendations are.

J.R. Roughton, who has years of experience working with kids at JAG Gym, also has a son on the spectrum. He was originally  an advocate for leveling the playing field by not referring to any device used for his children’s educational reading and learning in pejorative terms. He explained that he had to abandon the mission once his son was evaluated and placed on the spectrum, and went on to share that his research discovered that spectrum kids could not absorb the over-stimulus from screens. This finding made the choice to quit using them with his son all together final.

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Young Lucas Moras (named for George Lucas) heads up the rebellion with Mark Cronan, Ella as Hera, and Siena Craig as Sabine from Star Wars Rebels. Photography by Kendra Jean Moras.

Kendra Moras, who works independently at Photography by Kendra Jean Moras, countered with positive screen and device experiences. She was amazed at the language skills and small motor dexterities of her son Lucas,who had been using tablets early, even before his first birthday. She also credits his advanced vocabulary and grasp of complex dramatic play at four to some of the more intricate plots and terms he learned from movies and superhero shows.

Theresa kept the great questions coming. One that we all chimed in on was: ‘What pop culture character, if any, do you try to model your parenting after?” Kelly Spears, who is the president of the largest meetup.com parenting chapter, Valley Moms, mentioned she has always loved Marge Simpsonbut found herself making her famous frustrated mom snarl more often then she would like. Jennifer Estaris, a game designer at Nickelodeon, mentioned she and her husband (who came in character) like Alana and Marko, from Image Comics’ Saga. Shawn Thomas, writer for Disney’s Dog with a Blog, responded that he thought Darth Vader was the obvious choice. After all, he did offer Luke an early seat in the family business.

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Theresa’s four-month-old daughter Leia looks up to her friend Lucas. Photography by Kendra Jean Moras.

Along with providing information, the panel members also wanted to provide the room as a safe haven of sorts from the busy con floor. We supplied crayons, games, comics, and a space for diaper changing and breastfeeding. One of the best moments for me was looking down from the stage at the front and seeing my daughter laughing with her cosplaying friends.

There is always the question of bringing kids to cons and whether or not it’s really worth it. Will they be able to handle the crowds? What about strollers? Are there places to sit down or to go when a meltdown occurs? We have had a few years of trial and error and I can firmly say that this time my three-year-old really enjoyed it. She loved dressing up as the Twi’lek pilot from the new Star Wars Rebels and lasted a full day. She actually insisted I call her the character name “Hera,” and not Ella all day. She also got a nice mention in Fashionably Geek for her mini cosplay efforts.

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Ella giving attitude as she cosplays Hera from Star Wars Rebels. Photo: Melody Mooney.

Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo is now in its fourth year. The pop culture expo, partnered by Stan Lee and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, brags that it is the only convention owned and operated by pop culture legends. It was co-founded by CEO Regina Carpinelli. She shared her vision with the icons for a better show and together they crafted a unique convention. With growth comes some pain. The Los Angeles Convention Center is showing signs of overflow by way of parking and long lines at check in. Even with these inconveniences, the crowds seemed happy to shop the various vendors and booths and share in their favorite cosplay.

Not having to deal with hotels and travel was a huge plus for us. There may not be many panels like ours who welcome families, but there is strength in numbers and hopefully as we move forward, there will be more con family needs met. After all, today’s geeklings are the cosplayers, gamers, creators, and panel members of tomorrow.

Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy

Image: Chronicle Books

Image: Chronicle Books.

When I first saw Star Wars and the other movies of the original trilogy, I was a young kid. We saw them in the theaters when they were first run. Considering what the actors were wearing in the movies was the least of my thoughts. I was too caught up in the stories, and, yes, fawning over the cute Ewoks. I took the characters as they were, completely lost in the movie, suspending all disbelief, in the way that only children really can. And even though I know quite a lot about clothing construction now, having sewn a great deal, my mind still doesn’t consider movie costumes the way you might think.

Enter Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy. This heavy, coffee table-style book is filled with every wonder from those three movies, at least in terms of what people were wearing. We begin with Leia’s drape-y, white, iconic outfit from A New Hope on the cover, and then forewords from three of the design team start the book off. The rest of the book consists of visiting each of the three movies, one by one. Concept art, behind the scenes photos, prototypes, and plenty of text and quotations explaining what you’re seeing fill this definitive book. We learn about the evolution of the major costumes through the series with plenty of explanation for costumes of all ranks of importance, from Vader’s dark robes and Obi-Wan’s worn rags to Catina costumes and what the AT-ST driver wore. Fold-out pages show more detail on several costumes (yes, including Slave Leia). And up close, a lot of the props look like someone made them in their basement. But we never seem to notice that in the movies themselves.

The Star Wars website shares more information and a trailer for the book:

This book is a cosplayer’s delight. If you or your kids have any interest at all in dressing up like a character from the original Star Wars trilogy, the photos, images, and information in this book will help guide your creations extremely well.

Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy retails for $60, but is currently $37.95 on Amazon. It is a perfect gift for Star Wars fans, cosplayers, and those interested in costume and design; this book is the ultimate resource.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

A Chewbacca Paper Portrait for Pint-Sized Padawans

All images: Kelly Knox

All images: Kelly Knox

Thanks to Phineas and Ferb and Star Wars Rebels, my five-year-old daughter is finally embracing her own love of Star Wars. Together we came up with a paper portrait of Chewbacca that not only gives her fine motor skills and creativity a little workout, it’s also pretty dang cute.

You’ll need:

  • White cardstock
  • A sheet of white paper
  • A sheet of black paper
  • Two sheets of brown paper (different shades)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

To begin, rip up the brown paper into small squares. Next, draw a stick figure with long arms and legs on the cardstock—Wookiees are tall and lanky, after all! This will serve as a guide for Chewbacca’s basic shape.

Next, spread the glue liberally around the arms, legs, and head to stick the shredded paper pieces and turn them into Chewie’s fur.

Chewbacca Paper Portrait

You can stick each ripped piece on individually to craft your Chewbacca, or try my daughter’s favorite method of grabbing a handful and sprinkling it on like confetti. Pat, shake the paper, and then fill in the missing spots with individual shredded pieces.

Once all the spots are filled in and pressed onto the cardstock, cut a small rectangle out of the black paper for Chewie’s bandolier.

Chewbacca Paper Portrait

Glue it on top of the brown pieces. Next, use the sheet or a scrap of white paper to cut out small rectangles to complete the details of the bandolier. Draw lines on each rectangle to finish the bandolier look.

Next, use the black marker to draw eyes, nose, and a mouth for Chewie’s face. You may want to wait for the glue to dry, but my five-year-old was too excited and drew the facial features as soon as the fur was complete. (She opted not to add a mouth for her design.) She also drew toes on Chewbacca’s feet, as they occasionally stick out in various images of him.

Chewbacca Paper Portrait

And your Wookiee is complete!

Eight Geeky Crochet and Knitting Patterns to Get Started On

Living in the southern U.S., it’s hard to get interested in balls of yarn during the heat of summer. But when fall kicks in, I always want to start crocheting or knitting. Here are patterns (many of them free!) for eight projects to kick start your cool-weather crafting:

Crochet

Fingerless Iron Man gloves

Baby Groot

Ewok hood cowl

Gir

Bonus—your crochet projects will be even more fun if you’re doing them with a sonic screwdriver or light saber.

Knitting

Baby Dalek dress

One Ring Scarf

Sherlock wallpaper pillow

Bat’leth scarf

 

Star Wars Reads Day Returns October 11, 2014

Star Wars Reads Day

© Lucasfilm / Disney

Star Wars Reads Day, now in its third year, returns for even more Force-ful fun on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

The annual celebration encourages kids to get into reading with a wealth of books set in a galaxy far, far away. Events will be held nationwide on October 11 to get kids excited about both Star Wars and reading. Barnes & Noble is hosting activities at a number of stores, including costume contests, giveaways, book signings, and more. Your local library might also be throwing a Star Wars party, so be sure to check out what’s happening at your favorite branch.

Celebrating at home? Give your Padawans this free downloadable activity pack with crafts, coloring pages, puzzles, and more.

And if you’re looking for new Star Wars books to join in the fun, here are some great reads recently featured on GeekMom:

Star Wars Rebels readers

Star Wars Workbooks

Star Wars and History

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

What do you have planned for Star Wars Reads Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Star Wars Rebels Sparks the Rebellion

© Disney / Lucasfilm

The crew of the Ghost. All images © Disney / Lucasfilm

When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, the question on almost everyone’s mind was, “Does this mean they are going to ‘Disney-fy’ Star Wars?” Star Wars Rebels, premiering with “The Spark of Rebellion” on October 3 on the Disney Channel before moving to Disney XD as an ongoing series, gives us our first idea of what that would look like. (You could count the phenomenal Phineas and Ferb Star Wars as the first Disney/Star Wars collaboration if you’re feeling nitpicky.) If Star Wars Rebels is any indication, the galaxy far, far away is now in good hands.

Star Wars Rebels“The Spark of Rebellion” doesn’t waste time with much backstory or exposition; with a setting five years before A New Hope, it assumes (quite correctly) that we already know what life is like under the Emperor’s control: Not good.

Rather than spending much time telling us about the protagonist Ezra and his life on Lothal, the action starts almost immediately, and we are taken for a ride into the Rebels universe along with him.

As the loner teenager finds himself caught up in an unexpected adventure, he’s brought on board the Ghost and learns about what the Rebels are fighting for. Each member of the crew is practically begging to have their story told. Kanan is the unofficial leader of the crew and a Jedi in hiding, and I’m already dying to know more about him. Sabine, the Mandalorian, and Hera, the pilot, are just as fascinating.

Zeb is the bruiser of the crew. His character design, like much of the environment and character art of Star Wars Rebels, is based on the original Star Wars concept art by Ralph McQuarrie. Before Chewbacca was a walking carpet, he looked very similar to the towering, slightly bug-eyed Zeb.

Not only does the art harken back to the beginning of Star Wars and A New Hope, “The Spark of the Rebellion” has snippets of John Williams’ original score. I admit, I’m a sucker for the Star Wars soundtrack. As soon as I heard the familiar strains of “The Tales of a Jedi Knight,” I was sold on Rebels—this is Star Wars.

“The Spark of the Rebellion,” the movie that kicks off Star Wars Rebels, is a promising start to the show. The Clone Wars never caught me, but the lighter tone of Rebels (it’s definitely aimed at a younger crowd) has my interest. Tune in to the Disney Channel on October 3 to see if it has yours.

Star Wars Rebels airs on Disney XD beginning on October 13, 2014.

GeekMom attended a promotional screening event to preview the series.

“No Disintegrations” For This Fett—Review of Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) Sixth Scale Figure

I’m going to guess that if you’re a Star Wars fan and you hear the name “Boba Fett” you’re going to be thinking something along the lines of:
Badass Bounty Hunter
Son of Jango Fett
Sarlac
“No disintegrations.”
“He’s no good to me dead.”

If you are not a Star Wars fan, you might think something along the lines of, “Who?” or “What’s a ‘Fett’?”

You know what comes to my mind when I think Boba Fett? I think one of the most expensive and difficult costume builds to grace the Costume Reference Library (or CRL) in the 501st Legion. In my opinion, the costume would be a lot easier if the paint job wasn’t so awesome.

Well…you can’t get simpler than all white can you?

Nope. And that’s exactly how he was supposed to look. Snowy white armor and flight suit with not a drip of color to his name. Actually, he wasn’t supposed to have a name either. Boba Fett is the child of the original idea Lucas had for Supertroopers. Eventually they decided to take the idea of a bunch of Supertroopers and turn it into one really awesome character.

Despite the fact that this is not the version that ended up in the movie, I’m happy to see that Sideshow Collectibles has released the Boba Fett (prototype armor) sixth-scale figure for those of us who would like to own a piece of Fett history.

This collectible figure comes with everything you need to display the Fett in all his glory, including weapons, extra hands for different poses, cape, and a replica of the Star Wars towel used in the 1978 video showcasing the original concept armor. Based on Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston’s original design, this suit is a piece of Star Wars history.

It’s quite the conversation piece when someone comes into our home and notices that Fett is lacking his traditional green and yellow paint job. I’ll admit that while looking at him, I’ve been tempted to grab my paints and turn him into a custom Wolverine style Fett.

Some Star Wars fans have taken such a liking to the original “Supertrooper” design, they’ve opted to build it themselves.

Looking at the figure and pictures of a fellow trooper’s 501st Legion-approved Boba Fett, I’ve noticed a few differences between the movie version and the prototype:

  • Helmet lacks the famous dent in the top right.
  • Armor is smooth with no physical weathering.
  • He has fewer armor pouches on his main belt.
  • There’s no girth belt underneath his main belt (the braided belt that sits under the armor pouches).

Since the armor on this figure is the same as the movie, I can see it as a valuable resource when building any mandalorian style armor. I’ll warn you though. Mandos can be very difficult to build, but their awesomeness when completed is worth it. If you or someone you know would like to attempt this difficult, but amazing build, head over to The Dented Helmet or The Prop Replica Forum to learn how.

So, if you’re a Star Wars fan or a cosplayer looking for a reference piece to aid you in building a costume, I suggest you check out the Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) figure by Sideshow Collectibles.

Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) Sixth Scale Figure by Sideshow Collectibles is available now and costs $179.99 retail.

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‘Meet Boba Fett’

In 1978 Joe Johnston designed an early prototype of the infamous bounty
hunter Boba Fett, for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. The original ‘Supertrooper’ design featured striking all-white armor and the first prototypes of Fett’s trademark weapons.

Sideshow Collectibles proudly presents the Boba Fett (Prototype Armor)
Sixth Scale figure. With a fully articulated body, detailed accessories
and unique armor, the Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) Sixth Scale figure is a must-have addition for dedicated Star Wars fans.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Disclaimer: GeekMom was given a review sample. 

Star Wars Workbooks – “Much to learn you still have.”

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It’s summer: a time when kids play, vacation, experience new things, visit friends and family, and tend to forget what they learned during school the year before. Some kids spend the summer reviewing their academic skills and preparing for their next grade level, while others spend more time learning through play and experience. Both forms of learning are equally important in creating a diverse student. The start of school is right around the corner for most kids, so now is the time to review a few academic skills and warm your child up for their upcoming school environment. The Star Wars Workbooks are the perfect geeky educational workbook solution to making academics fun enough to do during the summer!

Earlier this summer, I was searching for some workbooks for my to-be Kindergartner to do while we were on a family road trip. He loved school last year, so I wanted to make sure I encouraged him to practice his skills all summer long. Since my 5-year-old son is a massive Star Wars fan, we already had a collection of Star Wars educational books including: Star Wars: 1, 2, 3, Star Wars ABC, Star Wars: Colors and the entire Star Wars: Phonics Boxed Set.

In June, I discovered a set of newly released Star Wars Workbooks, by Workman Publishing, that aligned with the common core standards.  As a new-to-public-school parent and an educator, I was particularly interested in finding a workbook that aligned with the common core learning goals. I wanted to see if the Common Core Standards were as scary and difficult for students as they have been made out to be in the media. These workbooks didn’t use any odd methods of teaching, everything was presented in a way that my 5 year old was able to do a lot of the work on his own without help. Workman Publishing has created an entire site where parents and teachers can find the Common Core Standards mapped directly to activities in each workbook. If you are a homeschooling parent, or a teacher looking for additional engaging teaching materials, these are the perfect workbooks to consider. At less than $9 per workbook, these are affordable, too!

Twelve workbooks have been released from pre-school through second grade, three books per grade level, every page in every book is filled with adorable original Star Wars cartoons and characters. The phonics books incorporate everyday objects with recognizable Star Wars creatures. The math books contain color by numbers, mazes, and other fun activities, all surrounding the Star Wars movie characters. The writing workbooks encourage writing by teaching how to write favorite character names, such as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader.

I’m incredibly impressed with how much my son loved these workbooks. He has voluntarily chosen to work on these almost daily, improving his academic skills without ever feeling like he was doing schoolwork. I plan to supplement his schoolwork with these workbooks throughout the entire school year, and cannot wait until he is ready for the next level. Workman Publishing has done an impressive job making a wonderfully Star Wars themed academic workbook.

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Star Wars Workbooks: Kindergarten Math Skills Sample Activity from Workman Publishing

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Star Wars Workbooks:Preschool ABC Fun – Sample Activity from Workman Publishing

 

I was not paid, nor was I provided review copies from Workman Publishing, in return for this review.

Would You Survive Order 66?

Poor Plo Koon....\ Image: Savanna Kiefer

Poor Plo Koon….\ Image: Savanna Kiefer

Order 66 is the order that was given by Darth Sidious (the evil ego of Chancellor Palpatine) to the clone troopers to kill the Jedi they had been serving alongside during the Clone Wars. The desolation of the Jedi is one of the most significant events in the Star Wars universe. Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda famously escaped their own executions, while many younglings and other Jedi were not so lucky. Master Aayla Secura was gunned down by her squadron, Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) lead the 501st Legion into the Jedi temple to kill everyone they came across, and Master Plo Koon was killed by Captain Jag. It was a dark time for the Jedi—to survive, you had to be good or pretty darn lucky.

The question I have for you is…would you survive? Take my quiz to find out!

Phineas and Ferb Creators Talk About Taking on Star Wars

PhineasandFerbStarWars

Image provided by Disney Channel.

Building on the success of last year’s Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel episode, creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh set their sights on a new crossover subject, this time with the Star Wars universe. Those plans have now come to fruition with Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, a brand new animated special that parallels the events of Episode IV: A New Hope.

GeekMom had an opportunity to talk with the two of them about the special, their inspiration, pleasing fans of both franchises, and the challenges that they faced when coming up with the story.

GeekMom: What was the inspiration for taking on the Star Wars universe? Were you looking to do another crossover episode after the success of the Marvel one?

Povenmire: That emboldened us to ask. We had just finished [the Marvel episode] when the announcement was made. Our post-production supervisor was in a mix with us and she’s always wired in on a BlackBerry and she said, “Oh my gosh, I just got an alert. Lucasfilm bought by Disney.”

Marsh: It took about 30 seconds for Dan to draw a picture of Doofenshmirtz as Darth Vader, take a picture on his phone, and text it to the head of the studio with a note.

Povenmire: “I smell a crossover!” It was literally the very first thing that I did upon hearing that. And the head of the studio texted back immediately and said, “That’s a great idea. We were just talking about that.” So it got fast-tracked rather quickly, and we were glad for that because to us it’s such a culmination of our boyhood dreams of playing in that sandbox.

GeekMom: How closely did you work with with Lucasfilm on the project?

Povenmire: They were very, very easy on us as soon as they heard that our version of it was not going to be making fun of theirs, but having our characters in and around their story and leaving their story and their characters alone. Once they saw the reverence with which we were treating their characters I think they were really happy to let us go on it. And they had very few notes. I think in the grand scheme of things there were many more issues with Marvel because we were using their characters in ways they had not used their characters yet.

Marsh: The Marvel universe is so much more fractured legally and rights-wise.

Povenmire: So compared to all of the rules going on there, this was so much easier.

Marsh: And the Lucasfilm guys got to see what we did with the Marvel episode and I like to think that that gave them a lot of confidence, because they looked at it and realized, “Oh, they’re not going to go out and mock these characters.” And it was clear that we love Star Wars, the whole universe, and the guys in it.

PhineasandFerbStarWarsCreators

The force is with Povenmire (l) and Marsh (r). Image provided by Disney Channel.

GeekMom: What about them? Were they fans of your universe as well?

Povenmire: The ones that we dealt with were familiar with the show and just such nice people. I did sort of an impromptu pitch with them. I came in just to meet them, just like for a meet and greet, and the head of the studio said, “Can you pitch them the whole story?” And we hadn’t quite worked out the whole story but I was like, “Okay.” And I just started pitching, and as I was pitching I was actually solving story problems. There’s a couple of things I pitched in there, lines that I pitched in that room that were just ad libbed that got a laugh and I kept them in. Like, I think Doof says, “You can lead a dianoga to garbage but you can’t make him drink.” I did that and it got a laugh and I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to remember that.” And I wrote it down and it’s in the episode.

GeekMom: Were there any challenges fitting Phineas and Ferb into the world of Star Wars?

Povenmire: There were some challenges. When we decided to do it the way we’re doing it, with a parallel story, it was a lot of work to get that story working and connecting to Star Wars the way we wanted it to connect. We don’t write scripts, so our first draft is really the first storyboard pitch. And when we did the first storyboard pitch we realized we were really missing a lot of Phineas and Ferb’s characters. We worked this all out so the story worked and it was gratifying to see that, but Phineas and Ferb didn’t feel like Phineas and Ferb, they just felt like two kids. So we had to go back and put in the kind of stuff that they would do and the kind of stuff that Candice would do. We really had to do a whole pass where we brought it back into our world. We’d been so involved in the Star Wars part of it and making sure that the mechanics of the plot actually worked. That was the hard part. We know Phineas and Ferb. It’s easy for us to punch it up in a Phineas and Ferb way. So it was very challenging, but very rewarding.

GeekMom: Are you happy with the results?

Marsh: That would be a radical understatement.

Povenmire: It’s one of my favorite things we’ve done since we started doing the show.

GeekMom: Being fans yourselves, did you put any references or Easter eggs in there for other fans might get?

Povenmire: It’s chock-full of Easter eggs for Star Wars fans. We tried to make it so that it was still funny and it still moved along even if you’ve never seen Star Wars. And we’ve actually shown it to some kids who had never seen Star Wars before and they still liked it. So I think that’s still working. But if you’re a Star Wars fan there’s so much more humor in it for you. There’s so many things that just go by and you realize, “Oh! That’s where Boba-Fett started looking for Han and Chewie. And that’s why the dianoga let go of Luke in the trash compactor. And that’s when the trash compactor started closing. Doofenshmirtz pressed that button. And oh, that’s how the Death Star plans got stolen from the Empire in the first place. It was Perry the Platypus.”

Marsh: That was really the trick, though. And one of the reasons why we spent so much time on it. It had to work on all those levels. It had to be satisfying for Phineas and Ferb fans, even if they didn’t care about Star Wars. It had to be satisfying for Star Wars fans even if they didn’t care about Phineas and Ferb. And it had to be satisfying for both. And we really agonized over which jokes to tell and how to include it all. We knew that not only were the fans were going to be critical but we are those Star Wars geeks and those Phineas and Ferb fans ourselves. So it had to be something we were excited about.

PHINEAS, FERB

Image provided by Disney Channel.

GeekMom: Is this now going to be considered canon?

Povenmire: At the end of the crawl at the beginning that sets up the story, you know, with the John Williams music behind it? It tells the whole story and there’s one line at the end that says, “And none of this is canon, so just relax.” But we did it so that it could be canon. It doesn’t interfere with any of the canon.

GeekMom: Did you get to use any sound effects or voices from the original film?

Marsh: We were given access both to the sound effects library and much of John Williams music.

Povenmire: We had access to about seven minutes of the John Williams original score, which was great, which we loved being able to use. And almost all the sounds effects are original Star Wars effects. Unfortunately, we were unable to use the actual voices of the original cast members because they’re all shooting Episode VII.

Marsh: And they don’t sound like they did when they were in their 20s.

Povenmire: So we got sound-alikes for the young Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. And some of them are just incredibly talented.

Marsh: Harrison Ford is good enough to fool Harrison Ford’s family.

Povenmire: I think so. I was very impressed.

Marsh: He asks you when you start, “Which age Harrison do you want?” Because he can do them all absolutely perfectly.

GeekMom: What else can fans look forward to?

Povenmire: Swampy and I have a cameo in the show as the tractor beam operators.

Marsh: And we are brilliant. We elevate that script.

Povenmire: It’s not just our voices but it looks like us.

GeekMom: So you basically just did this to get yourselves into Star Wars, right?

Povenmire: We’re just trying to make ourselves laugh, is basically how it works. That what we’re going for.

Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars premieres on Disney Channel on July 26 and on Disney XD on August 4.

Marvel’s Star Wars Comics: A Not-So-New Hope

Princess Leia #1 by Terry Dodson

Princess Leia #1 by Terry and Rachel Dodson © Marvel Comics

A new Star Wars ongoing comic book series, coming in January, that covers the period of time between Episodes IV and V. Princess Leia grabbing a Rebel pilot helmet and taking center stage. Does all of this sound familiar? It’s because the same thing was announced in 2013.

Star Wars #1

Star Wars #1, Art by John Cassady © Marvel Comics

This weekend at San Diego Comic Con, Marvel Comics announced three new Star Wars comic book series coming in 2015. All three titles boast impressive creative talent. Star Wars: Darth Vader, an ongoing series, comes from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca in February. A mini-series, Star Wars: Princess Leia, by writer Mark Waid and artist Terry Dodson, hits comic book store shelves in March. And Jason Aaron and John Cassaday are taking the helm of Star Wars, an ongoing series with a story that begins shortly after the Battle of Yavin as the Rebels begin to plan their next move.

This premise is the same as the Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics that wraps up next month. In the Dark Horse series, writer Brian Wood has taken us from action-packed space battles to Leia-centric storylines that do the character justice through the twenty issue series, and combined with the brilliant artwork from Carlos D’Anda, each issue has maintained a “this feels like Star Wars!” quality.

I’ve enjoyed the series so much that I find it hard to be excited for the new ongoing from Marvel. Of course I’ll pick it up—these comic books, unlike the Expanded Universe, are actually going to be in Star Wars canon. That makes them practically required reading for any Star Wars fan. I’d just be more excited if this wasn’t the same ground that Dark Horse’s series hadn’t already covered well.

I am, however, happily intrigued by Mark Waid writing the five-issue Princess Leia mini-series beginning next March. I’m a fan. But why couldn’t it be an ongoing series? With the other two Star Wars series as both ongoing, this is a noticeable move by Marvel Comics, which has made some otherwise fantastic strides in the number of ongoing female-led books recently. Like the other Star Wars titles, I’ll gladly pick up my five issues of Star Wars: Princess Leia, but… I want the whole cake.

Star Wars Rebels: The Hype Menace

I told myself after The Phantom Menace that I’d never let myself fall victim to Star Wars hype again, but after seeing what Lucasfilm and Disney have in the works for Star Wars Rebels, I just can’t resist. I’m officially hyped.

Star Wars Rebels will introduce a crew that includes a Twi’lek pilot, a former Jedi Knight, a female Mandalorian, an astromech with attitude, and more. This is the beginning of the Rebel Alliance fighting against the Galactic Empire.

The period between Episodes III and IV is rife with potential, and if the SDCC trailer is any indication, it gives Star Wars Rebels ample opportunity to bring in characters from both trilogies, including Artoo and Threepio, Jedi Luminara Unduli, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. There’s also a Sith Inquisitor voiced by Jason Isaacs (you may know him as Lucius Malfoy), and a look and feel strongly influenced by Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art… Okay, okay, I’ll allow myself a small fangirl squee.

Star Wars Rebels premieres this October on Disney XD.

 

May the Party Be With You—How to Throw an Epic Star Wars Party!

As a Star Wars geek and 501st Legion costumer, I know how to throw a Star Wars party. You could say the Force is strong in me. This summer, with a little help from ThinkGeek, I’m going to throw my son’s friends a party to remember.

My Star Wars party consists of three elements:

  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Games

First things first, we need to pick out the entertainment.

There are six Star Wars movies and six season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to choose from. It would take over 44 hours to watch all of the animated series, seven hours to watch the prequels, and just over six hours to watch the original trilogy. If you’re planning your party on a weekend and to make sure you don’t behave like a Sith on Monday, I would stick to just watching either the prequels or the original trilogy.

Once that has been decided, on to the second most important part of any party… the food!

The menu for this shindig consists of:

Yoda Soda (this can be a bit strong for some people, so a Tatooine Sunset is a nice alternative)
TIE Fighter Ties
Lightsaber Ice Pops
Clone Trooper Cakes
Death Star Popcorn
R2-D2 Treats

Yoda soda has a bit of a kick to it, so if you feel yourself fading into the force during the movie, a sip of Yoda soda will wake you back up. Pick up the R2-D2 measuring cups to make sure you add just the right amount of force to your dishes. If you have adults at your party, be extra careful when making your TIE Fighter Ties to avoid any dark side jokes. For the lightsaber ice pops, I prefer red or green colored juices (red and green Powerade works great).

Lightsaber Popsicle duel \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Lightsaber ice pop duel \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Now that the kitchen has been taken over by the Rebels, it’s time to decide on the games!

No party would be complete without some lightsabers. You can pick up the cheap ones at Target or the nicer ones on ThinkGeek. When the sun goes down, host a lightsaber battle outside. If you want your fight to have fewer bruises, grab some pool noodles and make your own lightsabers.

Once everyone calms down from dueling, hang up your hilts and get to work on your own 3D metal model of the Millennium Falcon or R2-D2. Due its complexity, this activity is more for adults than kids. My husband was challenged when putting his R2 together and I heard a few “beeps” that weren’t PG-13 while he was building it.

Other fun games you can play are “Vader Says,” a variation on Simon Says, but instead, the lead player wears a Darth Vader helmet and commands his clones.

If you want your guests to have a good laugh, take out a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and let everyone pick a character to read. I had several adult friends in stitches when reading my copy at home one day.

Once everyone has exhausted their energy with games and filled their tummies with Star Wars treats, it’s time to get them nestled in for the movie.

Of course, no Star Wars movie night would be complete without proper sleeping accommodations. The Tauntaun sleeping bag is so popular in our house, my husband and son have to fight for the right to sleep in it.

Makes you want to cuddle up with a Taun Taun doesn't it? \ Image: Dakster Sulliva

Makes you want to cuddle up with a Tauntaun doesn’t it? \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

For your guests who need something special to cuddle, pick up one of the Star Wars cuddle critters in either Tauntaun, Bantha, Rancor, or Wampa.

With that, the movie begins and the house goes quiet with only the sounds of star destroyers, machine-like breath, and an R2-D2, the most offensive droid in the galaxy (they beep out every word he says for crying out loud…ba dum dum!).

I hope I have encouraged you to pick a side in the battle of the Empire and Rebellion and have a Star Wars party of your own. May the Force be with you.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received review samples. 

Star Wars Droids Support Immunization

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Public domain image from the National Library of Medicine.

While browsing through public service posters from decades past, I ran across this gem and wanted to share it with all of you!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this poster in 1977 after the success of the first Star Wars film. To give the time period context, the DTP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccine had been around since 1948, but it had been only six years since the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was licensed in the US. It had been only five years since smallpox vaccinations ended, thanks to near-eradication of the disease. In 1976, the year prior, the fewest cases of whooping cough to date had been reported, thanks to the vaccine. Around the time of this poster, the pneumococcal vaccine was licensed, and a year later, measles became the next target for elimination.

To see another icon used on behalf of health, see this poster in which Spock speaks for the Great American Smokeout.

Registration for the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Opens Today!

Image Capture: RunDisney.com

Image Capture: RunDisney.com

I am reminded of those old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials where two things you love are joined together.

For me, the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland this January is joining two things I love: long-distance running and the now-Disneyfied Star Wars franchise.

Are you ready to run? Are you ready to make up a half-marathon-in-SoCal-ready costume for the event?

If you’re especially motivated, check out the Rebel Challenge, which awards a special medal to those who complete both the 10K and half marathon races that weekend. There are kids’ races and a 5K to enjoy as well.

Registration opens at 12:00 p.m. EDT TODAY (June 10), so here’s your official warning. At $195 for the half, this might be the most expensive half marathon I’ve ever heard of. Up until this race, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco (at $180 this year) held the honor.

Act quickly. In March, the just-as-geeky Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland sold out in less than 2 (that’s two) hours. That race is coming up in mid-November.

Will I be signing up? Unfortunately, I can’t commit this far out. I think my full-time work schedule is going to preclude this from working out in 2015, but I am officially adding this event to my bucket list.

Do you plan to race? Talk about your plans in the comments!

GeekMom Video Playlist

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Image by The Hillywood Show.

What do you get when you combine Dr. Who with The Rocky Horror Picture Show‘s “Time Warp?” Check this brilliance out:

So you’ve landed on Mars, call the wife to announce the big news, and she’s bit distracted at the moment…

A Star Wars parody of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” Well written, well sung, and well done, guys:

And a tiny volcano tries to explode. Cuteness.

LUKE’s PICKS! (Wherein I realize my son probably watches too many videos, but I can’t complain because he always finds ones that make me giggle.)

Kids React to Technology: Old Computers, where several kids ages 6 – 13, try to figure out a computer from the early 1980s. They can’t even figure out how to turn it on, heh-heh.

And after that, Cats React

Cakes Cove Giveaway: Win a Chocolate Millennium Falcon, X-Wings, and Star Wars Cookies!

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Chocolate Millennium Falcon, Image: Cakes Cove

There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII film as casting rumors become fact and the first images emerge from the set. We even got a video sneak peek at the set with J.J. Abrams and a creature of some unknown but very cool origins. The movie cannot get here fast enough, but we all still have to wait until its release in December 2015. To help pass the time, I’ve got some fantastic Star Wars chocolate treats to give away to one lucky reader!

The amazingly talented Samantha Anderson of Cakes Cove makes some of the most wonderfully nerdy cakes and confections that you will ever eat. Star Wars, Star Trek, Portal, and Mass Effect are just a few of the fandoms that have been turned into treats by Anderson who is up for whatever kind of custom creation you can imagine.

I can image quite a bit, so she’s created the perfect Star Wars giveaway for those of us who would like access to a time travel device, possibly a blue box or a DeLorean, just long enough to zip ahead to December 2015 and see the movie.

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Image: Cakes Cove

You’ll get one large Millennium Falcon chocolate, three X-Wing chocolates, and six Star Wars cookies in the flavor of your choice. You can even pick exactly what characters you want on your cookies. These are all handmade and the chocolates even feature hand-painted details.

To enter, just head on over to my Total Fan girl blog and you could win some delicious Star Wars treats.

Thanks for entering, good luck, and May the Force Be With You!

Which Lego Set Is Age Appropriate?

IMG_0685

All Images: Sarah Pinault

For years, my eldest son has happily played with his Duplo bricks. We have whiled away many hours building towers, farms, boats, all manner of things. But a few months ago, he became disgruntled with them. There were several contributing factors. Having a little brother playing with them too, having a little brother destroying them, and quite frankly, they just didn’t do what his imagination wanted them to do.

So we moved on with some small packs aimed at 5-7 year olds. These packs came free with a newspaper that his grandparents buy in the UK. There were little pieces, so the first rule set was that they were only to be played with at the kitchen table, where his brother couldn’t reach them. The rule was agreeable to everyone but the little brother in question.

IMG_0179Turns out that for a young four year old who turns five this coming September, the 5-7 age range worked very well. The first half dozen kits were done with some very hands-on help from his dad, but after that he just went with it.

He finds the instructions easy to follow, only has trouble with some of the more peculiar pieces, and thoroughly enjoys the construction process. The second rule we set was that he has to put the pieces together according to the instructions the first time around, and after that he can do what he wants with the pieces. This rule is also one he follows willingly, so we build everything per the instructions, and then he disassembles the kit to come up with his own ideas. He heavily favors cars and rocket ships in his own designs.

Some of the packets we have are for ages 6-12, but there seems to be no difference in difficulty level between the five and six year starting line. So when he finally got to visit the Lego aisle at Toys R Us, we focused mainly on the small six-year-old packs such as Lego Creator 31014 Power Digger and Lego Creator 31015 Emerald Express. Ultimately he chose Lego Creator 31013 Red Thunder which is a pack of three. And again he had no difficulty.

But, oh, he longed for that display Coast Guard helicopter.

When we took him to the Legoland Discovery Center which recently opened in Boston, we agreed that we were going to let him purchase a bigger pack this time. He had proved his mettle and earned it. But once in the store, I felt intimidated by the size of the packs, and the quantity of pieces. I felt certain that my boy would have the skill set for such a piece, but at four years old would lack the patience required for something bigger. So I steered him towards Lego’s new line of mid range Lego kits.

Intended to bridge the gap between Duplo and the more traditional Lego, the Lego Juniors line had intrigued me for a while, and I wondered if this might be what we were looking for. He zeroed in on a kit larger than his usual size, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kit*, and back home we went.

The clerk in the store explained that the difference between regular kits and the Juniors was in the instructions. The idea is that Lego Juniors instructions are easier to follow than the instructions provided with kits aimed at an older audience. I found this hard to believe, as my son had been following the instructions for a six year old exceptionally well. Putting together the kit was no problem; in fact it was easier than any of the smaller models he had previously constructed.

It was in the deconstruction and imagination aspect that we found the downside of this well meaning product from Lord Business.

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Traditional pieces on the left, Junior piece (singular) on the right.

What makes Lego Juniors so simple to construct, what makes the instructions so easy to follow, all boils down to the same thing: pre-connected pieces. The base for a car in the Juniors kit is not a collection of pieces; it is one solid piece. There are no angle plates, no bearing elements, there are no rims or tires. For my son, this was and still is extremely frustrating.

Now, when he disassembles the kit to construct from pure imagination, he has less freedom to play. He has fewer pieces, and fewer ways to manipulate his car design. The first time he encountered this problem he tried to bite the wheels off the base, because “they have to come off mommy, they always do.” After a couple of go rounds with this, he gave up trying to take it apart and now simply sighs when encountering that piece. Much like the bulk of his kits, he adapts, but he breathes a heavy sigh as he does so.

IMG_0887Because the pieces are pre-connected, the instructions become intrinsically easier. There are fewer steps, because there are fewer pieces. There are fewer small pieces as they are welded together, so the more minute aspects of the traditional instructions simply don’t exist. There is no difference in style of instruction, as I had thought there would be, but simply the instructions are easier because the pieces are simplified.

In the example pictured here, the instructions on the left are for a basic car, in a kit for ages 5-12. On the right are the Juniors instructions, ages 4-7. You will notice that step one in the Juniors kit is a complete base, while the base is not complete in the 5-12 kit until the wheels are added in step seven (not pictured).

While I still maintain that my son has the skill set but not the patience for a physically larger kit, I do not think the larger kits designed for the Juniors range are challenging enough for him. They do not keep his interest, and they do not stimulate his own creations either.

But that is not to say that the Juniors line does not have a place in the world of Lego. If you are a parent who has no experience or interest in Lego, but you have a young child who does, this would be a great place to start. Perhaps your child has shown no interest in doing anything but making the pre-determined kit; these kits would not hinder that goal. From a safety perspective I am aware that my son is working with kits beyond the manufacturer’s recommended age group, and so if your child is prone to swallowing small pieces, or has a propensity to get frustrated with bits and pieces, this might be preferable to a five and up kit.

However, if you have already begun your Lego journey with regular kits and had success, the Juniors range is not for you. Likewise, if your child likes to see how things are put together, see how they work, then the limitations of the pre-connected pieces might prove too frustrating and a hindrance to the enjoyment of Lego as a whole. If you have an older Lego addict in your family—in ours it is my husband—that has the time and patience to sit and work through the kit, then the regular kits would be a better group activity.

One of the other pieces of information we garnered on our adventure in the Lego store was that since the advent of licensed products, such as the Star Wars kits and The Lord of the Rings kits, the age ranges on the packages have changed. The criteria for aging is not the same as it was when we were kids.

If a kit is based on a movie that is rated 12 and up, then the kit is not designated under age 12. For example, Lego LOTR79006 The Council of Elrond is a relatively simple kit compared to some of the kits we have been doing for five year olds, and yet it is rated 9 and up. The architecture kits contain many similar pieces and are therefore often quite simple to put together. Yet the finished product is not intended to be a toy, and so the age rating is higher. Certainly the number of pieces, complexity, and size still play a part, but they are not the only determining factors you should consider when picking a kit.

For my young four year old, we shall continue with the kits rated for ages five through twelve, with a few six and ups thrown in. As long as the size of the overall construction can fit in my cereal bowl, it is not too big for him too handle without frustration. There are a wide variety of kits for this young age available, and with some assistance from very willing parents, we will not be purchasing anything else from the Lego Juniors range.

*I am assuming that the Lego Juniors Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kit we purchased is a store exclusive, as it is not available in the online store.

The “Cowboy Jedi” of Star Wars Rebels is in Good Company

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Kanan, one of the stars of the forthcoming animated series, Star Wars Rebels. Images: © Lucasfilm.

The forthcoming Star Wars animated series, Star Wars Rebels, has been getting quite a bit attention lately, including its hard-nosed rogue character, Kanan, who is voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Having been underground for years, ever since Order 66 triggered the Emperor’s Jedi purge, Kanan’s Jedi side has been deeply buried. Keeping his past a secret, he is more likely to be seen with a blaster than his lightsaber, and comes across a little more sarcastic than the average Jedi.

When Lucasfilm Animation first introduced the character in February, Star Wars Rebels Executive Producer Dave Filoni called Kanan a “cowboy Jedi.”

“He’s a gunslinger that needs to put the gun away and pick up the sword again—and fight for noble causes and selfless causes,” Filoni said.

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Star Wars universe characters who harken the cowboy spirit (clockwise from top left): Cad Bane, Han Solo, Kyle Katarn, Quinlan Vos, and Jan Ors.

Kanan may be the first character in the Star Wars universe to be officially described as a “cowboy,” but there have always been tributes (some more subtle that others) to the gunslinging silver screen cowboy and western genre in Star Wars’ films, comics, books, television series, and video games:

• Han Solo. Han has been described as a knight, a soldier, and a pirate. His cowboy side, however, is obvious with his low-carried blaster, cocky comebacks, sideways smile, and first appearance at the local watering hole. Also, observant fans know it was Han who “shot first” in true spaghetti western form.

• Cad Bane. First introduced in the Clone Wars series, this bounty hunter and mercenary from the planet Duros is the classic outlaw. Long, tall, and ruthless, Bane’s loyalty is to himself, as well as to the occasional highest bidder. With his wide-rimmed hat and flowing duster, Bane would fit in just as well roaming the dusty back roads of Tombstone as he would combing the galaxy.

• Quinlan Vos. Where Kanan has been described the “cowboy,” powerful and smart Jedi Master Quinlan Vos’ persona is homage to the Native American culture, from his simple war paint to his long black locks. His appearance was inspired by a briefly-glimpsed Tatooine background character in The Phantom Menace. However, he’s evolved into a very popular and complex character, whose Jedi side is in constant struggle with his dark side, both of which are equally formidable.

• Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors. Created for the video game series Star Wars: Dark Forces, Katarn and Ors are like the perfect Old West-style sheriff (Ors) and deputy (Katarn) team. Katarn has worked the field, to say the least, and has served as both a stormtrooper and rebel, before becoming a Jedi. His tragic past and roguish nature made him an instant hit with gamers and blurred the lines between “good guys” and “bad guys,” similarly to some of the western genre’s greatest heroes. Ors, a respected operative with the Rebel Alliance, was instrumental in recruiting Katarn for their cause. She is teamed up with him as a supporting character in the games. Katarn may be the primary playable character in the Dark Forces saga, but Ors certainly comes across as the brains behind the brawn. Although the romantic element between the two slips through, it is Ors’ no-nonsense demeanor and Katarn’s rebellious attitude working together to reach a mutual goal for the good of the galaxy that is the more intriguing story, even for a video game.

Kanan and his cowboy ways will find a greater purpose in Star Wars Rebels, scheduled to premiere this fall as a one-hour special on the Disney Channel, followed by the series on Disney XD.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Comes to Your iPad in Star Wars Journeys

Star Wars Journeys

© Disney / Lucasfilm

With the recent casting news for Episode VII unleashed upon the world, and a new trailer for the upcoming animated series Star Wars Rebels, we are back in the heady days of Star Wars hype. A new app from Disney Publishing takes us back to the last time we were excited for a new Star Wars film with Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace, an interactive storybook for the iPhone/iPad. But is $6.99 worth it for an app that retells the film most consider to be the worst of the trilogies?

If this is your child’s first exposure to the galaxy of Star Wars, it’s a good place to start. My five-year-old has yet to make it through a Star Wars film all the way to the end, but when I showed her the app, she was excited to explore the storybook together at her own pace.

The story walks through the plot of the first prequel, with the original cast’s voices and music. There are a lot of words on each page of the app, and no word-by-word highlighting to the narration, so my daughter’s interest would sometimes fade on some of the longer pages. Geek parents who think they know everything about Star Wars might even learn a thing or two from the thorough text, like the kind of fish that attacks Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan (Opee Sea Killer, duh) and Chancellor Valorum’s first name (Finis).

The interactive artwork is well done and highly detailed, down to blinking Gungans and falling confetti, and hidden in each page are secret objects. Tapping these objects gives you “SP,” points for podracing, that can be spent on new podracers and customization. This gives kids an incentive to play through the story more than once to hunt those items down.

Star Wars Journeys

© Disney / Lucasfilm

With the amount of podracing content in the app, you are getting two games in one with Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace. There are a variety of podracers, tracks, and racers themselves to choose from, although my daughter was dismayed at the lack of female characters. “Don’t they know girls want to play?” she asked. Good question.

After completing the storybook, my daughter stood up and yelled triumphantly, “I’ve finally seen Star Wars!” Seeing my five-year-old excited about Star Wars absolutely made the high price worth it.

Star Wars Journeys: The Phantom Menace is a pricey app, but with the amount of content you get, it’s not a bad investment. If you strongly dislike The Phantom Menace, it might be worth skipping this one—Disney Publishing has already announced plans upcoming storybooks to cover all six Star Wars films. If this first Star Wars Journeys app is any indication, those apps will be detailed, enjoyable, and a great way to introduce kids to a galaxy far, far away.

4 Easy Ways to Enjoy May The Fourth

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You don’t have to search the galaxy to find an easy way to enjoy Star Wars Day as a family. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

May 4, AKA May The Fourth, has been officially designated Star Wars Day, a day when fans everywhere are encouraged to celebrate George Lucas’ legacy of nearly 40 years. Since this saga spans generations and will continue to do so for future ones, the best way to enjoy this day is as a family. Here are a few ideas:

1. Start (or Re-start) The Machete Order. Technically, Star Wars Episode IV came first. Parents who grew up during the reign of the original trilogy know that the worldwide phenomenon started with Episode IV: A New Hope. As such, there’s one rule all good parents know: “Watch Episode IV first.”

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The Machete Order: Start with Episode IV and avoid Episode I.

A blogger named Rod Hilton came up with the now-popular Machete Order of watching the films, ignoring the numerical titles and watching in a more story-driven order. Start with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, then flashback and watch Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  Finally, finish up with Return of the Jedi.

This method completely excludes Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Hilton argues that it has several elements that just don’t click with the rest of the story, not to mention it’s gratuitous use of annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks and “Lil’ Anakin.” Instead, watch it later as an “extended universe” movie, to enjoy some of its better qualities such as the pod race scene and Qui-Gon Jinn.

What better day than The Fourth to start watching the Fourth?

2. Find the Local “To-Do.” In 2014, May 4 comes the day after Free Comic Book Day, and many venues might be inclined to make an entire weekend of geeky fun. Find out from your local stores if there are any giveaways, cosplay contests, or other events planned for that day.

One place to start is the Disney Store, which has Star Wars Day “Ways of the Force” events planned nationwide, featuring giveaways, lightsaber training, and other interactive events for kids.

Some cities may have even more options. Fans living in the Los Angeles area can visit theStar Wars Legion Exhibition from May 2-4 at the Robert Vargas Gallery. The event is displaying Stormtooper helmets re-imagined by celebrities and artists.

The annual Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida doesn’t kick off until May 16 this year, but Star Wars-themed dining experiences, including a Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast, will begin May 4.

3. Hit the Bookstore or Library. For my family, the Star Wars extended universe is another reason to purchase or read more books. Visit a favorite library or bookstore and let everyone select an age-appropriate Star Wars-themed book to purchase or checkout.

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Star Wars readers can find books for any age.

Some of our own favorites include Scholastic’s Star Wars ABC or Star Wars 123 for beginning readers, Jedi Academy by Vader’s Little Princess author Jeffrey Brown, or The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger for ‘tweens. Teens and adults may also enjoy William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back.

If they’ve already read most of the stories spawned from this universe, look at similar science-fiction stories or non-fiction books on space.

This idea can overlap with the previous suggestion, as bookstores and libraries are some of the best places to find local May the Fourth events.

4. Sit Down to Family Game Night, Star Wars-style. Star Wars-themed products have infiltrated pretty much everything, and it isn’t hard to find Star Wars versions of classic tabletop games from checkers and chess to Monopoly and Trouble. For older kids and teens, Star Wars: The Card Game is a good strategy-driven battle game for up to four players.

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Don’t forget the proper snacks for a Star Wars-themed game night.

If you don’t want to purchase a game, Charades and Who Am I are easily adaptable to the Star Wars universe, and can be geared towards the knowledge level of the players.

You can also add to the fun, by making simple Star Wars-themed snacks. Vanilla “blue” milkshakes are easy to make; just add a drop of blue food coloring to regular milk. Both of the Star Wars Cookbooks, Volume I (Wookiee Cookies) and Volume II (Darth Malt), have other recipe ideas, including “Sebulba’s Sinister Cider” and “Watto-melon Cubes,” which complement game night well.

Sometimes the simplest reasons to celebrate are often the most fun, and fan-created commemorations like Star Wars Day can turn an ordinary Sunday afternoon into something special. If any of these above suggestions don’t start your lightsaber, brainstorm with your own Padawans about ways to celebrate. They might come up with something impressive. Even Jedi Master Yoda himself said, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

Phineas and Ferb Creator Dan Povenmire on the Big Star Wars Crossover Episode

PhineasandFerbStarWarsAfter their successful Marvel crossover episode last summer, the creative forces behind Disney’s popular animated series Phineas and Ferb turned to another corner of the studio’s media empire for inspiration—Lucasfilm. Yes, “Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars” is on its way to Disney Channel this summer and fans of both franchises are eager to see what happens when “Doof meets Darth.”

I recently had an exclusive chance to talk to Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz himself, AKA Phineas and Ferb co-creator and executive producer Dan Povenmire, at the opening of Man vs. Machine: The Robot Show, an in-house art exhibition at Disney Television Animation’s offices in Glendale, Calif. (more on that event to come). We talked about his reverence for the Star Wars legacy and how this special will be different from the animated spoofs that have come before.

“We’re doing it completely different than other people have done Star Wars,” Povenmire said. “Like, Family Guy and Robot Chicken have done Star Wars where they sort of make fun of the characters or have their characters as those characters. And we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to leave Star Wars alone as though it was sacred.”

We’ll see the gang embark on their own adventure, in typical Phineas and Ferb fashion, as the events of A New Hope unfold in the background. At the start of the story, Phineas and Ferb are living one moisture farm away from Luke Skywalker, until a certain escape pod arrives carrying a certain pair of familiar droids. When the plans for the unfinished Death Star get knocked out of R2-D2 in the Tatooine desert, it’s up to the gang to ensure they are delivered safely to the rebels. Of course, their task is made more difficult by their “Stormtrooper-like” sister Candace, ever intent on busting the rebels, and the evil Dr. Darthenschmirtz’s latest creation, the “Sith-inator.”

FERB, DAN POVENMIRE, SWAMPY MARSH, PHINEAS

Ferb, Povenmire, co-creator Swampy Marsh, and Phineas at last summer’s D23 Expo.

“The stories interact, but nothing ever changes what’s happening in the original Star Wars,” Povenmire explained. “If there’s a scene from the original Star Wars, it’s exactly the way it happened in the movie. We have things like the famous shot of Luke looking out at the sunset, and then we widen out and Perry is pushing R2-D2 past him in the background. So it’s all stuff that happens just off screen. Or their stuff is happening just off screen.”

I asked him if was his decision to keep the original story more or less intact or if it was a restriction handed down from the powers that be. He said that he and his team made the creative choice out of love and reverence for the source material.

“We were much more precious with the Star Wars storyline than even I think Lucasfilm was,” he said. “We were like, ‘We don’t want to touch anything. We don’t want anything to be different in Star Wars.’ And I think that’s what they really responded to. They could see that we were in love with Star Wars as much as they were. I think they’re a lot less precious with it.”

I pointed out that Star Wars is having a big moment right now, with the new cast just announced this week and more goodies to come this weekend in celebration of Star Wars Day on May the 4th. He said he’s following the news closely and is just excited as the rest of the fans for the new live-action sequel, directed by J.J. Abrams: “I’m very excited about all the new Star Wars stuff, and I think J.J. is the guy to do it. I think he did such a good job with, well, everything he’s touched basically. I’m a big fan.”