MORE POSTS 
 

Star Wars oil painting exhibit "Sandstorm" opens

Breakneck boredom: an old time Star Wars fan's thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness

They put me on the news to talk about Star Wars

More from Steve Sansweet on Star Wars and gay marriage

Carmine Infantio has died

I can die happy: I've been interviewed by Dungeons & Dragons

Star Wars Episode 7: All My Children?

What JJ Abrams needs to really succeed with Star Wars 7

Star Wars: The Old Republic is gay--on one planet at least

Tongal and Pringles bring us DYI desecration of Star Wars

Reminiscences about West End Games' Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Here's the biggest Star Wars news of 2012

Stephen Quinn interviews me about Star Wars on CBC Vancouver

Star Wars: modern myth or global franchise?

Parents turn child's 1st birthday into extended Lucasfilm/Hasbro advert

Me reading from A Long Time Ago

Highlights and lowlights of the upcoming Star Wars Celebration VI

Grown men (mostly) dressed up as Lando Calrissian

Beggar's Canyon Toys offer Star Wars toy "restoration" service

Blog's t-shirts banned by Zazzle

Will the real David Prowse please stand up?

LaserSaber: Unlicensed, dangerous and yours for only $99

Is this the future of Star Wars?

Is Star Wars link bait?

Dissent not tolerated at the Prequel Appreciation Society

TSOT discovers its nemesis

Comme des idiots: Star Wars teams up with poncy fashion house

US Christian activist attacks SWTOR for being gay

Yodaphone--the latest product pitch from Star Wars Inc.

Attention tortoise-fanciers: do you like Star Wars?

History of Star Wars as related by a bot

Is Star Wars a travesty of science fiction?

Luke Skywalker and company on the Muppet Show

Yoda now shilling instant soup in Japan

Commander who?

$6000 for a toy you can't even play with

Star Wars underwear

Retro Star Wars decor in my son's bedroom

Phantom Menace 3D: Now With Plot

Star Wars and disco: the forgotten love affair

Will Muschamp: What a guy!

Oi, fanboy: grow up! A reply to Darren Franich

 

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Sunday
Mar232014

Taunton Gazette reports on Star-Wars-themed Purim celebrations 

From the Taunton Daily Gazette:

Purim is celebrated by observing five religious obligations: The Book of Esther is read aloud from a scroll, charity is given to the poor, gifts of food are sent to friends and neighbors, a certain amount of drinking is encouraged, and naturally there is a Purim Feast.

There is also the Purim skit, or Purimshpiel.

This year, the youth group marked this humorous and festive day with a Star Wars-inspired skit: “Star Wars 5774: The Revenge of Shushan.” The title plays on the Jewish year of 5774, the number of sequels/prequels in the Star Wars series, and Shushan, the town in Persia where the action takes place.

I know, I know, it's "tauntaun" not "Taunton". But still...

Taunton Daily Gazette: Temple Beth El youth group marks Purim with a Star Wars-inspired skit

Tuesday
Mar112014

In case you think Disney paid too much for Star Wars...

Check out this photo of my son's preschool class. Three of the sixteen children (and three of the eight boys) wore Star Wars t-shirts for the photo.  

My son, Zach, is in the front row middle, obviously. I've obscured the other faces out of respect for privacy.

Sunday
Mar022014

Dorkly on the eight types of Star Wars fans

Here's type one (i.e,, me). Click through for the rest. The t-shirts are a nice touch.

Dorkly: The 8 Types of Star Wars Fans

Tuesday
Feb112014

Thoughts on gendered Lego from a woman you should know

Women You Should Know brings us this great piece on the classic 1981 Lego ad and the girl (now a 37-year-old naturopath) who starred in it. You may remember the original ad circulating around the net last year as Lego announced its heavily gendered (and mightily criticized) Friends line, the message of which seemed to many people to be, "This is Lego for girls--and the rest is Lego for boys". 

From the article: 

Something about this piece with the iconic 1981 ad tapped the zeitgeist and it became one of HuffPo’s more viral articles in recent memory, receiving over 60,000 shares. And along the way, the small world of Facebook led to a comment thread on my wall where someone, upon seeing the little red-haired girl holding her LEGOs, wrote, “Hey, I know her!” And now I do too, because that’s the serendipity of social media. Her name is Rachel Giordano, she is 37 years old, and she’s a practicing naturopathic doctor in Seattle, Washington. Giordano agreed to talk to me about her childhood and the ad, and to pose for a new Then & Now photo meme, which you see above in the lead image.

As I was planning my interview with Rachel Giordano, I saw this blog post by Achilles Effect, and knew immediately what Giordano should be holding in the new version of the photo. Enter the Heartlake City rolling beauty salon TV news van, one of the latest additions to the LEGO Friends line. Advertising copy lets us know what being a news anchor involves for minifig Emma:

“Break the big story of the world’s best cake with the Heartlake News Van! Find the cake and film it with the camera and then climb into the editing suite and get it ready for broadcast. Get Emma ready at the makeup table so she looks her best for the camera. Sit her at the news desk as Andrew films her talking about the cake story and then present the weather to the viewers.”

Cake? Seriously? And what-the-what is that when you look inside the news van? Where is the equipment? Is it behind the gigantic makeup vanity?

Follow the link for more.

Women You Should Know: The Little Girl from the 1981 LEGO Ad is All Grown Up, and She’s Got Something to Say

Monday
Feb102014

Russian icons Pussy Riot crack Star Wars joke

As if Russia's Pussy Riot weren't amazing enough already, the Independent reports they cracked a Star Wars joke at the Berlin Film Festival:

Maria Alyoshina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova from punk band Pussy Riot have received offers for a Hollywood film based on their lives, the pair revealed at a Berlin Film Festival press conference.

The Russian duo said they had received "several offers" for film projects, but they declined to share the names of studios chasing them.

"We have some offers but we cannot say from whom, nothing is agreed," Tolokonnikova said, joking that the movie would be "like Star Wars".

To know more about Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk rock group three of whose members were imprisoned for two years by the Russian government for anti-Putin protests, check out the Guardian's coverage.

The Independent: Pussy Riot members receive offers for movie 'like Star Wars'

Saturday
Feb012014

I talk Star Wars on Following the Nerd

I was recently on Ireland's Following the Nerd podcast talking about A Long Time Ago. It was a great time. Check out the Following the Nerd web site, and click below to listen to the podcast. My interview starts at around the 8:30 point. Thanks to Marc and Jay for having me on!

The Following the Nerd Podcast Ep 87

Tuesday
Jan282014

Star-Wars-themed cranial bands

Today.com has a story on parents decorating their children's cranial bands (helmets used to correct flat spots on babies' soft skulls). Unsurprisingly, Star Wars and other pop culture mainstays have featured heavily. From the post:

California dad Wesley Piercy recently transformed his son’s cranial band – a helmet designed to treat a flat spot on a baby’s head, known as plagiocephaly – into something right out of “Star Wars” by adding an R2D2 motif.

My son had to wear one of these for a few months when he was 12 months or so. My daughter, then three, decorated it herself with a bunch of stickers. We always worried, when going out, that people would see him and fear that there was something horribly wrong with him. In fact these devices are largely cosmetic, like braces but for your head.

Today.com: From 'Star Wars' to 'Superman,' baby medical helmets get creative

Monday
Jan202014

Is my daughter's new doll a Sith lord?

Watch this video and decide for yourself. Warning: some French.

Monday
Jan132014

Guest post: How I came back to Star Wars action figures by YASWB

One of my favourite Star Wars blogs is a fairly new entry, YASWB - Yet Another Star Wars blog. The blog is accurately subtitled, “A Retrospection on Vintage Star Wars with Modern Action Figures”. The blogger behind YASWB is a collector of modern Hasbro Star Wars action figures with a love of Kenner’s original collection. His blog is an evocative mix of modern-day action figures, chosen and photographed to recall Kenner’s photography and marketing of its vintage figures, and amusing anecdotes about the figures themselves and his memories of them. In this guest blog post, the YASWB blogger (who prefers to remain anonymous) explains how he came back to Star Wars action figure collecting.

It was Hasbro’s latest Star Wars action figure line, The Vintage Collection (2010 to 2013), that brought me back to the obscure hobby of collecting action figures. The Vintage Collection’s packaging just had to catch every middle-aged Star Wars fan of old. It hit the weak spot—with no mercy.

But first things first: How did my collecting of Kenner plastic come to an end some two and a half decades ago? A year or two after the Return of the Jedi's release, when the Kenner line seemed to slow down, it didn’t take very long before I got tired of my Star Wars plastic. My last big Kenner toy for Christmas was the Ewok Village. The B-Wing Fighter wouldn't have been big enough for Christmas, the Imperial Shuttle was too big for everything—especially for my parents' budget. It felt strange already to put the Ewok Village on the wishlist. After collecting Star Wars for half of my young life I guess it was a natural thing to do, yet the question, whether I would "play" with the new plastic, slowly gained importance. 

Boba Fett by YASWB

The turning point came during the summer holidays in 1985, when I saw a new “Mini Rig” on the shelves. It probably was the "Security Scout" from the "Power of the Force" line. (It was actually described as a "Body Rig"!) The toy intrigued me solely for being the first new Star Wars toy in a long time, but otherwise put me off for its apparent flimsiness, its unoriginality, its questionable canonicity, and its package design. The package design of the original Kenner line was the real deal. They could even sell Ewok Hang Gliders with it. The POTF design however looked cheap and un-Star Wars-ish. The toy looked more like a Mattel’s Master of the Universe toy than a Kenner Star Wars product. It seemed to me that there was no juice left in Star Wars. No more movies, no more cool Kenner stuff.

I stood there holding that new Star Wars toy in my hands with ambivalent feelings. Years before, I would have lost sleep over new Kenner plastic. But this time I thought (to quote this blog’s byline) “I’m getting too old for this sort of thing”. So the new POTF toy was the first Star Wars item that I put back on the shelf—although with trembling hands. This marked the end of an era for me.

Example of the Kenner card backs that inspire YASWBShortly afterwards I banished all my Star Wars toys and figures from my room. They went straight into our basement where they soon were forgotten. Then I wanted to buy things for other new hobbies, like pen and paper roleplaying books, comics, and other nerd stuff. I started getting sick of the old toys. So in about 1986 or 1987 I sold all the Star Wars plastic I had at once, for about the price of a mid-range HiFi amplifier. (I believe that’s what I actually did with the money.) The lot consisted of:

  • All 93 figures, including Yak Face. Some doubles. Some weapons of older figures were missing, some figures were in bad condition but most, even the old ones, weren’t. All newer figures (since The Empire Strikes Back) were complete and in perfect condition.
  • AT-AT (chin guns missing, otherwise complete and perfect condition)
  • Millennium Falcon (ramp broken off, otherwise everything in perfect condition, even the training ball for Luke was still there!)
  • Rebel Transport (complete, perfect condition)
  • Snowspeeder (complete)
  • Two Tauntauns (both versions, one with the soft belly, one without. The older Tauntaun’s saddle was broken and glued to the Tauntaun)
  • Hoth Wampa (slightly discoloured, otherwise perfect)
  • Twin-Pod Cloud Car (perfect)
  • Two X-Wing Fighters (one with missing pieces and partly glued, the other one in good condition, with battle damage decals)
  • TIE Fighter (with broken off and glued wings)
  • Landspeeder (perfect condition)
  • Imperial Troop Transport (with sounds still working, complete)
  • AT-ST Walker (complete)
  • Slave I (complete)
  • Speeder Bike (complete)
  • Y-Wing Fighter (complete)
  • All nine Mini Rigs, plus Tripod Cannon and Maintenance Energizer (complete!)
  • Jabba the Hutt Playset (complete)
  • Max Rebo Band (complete)
  • Ewok Catapult and Hang Glider (both complete)
  • Ewok Village! (The inlay piece for C-3PO’s throne was missing from the beginning—Kenner did not care, for once—otherwise complete)
  • Some of the die cast models, including Slave I and the Landspeeder

(Side note: the list comes from the back of my mind, of course with the help of checklists found on the internet. I am amazed about how clearly I remember my old toys even though I haven't seen them for decades—and never ever will again.)

Hoth by YASWB

So, as stated, I never had the Imperial Shuttle or the B-Wing Fighter. I also never owned the Dewback, the Rancor or any of the other playsets like the Death Star or Hoth bases, and of course not the "Sears Exclusive" stuff that according to my knowledge was never available in my area, anyway.

Also, I had no original packaging for the vehicles, which always was thrown away immediately after unpacking and assembly. I kept the figures’ cardbacks though. However they went missing one by one and the final leftovers (probably all Ewok figures' cardbacks) were just thrown away, too.

When this all was gone I did not miss a thing. However, years later, every once in a while I was haunted by dreams, where I would visit the toy aisles again and browse through imaginary Kenner packaging and cardbacks to find new figures and vehicles. These dreams never stopped, even though I wasn’t interested in Star Wars anymore. Star Wars no longer took any role in my life. In fact I was so out of touch with Star Wars that I took absolutely no notice of the release of the first two prequels. Yet I had these dreams.

So after years of Star Wars absence, every once in a while I snuck into a comic store or some such nerdy place and had a secret look at the current Star Wars figures. They never impressed me much. Starting with the POTF2 line with its super-muscular figures, the only thing that made my fingers itch were the Stormtrooper and Chewbacca figures, which apparently now could turn their heads—finally, like a dream come true. Unfortunately too late. And while all the other figures were way too athletic, I felt it was okay for Chewbacca and Darth Vader to be more on the bulky side. Also, the idea to finally release figures like the Sandtrooper (likewise with turning head) or a Luke figure in Dagobah training outfit intrigued me somehow. I guess it found its way into my subconscious mind and nurtured my dreams even more. I never bought them though. I was still too old for this sort of thing.

Exampl of Hasbro's Kenner-style packaging

When the first real Vintage revival figures (namely the Vintage Saga Collection and Vintage Original Trilogy Collection lines) came out, I gave in and bought my first figures in a long time. But not from these lines, which I found to be way too expensive. Instead I bought a C-3PO and a R2-D2 figure with a middle leg (finally!) from a cheaper line. At the time I was a part-time student of computer science and thus justified these purchases to myself as examples of artificial intelligence that could decorate my desk. Yet, back home, unpacking the two figures was a strange experience. It felt wrong. Later I bought the 30th Anniversary Collection Boba Fett figure and that was that. These figures stood around deserted for years, first on one of my stereo loudspeakers, later on an electric meter box—never on my desk. And still I had these recurring dreams.

Echo Base by YASWB

Finally, when The Vintage Collection was seen everywhere (well not everywhere like in the 1980s, but still at various places I occasionally frequented), it caught my attention. So many different figures in that all too familiar packaging. After some back and forth I could resist no longer and finally gave in and bought a Luke Skywalker (Dagobah Landing) figure on eBay—thus sparing myself an embarrassing situation at the store’s cashier, I thought. Somehow my interest in these figures was back again—to some extent.

Since I made the decision to allow my inner child to buy these figures again, the dreams have stopped. I guess with all the research necessary to get the right figures among the vast amount that have been produced in the meantime, I finally solved every secret about Star Wars figures that concerned me in my youth. There is no mystery left, no riddle to solve. Thus the dreams, that were there to make me try wrapping my head around my unsolved childhood Star Wars riddles, have ended.

A curse has lifted—and been replaced by a new curse: buying new Star Wars action figures. But even this will not go on forever. I feel I have nearly completed my new collection. The limit is set by the original trilogy. I still am interested in the obscurest cantina alien or bounty hunter that can hardly be seen in the original movies but was produced as figure. However I do not care for the umpteenth Jedi Knight that gets killed in the prequels. So, thankfully, my lust for figures is limited by the appearances of characters in the original movies and only slightly beyond that. Also, with the Vintage Collection having reached its end, there is not much exciting happening anymore on the market—at least not for the oldschool Star Wars action figure enthusiasts. So who knows, maybe my new Star Wars plastic collection will be soon forgotten, locked in the basement, and sold like the old one was. Or maybe with the new movies coming up, there will be a new golden era for Star Wars action figures. But I think it highly unlikely that the new movies will inspire me to buy more figures. By 2015 I will surely be too old for this sort of thing—or will I?

YASWB — Yet Another Star Wars blog

Monday
Jan132014

Go visit the "I'm a stormtrooper" blog

Yesterday I followed someone new on Twitter called I'm a stormtrooper (@akmd65). She kindly followed me back. This morning on the train I had a look at her blog. It's wonderful! Her Twitter bio explains,

Relativity normal single mom with an obsession for Star Wars, roller coasters, 80s movies and ice cream. I speak fluent sarcasm and fight autism like a superhero.

Her blog is a delightful, touching mix of funny things her autistic daughter Maymay says, Maymay's movie reviews, and random thoughts from mum. I especially enjoyed Maymay's review of The Legend of Hercules, which can be summed up by this perfect sentence, "The movie made me mad because it was completely wrong." Also mum's blog post, "More reasons to love Mr. Rogers", which will make you want to go watch Mr. Rogers' six-minute presentation before the US Senate so I'll just embed it here:

I also enjoyed this bit of dating advice from Maymay to mum.

Besides all this charming content, the blog is decorated with funny photographs of stormtrooper action figures (etc.) in unlikely situations. You've seen that sort of thing before, of course, but it's very nicely done here.

So congratulations to I'm a stormtrooper for a lovely little blog (which by the way is more proof--as if more were needed--that Star Wars isn't just for boys). I'll be visiting again soon.

I'm a stormtrooper