George Lucas took everything he’d read, watched, and researched, added a lightning bolt or two of inspiration, drops of blood, sweat, and tears, threw it all in a blender, and created Star Wars. Paul McDonald took Star Wars, along with everything he’s read, watched, and researched, added his own blood, sweat, and tears, threw it all in a blender, and wrote The Star Wars Heresies: Interpreting the Themes, Symbols and Philosophies of Episodes I, II and III ( McFarland, 2013). Beyond merely “interpreting”, as the title promises, this book illuminates the Prequels like nothing else has before. The Star Wars Heresies doesn’t insert anything into the PT that isn’t already there, it just shines a brilliant light on what it’s always been.
Anybody can start a blog—or go on a message board—and ramble for paragraph after turgid paragraph about Star Wars, superficially throwing various oft-repeated signifiers and keywords out (Joe Campbell, Myths, Kurosawa, blah blah blah) to show off that they know what they’re talking about, MAN (they usually don’t). It’s a whole other matter to weave together a nearly 200-page work that reads so smoothly—lyrically, even—while maintaining such a tight focus, structure, and narrative unity. I love the way the book is organized/constructed: three parts (one per movie of the PT), comprised of chapters each concentrating on a single character/theme. What’s impressive is that there’s no redundancy from one chapter/part to another. For instance, there are three (well, four, if you want to split hairs) individual chapters for Anakin, and though future and past events in the character’s life are freely referenced when necessary, the focus stays exactly where it needs to be for that moment in Anakin’s story…there’s no sense of, “Okay, you already said that!” as you’re reading. It couldn’t have been easy to keep all the plates spinning in the air while writing this book, but it never felt like that while reading it… it felt simple, in the purest and most desirable sense of that word.
"Simple" is the last thing you’d expect from a book swimming with references to 17th Century Jesuits, Zen Masters, Jungian analysts, Taoist Sages, internet film enthusiasts, and God knows who else, but that’s what you get. Just as there’s no pretension that you’d fear would accompany such a heady-sounding bunch of sources and citations, there’s also no condescension. The Star Wars Heresies is neither a pedantically-footnoted academic exercise, or a dumbed-down piece of disposable pop philosophy—it’s a warm, passionate book that thinks highly enough of its readers to treat them as if they’re in conversation with a friend. You needn’t have previously read about, or even heard of, the Zen Master Dogen to understand how or why his teachings are relevant to the themes or characters of Star Wars… everything flows and clicks in context.
While reading, you may have several, “Oh, DUH!” moments, as I did, when being enlightened to various cross-Saga connections and those famous Lucas “rhymes” you may have missed, but you won’t feel dumber for it—just more keen to pay closer attention, to open yourself, the next time you’re watching one of the Star Wars movies. That’s one of the beautiful things about this book: it doesn’t mechanically deconstruct every scene and character beat so much as show you, to borrow from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, what can live in the “space between spaces” of the Star Wars movies—and by the author showing you what he’s found there, you learn how to look there for yourself. The Star Wars Heresies succeeds mightily in demonstrating how much George Lucas put into creating these movies, but is no less successful in teaching its readers how to appreciate his art with a fuller awareness.
The Star Wars Heresies retails for around $40 USD; it would be great if the book had a lower price (what wouldn’t be better at a lower price?), but understanding that McFarland is an independent publisher specializing in academic books for libraries and collections, the price makes more sense… this isn’t something churned out and mass-marketed at every Walmart and Target across the world. The content is certainly worth the price, and the physical book is very well-made. Sadly, I can always relate to being low on cash, so if the hardcopy is out of your financial grasp at the moment, the e-book version is available for around $13.99 USD from Amazon and Barnes&Noble—and even if you don’t have a Kindle or Nook to read it on, free downloadable eBook readers are just a Google away. Failing the eBook option, ask your local public library to order a copy or two… that’s what they’re there for! On top of all of it, the author, Paul McDonald, is a friend and bona fide “fan who gets it”, as Lazy Padawan might say—this book isn’t the work of some daytripping academic looking to make a quick buck off Star Wars fans, it’s a labor of love. If you’re a fan of this site, I’m certain that you’ll enjoy The Star Wars Heresies; I can’t recommend enough that you buy and read this book. In addition to expanding your understanding and appreciation of the PT, though, this book has the potential to be something more than just a great read and a watershed moment for Star Wars Prequel fandom—it can possibly bring peace to the restless souls of the Star Wars Original Trilogy ONLY fans.
Though I’m guilty of coining the phrase “half-fans” in the past—to describe Star Wars fans who only love the Original Trilogy, and dislike or hate the Prequel Trilogy— I abandoned it a few months after I came up with it, and also stopped referring to these fans as “hateboys” or anything similar. Individually, I might refer to a particularly belligerent and assaultive fan as something way more profane, but I felt like using blanket labels to describe Star Wars fans with different tastes than I have was just as pointless and tribal as the behavior that some of them were exhibiting. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely self-described “fans” who are beyond redemption or repair, way up the river with Colonel Kurtz—they’ve wallowed in stale hate for 14 years to the point where they’re incapable of acting human when it comes to Star Wars, especially online—but I can’t take seriously a purported grown-up throwing a 14 year-long fit about a big orange frog-man and a child actor.
The type of OT-Only fan that I could see getting something out of The Star Wars Heresies is somebody basically decent and rational— maybe one of your closest friends, a family member, a spouse even—who simply dislikes or was disappointed with the Prequels, which is their prerogative. This type of fan might venture, “Yeah, the Prequels sucked, Jar Jar sucked, no thanks” when the topic is brought up, but they’re not online day-in and day-out screaming about crucifying George Lucas (who still owes you nothing), or telling you that you’re a moron for liking the PT. I’m not naive enough to suggest that this book will “convert” a fan like that into suddenly hosting PT-viewing marathons, or even that they’ll enjoy any of the Prequel movies—but I do think that after reading it, they’ll at least understand the point of the PT, and hopefully, respect what Lucas was trying to do. "I still dislike the Prequels, but I get what he was going for with them" would be a triumphant statement from an OT-only SW fan after reading this book. Wouldn’t you rather coexist with a fan like that than a 40 year-old dude (or more absurdly, a callow 20 year-old wanna-be cineaste) shrieking that Lucas ‘raped his childhood’??
Realistically, they’re not going to seek this book out, so instead of sending more boring e-Gift Cards this Christmas (look at that cover! CHRISTMAS!) and Hanukkah season, why not send The Star Wars Heresies eBook (or if you’re a high roller, the hardcopy) to your Star Wars-loving, but OT-only friends and family members? At worst, they won’t bother reading it, their loss… but if they do, you may have started a chain reaction of Prequel understanding. The next time one of their Prequel-hating friends starts ranting about midichlorians or whatever, they just may set them straight, and so on and so on. The Star Wars Heresies: the virus that you want to spread.
for more info, visit www.mcfarlandpub.com, or call their order line at 1-800-253-2187.
Happy Halloween from the Gungan
Sacred SCARED Place!!
Yesterday, while at one of the local Walmarts to grab magical cat litter crystals (99.9% the same chemical composition as Folgers Crystals™), I made my usual dutiful trudge over to the toy section to check for any new Star Wars. This particular Walmart is “celebrating” it’s one-year anniversary this month, and yet, it’s already haunted with ancient regret. For a new-ish Walmart, the toy section has been more miss than hit than you’d expect it to be, but perhaps that’s just because of how poor of a year it’s been for finding new SW toys everywhere. I must have arrived shortly after they reset the SW section, because nearly everything from Hasbro’s Fall 2013 SW line-up was there, fresh out of the cases. The sadly dull and overpriced 3.75” Black Series was wanly clinging to the pegs, the classic Kenner Charm of the new Saga Legends/Mission Series was in full effect (though I already had them), and then there were these…
Of course I bought it for the Jar Jar (the Leia looks like she’s holding a glock in a meth-fueled hold-up). Is it a good deal to buy what are basically two rubber pencil toppers for $4.96 USD? No. Does it feel good to know that the plastic and cardboard packaging of the item you just purchased probably cost more to produce than the actual item contained therein? No. But what does feel good is “getting it over with”, and getting the one character I knew for sure that I wanted out of this dopey Telepods line. I’ve bought some of the SW Angry Birds toys before, mainly to get a Han and Chewie, and they’re a total rip-off to be sure—-not unlike the apparently-deceased SW Fighter Pods line, these should be 50¢ each in a gumball machine. That being said, the Jar Jar ”figure” is great for what it is, and I’m glad to have him, because the design could exist independently of the “Angry Birds aesthetic”. I mean, it’s unnerving to look at Chewie with a BEAK; it’d be like if your dog suddenly had ant pincers on his snout instead of a nice wet nose. Jar Jar’s design allows him to cross over into the nightmare world of the Angry Birds without the indignity of being “bird-ized”.
Sure, I guess you could look at this and say, “No, dude, he has a duck bill, he HAS been bird-ized”, to which I’d say, “He’s always had a duck bill-shaped face, so he survived the bird-izing process intact”, and then we’d fight to the death, or just agree to disagree. I’m just always going to think he “passes” as a normal (if slightly whacked-out) Gungan, so spare me the dramz. Oh yeah, and ducks don’t have TEETH!
Though most of the SW Angry Birds merchandise is a rip-off, and I’d rather the Hasbro factories and plastic were put to better use on better toys, I do love the actual game, and have played it to the point where the only thing left for me to do in it is increase my high scores—so I’m more than happy for the new Prequel-friendly version to be released next month. Maybe these high-priced pencil toppers won’t feel like such a rip when they can actually do something useful. The magical/extra-terrestrial-back-engineered high tech of the Telepods™ is exactly what you see above: a little QR code sticker which, when magnified by the plastic lens in base of the stand, interacts with the camera on your smart phone or other HI TEK device, and imports the character in question into your phone, just like TRON.
From the second I bought this thing, I was like, “What is this reminding me of???” And then, as if an autumnal breeze carrying the warm scent of pumpkin spice wafted by, it hit me: a KOOKY SPOOKS Halloween costume!! So even if you have no interest in playing SW Angry Birds and making a pencil topper TRON into your phone, but do want to blow five bucks, you can always do this:
Early in 1999, Horst Friegelhopf, brutish manager of the fourth-rate German electro band Kohlensäure, couldn’t help but notice the growing anticipation for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Interested in riding the coattails of the new Star Wars movie, Friegelhopf physically intimidated the members of Kohlensäure into recording a song that his producers in Wiesbaden had created to cash in on the phenomenon. Believing that the break-out character of Episode I would be Sio Bibble, due to the massive popularity in Germany of Bibble actor Oliver Ford Davies, the producers (Billi Baader and Max Meinhof) crafted “Der Bibble Bounce” for the terrified members of Kohlensäure to perform. In March 1999, in a frigid back-alley studio in Köln, Kohlensäure recorded the song that would end their careers—and sadly, in the case of lead vocalist Mußßi Gruppenfuhrer, his life. What a shame…a young boy grows up dreaming of becoming the next Kraftwerk, and instead, ends up buried in a pauper’s grave in Leipzig!! Oh well, enjoy “Der Bibble Bounce”!!
Apropos of nothing, scummy, bottom-of-the-barrel bootlegs on parade!
Some of the best Phantom Menace-based figures released during the TPM Era didn’t even come out in Hasbro’s Episode I toy line—-the Power of the Jedi line (http://www.rebelscum.com/potjfigures.asp), which ran from 2000-2002, mixed Original Trilogy characters with some excellent versions of TPM characters. Though the uninformed will tell you that the Episode I toy line was cancelled due to poor sales (“cuz fantom menness is teh sukk” blah blah blah), that’s not true; Episode I merchandise sold PLENTY. The reason for so much stuff hanging around the pegs (and for the delicious rock-bottom clearance sales in late 1999-2000!) was simply that retail grossly overestimated demand. Even stores that didn’t normally sell toys were loaded to the gills with TPM stuff in 1999; it was pretty much everywhere—no retailer wanted to miss out on the second coming of $tar Wars. There were so many products, each produced in such great quantities, that of course supply was going to outweigh demand (Sadly, Hasbro—almost definitely at LFL’s urging—eerily repeated that history to a smaller extent in 2012).
So, in 2000, gone was the red-and-yellow Darth Maul-festooned packaging, and in was the green-and-yellow Power of the Jedi design, complete with TPM Obi-Wan jumping away from a massive Vader helmet. It’s common for toy companies to change their packaging every year or so to freshen things up at retail, but there probably was some panic on Hasbro’s part to change designs so quickly, as the previous 5 years of Star Wars toys had only seen 1 major packaging/color scheme change. The POTJ design was verrrrry similar to the pre-TPM Kenner Power of the Force 2 line look—almost as if it hoped to say, “Hey, wait! that prequel thing never happened! Come BACK!”. Luckily, the POTJ line struck a fantastic balance between Original Trilogy and TPM characters…if you can get past the current teeth-gnashing insistence on super-articulated figures, the Power of the Jedi line holds up to this day.
…But what if some of the stand-out TPM figures from the POTJ line had instead been part of the Episode I line? What if these figures hadn’t debuted in this packaging—
—-but in THIS, complete with next generation Commtech Chips??:
I love the way those blue Commtech Chips “pop” off of the red packaging; I don’t know if it’s just the novelty or what, but these prototypes make the standard Episode I line’s packaging look drab in comparison! The Commtech Chip gimmick was always pretty ridiculous, but these oval chips look so much better than the dull grey/silver chips that were actually released. The Episode I toy line is awesome as it is—to me, it’s a fitting grand finale to everything brilliant about Kenner (even though Hasbro owned Kenner throughout the 90’s, it wasn’t until the end of 2000 that they shut down Kenner “boys’ toys” operations in Cincinnati and moved remaining staff to Rhode Island)—-but having these figures included in it would have improved upon greatness. I love (and buy) a lot of Hasbro’s Star Wars products, but I’ll never stop missing Kenner (although there wasn’t a Kenner logo on Episode I toys, they were still “Kenner” in every way that counted).
The good news, if you’re super-rich and love the Episode I toy line, is that you can own these figures as they were originally intended to be produced!! If you bathe in champagne while wearing a top hat, these three pieces of Star Wars toy history can be yours for $4500…or less, if your “Best Offer” is accepted.
…knock a zero off the price of each one and I’ll pounce like a panther!!
Happy Birthday, George Lucas—you still rule!!
Following in the footsteps of such Star Wars power players as GL himself…
…the irascible Harrison Ford…
…the mighty Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor…
…and even his OWN previous work for Wendy’s…
…Ahmed Best, known to over $1B USD’s worth of ticket buyers across the planet as the beloved and pioneering CGI character Jar Jar Binks, is now appearing on TV and the internet to spread the word about BlackRock’s iShares.com:
I saw this commercial for the first time on Friday night, and before even looking up at the TV, I knew exactly who that distinctive voice belonged to. It’s not as nice as having Ahmed Best voicing characters in the 2 animated Star Wars series that Disney murdered in cold corporate blood, but I guess it’s better than nothing!
Just because it seems like something that could conceivably sell out quickly (is there really a rabid base of flash drive collectors?!? why not!) , I thought I should alert serious Jar Jar fans across the galaxy to this Limited Edition Jar Jar “Mimobot” flash drive. What was initially an April Fool’s Joke in 2012 is now a data-storing reality. I saw this shortly after I woke up and got online, and ordered it kind of without a second thought through bleary, sleep-lidded eyes, even though I don’t really have the 25 bucks to spare. We ARE talking about The Grand Gungan himself, here. Bravo to mimoco.com for actually following through and producing this! I hope he sells out so that other licensees see that Jar Jar is a $$moneymaker$$, so if you’d like one, click the pic to go to mimoco’s order page.
Recently, it’s come out that the future of The Clone Wars is very uncertain. Nobody has said when, where, or if it’s going to air beyond the current season finale, airing this Saturday on the Cartoon Network in the US. Though there’s an online petition to Disney to save the show, those typically aren’t nearly as effective as actual physical correspondence…there’s a huge “effort gulf” between click-click-clicking on a petition, and taking your life into your hands by licking an envelope containing potentially poisonous glue. Wait—-“Licking, Not Clicking!” There’s your slogan.
Anyways, the unstoppable Lazy Padawan at the SWPAS has created a zippy form letter that you can print out, sign your name to, LICK, and send:
Rebel Force Radio offers a voice mail number:
And I would add, if you are a parent or know any parents with kids who love The Clone Wars, encourage them to send a letter on behalf of their kids—Disney knows where their bread is buttered.
As for the “How NOT to Save The Clone Wars” part, I just happened to come across the following letter at the post office—the sender must’ve been in such a rush that he forgot to place it in the envelope (or maybe he was afraid of the glue??), and just left it sitting on the counter near the Priority Mail labels. Upon reading it, I realized that I had to transcribe it word-for-word so that you, the concerned Clone Wars fan, could see how it’s NOT done:
mr. bob iger
500 s. buena vista st.
burbank, ca 91521
wut the fuk dude. ur canseling clone wars???? thats sum total clown shit bro. just wen it wuz gettin good to. i seen most episodes of clone wars and tho sum suked it was fukin rad too see maul chop shit up and bobba fets dad (with teh black sword). asoka wuz anoying @ first but shes kinda cute now lol. is she legal yet lol jk jk dont call hanson on me bro. dude if u cansel clone wars ill never get too see if she and anikin hook up. not kewl. hay wuts with obiwons blond chik. is she dead or wut. she was hawt to. i got sum rad ideas for episodes to if u want too here them. one hole episode shud just b maul choping people up with his saber and the black sword in slo motione. wudnt that be fukin sweet???? liek the matrix dude. anothr episode wud be if teh clones had too torch a hole vilage of thoes lemure people. bbq lemures oh noes lol. and then liek anikin comes and kills evrybody includeng clones and whatevar lemures are left cuz sith rage. at teh end his eyes are glowin yello and hes liek I AM SITH. fukin awsome. dude bak to canseling clone wars. u owe me becuz i am a custumer. ya thats rite i bougt season 4 on blu on blak frieday. im goin too ask seths dad whos a LAYWER if its posibbel for me too sue u sinse the custumer is always rite. bob i dont want too do that but i just had too putt it out there so u kno i am sireous. i do pay part of ur salery. i kno u got lots of shit to wory about liek micky mouse avenger spidey bug bunny and buzz and woody but us fans taek this shit so so sireous. i been on you tube coments teling evrybody wut ur up too and dude sory too say but people r pissed @ u. im frends with sum juggalo fam who watch clone wars and their liek WHO THE FUK IS CANSELING IT. im not makeng a thret im just sayin bob. u evar seen a pissd off juggalo up close????? killa clowns bob. lol. just sayin. so think abt that. lets stay out of cort cuz that shits exspenseve. fuk judje judie. do the rite thing bob and dont cansel clone wars.
…huh, I don’t know why that name sounds so familiar; I’ll have to google it!
So now you know what to do and what not to do—
Save the Cheerleader. Save the World. Save the Clone Wars. LICK, DON’T CLICK!!
Among the many bizarre decisions Hasbro Toys made in their Star Wars product lines last year, putting out multiple releases of the same (previously released) figures in different packaging and different pricing at the same time was the most baffling. The two biggest offenders were Qui-Gon, with three simultaneous releases: QGJ1, QGJ2, QGJ3 …and with a whopping FOUR simultaneous releases, TPM Obi-Wan: OWK1, OWK2, OWK3, OWK4 (there were also multiple Darth Mauls available simultaneously, but at least they were different figures/sculpts). So, in February 2012, you could conceivably walk into your local Walmart and emerge with seven differently-packaged/priced versions of the same two products. Not surprisingly, when I went to Walmart yesterday, on February 12, 2013—over one year later—all three packagings of Qui-Gon were hanging there on the pegs, as were three of the four packagings of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Insane…and yet, what follows is a mostly positive post on a set of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul figures released in 2012!
The “Duel On Naboo” Battle Pack wasn’t even released until Spring of 2012, long after TPM3D had left theaters, and by that time, everybody (even me!) was completely over figures of these three characters…wicked hot synergy, Hasbro. When photos of the set leaked out a couple of months before it was released, there was even more outrage on top of the sense of overkill, since the figures—-though completely brand-new—-had only 5 points of articulation each. If you’re not familiar with the shadowy world of action figures, a “point of articulation” is any joint or moveable part on the figure. Most of the vintage Kenner Star Wars figures from the 70’s and 80’s had 5 points (legs, arms, head), but in the past decade or so, modern Star Wars figures have evolved to a place where they’re expected to have between 12-14 points of articulation (head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, ankles). If these three figures had this level of articulation, this artwork on the back of the package wouldn’t have been quite so ridiculous:
huh???? I’m all for artistic license, but in a world where a simple action figure package typically has two warnings on the front telling the consumer the same thing (“Ages 4 and up” and a redundant “WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD Not for Children Under 3 years old”…well duh, that’s what “Ages 4 and up” suggests), aren’t we supposed to conclude that the average consumer is a drooling, mouth-breathing troglodyte? Even with the “PRODUCT SHOWN IN FANTASY SITUATION” in the small print, I would think Hasbro would want to accurately portray this product. This is about as close as you’ll get to posing these figures as they’re seen above:
…and it took a couple of minutes to even get these figures that close to what’s pictured! I guess this wouldn’t strike me as being so odd if the art on the back of the package portrayed the characters in this dynamic scene instead of the figures (which it clearly is supposed to—you can especially see that on the leg joints in the artwork). Hasbro, there’s no shame in using nice, naturalistic photos on your packaging—I feel like it’s worked before:
When it comes down to it, unless Star Wars toys are packaged in the iconic, timeless, and perfectly-designed and just plain perfect black-and-silver Kenner “vintage” style, I’m just going to rip them out of the package anyway—so do all the crazed photoshopping you need to, Hasbro!
If you look at the first picture in this post, you’ll notice the tell-tale Target clearance sticker on this set. Though I found these figures very shortly after they were released last spring, I just couldn’t bring myself to get ANOTHER iteration of these three characters; I was too burned out on them. I knew I’d buy them eventually, and I had counted on “eventually” to be whenever they hit clearance—which they did, last month. I rarely ever “wait for clearance” with Star Wars stuff I want, for a couple of reasons: sometimes, if you don’t buy something at first sight, you won’t see it again until it’s 400% more on eBay; and also, I feel the need to put my money where my mouth is, and do my part to ensure that Star Wars figures continue to be produced…if everybody “waited for clearance” (and a lot of people do), they’d just stop making these things, as Hasbro is a business and not a charity. Luckily, the gamble paid off this time, because I kinda LOVE these figures.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my super-articulated Gamorrean Guards, Bossk, Chewie, Vader, Jar Jar, etc.—-but there’s nothing as appealing to me as the simple charm of actual vintage Kenner Star Wars figures.
As much as I’m loathe to admit to being susceptible to nostalgia, it’s not only that…I just love that those figures were TOYS that could and did take a complete beating over years of play. For me as a kid, the Star Wars movies and Star Wars toys became a circular thing: the movie made me want the toys, the toys made me want to know/experience more about the movie, which made me want more of the toys/figures, etc. I really enjoy looking at pics of people’s Star Wars collections that are filled with Gentle Giant mini-busts, high-end statues, Sideshow 12” figures, and similar items, but for me, it’s always going to be Star Wars toys that I’m fascinated by. The three figures in this Battle Pack, despite their inability to be posed in a million ways, feel like play-with-‘em-in-the-dirt, throw-‘em-off-the-porch, stick-‘em-in-your-pocket toys to me.
If you squint out the much more detailed sculpting and smaller head on the Obi-Wan figure, you would almost think that these figures are from the same era…which, of course, is why the majority of Star Wars collectors hate this set.
This is complete Star Wars collecting treason, but I wish that the main modern Star Wars action figure line had been like this all along. I have a fondness for the “Power of the Force 2” figures of the 1990’s, which had many of the same qualities as the vintage Kenner figures, but their steroid physiques and harsh face sculpts were sort of gross, and now look extremely dated and “90’s”. I’m not wishing all of the superb super-articulated figures of the last decade away at all—I love them, have most of them, and I’m all for things evolving in new directions—I just wish that this “vintage aesthetic” had been continued as the standard action figure line, while super-articulated figures were like a deluxe companion collection (which is kind of how they started out — though if you want to get technical, this came first.)
The retail price on the main Star Wars figure line (most recently “The Vintage Collection”, which uses that impeccable Kenner packaging style, but not the Kenner figure style) has been gradually rising over the past 6 years or so due to a number of things—increased materials costs, rising labor costs in China, increased shipping and freight, LFL licensing fees, and maybe just a pinch of greed—so that what was once a premium price for a specialized sub-collection of figures in 2004 is now the norm. Multiple points of articulation drive the price up; more molds need to be created for each part, more labor is necessary to assemble all the different parts, etc…When the price of figures is that high, parents aren’t going to buy their kids a bunch of them; they’re going to get them one or two, or just pass over a $10 3.75” Star Wars figure in favor of something larger that seems to be “more bang for the buck”. Or, for $5 more, they’ll just walk over to the electronics section in their Toys R Us and grab a $14.99 Wii game, counting on it to keep their kids occupied for hours. When that happens, the whole symbiotic relationship between Star Wars and Star Wars toys falls apart…which is bad for the whole franchise, as I’ve always seen Star Wars action figures, more than anything else, as the entry-level ambassador for Star Wars as a whole: they’re a cheap gateway drug into a much larger world.
This past weekend, the 2013 International Toy Fair began in New York City, and the Hasbro Star Wars presentation revealed that in addition to a $10 “collector”-targeted line of super-articulated Star Wars figures (“The Black Series”), there would now be a line of $5.99 figures, each with only 5 points of articulation, known as “Saga Legends” (a recycled name in the world of Star Wars figures)…and they’re manufactured with the same type of plastic as the vintage Kenner figures! The figure selection for the first wave or two consists of mostly AOTC/ROTS main characters (as its release was going to coincide with the
postponed cancelled AOTC3D/ROTS3D releases)—Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Clonetroopers—but as the line goes on, it’ll include characters from all the movies and The Clone Wars. I don’t understand why Star Wars collectors (hardly a monolithic bunch, but filled with a loud and vocal minority of whiners) can’t see this as the best of both worlds—super-articulated figures as we’ve all grown accustomed to, and a much more affordable line for kids that, if it’s successful, will financially bolster the production budget of more “collector”-quality figures. The only bummer to me is that Hasbro didn’t shift to this model before TPM3D came out, so I could’ve had a chance to get a truly vintage-style Jar Jar figure, and not just a (mostly) great modern Jar Jar figure on a vintage Kenner card. Life would be dull if there was nothing left to hope for!
When super-articulated Star Wars figures were first on the rise, there was a guy on the rebelscum.com forums whose sig line was “SA or GTFO!!”(“super articulated or get the f@$# out!!”)—My wife and I still have a laugh over that line…it’s so over the top, and it’s hard not to take it literally: the image of this guy roughly pushing somebody out of the room if they present him with a Star Wars figure incapable of moving its ankles, or bending its knees, is hilarious to me. I hope that dude accepts that lower-articulated Star Wars figures, like those in this set, aren’t a threat to him and his sweet, sweet SA figures. There’s no need for Kenner-articulated figures to GTFO, they can exist peacefully on the pegs alongside their fancy 14 points-of-articulation brothers and sisters…everybody wins!
In honor of the release of The Phantom Menace 3D one year ago today, I drew this picture of a bemused Captain Tarpals. Why the enigmatic smile, Captain? Sadly, we’ll never know, because he took his secrets to the grave! We’ll never forget you, Cap…OR The Phantom Menace returning ever so briefly to theaters in tastefully understated 3D.
This one goes out to both TPM3D and the dearly departed Captain Tarpals: