J.J. Abrams to Write and Direct “Star Wars: Episode IX”

September 12, 2017 – Lucasfilm announced today that J.J. Abrams will take over directing duties for Star Wars: Episode IX (no official title yet), following the dismissal of previous director Colin Trevorrow on Sept. 5th. In addition, J.J. Abrams will co-write the film with Chris Terrio.

The release date is now pushed back seven months. The new premiere date is December 20, 2019 (previously May 24, 2019).


Hurricane Irma Update: Status of “Yoda in the Caribbean: That Yoda Guy Museum”

September 7, 2017 – [NOTE: This is a repost of an article originally published 2 February 2014. The entire Franco-Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten, where the “That Yoda Guy Museum” is located, has been devastated by Hurricane Irma. At least eight people died yesterday on the French side of the island, which was battered with Category 5 winds of up to 180 mph. If you have any information on the status of the museum, please comment below.]

February 2, 2014 – Sometimes you will find Star Wars in the least expected places. If you find yourself on a cruise ship or flying, by chance, to the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Martin, be sure to visit “That Yoda Guy” Museum. (Address: 19a Front Street, Philipsburg, St Maarten-St Martin. TEL: 1 721 542 4009)

ThatYodaGuy-120814-D Founded by Nick Maley, who has adopted the nickname “thatYodaGuy”, That Yoda Guy Movie Exhibit is both a small non-profit museum on one side, and a Hollywood memorabilia store and art gallery on the other side.

The museum and store are easy to find. Located on the main shopping street called Front Street, you can ask any local (English is the primary language) or simply look for the bobbing General Grievous head sticking out from the second story and the yellow store sign. You have to climb a flight of stairs, but take your time: There are lots of posters, descriptions, and costumed props as you climb the stairs.

ThatYodaGuy-120814-NLocated on the second floor, the small museum charges a separate admission fee (about $10.00) and contains movie memorabilia from Star Wars, Superman, The Terminator, Alien and Highlander. If your time is limited, you can skip the museum and browse the merchandise and Star Wars memorabilia for sale. Nick Malley is very gracious and will take the time to chat with you and answer any questions you may have, including Star Wars history and production techniques.

ThatYodaGuy-120814-FFounder Nick Maley and another employee usually can be found in the store talking to customers and Star Wars fans. Nick Maley is one of the artists and contributors to the creation of Yoda and other Star Wars creatures. If you purchase an item (minimum $39.00) or visit the museum, he will autograph any item and pose for a photograph with you.


Yoda is decked out in his Santa hat and Christmas booties, greeting visitors in December. Temperatures were warm (mid-80s F) and muggy even in December.

Yoda is decked out in his Santa hat and Christmas booties, greeting visitors in December. Temperatures were warm (mid-80s F) and muggy even in December.


Take your time on the stairwell. There's lots to see and read.

Take your time on the stairwell. There’s lots to see and read.

HISTORY: For over 350 years, St. Martin (the French side)/Sint Maarten (the Dutch side) have been jointly and harmoniously administered by France and the Dutch Republic. The Dutch harvested the island’s salt ponds in the 1620’s, and the French built small settlements on the island as well. In 1648, the Dutch Republic and France signed a treaty, agreeing to jointly administer the island. The border between the Dutch and French sides of the small island is practically invisible, and English is the dominant language. St Martin-MAP
St. Martin/Sint Maarten is located east of Puerto Rico in the eastern Caribbean. Over a dozen cruise ship lines stop for the day at the island. St. Maarten is also known for its airport and short runway, which are just yards from a popular beach. During some jet takeoffs, the exhaust from the jet engines has been known to blow tourists across the sandy beach.

Lucasfilm Fires Director of “Star Wars: Episode IX”

September 6, 2017 – Here we go again: Lucasfilm announced yesterday that it has fired director Colin Trevorrow, who was initially tapped to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX.

According to a Lucasfilm press release: “Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways on Star Wars: Episode IX. Colin has been a wonderful collaborator throughout the development process, but we have all come to the conclusion that our visions for the project differ. We wish Colin the best and will be sharing more information about the film soon.”

In early June, rumors started heating up that the 40-year-old director (born Sept. 1976) was in trouble. The Hollywood Reporter noted that he had struggled with multiple attempts at drafting an acceptable script. Lucasfilm then hired British writer Jack Thorne in August to rescue the script.

Perhaps more importantly, Colins and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy were at loggerheads over their competing visions for Episode IX, scheduled to be released in May, 2019. Principal shooting has not yet begun.

With hits such as Jurassic World (2015) under his belt, the American director was initially granted much creative leeway in developing the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Despite Kennedy’s earlier statement some years ago that she had wanted a creative approach to the franchise, the competing demands of effective time-management, crew leadership, and pleasing the heads at Lucasfilm trumped her wishes for director creativity.

Just three months ago, or on June 20, 2016, Kennedy had fired co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, formerly in charge of bringing the still-untitled Han Solo stand-alone movie to life. Then, as now, Lucasfilm had issued a face-saving statement that “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”

If you have been keeping track, Trevorrow is the fourth director to be let go from a Star Wars film. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were dismissed from the Han Solo movie set in June, 2017. And Gareth Edwards, whose filming of Rogue One gave it a very dark spin, was supplanted by Tony Gilroy in order to direct substantial reshoots and lighten up the mood. Similarly, Josh Trank was taken off of a Star Wars anthology film after allegations of a personality conflict with co-writer Simon Kinberg.

After several years of turmoil, Kathleen Kennedy’s initial preference for creative film-making and risk-taking by her directors may finally be curbed.

Possible replacements for Trevorrow include Rian Johnson, in charge of directing Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and J.J. Abrams, who co-wrote and directed The Force Awakens. Abrams is thought to be the strongest contender.

REVIEW: Rathtar and Bala-Tik

September 5, 2017 – It may have taken two years, but the ravenous Rathtar from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens has finally hit store shelves. As a reward for your patience, the multi-tentacled Rathtar comes with the Scottish-sounding Bala-Tik and several Force Link audio clips.

The Rathtar and Bala-Tik are embedded with electronic chips that activate sounds from your Force Link (sold separately).

The stuff of nightmares, the Rathtar is one hungry, toothy, open-mouthed creature that we predict will be a fan favorite for decades to come.

But first you have to assemble the creature. Out of the box, in one plastic bag, you will find the main body equipped with a permanently open mouth. In a second bag, 12 tentacles – all discretely labeled “A” through “L” – will challenge your patience as you attempt to securely attach each spindly appendage to the torso.

TIP: Lay out the 12 tentacles in alphabetical order (“A” through “L”). It will make your job somewhat easier as you attempt to insert each pegged appendage to the main body.

If you have trouble reading the small letters, here are the tentacles laid out in alphabetical order. Top row = A through F; bottom row = G through L. The letters are imprinted near the nub of each tentacle.

Simple instructions advise you where to place each tentacle. The pegs and receiving holes do not always securely fasten together, so try and twist or push them in firmly. If your tentacles keep falling out, you can always try a little glue.

The Rathtar is so ugly that, we dare say, it has its own elegant beauty as only Star Wars could bestow. The paint scheme appears faithful to the onscreen creature, including the rust-red body and tentacles, whitish belly, and pus-yellow boils.

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The Rathtar has no articulation – unless you count rotating each limb, which then risks them detaching and falling out.

There are, however, three great play features worth examining: First, the mouth is wide enough to swallow Bala-Tik or most any 3.75-inch figure up to his armpits.

Second, some of the plastic tentacles are curled and rigid enough to hold up your action figures and light objects in mid-air. Third, the Rathtar makes a gurgle-munching sound when your Force Link (sold separately) is activated.

Bala-Tik is a new 3.75-inch figure with five points of articulation: both arms rotate 360°; both legs swivel forward and, to a lesser degree, slightly back; and the head rotates left and right.

The facial sculpt and paint application are very well done, closely mimicking the onscreen appearance of Scottish actor Brian Vernel. While the figure is only 5POA and colored a solid black (save for the face), he stands upright easily and comes with a rather long rifle-blaster.

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When paired with the Force Link, Bala-Tik makes one of several sounds: “You’re a dead man”; “Find Kan!”; “Take the droids!”; “The rathtar has escaped!”; “Aaaaagh!”; single and double blaster shots.

MSRP is around $19.99 USD for this menacing duo. If you like odd and unique Star Wars creatures, want to add Bala-Tik to your collection, or enjoy the varied Force Link sounds, then this set is a must-have.

Supreme Leader Snoke (Throne Room) Now Available for Pre-Order at GameStop

September 1, 2017 – Today is Force Friday II and the confirmation of a rumor we first discussed here on May 6, 2017: Supreme Leader Snoke (Throne Room), a Black Series 6-inch action figure, is now available for pre-order as a GameStop exclusive.

Star Wars: The Black Series – The Last Jedi Supreme Leader Snoke (Throne Room) is a GameStop exclusive.

While not yet available at any GameStop store, you can pre-order Snoke online here for $39.99 plus tax and shipping. The cheapest shipping option in the U.S. will cost you another $5.99.

The Black Series 6-inch Snoke, dressed in gold-colored textile with a matching belt, comes complete with an impressive throne.

We look forward to seeing Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi, premiering Dec. 15, 2017, and comparing the accuracy of the Black Series action figure with his onscreen appearance.

Snokes’ backstory is still very much a big mystery. Is he a Force wielder or Force sensitive? Why is he so tall and where did he come from? Why is his face so battle-scarred? Hopefully The Last Jedi will fill in all the missing pieces.

REVIEW: Disney’s Halloween Droid R3-B0017

September 1, 2017 – Get ready for a possible new Halloween tradition, courtesy of Disney’s Droid Factory series: Disney has just released its all-new 3.75-inch droid, R3-B0017.

The font-type on the front and back of the card appears to read “R3-B0017” (zero-zero-one-seven). But it could just as easily be read and pronounced as “BOO17 (“Boo 17”), which sounds deliciously spooky. Under the naming conventions, the “17” probably refers to the current year, 2017.

Disney is not advertising this as a Halloween droid per se, so as to avoid any negative publicity and complaints from certain religious objectors. But the ghostly “Boo!” nomenclature and the timing of the release, along with all other manner of Halloween merchandise at Disney’s theme parks, suggest that something spooktacular is happening.

Reverse of the cardback for the R3-B0017 droid.

The narrative on the reverse of the cardback reads:

All different types of Astromech droids populate the Star Wars galaxy. Each droid is different and has their own unique personality and colors. This Astromech has been programmed to scavenge Dathomir and serve Darth Maul. Join R3-B0017 on his adventure throughout the galaxy.”

Visually, R3-B0017 is stunning. The other-worldly green tint will make this droid “pop” and stand out from the rest of your droid collection.

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The ghostly droid’s details include:

● A nearly transparent domed head which swivels 360°
● Paint is applied sparingly to preserve the ghostly appearance. The eye is colored black, a red dot for a “light” or LED appears below the eye, and four silver dots complete the domed head.
● It’s possible that lime-green paint was applied to highlight the rectangle which encases the black eye. If so, the painting was expertly done.
● The left and right legs are detachable and can swivel 360°.
● The left and right ankles rock slightly forward and back.
● A third or middle leg is detachable. The ankle does not rock forward or backward.
● The bottom of all three feet sport tiny wheels.

The bottom of the tiny feet come with even tinier wheels.

Like other head tops in Disney’s Droid Factory line, B0017’s domed head has a small, barely noticeable hole at the very top. The gap allows you to insert any number of droid hats (not included) from your other droids or from your spare parts.

But Does It Glow?

The ectoplasmic green tint does not, alas, glow in the dark. Alternatively, we wish Disney would have hidden an LED light or two inside the body to really bring R3-B0017 to life.

Internal illumination would be a perfect project for a customizer. Post a link in the comments below if you find any video or images of a glowing or pulsating B0017.

Where to Purchase R3-B0017

R3-B0017 retails for $12.99 at certain Disney theme parks as well as at Disney Springs (Orlando) and Downtown Disney (Anaheim). As of the posting date of this article, the Shop Disney Parks app does not yet offer this particular astromech droid.

R3-B0017 just hit Disney’s store shelves in late August, 2017.

The $12.99 price point is the same as last year’s Disney Halloween droid, which we wrote about HERE exactly one year ago. Last year’s R2-BOO was also showing off some major Halloween colors.

R3-B0017 (left) and R2-B00 (right), the possible start of a Disney droids Halloween tradition.

About Dathomir

The cardback narrative reads in part: “This Astromech has been programmed to scavenge Dathomir and serve Darth Maul.” You may remember Dathomir either from the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008-2014), Star Wars Rebels (since 2014), or from the Expanded Universe/Star Wars Legends.

From StarWars.com: “A remote planet, Dathomir is drenched in blood-red light from its central star. The planet has continents overrun by twisted vegetation, with forests of bent trees burdened by large, cocoon-like fruit. Bordering dense swamplands is the massive stone fortresses of the Nightsisters, a witch clan. The Nightsisters kept to themselves, but had on occasion been known to offer their services to those who piqued their interests. Far from the Nightsisters lived the Nightbrothers — a tattooed clan of Zabrak warriors were subservient to their female counterparts.”

In the following excerpt, Ezra and Darth Maul visit Dathomir:

“Star Wars – Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir”, Vol. 1 (voice-dubbed animated comic):

REVIEW: Why Disney’s BB-8 Is a BB-Bust

August 31, 2017 – For the most part, Disney’s Droid Factory line has been incredibly successful and well-received by collectors for producing popular and unique droids.

The glaring exception is the Droid Factory’s rendition of BB-8, which ought to be re-named “BB-Bust”. It is disappointingly lacking and way overpriced.

The Disney Droid Factory BB-8 (center) is tiny compared to the Target Exclusive version (left) and Hasbro’s version (right).

Retailing at $12.99, Disney’s version of the roly-poly droid from The Force Awakens is one of the smallest BB-8’s we have seen. Measuring just two inches tall (5cm), this Disney exclusive has a swivel head (360°) and no accessories. There are no interchangeable arms, no hidden compartments or ports, and no iconic “thumbs up” lighter.

The strength of this runt-sized BB-8 is the cleverly hidden weighted ball inside. You can spin and wobble the droid all you want, and he will always come to rest with his head properly positioned top side.

Don’t lose the inner grey ball; otherwise, you will never be able to reassemble this BB-8.

The head easily detaches, and the lower body can be twisted apart into two halves, revealing an inner gravity ball. The grey-silver ball is etched and well detailed, offering the illusion of the possible inner workings of the droid. Look closely and you will see the suggestion of red and blue painted lights.

Unfortunately, if you lose the gravity ball, then your BB-8 will become useless. The inner ball is required to connect both outer shells together and offers the only way to pose BB-8 upright.

The paint combination of white, orange and silver on the main body is sharp, clean and well done. The domed head also has bits of black for the rear antenna and the eye.

While a sandy dirt-wash would have been appreciated to make this BB-8 match his onscreen appearance, we don’t mind its absence. We will just call this clean-white version “ceremonial BB-8”.

(L to R): Target’s, Hasbro’s and Disney’s versions of BB-8.

As a single-carded release (a format Hasbro curiously never bothered to distribute), Disney’s Droid Factory BB-8 will please some, but also assuredly disappoint many others.

If you have a BB-8 shrine and collect all things BB-8, then go ahead and spend your money. But if you are a casual collector, your money might be better spent elsewhere than on this plain gumball-sized droid.

(L to R): Target Exclusive BB-8 from the 3-pack droids box; Disney’s Droid Factory BB-8; and The Black Series Rey (Jakku) & BB-8 combination.

The Droid Factory BB-8 can be purchased at Disney’s theme parks, Downtown Disney (Anaheim), Disney Springs (Orlando), the Shop Disney Parks app or Disney online. Also check Ebay listings here.