November 21, 2017 – The advertising drumbeat continues as we gear up for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Two 30-second TV spots to consider:
November 19, 2017 – Total running time for Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be 150 minutes, including approximately 25 minutes of credits time – the longest amongst all Star Wars movies. So if you are planning on sitting for the entire 2.5 hours of movie time, you might want to forego that super-large drink.
The previous record-holder in the franchise was Attack of the Clones (2002) at 142 minutes. By contrast, The Force Awakens (2016) is a relatively svelte 124 minutes long.
The shortest live-action movie of the saga was the original, A New Hope (1977), clocking in at 2 hours 1 minute. (The Clone Wars (2008), which runs for only 1 hour 30 minutes, is animated, so we don’t count it in the traditional list.)
So how long were the other movies?
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – 2h 4m
Return of the Jedi (1983) – 2h 14m
The Phantom Menace (1999) – 2h 13m
Attack of the Clones (2002) – 2h 22m
Revenge of the Sith (2005) – 2h 20m
Rogue One (2016) – 2h 13m
If you were to watch all the films – from the original Star Wars through Rogue One as well as The Clone Wars – you would need to sit for 19 hours and 1 minute.
The Last Jedi will first premiere in Los Angeles, California on Dec. 9th before debuting worldwide on staggered dates, e.g., Dec. 13th (France, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Taiwan); Dec. 14th (UK, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong); Dec. 15th (USA, Canada, Spain, Japan, Philippines); and Jan. 8, 2018 (China).
Total viewing time for the entire saga, including The Last Jedi, will then become 21 hours and 31 minutes – still under a day.
November 17, 2017 – Disney revealed today the name of the remote outpost planet you will be visiting whenever you step foot in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – Disney’s new themed land under construction in both Disneyland (Anaheim, Calif.) and Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (Orlando, Florida). The planet’s name is Batuu.
In addition, Disney today has begun running new film sequences for its Star Tours motion simulator attraction. Each tour is randomized so, for example, your tour will begin with either an encounter with Kylo Ren or a floating droid looking for a rebel spy. After a visit to the desert planet Jakku, a hologram of either Maz Kanata, Poe Dameron, or BB-8 will appear, asking for help. Your vehicle will then fly to the mineral planet of Crait before landing at Batuu.
You can watch one variation in the BlogMickey.com video below. Avoid watching the video, however, if you wish to avoid any potential “spoiler” scenes of Crait from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (The video appears “blurry” because it requires 3-D glasses to view correctly.)
Effective today, your Star Tours ride will no longer combine a visit to any of the planets seen in Episodes I through VI with planets from the sequels (VII through IX). Instead, if you want to visit some of the Original Trilogy or prequels planets (Hoth, Tatooine, Kashyyyk, Naboo), you will head for one queue. If you want to visit planets appearing in the sequels, you will be directed into a separate queue.
Each ride involves two randomly sequenced visits to two planets. There are at least 54 different ride combinations, randomly generated, involving different opening scenes, holograms, planets visited, and ending scenes.
The Star Tours attraction is currently open. However, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will not open in Disneyland until sometime in the summer of 2019 and then later in 2019 at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.
November 15, 2017 – It’s T-minus-30 days and counting until the launch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Dec. 15th.
Episode VIII could just as easily have been subtitled “The Darkness Rises”, considering how grim and gritty TLJ appears to be. The narrator’s warning (“may be too intense for younger viewers”) only underscores the dark chapters ahead.
In addition, we will finally see how Lucasfilm and director Rian Johnson gently retire Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Grim times, indeed.
November 14, 2017 – In the late 1970’s, Kenner sold ten different large-sized dolls whose characters were popularized in Star Wars (1977). The 12-inch scale dolls included Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, C-3PO, R2-D2, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, a Stormtrooper, and a Jawa. With the release of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Kenner added Boba Fett and IG-88 – and that was it.
Kenner did not find the 12-inch line to be as popular or as profitable as the 3.75-inch action figures, so it cancelled the line.
During the modern era of Star Wars merchandising, various 12-inch scale dolls have been produced with the release of each successive Star Wars movie. For many consumers and collectors, however, the 12-inch figures have been an afterthought if not altogether invisible. In fact, some collectors have derisively called these larger figures “shampoo bottles”.
Based on his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, this Yoda really “pops” visually. Maybe it’s his larger size, or maybe it’s all the amazing accessories he comes with, or maybe it’s the expert painting and sculpting of the head that captures the very feel and look of Yoda. For whatever reason, this version may well become a fan favorite.
The loose accessories include a brown gimer stick (the one with which he beat R2-D2 on Dagobah), a candy cane-striped snake in alternating colors of cream and orangey-red, and a green lightsaber.
In addition, hanging loosely around Yoda’s neck is a dark brown “blissl“, a musical instrument similar to a pan flute. For fear of damaging the plastic neck cord, we did not attempt to remove the blissl.
Admittedly, the green lightsaber is not movie-accurate for this Empire version of Yoda. The lightsaber doesn’t show up on screen until the prequels. It is also far too long at 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) – though you could separate the hilt and simply let Yoda carry that alone.
Yoda has seven points of articulation: swivel shoulders, swivel wrists, rotating head, and robed legs (they are molded together) that can barely swivel forward at the hips (less than 45°) but not backward.
There are no soft goods. The robe is molded plastic. But despite all the foregoing minor deficiencies, this is one well-painted Yoda (those eyes!) that any child or older collecting adult might appreciate receiving for the Holidays.
Perhaps the best part is the low price: Amazon is selling Yoda for only $9.99. Yoda has also been spotted at ToysRUs (US), Forbidden Planet (UK), La Grande Récré (France) and elsewhere.
Just in time for Christmas and the Holidays, the 12-inch Shoretrooper ought to appeal to kids of all ages and sizes.
The Shoretrooper stands 11.5 inches (29 cm) tall, so he can fit comfortably in the 12-inch Rogue One box.
Released in May, 2017, the Shoretrooper is beautifully sculpted with lots of details to admire: the sharply contoured helmet, the body armor, the utility belt, the shin guards.
Basic articulation includes a ball-jointed head (he can nod up and down), swivel shoulders, swivel wrists and swivel hips. Mercifully, both hands can easily and securely hold the Shoretrooper’s one accessory, an all-black blaster rifle.
As a solid and durable piece of plastic – and not a shampoo bottle – this action figure is perfect for young kids who might subject it to rough play. As a piece of shelf art, this figure is also perfect for the army-building collector in your life.
MSRP is $9.99 USD, though Amazon currently lists it at $10.99.
November 12, 2017 – For Star Wars collectors, something has fundamentally changed in the hunt for collectibles and, more specifically, action figures.
Ten years ago, during Star Wars‘ 30th anniversary, it was fairly easy to visit your local toy store and to find successive waves of fresh and new 3.75-inch action figures. But in the last five years or so, both the quantity and selection of figures has substantially shrunk.
It’s tempting to point to the Disney era, beginning in 2012 when the Walt Disney Co. purchased Lucasfilm and all its merchandising rights, and to blame the Mouse for strangling Hasbro’s ability to freely distribute action figures.
Complainants theorize that Disney is overly secretive about new characters in upcoming movies (thus giving Hasbro far less time to plan, execute and distribute its merchandise); or that the movie cycle is too tight, almost one new movie a year (thus truncating the normal 18-month turnaround cycle for new toys); or that Disney is intentionally restricting Hasbro’s license so that Disney might, at some point in the future, carve out a larger market-share of its own brand of Star Wars figures and merchandise.
There may be some truth to the Disney finger-pointing. But it’s also likely that other market forces are at work. The dramatic rise of online retailing and the decline of brick-and-mortar stores, for example, mean fewer case assortments of action figures are reaching store shelves.
Similarly, demographic markets are changing. There is anecdotal evidence that today’s children of toy-playing age simply aren’t as heavily invested in hands-on playing as were earlier generations. Digital gaming, iPads and smart devices appear to be the preferred distraction for young children.
Then there’s Hasbro, Inc., the American multinational toy and board game company. In 2016, its total revenue was about $5.01 billion dollars. Hasbro’s Star Wars license is just a sliver of the company’s revenue, and Star Wars action figures are an even tinier component. And so despite the many protestations from collectors that Hasbro should “do this” or “do that”, collectors are like the proverbial mouse that squeaks, but the Hasbro lion simply moves its sleepy head and nods back off to sleep.
Some toy-industry insiders also point to personnel changes within Hasbro. The creative team in charge of Star Wars merchandise at the nearly 94-year-old company has changed from a decade ago. All it takes is the loss of one or two key decision-makers or proponents within the company to alter the distribution flow of action figures.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a good example to study because the movie-related merchandise rolled out over a year ago, or on Sept. 30, 2016, to be exact – and because Rogue One action figures are fairly limited in number due to the movie being sandwiched between two other Star Wars movies (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi).
So you would think it would be fairly easy to acquire the entire line of 3.75-inch Rogue One action figures. But you would be wrong. Here’s why:
Wave 1 and Wave 2 action figures are almost always stocked and released in plentiful supply both to your local toy store and to online vendors. You should have had no trouble finding these figures:
Jyn Erso (Eadu)
Kanan (Stormtrooper) from Star Wars Rebels
Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels
Imperial Ground Crew
Princess Leia from Star Wars Rebels
Jyn Erso (Jedha)
Captain Cassian Andor
One year later, if some of the above figures are still not clogging your local toy aisles, you can probably now find them shuffled off to discount retailers.
Now compare the final two waves of Rogue One figures and see if you can find them at any toy store:
Death Trooper Specialist
Jyn Erso in Imperial Ground Crew Disguise
Grand Admiral Thrawn from Star Wars Rebels
Princess Leia from Star Wars Rebels (a repack)
Fenn Rau from Star Wars Rebels
With very few exceptions, the answer is “No”. You would be hard-pressed to find Waves 3 or 4 locally. Not surprisingly, store managers will not order subsequent waves when earlier waves of product are still sitting on pegs and shelves.
Serious collectors have already accepted the reality that pre-orders and online purchases are the best guarantees of acquiring a complete line of action figures. Railing against Amazon or Disney or Hasbro will not change the paradigm shift.
If you are still looking for Wave 3, EntertainmentEarth.com currently has the 6-figure lot available for $49.99 USD.
The thrill of the hunt of yesteryear is now replaced with the convenience of home delivery. If you order a 6-figure (Wave 3) lot from Entertainment Earth, it will come double-boxed.
The real mystery is why Hasbro even bothers with a Wave 3 or Wave 4 of action figures, which most consumers never know about or much less see. Until the insiders at Hasbro reveal their marketing and distribution strategies (highly unlikely), we may never know.
November 10, 2017 – Disney announced yesterday that it will produce a fourth trilogy of Star Wars films led by Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Johnson wrote and directed the eighth Star Wars movie, set to debut Dec. 15th.
The fourth trilogy will be entirely separate from the long nine-movie tale of the Skywalker family, which began with the first Star Wars film in May, 1977, and will conclude with the premiere of Episode IX (no title yet) on Dec. 20th, 2019.
According to starwars.com, the fourth trilogy will “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” No other details were provided.
In addition, Disney announced it will produce a live-action Star Wars television series to air on its new streaming service in 2019. Remarkably, this would be the first live-action Star Wars production for television since the oft-mocked Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978.
Predictably, fan reaction on social media to the announcement of the fourth trilogy has been all over the place. Sifting through the comments, the reactions have ranged from excitement to bemusement to jaded disappointment. Fans have expressed the following:
1. Too much, too soon, to digest: Some longtime Star Wars fans appreciated the three-year gap or breather between films when George Lucas was in control. They fear that an annual or even twice-a-year rollout of films will be like the kid in the proverbial candy store exposed to far too much candy.
2. Corporate cash grab?: Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 raised early fears five years ago that the Walt Disney Co. would put too much emphasis into quarterly profits while losing sight of its special trustee role as custodian of the Star Wars saga. Yesterday’s announcement by Disney has reinforced those critics’ fears.
3. Sheer Excitement: Yet many other fans have greeted news of the fourth trilogy with excitement. “Bring it on!” they say. “You don’t have to watch or enjoy every movie that comes out. You can pick and choose.” For many, we are in the midst of a new Golden Age of Star Wars.
4. Cautious Optimism: Call them realists or cautious optimists, but yet another group of fans point out that the last 40 years of Star Wars movies and animated series have produced some classic hits and some productions they would rather ignore. And so they expect more of the same highs and lows in the future and are receptive to seeing what Disney/Lucasfilm have in store.
5. “But what about my collection?” If you are a collector and a completist, keeping up with the endless production line of Star Wars merchandise can be both fulfilling and exhausting. Some collectors are hinting that they might bail out of their hobby while others are adopting a wait-and-see approach.
6. New Opportunities: Perhaps the best comments focus on the many new opportunities for the Star Wars universe to explore, whether it’s an exploratory dive into the early years of The Old Republic or highly focused movies on “droids and aliens only” or all manner of esoteric anthologies.
For better or worse, the Star Wars candy store is now open 24 hours.