“The Last Jedi”: Carrie Fisher’s Final Star Wars Film

May 9, 2017 – Despite a previous statement from Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s brother, that the late actress would appear in Star Wars Episode IX, Disney has clarified that Episode VIII, The Last Jedi, will be her last film.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

In an interview with ABC News on April 14th, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that Carrie Fisher will not be in Episode IX. Asked about Todd Fisher’s remarks stating otherwise, Kennedy said:

“He was probably confused because we finished everything in [Episode] VIII, and Carrie is absolutely phenomenal in the movie. And we’re so happy that we were able to complete shooting in the summer. Unfortunately, Carrie passed away, so by the time we were well underway with Episode IX – in our thoughts, we had not written the script yet – but we’ve regrouped. We started over again in January. So sadly Carrie will not be in IX. We’ll see a lot of her in VIII, which is great.”

It’s probable that Disney/Lucasfilm had approached Todd Fisher and Carrie’s daughter, Billie Lourd, about the possibility of using completed footage of Carrie Fisher in the final episode. The Fisher family had agreed and had given legal permission. Since then, however, Disney/Lucasfilm have made a final decision to write Carrie out of Episode IX.

How the creative minds at Lucasfilm will explain the absence of General Leia in Episode IX is unknown at this time. Possibilities include killing off her character toward the end of VIII or explaining her demise during the opening crawl of IX. Another option is for Leia’s character to live on, but to leave her (visually, at least) out of any footage in IX.

The writers and producers will have to tread extremely carefully when it comes to one of the most beloved actresses in the Star Wars universe. At a minimum, fans will expect a credible and poignant send-off, and not simply an abrupt write-off of her character.

Director Colin Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly had originally planned to include Leia in the final movie. But they were forced to rethink the storyline and Leia’s role in it after Carrie Fisher’s unexpected passing last December.

Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly: “Obviously, with Carrie having passed away, it shook everybody. We pretty much started over.”

For now, all eyes are on the next installment, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Rumors have been swirling, even before Carrie Fisher’s passing, that we would finally see Leia use her Force abilities in the defense of others.

Oscar Isaac and Carrie Fisher (Photo Credit: Lucasfilm)

Oscar Isaac, who plays Resistance pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens and the upcoming The Last Jedi, dropped a tantalyzing clue last month in an interview with Business Insider.

He said he had filmed a heated and intense moment with Carrie Fisher: “It was basically my first day [on set] and we did about 25 takes total. Half of them were on me and half of them were on her. I can’t give anything away, but there was a scene where there was some physicality there and it was shot just over and over and over. She relished the physicality of it, let me just say. It was pretty intense. It will be funny to see what they cut together based on that.”

By some accounts, General Leia will have a much larger screen presence in TLJ than she did in TFA. Recall that she is dealing with the knowledge that her own son has murdered Han Solo and she is now grappling with the same issue that Luke had faced in confronting their father over three decades earlier: Is redemption possible?

We will likely find out on December 15, 2017, when The Last Jedi premieres.

Supreme Leader Snoke and Other Figures Coming “Soon”?

May 6, 2017 – A reader on a JTA forum recently posted a snapshot of the following GameStop internal memo:

A peek at possible 6-inch action figures coming “soon”?

We put coming “soon” in quotes because The Force Awakens was released Dec. 18, 2015 – nearly 1 1/2 years ago – and still, Hasbro has not released a TFA Luke or a Supreme Leader Snoke.

If the above GameStop pre-order list is true, we may at last see an incarnation – at least in plastic – of a Snoke posed sitting on his throne as well as a possible stand-alone Snoke.

The list of Star Wars Black Series 6-inch figures (with some editorial comments in red) reads as follows:

AF SW BLK 6in E1 Qui Gon Jinn (Price) 22.99
AF SW BLK 6in E4 Darth Vador SD9/1 22.99
(Note misspelling of “Vader”. This may be a 40th Anniversary Legacy repack of Vader.)

AF SW BLK 6in E4 Stormtrooper SD9/1 22.99 (a possible repack)
AF SW BLK 6in E5 Lando Calrissian 22.99
AF SW BLK 6in E6 Imperial Royal Guar(d) 22.99

AF SW BLK 6in E8 Cool Beta SD 9/1 22.99
(“Cool Beta” = Hasbro code name for ____? from E8/Episode VIII)

AF SW BLK 6in E8 Foxtrot SD 9/1 22.99 (“Foxtrot” = Hasbro code name for ____?)
AF SW BLK 6in R Blue Leader SD 9/1 22.99
(“Blue Leader” = Hasbro code name for ____? Best guess: Rogue One General Anton Merrick killed in the Battle of Scarif. “R” might = Rogue One)
AF SW BLK 6in VICTOR 2 w THRONE EXCL(USIVE) 39.99 (Note the higher price of $39.00. “Victor” may be a codename for Snoke from Star Wars Episode VIII, and this GameStop exclusive includes his throne.)
AF SW BLK 6in E8 Victor SD 9/1 22.99 (This is likely a stand-alone 6-inch Supreme Leader Snoke from Ep. VIII.)
AF SW BLK 6in E8 BL GUARDS OF EVIL 4PK EXCL 89.99 (Another GameStop exclusive. Get ready for a Black Series 4-pack to include an unknown combination of Royal Guards, either from past episodes or an introduction of old-style and new Royal Guards that accompany Snoke.)

We express no opinion on the “Poopy Butthole 5in” action figure referenced at the top of the GameStop list (see photo) – mostly because it has nothing to do with Star Wars.

We will know how much of the GameStop list is accurate or comes to fruition by Sept. 1, 2017, when Force Friday II launches globally to celebrate the launch of Star Wars: The Last Jedi products. The Last Jedi premieres Dec. 15, 2017.

How To Respond If Someone Wishes You “Happy Star Wars Day”

May 4, 2017 – There are several possible responses if someone runs up to you and says “Happy May the Fourth Be with You” or, dreadfully, “Happy Star Wars Day”:

1. You could smile wanly and say “Thank You” or “May the Fourth be with you as well”;

2. Roll your eyes and take another swig from your beer bottle/wine glass;

3. But our favorite response just might be:

Perhaps Batman got it right.

Choose wisely. And May the Fourth be….

REVIEW: Disney’s Artoo-Detoo and See-Threepio

May 4, 2017 – This month marks the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, and what better way to celebrate it than to revisit two old friends: R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Disney’s Droid Factory line has released a combo two-pack of our favorite droids who we first met on the Tantive IV in the original Star Wars movie 40 years ago.

From the special packaging, which pays homage to the very beginnings of our droids’ journey, to the super-articulation and the dusty Tatooine sand-colored paint wash on the two figures, there is much to love about Disney’s latest release.

What We Like

Collectors will absolutely love the packaging, with its classic black-and-white Star Wars logo and double-lines, the image of R2-D2 and C-3PO lost in the sands of Tatooine, and the two bubble-enclosed droids on the cardback.

Disney paid special attention to the packaging and got the details right by using the original long-form spelling of “Artoo Detoo” and “See-Threepio”, an echo from the original movie and Kenner toy line four decades ago. A shiny foil sticker with the 40th anniversary logo, placed on the top right of the cardback, is a nice reminder of how far we have come.

TIP: To preserve the cardback, use an X-ACTO knife. Slice open only the left, right and bottom of the bubble to release the figures.

The only thing missing is the vintage “Kenner” label, which is now replaced with a “Droid Factory” label at the top left of the card. And we couldn’t be happier. Where Hasbro has failed fans over the last five years, Disney’s Droid Factory line is now filling the void with its super-articulated 3.75-inch figures, new astromech and protocol droids, and careful paint applications.

The two-pack was revealed just three weeks ago when Disney Parks announced at Star Wars Celebration Orlando (April 13-16, 2017) that Protocol Droids were now a part of the Droid Factory experience. The combo of Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) and See-Threepio (C-3PO) is among the first of Disney’s Star Wars 40th anniversary commemoratives.

C-3PO comes with an impressive 21 points of articulation, including a swivel head, swivel shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, swivel wrists, ball-jointed torso, swivel hips, and ball-jointed knees and ankles.

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In addition to C-3PO’s dirt wash, you will notice that his lower right leg is painted silver. Some longtime fans claim that both legs have always been gold. Others believe the lower right leg was originally silver.

Some of the ongoing discussion can be found HERE. But we will accept the word of Anthony Daniels, who has occupied Threepio’s suit since Day One. In an interview with USAToday in December, 2015, he asserted the lower right leg was originally silver. Daniels recalled, “Even the stills photographer, John Jay, came up to me one day and said, ‘Why are you wearing a silver leg today.’ Now, he was the stills photographer, and he hadn’t noticed.”

By contrast, Artoo has never been the subject of much controversy. Depending on the scene, either he is scuffed and dirty, or he is polished up and shiny – ceremonial Artoo, anyone?

But it is the sand-blasted version we prefer, evoking memories of the duo’s adventures on Tatooine.

Artoo has eight points of articulation: a swivel dome, swivel legs, swivel feet, hinge-jointed left and right legs, and a hinge-jointed third or middle leg. In addition, all three legs have tiny wheels at the bottom of the feet, so you can roll Artoo any which way.

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What We Do Not Like

The Disney Team goofed when they wrote on the back of the card: “C-3PO is a Protocol droid that is fluent in more than seven million forms of communication.” As this version of C-3PO is from the Original Trilogy, the correct usage is “more than six million”.

Here is the proof from Return of the Jedi (1983);

But, hey, what’s another million? Unless we’re talking money….

Priced at $24.99, this is not a cheap purchase, and we wish the price were not so Disney-inflated and more budget friendly to kids and collectors alike. Nonetheless, you can still save 20% if you or someone you know has a Disney Annual Pass or Disney Vacation Club (timeshare) membership.

The duo are available either in certain stores at Disney Theme Parks or via the Shop Disney Parks app. The app will pinpoint the store(s) and provide stock availability.

On Ebay, the duo are currently listed anywhere from $35 to $45.

Released in April, 2017, these are the newest Disney Droid Factory droids (L to R): R-3DO, Artoo-Detoo & See-Threepio, and C1-10P “Chopper”

REVIEW: Disney’s R-3DO

May 2, 2017 – Disney’s all-new R-3DO protocol droid was first offered at Star Wars Celebration Orlando (April 13-16, 2017). But you can find the bright red droid with the piercing yellow eyes at certain Disney Theme Park stores and, on occasion, using the Shop Disney Parks app ($12.99).

But first a question: What is the difference between a red Tootsie Roll Pop and the bright red figure from Disney’s Droid Factory?

ANSWER: They are both luminescently red, but the Tootsie Pop is zero-POA while R-3DO is 21POA.

All kidding aside, you might actually enjoy having a Tootsie Pop more.

What We Don’t Like

Collectors’ hunger for super-articulated figures is so great that they might well be happy with the super-poseable R-3DO, which offers an impressive 21 points of articulation.

While we are thrilled with the return of articulated joints, the fundamental problem with R-3DO is the oddly bright-red coloring. Visually the shiny red hue reminds us of candy – a Tootsie Roll Pop or a gummy bear, perhaps. In our view, the action figure’s color does not match the R-3DO character seen standing behind General Leia on the tarmac in The Force Awakens. A more muted, darker tone of red would have been a better match.

Essentially, this is a clone of C-3PO with new paint coloring. Aesthetically, we can’t believe the bright red figure will be anyone’s favorite to collect or display.

But if you are a collector of Disney’s Droid Factory figures, or a big droid fan in general, or seek every last The Force Awakens figure, then all that red plastic will not dissuade you from purchasing him.

What We Do Like

Once you get beyond the splash of red, R-3DO is a fun figure to pose.

He has 21 points of articulation: a swivel head, swivel shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, swivel wrists, a ball-jointed torso, swivel hips, ball-jointed knees, and ball-jointed ankles.

And because R-3DO is symmetrical, slim and lightweight, he doesn’t have an off-center or heavy center of gravity. So posing the droid is relatively easy.

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Priced at $12.99, R-3DO will not please everyone’s budget. However, if you or someone you know has a Disney Annual Pass or Disney Vacation Club (timeshare) membership, you can buy the droid at 20% off, or for $10.39.

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If you decide to pass on this purchase, R-3DO’s absence from your collection likely will not be noticed. There will always be better protocol and astromech droids coming down the pipeline from the Droid Factory collection. And for that, we have to say, “Thank you, Disney!”

Current Voting Tally in Fans’ Choice Poll for The Vintage Collection

April 29, 2017 – Hasbro and StarWars.com have narrowed the selection to six characters in The Vintage Collection Fans’ Choice Poll. You have until 12:00 PDT/3:00 PM EDT, Tuesday, May 2nd, to cast your vote for the next 3.75-inch figure in the 2018 line.

The current vote tally, as of the morning of April 29th, shows the following results:

The six candidates are an interesting mix, offering a variety of choices to fans of the Original Trilogy, Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars, and the Expanded Universe.

The final six candidates in The Vintage Collection Fans’ Choice Poll. Voting ends May 2, 2017, at 12:00 pm PDT.

Meet the Six Candidates

(1) Doctor Aphra: With 29% of the vote, Doctor Aphra has a surprisingly wide lead. This is no doubt a testament to the great popularity of the new Star Wars: Doctor Aphra comic book series, launched in October, 2016.

As the new anti-hero, Doctor Aphra debuted in Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader No. 3 (2015) as a secondary character. Within two years, however, the snarky and popular personality has become a lead character and a fan favorite.

HollywoodReporter.com describes her as “a self-proclaimed ‘rogue archaeologist’. She’s essentially an inverse Indiana Jones obsessed with discovering weapons not to store in a museum, but to be used. It’s a concept that makes her a fascinating anti-hero, but allows for some great set pieces as she gets herself into scrapes uncovering her latest treasure…She, by her very nature, illustrates a moral complexity somewhat unusual in Star Wars. Aphra is very clearly not a hero, nor even a good person — something demonstrated when she clashes with the Rebellion in issues of Star Wars — but she’s not exactly a villain, either, despite being allied with the Empire. Think of her as an archaeologist version of the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back, perhaps.”

(2) Ahsoka Tano: The next vote-leader at 20% is Ahsoka Tano. For fans of Star Wars Rebels, she needs no introduction. Her action figure almost always sells out quickly.

Ahsoka’s inclusion in the poll is a head-scratcher and we can’t help but wonder why she is a finalist. A super-articulated 3.75-inch Ahsoka, with 22 points of articulation, was already released in September, 2016, in The Black Series (Walmart Exclusive) line.

One of the purposes of the Fans’ Choice Poll is to select the more obscure characters, whom fans hope to bring to Hasbro’s attention with the goal of producing a super-articulated figure. While we love Ahsoka, it’s time to give another character a chance at production.

(3) Yak Face: Coming in at No. 3 is Saelt-Marae (Yak Face) with 16% of the vote. Original Trilogy fans will no doubt be thrilled that this tertiary character (he doesn’t have any speaking lines and is seen, only briefly, lurking in the background) has made the Final Six.

Star Wars fans and collectors love their esoteric characters. The weirder, the better. If characters have appeared in the Cantina bar, Jabba’s Palace, or Maz Kanata’s Castle, bring ’em on.

Saelt-Marae (Yak Face) posed as a harmless merchant but was really an informant for Jabba the Hutt. When Jabba died at the Great Pit of Carkoon, Yak Face stole many of his secret financial records and disappeared. Now, however, he has a decent shot at re-appearing, at least as a super-articulated action figure.

(4) ARC Trooper Fives: So far, Fives has received 15% of the fan vote. The more clone troopers, the better.

“Also known as CT-27-5555, Fives trained with Domino Squad on Kamino before being shipped out to the Rishi Moon listening outpost. He survived the Separatist attack on the station there, and was transferred to the 501st Legion alongside his squadmate and fellow survivor, Echo. Fives and Echo were promoted to ARC trooper status after the defense of Kamino from Separatist invaders. He and Echo were later assigned with the difficult mission of freeing Republic prisoners from the daunting Citadel prison installation on Lola Sayu. He and Echo were later part of a mission to free Republic prisoners from the Separatist prison called the Citadel. Echo fell in battle, leaving Fives as Domino.” [Source: StarWars.com]

(5) Emperor Palpatine: No one doubts the popular appeal of the ancient master of evil, Emperor Palpatine, who has garnered 11% of the vote. But similar to the elevation of Ahsoka Tano, we can’t help but wonder why he is in the Final Six.

Hasbro has, is, and will always produce an Emperor Palpatine. It’s time to give the more obscure characters a chance to shine.

(6) Sim Aloo: Similar to Yak Face, Sim Aloo is one of those in-the-background characters from the Original Trilogy that has no speaking lines and no significant role. His inclusion in the Final Six says more about the esoteric and nostalgic mystique and pull of Sim Aloo, than about his role in the story of Star Wars.

So who is your favorite in the Final Six? Vote now and let your voice be heard.

REVIEW: Disney’s C1-10P “CHOPPER”

April 28, 2017 – Disney’s amazing Droid Factory series never ceases to impress. Disneys latest release, the ever popular C1-10P droid, or “Chopper”, packs an incredible punch in its little 2.25-inch tall frame.

An all-new release (April 2017), the sassy droid allows you to replicate its numerous scenes and poses as seen in Star Wars Rebels. In fact, we counted an impressive 16 points of articulation (up from only 3 POA’s in Hasbro’s oft-criticized version).

Disney’s Chopper will take pride of place in either your Star Wars Rebels collection or in your droid display. There are so many admirable qualities (yes, we are gushing), where to begin?

First, the paint applications are sharp and detailed, faithfully mimicking the on-screen droid.

Second, Chopper comes with 16 points of articulation (listed below). You will find near-limitless ways to pose and display the little runt droid.

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Third, the purposely mismatched droid comes with four legs: Out of the package, three legs are already attached, including a wheeled left leg, a different-looking wheeled right leg, and a middle leg whose wheel looks suspiciously like it came from a shopping cart. The fourth extra leg is a loose accessory, which allows you to re-enact the Season 2 episode, “The Forgotten Droid”. In that episode, Chopper steals another astromech’s leg.

We’re so glad Disney noticed!

Finally, the middle leg (the shopping cart wheeled leg) can be removed and replaced with a booster jet.

How Hasbro’s 2014 Version Differs

Hasbro was the first to release its version of Chopper in November, 2014, in the Rebels Saga Legends toy line. Priced then at $6.99, the Ralph McQuarrie-inspired droid was difficult to find perhaps due to the popularity of Star Wars Rebels and its brave droid, or perhaps due to Hasbro’s failure to produce sufficient quantities.

At first glance, Hasbro’s Chopper is a beauty to behold with its bright orange dome and nicely executed paint applications. But the No. 1 complaint from fans has been the droid’s woefully limited articulation: The articulation includes a swivel dome and two swivel legs. That’s it.

Hasbro’s Chopper (left) versus Disney’s Chopper (right) [Photo Credit: thefwoosh.com]

Missing from Hasbro’s lazy version is Chopper’s unique third leg – humorously, on-screen it looks suspiciously like a shopping cart wheel. Also missing is the jet booster, which allows Chopper to fly around. And most glaring of all are the missing arm attachments, which extend from Chopper’s dome and are a key design feature from the late great Ralph McQuarrie.

In the video below, YouTuber SithLord229 (“Steve”) points out the flaws of Hasbro’s 2014 Chopper:

Disney’s C1-10P fixes all those shortcomings with its incredible sixteen (16!) points of articulation: swivel dome, moveable antenna, swivel front repair arm, left shoulder, right shoulder, double-jointed left arm, double-jointed right arm, swivel left leg, swivel right leg, hinged left foot, hinged right foot, and rolling wheels on all three legs.

In addition, Disney’s Chopper comes with two accessories: a booster rocket (pull off the third wheeled-leg and insert the rocket) and an interchangeable right leg.

Where to Find Disney’s Chopper

Chopper was ostensibly a Star Wars Celebration Orlando exclusive (April 13-16, 2017) available at the Disney exhibit on the main show floor. But that “exclusive” label is a bit misleading because nowhere on the packaging – either through an “SWCO” exclusive label or unique markings – does this figure appear any different from the version you can now find at certain Disney Parks.

We picked up our version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando at the “Mickey’s of Hollywood” store near the park entrance. Priced at $12.99 (or $10.39 with your Annual Passholder 20% discount or Disney Vacation Club 20% discount), Chopper will add great value to your collection of droids or Rebels characters.

Just over a week ago, Chopper was briefly available for purchase on the Shop Disney Parks app with shipping to U.S. addresses. Currently, however, Chopper is only available for in-store purchase. Use the app to locate the store(s) and stock availability.

Buy two Choppers: You’ll be doubly grateful!

A Complementary Point of View