“Solo: A Star Wars Story” Title Revealed

October 17, 2017 – Director Ron Howard today revealed the official name of the next anthology film: Solo: A Star Wars Story. In his Twitter announcement, he wrote that “we just wrapped production” – indicating that principal photography is now done.

Some fans stated on social media that the title left them underwhelmed. Others liked the short, to-the-point title. Still others pointed to the consistency of the nomenclature – both Solo and Rogue One, its predecessor, carry the suffix-title “A Star Wars Story”.

As a background story, Solo takes place prior to the events of the Original Trilogy.

Expect to see the movie hit theaters on May 25, 2018.


“Star Wars Rebels” Final Season Begins Monday, October 16th

October 15, 2017 – The fourth and final season of the animated Star Wars Rebels will begin on Monday, October 16th.

A one-hour episode, “Heroes of Mandalore: Parts One and Two”, will be broadcast five times throughout the day. You can watch it on the Disney XD channel or on the DisneyNow app at 12:30 AM, 3:00 AM, 7:30 AM, 5:30 PM and 9:00 PM EDT/PDT (US) or 9:00 PM and 12:00 midnight (Disney XD Canada). Check your country’s local listings for other show times.

According to the Lucasfilm press release: “Sabine leads Ezra, Kanan and an army of her fellow Mandalorians back to her home world to rescue her father from the clutches of the Empire. When she discovers the Empire has resurrected a devastating weapon, she must decide whether to destroy it or use it herself.”

In the meanwhile, you can watch a 5-minute recap of the first three seasons below:

Will Kanan and Ezra die? Will Thrawn survive to fight another day? What will happen to the rest of the Ghost crew? What really happened to Ahsoka Tano? Tune in and see.

REVIEW: Rancor Rumble Hot Wheels Playset

October 14, 2017 – The Rancor Rumble Hot Wheels playset hit store shelves over a year ago on Force Friday (Sept. 30, 2016).

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The original MSRP of $25.00 to $30.00 USD (depending on the vendor) may have struck some consumers as a tad high. But for those willing to wait a year, discount prices are now here: Amazon once priced the set at $10.00 but now it’s at $20.32, Ross Dress for Less $12.00, and Tuesday Morning $14.99, among others.

The Rancor Rumble playset will likely appeal most strongly to collectors of Star Wars character cars (this set has the exclusive Gamorrean Guard vehicle); or to a subset of collectors who focus on all things related to Jabba the Hutt and his lair; or to kids who enjoy a well-designed playset.

Rancor Rumble is an engineering and design marvel. The playset’s 12 pieces (or 13, if you include the car) are easy to assemble. The marvel and mystery relate to Mattel’s packaging team and design engineers: How were they able to cram all the oddly shaped pieces into an oblong box which is only 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) high?

Box dimensions are 18″ L x 10″ W x 2.5″ H (45.7 cm L x 25.4 cm W x 6.4 cm H). Once assembled, the playset stands about 10.5″ tall, 15″ wide and 9.5″ deep (38 cm L x 26.7 cm W x 24 cm H).

Unboxing and Assembling the Pieces

Perforations at the back of the box are the first clue as to how to open the box. Don’t try to open the left or right box flaps, as they are super-glued shut. Use the hinged opening at the back of the box to remove the playset pieces and the Gamorrean Guard vehicle.

Perforations at the back of the box offer a hinged opening and a much easier way to access all the pieces inside.

The playset is easy to assemble (under 10 minutes) and disassemble. If you wish to deconstruct the playset in the future and store it back in the box, you should note how the pieces are carefully stored in three layers.

Like a jigsaw puzzle: Note how the 12 pieces are stored, in case you wish to disassemble and rebox the playset in the future.

The first or top layer consists of these three pieces, removed from the box:

Top layer of playset pieces (3)

After you have removed the top layer of pieces, the box and remaining pieces will look like this:

Two more layers to go.

Here is the second or middle layer of pieces removed from the box:

Middle layer of playset pieces (4)

Your box will now look like this with the third or bottom layer of pieces:

The Gamorrean Guard vehicle is tucked inside the cardboard shell (upper left). Use a knife to “unglue” the right and bottom shell flaps, and the car will be easy to remove.

The third and final set of pieces, removed from the box, look like this:

Bottom layer of playset pieces (5)

The twelve playset pieces are easy to assemble. Even a caveman or Gamorrean could do it.

Unlike most Star Wars vehicles with pieces that often snap together permanently, this playset has interlocking tabs and pieces that are easy to disassemble.

The instructions are easy to comprehend.

Main Play Features

The sand-colored tracks, earthy brown rock work, and mix of gray and tan, are reminiscent of 1979’s Land of the Jawas playset. No coincidence here as both sets are centered on characters who hail from the desert planet, Tatooine.

Rancor Rumble has a sliding guide lever along an ascending ramp. After you park your Gamorrean Guard vehicle or other Hot Wheels car at the base of the ramp, you can slide the lever uphill to position your vehicle near the top of the curve.

The gray ramp guide helps to position your Hot Wheels car in place.

Is the sliding guide necessary? Yes and No: “Yes” because it guides your vehicle to the top of the ramp, and then gravity takes over to gently move the vehicle to a staging area in front of Jabba’s castle. “No” because if you already know where the sweet spot is, you can park your vehicle on your own.

Plastic ridges (gray trap-door area) prevent your vehicle from rolling away until you are ready to push it.

Curiously, a small R2-D2 sticker has been applied to the guiding lever, as if a lazy after-thought.

Jabba’s castle sits prominently at the top of the curved ramp. A sliding door allows you to unveil Jabba and his court. Sadly, they are reduced to a mere sticker behind the sliding door.

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With a toothy maw and spring-loaded swinging arm, the Rancor monster is the star of the show, even if he is hidden beneath Jabba’s castle above. The left arm of Jabba’s Rancor is tension-mounted, so that it can be positioned facing forward, ready to swing back trespassing vehicles into its plaque-covered mouth. The arm’s sensitive catch-spring and swinging arm are sprung when the car hits a small lever by the Rancor’s mouth.

There are two track options: With a gentle push, your Hot Wheels car will race down the outer track and beneath the Rancor’s claw, toward safety. Alternatively, a trap door in front of Jabba’s Castle collapses the car onto an inner ramp, which feeds directly into the mouth of the beast and out the back of the playset. To activate the trap door, turn a knob hidden at the top of Jabba’s castle.

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Additional Features

● The Rancor monster’s head is spring-loaded. By pressing a lever attached to the ridged edges of a descending cage door, the beast’s jaws will snap half-way down – but not completely enough to stop your vehicle.

Knock the Rancor out!

● A chain and manacle allow you to shackle a Hot Wheels vehicle at the base of the set.

● Moulded into the base are a small skull and bones, likely the remnants of a previous meal.

● Additional Hot Wheels tracks (sold separately) can be connected at the bottom of either tracks one or two.

Gamorrean Guard Character Car

Exclusive to the Rancor Rumble playset, the Gamorrean Guard character car is a well-done work of art in its own right.

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The front profile shows a grill with an overbite, a snouty nose, and a cartop with two horns and a silver helmet.

The rear profile shows hints of a black belt with studs.

The truck is awash in matte brown, drab olive-green and rust-red splotches all over.

A great finishing touch are the shiny copper-colored rims, which accentuate the wheels. Rivets stud the rear wheel hubs, and a vibro-lance (a spear-like weapon) is painted on the left side.

Gammie’s truck is not perfect. We wish it had hinged doors or that the hood popped open or that the tailgate swung down. But, alas, we can’t have everything, can we?

The vehicle is not sold separately. Predictably, secondary market prices for Gammie’s truck alone are approaching $30.00 and higher.

REVIEW: Porg (0.75″) and Chewbacca (4.5″)

October 12, 2017 – We wouldn’t be surprised if porgs become the breakout stars of Star Wars: The Last Jedi or if they end up being a popular gift this Holiday season.

First seen briefly onscreen at the D23 Expo 2017 in mid-July, porgs are described by Pablo Hidalgo as “native to Ahch-To, and can be found dwelling along the cliffs of the island where Luke and Rey are. In many ways, they’re the Star Wars version of puffins. They build nests. They can fly. Their babies are called porglets.”

Concept art by Jake Lunt Davies (Image Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Director Rian Johnson said: “If you go to Skellig [NOTE: uninhabited Skellig Michael is off the southwestern coast of Ireland] at the right time of year, it’s just covered in puffins, and they’re just the most adorable things in the world. So when I was first scouting there, I saw these guys, and I was like, oh, these are part of the island. And so the Porgs are in that realm.”

As seen in The Last Jedi, the porgs will be fully realized either as puppets or entirely via CG, depending on the shot required.

For consumers, one of the earliest and least expensive ways to acquire a porg facsimile goes almost unnoticed. The little bird comes as an accessory tucked inside the 3.75-inch Chewbacca cardback (MSRP $7.99 USD).

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Compared to the towering Chewbacca, the porg is truly a runt. He/she is so small, it’s a wonder that Hasbro was able to paint the little bird so well, including its red frown, large shiny black eyes, black wings, grey backside and orange on the side of its head and its webbed feet.

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The porg is a single piece of molded plastic and has zero articulation. He stands just a hair (feather?) over 3/4″ tall (1.9 cm) – so tiny that we predict lots of kids will misplace and lose him. Accordingly, expect the secondary market to command higher prices for a loose porg than for a loose Chewbacca in the years ahead.

Chewbacca stands at just over 4.5″ tall (11.4 cm) and has “4.1” points of articulation. Because of the way his head is molded with long, flowing hairs that extend to his chest and shoulders, Chewie’s head can barely move left or right, thus the “0.1” movement rating.

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The wookie’s arms swivel at the shoulders, and his legs swivel at the hips. Fortunately, his fingers are made of a pliable plastic, so it’s relatively easy to get him to grip either the feet of the porg or the accompanying bowcaster.

Chewie’s bandolier appears to be one piece, which is draped snugly over his left shoulder and fits against a diagonal indentation across his torso. Theoretically, you could remove it, but we were afraid of breaking a thinner plastic segment near his pouch. So be careful if you try to remove the bandolier.

The classic bowcaster, or laser crossbow, is Chewie’s only weapon. Frustratingly, it will fall apart into three pieces soon after you remove it from the packaging. The design flaw is that two of the three pieces have micro-stubs or barely visible nubs of plastic, which each fit into a tiny hole. A drop of glue should help keep things together once you figure out how to reassemble the crossbow.

Like his fellow The Last Jedi 3.75-inch action figures, Chewbacca comes with Force Link technology. A separately sold Force Link band uses NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, which detects the microchip hidden inside Chewbacca. He emits three different growling sounds. (The porg is silent.)

With a retail price of $7.99, Chewbacca and porg are a great value. The handsomely painted Chewbacca and his diminutive companion, the porg, make an unlikely but cute couple.

While the bowcaster does tend to fall apart, you can always remedy this with a drop of glue. As you fumble with the pieces, you can let Chewie make one of three “Aaaargh” sounds for you – a nice bonus, indeed.

Reaction to Latest Trailer for “The Last Jedi”

October 10, 2017 – By now, you have seen the latest official trailer for The Last Jedi, sparking a range of reactions across the Internet.

YouTube reviewer Jeremy Jahns offers some rapid-fire observations:

A quick review of fan comments across various forums (fora?) shows some common questions from viewers:

1. General Leia: Does she die or not? Lucasfilm has already revealed that The Last Jedi will be Carrie Fisher’s final appearance. The latest trailer appears to show her in the crosshairs of her son, Kylo Ren, and his TIE Silencer. Is this her end?

2. Luke Skywalker: Does he die or not? Some commentators are beginning to see parallels with The Empire Strikes Back. So if Luke the Mentor follows Yoda’s example, does he shed his corporal form?

3. Why is Luke scared?

4. Does Rey turn to the dark side? Does she join forces with Kylo Ren?

5. The Last Jedi: singular or plural? So who will be the last of the Jedi Order?

6. Who will lose a limb this time?

7. Finn versus Phasma: Is there a story here?

8. Who is piloting the Millenium Falcon? We see glimpses only of Chewbacca and a Porg.

9. How does Rey end up appearing before Supreme Leader Snoke?

10. And finally, we may already know the title for Episode IX:

VII = The Force Awakens
VIII = The Last Jedi
IX = From His Sleep

Watch the trailer again, released Oct. 9th:

And the first trailer, unveiled April 14th:

Auction of Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds’ Personal Property Ends Today

October 9, 2017 – A live three-day auction of the personal property of the late Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, two Hollywood icons, ends later today.

Don’t miss a chance to peruse the 340-page PDF auction catalog or to view an online flipbook. Visit www.profilesinhistory.com.

The various articles up for bid offer a fascinating glimpse into Carrie Fisher’s and her mother, Debbie Reynolds’, lifestyles, tastes and hobbies. And in the case of the Princess Leia actress, many of the items are cheeky, supremely eclectic and very much a reflection of Carrie Fisher’s in-your-face wit and humor.

Starting bids and reserve prices, especially on some of the more mundane or eclectic items, are fairly reasonable.

But don’t be surprised if bidding wars become intense, especially for Star Wars memorabilia such as Carrie Fisher’s annotated copy of The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The late actress penned over 1,000 words in her handwriting throughout the 158-page Empire script, with an estimated value of $30,000- $50,000 prior to start of auction.

Carrie Fisher’s personal items for auction begin around p. 173 in the PDF catalog. Pictured above is an exterior shot of her Los Angeles home.

For fans of the two legendary icons, who lived next door to each other in Los Angeles, this is your best chance to obtain a part of history. Below is a very small sample of items up for auction from Carrie Fisher’s estate:

Pictured above are Carrie Fisher’s teenage address book and a library hardcover book, “A Man for All Seasons”, she failed to return.

Carrie Fisher attended Beverly Hills High School. Her freshman copy (1971) of the high school yearbook is pictured above.

A life-sized British-style telephone booth with a Princess Leia statue is up for auction ($8,000-12,000).

Fans sometimes gift a handcrafted creation to their favorite celebrities. Here is proof that Carrie Fisher actually valued, appreciated and kept some of these fan creations.

How this Princess Leia rubber duck in soap dish ended up in Carrie Fisher’s home, we may never know.

Carrie Fisher was a prolific and highly gifted writer and editor. This is her personal desk, from which she edited and revived many a boring script.

More proof of the late princess’s wry sense of humor and her eye for the absurd.

One of Carrie Fisher’s favorite pieces.

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Carrie Fisher passed away in Los Angeles on Dec. 27, 2016. Her mother, Debbie Fisher, passed away the next day, Dec. 28th. Todd Fisher (Carrie Fisher’s brother and Debbie Reynolds’ son) said, “My mother and sister were magnificent collectors. They amassed an amazing and diverse collection in their lifetimes. The size and scope of their collection rivals most museums. So in keeping with my mother’s wishes, we have decided to share part of their magnificent collection with all their friends and fans.”

Profiles in History, a California-based auctioneer service, will be presiding over the auction. You can bid online, via telephone, or in person.

REVIEW: Resistance A-Wing Fighter with Resistance Pilot Tallie

October 8, 2017 – First seen in Return of the Jedi (1983), the beloved A-Wing Fighter has made other appearances over the decades, including in Star Wars Rebels and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

Released on Force Friday II (Sept. 1, 2017), Hasbro has produced what may be the sleekest version yet of all the A-Wings. With its handsome, symmetrical design, low profile, and great playability features, this is one version of the A-Wing Fighter you will want to add to your collection.

Dimensions and Features

Priced at $29.99 USD, the vehicle measures approximately 12 3/8-inches long (31.4 cm) x 7 3/4-inches wide (19.7 cm) wide x 3 1/2-inches tall (8.9 cm).

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Out of the box, the A-Wing is easy to assemble and comes in seven parts: the main body or fuselage; two engines with attached tail fins (vertical stabilizers); two spring-loaded missile launchers; and two projectiles or missiles.

The plastic engines with tail fins and the missile launchers snap tightly into place. They cannot be (easily) removed once attached.

The blue-and-white color combination reflects an early design choice by the late concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Problems with blue-screen technology in the early 1980s, however, forced Lucasfilm to change the A-Wing’s colors to red.

Of the half-dozen or so A-Wing Fighters released to date by Kenner/Hasbro, this latest version appears to be the most aerodynamic and most realistic in a real-world environment. The thinly tapered nose and fuselage broadly resemble NASA’s X-43 hypersonic aircraft.

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This latest A-Wing is prominently painted blue with some bands of red on the right wing, bottom of the two tail fins, and around the missile launchers. Some weathering is evident here and there around the blue edges along with gray-black streaks along the left and right sections of the fuselage.

A customizer could add a lot more scorching, battle-damage and paint-weathering effects. As is, the A-Wing still looks a bit too clean to have seen much combat. In addition, the all-gray cockpit does not come with any stickers or painted color, adding another task to a customizer’s To-Do List.

Beyond being a visual work of art, the A-Wing offers some great play features the kid in you might enjoy:

● Clear hinged canopy with multiple see-through panes
● Cockpit comfortably seats the included 3.75-inch Resistance Pilot Tallie
● Two spring-loaded missiles that fire from either side of the wings
● Retractable landing gear
● Force Link technology activates several audible phrases from pilot Tallie as well as from the vehicle in flight

Force Link Sounds

To take advantage of the multiple sounds activated by the A-Wing Fighter and the included Resistance Pilot Tallie, you will need to purchase a Force Link band available separately for about $24.99 USD.

The separately-sold Force Link band (right) fits around your wrist and activates numerous phrases and sound effects across various 3.75-inch action figures and vehicles sold in “The Last Jedi” packaging.

The Force Link uses NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, a short-range wireless standard similar to that used in Apple Pay on your iPhone and other mobile payment systems.

Instruction sheet shows you how to activate sound effects from the A-Wing Fighter and Pilot Tallie.

The sound effects are fairly convincing, including acceleration and a whining-humming noise while in flight; a doppler-effect sound of a high-speed vehicle in passing; and some of the best laser-firing sounds (similar to an electronic whip-crack sound) of any Star Wars vehicle around.

Resistance Pilot Tallie, one of a new generation of ace female pilots, can be heard saying: “Reporting in, squadron leader”; “Here they come!”; and “Protect the bombers!”

Like all other The Last Jedi 3.75-inch figures released so far, Tallie has only five points of articulation: two legs that swivel forward at the hips (but not backward); arms that rotate 360° at the shoulders; and a ball-jointed head with a non-removable helmet.

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Despite the 5POA limitations, Tallie will be a great addition to your collection. She comes with a small blaster, which fits comfortably in either hand, and she fits easily into the cockpit. Hasbro also wisely made the amber-tinted visor transparent – a definite improvement over previous 3.75-inch pilots released in The Force Awakens line who wore opaque yellow “banana” visors.

We wish Hasbro had molded a separate holster to store Tallie’s blaster and that her helmet visor could swivel up and down. But these are minor quibbles for an otherwise great and all-new figure.

How the 2017 A-Wing Compares to Previous Versions

If you purchased last year’s A-Wing piloted by Hera Syndulla, you will be thrilled to notice that those silly Nerf projectiles have been eliminated. Hera’s A-Wing, previously reviewed here, was also cartoonishly stubby and “short”.

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Hera’s craft also retailed initially at a higher price point (generally $31.99 to $39.99, depending on the vendor). This year’s Resistance A-Wing Fighter is the better bargain at an MSRP of $29.99 USD.

But who are we kidding: If you are going to purchase one A-Wing, you will likely purchase them all, including Green Leader’s A-Wing Fighter (2008) from the Legacy Collection. The vehicle is piloted by Arvel Crynyd, who has an incredible 22 points of articulation.

The 2008 release (a Walmart exclusive) is the most faithful replica of the traditional A-Wings we first saw in Return of the Jedi (1983). A close inspection of the bottom of the right tail fin reveals a date stamp (© 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd), which tells us the ship is essentially a re-issue and re-paint of the 1997 POTF A-Wing Fighter.

Green Leader’s A-Wing (2008, left) vs Tallie’s A-Wing (2017, right)

Tallie’s A-Wing (2017, right) is slightly longer than Green Leader’s A-Wing (2008, left).

Interestingly, Green Leader’s A-Wing retailed for $29.99 in November, 2008, when it was first released. Nine years later, the latest iteration also retails for $29.99 USD.

Both A-Wings serve as fine display pieces and will likely be counted among the favorites in your vehicle collection.