Archive for July, 2016

AOTC Clone Trooper & Battle Droid From SH Figurarts Coming In October

July 30, 2016

Tamashii Nations has released photos of its upcoming AOTC clone trooper and battle droid (sold separately) from the SH Figurarts line.  You can check them out on Toyark’s site.  I think it’s pretty cool you can change out the battle droid’s head for Threepio’s, just like in the movie!

These babies are due out in October and will retail for about $47 apiece.

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More Cool Stuff Found Online

July 28, 2016

Thank goodness for people like you to find this all for me to post about!  Dan on the SWPAS Facebook posted links to some men’s/unisex sublimated t-shirts featuring Drew Struzan’s poster art from each film:  TPMAOTC, and ROTS.  Apparently the shirts run small.

Think Geek has on sale a Frames Boxed Set based on the Star Wars Frames books.  It comes with 102 postcards from all six of Lucas’s movies along with a frame to display them.  It’s on sale for $16.99.

Some independent artists are selling some cool wall art too, like this AOTC poster or this Padmé print.

You craftsy types might be interested in this perler bead Padmé or this embroidery template to make your Queen Amidala cosplay.

Just A Few Days Left To Get This Tee

July 27, 2016

The villain  t-shirt from Teespring is going to be available just a few more days!  Hurry now or miss out!

Dear Companies: We Have To Be Able To Trust You

July 27, 2016

The other day, I posted that prequel fans can learn a lot from EU fans in terms of getting what we want. I stated that companies will not produce what we want unless we ask for them and when they do listen to us, we should support them.

But there is the other side of the coin.

If companies want to be open to suggestions and requests from us, they need to reassure fans they will take us seriously and listen without judgment. For years I wouldn’t buy anything from ThinkGeek because of it put disparaging remarks about the prequels on its site. When I e-mailed the company to complain about it, I got no response. If any of you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me Tweet about something that happened at SDCC on Sunday. I had been in the exhibit hall, doing some last-minute browsing/shopping at the various booths since I was planning to leave before the con closed at five for 2016. I walked by the Harper Collins—a big time publisher—booth and Cass Sunstein’s “The World According To Star Wars” was on display. I decided for laughs and giggles to flip through it and see what the policy wonk had to say in his book. I was wearing my Super Duper Limited Edition TPM Tsum Tsum t-shirt purchased a couple of months ago from the Disney Store online. While I’m browsing, a guy walked past in a Vader suit and carrying a Jar Jar mask. I guess it got to be too hot and stuffy in the exhibit hall to wear it or something. A girl working the Harper Collins booth was asking her colleagues about the Darth Jar Jar costume, a bit confused over what it meant. One of them started to explain the whole silly Darth Jar Jar meme that started last year. Now bear in mind I was literally standing right in front of them wearing my TPM shirt, holding a book about Star Wars in my hand. The guy says, “You remember how he was in that movie and made it really bad…” I immediately slammed the book back down on the rack and left in a huff. I have no idea if they noticed or not.

Listen up, companies. This is the kind of thing that fuels the mistrust of licensees, retailers, and even Lucasfilm itself. It’s hard for us to come to you with our requests and ideas if you don’t respect our fandom or us as fans in the first place. We don’t want to be laughed at behind our backs or be spoken to condescendingly. We’re not all weirdos nor are we just a bunch of stupid kids. Here’s the deal:

1. Don’t tell us you want to hear from us but leave absolutely no way to contact anyone by e-mail, regular mail, phone, or social media. Not everybody can make it to a convention.

2. If we send suggestions, requests, or complaints, ANSWER US! I always advocate sending communications that are pithy and respectful. If someone is being sincere and respectful, I think that at least it deserves a response because someone took time out of his or her day to communicate with you.

3. Take what we’re saying seriously, especially if it’s true or at least if it’s a common perception among fans. You might say one person is wrong but if it’s coming from 100 people, then that’s an issue that needs attention.

4. Take the time to get to know the fandom better instead of making broad assumptions. There may be money you’re leaving on the table.

5. Never ever disparage our fandom or us as fans. We’re potential customers: show us some respect.

6. If you’re responding to us, do so respectfully. Don’t double-down, don’t use snark and sarcasm, and especially don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. An “I’m sorry” goes a long way. Apologies followed by corrective action go even further.

7. We care about quality. If you’re going to address what’s been neglected, do a good job.

8. Put your own prejudices aside; you might not love something but somebody out there does and that person is a potential customer.

More Independent PT Tee Designs

July 26, 2016

The Kessel Runway interviewed the proprietors of Beep Boop Beep Clothing, an independent company that makes a lot of cool saga t-shirt designs (some Disney too).  I bought their Barbie-style logo Padmé shirt a little while ago.  Now they have a sweet new Queen Amidala design.  They apparently have a lot of limited edition designs that come and go fast too.

Anyway, this is the money quote from The Kessel Runway interview that emphasizes the point I made yesterday in my post on what we can learn from Legends fans:

Your range includes Padme’ Amidala inspired designs – what are your thoughts on the lack of licensed Padme’ Amidala themed apparel?

We are honestly quite surprised that there aren’t more! We feel like with many of Star Wars lesser-known characters as well as character from the prequels (like Padme), that many big-name brands don’t represent them because they think they won’t sell enough. They think all the business is with Leia, R2 merchandise, etc. I think part of the reason why our shirts have such a loyal fan-base is because we realize that the fans that are very invested in the Star Wars universe care very much about other characters too, and crave to see more of them. (In fact, our Max Rebo tee is one of our best-sellers) Padme isn’t as mainstream of course as Leia, since she hasn’t been around as much and wasn’t the original Star Wars girl. But being very close to many people in the geek community we know that she means a great deal to women.

Exactly.

PT Character Pack DLC From LEGO TFA Game

July 26, 2016

The prequel trilogy pack DLC for LEGO:  Star Wars The Force Awakens game is now available for those of you who play:

Speaking of games, but this time of the more low-tech variety, I’ve been informed that Fantasy Flight Games finally put in an ARC-170 in one of its campaigns. Given it has avoided the prequels like ebola, this is “progress.” (By the way, if you play tabletop RPGs and the like, start bugging FFG for prequel stuff.)

Essay: “The Renegade”

July 26, 2016

This is a repost from matril’s LiveJournal page, with her permission.

If you would just follow the Code, you would be on the Council!

Ah, poor Obi-Wan. He just doesn’t get it. A stickler for the rules, thoroughly dedicated to the Council’s authority, yearning for approval and validation. His master follows a different path, and even after all these years as his Padawan, Obi-Wan still can’t quite understand the inner workings of Qui-Gon’s mind.

You see, Qui-Gon doesn’t care about anyone’s approval. He doesn’t worry about missing out on honors and accolades and positions of authority. He’s not motivated by external metrics of success. The Force alone is his guide; specifically, his personal interpretation of the Force’s will. Above all else, he does it his own way.

Yeah, George Lucas is basically Qui-Gon Jinn. I sincerely doubt he created the character with that intent; from what he’s said, he feels that he started out like Luke but fears he might have become Vader, though he’d prefer to see himself as Yoda. Well, subconsciously or whatever, he invented a near-perfect avatar for his older self – the maverick, the renegade who thoroughly baffles the establishment, the outlier whose feats gain their grudging admiration, who cares not a bit that they refuse to grant him access to the inner circles of their elitist club.

I shall do what I must. The moral renegade follows his own conscience, rarely influenced by popular trends. He’s not immune to missteps. And sometimes his single-minded determination can came across as abrasive or callous.

I know, Padmé. Dealing with a presumptuous Jedi is about as much fun as confronting a corrupt Galactic Senate. What’s really annoying, though? Qui-Gon was absolutely right. Anakin won the race and your ship got repaired, just like he said would happen. That makes it even more irritating.

But of course we have very different metrics for success in the movie-making world. A lot of them are money-based. No one can deny that Lucas became a very successful man in that regard, though they often try to credit anyone but him for the original trilogy’s success. The other metrics are quality-based, which is far more subjective and harder to pin down. Lucas, however, never showed much interest in pleasing critics. At all. Good reviews, bad reviews; whatever, as long as he made the movie he set out to make. When he goes back and changes little things here and there, it’s to satisfy his own artistic sensibilities. Whatever anyone else thinks of it is pretty much irrelevant. This has not endeared him to self-styled purists, although I personally feel a tremendous amount of empathy for an artist’s drive to tinker and tweak with his work. There is a force guiding him too, though not quite so mystic as Qui-Gon’s – the force to put his vision into cinematic form. Whatever you might say about that vision, it’s a far more admirable motivation than money-making. He sold his company for a fortune and immediately donated the bulk of it to charity. Greed is not his driving influence, that’s clear enough.

He is the Chosen One; you must see it!

It’s not all serenity and unconcern for Qui-Gon. There are clashes with the Council, and this last one was portentous. He has made it his quest to bring the boy of prophecy out of slavery and present him for training. And the Council summarily denies his request. Qui-Gon can’t let this one go. It’s too important to him, to the very fate of the Force. I often wonder what he would have done if he survived the Battle of Naboo; if he would have persisted until the Council relented, or, barring that, if he would have ignored the Council entirely and trained Anakin anyway, risking expulsion. I suspect that Qui-Gon still has a loyalty to the Jedi Order even if he doesn’t agree with the Council or Code’s every stricture, so I doubt he would committed such a flagrant transgression as that.

But that’s not what happened. Qui-Gon is killed, while defending the galaxy from the avatar of the very phantom menace threatening to overthrow the Force’s balance. Oh, it’s not Sidious or the Sith alone who throw that balance askew. The Council is so insular, so rigid, so blind and deaf to the world outside the Temple, that they are losing their grasp on the living Force that Qui-Gon was so in tune with. His loss is a symptom of their sickening, their growing weakness. Obi-Wan, only just a Padawan himself, far more prone to the influence of the Code and the Council than his master was, is faced with the overwhelming task of training the Chosen One. And much of Anakin’s conflicting troubles will arise from the fact that in his outlier impulses he’s far more like Qui-Gon, yet he shares Obi-Wan’s yearning for approval and acclaim from the Council. A renegade who needs validation. Qui-Gon rarely had that problem.

It would be absurd to declare that a similar impending doom threatens the Hollywood establishment; the fate of the galaxy hardly hangs in the balance if movies nowadays are more derivative, less imaginative and innovative. There have always been great movies and lousy movies from the very beginning, though I’m deeply sad that none of these new so-called Star Wars films will have the heart and soul that Lucas lent to his six. But some of the battles Lucas has fought have been pretty far-reaching. Just one example: films that have no opening credits, so you can become immediately immersed in the story? You can thank Lucas for that, and it wasn’t an easy battle by any means.

What I do fear is the mean-spiritedness, the nasty sense of entitlement that treats Lucas like some sort of monster simply for making movies the way his artistic conscience leads him to. He’s always done that from the beginning, as much as his resources allowed, and I feel that’s what made Star Wars great. Not the X-Wings or the masked villains or the exploding Death Stars, though those are the fun superficial markings of a deeper world of creativity and storytelling genius. It was the renegade mindset, the man who said, “I shall do what I must” and always remained true to that ethos.

Qui-Gon can be a difficult man, but overall he is generous and kind. When Obi-Wan apologizes for arguing with him, Qui-Gon doesn’t gloat or grab the chance to claim superiority. He praises his Padawan, assuring him that he will be a far greater Jedi than himself. Now look at that video again. Lucas’s AFI tribute was sweet, but also full of a lot of good-natured roasting from all the people he worked with. And he chuckled through the whole thing. Go ahead and tease him, poke fun at him. He knows he’s not perfect. He’s put up with far worse abuse over the years, and I’m astonished it took him this long to finally get a little fed up with the whole thing and go into retirement.

Qui-Gon’s defiance I sense in you.

May we all have a just a little bit more of that renegade spirit. We could certainly do with less complacency and unoriginal thinking in the world of movies, and the world at large.

Sideshow/Acme Art Prints

July 25, 2016

Artist Ian MacDonald has two prints, one featuring Jedi galore, the other bad guys:

ian-macdonald-for-print

ian-macdonald

I saw a huge blow up of the bad guy print at Sideshow’s booth at SDCC.  I somehow missed the Jedi one.  No info yet on when these will be available or for how much but they’re supposed to “debut alongside companion pieces” from Sideshow that “depict the most powerful Jedi and most notorious Sith in the galaxy.”  Okay, so technically Kylo and Grievous aren’t Sith but whatever.  It’s a miracle these days to find saga pieces.  Read the presser here.

What Prequel Fans Can Learn From “Legends” Fans

July 25, 2016

Fans of the old expanded universe got a couple of bits of good news this month. First, at Celebration Europe it was announced long-time favorite Grand Admiral Thrawn was making his debut on “Rebels,” starring in a new novel penned by Timothy Zahn, and getting a new action figure from Hasbro. Then, it was announced shortly before this past week’s SDCC that Jaina Solo won the Hasbro Fan Poll and therefore, will also get an action figure.

Not every expanded universe/Legends fan is going to be entirely placated by these events but when Lucasfilm ended that continuity a few years ago, it was hard to believe even these developments were possible. It shows that at the very least somebody at Lucasfilm is beginning to try to build a bridge with those fans, even if I am skeptical Lucasfilm is going to give them everything that they want. It certainly opens the door to more of the Legends characters and situations being refitted for this new era.

So, what accounts for this small victory? It’s simple: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Legends fans might not be the biggest faction in Star Wars fandom and their displeasure over their timeline being junked for a new one didn’t stop TFA from being a hit. But they are 1) vocal and 2) organized. Not every Legends fan has the same goal but at least as a group they have goals and have coalesced behind various campaigns. Star Wars fans who want better for the prequels and want more of their fandom interests represented need to pay attention and take notes because otherwise, we will continue to be taken for granted and ignored because we’re not vocal and we’re disorganized. I didn’t know about the Hasbro Fan Poll until after I got back from vacation and by then it was too late to vote. Legends fans voted early and often to get what they wanted. It might be a little churlish to complain because Hasbro has consistently made prequel and Clone Wars toys for years, but I’m citing that as an example of what can happen when people are motivated and unified.

There have been Legends fans who took their enthusiasm too far. We’ve heard the horror stories about people aggressively distributing flyers at cons, spamming the Star Wars Books Facebook page, bothering actors who have no control over any of this stuff, and making loony threats. I am not saying we have to emulate the worst behavior of some of those fans. I’m not even saying we need to take out a billboard across from Lucasfilm’s San Francisco campus, yet.

What we need to realize is we can’t assume somebody somewhere is going to make it better for us without our bothering to put any effort into it. We have to shake off the assumption that either Lucasfilm and its affiliates simply hate our guts and won’t do anything for us anyway (but I am getting to the other side of that coin in another piece), or that Lucasfilm and its affiliates will get around to making us happy when they’re not so busy (hint: with movies coming out rapid fire that time will be “never”).

At SDCC, I sat through the Business of Geek Fashion panel, which featured Ashley Eckstein along with top execs from Hot Topic, Think Geek Solutions, and We Love Fine, plus an entrepreneur who within the last year started a men’s geek fashion company, Hero Within. It was asked what consumers can do if we’re not seeing the products we want. They all pretty much said the same thing: you have to ask for it.

Let me emphasize that point again:

YOU.

HAVE.

TO.

ASK.

FOR.

IT!!!!

A lot of these companies do not know the fandoms they are working with the way you and I know them, so they will go with what’s safe because that’s what sells. Ashley added that when these companies do make these items, it’s important to vote with your dollar because there’s so much risk involved in making and selling these things. In other words, if they do make prequel stuff:

YOU.

HAVE.

TO.

SUPPORT.

THEM!!!!

It’s not only a risk for Hot Topic, it’s also a risk for the hipsterette or college student making items for her Etsy shop. Prequel items can be easier to find on Etsy, Redbubble, and other places where small-time, independent designers and crafts people can fill gaps in the market but if you’re not buying from them either, they won’t make more. The word will go out that prequel stuff doesn’t sell and prequel fans are too few, too cheap, or too poor to bother with. There’s a reason why I keep pointing out who’s selling cool shirts or whatever. Not just from the stuff I’m doing on Teespring but other people too.

Do you want to know why Sideshow has continuously made prequel items, even very expensive ones? Because somebody is buying them. Hasbro keeps making Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul action figures because people are still buying them. SH Figuarts makes those awesomely-detailed figures because we the people are buying them (more are planned, including Maul, Jango, and Padmé). As for companies that are not making prequel stuff, it could take a lot of time and effort to convince them the market is there. Some companies might not be doing them because not enough fans have expressed an interest in those products so they don’t think there’s a market. As I’ve noted before, I have gone up to these reps at Celebration and at SDCC to ask for prequel products. If I’m the only person who does this, I’m just one crank. If they get dozens of people asking at every con and they get letters, e-mails, Tweets, etc., they might start thinking about serving our market.

Legends fans feel that what happened to their end of fandom is an existential threat. Urgency fuels their action. Prequel fans need to realize it’s existential for all of us too. If there’s no prequel market then Lucasfilm won’t think there’s a market for books, comics, spinoff movies, or even having much inclusion in the saga going forward.

Upcoming Qui-Gon Black Series 6″ Figure

July 23, 2016

The prequel news/goodies at SDCC are pretty light this year to say the least but Hasbro revealed on Friday a whole bunch of its upcoming Star Wars releases, including a Black Series 6″ Qui-Gon.  I saw it on display and it looks pretty good.  I didn’t see when it was due out (and I didn’t go to the Hasbro panel) but it’s something to look forward to seeing on the pegs.

By the way I saw Sideshow’s Jango Fett premium figure and it looks awesome.  But since the Boba Fett version was north of $400, I expect Jango to retail for about the same.