Toy Commercial Tuesdays: Star-Studded Star Wars

There are roughly a thousand things I love about this Kenner Star Wars spot. First off, that’s Christian Slater on the left and Christmas Story and Death Valley star Peter Billingsley on the right. Second, I’ve had some of the action figures in this commercial since I can remember remembering things like Hoth Han and IG-88. Third, I’ve always seen and been enamored with that Darth Vader carrying case, but never realized that it actually featured the names of the characters and designated spots. Fourth, it’s hilarious to me that, of all the amazing characters on display as the camera pans by, AT-AT Driver and the medical droid get shout outs from young Master Slater. Okay, so maybe there were only five things I love about this commercial, but it’s still a great watch.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Star Wars Droids

I still think it’s amazing that, back in the 80s, it was standard practice to simultaneously launch a comic book along with a cartoon/toy line. These days, comic book characters are bigger than ever, but I’m not so sure that reflects back on the medium itself, but back then it was assumed that kids would want to plunk down the money they didn’t spend on toys on a monthly comic to fill out the story.

Just today, I wrote a post for Marvel.com about the tie-in comic for Star Wars Droids as part of my weekly Star Wars Spotlight column. While researching, I was reminded that the Kenner toys based on this short-lived cartoon were actually pretty rare so this will probably the most I ever see of them. It’s too bad because those vehicles sure look cool!

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Kenner AT-AT

Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have shown our daughter the three original Star Wars movies. She’s gotten pretty into them which is an awesome thing for me as a longtime fan of those movies. With the movies on my mind, it made sense to dive into anold school Kenner ad for this week’s TCT.

I’ve always wanted an AT-AT, though I was mostly thinking of the modern one. I have seen this original Kenner one at a few flea markets here and there, but had no idea it had that many action features. I love it! How can you not?

Casting Internets

You might have noticed a lack of Casting Internets posts lately. That’s less because I kept forgetting to do them and more because I haven’t been going through my Pocket app for ,well, most of this year. Anyway, here’s a bunch of stories from the past few months that tickled my fancy. manziel browns draft

I’m pretty excited about Johnny Manziel heading to the Browns. They’re not my main team, but I have a special place in my heart for them because my mom’s from there and my grandma was a fan her whole life. (via ESPN)

Rivers Cuomo called Rolling Stone to talk about his love of Nirvana and how the band changed his brain. Fun read for Weezer fans, especially the ones who’ve been hearing for years that he converted Kurt Cobain’s songs into an equation and then wrote his own songs with that formula.

I’m not much of a Buzz Feed fan, but I really dug Kate Aurthur’s interview with Real World San Francisco‘s Rachel about her time on the show.

08-MosEisley

I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to go through this entire post of on StarWars.com about Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars art, but maybe you will!schleprock america's dirty little secret

My buddy Jesse sent me this link to Jason Heller’s AV Club piece on punk in the 90s because he talks about that band Schleprock I reviewed a while back. Even without that, it’s a really solid read on a subgenera of music I still love.

Esquire‘s Jennifer M. Wood talked to director Walter Hill about his classic The Warriors. As you might expect, this is a thing I love.

I’m a big fan of Michael Ruhlman and Anthony Bourdain, so when the former interviewed the latter about modern chefs on his blog, I was interested. Personally, I like how conflicted Bourdain is about things like authenticity. It points to the fact that these issues are trickier than some might otherwise present.

Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone that he’s going to start working on his second-ever solo album. Also, I fully support the idea of a Jimmy Page/Jeff Beck tour. Yardbirds Revisited?

Toy Commercial Tuesday: X-Wing & Mace Windu

I almost skipped over this Kenner Star Wars Power Of The Force commercial as a TCT entry. Sure, it’s a rad toy that I wish I had, but overall the spot didn’t inspire much of a post. And then you get to that last part. “A new Star Wars movie is coming next summer and a new Jedi master can be yours.” Holy crap, remember how exciting it was thinking about the Prequels? I’m not a Prequel hater, but before the first one debuted there was so much wonder about what those movies would be like.

I actually don’t  remember this deal to get Mace Windu ahead of the film. It’s possible I wasn’t still collecting Star Wars toys at the time because I’m fairly sure I was done with them by the time the Prequels came out. Still, I’d like to add a Sam Jackson Jedi to my collection at some point.

Trade Post: Star Wars Volume One – In The Shadow Of Yavin

Star Wars Volume One In The Shadow Of YavinStar Wars Volume One: In The Shadow Of Yavin (Dark Horse)
Written by Brian Wood, art by Carlos D’anda with Ryan Odagawa
Collects Star Wars #1-6 & Free Comic Book Day 2013

Like a lot of comic fans, I get skeptical when I hear of a new licensed comic. For every great continuation of a beloved mythos, there are plenty of uninspired stories that either feel like cash grabs or fail to capture the qualities of the original that made them so great to begin with. However, when I heard that Brian Wood was starting a new Star Wars comic set within the time frame of the original trilogy, I was pretty excited. After it started coming out, I heard good things which made me even more curious to pick the book up. So, when I found myself looking around on InStockTrades with a little extra birthday scratch to spend, it was one of the first books I added to my cart.

The issues contained in this book take place just after A New Hope. The Rebels scored a huge victory by blowing up the Death Star, but they’re not exactly on top of the world as they search the galaxy for a new home base. Of course the Empire is looking for them, but they also seem to have some inside information as Star Destroyers keep appearing at potential HQ locales. To find out what’s going on and also speed up the search process Mon Mothma puts Senator Leia in charge of a black ops pilot squad that includes several new characters as well as Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles.

Meanwhile, the Emperor strips Darth Vader of his command ship and places him in charge of overseeing the construction of the second Death Star. In his place we meet Colonel Bircher, a hot shot pilot who wears a pretty cool looking red TIE fighter pilot suit when he’s out there trying to blast Leia and her Gray Squadron. And then there’s Han and Chewie who try to meet up with a Rebellion contact on Coruscant which doesn’t work out so well and leads them into that planet’s seedy underbelly. In other words, a whole heckuva lots goes down in this one book and that doesn’t even cover Boba Fett’s appearances.

I freaking loved this book. Not only does it tell a variety of interesting and compelling stories that match up with my expectations for new additions to this world, but they also take into account several elements I never would have thought of. In my mind, Luke’s the hero of these movies, but at this point in the story, he’s still the brash farm boy who’s pretty high on himself after blowing up the Empire’s major weapon, but who has very little Jedi training. He actually doesn’t play that large of a role in these issues. Instead, Leia takes the spotlight and shows the world why she’s such an amazing badass. Seeing her in that cool dark Gray Squadron flight suit, zooming around space and shooting bad guys was great!

It also seemed like Wood did his homework when it came to the prequels. I’m no huge fan of those movies, though I also don’t spend my time hating or resenting them for what they are. In fact, I haven’t seen them in a while, but reading this book made me want to go back and check them out again because there are allusions and references to those films that take them seriously. It would have been fairly easy to ignore those movies — basically writing them as if the original trilogy were the only movies in existence — but Wood takes bits and pieces from them, which makes them more relevant in a way.

StarWars_4_CVROf course, Wood’s not the only big name on this book. I’ve been a fan of Carlos D’Anda going back to his WildStorm days. He’s got a great, cartoonish style that works so well when rendering everything from crazy aliens to shiny robots and stealthy vehicles. I’d like him to draw a huge Mos Eisley Cantina poster to cover my walls with. And then there’s this cover artist you may have heard of by the name of Alex Ross. I became a huge fan of Ross’ painterly style with Kingdom Come, but thought he got too far into pastels in the 00s. These Star Wars covers he did are so great, though, that I’d also like to see posters of them. If Dark Horse could get on that, that’d be great.

All in all, I’d say this is a home run for Star Wars and comic fans. I loved the story held within these covers and am looking forward to adding more of these books to my library as they come out. My only complaint, and it’s a publishing one, is that all the covers from the monthly issues aren’t included in the collection. I prefer them to appear in between issues, but barring that, they should at least be collected in the back, especially when you’re dealing with a killer artist like Ross. But that’s all I got on the negative front, which says a lot about how much fun I had with this comic. Here’s hoping Episode VII captures some of that same energy and adds another great new chapter to one of my favorite franchises.

Quick Doc Review: Jedi Junkies (2010)

Jedi-Junkies-poster The concept of Jedi Junkies is fairly simple, its a documentary about the many aspects of Star Wars fandom from people who dress up in costume for conventions and obsessive toy collectors to fan film and lightsaber makers. Fun side note: the lightsaber maker lives pretty close to us! Anyway, the problem with the film is that Star Wars fandom is just too damn big for one 75 minute doc.

In addition to the four subjects I mentioned above this documentary, directed by Mark Edlitz, also interviews a few actors who appeared in the films as well as celebrity fans, goes behind the scenes of the New York Jedi and attacks hard hitting questions like “Who shot first?” That’s just way too much to tackle in such a short amount of time.

I get that Edlitz and company wanted to cover as much of the Jedi loving-community as possible, but a bit more focus would have been appreciated. Another option would be to break this up into more focused segments, but it’s not like Netflix was doing its original series thing back in 2010.

Personally, I would have been interested in diving deeper into the collecting side of things. That’s something that I got into a bit myself, but never to the extreme levels as some of the people in the film who have multiple copies of so many toys I want! There was one guy in particular who I could watch for much longer who was married with two kids and slept on the floor because his collection took up an entire room in their small apartment. Making matters even more interesting, he knew that he had some kind of problem, but also didn’t seem like he was in a place to actually fix it. I also appreciated that they got not one but two psychologists to talk about the collecting mentality. That was a nice layer, but it was yet another aspect that made me wish this was a larger project all around.

At the end of the day, Jedi Junkiues seems to revel in Star Wars geekery which is great. It’s even well put together and, aside from the “Original vs. Prequels” and “Who shot first?” sections, it gets into some really clever and unique territory (can we stop asking those pointless questions, already?), but it’s just too ambitious of an undertaking to cover the width and breadth of Star Wars fandom with one 90 minute movie. Good effort, though!