Sunday, February 26, 2017

MORE Star Wars Stars on Sesame Street!

A while ago we did a feature post looking back some memorable moments when stars from Star Wars movies have appeared on the iconic children's TV show Sesame Street. Click here to read it! Since it is still one of the most viewed items we've ever posted it's overdue for a follow-up. Here's MORE Sesame Street visits by Star Wars stars!

Before we knew him as Saw Gerrara in Rogue One, in 2014 Forest Whitaker had some fun with The Count discussing imagination, and all the things that a simple stick could become, with a little creativity. No "Lies, Deceptions!", just imagination:

Another Rogue One star, Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), visited the Spanish-language Sesame Street counterpart Sesame Amigos two times to meet Elmo. Both clips are in Spanish so for those who don't speak the language here's a quick synopsis: In the first scene, Diego asks Elmo for his help to see if he’s expressing his emotions correctly for a movie he's about to film. He plays a sad, happy and angry scene.

In the second clip Diego and Elmo joke about his last name "Luna" ("moon" in Spanish) Then they play a game in which Diego tries imitating an animal without speaking and Elmo has to guess what animal it is. Elmo finally realizes Diego is trying to imitate a duck. Then Elmo imitates a Lion and Diego gets it right away because Elmo is a great imitator.

Special thanks to friend and actor Javier Lacroix for translation help! 

Fans of comedian/actor/singer Donald Glover are already looking forward to him playing young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo movie (due in 2018). Here he is on Sesame Street in 2013 as the "famous" singer LMNOP, parodying the look and name of "Party Rock Anthem" dance music duo LMFAO.

Fun fact: Did you know Donald Glover had a brief appearance in the movie The Muppets? 
Poor Kermit!
Before he was famous for creating the Broadway smash hit musical Hamilton or writing & performing the songs "Jabba Flow" & "Dobra Doompa" (the songs the band plays in Maz's castle in The Force Awakens), in 2009 Lin Manuel Miranda played a shifty and manipulative real estate agent trying to convince Big Bird to move to a new habitat. Through rapping he explains the idea of "habitat" and the various options for birds. 

Fun fact: Lin Manuel Miranda has made other appearances on Sesame Street as a lamb, and wrote songs for other episodes.

This isn't a clip from Sesame Street itself, but it is a fun short video of actor Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa to Star Wars fans!) with Elmo promoting an upcoming Fourth of July ("Happy Birthday, America!") special on PBS...

Do you remember another Star Wars star on Sesame Street that we haven't discussed here or in the previous article? Comment below!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Plenty of Rogue One Reading to Do!

Available in paperback March 28

Rogue One may be out of most theatres now but will be available on home video on April 4th (possibly earlier in digital format). Until then here’s a quick look at some of the Rogue One books to enjoy now, and a few coming soon:

Rogue One DK Readers Secret Mission (Level 4) – facts & details about the rebellion, the Empire and more fill this levelled reader for confident, independent readers, along with plenty of great photos from the movie. Almost like a mini version of the fantastic Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide. (DK Books)

Rogue One Ultimate Sticker Encyclopedia – loaded with images from the movie, this hefty sticker book features more than 1000 stickers and loads of information for detail-loving young fans. Some of the aliens and droids barely seen in the film are much clearer here. 96 pages of Rogue One fun! (DK Books)

Art of Coloring: Rogue One – part of the popular trend of more “grown-up” style coloring books, this has 128 pages of black and white line art images depicting many characters, ships and designs from the movie. The simplified images may also be helpful to young artists learning to draw the new Rogue One aliens and droids. (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)

Rebel Dossier – follow the story of Rogue One through the characters’ correspondence and data files. See our review here. (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)

Coming Soon:

Rogue One Junior Novel – the entire story of Rogue One in junior novel format will be available in paperback March 28! Written by novelist and game designer Matt Forbeck. Includes 8 pages of colour photos.(Disney/Lucasfilm Press)

Guardians of the Whills – this middle grade novel takes place before Rogue One and focuses on Chirrut and Baze before they meet Jyn Erso. Written by Greg Rucka (Before the Awakening, Smuggler’s Run). Available May 2. (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)

Rebel Rising – a new Young Adult novel focusing on Jyn Erso’s younger days and her time with Saw Gerrera. Written by Beth Revis. Available May 2. (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Read, You Must: Star Wars Galactic Maps

New from Disney/Lucasfilm Press comes one of the last Star Wars books released in 2016, and one of the best surprises of the year!

Galactic Maps: An Illustrated Atlas of the Star Wars Universe is a delight for fans of the whole Star Wars saga. Illustrator Tim McDonagh shines on every large-sized 2-page map spread as writer Emil Fortune (writing as archivist “Amel Fortoon”) tells the story of these newly-discovered “ancient” maps that “seem to be centred on the saga of the legendary Skywalker family”.

These aren’t ordinary maps though - each map is filled with character moments and action scenes based in that location. The illustration style harkens back to antique maps of the high seas (of Earth) and woodcut printmaking, giving the whole book a cool, old-fashioned look. Star Wars is, after all, set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”.

The sprawl of Coruscant captured in a few key moments
Obvious important planets like Tatooine, Coruscant, Geonosis, Naboo, Jakku and Hoth are all here but over 80 pages, Galactic Maps also details locations seen only in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels TV series as well.
Events on Jakku from The Force Awakens
As an added bonus there’s even some info and a map of Jedha from Rogue One. The various planetary systems are organized into groups and then categorized together by proximity. The book is admittedly more an artistic representation of each place rather than a collection of reliable topographical maps for navigation. Amel Fortoon warns at the beginning “these maps are not strictly accurate…the artist was more interested in the feel of these strange worlds and the galaxy-shaking events that took place on them.”
Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon could've used a map on Naboo!

Each map spread is full of detail and in some cases sharp eyes are rewarded with tiny details to discover. With self-referential humour and surprise appearances of all sorts of lesser-known characters from Meebur Gascon to Dr. Vindi to the Gorax, Galactic Maps has a lot of fun with what could’ve been a pretty dry book.  

Galactic Maps is part of a new trend in Star Wars merchandise that gives equal weight to all areas of the saga (not just the movies). Seeing Lothal or the mysterious The Clone Wars world of Mortis (is it a planet…or another dimension??) right alongside Mustafar and Endor is particularly satisfying.

Dathomir has many mysteries

Star Wars Galactic Maps is full of surprises, from its large 11 x 15” size to its cleverly illustrated 2-page spreads to its representation of all eras of Star Wars. 

Jedha, before the events of Rogue One!
It’s simply a wonderful book and unfortunate that it came out so late in the year. It has been added to our “Best of 2016” list now. Highly recommended!

Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 8 – 12

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hunting and Collecting Rogue One Action Figures From the Past (Part 1)

(Warning: this article contains spoilers about Rogue One)

Rebellions are built on hope...but action figure collections are built on hunting and research!

The official Rogue One Darth Vader
Whether you’re playing with them or making a diorama, there are some important characters from Rogue One that unfortunately won’t be available in Rogue One action figure form anytime soon. Other than Darth Vader and stormtroopers, Hasbro is currently focused on toys based on the brand new characters exclusive to Rogue One. Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K2-SO and others are available now and the new figures look terrific!

Some key characters however are not officially planned to be released as “Rogue One” action figures... but wait, there’s good news!

Many Rogue One characters have already been available for quite some time and in most cases are pretty easily accessible at your local comic/collector shops or online. 

Since Rogue One is so closely connected to 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope Hasbro (and previously Kenner) have been making action figures that work perfectly with Rogue One for a long, long time!
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Here’s a look at some of the Rogue One characters that have been available to play with, in one case, since 1978!

One of the very first Star Wars characters ever made into an action figure was Princess Leia in her iconic “star puffs” (buns) hairdo and white robes. Since then there have been many action figure versions of her sporting that look. Most of them are pretty good, some are downright awful. One of the best versions of her for Rogue One play is from 2000 (seen in close-up here) but it can get a little expensive on the collector's market. 
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A very reasonably-priced alternative would be the 2015 "Mission Series" version that came in a 2-pack with Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper disguise. Of course, going back to the 1978 original figure is never a bad idea, and they are still widely available. Both of these are pictured here: 

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For a character as vital to A New Hope as Grand Moff Tarkin it may be hard to believe that the very first Tarkin action figure wasn’t available until 1997, 20 years after his screen debut! Since then there have been other Tarkin toys, always in his trademark uniform, slick hair and humourless expression. 

Probably the easiest Tarkin to find of would the the 2005 Revenge of the Sith version. His hair is a little darker, but otherwise he works well for Rogue One purposes.

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Princess Leia’s adoptive father, Bail Organa has been made into action figure form more than once but the Revenge of the Sith version is probably the closest to his Rogue One appearance. Like Tarkin, the hair should be a little lighter but otherwise he looks pretty good.

Not exactly the most exciting characters, but vital to the rebellion were General Dodonna and Mon Mothma, seen first in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi respectively. Mon Mothma can be spotted in the background of some moments of Revenge of the Sith but is mostly in scenes that were deleted. 
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Despite their importance to the Rebellion, neither were made into action figures until the 1990’s, much like Tarkin. Here’s a great version of Dodonna and either the Revenge of the Sith version or the Return of the Jedi versions of Mon Mothma will do fine. Just take the weird helmet thing off the ROTS one!

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That’s all for now. More coming next time, including a pair of very familiar droids and another pair of ill-fated aliens!

Got a favourite character from Rogue One you’d like to see Hasbro make? Comment below!

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