Perhaps it is in part because of the influence of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, but it looks like finally, after decades of 100 male Star Wars action figures for every one female figure for kids to play with, times may be changing. It was sad for two generations of girls–and boys–that you could quickly list all the named women characters of Star Wars, both from the original trilogy: Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, and only a few more with the prequels: Padme, Shmi, Adi Gallia, Zam Wesell, Dorme–and Beru again–with even fewer made into toys that would allow kids to see themselves in Star Wars characters. Disney was surprisingly slow to integrate Daisy Ridley’s Rey into all the various toy lines early last year, but recent announcements indicate the franchise is trying to catch up. A new line of 11-inch format dolls from Hasbro looks to be a step in the right direction.
One of this weekend’s Star Wars Celebration 2017 announcements is Disney and Lucasfilm’s Forces of Destiny, a series of animated shorts highlighting the heroism of the women of Star Wars. Although it would seem adding the women of Star Wars to each of the other toy lines in the franchise also makes sense, Forces of Destiny attempts to bridge action figures and the traditional Barbie-type 11-inch doll. The release announcing the new doll line made clear that these toys aren’t about make-up, mirrors, and dresses. “Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia’s heroism, Rey’s courage or Ahsoka’s tenacity,” said Kennedy.
The toy line is also taking a cue from a successful G.I. Joe toy series, calling the toys “Adventure Dolls,” which will feature hands that can hold weapons and feet that aren’t pointed like traditional dolls (that were intended to allow for high heels). The Forces of Destiny dolls will be anchored by a web series of animated features in July, followed by an eight-part series on the Disney Channel this Fall that will include the voices of the actual Star Wars film actresses, including Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens’ Rey), Felicity Jones (Rogue One’s Jyn Erso), Tiya Sircar (Star Wars Rebels’ Sabine), Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars Rebels’ Ahsoka) with narration by Lupita Nyong’o (The Force Awakens’ Maz Kanata).
Here is a preview for the new Star Wars Forces of Destiny:
Hasbro has successfully launched several toys and games like Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship, and My Little Pony into new media territory including tie-in movies and comic books. Everyone’s favorite detective board game is making its way to a five-issue comic book series this year from IDW Publishing. IDW has licensed Clue (or Cluedo for British readers) and is planning some fun tying together elements of the game and the 1985 movie Clue that starred Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd. The new comic book series was announced this weekend at Emerald City Comicon 2017 in Seattle.
The classic cast everyone knows: Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett (or Scarlet in the U.S.), Professor Plum, Miss Peacock, Mr. Green, Miss White, and victim Mr. Boddy, are all here. Of course, over the years other characters have entered the fold–like Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Madame Rose, and Sergeant Grey–via spinoff board games like Master Detective and video game versions of Clue. Will they make an appearance in the new series? Two new characters immediately stand-out from the initial artwork released: a young man and woman, the woman a red-headed starlet. One obvious update to the original cast is Colonel Mustard, the classic “great white hunter” and colonial imperialist of the original game story, is now portrayed as a black officer. Also, Miss White doesn’t have the dated servant maid attire of past versions of the game and the movie.
Writer Paul Allor (Guardians of the Galaxy, G.I. Joe) will be scripting the series, with artwork by Nelson Dániel (Dungeons & Dragons, The Cape). They are putting a humorous twist on the game into their new story, similar to that found in the movie version. Also like the movie, the first issue will have three alternate endings, plus three variant covers. Depending on which variant cover edition you read, a unique conclusion unfolds. Is it a clue, or a red herring? Readers can collect all the variants (and clues), as well as the main cover by Eisner award-winning artist Gabriel Rodriguez (the classic game board image above).
Hasbro announced fourteen Star Wars action figures will be released this year with re-creations of the original Kenner packaging from 1978 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. At this week’s New York Toy Fair 2017, Hasbro announced it initially will release the original twelve action figures in their classic cardbacks from 1978: Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Stormtrooper, Jawa, Sandpeople, and Death Squad Commander.
We’ve all seen these figures not only in their original 3 3/4-inch size with this packaging, but in re-releases over the years for various editions. The difference is the new 40th anniversary editions will include new sculpts in a six-inch format. This size difference explains why you might notice the new versions don’t exactly match the original bubble card placement.
In addition to the original twelve figures, three figures will be released as exclusives: R5-D4 will only be available at Gamestop stores on retro card, the AT-AT Driver will only be available at Wal-Mart stores in the standard Black Series box, and the X-Wing pilot Luke foil edition on retro card will only be sold at Star Wars Celebration 2017. A Snowtrooper will also be available in the same size in the standard Black Series box.
Darth Vader will also be sold with a recreation of the infamous Kenner Early Bird Certificate set, the empty cardboard box Kenner sold in Christmas 1977 to meet the demand for Star Wars toys after the movie’s surprise success. The original Early Bird Certificate granted purchasers a voucher for figures of Luke, Leia, R2, and Chewbacca and had a special cardboard display set to display the first 12 figures.
Countless Hasbro, Parker Brothers, and Milton Bradley games have been re-released incorporating every genre favorite from The Lord of the Rings to the Harry Potter series, and from Firefly to The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. You can pull off your classic game shelf the original Monopoly, Risk, Clue, or Trivial Pursuit, or mix up the game night a bit with the tie-in version of your favorite movie or TV series. Although a The Walking Dead seems like it would be a better mash-up with Sorry! than The Game of Life or The Walking Dead Jenga, some of the tie-ins seem well-matched (like Sherlock Clue, Downton Abbey Clue, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB-8 Operation!).
Ready for this holiday season, Hasbro is releasing a new Star Wars Clue game this month. And the plot of the game is nicely timed to tie with the plot of December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The goal is to locate the plans to the Death Star, figure out who stashed them, and determine the best route to escape.
This beautiful new game is Star Wars gold for two reasons. First, it’s a twist on Clue (Cluedo in the UK) and Clue is always fun if you get enough people to play. “But I already have seven versions of Clue plus Star Wars Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly!” you say. This one adds some three-dimensional color for good family night play. And that new 3D take is the second reason this is sure to be a fun, new game: It evokes the great cardboard-backed action figure playsets from the 1970s, like the Creature Cantina, the Hoth AT-AT Playset, the Cloud City Playset, and even the wall inserts on the full-sized Death Star playset. It also looks a bit like the classic Sub Search from Milton Bradley.
As part of a new fan contest and chapter-by-chapter reveal of its line of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story action figures and other toys, Lucasfilm has released a stop-motion video full of new characters. Star Wars items offered by The Disney Store, Funko, JAKKS Pacific, and Hasbro are peppered throughout this clever way to advertise–and get fans excited about–so many new toys. At the same time, action figure packages are slowly beginning to appear across the Web.
Tomorrow, September 2, 2016, online retailers will begin to take pre-orders for the new toys. New items are expected to be available in stores September 30, well in advance of the premiere of the film, as with previous Star Wars marketing for the prequels and last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Below we have several images you’ve probably not seen yet, the new video, a behind-the-scenes look at the video revealing even more action figures, and details from Hasbro’s latest press release.
If contests are your thing, check out the details of Lucasfilm’s latest and an opportunity to attend a screening of the film and tour of Lucasfilm in San Francisco in December at this link.
First up, see how many new toys you can find in this video:
Next Thursday, September 8, 2016, Star Trek turns 50. As you gear up for your own Star Trek parties, you still have time to pick up what we think is one of the best anniversary releases this year–and it’s been a big marketing year for Star Trek. Classic Trivial Pursuit meets up with your favorite sci-fi franchise in Trivial Pursuit: The Star Trek 50th Anniversary Edition.
We’ve been playing this one over the course of the summer. CBS Studios, Paramount and Hasbro have done a fine job putting together a game that any Trek fan will enjoy. Housed in a model of everyone’s favorite shuttlecraft, you can leave this on the shelf and have a pick-up game anytime.
Trivial Pursuit is, of course, all about the questions and the questions in this edition are loyal to all Star Trek television series and movies–except the J.J. Abrams universe, the newly-designated “Kelvin timeline” films. For some reason the gamers chose to include questions from Star Trek’s original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise and the first ten Star Trek movies, but no alternate timeline questions. Perhaps they didn’t want to confuse players with possible contradictory answers from these separate story paths? No matter, if you like one flavor of Star Trek you probably like more than one series. Ultimately, the more players you have, the more you can spread out the knowledge and share in the fun.
That goes for players of all ages. Some questions are very easy, but others may trip up even the savviest Trek fan, especially if you’re not an expert in all of the Trek incarnations. Or if you don’t shout out the series or film the question is referencing, as designated on the edge of each card. The variety on each card is random enough that you might have an easy question followed by a tough question, as was common with the classic Trivial Pursuit game. Questions are both in-universe, like “What article of interstellar law were Kirk and McCoy arrested under by General Chang?” and real-world, like “Who was the only actor to be in both Star Trek pilot episodes?”
So what all do you get?
G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu is transforming another 1980s animated television series into a live action theatrical release. The series Jem ran three seasons and 65 episodes, between 1985 and 1988. Jerrica Benton was the secret leader of the glam rock, all-girl band in the original series. The band’s name, Jem and the Holograms, will soon be the title of the live action film. The original Jem prompted a successful toy line from Hasbro, one of the companies bringing the series to the big screen.
The magical elements of Jem do not appear to have made it to the new movie. In the animated series Jerrica projected a holographic image over her own to disguise herself. Aubrey Peeples (Sharknado), who could almost be a ringer for actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, now stars as Jerrica, who takes on the persona of Jem as her career in music takes off, thanks to a music producer played by Juliette Lewis. The 1980s brat pack star Molly Ringwald co-stars.
Isn’t that Ryan Hansen, Dick Casablancas from Veronica Mars, at the end of the trailer, getting an autograph from Jem?
Check out this preview for Jem and the Holograms:
Review by C.J. Bunce
It must be fun to be on the production set watching Mark Wahlberg make movies. The actor conveys a passionate sense of determination no matter what he stars in. You can track back through his films and see this–no matter whether the movie was a hit or not, you can see Wahlberg firmly planted in his role and delivering all he can muster. In The Perfect Storm (2000) you have him responding to a once-in-a-lifetime disaster, in Planet of the Apes (2001) he’s facing an impossible world, and in Rock Star (2001) he’s a devoted fan turned star, poking fun at his former life in Rock ‘n’ Roll. In The Italian Job (2003), a role that could have been made for a young Tom Cruise, we saw one of Wahlberg’s best roles as lead man of an all-star cast of master thieves. If the whole world hadn’t noticed him yet, Martin Scorcese’s The Departed (2006) made that happen in his supporting tough guy role. And whether or not you like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (2008), it’s easy to get sucked in because you believe Wahlberg believes he is running from the strange, murderous, phantom wind. Who else could pull off performances with such a wacky comedic edge like Ted (2012), Pain & Gain (2013), and 2 Guns (2013)?
So it’s no wonder that one of the two key components that make Transformers: Age of Extinction a complete blast of a roller coaster ride is star Wahlberg. For all the Transformers movies (Age of Extinction is the fourth in the series) you either buy in to the world of machines-turned-robots or you don’t. There’s no in-between. And if you get that far, then the movie is a success only if the actors believe the CGI-heavy world they are performing in. Wahlberg’s failed inventor and sharp mechanic Cade Yeager lets you know at the beginning of the movie where he stands with the goofy yet perfect line “I think we just found a Transformer!” From there on you follow this guy because he really wants everything he is after–the truth, protecting his daughter, and defying the law to protect those he sees as innocent.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is now available in an impressive Blu-ray edition that brings the 3D IMAX shots right to your home television, with visuals that demonstrate the leading edge of the medium right now. As we have mentioned here at borg.com with prior Blu-ray 3D, you can’t beat the landscapes in modern 3D films, and Age of Extinction would be a treat for the eyes for that alone. Crisp, bright colors and sound and depth filmed with some impressive camera wizardry actually elevate this movie beyond what it might be as seen in its 2D Blu-ray, DVD, or film version. Finely textured background detail will make you think someone took years to create each frame. There’s enough to dazzle here that, if you don’t get tired along the way, you may walk away judging this as I did as almost as good as the first Transformers movie.
Captain Action was first introduced by Ideal Toys as a large-sized action figure in 1966 to compete with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, although both figures were designed by the same guy, Stan Weston. Back then the figure came with alternative costumes, including Spider-man, Green Hornet, The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, and Captain America. A five issue comic book series was published a few years later with little to do with the figure and his ability to switch personas. More than 30 years later Playing Mantis brought a line of toys to the market featuring the Captain Action characters. And next week, Dynamite Comics, the publisher known for its retro series like Green Hornet, Bionic Man, Ms. Fury, The Lone Ranger, and Flash Gordon, picks up the Captain Action licensing and is introducing a mini-series to reboot the character, beginning with Codename: Action, Issue #1.
Written by Chris Roberson (Masks, Superman), with art by Jonathan Lau (Green Hornet, Bionic Man) and alternate covers by artists Jae Lee (Before Watchmen), Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle), Johnny Desjardins (Phantom, Green Hornet), Jason Ullmeyer (Red Sonja, Vampirella), Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans), and Lau, Captain Action is the new superspy on the block complete with gadgets, a Judy Dench-type head of spy HQ, and plenty of action. Lau and colorist Ivan Nunes really bring home the retro spy look of the 1960s, complete with a team of agents driving a 1963 Corvette as their car of choice.
Half animated film come to life, half martial arts movie, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation look for one of the best action sequences ever to hit the big screen. Darker and more grounded in the realities of today’s terrorism themed movies as opposed to the days of action war pictures centered on the Cold War, the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is only slightly less fun than the first live-action look at the action figure-turned-animated show and comic book-turned-action figure again franchise. Whereas Rise of Cobra was steeped in toy references and faithful action figure costume re-creations, Retaliation has a plot that could have been pulled from the 1980s animated series.
After a disaster caused by a conspiracy between Zartan and the evil shadow organization called Cobra wipes out literally every active G.I. Joe but three, it’s up to new top ranking officer Roadblock, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to lead the charge to unravel the conspiracy and save the world. He’s joined in a superbly created, fast-thinking survival maneuver by Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who must then find their way out of a deep water well. Despite being developed characters from G.I. Joe incarnations past, Flint comes off a bit like Hawkeye in The Avengers and Lady Jaye as the token female Joe in an era you’d think would be long past relying on jokes about women in the service. Still, they both make the best of it and the trio, along with Duke (Channing Tatum), the squad leader of the Joes in Rise of Cobra, they share some good chemistry and laugh out loud moments in the film. If there is any fault in Retaliation it is why the producers thought the plot required eliminating such a pantheon of other great Joe characters who were featured in Rise of Cobra, like Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Baroness (Sierra Miller), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), or General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). It’s also a bit disappointing Bruce Willis’s General Joe Colton didn’t have a few more scenes. Willis, transitioning from action role to the wise general role, steals every scene and a partnership with Dwayne Johnson in another film, G.I. Joe or not, would be a fun thing to see.