Never been to a comic book or pop culture convention before? Always wanted to go to San Diego Comic-Con but you don’t have the vacation time available or the funds? Planet Comicon is next weekend in Kansas City and although it isn’t as big as SDCC, it is a great way to get a complete three-day convention experience centrally located in the Midwest, ideal for a last-minute road trip for the family or a car full of friends. It’s less than 8 hours by car from Dallas, less than 7 hours from Minneapolis, a little more than 7 hours from Indianapolis, and a little more than 8 hours from Denver. And you don’t need to buy advance tickets–you can purchase them at the door.
So why make the trip? How about meeting Jason Isaacs, the latest captain of a Star Trek television series and star of the Harry Potter movies (and great TV roles)? Want to compare notes on Doctor Who companions with Catherine Tate (in her first U.S. convention appearance) and Billie Piper? Want to talk Arrow and Torchwood with John Barrowman, or have another chance to meet Arrow star Stephen Amell? Are you a Hellboy and Star Trek fan and haven’t yet met Ron Perlman? It’s the Star Wars 40th anniversary–how about meeting the newest actor to portray Darth Vader, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story actor Spencer Wilding?
Are you a Browncoat? Firefly’s Summer Glau is scheduled to attend, and Supernatural’s Jim Beaver. Do you want to talk 20 years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Emma Caulfield? Are you a fan of Lost Girl and need to get your fae fix with Anna Silk, Rachel Skarsten, Zoie Palmer, and Emmanuelle Vaugier?
Want to buy comics, books, or sketches from some of the best creators from across the country, like one of the all-time greats, Howard Chaykin, or Timothy Zahn, creator of the new novel Thrawn? Click here to see everyone you can meet at Artist Alley. Do you collect busts of superheroes and are missing some key characters? Check out thousands of square feet of dealers selling everything from action figures to T-shirts to limited edition prints and toy lightsabers. Whatever you collect, crazy or not, if it’s related to TV, movies or comics you’ll likely find something there. And that’s just part of your day. There will also be panels, and cosplay is always a highlight of the show.
Happy Easter! Along with the Easter Bunny, how well do you know the famous rabbits of print and screen? We thought we’d dig in and see what we found and a few dozen surfaced that you probably know, maybe don’t know, or might want to know. Americans are raised knowing something about the Easter Bunny from year one. Are any of these other rabbits even more famous?
We had a hard time finding a photo of one famous movie rabbit. There he is–Harvey, from the 1950 movie co-starring Jimmy Stewart.
Everyone needs a painting in their home like that.
Since it’s Star Wars Celebration weekend, we won’t forget our favorite rogue rabbit, Jaxxon, from the Howard Chaykin and Roy Thomas 1970s Star Wars comic book series. (That’s him at the top of this article).
We discussed another comic book rabbit only yesterday here at borg.com, Stan Sakai’s samurai from Usagi Yojimbo.
Usagi is a rabbit you want on your side. But so is Judy Hopp. She’s one great cop.
She’s the star of last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Animated Film, Zootopia. And speaking of zoos, Judy would fit right in with this next guy.
That’s Captain Carrot, from Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew!, the 1980s DC Comics series.
Who could be cuter than Thumper, the rabbit from the 1942 Disney movie, Bambi?
Breathe. Just breathe.
Straight from Star Wars Celebration 2017, Lucasfilm has released the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Luke, Leia, Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, BB-8. They’re all here. Plus, the first official poster for the film! At last, more Luke Skywalker!
Check it out now, the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
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:
Review by C.J. Bunce
How can a movie get better on repeated viewings? What makes that possible? After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre. Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen. The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release. The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props. As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds. Check out the complete review of the film from December here.
The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter. The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition). Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters. The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).
Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films. One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.
It really has it all.
Review by C.J. Bunce
We’ve reviewed dozens of books here at borg.com about the filmmaking process. Great books like Special Effects: The History and Technique, and movie-specific, behind the scenes masterpieces like Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars Limited Edition and Star Wars Frames. More books have been written about Star Wars than most films, and accounts like Roger Christian’s Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien really take fans back to 1976 and 1977 to learn how such an important series of films began. With this week’s announcement from Disney that we can look forward to Star Wars spinoffs into the 2030s, the franchise has never had greater worldwide appeal. One superb account of the Star Wars filmmaking process we have not yet discussed is Lorne Peterson’s Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop Limited Edition, originally published in 2005, still available from Insight Editions in both its standard and deluxe format.
Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop is the ultimate look at the making of Star Wars models by Lorne Peterson (shown above), about the fantasy worldbuilding work of Peterson and his peers at Industrial Light & Magic from Star Wars: A New Hope through the prequel trilogy. More than half of this deluxe hardcover book features ships and other vehicles–large, full color photographs (more than 300), and many gatefolds, with sections on each major ship and nearly every minor ship and vehicle created in both 1:1 and small scale for the original trilogy and early prequels, plus those creations digitally rendered by ILM for the later prequel films. ILM co-founder Peterson provides the creative vision behind each ship–like the fact the Rebel Blockade Runner was originally designed as the Millennium Falcon and why it was changed into its now famous form. Many of the final models were the product of kitbashing–using parts from model kits of the day like car engines and World War II German tank components to create a look of tangible reality to the construction of the Star Wars galaxy, similar to the method of using “found” items for production used by Roger Christian to create sets and props for the original film.
Peterson also looks at set models created for many environments needed for the six films, plus those creatures and robots ILM worked on for the series. Diehard fans will appreciate references to paint colors used, and sources for components for various ILM creations, including blood for the Tatooine Cantina scene and full views of the escape pod that R2-D2 and C-3PO used to get there. Anecdotes like the fact that ILM used modifed Six Million Dollar Man action figures in the seats of many vehicles make this book a fun read. (Guess who really drove the Landspeeder in its original trip to Mos Eisley!). Those who may not be fans of the prequels will no doubt appreciate the artistry behind creating the vehicles and sets for the film, shown scattered throughout the pages of the original trilogy in a way that creates its own comprehensive history. Boba Fett’s Slave 1, the Imperial Probe Droid, AT-ATs, extensive coverage of the Millennium Falcon, the Death Stars, the Star Destroyers (including the unused prototype), the Naboo Rebel Starship, X-Wings, A-Wings, B-Wings, TIE Fighters, and the Landspeeder–all the models fans want to see can be found here.
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.
Review by C.J. Bunce
What many don’t realize about movie concept art books is that, from the best of them, you can learn more about the filmmaking design process from the accompanying text than from the images selected. Make no mistake–The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is chock full of many stages of concept artwork. But what unfolds over its more than 250 pages is a rare peek behind the scenes at director Gareth Edwards, Lucasfilm executives, and the art design team as they figured out what story to tell in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
We learned last year in Roger Christian’s Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars and Alien (reviewed here at borg.com), that George Lucas knew immediately he wanted to create the look of Star Wars as a sort of documentary, a historical account of a long ago event. To that end he tapped Christian to create environments made from real world components. As explained in The Art of Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards knew he needed to emulate that style of filmmaking and overall look, and his route was using a readily available team of concept artists to create the visuals of Rogue One from day one, even partnering with artists to create the ideas for the film’s story elements in advance of a completed story. These elements included featuring a female lead, a rebel strike squad like that in Force 10 from Navarone, a key droid team member, a battle reflective of Vietnam, a battle reflective of Paris during World War II, and a dark planet for the home of Darth Vader. Edwards wanted to create an echo of Luke Skywalker’s hero–who wished he could join the far away war–with Jyn Erso, a heroine raised in a life of war who only wished to escape it. The proof of the efficacy of Edwards’ process is in the result. Has Edwards begun a new way of making movies, and will future filmmakers take this tack?
“I look at Star Wars as a real historical event that took place in the universe, and George Lucas was there with his crew to capture it. And now we’re there with our cameras and our crew, filming as it passed through us,” Edwards says in Abrams Books’ latest film art book, The Art of Rogue One. “When you look like you’ve come in with a plan, it can feel too prescribed and a bit false–but when it looks like you’re capturing the images, like you’re watching them unfold in real time, it just feels more real. I’m always trying to find that little thing that knocks you off your path–the idea or the ingredient that we didn’t come in trying to create, the curveball that makes the story feel unique.” Edwards directive was similarly unique: How the artists remembered the images of seeing Star Wars for the first time became a more important focus than copying the look of the environments exactly from the original Star Wars source material.
Anyone who has ever played with action figures has had the thought. What would it be like to be as small as the figures and roam around with them in their vehicles, or what if they were as large as life and roamed around with us? Daniel Picard enjoyed collecting the high-end, Sideshow Collectibles 12-inch “statue” figures. He was also a photographer. So Picard blended them together and posted them online. He then sent some of his photos to Sideshow Collectibles’ management and the result is Figure Fantasy: The Pop Culture Photography of Daniel Picard, a hardcover collection of his creations, published by Insight Editions.
What makes Picard’s photographs work is the “magic” of lining up light and shadow so that his photographs of real world situations blend seamlessly with spliced-in images of 12-inch figures. The Sideshow Collectibles figures are exclusively used in this collection–these are the figures that sell for hundreds of dollars because of their highly detailed production quality. (Sideshow made the borg.com Best of 2016 list here last year, and we discussed the Star Wars line last year here). So this line of figures was ideal for Picard’s project.
The situations Picard selects, the clever humor, the juxtaposition of the fantastical and the mundane, all combine to make Picard’s work stand out from the standard attempts at similar combinations you might find on the Internet.
Star Wars Rebels officially crossed over into the Star Wars Cinematic Universe in December with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The series’ plucky little astromech droid C1-10P or “Chopper” was seen at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4, and the series space vessel the Ghost was also seen docked there and in other scenes, including a scene with the Rebel Fleet making a jump to hyperspace, and fighting at the Battle of Scarif (no doubt there are some great opportunities here to replay Rogue One from the perspective of the crew of the Ghost). At the same time, Grand Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy of sequels to Return of the Jedi is now firmly enmeshed into the Star Wars canon, and a new trailer teases even more events will bridge the original trilogy with the prequel trilogy.
It all begins with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s message–a warning–sent to the remaining Jedi after Anakin Skywalker massacred so many (along with Emperor Palpatine’s Order 66) in Revenge of the Sith. Stephen Stanton, who is known for his ability to mimic Sir Alec Guinness’s voice, is the new voice of elder Kenobi. Stanton has voiced other Star Wars roles, most recently as the Mon Calamari Admiral Raddus in Rogue One. The second part of Season 3, continuing this week, will feature Mon Mothma on the Ghost, more Tarkin, and Forest Whitaker again taking on the role of Saw Garrera from Rogue One, albeit an earlier, less cybernetically modified incarnation.
The trailer for Season “3.5” also shows a bipedal Darth Maul in the shadows of Kenobi’s bonfire. It looks like it is time for a revisit of their battle in The Phantom Menace. Watch closely for the guards surrounding Grand Admiral Thrawn, black-armored Death Troopers, which are apparently tied to the “Legends” (the old Expanded Universe) creation of a zombie trooper legion in the new Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide. Death Troopers are also seen in Rogue One.
Here is the preview of Star Wars Rebels 2017 episodes: