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
Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, the premiere one-hour movie for the coming animated series, aired last night on DisneyXD. If the first hour is any indication, Star Wars Rebels will likely appeal to the entire demographic of anyone under 13 years old. To that end, the premiere hour could be considered a success. But as the first visual incarnation of Star Wars in the hands of Disney, is it enough for the generations of loyal Star Wars adult fans?
Star Wars Rebels is targeted at kids primarily through its focus on Ezra, a teenage thief solely defined by his own survival. The unfortunately franchise-defining, stilted Star Wars dialogue and loud voice readings could only appeal to the younger set of “whiz-bang” aficionados. It’s “very Disney” with its constantly fart-sound emitting R5-D4-inspired droid named Chop–Disney just can’t get away from a goofy little fringe character in any of its films. The good part is that Ezra is a ringer for Disney’s Aladdin, and if you liked Aladdin there may be hope for this character for you.
We previewed the first novel in the New Universe under Disney here at borg.com a few weeks ago, Star Wars: A New Dawn. It featured an interesting, well-written story and was a good introduction of two key characters in the new animated series, a Jedi named Kanan Jarrus (voiced in the series by Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and his partner Hera Syndulla (voiced by Vanessa Marshall), a green Twi’lek woman. The difference is the novel had none of the goofy-for-kids elements.
Star Wars Rebels defines the challenges that stories of the New Universe will face. What are the essential elements that make something Star Wars? More importantly, what are the minimal elements required so this is not just another science fiction story with a Star Wars label? The first hour of the animated universe bombards us with references back to people, places, ships, uniforms, and artifacts of the first two trilogies. Can’t something new be done and yet remain completely of the Star Wars world? Some of the camaraderie on the rebel vessel approached that of Firefly, particularly with the gruff Jayne-like character, Zeb (voiced by Steve Blum), the couple Kana and Hera a bit like Zoe and Wash, and young bomb expert Sabine (voiced by Tiya Sircar) is a bit of a combination of the engineering skill of Kaylee and the borderline sociopath River. Have all the good sci-fi ideas been used up?
This week we get our introduction to animated Star Wars Disney-style with the premiere of the new series Star Wars Rebels. Set your DVRs for this Friday, October 3, for the one-hour premiere, Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on the Disney Channel. The first series episode begins October 13 on DisneyXD. The series features characters we previewed here at borg.com in our review of the first new universe Star Wars novel, A New Dawn.
Taking place between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a group of rebels takes on the Empire. The series features the voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Taylor Gray, Tiya Sircar, and Steve Blum.
Those with access can get an early look at Star Wars: Spark of Rebellion on September 26 at WATCHDisneyXD.com and on the WATCH DisneyXD app.
Coming in November is Disney’s full-length animated feature film, Big Hero 6. Big Hero 6 follows the story of two Japanese brothers and a robot one creates that looks a bit like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.