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!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Read, You Must: Rogue One Rebel Dossier

Transmission incoming…

Promising “Info & Intel on the Rebellion’s Bravest Band of Spies”, Rogue One: Rebel Dossier is a 64-page look at the characters and situations of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story told through "top secret" documents, schematics and data files, now available from Disney/Lucasfilm Press.

The story of Rebel Dossier is revealed through communications back and forth between rebel leaders. The Rebel Alliance suspect the Empire is testing a new super-weapon and have spies throughout the galaxy searching for information. “Operation Fracture” is the code name given to the attempt to learn the truth, including the search for Jyn Erso, the rescue of Galen Erso and more. 

Rebel Dossier’s story runs parallel with the way things unfold in Rogue One but told from different perspectives. The Rebels clearly aren’t as united as they could be and there is much disagreement over what to do about the Empire’s growing strength. Eventually the truth comes out and is more terrifying than imagined: the Death Star is real!
General Draven: Seriously Concerned about Jyn Erso

Written by frequent Star Wars author Jason Fry (Weapon of a Jedi, Rey’s Survival Guide, The Force Awakens Incredible Cross Sections), Rebel Dossier is full of photos and intelligence data about Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO and the rest of the rebels of Rogue One.

Fry is terrific as usual as he tells this story in an unconventional way. Here the rebel leaders who may have had only a few moments in the film, like Commander Mothma, General Dodonna, General Draven and Bail Organa, tell their side of the story. The conversations feel authentic to what they must’ve had to discuss between the movie scenes. The urgency builds as it becomes clearer to the characters, and the reader, what the Empire is truly attempting to do.

There are moments in Rebel Dossier which help clarify some of the situations of the film that go by too fast for explanation, and some that just expand on what is on-screen. The perspective here is entirely on what the rebels know or are trying to learn, so there is much mystery inside about Krennic, Darth Vader and the Empire's plans. A folllow-up book from the Imperial side of the story could be interesting to read too!

In some cases, the communiques are from characters that (though important the Rebel Alliance in other stories) are not even seen in the movie, including General Airen Cracken, Major Arhul Hextrophon, and Lt. Voren Na’al - names which will be familiar for longtime Star Wars fans. Fry also has some fun with the text, even making a little nod to his Star Wars Rebels: Servants of the Empire book series by referring to Vader as the most dangerous "servant of the Empire".

The description of this book suggests it will be something like the like the scrapbook-type books like Rey’s Survival Guide and Ezra’s Rebel Journal. Unfortunately that’s not the case because everything looks pretty much the same, which was the only disappointment. It feels more like a magazine layout than a dossier of intelligence “files”. It could’ve been more creative with messages actually looking like they came from different sources, printouts, fold-out schematics, etc.

Also the book is quite dark in look, with some pages featuring blue text over black backgrounds making reading difficult at times. Then again, these are top secret documents we shouldn't be reading anyway...

Design problems aside, Rebel Dossier is a fun and fast-paced alternative way to look at the events of Rogue One.

Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 8 - 12

Also by Jason Fry:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Read, You Must: Rogue One The Ultimate Visual Guide

DK Publishing creates another must-own book for Star Wars fans! 

Thanks to 200 pages of detailed photos and insightful text by Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, Rogue One:The Ultimate Visual Guide offers an expanded experience that goes deeper than the film itself can cover in just two hours.

Rogue One fits perfectly with everything we already know about the Rebellion and the Empire, but also introduces plenty that has never been seen before in Star Wars. Hidalgo’s text gives names to so much of what is new in the film and a context to help readers understand where and how each new puzzle piece fits into the saga.

Who are all those people in the city on Jedha? What kind of alien is that in Saw Gerrara’s group? All of these nuggets of information are here. Readers can explore the various worlds of the movie and learn new character names, alien species, weaponry and more. There’s even a 2-page spread detailing the many different toys in young Jyn Erso’s bedroom!

Books like Rogue One The Ultimate Visual Guide allow readers to “pause” the action of the movie and really get a good look at background characters, droids, props, costumes and more. What is onscreen for only fractions of a second is here in rich detail to pour over and devour.

The only minor shortcoming, and this is also true of last year’s terrific The Force Awakens The Visual Dictionary (also by Hidalgo), is that there are a few characters or items of interest that did not make it into the book. This happens either because they were added to the film after the book was already set for printing, or because some things were meant to be kept a secret until the movie’s release. 

To give an example though would be to spoil one of Rogue One’s many surprises, but now that the movie is out it seems odd those key moments are not included here, as it is odd to not see Luke Skywalker in the first few The Force Awakens-related books.

It’s a small criticism though because what IS here is wonderful and DK’s visual guide books are dense with great stuff for Star Wars fans to enjoy. 

Unfortunately this came out too late to make our “Best Books of 2016” list, but it certainly deserves a place on that list! Highly recommended.

Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 9 - 12

Also by Pablo Hidalgo: Star Wars Rebels Head to Head 


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