Power of the Force 3 3/4" ASP-7 Droid and Expanded Universe 3 3/4" Luke and Leia

While I've got a handful of vintage figures in my collecton, it's the Power of the Force line from the late '90s that really brings back the most nostalgia for me. These were the figures hitting stores when I first saw A New Hope back in '96, and they bring back many fond memories of my childhood and early years as a Star Wars collector.

Recently I've been trying to hunt down some of those PotF figures that I missed the first time around, and last week at the 2015 Wellington Toy Collectors' Fair I had the chance to tick a few more off my list. One of the vendors had a boxful of loose Star Wars figures, and I managed to nab an ASP-7 Droid and Dark Empire  versions of both Luke and Leia for a total of $20.00.

The ASP-7 Droid made its debut in the much-maligned 1997 "Special Edition" of A New Hope. While he had barely ten-seconds of screen-time, I always loved his design. The droid also featured prominently in the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project that was released in the preceding year (and which still stands as my favourite piece of the Expanded Universe). This is the only time he ever made it to action-figure form, so I'm very glad to finally have one in my collection. This figure features five points of articulation (hips, shoulders, and neck) and comes with a pipe / beam accessory that fits well into his hands.

The other two figures are a little more eclectic, and were released as part of Hasbro's short-lived "Expanded Universe" line in 1998. Specifically, these versions of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are taken from Dark Empire - a comic I absolutely loved as a teenager. Both figures feature the same articulation as the ASP-7, though Luke has an extra point of articulation in his right wrist that provides a few more posing opportunities. Each figures comes with a unique blaster and lightsaber, and Leia's cloak is removable. What's particularly interesting about these two figures is that they mark the only post-RotJ depiction of Luke and Leia that we've seen in action figure form. Now, this'll obviously change with the slew of figures that'll accompany The Force Awakens later this year. But to me, that makes this pair even more interesting. This is our one, brief glimpse into what could have been - into that ephemeral alternate timeline now dubbed "Legends"...

And I think that's pretty cool.

Star Wars Is Everywhere - Gig Posters

Star Wars references are used to promote all kinds of things - and musical gigs are no different. During my time performing around Wellington, I've seen the 'Wars used in all kinds of ways to promote shows.

Have you seen any Star Wars-themed gig posters around your town? If you have, be sure to share them with us via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com.

2015 Wellington Toy Collectors' Fair

Last weekend the 2015 Wellington Toy Collectors' Fair was held at St. Mary's College in Thorndon, Wellington. The fair is an annual event, but hadn't made its way onto my radar in previous years. I went along not really knowing what to expect - but came away very impressed.

The whole event was incredibly well-organised, and featured several dozen vendors selling a wide range of collectibles. Most importantly, there were a lot of Star Wars items on offer - including books, collector cards, and a huge amount of carded and loose modern-era figures. Everything was in great condition, and it was clear that these sellers took a lot of pride in their wares.

The toy fair was a rummager's dream.

I picked up a handful of great items from the fair, so be sure to keep an eye out for further blog posts on those over the next couple of weeks!

Rebels 3 3/4" SL06 C1-10P (Chopper)

After what seems like an eternity, a healthy supply of Rebels Saga Legends figures is finally hitting stores here in New Zealand. We saw a short-lived release of the line at Toyworld and a few online stores late last year - but these were soon snapped up. Over the last week we've had confirmation that more of these figures are turning up at branches of The Warehouse throughout the country.

I restrict my 3 3/4" collecting to realistic figures, so the Rebels line hasn't been high on my priority list. Despite this, I'd always planned to make an exception for SL06 C1-10P (Chopper). I love the cobbled-together appearance of this character, and the subtle homage he pays to Ralph Macquarrie's early concept designs for R2-D2. Best of all, the sculpt is realistic enough to not look out of place next to the rest of my figures.

Perhaps one of the most disappointing things about the Rebels line is its return to the old five points of articulation (two in the hips, two in the shoulders, and one in the neck). This was what we got with nearly all Star Wars figures up until the release of Episode I, but since then we've been spoiled with a long run of highly poseable figures - some featuring up to fifteen points of articulation. Hasbro has made this reversal in an effort to offer more affordable figures, and so far they've made good on this promise. In New Zealand Rebels figures retail for $12.00, compared with the $20.00-$25.00 price tag on the more highly articulated Black Series figures.

This Chopper figure is an even simpler design - boasting a mere three points of articulation (two in the "hips", and a swivel dome). To be completely honest, I found this a little disappointing. Given the smaller size of this figure compared to others in the Rebels line (not to mention the complete absence of accessories) it seems that Hasbro could have at least given him another couple of points of articulation in his feet while still keeping the same price point. This simple modification, perhaps with the addition of a removable version of his centre wheel, would have exponentially increased the playability and poseability  of this figure.

These gripes aside, the rest of the figure is superb. The sculpt is flawless, and the paint application - while simple - really brings out the amazing detail. You get what you pay for, and for close to half the price of an ordinary figure this version of Chopper is still great value for money. Now I'm just hoping for some realistic versions of the rest of the Ghost crew!

First Images of New The Force Awakens Toys Revealed

A few days ago Entertainment Weekly gave us an exclusive first look at some of the new Star Wars merchandise that will be hitting stores in the lead-up to The Force Awakens. The preview featured three products: Lego's Buildable First Order Stormtrooper, Hasbro's First Order Stormtrooper 6-Inch Figure, and Mattel's First Order Stormtrooper Hot Wheels vehicle.

(Images courtesy of www.ew.com)

It's awesome to be getting a sneak-peak at what we can expect to see in the coming months, and this preview really shows the diversity of products that'll be accompanying the release of the new film. Nevertheless, I'll be passing on all of the above. There's going to be an enormous amount of The Force Awakens collectibles hitting stores - and collecting everything is going to be next to impossible. With that in mind, it seems that a focussed approach is going to be best. I've always had a strong collecting focus on 3 3/4" figures and miniature starships, so that's where my concentration will be. Now I can't wait to see what Disney has in store for these lines!

What are your thoughts on this preview? Be sure to email them to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com, or send me a tweet at @Archon_Revuge!

Hot Wheels Ghost

It's been a while since we've seen some decent miniature Star Wars ships on shelves. That's why I've been looking forward to the new line of Hot Wheels vehicles for some time. The first wave of these is now hitting stores, and includes a Snowspeeder, a Y-Wing, the Ghost, the Millennium Falcon, and Slave I.

The vehicles are die-cast, and incredibly close in scale to the now defunct Titanium Series line. Unfortunately, they lack the detail and features of that earlier line. They're rather pricey too - $14.99 here in New Zealand. For these reasons, the Titanium Series versions of the classic ships remain the better choice. With that being said, this new Hot Wheels line is a great way to get hold of vehicles that didn't enter Star Wars lore until after the Titanium Series line had ended. It's for exactly this reason that I made a point of snagging one of the Ghosts as soon as I spotted it in stores this week.

While the paintjob is a little flat,  the sculpt is excellent - and makes a great base for anyone looking to customise the ship by adding some more detail (something I might look at doing in the future). Unfortunately there are no moving parts, and I can't help but wonder if Hot Wheels couldn't have at least added in a rotating turret to increase playability.

The Ghost (like all of the other vehicles in this line) comes with a bonus "Flight Navigator" - a transparent display stand that doubles as a finger-mount for added 'whoosh' factor. Honestly, I find this a little gimmicky. I would have much preferred a simple, elegant stand like those that used to be packaged with Titanium Series and Action Fleet vehicles. Truth be told, I'll be looking to retrofit one of those older stands to display this very ship.

Overall, this isn't a bad representation of the Ghost - and with a little tweaking, it can be made great. Now I'm just waiting to see which vehicles from The Force Awakens get this same treatment!

The Clone Wars - Warriors of the Deep

The Whitcoulls book store close to where I live is currently having a clearance sale, and a short while ago I happened to find this copy of The Clone Wars - Warriors of the Deep reduced down to $3.00 from $12.99.

Warriors of the Deep is a young adult novelisation of the first three episodes of the fourth season of The Clone Wars television series. So, while it isn't a new story, it's still a great addition to my Star Wars library - especially for the price!