Christmas Stocking Star Wars Haul

Long-time readers might recall the Chewbacca Christmas stocking I picked up a few years ago from a Target store in Houston, Texas. Every year, I hang it up at my folks' place - and every Christmas morning I find it miraculously filled with a handful of (usually Star Wars-related) surprises!

This year, there was a distinctly original-trilogy theme to the contents - which was very appropriate, given the recent release of Rogue One. Among the treats inside was a Darth Vader pez dispenser; a light-up Darth Vader bouncy ball; a pack of playing cards featuring exquisite images from episodes IV, V, and VI; a pair of Force Awakens pens; and a swath of original trilogy stickers.

Lego 30279 Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle Mini Building Set

It's no secret that I have a real love affair with Lego mini sets, and for my birthday this year my girlfriend surprised me with a new addition to my collection - Lego 30279 Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle.

It's clear that - as has come to be expected with these smaller models - Lego put an enormous amount of thought in to how to best represent this ship with such a tiny number of pieces (43, to be precise). The silhouette is perfect, and the addition of a handful of flat tiles allows the shuttle to retain it's signaure streamlined wings - which is no mean feat when you're working with an innately blocky medium. My favourite feature, however, has to be the ingenious use of a flag piece to give the model a fully-functioning boarding ramp.

This model never saw the light of day back in New Zealand, which makes it an even more unique addition to my growing contingent of Star Wars mini sets!

Star Wars Origami by Chris Alexander

There's nothing like doing some arts-and-crafts projects over the holiday season, and if those projects happen to be Star Wars-related - all the better! This year, I'm having an enormous amount of fun working my way through another birthday present from my girlfriend - Chris Alexander's Star Wars Origami.

The book features instructions for 36 different models in four ranging levels of difficulty: 'Youngling, 'Padawan', 'Jedi Knight', and 'Jedi Master'. This graded scale is a welcome feature, especially for those with little-to-no previous experience of origami folding (like myself). My girlfriend and I are currently working on the Padawan-level models, and already finding that it's a steep learning curve. While the models can be made using any old piece of paper, the rear of the book contains a stack of custom-printed pages to add some extra wow-factor to your creations. Best of all, most models come with duplicate sheets so that you and your friend (or equally Star Wars-obsessed significant other) can work on the same model simultaneously.

The Black Series 6" K-2SO

One of the most distinctive designs to come out of Rogue One is that of K-2S0 - the sassy reprogrammed Imperial droid that aids our heroes on their adventures. I'd previously picked up the basic 3 3/4" figure of this character, but my wonderful girlfriend also surprised me with the far more intricate 6" Black Series version for my birthday.

This is actually the first figure I've come to own in this scale. Hasbro's introduction of the 6" line in 2013 left collectors with a difficult decision: move to an entirely new scale of action figure, or stick with the 3 3/4" line and accept a severe reduction in detail and articulation. I opted for the latter;  adopting a strict rule of collecting figures of only one particular scale. There are exceptions to every rule however - and if ever there was a character that would best showcase the increased detail of this line, K-2SO is it.

The figure boasts seventeen points of articulation that allow him to be placed in almost any conceivable pose. Further, K-2SO's design means that these points of movement blend seamlessly into the figure - a welcome departure from many other super-articulated figures that feature a number of unsightly hinges. His paint job is top-notch, featuring a matte-black base that gives the figure an exceptionally high-quality feel. Convincing scratches and weathering at the joints only serve to add to this impression. K-2SO's spindly legs and top-heavy construction might seem as though they'd make for a precarious figure, but this version is surprisingly stable. Only the most minute of adjustments is required to have him stand firmly - even without the use of a figure stand.

While my core-collecting focus will always be on the 3 3/4" line, I'm rapt to have K-2SO in this bigger and better scale. He works fantastically as a stand-alone model, and will be getting his own spot sitting pride-of-place on my desk!

The Hunt Is On - Rogue One 3 3/4" Wave 2 Single-Carded Figures Found

While it took a few weeks longer than expected, the second wave of Rogue One 3 3/4" figures finally turned up at my local Warehouse store last week. Fortuitous timing saw the entire line reduced down to $13.00 a figure, so it was the perfect opportunity to pick up all of the characters I was after - Captain Cassian Andor (Eadu)Chirrut Îmwe, Director Krennic, and Sergeant Jyn Erso (Jedha).

As far as I'm concerned, Hasbro continue to impress with their 3 3/4" line. While the vehicles are best left unmentioned, their single-carded figures continue to display the excellent sculpting and painting that have (for the most part) been a hallmark of Star Wars figures over the years. Sure, they're still five-points-of-articulation - but their naturalistic poses mean they still look damn good when displayed.

In fact, when you're examining figures like Krennic (and his molded vinyl cape) you'll swear you're holding a piece straight out of Kenner's Power of the Force line - and that's by no means a bad thing. The likenesses to each on-screen character are also very satisfying, with Chirrut Îmwe bearing a particularly uncanny resemblance. Each figure continues to come with a single on-screen weapon, as well as an oversized feature-adding weapon. Cassian's zipline accessory opens some fun diorama-building options, but the rest (all projectile-firing launchers of some kind) are best left to one side and forgotten about.

Hallmark Keepsake T-70 X-Wing Christmas Tree Ornament

Every year, Hallmark release a new assortment of 'Keepsake' Star Wars Christmas ornaments. This year's range comes with a distinct Force Awakens flavour - and one of the coolest is this superb replica of Poe Dameron's T-70 X-Wing fighter that I received as a birthday present from my parents this week

Like it's predecessors, this ornament features exquisite detailing, a superb paint job, and is cast in a high-quality plastic that gives the model a surprising amount of heft for its size. As an extra feature, the ornament is battery powered - and pressing BB-8's head causes the unit to play one of three pieces of Poe's dialogue from the final battle above Starkiller Base.

For mounting, you'll need to attach your own thread to the inconspicuous hook mounted at the rear. I opted for some stylish black ribbon!

The Force Awakens 3 3/4" First Order Snowspeeder

The 3 3/4" vehicle offerings for The Force Awakens were a contentious affair. With dramatic under-scaling, cockpits that couldn't properly seat figures, and cheaper rubberised parts that were prone to warping, it's not uncommon to see both Poe's X-Wing Fighter and the First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter still on shelves over a year later. Two notable exceptions within the vehicle line were Rey's Speeder (which I received last year) and the First Order Snowspeeder - which I received a couple of days ago as a birthday present from my parents. 

While the snowspeeder's screen-time in the theatrical film was minimal, it did play a central role in a deleted scene contained on the Force Awakens Blu-Ray. It's a fantastic little vehicle that comes with a removable firing tripod and an exclusive First Order Snowtrooper Officer. The snowspeeder itself is perfectly scaled to the 3 3/4" line, features a handy set of fold-down landing gear, and - like Rey's speeder - is of a satisfyingly sturdy construction. In fact, it's once again exactly the kind of thing you would've expected to see from Kenner back in the late 90s (a time which is, for collectors of my age, full of heady nostalgia).

With the addition of a second snowtrooper and a few cargo crates, this set makes the perfect base for a miniature Starkiller Base-diorama.

Star Wars Rebels Complete Season 2 DVD

Back in November, the Complete Season 2 DVD of Star Wars Rebels hit stores here in New Zealand - and I was lucky enough to receive this set from my parents for my birthday.

At the end of Season 1, I wrote about how Star Wars Rebels is binding the galaxy together. Season 2 of this phenomenal show is no exception. With more appearances by prequel, original trilogy, and Clone Wars characters, introductions of elements from the Legends expanded universe, and even head-nods to The Force Awakens, this show is pulling from every aspect of the vast Star Wars mythos to fill each episode.

Like Season 1, this latest release also includes every episode of Andi Gutierrez's fantastic Rebels Recon series as well as a bonus featurette Connecting the Galaxy: Rebels Season 2. 

Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid

Of all of the Force Awakens merchandise that hit stores last year, there was one item in particular that all fans were clamoring for - Sphero's BB-8 App-Enabled Droid. It was my birthday today, and thanks to my parents I'm now lucky enough to have one of these droids to call my own.

Take a quick tour of the internet, and you'll find any number of websites, blogs, and video reviews claiming how awesome this thing is. Let me tell you, they're not wrong. Whatever you think you're going to get out of this little guy, your expectations go out the window as soon as he comes to life. With his trademark engineering-marvel-movement, and an undeniably mischievous personality, Sphero's latest robotic offering is truly phenomenal.

BB-8 links up to almost any portable device, and once operational can be run in a range of different modes - including a manual remote-control mode in which the operator has full control, as well as a fully autonomous mode in which BB-8 will explore the area and react to obstacles on his own. He also responds to voice commands, and - thanks to a recent update - can now be instructed to follow pre-programmed routes drawn on the controlling device's screen.

While BB-8 originally retailed for $279,99, he's been occasionally available for little as $149.99. If you haven't yet added one to your collection, you'll want to in time for the release of Episode VIII next year!

Park Avenue The Force Awakens Christmas Countdown Calendar

As is becoming tradition at this time of year, December 1st marks the beginning of a new Star Wars advent calendar counting down the days to Christmas. Several were available this year, but I opted for Park Avenue's Force Awakens-themed offering.

As is customary, the calendar contains twenty-five opening compartments - each with a small chocolate behind. While the chocolates are in traditional Christmas (not Star Wars) themed shapes, the back of the calendar does contain a cut-out card matching game featuring characters from The Force Awakens. You can pick up your very own from most New Zealand grocery stores for just $4.99.

Star Wars Auto Sunshade

While it's been available abroad for a while now, this nifty Star Wars auto sunshade has only just begun turning up at Warehouse stores here in New Zealand for $20.00 a piece.

The sunshade is made from a high-quality material and is a one-size-fits-all deal - folding down at either end to suit narrower windshields. It's a great novelty item, and one that's sure to bring a smile to any fans wandering past your car. 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

As something of a companion to the Celebration reel, has released a new behind-the-scenes featurette for Rogue One. You can check it out below!

This video is a particularly nice introduction for those not obsessively following every Star Wars film release - explaining Rogue One's positioning (and importance) within the wider saga. Also included are a few brand new shots from the film!

[Update: In addition to this extended featurette, two further behind the scenes videos - Creature Featurette and Introducing Jyn Erso - have also been released.]

Lego Star Wars - Droid Tales DVD

I'm something of a completionist when it comes to Star Wars-related home entertainment, so I recently picked up the 2-disc DVD set of Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales from Mighty Ape for $19.99.

The set features all five episodes from the Droid Tales series. While something of an extended commercial for the latest Lego Star Wars sets, the show still proves to be mighty entertaining - and the addition of Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Tom Kane as Yoda only sweetens the deal!

Countdown Cosmic Shells Collection

After Countdown supermarkets around New Zealand ran several Disney-themed giveaways over recent years, it seemed like it was only a matter of time until we saw a similar 'Wars-themed promotion. Our patience was rewarded in August when shoppers were given the opportunity to collect a set of 36 "Cosmic Shells" featuring characters, ships and planets from the Star Wars universe - including The Force Awakens.

One shell was given away with every $20 of groceries purchased, and with the help of my parents I was able to complete a full set. The shells could then be displayed in a specially-designed album available from Countdown supermarkets for $8. Also included with the album was a game board poster and rules that allowed the shells (which featured statistics on the reverse sides) to be used in a checkers-style game.

In addition, eight of the shells also contained a feature that - when scanned by the free Cosmic Shells app - unlocked a short video detailing one of the starships from that galaxy far, far away. By inserting your phone into the $3 Cosmic Shells Movie Box, this video would then be projected as a 'hologram' for viewing. This was a really neat feature, though some of the shells were a little temperamental - requiring several attempts to scan properly into the app.

Countdown went all-out with promoting this giveaway - filling stores with posters and near life-size cut-outs of First Order Stormtroopers. At the end of the promotion, many stores raffled off these cut-outs for a $10 donation to charity. I was lucky enough to win one of these raffles, and now have my very own trooper standing guard over my collection!

For full details of the Countdown Cosmic Shells promotion (including images of all shells in the set) be sure to check out the excellent coverage at!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Second Theatrical Trailer Released

After a surprise announcement on yesterday's episode of The Star Wars Show, this morning saw the release of the third and final trailer for Rogue One. You can check it out below:

Immediately prior to this release, I was confidently claiming that I didn't need another trailer. The previous trailer had been damn-near perfect, and gave me everything I needed to reach Force Awakens-levels of anticipation for this film. It turns out I was wrong. So, so wrong.

While August's trailer stoked the fires of nostalgia, this latest morsel aims directly for the heart. It's clear that Rogue One will - perhaps more than any Star Wars film before - focus on the sheer grit and heroism of those soldiers fighting evil in that galaxy far, far away. These aren't vaunted Jedi - they're simple, everyday souls trying to better the galaxy. It's a side of Star Wars that we've never really seen before, and if Rogue One can pull it off, it might very well find itself a place among the best films of the saga.

What are your thoughts on the second theatrical trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to!

[Update: This trailer - along with the original - have now been spliced into five separate TV spots: Together, Hope, Dream, Jyn & Cassian, Trust, and Breath.]

The Hunt Is On - Rogue One 3 3/4" Wave 1 Figures Found

While there was no sign of the new Micro Machines packs, I was able to nab all of the Rogue One 3 3/4" figures on my wishlist on Force Friday last week. While there will always be residual grumbles about continuing reduction in articulation, this first wave features some phenomenally good figures.

Let's start with the two-packs. Each contains a highly desirable new class of trooper from the film (the Imperial Death Trooper and the Scarif Stormtrooper Squad Leader) coupled with a currently unfamiliar alien denizen of the Star Wars universe (Moroff and Rebel Commando Pao respectively). Both troopers feature great sculpts that work well in a natural pose, and the Scarif Stormtrooper is adorned with a particularly intricate paint deco and weathering. Surprisingly, however, it's the pack-in aliens that are the real stars of these packs. Moroff is simply fantastic - a hefty chunk of plastic that resembles some kind of bizarre hybrid between a wampa and a sloth. Pao, on the other hand, is more diminutive, but comes with some superb detailing and an articulated opening mouth. All four figures in the two-packs come with their blaster of choice, and Pao also features a removable backpack.

The single-carded figures are no less impressive. The Imperial Ground Crew wasn't initially on my wishlist - but after seeing him in the flesh, I decided he was a must-have to accompany my developing 'Imperial Hangar' set-up. Likewise, I had no intention of adding another Imperial Stormtrooper to my collection, but it was hard to resist with Farmers' 2-for-$25 deal. I'm certainly glad I made that call, because this is hands-down the finest stormtrooper sculpt ever released by Hasbro. I'm not sure what kind of improvements have been made to the molding process in recent years, but the tooling on this figure - particularly on the helmet - is a giant leap forward from the trooper molds we saw even as recently as The Black Series. Both the Imperial Ground Crew and Imperial Stormtrooper come with their respective blasters.

The Sergeant Jyn Erso (Eadu) figure isn't quite up to this same high standard, however. While it's a decent enough representation of the character, a couple of minor gripes detract from its overall appearance. Chief among these is the fact that the positioning of the oxygen canister on her left side doesn't allow her arm to lower fully, causing her to strike a highly unnatural pose. This can be somewhat remedied by pulling her arm outwards, and placing her pistol in her offhand (as seen in the image above) - but it seems like the sort of oversight that should have been remedied at the sculpting stage. Jyn does come with some nice additions that make up for this problem, however, including a working holster for her blaster pistol and a wearable oxygen mask.

The real stand-out in this line is K-2SO however. And rightly so. What BB-8 was to The Force Awakens, K-2SO will  be to Rogue One - so it makes sense that extra time and care would be taken in getting this figure right. His sculpt and paint job are flawless, right down to the gold etching and worn-away Imperial emblems on his shoulders. Surprisingly, he features a double-jointed ball-and-socket neck that gives him a wide range of 'expressions'. His hips are ball-and-socket jointed as well. In fact, additional articulation seems to be something that's slowly creeping its way back into these figures. The Force Awakens line saw a move back to five points of articulation on all figures. But, as just mentioned, K-2SO features six points-of-articulation, four of which are of the much-preferred ball-and-socket variety. Further, Jyn features rotating forearms, granting her seven points of articulation. We're still  a far-cry from the fifteen points-of-articulation of recent years, but it's nice to see the return of some extra poseability.

Both the two-packs and single-carded figures come with a variety of over-sized accessories to increase playability for kids - but the less said about those, the better. These pack-ins are far preferable to the "build-a-weapon" parts from the Force Awakens line, however, and some (like the Imperial Ground Crew's flight pack) might even pass as an authentic screen-used accessory.

Rogue Friday (September 2016)

Last year's 'Force Friday' arrived with great fanfare, and heralded our first opportunity to buy merchandise from the highly anticipated The Force Awakens. Advertising was rife for weeks in advance, and many retailers opted to hold 'midnight madness' events. Today's Rogue Friday was much more low-key - there were no late-night openings, and announcements regarding the new line of stock were minimal.

Despite the lack of promotion, my hometown's Warehouse, Farmers, and Toyworld stores all managed to have a comprehensive range of the new Rogue One merchandise out in time for store-opening. Of these, it was Farmers that made the best effort - with a dedicated Rogue One endcap and a full-size Imperial Death Trooper out front (both pictured above). Farmers further sweetened the deal by having all 3 3/4" figures (which usually retail for $17.99) down to 2 for $25. The Warehouse also had a buy-one-get-one-half-price deal on all Star Wars products.

Despite the discounts, there were no eager throngs at opening time. While stock did deplete during the morning, I didn't come across any other collectors enthusiastically rifling through the new products. It's unclear whether this apathy is indicative of a more general decline in excitement for new Star Wars merchandise, or simply due to the fact that Rogue One is the first film to fall outside of the central saga. I guess we'll have to wait until Force Friday 2017 to find out!