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.