Original Trilogy-Themed Socks

As an extra stocking-stuffer from my parents this Christmas, I received this incredibly cool pair of Original Trilogy-themed socks.

I've always struggled to find men's Star Wars socks. In fact, these are the first pairs I've ever owned! As such. they'll make a very welcome addition to my wardrobe.

Chewbacca Notebook

Another Christmas present I received from my parents this year was this delightfully weird Chewbacca notebook.

I'm currently in the process of carrying out a thorough inventory of my collection - so this notebook will be a perfect way of keeping track of that!

Star Wars Official 2019 Calendar

It wouldn't be a festive season without a new Star Wars calendar to help see in the New Year - and this Christmas, my parents surprised me with this very cool Original Trilogy-themed calendar for 2019!

Each month features a classic character or vehicle painted in a unique watercolour style. As always, there's a very nice 'centrefold' image in the middle, allowing the calendar to double as a poster once the year is up.

Merry Christmas from Relics of the Force!

It's Christmas Eve here in New Zealand - so Merry Christmas everyone! Here's hoping you all have a happy and safe holiday season filled with Star Wars goodies.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who's taken the time to visit and comment on this blog during 2017. Your support and kind words mean the world to me. May the Force be with you!

'Tis the Season for Star Wars!

There's no better way to celebrate the holiday season than by injecting a little Star Wars goodness into your celebrations. Since 1996, Hallmark has been helping us do this with a range of incredibly well-made and well-detailed Christmas "Keepsake" ornaments - many of which also feature sound effects and dialogue from the movies. We add a few more to our tree each year, and it's now looking ready for even the grandest Life Day celebration!

If you've got some festive Star Wars pictures you'd like to show off, be sure to share them with us via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com.

Hallmark Keepsake Praetorian Guard and Rey Christmas Tree Ornaments

My fiancée and I both have birthdays in the first week of December, making us prime candidates to receive Hallmark Keepsake ornaments as gifts. This year was no different, and we added two new additions to our collection courtesy of my parents - the Praetorian Guard and Rey from The Last Jedi.

As we've come to expect with items from the Hallmark Keepsake line, the sculpt and paint apps on these figures is second to none. Best of all, the pair combine to form a very nice miniature diorama on the tree together.

I'm especially glad to have some more sequel trilogy representation on our tree. They'll go very nicely with our BB-8 and Poe's X-Wing!

Star Wars Is Everywhere - Johnson Space Center

Despite it's focus on real-world space travel, the occasional science-fiction curiosity has managed to creep its way into Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I spotted one such item on a recent tour of the Astronaut training complex - a helmet from a galaxy far, far away...

Have you found Star Wars in the most unlikeliest of places? If you have, be sure to share it with us via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com.

Cassian Andor Live-Action TV Series Announced

In a somewhat surprising revelation, StarWars.com today announced the impending production of a Cassian Andor live-action TV series. With Diego Luna reprising his Rogue One role as Andor, the 'rousing spy thriller' is set to "explore tales filled with espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire".

While a Cassian-centric show may not be the series we thought we needed, I'm somewhat excited about the possibilities it presents - specifically, the cameos it might provide. Perhaps we'll see Andor first encounter his ascerbic droid companion, K-2SO. Or maybe we'll get to see a little more of Mon Mothma and Bail Organa's exploits in the period leading up to Rogue One. There's even the chance - however unlikely it may be - that we could see the crew of the Ghost briefly make a life-action appearance.

While no release date has yet been announced, the series will air exclusively on Disney's new direct-to-consumer streaming service, Disney+. Stay tuned for more details as they're inevitably announced!

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

The Hunt Is On - Force Link 2.0 3 3/4" Trooper Pack Found

While I have a pretty broad focus when it comes to 3 3/4" figures, I've always been a sucker for trooper variants. Given this, I was incredibly excited to hear that Target would be stocking an exclusive trooper pack featuring half-a-dozen Imperial soldiers from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Mine finally arrived this week, and has quickly become one of my favourite offerings from Hasbro in the modern era.

Featuring six figures in total (including four new brand new figures - three of which are character debuts) this pack is every army-builder's dream come true. The clear highlight of the pack is Mudtrooper Han - a wonderfully sculpted figure that features a cape, blaster rifle, removable goggles, and a breathing mask that clips ever-so-pleasingly onto Han's face. In fact, the goggles and mask fit so well that the figure can easily (once its face is covered) double as a generic Mudtrooper - perfect for those planning on purchasing more than one of these sets. In fact, the additional Imperial Mudtrooper that comes with the pack appears to be exactly this: the Han figure with the goggles and breathing mask permanently glued into place, along with a slightly different paint scheme and a modified rifle.

The third character debut in this pack is the Imperial Patrol Trooper. While only a blink-and-you'll-miss-him character from the film, he's still a highly desirable addition for any Star Wars military completionist like myself. Though not posed in a particularly dynamic way, he still comes with a sidearm that slips nicely into the working holster at his hip.

Also included is a repack of the Mimban Stormtrooper from Wave 1 of the Force Link 2.0 line. Like the Rangetrooper in the "Mission on Vandor-1" pack, this is an excellent choice of repack - being a character that many collectors struggled to find during its single-carded release. In fact, since managing to nab one straight off the shelf-stockers trolley on release day, I've yet to see another Mimban Stormtrooper in the wild.

While technically a new figure, the fifth addition to the pack - the Stormtrooper Squad Leader - is a clever kitbash of the body of the Mimban Stormtrooper and the head and pauldron from the Rogue One Stormtrooper. What this gives us, however, is possibly the nicest, crispest sculpt of a stormtrooper that we've ever seen in the 3 3/4" line. Sure, he only has seven points-of-articulation (POA) - but as a display piece, he's second-to-none.

Rounding out the pack is a simple 5POA TIE pilot. He doesn't have a whole lot going for him, and most collectors will already own this character in a much more highly-articulated form. That being said, he features a heightened level of detailing that sets him apart from previous releases, and still makes him incredibly useful as diorama filler.

My hope is that this pack sells well (at least, much better than Target's last straight-to-clearance 3 3/4" exclusive) and sends the right kind of message to Hasbro that we need plenty more packs like this!

Title of Jon Favreau's Live-Action TV Series Announced as The Mandalorian

Today StarWars.com announced the title of Jon Favreau's upcoming live-action TV Series as The Mandalorian, and gave us our first glimpse from the set - and potentially of the main protagonist.

(Image courtesy of StarWars.com)

The announcement came shortly after Favreau Instagrammed the following brief synopsis of the show:
After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.
The series will be written and executive produced by Favreau, with Dave Filoni (of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels fame) directing the first episode. Other episodes will be directed by Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard, and - most excitingly - my fellow Kiwi Taika Waititi.

Ever since falling in love with Firefly, I've been dying to see a western set in the Star Wars universe. I'm incredibly excited that this show might just give us that!

How about you? What are your thoughts on this announcement? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

The Hunt Is On - Force Link 2.0 "Mission On Vandor-1" Pack Found

Ever since Disney took over the Star War franchise, it's been tradition for Hasbro to release a 3 3/4" figure pack to coincide with the home video release of each new film. Unfortunately, the figure selections in these packs has often been highly questionable. The first pack (the Force Awakens' "Takodana Encounter" Pack) bundled the exclusive - and highly desirable - Maz Kanata with three straight repacks. Further, these repacks are usually of unique characters (like Jyn in the "Jedha Revolt" pack and Rey in the "Battle on Crait" pack) that collectors already own, and that aren't required in duplicate. This time, however, Hasbro have done everything right.

The Force Link 2.0 3 3/4" Mission on Vandor-1 four-pack - released to accompany the home video release of Solo - features three brand new (and highly desirable) figures. First up is train-heist Han, who comes complete with a blaster pistol, working holster, fur coat, and the most adorable pair of goggles you ever did see. Best of all, he features a surprising nine points-of-articulation - only three less than many of the figures in the premium 3 3/4" lines. Next up is Qi'ra, making her first action figure appearance in one of her adult outfits. The figure is a superb likeness of Emilia Clarke, and also comes with a sidearm and working holster. Interestingly, though, the figure eschews Qi'ra's screen-accurate mini-skirt and tights in favour of a far more 70s-esque pair of slacks. While never actually seen in Solo, this outfit is, in fact, the very one worn by Qi'ra in the animated Forces of Destiny episode "Triplecross".

But the real star of this pack is Weazel. Ever since my first viewing of Solo, I've been hoping to assemble the whole of Enfys Nest's Coud-Riders gang in action figure form. Weazel is a first step towards this. Sculpted with a gorgeous crispness - and featuring pleasing little details like the two additional rockets strapped to his waist - Weazel is everything you could want in a figure. He, unlike the other three figures, also comes packed with two weapons: a rocket launcher and blaster pistol. Further, his diminutive height makes the reduced articulation makes little-to-no-difference to his poseability.

The single repack in this set is the Rangetrooper from Wave 1 of the Force Link 2.0 line. But this is as it should be. Nobody minds duplicate troopers - especially when the initial release of this figure was hard to track down for many collectors.

All up, this stands out as Hasbro's best home video pack to date. Featuring the perfect blend of characters - and a wise choice of a repack - it should be an easy sell for anyone collecting 3 3/4" figures.

The Black Series 3 3/4" #23 Toryn Farr and #01 R5-G19

Aside from the SDCC Exclusive Doctor Aphra set, it's been a dry few months for 3 3/4" collectors. I've been doing my best to make use of that downtime - going back through my collection, and seeing what gaps need to be filled. I've been paying particular attention to super-articulated Original Trilogy characters, and recently scored a couple of bargains off Amazon: The Black Series 3 3/4" #23 Toryn Farr (from Phase I of the line), and #01 R5-G19 (from Phase II of the line).

While I'd long ago added Echo Base versions of Han and Luke to my collection, the release of the Vintage Collection Hoth Rebel Trooper and the  phenomenal new Imperial Probe Droid and Wampa sculpts over the last year has seen me start to amass a really nice set of Hoth-themed figures. It's for this reason that I opted to pick up Toryn. Despite her only receiving a few seconds of screen time in the Empire Strikes Back, she's an interesting and unique enough sculpt to have caught my attention. Featuring twelve points of articulation, a blaster pistol, and a pair of headphones, she'll make an excellent diorama-filler.

The same is true of R5-G19. A blink-and-you'll-miss-him droid from the Death Star briefing scene in Return of the Jedi, R5 will nevertheless look great alongside a cadre of Rebel Pilots and the Black Series Ackbar I picked up last year.

But the real attraction of this figure is in his construction. In an unusual move, Hasbro opted to construct an entirely new figure using pack-in parts from their highly popular Legacy Collection Build-a-Droid line. What this means is that R5 isn't only a new figure, but a source of five additional droid parts that can be mixed-and-matched with the other pack-in parts from the Build-a-Droid line (like the leg that came with the EVO Trooper I acquired a couple of months ago).

I'm rapt with both of these figures, and can't wait to get them set up with their Rebel allies!

Funko Pop! #256 Vulptex (Crystal Fox) Bobblehead

While I've mostly resisted the temptation to begin collecting Star Wars figures from Funko's Pop! line, my fiancée has been developing a carefully curated collection of Pop! characters from her favourite franchises. Recently, she included her first Star Wars addition - a Vulptex (Crystal Fox) from Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Unlike standard Funkos, this figure is sculpted in an opalescent plastic - doing excellent justice to the strange semi-transparent nature of its on-screen counterpart. Further, while 'adorable' is the general mandate for Pop! figures, the vulptex takes this to a whole other level. His (or her?) large black eyes and diminutive body work even better than usual to make this one of the cutest Funkos yet. 

The Hunt Is On - The Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Doctor Aphra Special Action Figure Set Found

As predicted, HasbroToyShop's allotment of Vintage Collection 3 3/4" Doctor Aphra Special Action Figure Sets arrived to a storm of tab refreshing, website crashing, and fans desperate to get their hands on this highly desirable exclusive. The set was slated to be made available online at some point on August 13th, so I spent that morning watching the Hasbro website like a hawk. At around 11.00am CST, she was available - right when I had to leave for work. Fortunately, my one-in-a-million fiancée took over the reins: trying on no less than three different devices to push an order through the severely overtaxed Hasbro servers. Despite her best efforts - and even, at one point, receiving an order number and having the funds (momentarily) removed from our bank account - luck was not with us. Ours was among countless orders that were confirmed in error and never honoured. It was a huge disappointment to us both, and we quietly resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn't be adding this particular set to our collection.

It therefore came as a huge surprise when HasbroToyShop - with no fanfare whatsoever - made a new batch of Aphras available in their online store last week. I secured my order within minutes, and was overjoyed to have her arrive just a few days ago.

Before even opening this set, I was already floored by the exquisite packaging. Not only does it come in the retro 'vintage' multi-pack design, but the artwork and labelling is all rendered with beautiful metallic foil. As any regular reader of this blog will know, I'm an unabashed opener; but this was one of the hardest items I've ever had to pull from its packaging. Fortunately, the design is such that - with the adroit use of a sharp blade - the figures can be removed with no visible damage to the packaging. (In fact, the above in-package photo was taken after the figures had already been removed and replaced once.)

The figures themselves are damn-near perfect. Aphra is wonderfully nimble, featuring a total of sixteen points of articulation. The joints are much better than on many other figures too, affording her a wider range of motion. Her hips - for one - are ball-jointed, and her elbow is nimble enough to allow her to actually holster and unholster her included pistol. Triple Zero is a straight-up repaint of the Vintage Collection C-3PO figure: but given that this is my favourite protocol droid sculpt so far, I'm more than happy to see it reused. Specifically, this sculpt comes with four pieces of removable plating (face, chest, back, and right thigh) that open up all kinds of battle damage and display options. BeeTee is a little more novel. While we've seen his trunk and legs countless times before (most notably in the pack-in Build-A-Droid line), his head is all-new. He can be left in his understated astromech mode, or two pop-off side panels on his head can be removed to provide mounting points for a cannon and missile launcher - thus allowing him to be displayed in "all guns blazing" mode. It's a small thing, but I particularly love the way the removed panels are made to reattach to the weapons themselves, leaving no parts spare.

All up, I'm rapt with this set. Doctor Aphra has been a must-have for me ever since her announcement, and what would the intrepid archaeologist be without her (slightly psychopathic) droid companions?

Star Wars Resistance First Look Trailer Released

This morning StarWars.com unveiled the 'first look' trailer for their next animated series: Star Wars Resistance. You can check it out below.

Set shortly before the events of the The Force Awakens, and featuring cameos from sequel trilogy characters characters BB-8, Poe Dameron, and Captain Phasma (the latter two of which are voiced by Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie respectively), Resistance is the latest brainchild of Dave Filoni and the crew behind The Clone Wars and Rebels.

I must admit, it's hard to form too much of an opinion based on this one video. While touted as a "First Look Trailer", it plays more like a rushed TV commercial - not really giving much sense of how the show will unfold narratively or thematically. (For a masterclass on constructing a teaser trailer, you need look no further than the Clone Wars trailer released by the same studio only a few weeks ago.) That being said, it's enough to make me bite. I love the ship designs, and the animation style suits them beautifully - even if I'm not fully sold on that same style when applied to the actual characters. While all rumours point towards the show being aimed at a much younger age demographic than either The Clone Wars or Rebels, I'll still be tuning in eagerly!

How about you? What are your thoughts on this trailer? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

Episode IX Cast Announced

Yesterday StarWars.com announced the cast of Episode IX, providing us with our first real bit of official news about the film. Many of the actors came as no surprise: with sequel trilogy veterans Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, and Anthony Daniels all returning. Mark Hamill will also be back - a foreseeable addition, given Jedi mentors' habits of reappearing long after their deaths.

A little more surprising was the announcement that Leia Organa would once again be played by the late Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. There's already a lot of online chatter about this choice - but, as per usual, I'm going to wait and see how her inclusion turns out before jumping to any conclusions. While it could prove a stumbling block for the filmmakers, there's also the chance that they'll pull it off with a great deal of taste and respect - providing our Princess with the fitting end she deserves.

Perhaps the most exciting part of yesterday's announcement was the confirmation (after months of rumours and speculation) that Billie Dee Williams will also be returning to reprise his iconic role as Lando Calrissian. This is fantastic news, and an announcement that many fans - including myself - had been hoping for ever since the sequel trilogy was first announced in 2012. I had the good fortune to meet Williams back in 2007, and will be rapt to see him on the big screen again. Williams will be joined by several other new additions to the sequel trilogy including Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell.

One particularly interesting tidbit buried within the casting announcement was the comment that this will be the "the final installment of the Skywalker saga". It's important to take this with a grain of salt, of course; there's been at least two occasions in the past when those very same words have been uttered. If, however, this is a clear statement of Disney's intent for the future, then it's one that I welcome with open arms.

Don't get me wrong - I've loved the sequel trilogy. And I genuinely feel that the story so far has been a natural and fitting progression of the saga I grew up with. That being said, I don't want to see new sequels produced ad infinitum. With Rogue One, Solo, and Star Wars: Rebels, Lucasfilm and Disney have shown a remarkable ability to create wonderful stories outside of the core Skywalker saga. More Star Wars is always good - but going forward, I'd prefer to see more content focussing elsewhere in the galaxy, and not just on one particular Force-sensitive family. With Rian Johnson's new trilogyDavid Benioff and D.B. Weiss's films, and Jon Favreau's live-action television series already in the works, it seems that this is precisely the direction that Disney is taking - and I, for one, couldn't be happier.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

The Clone Wars Returns

There's been all kinds of exciting news coming out of this year's San Diego Comic-Con International, but the most surprising is without-a-doubt Lucasfilm's announcement that its beloved The Clone Wars animated series will be returning. You can see the official trailer below.

While it never quite soared to the same heights as Rebels, I still adored this show - and found myself having more of an emotional reaction to this trailer than I ever could have expected. Airing in an era when any other kind of new Star Wars visual media was inconceivable, The Clone Wars was - for five thrilling years - an incredibly important part of our ongoing connection to the saga. This made its abrupt cancellation all the more difficult for fans. While Rebels did much to explain the fates of some Clone Wars characters, there always remained a real lack of closure surrounding this series. Not so anymore. Twelve new episodes will be released via Disney's direct-to-consumer streaming service -  giving Dave Filoni the chance to provide a satisfying conclusion to his first foray into the Star Wars universe. No release date has been announced, but stay tuned for updates!

What are your thoughts on this announcement? Be sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to relicsoftheforce@gmail.com!

Lego 41619 BrickHeadz Darth Vader and 41620 BrickHeadz Stormtrooper

Today's post comes partially on behalf of my fiancée. Well, I say that - but I'm becoming just as obsessed with these particular collectibles as she is. They are, of course, BrickHeadz - the new line from Lego that is rapidly expanding to cover all kinds of franchises. Most recently, their range has been riding the nostalgia wave, releasing adorable brickified versions of characters from classic films such as Back to the Future and Ghostbusters. While there've also been a handful of Star Wars releases, these have solely been characters pulled from the new films (like Captain Phasma). Now, however, Lego is turning it's attention towards the original trilogy, beginning with Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. My fiancée ordered the pair on their day of release, and they finally arrived just a few days ago.

Like their predecessors, these BrickHeadz certainly don't fail to impress. Using familiar pieces in clever ways, the sets manage to sculpt incredibly accurate (if stylised) likenesses of their on-screen doppelgangers. It's the little details that really make these sets - like the tiny thermal detonator on the stormtrooper's back, or the utilisation of certain pieces to create the appearance of pleats in Vader's cape.

At $9.99USD a pop, these BrickHeadz also continue to provide wonderful bang-for-your-buck. Not only does each set give you a great Funko-like figure for display (and at the same price point), it also provides a nice injection of Lego bricks for your collection. In fact, at around 100-120 bricks per set, each BrickHead comes with around 50% more pieces than you'd get in other Lego sets at the same price point.

With more classic Star Wars BrickHeadz characters on the way, this part of our collection will soon be expanding rapdily. Stay tuned for updates!

Loose Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Miniatures

A few weeks ago I posted about a handful of projects I have planned for my set of Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Miniatures. Before I embark on these, however, I need to fill a few gaps in my collection. While I have a great selection of diverse characters, there are a few glaring omissions - including core characters like Han, Chewie, and the dynamic droid duo. Back when these miniatures were in stores I restricted myself to purchasing four blind-bagged blister packs from each new wave, but I now wished I'd picked up more - especially from the original Rebel Storm wave (containing a comprehensive range of characters from the Original Trilogy). Recently, however, I stumbled across TrollandToad.com - a curated marketplace of loose Star Wars Miniatures. After a few solid hours of research and browsing, I bit the bullet and placed an order - and was incredibly pleased with the outcome!

TrollandToad.com essentially works as a middleman between Miniatures collectors: buying loose miniatures from individuals, then on-selling these on their marketplace. The cost of most miniatures typically ranges from $2.00 - $5.00USD (around $3.00 - $8.00NZ) with certain rarer figures fetching a little more. These prices are pretty fair, given that at the time of their release the seven-miniature blind-bags retailed for $25.00NZ (or around $3.60 per miniature). Purchasing miniatures in this way also guarantees that you'll get the characters you're after, as opposed to paying for endless fillers or duplicates you have no real use for.

My one big issue with the Miniatures line has always been the card stock used for the character cards. It may sound like a minor gripe, but these cards form an integral part of the game and therefore need to be able to withstand an enormous amount of handling. Unfortunately the thin, matte stock used by Wizards simply isn't up to the task, and is prone to scuffs, creases, and delamination. It's a problem I've solved via the liberal use of card protectors, but it had me somewhat apprehensive about the condition of the cards I'd receive from TrollandToad. Fortunately, I needn't have worried. The cards accompanying the miniatures all arrived in phenomenal condition.

For now, the gaps in my collection have been nicely filled. But if at some point point in the future I want to expand my forces, I'll definitely be using TrollandToad.com again. If there's something missing from your Miniatures collection, I strongly recommend checking out their selection!