Solo: A Star Wars Story - The Official Guide

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that Star Wars reference books and visual guides are one of my obsessions. It should come as no surprise, then, that I had a copy of Solo: A Star Wars Story - The Official Guide ordered to arrive on its release date. The deal was further sweetened by the fact that had the book listed for a pre-order price of $12.59US ($18.20NZ) - a considerable discount on the New Zealand RRP of $40.99.

Like the Rogue One visual guide, this book is essentially an amalgam of the separate Visual Dictionary and Incredible Cross-Section volumes that accompany each episodic film in the saga. For those of you who have delved into these visual guides before, you'll know what to expect: A cornucopia of trivia and glorious images of characters, locations, vehicles, and props. Pablo Hidalgo returns as author once again, bringing with him his urbane wit and formidable knowledge of the Star Wars mythos. He manages to tease out some fascinating minutiae, as well as draw links (some very surprising) to all manner of elements of the Expanded Universe - both canon and Legends. As an added bonus, there are a few pages at the rear of the book that give us a glimpse behind-the-scenes of Solo, including a look at the design process for some of the more iconic characters and vehicles.

Unfortunately, whereas the Rogue One visual guide included a number of cross-sections, this guide only includes one: the Millennium Falcon. I've been an enormous fan of Richard Chasemore's Star Wars cross-sections ever since the late '90s, so I found this a little disappointing. And it's not like there was any shortage of material to work with - the AT-Hauler, TIE Brute, Conveyex, and First Light all would have benefited from the cross-section treatment, as would smaller vehicles like the AT-DT, Han's Landspeeder, and the Cloudriders' swoop bikes.

Nevertheless, Solo: A Star Wars Story - The Official Guide is an admirable addition to this ongoing series of reference books, and a must-have for all fans of the saga.

Solo: A Star Wars Story Premiere (May 2018)

Last night, my fiancée and I went along to our local theatre to catch the first screening of Disney's fourth contribution to the saga - Solo: A Star Wars Story. When it was first announced, I was less-than-enthusiastic about the idea of a Han-centred origin film. While he's my favourite character in the saga, I felt that there were far more interesting stories to be told in that galaxy far, far away. Nevertheless, my anticipation for the film had been steadily growing over recent months, and I went into last night's screening with a cautious sense of optimism. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

This might just be the Star Wars movie I've been hoping for ever since Disney took over the franchise: a fun-filled romp through the galaxy that - while still having high stakes - isn't yoked with the burden of having to further the story of the main episodic saga (which, despite being a standalone film, Rogue One was still tasked with doing). Sure, this story might not matter. Skipping it certainly won't leave you bereft of plot information that's vital to understanding the rest of the saga. But if that's all you're focused on, then I daresay you've missed the point of these standalone films - and the Star Wars franchise more generally. I'm a veteran of the Expanded Universe, and I learned a long time ago that a Star Wars story doesn't need to "matter" in order to be important. This franchise has always been about world-building - about fleshing out characters and filling in little unexplored nooks and crannies of the universe. That's one of the things I love most about this franchise. And this is something that Solo gets absolutely right.

Alden Ehrenreich nails it. I'd harboured some deep scepticism about any actor's ability to step into such an iconic role. But less than five minutes in, I'd bought it. This was Han Solo. I recognised the character, and the actor playing him was largely immaterial. In fact, Ehrenreich's portrayal of the famous smuggler is only eclipsed by Donald Glover's Lando - a masterclass in inhabiting a hugely familiar character without falling into the trap of imitation. Glover's delivery was so good that there were a few moments where I even questioned whether Billy Dee Williams might have dubbed some of Lando's lines. The rest of the ensemble cast shine, too, though the real highlight is L3-37 - a droid unlike any we've seen before. Emilia Clarke inhabits the role of Qi'ra completely, and Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton give us a phenomenal pair of swashbucklers who steal many scenes. Even Jon Favreau's CGI character Rio Durant - who for the most part acts as comic relief - manages to bring a surprising amount of poignancy to his performance.

There's one other character who really takes centre-stage in this film, however - but to whom not a lot of people will pay due credit: the Millennium Falcon. In fact, I joked with my fiancée that this movie could just as easily have been titled "Falcon: A Star Wars Story", as it's just as much her origin tale as it is Han's.

How about you? What are your thoughts on Solo: A Star Wars StoryBe sure to let us know via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to!

The Hunt Is On - Force Link 2.0 3 3/4" Wave 2 Figures Found

In a piece of incredibly fortuitous timing, listed the second wave of Force Link 2.0 figures on the same day as their May 4th 20% discount and free shipping deal. There were only two figures from this wave on my hunt list - Moloch and Supreme Leader Snoke - and I was able to pick up both along with my order of Han Solo's Landspeeder.

Despite making his screen debut all the way back in 2015, this is the first time we've seen a single-carded Snoke in the basic figure line. A repack of the figure that appeared in the BB-8 mega playset, Snoke doesn't really have a huge amount going on. Including only four points of articulation and zero accessories, he's less of an "action figure" and more of a display piece. He performs this role admirably, however - towering over other figures and catching the eye in his glistening gold attire. In fact, that's one detail that Hasbro pulled off quite well. Instead of painting the figure in a lacklustre pigment, they've instead opted to mould the entire body from a metallic-coloured plastic that really makes Snoke pop.

But for all of his presence, Snoke is massively outshone by Moloch. Representing one of the minor antagonists of Solo, Moloch has been rendered with a surprising amount of detail and care. Wonderfully sculpted and equipped with a rubberised overcoat, staff, blaster pistol, and working holster; the greatest feature is perhaps the least obvious one - a removable mask. Moloch's breathing apparatus extends and lowers in a most pleasing fashion, allowing for the removable of his faceplate. Underneath you'll find a wonderfully Henson-esque visage that rotates on a single point of articulation.

These will most likely be the last single-carded basic line figures I pick up for a while. Wave 3 is almost exclusively repacks, and there's scuttlebutt that Wave 4 may not even make it to retailers - a rumour that's only fueled by the fact that the final waves of the Force Awakens and Rogue One lines were nearly impossible to find, and the final wave of the Last Jedi line was relegated to an online store exclusive.

Force Link 2.0 3 3/4" Han Solo's Landspeeder

While it may not have made it onto my Force Link 2.0 hunt list, Han Solo's Landspeeder has been calling my name for some time now. I love the design, and the unique lines and colour scheme are sure to stand out amongst any shelf of 3 3/4" action figures. So, when had a 20% discount and free shipping on all Star Wars products for May 4th, I finally gave in to temptation.

While definitely a pleasing design, this speeder is certainly more of a display piece than a play piece - not really boasting much in the way of interactive features. This is understandable however, given its role in the film. Han's landspeeder is an open-topped transport, not a vehicle of war, so there's no real opportunity for the usual hinging canopies, firing missiles, and associated play features. The one included mechanism is an Incredible-Crash-Dummies-esque collapsible rubberised front that allows you to ram the landspeeder into an obstacle and have Han projectile-launched from his seat. It's a nifty gimmick for kids, but one that also remains happily hidden while the vehicle is on display.

There are a couple of minor improvements that could have been made to improve this displayability, however. Firstly, the landspeeder is in dire need of some sort of stand or wheels to get the vehicle off the ground. That kind of feature has been standard for Star Wars landspeeders ever since the Vintage Kenner line, so its puzzling as to why it was left out here. Secondly, it would have been nice if a little more thought had been given to the positioning of the seat and steering wheel in relation to Han. In order for Han to properly grip the steering wheel, he has to be posed in an unnatural forward lean. When the figure is sitting in anything resembling a normal position, his hands are instead left floating in mid-air. Don't get me wrong, it's a small problem, but one that could have been easily remedied by simply making the steering stalk half an inch longer.

The pack-in figure itself is a great likeness of a Alden Ehrenreich, and features some nice little touches - like a smattering of brine up the legs. He also comes with a single sidearm. Given that this is the first actual Han Solo figure I've picked up from the Solo line, he's a very welcome addition to my collection!

May the 4th Be With You!

The fourth of May has come around again, and you know what that means: It's Star Wars day! May the 4th be with you! I'll be kicking back with some blue milk, watching the films, and maybe adding a few new choice items to my collection.

Have you got any special plans for Star Wars Day? If you do, be sure to share them with us via Facebook or Twitter, or by sending an email to

Micro Machines Action Fleet Millennium Falcon

Regular readers will know that I have a real soft spot for Galoob's old Micro Machines Action Fleet line. Sure, there's the sentimental attraction of these being the very toys I played with as kid. But I also believe that these were - and still are - the best line of Star Wars toys ever made available. Nowhere else have we ever seen a line that provides us with such a phenomenally diverse line of articulated figures and feature-packed vehicles and displayable environments and playsets. I was heartbroken when the line came to an end in 2002, and have spent the intervening years filling the many gaps in my childhood collection. One of the most glaring of these omissions was the Millennium Falcon. While two iterations of this vehicle were released (one single-packed, and one packed in a Toys'R'Us "Classic Duels" two-pack with a TIE-Interceptor) I'd never come across either in a brick-and-mortar store. My soon-to-be brother-in-law recently discovered this, and surprised me last weekend with a Falcon he had going spare!

Pulled from the Toys'R'Us two-pack, this version of the Falcon comes with Lando Calrissian and an Endor Rebel Commando instead of the usual pairing of Han and Chewie. I'm particularly rapt with this, as - while I already have a surplus of Han and Chewies in my Action Fleet collection - I can never have too many troopers. This particular trooper also happens to be the notorious bearded fellow who dons Scout Trooper armour during the Rebels' assault on the Endor bunker - and who also makes a perfect stand-in for a particular clone trooper captain from a certain animated Star Wars series.

A quick perusal of the images above should give you a clear indication of why I place this line of toys on such a pedestal. As well as the included display stand and two minifigures (both of which have articulated arms and legs), the Falcon itself comes with no less than eight action features: a firing missile between the forward mandibles, retractable landing gear, rotating laser cannons, a rotating and tilting communication dish, an opening cockpit that seats one minifigure, a retractable gunwell that seats another minifigure, an opening rear cargo bay, and an opening floor concealing a hidden 'smuggler's compartment'. All of this in a toy that, at its time of release, retailed for a mere $29.99NZ (or about twice the price of a Hasbro action figure). It might be a tired cliché to say "they don't make toys like they used to" - but in truth, they really don't...