The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary

As has become tradition, the week following the release of a new Star Wars film means one thing: poring over the details contained of a brand new Visual Dictionary. I managed to pick up my copy of this essential Rise of Skywalker companion via MightyApe for just $25.00AU (NZ).

Those of you familiar with these wonderful tomes will already know what to expect: endless details, trivia, and minutiae from the film - all accompanied by author Pablo Hidalgo's acerbic wit. This entry is no different. Countless threads are drawn between TRoS and what has come before - including more references to the Legends Expanded Universe than ever before.

My only real disappointment is that this volume wasn't released side-by-side with the usual Incredible Cross-Sections accompaniment (as was the case with The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi). Instead, the Visual Dictionary has assumed the role of both books by including a limited selection of six cross-sections. This is the same approach that was taken with the guides to both Rogue One and Solo. It was understandable in those cases, however - since the non-saga nature of the films meant that accompanying media releases were minimal. This time around, the decision is a puzzling one. It certainly wasn't for lack of source material, as there are all kinds of vehicles from the final saga film just screaming for the cross-section treatment. I can't help but be slightly frustrated by the fact that my bookshop will contain an Incredible Cross-Sections volume for every episode in the saga except the final film.

Nevertheless, this gripe is entirely unrelated to the quality of the Visual Dictionary itself - which is, as always, superb. As something of a bonus (and, perhaps, a consolation) this Visual dictionary follows in the footsteps of the Rogue One and Solo visual guides by also providing a behind-the-scenes section - something that was entirely absent in previous saga volumes.

Hot Wheels Commemorative Series Wave 1 Vehicles

My completionist nature means I'm loath to start collecting entirely new lines of Star Wars collectibles. That's why - despite my obsession with miniature Star Wars vehicles - I've largely avoided delving into the new Hot Wheels starship line. My wife knows my strange collecting idiosyncrasies better than anyone, however, so surprised me this Christmas with the first wave of the Hot Wheels Commemorative Series - a limited line that's very satisfyingly capped at only nine vehicles.

The Commemorative Series features one iconic vehicle from each of the films in the Skywalker Saga. This first wave covers episodes I through V, and includes a Naboo Starfighter from The Phantom Menace, a Republic Attack Gunship from Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi's ETA-2 Jedi Starfighter from Revenge of the Sith, Darth Vader's TIE Fighter from A New Hope, and Boba Fett's Slave I from The Empire Strikes Back. Each vehicle is painted in a gorgeous uniform silver, and comes atop a sturdy transparent display stand that bears the symbol of the ship's main affiliation.

While I loved the metallic finish, I couldn't help but think that a quick wash (a la Micro Machine's Collectors Edition line from the 90s) would really help the details pop. With that in mind, I went ahead and hit each vehicle with some Citadel Nuln Oil. You can compare the before and after below:

To unify the series, each vehicles also comes with a single piece of the Death Star that - when combined with the rest of the vehicles in this line - allows you to build a surprisingly hefty model of this technological terror. With the first wave in hand, my battle station is now 5/9ths of the way complete.

The inclusion of this bonus Death Star provides additional impetus to collect the full line of these vehicles - and that's what I'll be trying to do over the coming weeks (and months). Wave 1 was really only available via limited online retailers here in Australia, and Wave 2 (covering episodes VI through IX) is proving even scarcer. I do love the challenge of the hunt however, so stay tuned for updates!

Lego 75245 2019 Advent Calendar

After making excuses for many years, I finally decided to splurge on a Lego Star Wars advent calendar this holiday season. Having just finished my 24th day of tiny builds, I'm now left with only one question: Why didn't I do this a long time ago?

In short, these calendars are a phenomenal amount of fun. I mean, who doesn't want to wake up each morning to a mystery Lego build? They also provide amazing bang for your buck. While prices varied by retailer, I was able to nab mine from Kmart for only $34.00AU ($36.19NZ). This year's calendar contained seven minifigures (ten, if you count the mynock, gonk droid, and porg). That's the kind of minifigure count you usually only see on sets north of $150. On top of this, you get nine miniature vehicles, three micro-scale pieces of terrain, and a couple of buildable accessories for your minifigures. These builds come from throughout the filmic saga, and provide a nice representation of both heroes and villains (as shown above).

Granted, there isn't an enormous amount of thematic linkage between the different builds - but the point here is to give you a wide variety of builds from across the enormous breadth of the franchise. Ultimately, it's been a great way to inject some variety into my Lego collection, and I'm sure I'll be picking up each future calendar from here on out!

Hallmark Keepsake Lego C-3PO Christmas Tree Ornament

It's become something of a tradition to receive a new Star Wars Hallmark Keepsake Christmas tree ornament from my parents each birthday. This year, it was a Lego C-3PO - released to mark the 20th anniversary of Lego's Star Wars line (has it really been that long?!)

Threepio is the latest in a line of Lego Star Wars characters that have been immortalised as ornaments (including the Lego Darth Vader I received from my parents some years ago). He's sculpted with Hallmark's usual stunning attention to detail, and will make a great addition to my growing collection of Keepsake ornaments!

Solo Dice Prop Replica

I'm an absolute sucker for any sort of in-universe Star Wars item. Sadly, Lucasfilm doesn't license a whole lot of these items (weapon and helmet replicas being the one exception). It should come as no surprise, then, that I've been pining for a pair of golden sabacc dice ever since seeing Solo. Unfortunately they never showed up in my neck of the woods, and an attempt to buy a pair online earlier this year fell through.

Enter my awesome wife - who managed to track down a pair for my birthday last week. They're a fantastic little trinket made from a sturdy metal that carries a surprising heft. They've also been hit with a wash that gives them that signature "used universe" Star Wars feel. For now they're adorning our Christmas tree, but I suppose that - come the New Year - I'll have to get started on finding a suitable starship cockpit from which to hang them...