nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “anakin skywalker

Star Wars Super Fan Lightning Round

As if one video of me haunting the internet wasn’t enough, now the “rapid-fire” segment is live, too. The number of views on YouTube aren’t very impressive but the view counts on the 1iota facebook page freak me out a little.

Anyway, they censored my editorial bit on Mace Windu (I said “he’s the worst”; I prefer Sam Jackson as Nick Fury). And I stand by my other controversial decisions of 1 double-bladed lightsaber rather than 2 single-bladed lightsabers. It offers better control and leaves your other hand free for Force choking or other Force power of choice. Also opted for TIE Fighter over the Falcon or Slave 1 because, as someone who has a stupid daily commute, I really don’t want to live in my ship. Short-range missions suit me just fine.


What About the Bad Guys?

Once upon a time, I worked a job that was soul-crushingly awful. And “soul-crushingly awful” describes only the good days. The bad days were akin to sliding face-first down a giant razor blade straight into a vat of boiling acid. It’s not a huge exaggeration to say that there were days when I left feeling like the Gestapo dude whose face melts off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those days sucked, and they surfaced far too frequently.

Admittedly, there were a few perks: the pay was pretty decent for my first gig out of college, and a handful of my coworkers were fantastic. One of those associates was named Amy.

Ultimately, the positives failed to outweigh the negatives, and I abandoned the company just shy of my 2-year anniversary. As it turns out, my departure helped pave the way for an infinitely better work environment—the greatest offender came face to face with a pink slip based in large part on my exit interview feedback. I was lauded as a heroine, the provocateur who sparked a revolution towards emancipation. But I digress.

Amy left said company several months prior to my departure to devote time to her photography business (she’s phenomenally good!). Thanks to the magic of technology, we kept in touch via email and, eventually, social networking. Her family relocated to the Seattle area, so we made plans to visit this time around. Some 7 years after parting ways, I finally saw Amy again!

Amy and her husband Justin have fantastic kids: Luke, Ella & Matthias.
We’re not much of kid people, but these three almost converted us. In addition to their fun little personalities, they all dig Star Wars. Luke is a fan of facts…and Luke Skywalker. Ella crushes on Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda (hey, the heart wants what it wants haha). And Matthias, well, he loves it all—a youngling after my own heart.

‘Thias buddied up to us pretty quickly, a rarity in our childless world. He asked to ride in our car, so I gave him my iPhone to look at pictures of my SW room.
He noticed all sorts of little details that would’ve been lost on most people. One of the more obvious things he commented on was my shelf that features Darth Vader and Stormtroopers.

In his adorable first-grader voice, Matthias asked, “Why do you like the bad guys so much?”

Imagine the sound of crickets for a moment, because that’s what was happening in my head. I had nothing. I’d never given much thought to the idea that I even do like the bad guys. So the answer I gave, the answer that needed the least explanation and self-evaluation was, “I think they look cool.” And they do.

There was a little sigh from the back seat, followed by Matthias’s emphatic response, “I think they look cool, too…but I don’t want them to wiiiin!”

And that’s what reminded me that Star Wars is so much more than the collector-y thrill that it has largely become for me and many other adults. At its core, Star Wars is a character study on the dichotomy of good and evil, of flux and fealty. Fantastical creatures and places and escapades are the proverbial icing on the cake. {Side note: I ADORE cake & icing!}

I loved the SW toys when I was a kid not because they looked cool but because they were a tangible piece of the Star Wars universe. With action figures in hand, I could live out scenes from my favorite adventures. The characters literally became part of my world.

It didn’t matter that I was an only child; most of my SW toys weren’t games that required multiple players to make them fun. It didn’t matter that I was a girl; my SW toys ranged from Ewok stuffed animals (they call them “plush” in the industry today) to action figures that I could “girl-ify” if I so chose—I crafted clothing for Princess Leia using flower petals and scotch tape. My SW toys went hand in hand with my imagination, which paid no mind to the societal constraints that loom in adult consciousness.
Perhaps that’s why I’m still so drawn to toys: they take me back to a time when the world and its worries were no concern of mine.

At some point in my life, I guess I sold out a little bit. I lost sight of the whimsy and gravitated towards what was deemed cool.

For those who’ve forgotten (or weren’t alive yet), there wasn’t much about Star Wars that was still deemed cool by the early ’90s. As I recall, the franchise was all but extinct in the public’s consciousness. It wasn’t until word began spreading of production for the 20th-anniversary “Special Edition” theatrical re-release that the tendrils of SW began to poke back into the collective pop-culture mindset.

The ‘steroid series’ of Hasbro figures launched in 1995, to the mutual delight and chagrin of toy enthusiasts. The classic heroes looked ridiculous, which played into my affinity for the darker characters. The “bad guys” still managed to look cool.

Also responsible was my age and resultant awareness. After a war in the Persian Gulf and bombings at the World Trade Center and Oklahoma federal building, the world around me seemed less gentle. Even fashion and music had trended edgier, more alternative (thanks, Kurt Cobain!).
I began to accept the inevitability of growing up, acknowledging the more melancholy aspects of life as well as the tumult within myself. And yet, I held to the hope of a happy ending.

One needn’t squint too hard to see how that is reflected by Lord Vader, even all those years before we learned of Anakin’s petulant twerp tendencies.

So, that’s why I like the Star Wars bad guys. It’s not just because they look cool, but because they embody the notion that life isn’t always neat and tidy. Were it not for bad guys, there would be no reason for “good” people to rise up and defend honor or virtue. Plus, they are a steadfast reminder that any of us, even the most vile, has a chance for redemption.

On the last night of our Washington stay, we had dinner at Amy’s house. I was treated to a lightsaber battle, a thorough examination of action figures, a cross-examination about SW trivia (most questions starting with, “Do you know…” or “Guess what?!”) and episodes of The Clone Wars and The Yoda Chronicles.

The Force is strong with these friends of mine!

Luke & Matthias

Luke & Matthias, Halloween 2012

Recognizing Anakin

One of my favorite things about traveling is checking out the toy sections at multiple Target and Walmart stores…a really good trip includes a Toys R Us!

While in Washington last week, I happened upon this fun display on one of our Target stops—I like to think my Anakin post has something to do with the “Hot Toy” recognition.

Vacation pics coming soon. I’ve winnowed down from 1400+ to about 450, so I’ll try to half that again over the next couple of days.

Under-rated Anakin

I’m less than impressed with Hasbro’s latest take on the Star Wars franchise. The Black Series is fantastic—or so I assume based solely on my Fett/Han Carbonite SDCC exclusive, as my Toys R Us preorder still hasn’t shipped. The lower price point of the most basic figures is welcome, too, but the overarching line is disappointing.

The team that worked on this year’s packaging and design style guide did little to flatter the waning SW image. Harsh yellows and oranges may hearken back to volcanic Mustafar but Darth Vader looks, well, like a bad cartoon. I wasn’t impressed with the last wave of packaging either, which placed heavy bets on Yoda’s popularity. Not being much of a Yoda fan, it fell flat with me.

Having offered all of that criticism, though, I suspect I know how we ended up in this position. Working in the Creative Division at Hallmark for nearly 5 years now, I’ve learned that product lines run on a schedule set roughly light years ahead of what one would expect. Planning (and probably even execution) was no doubt well under way before “The Mouse” cut his check to Uncle George.
The Yoda-centric design was almost certainly set to coincide with the now-defunct 3-D release of Attack of the Clones, as the Darth Maul theme had been last year for The Phantom Menace 3-D. This new look—wretched though it is—would have complemented the 3-D release of Revenge of the Sith. I may be the only person on earth to admit this, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing it on the big screen once more.

Lack of shelf appeal notwithstanding, it’s awfully nice seeing new Star Wars toys in the marketplace. Their presence alone is enough to have me stalking the toy aisles again…which is exactly what I did Friday night.

Walmart’s lackluster merchandising touted a slew of $5.99 basic figures and about as many of the $9.99 two-figure packs. No Black Series to be found, so my interest dwindled. Where ships or larger format toys normally live, I saw it: a sad, pasty-looking Anakin nestled four ugly boxes deep. Anakin to Darth Vader

“2 Figures In 1” touted the editorial,  promising a color-changing lightsaber. With a dejected sigh, I prepared to leave empty-handed while Severus played with the figure’s ‘try me’ feature. After a number of utterly predictable phrases, the toy spewed my single favorite line of the entire Star Wars saga.

I’m not the Jedi I should be.

Why have people not utilized this quote more frequently? It’s catchy and wonderful and perfect. But was it worth the $25 price-point for a goofy plastic figure? Ordinarily, no. But this was no ordinary day; it was my half-birthday. One turns 30.5 only once in one’s lifetime.

And so, Anakin came into my possession. I tore into the package when we got to the car, and thus began a wild ride of emotions courtesy of our friends at Hasbro.

“What a piece of junk!”
This thing has a whopping 4 points of articulation. 4. On a 12.5″ figure. Head turns, one hand kinda-sorta turns, one elbow rotates a little, and you can move the arms up and down via shoulder rotators. He can’t sit down, he can’t walk, he can’t kneel before the Emperor or flex his biceps. It’s pretty pathetic.

I figured it couldn’t get much worse, so I set to ‘transforming’ Anakin into Darth Vader. I snapped on the breastplate and worked the cape/shoulder armor over his whiny, otherwise expressionless face. (Side note: The cape is felt and ever-so-slightly weighted in the corners to keep it from curling up too badly.) And then I snapped on the front plate of the mask.

“Thank the maker!”
The mask is just dang cool. Connect the helmet and…what was that?! That, friends, was the little squealing sound of the helmet being sealed on Anakin’s head (roughly 2:21 on video). With this revelation, I had a giddy fangirl geek-out moment. There will be no dramatized reenactment, lest I lose what little pride I have left.

The gimmicky color-changing lightsaber trick is surprisingly rad. It’s not hard to figure out the mechanics of it, but it’s fun to just pretend and revel in the “magic” that Vader is in command. AND the Vader movie lines are good selections with nice quality. AND it doesn’t just look like Anakin has some pieces of the suit strapped on. AND if you decided to take off the Vader armor—which I can’t imagine you would do unless you wanted to hear my favorite quote—there’s a sound effect for helmet removal as well.

I also discovered that the lack of articulation actually has a significant upside: the figure stands unassisted. For roughly the first time in the history of ever, the height and weight of this guy are perfectly proportioned so there’s zero wavering. In fact, you’d have to throw a pretty decent Sith tantrum to knock him over if he’s just chilling out, occupying shelf space.

Plunking down a Jackson and Lincoln for this one might be a bit steep for most people. But if it happens to be your half-birthday and you’ve got the money to spare, you might be pleasantly surprised like I was. This is a case where you have to be hands-on to truly appreciate it.
The moral of the story is don’t judge a toy by its box!