Sunday, 18 July 2021

Black Series Rancor teased by HasLab



The Rancor was one of my favourite large-scale action figures from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, terrorising the Rebel Alliance and Action Force, on the Jurassic Coast, in the early eighties.

HasLab has now teased Jabba the Hutt's pit-dwelling beast for the Black Series.

“Following the success of the previous two HasLab campaigns for Star Wars: The Vintage Collection, our team is so thrilled to offer fans the first-ever HasLab project from The Black Series – the Rancor!” says Michael Ballog, Hasbro’s vice president for the Star Wars brand. “We hope fans of The Black Series line are prepared for this iconic creature to join their 6-inch-scale collections.”

HasLab, Hasbro's crowd-funded toy line, has been a huge success with collector's, and Marvel Legends' Galactus is the latest to join the premium collection alongside Transformers' Unicron exclusively on Hasbro Pulse.

Will you be adding Jabba's pet Rancor to your Black Series collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 16 July 2021

WandaVision wows with Emmy nominations



The first season of Marvel Studios' Loki may have ended, but Disney+ is basking in the glow of Emmy nominations for its original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars spin-off series.

WandaVision has garnered 23 nominations including nods for Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Vision) and Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness). The live-action series was praised for how it dealt with loss and grief - themes amplified in the midst of a global pandemic.

“The grief journey was the tethering force,” showrunner Jac Schaeffer told The Times. “I aligned each episode to the stages of grief, so the story is told nonlinearly but the grief story is linear. We start in [Wanda's] denial and move all the way to acceptance.”

“We were using the superhero space to explore mental health, conflict resolution, self-acceptance. So many superhero stories right now deal with things like PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and crisis of identity. The terrain of our current mythology has to do with emotion and psychology. Something that Marvel is doing well is an examination of all the different motivations in a given conflict as opposed to good versus bad. We all, as consumers, have grown up a bit and know the world is far messier than that.”

Marvel Studios' stablemate The Falcon and the Winter Soldier garnered 5 nominations.

Lucasfilm's The Mandalorian received 24 nominations and is tied with Netflix's The Crown. Disney+ is a relative newcomer to the streaming space, quickly establishing itself as a prestige drama series powerhouse. To infinity and beyond...

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Daisy Ridley stars in Twelve Minutes



5 years ago, I was with friends at Star Wars Celebration Europe, which will always be a treasured memory.

Whilst the Star Wars sequel trilogy may have ended, Daisy Ridley (Rey) is starring in Twelve Minutes, an upcoming video game releasing for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.



Read the synopsis:

“In Twelve Minutes, you keep living the same specific time period over and over again. While a man and his wife are sharing an evening in peace, a man comes in and claims to be a cop. He accuses the woman of murder. After this, the 12 minutes start repeating. You need to fully understand the situation and the underlying truth. You also need to find some clues and take a closer look at the details.”

Twelve Minutes, co-starring James McAvoy (X-Men) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man), will be available on Game Pass on 19th August.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Power of the Force Cantina Showdown



To commemorate the first 50 years of Lucasfilm, Hasbro has announced Star Wars The Black Series Cantina Showdown in vintage The Power of the Force packaging.

This isn't the first time Hasbro has released a Cantina Showdown collectable set. There was a Han Solo vs. Greedo Comic-Con exclusive in 2014.

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES THE POWER OF THE FORCE CANTINA SHOWDOWN

(HASBRO/Age 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $104.99/Available: Fall 2021)

Commemorate the first 50 years of LUCASFILM with figures inspired by the original STAR WARS trilogy featuring STAR WARS The Power of the Force-themed packaging. Recall intense moments from the STAR WARS Galaxy with this STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES THE POWER OF THE FORCE CANTINA SHOWDOWN Playset, featuring DR. EVAZAN, PONDA BABA, and OBI-WAN KENOBI 6-inch-scale figures. STAR WARS fans can display these fully articulated figures featuring poseable heads, arms, and legs, as well as premium deco, in their action figure and vehicle collection. The playset combines with additional CANTINA SHOWDOWN playsets to create the full scene inspired by STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. Additional playsets sold separately. Includes Cantina bar, 3 figures, and 3 accessories. Available exclusively on Hasbro Pulse in the US, Canada & UK in Fall 2021.


The Power of the Force toy line ran from 1995 to 2000. I remember collecting action figures from a defunct local comic book store and Toys "R" Us, Norwich.

I joined Hasbro Pulse Premium when it launched last March in the UK. However, exclusive products such as the Transformers-Jurassic Park mash-up pack sell out fast, so it's unlikely I'll renew as the Pawtucket-based company continues to pivot towards the premium collector's market.

Cantina Showdown will be made available during Hasbro PulseCon 2021. Happy toy hunting fellow Star Wars collectors, and watch out for anyone with a death sentence in 12 systems.

Have you joined Hasbro Pulse Premium, and are you excited about The Power of the Force products? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 12 July 2021

What Boba Fett did next...



It's the 25th anniversary of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and whilst we wait for The Book of Boba Fett this Christmas on Disney+, Marvel Comics takes us back to a time between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in War of the Bounty Hunters.

Our very own US-based stellar scribe, Nick Smith, grabs his latest comic book bounty, from TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and goes in pursuit of the infamous Boba Fett.

Guest post by Nick Smith

It’s a story as old as that galaxy far, far away – a protagonist does a favour for a friend in lieu of payment and has to face a series of challenges, eventually finding that the favour could prove fatal thanks to an obstacle that’s bigger and more threatening than he ever expected.

However, in War of the Bounty Hunters, that protagonist is the legendary Boba Fett and the payment concerns that scruffy Corellian smuggler Han Solo. “Precious Cargo,” from Marvel Comics, sets off a chain of events that will span what’s being described as the biggest crossover in Star Wars comics history, filling all 4 monthly titles and a dedicated title (War of the Bounty Hunters). In all, it will take more than 30 issues to tell this story through October 2021. Boushh and IG-88 will get their own comics, while 4-LOM and Zuckuss have to share one.

“Precious Cargo” kicks off five preludes to the war, opening with Boba in his ship Slave 1 [Disney's subsequently renamed it as Boba Fett's Starship - Ed]. He’s just left Bespin with Han encased in carbonite and he’s en route for Tatooine where Solo will become Jabba the Hutt’s favourite decoration. Since The Empire Strikes Back focuses on Luke Skywalker, we’ve never seen What Fett Did Next – until now.

In this kind of crossover, there is no possible character progression for Boba, and the story’s conclusion is inevitable; we know Solo will end up with Jabba. The fun lies in finding out why the other bounty hunters, as well as Luke and the gang, are involved in the war, along with Valance the Cyborg, Domina Tagge and Doctor Aphra. Since the latter three are Marvel creations, they can be further developed. Their fates are unknown to us. Those characters are given just enough traits and twists to keep us reading.

Boba’s situation is complicated thanks to some gangland entanglements with the Kanji Hutts and it becomes apparent that his journey to Tatooine won’t be a straight run. Over in Star Wars issue 13, the rebel alliance searches for their carbon-cosy pal in “The Hunt for Han Solo.” They’re one issue behind Boba so they don’t catch up with him or his cargo. But they, too, face the Kanji. With an image of Boba on a wall and the good guys facing aliens, the cover of this story is reminiscent of the original Star Wars issue 7.

Next up is Bounty Hunters issue 12, which develops the relationship between Valance and Han Solo; and Darth Vader issue 12, continuing a captivating conflict between the Dark Lord of the Sith and his Emperor. The animosity between them makes Vader’s ultimate betrayal of his master less sudden and more believable in Return of the Jedi.

The final prelude is in Doctor Aphra issue 10. Although Aphra is a character with great potential – imagine a Lucasfilm version of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider – “The Invitation” feels the least like a Star Wars story, despite its stomping Stormtroopers and exploding machinery. There’s no direct mention of the Han Solo situation and we’re launched into a confusing situation, even with a ‘story so far’ at the beginning of the book. If you’re not familiar with Aphra’s past and her allies, beware.

Despite this weak link, the War of the Bounty Hunters saga has strong artwork, entertaining characters and situations, and Star Wars references aplenty. Whether that’s enough to hold our attention through 34 comics remains to be seen. But fans have plenty to look forward to in these ‘deleted scenes’ from The Book of Boba Fett, which will lead to Marvel’s contemporary take on Return of the Jedi.

Are you reading War of the Bounty Hunters (affiliate link)? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

The Witcher celebrated at WitcherCon



A teaser trailer for The Witcher's second season dropped during the first-ever WitcherCon, a digital celebration of all things The Witcher from Netflix and CD Projekt Red.



The first series had a stumbling start but quickly transcended those early episodes becoming an unmissable heir to Game of Thrones in 2019. And the second season promises further monster-hunting tales this Christmas.



During the three-hour WitcherCon, series star Henry Cavill provided his take on Geralt of Rivia’s journey.

“I played the Season One way deliberately, which was him out in the wilds and without the opportunity for vast swathes of dialogue. I thought it best to be the man who says less because that seems like he’s thinking more. And that was the intention with that. But once you get into a scenario with Cirilla, and the Witchers and his home space and with those people who he already knows, I was of the opinion that you had to let him be verbose and be philosophical and speak more and be intellectual, because that’s what he is. He’s not just a big old white-haired brute.”

Whilst Cyberpunk 2077 was mired in controversy when it was released to coincide with the launch of the PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X|S last holiday season, The Witcher continues to be CD Projekt's most beloved multimedia franchise.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen update is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC for free this year! And it'll include free DLC inspired by the Netflix series. Glad I never continued a playthrough on Xbox Series X from 2017.

The Witcher's second season starts streaming exclusively on 17th December on Netflix.

Are you looking forward to the second season of The Witcher? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Enter the multiverse in Marvel Studios' What If...?



Marvel Studios has released an official trailer for What If...?, its first-ever animated series for Disney+.



Marvel Studios' What If...? is an excellent primer for all things multiverse as hinted in WandaVision and soon Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The impressive voice cast includes Hayley Atwell as Captain Peggy Carter, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, Sean Gunn as Kraglin, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes, Chris Sullivan as Taserface, Stanley Tucci as Abraham Erskine, and Taika Waititi as Korg.

It's especially poignant that fans (myself included) get to hear the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa.

Now that Loki Wednesdays are a thing, Marvel Studios' What If...? starts streaming 11th August with new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.

In related news. Marvel Studios' Black Widow is now in cinemas and available exclusively on Disney+ with Premier Access.

Are you looking forward to Marvel Studios' What If...? on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Independence Day director talks Disney+



The Tomorrow War, streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime, is a hit with subscribers during the ongoing pandemic - an era starved of blockbusters on the big screen. Chris McKay's sci-fi movie wears its influences on its Starship Troopers sleeve.

Independence Day (ID4), celebrating its 25th anniversary, is one such inspiration and its director, Roland Emmerich, wants to revisit the disaster movie franchise he created following The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox's film and television assets.

"They have now a streaming service and they need product. I would love to do maybe a third one, or a TV show, continuing the story," Emmerich explained to ComicBook.com. "When we did Independence Day: Resurgence, we already had, also, the third part already. And actually, the third part has much more to do with the first part, because we learned, more or less, that out there are a lot of refugees and they're living on a refugee planet. And where [the aliens] finally come there because, somewhat like these aliens on earth, found out about it and telepathically or whatever gave it to their super queen. They're all humans, but in all different forms. So it's this thing that we have Brent Spiner and Jeff Goldblum and we have them with all these different forms of people, which would be a great movie. But we'll see what happens."

Emmerich describes why the original movie means so much to him.

"It doesn't matter, whoever does it, but I feel very passionate about it, very, very passionate, because it was a little bit like ... this movie single-handedly also got me total freedom. I have final cut since then. I pretty much do my own thing," the filmmaker said. "And now, even producing my own films, no studio anymore, I got myself a studio, you know what I mean? In a very small form, like a little garage studio. Anyhow ... I feel very, very passionate about it because it was my first -- actually, that's why both Stargate and Independence Day are seminal movies for me. They pretty much created all of what I did afterwards."

Ironically, at the time of Independence Day's release, Twentieth Century Fox cancelled Space: Above and Beyond. A short-lived sci-fi series that foreshadowed the Battlestar Galactica reboot and deserves a new audience on Star on Disney+.

Independence Day and Independence Day: Resurgence are available to stream on Star on Disney+. However, I'd suggest skipping the sequel and watching something less boring instead.

Would you watch the third instalment of Independence Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Zack Snyder's 'Star Wars' on Netflix



Zack Snyder (Justice League), fresh from Army of the Dead, is reworking a pre-Disney Star Wars pitch for Netflix.

Rebel Moon is based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

"This is me growing up as an Akira Kurosawa fan, a Star Wars fan," said Snyder in his announcement. “It’s my love of sci-fi and a giant adventure. My hope is that this also becomes a massive IP and a universe that can be built out.”

Rebel Moon evokes Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars, released in the wake of Star Wars' success, and it's piqued my interest following Snyder's cut of Justice League. Shay Hatten, who worked with Snyder on 300 and Army of the Dead, has been hired to flesh out the universe for Rebel Moon.

"I’ve spent the last two or three years building out this universe. Every corner has to be painted in. I’ve been doing designs, constantly drawing and really cultivating its fertile ground to make this world fully realized," said Hatten.

The runaway success of Disney+, owing much to Marvel Studios and Star Wars, is putting increasing pressure on Netflix. The Fear Street trilogy is currently proving popular with slasher film fans (myself included) as it channels the nostalgia of Netflix stablemate Stranger Things.

Rebel Moon goes into production in 2022.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Star Wars: Visions first look at Anime Expo Lite



Lucasfilm has shared the first look at Star Wars: Visions during a panel at Anime Expo Lite.



"As a first formal venture into anime, each “Star Wars: Visions” short bears a unique Japanese sensibility, which in many ways aligns with the tone and spirit of Star Wars storytelling. From the beginning, stories told in the Star Wars galaxy have counted Japanese mythology and the films of Akira Kurosawa among their many influences, and these new visions will further explore that cultural heritage through the unique animation style and perspective of each anime studio."

Kamikaze Douga - The Duel
Geno Studio (Twin Engine) - Lop and Ochō
Studio Colorido (Twin Engine) - Tatooine Rhapsody
Trigger - The Twins
Trigger - The Elder
Kinema Citrus - The Village Bride
Science Saru - Akakiri
Science Saru - T0-B1
Production IG - The Ninth Jedi

All nine episodes of Star Wars: Visions will be released on Disney+ 22nd September.

Are you looking forward to Star Wars: Visions on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.