Monday 30 September 2019

Star Wars vintage toys for Force Friday

4th October is Force Friday and this year's Star Wars merchandising event is a triple celebration of The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order with new collectables from Lego, Hasbro and Funko.

Personally, I'm most excited for Hasbro's Kenner-branded vintage collection featuring Luke Skywalker's and Poe Dameron's X-Wing fighters! I owned Luke's 'battle damaged' X-Wing from The Empire Strikes Back toy line. So, am particularly interested in picking up his vintage X-Wing (affiliate link) on Force Friday. It's worth remembering there'll be retail exclusives such as the AT-ST Raider from Best Buy (in the US).


(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $12.99/Available: Fall 2019)

Celebrate the legacy of STAR WARS, the action-and-adventure-packed space saga from a galaxy far, far away, with premium 3.75-inch scale figures from STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION. Figures feature premium detail and design across product and packaging inspired by the original line, as well as the movie-inspired collector grade deco that fans have come to know and love. Characters in this assortment include REY, KNIGHT OF REN (LONG AXE), ZORII BLISS, SITH JET TROOPER, and LUKE SKYWALKER. Each figure sold separately. Available at most major retailers.


(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: Starting at $79.99/Available: Fall 2019)

Fans and collectors can imagine scenes from the STAR WARS Galaxy with this premium STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION THE MADALORIAN AT-ST RAIDER vehicle, inspired by THE MADALORIAN live-action TV series on Disney Plus. With realistic detail including an opening cockpit, articulated legs, adjustable laser cannons and side-mounted weapons pods, and movable command viewpoint blast shields, this vehicle can be displayed in STAR WARS action figure and vehicle collections. Includes vehicle, figure, and accessory. Available at Best Buy.


(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: Starting at $99.99/Available: Fall 2019)

This STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION POE DAMERON’S X-WING FIGHTER vehicle is inspired by the starships in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER and makes a great gift for STAR WARS collectors and fans. With realistic detail including an opening cockpit, functioning landing gear, separating wings, and a ladder accessory, the STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION POE DAMERON’S X-WING FIGHTER can be displayed in action figure and vehicle collections. Includes vehicle and ladder accessory. Available at most major retailers.


(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: Starting at $99.99/Available: Fall 2019)

Inspired by the X-wing fighter LUKE SKYWALKER piloted in STAR WARS: EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE, this STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION LUKE SKYWALKER’S X-WING FIGHTER vehicle makes a wonderful gift for fans of the original trilogy. Premium deco and design features on this X-wing include landing gear, a hinged cockpit canopy, adjustable wings, and a mini projectile launcher. Details like weathered paintwork and interior cockpit deco make this an impressive collectible display item. This STAR WARS: THE VINTAGE COLLECTION LUKE SKYWALKER’S X-WING FIGHTER is compatible with 3.75 inch-scale STAR WARS action figures, making it a great addition to any STAR WARS toy collection. (Figures and additional vehicles each sold separately. Subject to availability). Available at select retailers.


(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: Starting at $14.99/Available: Fall 2019)

Kids and collectors alike can imagine the biggest battles and missions in the STAR WARS Galaxy with figures from the STAR WARS SKYWALKER SAGA collection! Commemorating the STAR WARS SKYWALKER SAGA, this series of figures includes iconic characters from the full SKYWALKER SAGA in action figure 2-packs, including HAN SOLO & LEIA, LUKE SKYWALKER & CHEWBACCA, and more! Each figure has been treated with a gold finish to stand out in any STAR WARS fan’s collection! Each 2-pack sold separately. Available at Walmart.

Happy hunting and let me know what merchandise you're looking for in the comments below.

Sunday 29 September 2019

BBC brings The War of the Worlds spectacularly to life

The BBC has released a spectacular trailer for its upcoming 3-part live-action adaptation of HG Wells' classic sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds.

There have been several lauded adaptations of Wells' visionary work - from radio to the silver screen. Jeff Wayne's musical version was my gateway in the late seventies and I've always yearned for a live-action adaptation set in Edwardian England. The BBC's Tripods trilogy scratched that itch in the eighties but remains unfinished.

So, when news broke the BBC was embarking on an ambitious live-action miniseries, my interest was piqued to the nth degree. Then all went quiet as though the production had been silenced by a Martian heat ray...

Peter Harness, who adapted Wells' novel for the BBC, said: "There is nothing cosy or predictable about Wells’ novel, and that’s what I want to capture in the show.

‘We have an incredible cast, a brilliant director and a wonderful crew – and I can’t wait for them to explode the terrifying story of the first alien invasion on to our screens."

The War of the Worlds airs on BBC One this autumn.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Tom Holland's Spider-Man swings back to the MCU

Fellow true believers rejoice! Disney and Sony have confirmed Spider-Man will remain a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), despite seemingly going their separate ways to the dismay of fans (myself included) a few months ago, allowing Tom Holland to reprise the role in Phase 4.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said: "I am thrilled that Spidey's journey in the MCU will continue, and I and all of us at Marvel Studios are very excited that we get to keep working on it."

Feige will be dividing his time between Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm where he's producing Star Wars movies, post The Rise of Skywalker, with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Under Feige's stewardship, Holland's Peter Parker has been a refreshing take on the beloved teen superhero appearing alongside the Avengers, and in Spider-Man: Homecoming and sequel Far From Home. Holland and Robert Downey Jr.'s (Iron Man) relationship as pupil and mentor respectively has provided some of the funniest and most poignant moments in the MCU.

Are you delighted Spidey will continue to be an integral part of the MCU? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 27 September 2019

Star Wars cast reveals Triple Force Friday merchandise

With just over a week to go, Lucasfilm's livestream from Pinewood Studios, hosted by Warwick Davis who is expected to reprise the titular role of Willow in Ron Howard's rumoured series for Disney+, showcased a selection of new Star Wars merchandise releasing on Triple Force Friday on 4th October.

Star Wars cast members were on hand to reveal new products from LEGO, Hasbro and Funko.

Highlights included Hasbro's D-O interactive droid, a vintage-style Kenner action figure collection and LEGO sets. But, what were your favourite announcements? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige to produce Star Wars

With the close of the Skywalker saga in director JJ Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige will be joining Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on future Star Wars movies for Disney.

“We are excited about the projects Kathy and the Lucasfilm team are working on, not only in terms of ‘Star Wars’ but also Indiana Jones and reaching into other parts of the company including ‘Children of Blood’ and ‘Bone’ with Emma Watts and Fox,” said Walt Disney Studios co-chairman and chief creative officer Alan Horn. “With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in ‘Star Wars’ storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a ‘Star Wars’ film together.”

Feige redefined the scope of the cinematic universe at Marvel Studios and I can't wait to see where he takes fans in a galaxy far, far away...

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Triple Force Friday livestream this Thursday

Lucasfilm has announced a week-long countdown to Triple Force Friday with a special livestream on YouTube this Thursday.

The global merchandise reveal, hosted by Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis live from Pinewood Studios, will feature cast members from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker including Daisy Ridley (Rey), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), John Boyega (Finn), as well as Cameron Monaghan from Respawn's Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano from Disney+'s live-action series The Mandalorian.

Expect exciting announcements from Lucasfilm licensees including LEGO, Hasbro and Funko.

The Triple Force Friday livestream will be on Thursday 26th September at 11AM PT (2PM ET/6PM BST).

Are you excited for the launch of Triple Force Friday on 4th October? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday 23 September 2019

Disney+ pre-orders open in US

Disney+ arrives in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Netherlands (there's a free 2-month trial underway) this November and the House of Mouse has opened pre-orders with a free 7-day trial.

The deep discount offered to attendees of the D23 Expo is currently unavailable.

"Consumers signing up for Disney+ pre-orders will be among the first to start streaming the never-before-seen original programming being created exclusively for the service from the company’s iconic entertainment brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more. In its first year, Disney+ will release more than 25 original series and ten original films, documentaries, including The Mandalorian, from executive producer and writer Jon Favreau, and Lady and the Tramp, a timeless retelling of the 1955 animated classic – both streaming on November 12. Subscribers will also enjoy unprecedented access to Disney’s vast collection of films and television shows.

Subscribers will be able to stream Disney+ on a wide selection of mobile and connected TV devices at launch, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. Subscribers will enjoy high-quality and commercial-free viewing, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads, personalized recommendations, and the ability to set up to seven different profiles, including the ability for parents to set Kids Profiles that have an easy to -navigate, child-friendly interface to access age-appropriate content.

Subscriptions are priced at $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. They automatically renew, with the option to cancel at any time before each renewal date. All new Disney+ subscribers will be eligible for a 7-day free trial.

As previously announced, on November 12, consumers in the U.S. will have the opportunity to purchase a bundled offering of Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu (with ads) for $12.99 per month. The bundle offers an exciting value proposition with access to all of the Disney+ programming plus thousands of live sporting events, sports-themed original series and award-winning sports documentaries from ESPN+; as well as Hulu’s award-winning original content and on-demand streaming library. Consumers interested in the bundle should wait until it becomes available at launch on November 12."

Disney+ will be on the following devices at launch and supports 4K with HDR and Dolby Atmos + Vision at no extra cost to subscribers:

Apple TV
Android mobile devices
Android TV
Desktop web browsers
PlayStation 4 (PS4)
Roku streaming players
Roku TV
Xbox One

You can sign up for Disney+ here. UK residents will have to wait until early 2020.

Are you subscribing to Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday 21 September 2019

The Dark Knight at 80 on Batman Day

Batman celebrates 80 years of fighting crime on newsstands this year and Batman Day is the perfect opportunity to honour orphaned billionaire Bruce Wayne.

From comics to video games (rumoured to be Fortnite next), the shadow of the bat looms large in popular culture.

30 years ago director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) was the cool kid in Hollywood town and brought Batman vividly to life on the silver screen in a postmodern ode to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and film noir. It coincided with my first ever visit to HMV Oxford Street, seemingly the epicentre of 'Batmania' in the UK and Prince's tie-in album reverberated around the store. However, I wanted Danny Elfman's soundtrack CD (remember those?) much to the chagrin of a member of staff. Well, I was more geek than chic.

In the wake of Burton's blockbuster, Batman: The Animated Series was born. This is considered by many fans (myself included) as the definitive dark night, with Kevin Conroy's performance regarded as one of the very best, and spawned a thrilling theatrical tie-in: Mask of the Phantasm. Conroy will next play a live-action Bruce Wayne for The CW's 5-part Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Before all that, my Batman adventures began in the mid-seventies with Saturday morning reruns of the sixties Batman live-action series starring Adam West as the titular crimefighter. Bruce Wayne's childhood trauma would become a metaphor for a life-changing head injury at primary school. You can read my tribute to the late actor here.

The Bat-Signal will be lighting up cities around the world today.

How are you celebrating Batman Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Apple and Disney may have merged under Steve Jobs

Disney CEO Bob Iger believes Apple and Disney may have merged had Steve Jobs lived.

Since becoming CEO, Iger has been on an acquisition trail. From Marvel to Lucasfilm. Disney bought Pixar, originally the Graphics Group at Lucasfilm, from Jobs in 2006 and there has always been speculation surrounding the House of Mouse and the Cupertino-based company.

"With every success the company has had since Steve's death, there's always a moment in the midst of my excitement when I think, I wish Steve could be here for this. It's impossible not to have the conversation with him in my head that I wish I could be having in real life," Iger writes in his upcoming memoir. "More than that, I believe that if Steve were still alive, we would have combined our companies, or at least discussed the possibility very seriously."

Iger recently stepped down from Apple's board of directors prior to the launch of competing streaming services: Disney+ and Apple TV+. Disney+ is currently available as a free 2-month trial in the Netherlands.

The Ride of A Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company is available for pre-order (affiliate link) from Amazon.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Jon Favreau wants a new Star Wars Holiday Special

The Mandalorian showrunner, Jon Favreau (The Lion King), wants to do a new Star Wars Holiday Special for Disney+.

The notorious original Star Wars spin-off was broadcast, only once, on the CBS channel in November 1978, and introduced audiences to fan-favourite bounty hunter Boba Fett prior to the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Many fans (myself included) outside the US got to see Boba Fett, for the first time, as a mail-away action figure from Kenner.

"I would love to do a Holiday Special," Favreau told Entertainment Tonight (ET) backstage at the 45th annual Saturn Awards: "If you want to see a Holiday Special, let Disney+ know."

Boba Fett is a major influence on Favreau's upcoming live-action Star Wars series.

"I love The Holiday Special -- certain sequences more than others," said the director and executive producer. "I love the introduction of Boba Fett and that rifle that he had. That animated piece still holds up. It's pretty cool. I draw inspiration from that."

Would you to like see a new Star Wars Holiday Special on Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 13 September 2019

Jon Favreau to direct The Mandalorian

Executive producer Jon Favreau (Iron Man) recently talked to Entertainment Weekly (EW) about directing an episode for the second season of The Mandalorian Star Wars live-action series for Disney+:

“We’re working on season 2, writing, prepping with the directors and getting ready to direct myself, actually,” said the Iron Man and The Lion King director. “I didn’t get a chance the last time around because I was doing Lion King. So I’ll step in for one of them.”

The Mandalorian stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Bill Burr, Omid Abtahi and Werner Herzog.

Season one of The Mandalorian begins exclusively on Disney+ 12th November in the US, Canada and Netherlands (where subscribers currently have a free 2-month trial).

Thursday 12 September 2019

Disney+ includes classic Marvel animated series

Disney+ is available as a free trial in the Netherlands and beta testers have unearthed classic Marvel animated series including X-Men (1992) and Spider-Man (1994). These are staples from my undergraduate years and were available, briefly, when Netflix launched in the UK with a retro rush.

The free 2-month trial runs until 12th November and there's a roster of 4K HDR content including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Free Solo, Aladdin, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Mary Poppins Returns, A Wrinkle in Time, Christopher Robin, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2.

Disney+ will pull from a vast back catalogue including Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and 20th Century Fox when it launches in the US, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand this November. The House of Mouse's nascent streaming service will be available on a range of devices from iPhone to PS4 and will launch in the UK early 2020 due to existing distribution deals (notably with Sky).

Are you looking forward to Disney+? Will you be subscribing? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Apple Arcade launches ahead of Google Stadia

Apple Arcade is coming to macOS, iOS, iPadOS and tvOS beginning on iOS 13 devices 19th September in 150 countries.

The Cupertino-based company's new offering is akin to Xbox Game Pass and is not a direct competitor to Google Stadia launching in November. Incidentally, I recently upgraded to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (with an extra 12-months free), for Gears 5 early access, so cancelled my Stadia Founder's Edition pre-order.

Apple has signed deals with third-party developers including Lego, Konami and Sega. The fine folks at Sega contacted me to announce ChuChu Rocket Universe. ChuChu Rocket was originally released for the Dreamcast, twenty years ago, and was a free mail-away:

"20 years after ChuChu Rocket! invaded the Dreamcast and became the very first online multiplayer experience, the ChuChus are back in a brand-new episode. The storyline is new, but the objective for players remains the same: help all the ChuChus escape by placing directional arrows that lead them to their space rocket. In multiplayer, the objective for players is to help more ChuChus escape than their competitors. Using very creative methods to win is absolutely compulsory.

ChuChu Rocket! Universe will be available exclusively on Apple Arcade."

Confirmed titles for Apple Arcade include:

Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree
Ballistic Baseball
Beyond a Steel Sky
ChuChu Rocket Universe
Doomsday Vault
Down in Bermuda
Enter the Construct
Exit the Gungeon
Frogger in Toy Town
Hot Lava
Kings of the Castle
Lego Arthouse
Lego Brawls
Mr. Turtle
No Way Home
Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
Pac-Man Party Royale
Projection: First Light
Rayman Mini
Shayonara Wild Hearts
Shantae and the Seven Sirens
Shinsekai: Into the Depths
Skate City
Sneaky Sasquatch
Sonic Racing
Steven Universe: Unleash the Light
Super Impossible Road
The Bradwell Conspiracy
The Enchanted World
The Pathless
UFO on Tape: First Contact
Various Daylife
Where Cards Fall
Winding Worlds

Apple Arcade will cost £4.99/$4.99 per month with a free 1-month trial for new members.

Will you be subscribing? Were you hoping for the AAA titles available on Stadia? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Hailee Steinfeld to play Kate Bishop in Hawkeye?

Variety has exclusively revealed Hailee Steinfeld (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) is under consideration for a lead role in Hawkeye, the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) spin-off series for Disney+.

Steinfeld would play Kate Bishop, alongside Jeremy Renner reprising the titular role from the MCU, who is a member of the Young Avengers. Clint Barton is expected to pass on the baton of Hawkeye to Bishop in the limited-run series. The character of Bishop will most likely appear in further spin-offs and movies.

Disney+ has a raft of exclusive Marvel series in production including Loki, WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Hawkeye comes to Disney+ in late 2021.

Monday 9 September 2019

Hayden Christensen's rumoured return to Star Wars

With only a few more months to go until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in cinemas, fan theories are reaching boiling point.

This time, the cancellation of Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) and Hayden Christensen's (Anakin Skywalker) appearance at Salt Lake's FanX, because Disney purportedly feared leaks, has only added to the fevered speculation.

McDiarmid is already confirmed to be reprising his iconic role as the Emperor in the final chapter to the epic 9-part saga. So, is Christensen's return hiding in plain sight?

Christensen, who has been criticised (by some fans and critics) for his performance in the prequels - let's not forget other talented cast members suffered a similar fate - was a guest at Star Wars Celebration in 2017 and this isn't the first time he's been linked with returning to the franchise.

It was suggested Anakin would appear as a Force ghost to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in The Force Awakens, but this idea was ultimately dropped. Now, many fans think the title of JJ Abrams' sequel refers to Anakin and not Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

What do you think? Will Anakin return to bring balance to the Force a final time? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday 6 September 2019

The Mandalorian and the rise of the First Order

The Mandalorian, starring Pedro Pascal as the titular character, begins streaming, on Disney+, this November and is Entertainment Weekly's (EW) cover story.

Producer and director Dave Filoni (Star Wars Rebels) says of the first live-action Star Wars series:

“This doesn’t turn into a good guy universe because you blew up two Death Stars. You get that the Rebels won and they’re trying to establish a Republic, but there’s no way that could have set in for everybody all at once. You have in a Western where you’re out on the frontier and there might be Washington and they might have some marshals, but sometimes good luck finding one.”

Series showrunner Jon Favreau (Lion King) teased:

“What could happen in the 30 years between celebrating the defeat of the Empire and then the First Order? You come in on Episode VII, [the First Order are] not just starting out. They’re pretty far along…So somehow, things weren’t necessarily managed as well as they could have been if [the galaxy] ended up in hot water again like that.”

The Mandalorian's 8-part season one begins streaming, weekly, in the US, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand exclusively on Disney+ this November. The House of Mouse is sparing no expense for its Star Wars and Marvel live-action series.

What do you hope to see from Favreau's highly-anticipated live-action series with creative input from Star Wars creator George Lucas? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Rey turns to the dark side in The Rise of Skywalker?

During the D23 Expo, Lucasfilm dropped a special look at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Deftly mixing the legacy of the original trilogy with the prequels and sequels, the special culminates with Rey (Daisy Ridley) brandishing a Sith lightsaber, seemingly seduced by the dark side of the Force.

Disney+'s first live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian has piqued my interest, but may not be available until early 2020 in the UK. So, The Rise of Skywalker is my most anticipated franchise instalment for many reasons. It is the culmination of a cinematic journey that began in 1978, igniting a lifelong love of the creative arts, cherished childhood memories and friendships forged amidst the clash of lightsabers and John Williams' soaring strings.

Is Rey a clone as suggested in The Last Jedi and a puppet of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)? Let me know your theories in the comments below.