Rebel Through Royalty: A Conversation With Claudia Gray

We’ve had the pleasure of having New York Times Bestselling author Claudia Gray answer some questions about her interactions not just in the World of Star Wars, but throughout her time as a Young Adult novelist. Claudia’s works in Star Wars include Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens : Lost Stars, Star Wars : A New Republic : Bloodline, and her latest novel Journey to Star Wars : The Last Jedi : Leia, Princess of Alderaan. Continue reading “Rebel Through Royalty: A Conversation With Claudia Gray”

Augustus Snoke: The Praetorian Truths

The goal of a great conqueror throughout history was to rule with a fist, and to live long enough to see his or her empire rise to the occasion. To do so, said ruler would need the best of the best to guards against all threats, whether in the forefront of war or lurking in the shadows of political mutiny.

During the period of early Roman history, specifically the era of Ambassador Legatus, the Praetorian Guards began their honorable journey towards service and power. Those who served the Roman military under the position of General or honorable reserves (veteran years in the military) were granted the position of Praetorian Guard to the Emperor himself. Their goal was to serve the Emperor, and on the battlefield, protect the emperor from death (no matter the situation). When called upon, the Praetorian Guards would be seen as the ‘elites’ and be at the forefront of conflicts both internally and externally. These guards would serve until they died, most of the time because of their age or serious injuries from conflicts. Simply, the only honor was to die in service of the Roman Emperor.


(history.com)

Alright, enough of the history lesson! Let’s get into the Star Wars.

In recent news, Star Wars fans have been introduced to the newest member of Supreme Leader Snoke’s ‘First Order’. These latest additions just so happened to be named Praetorian Guards, after their role in the First Order became the focus of toy leaks and conversations within the community. These new Praetorian Guards resemble the traditional tone of the Imperial Guards from the original trilogy, however, sport a newer look that resembles the early Japanese Samurai Warriors or Bushi 武士 of the Kamakura Period 鎌倉時代 (est. 1192).

A fresh, new and unique look for Star Wars.

(makingstarwars.net)

Yet, I feel a great disturbance in the force, as if a million voices cried out “there is more to this than the red armor”

The recent conclusion to Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath Trilogy Empire’s End introduced Star Wars fans to not only the story of Jakku, but to the extensive reach of the dark side after Palpatine was killed. 

THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR STAR WARS AFTERMATH: EMPIRE’S END

In the novel, we are introduced to the Acolytes of the Beyond, specifically young children who are stripped of their traditional life to explore the depths of anger and the powers it entails. Simply, everything that composes the dark side of the force and makes it prosper.

The Acolytes are led by Yupe Tashu, an advisor to Emperor Palpatine and creator of Acolytes of the Beyond, who built the group to seek out the knowledge of Sith lords who had passed on. These children, as we learn in Aftermath: Empires End, are ruthless and are trained not to use the force, but brute power obtained through the use of their anger and rage.

As Kiza, a young Pantoran member of the Acolytes, said in the novel, “Vader lives. And so do you. Tell everyone the Acolytes are coming, doll.” She wore the mask of Exim Panshard, a Sith lord who had ruled during the time of the Jedi-Sith War. Through this mask, she did not obtain the force, but the darkness of its past user. They worship the leading of Darth Vader, and everything he stood for. Being non-force users, it would the presence of the dark side that they believed would lead them to victory and power. This was instilled in these children, as they became more experienced, would find themselves in a much more powerful position within this “First Order”.

(aminomailer.com)

Yes, I believe that a good majority of these Acolytes may have taken on the role of Supreme Leader Snoke’s personal guards, the Praetorian Guards to be exact.

Many have speculated that the Acolytes may have also become members of the Knights of Ren, which makes sense. If Supreme Leader Snoke was to give Kylo Ren a group of Acolytes who worshiped his own grandfather, he could easily motivate and teach them the ways of the force. Not just the power of the dark side, but the light as well.

Not every Acolyte could be in the Knights of Ren, so a select few would be chosen by Snoke, based on experience and mastery of skills, to represent his personal acolytes as Praetorian Guards. In doing so, the Acolytes would always have a higher power to answer to, and continue to grow a stronger sense of how the dark side truly works. These Praetorian Guards chosen to represent and protect the life of Supreme Leader Snoke are just as crucial to the storyline, if this proves to be the case, as the Knights of Ren. Not only would this add an extra level to the new storyline, but give fans the opportunity to explore the Acolytes of the Beyond and what they represent across the canonized universe.

The truths will rise!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in theaters on December 15th, 2017

For more information about Aftermath: Empire’s End, listen to the Talkin’ Far Far Away’s review of the novel, and Subscribe on iTunes to the Podcast Network

Share your thoughts on Twitter! : @brickcityswpc @mrvogtweets 

Thanks for reading, and May the Force be with you

The Canon Book Files: Part One

Star Wars books have been with us since Alan Dean Foster did the very first novelization of the first Star Wars movie and Splinter of the Mind’s Eye to the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn and the Darth Bane Trilogy. It’s safe to say that there has been so many Star Wars books that have now become Legends. But why were all these books called and classed as Legends?

The answer is pretty simple.

As with the canon comics, when Disney bought Lucasfilm and were going to make new movies, they wanted the universe to connect together by the books, comics and TV. You can’t do that when all the books set after Return of the Jedi wouldn’t fit in with what the story group were going for. So, all books before April 2014 were classified as ‘Legends’, and for good reason.

I mean, Chewbacca was killed by a moon. Seriously?

A New Dawn

In September 2014, the first of the canon novels were released. This novel was known as A New Dawn. A New Dawn truly focuses on the relationship of Kanan and Hera, and specifically their first meeting. This was a wise choice for Lucasfilm to go with as Star Wars Rebels had started on Disney XD. This book explores Kanan as being similar to Han Solo, someone who wishes not to be bothered, more a Jedi no longer wanting to use the force, and additionally keeping a low profile. If people found out that he was a Jedi, the chances of being arrested by the Empire were high.

They would be very high.

The first time Hera and Kanan meet is during a street fight with Charko’s gang but she disappears before he can get her name. They encounter each other again and she explains why she is on the planet that Kanan is on, they both agree to work with one another to stop Count Vidian. What his plans are, you will need to read the book to find out. After dealing with the crisis, Kanan agrees to join Hera on The Ghost and the start of what will become Rebels begins.

A New Dawn also gave us the first encounter with Rae Sloane, who is a Captain at this time. Rae Sloane is one of the characters that has shown up in a few books, most recently being in the Aftermath Trilogy. She is one character I would love to see working with Thrawn on Rebels. This book is a great one to read if you’re a Rebels fan and want to see the back story of Kanan and Hera meeting for the first time.

Tarkin

In November 2014, a classic character got his own book in the new canon, written by a Star Wars classic writer James Luceno, the book Tarkin. This book isn’t action driven, its more character driven. The book gives you more of his back story from his childhood. What strikes me about his childhood is how cold Tarkin’s parents were to him. There’s a bit in the book when he asks them if he died would they miss him and the response is a very cold one. Just from that one bit just sets up the kind of person Tarkin is overall.

This book to me gives a better understanding of Tarkin in ways I never thought possible.

Heir to the Jedi

The next canon book for the year in which Star Wars was returning to the big screen was Heir to the Jedi. This is a Luke Skywalker-centric story and takes place after A New Hope and we see him trying to use the force. It’s only one of two books in the canon so far to focus on Luke. This book was meant to be a Legends book, but when the new canon started it was put in there instead. If you want your fill of Luke until The Last Jedi comes out – then this is your book.

Lords of the Sith

The book that came out after this made me not want to put it down and that was Lords of the Sith. This is the book every Star Wars fan wants to read as it brings the Emperor and Vader together in a whole book for the first time in new canon together. What I love about this book is that the Emperor is hiding who he really is from others as people within the Empire do not know that he is a Sith Lord but to a few, who knows is true identity. Also you see the struggle that Vader is going through in this book as part of him is trying to destroy Anakin and it comes very strongly in this book on how he is trying to deal with it. You see how Ryloth are trying to free themselves from the Empire. The free Ryloth movement in this book is led by Cham Syndulla and he talks about Hera which would make any Rebels fan happy as I certainly was. This book overall just shows how much control the Emperor has over Vader and how he can get him to do certain things. The end of this books just says it all.

It makes the Vader scene in Rogue One with the Rebels even more epic.

Dark Disciple

The only book in the new canon so far that you will see set in the Clone Wars era is Dark Disciple. The Jedi are starting to get desperate to stop the Clone Wars and they feel the only way to do this is to kill Count Dooku. They know that they can’t have a Jedi do it so they set their sights on an old ally of Dooku’s, Asajj Ventress. They feel the only person that could convince her to do this is a character that has appeared on Clones Wars and in The Phantom Menace, is Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos. This book took me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting what I got from this book. For any Clone Wars fan this is one you have to pick up. tt was meant to a four to eight episode arc but since Clone Wars got cancelled they produced a book so the fans could read and enjoy it as answers to some questions are answered.

For what they are, you have to read it.

Aftermath

When Force Friday arrived in September 2015, Lucasfilm released a few books but a few were young adult novels. Look out for the young adult article coming soon about what these books are as one book is my favourite in the new canon. But within the main set of canon novels that came out, set after Return of the Jedi was the first in the Aftermath trilogy. Aftermath has a lot to do to set up a universe set after ROTJ as the Empire was not defeated straight away after the battle of Endor.

The first few pages of this book just says it all really. The characters in this book are ones we are going on a journey with in this new trilogy of books: Nora Wexley and her son Temmin (Snap), who is a character from The Force Awakens. In this book we are introduced to former Imperial Officer Sinjir Rath Velus, who to me is the best part about the Aftermath trilogy. This book also does more in-depth with Wedge Antilles who to me gets more “screen time” in this book than in the movies which is fantastic. Don’t expect to much of Han, Luke and Leia in this book and for good reason, this is a great way to expand on the universe with new characters.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company

To round out the first two years of canon novels is Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company. This book has the feel of Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan etc. It is the first war novel set on the front lines. The way the characters get on with each other, how they feel about being on the front lines. One part of the book is set within the Battle of Hoth, it shows that not everyone got out from fighting there so others could escape to fight the Empire another day.

If you want a great on the front lines Star Wars book, this is the one.

Lucasfilm had a good two-year run of restarting the canon and got us ready for what was to come in 2016 and beyond. Look out what they are in Part 2 of the Star Wars – The Canon Book Files.

8 Commonly Used Star Wars Collecting Abbreviations

There are many Star Wars collecting phrases and abbreviations that can be quite confusing when you’re reading articles online or following threads on Facebook groups and forums. I was pretty familiar with most of the of the common terms, but every once in awhile I’ll come across a new one that I need to look up.

The Star Wars collecting community is flush with specific terms to describe the toys and related items. It’s like it’s own language. To non-collectors and fans, we might as well be speaking Huttese or Droid. To me, it is important knowing the Star Wars collecting terminology and being familiar with these commonly used phrases or abbreviations. It helps tremendously, especially for newer collectors. I’ll be going through eight of the most commonly used collecting abbreviations here. I’ll have a more comprehensive listing in the future on my Vintage Viewport landing page.

First off, I’ll touch upon some abbreviations.

MOCMint on Card. This is when a figure is still sealed on its card back. The figure is essentially untouched or “mint” condition.

MIBMint in Box. The vehicle or playset is complete and in very good shape within its original box, but it has been opened.

MISBMint in Sealed Box. The box has never been opened and still has factory seal.

COOCountry of Origin. It shows the country in which the figure was manufactured. This designation usually lies on the back of the figure’s leg for vintage items. The COO mark or lack there of, can help determine the rarity of a figure variation.

Back – The term “back” refers to the various action figure card backs. Many variations are out there. Carded figures are often described by which card back they are on.

For example, a 12A card back was the first card back released in 1978 and had 12 characters on the back. A 45 back has 45 figures shown and would likely be an Empire Strikes Back (ESB) card, though some Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) cards were released as a transition with a 45 back. A 65A would be the first mass produced ROTJ card back with 65 figures on the back. The Ewoks, Logray and Chief Chirpa, were noticeably airbrushed over. This was to not disclose their appearance before the movie released. A 65B ROTJ card back has them fully visible.

As you can see, this particular category with card back variations get very confusing. There are many sites and books that have various compilations and pictures of the different card backs.

Lastly, I’ll touch upon some frequently used abbreviations within the various collecting forums and groups.

WTBWant to Buy

ISOIn Search Of

NFSNot for Sale

This list is by no means a fully comprehensive listing of all collecting abbreviations and acronyms for collectors. I hope you found this information useful in your collecting experience.

Enjoy the hunt Star Wars fans.

The Man With The Baton: Exploring the Magic of Star Wars Music

Winter 2017 is slowly approaching.

As I am writing this article, John Williams is in the studio recording the music for The Last Jedi. If we could get a tease to Williams’ musical mastery taking place in studio, fans would be overjoyed with excitement. Who knows, come Star Wars Celebration and the highly anticipated trailer for December’s The Last Jedi, maybe the wishes of myself and many fans will become a reality. Star Wars is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, and John Williams has composed all seven installments of the Star Wars Trilogy. Yes, that means fan favorites such as ‘Imperial Attack’ for Episode IV: New Hope and Rey’s Theme from The Force Awakens.

What kind of music are we expecting to hear as we are watching The Last Jedi? I think it would be very remarkable that the music, being the second film in this new trilogy, have a new spark to it. Something on the lines of a Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi harmony. In those two films the music captures the true essence of the Star Wars. In my opinion I feel that both of these classic productions bring a glimpse of nostalgia stemming back to a time when scores took a larger role in the production of blockbuster films.

I know, even the prequels hit their mark when it came to music.

As a fan of the music, I would love to see changes, specifically when it comes to the composition of Star Wars music. Keep it eerie, and make fans want to binge-listen every second of it. I love listening and reading other Star Wars fans opinions of the music in this galaxy far, far away. The Star Wars community has a great platform to express their thoughts on the music, whether it is satisfying to them or not. This music has become part of our daily commute, our evening chill-outs and even gatherings as fans.

Listening to John Williams, in every way possible, has become a pastime for all of us.

Solitude: Tatooine’s Greatest Secret

Kenobi.

The man portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness. The master reprised by Ewan McGregor. The legend recently voiced by Stephen Stanton.

Other than Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, there are few Jedi that have taken on a role like Obi-Wan Kenobi in that galaxy far far away. He has the ability to find humor in the most difficult of situations. To make a teaching moment stretch across multiple time-frames in the Star Wars Universe. To say just one word in the latest Star Wars saga films and send the entire audience into shock. This is the man that we have come to appreciate in every way possible, and in doing so, have allowed for his story to be continually told.

There is more to be told however.

Like in any modern religion or belief, the ability to ‘tap into’ outside forces can be both influential and life changing. For Obi-Wan, his relationship with Qui-Gon spanned beyond a ‘master to padawan’ connection. As Yoda said to Kenobi at the conclusion of Revenge of The Sith, “In your solitude on Tatooine, training I have for you”. In this moment, Yoda reveals the presence of Qui-Gon as a ‘Force ghost’, and the chance for Obi-Wan to once again reconnect with his old master. In his solitude, Kenobi became not only a different man, but a non-traditional Jedi. A protector of both the Force and it’s last living “hope”.

Recently in Star Wars Rebels, specifically ‘Twin Suns’, Obi-Wan Kenobi returned to the screen to fans’ excitement. David Filoni and the story-team recently spoke in an episode of Star Wars ‘Rebels Recon’ to the addition of Obi-Wan in the animated storyline. Pablo Hidalgo tells host Andi Gutierrez, “Kenobi is in a very different place”. Henry Gilroy, co-producer on Star Wars Rebels said as well that, “Obi Wan is likely doing a lot of meditating on the force, and probably deepening himself.. and he’s learning those techniques that Qui-Gon is exploring”.

Obi Wan was most certainly not sitting at Starbucks and working on his life story, as many of us Star Wars fans began to believe after the prequels.

The Obi-Wan Kenobi that we get to know in A New Hope does not stem from his most traditional teachings. Much like Luke Skywalker, his connection to the past is what drives his success and his eventual path as a Jedi. Having Qui-Gon guide Obi-Wan changed the course of the Star Wars Universe. The Kenobi that we get to know over the course of the Original Trilogy is a more mature, older and wiser Jedi Master. A Jedi who has reflected on the past and understands that previous methods of progress were doing the complete opposite. As Qui-Gon Jinn explains to Obi-Wan in the prequels, use your judgement and self-trust to guide your path. Simply, do not let outside factors play into your guidance as a teacher and mentor.

In his solitude on Tatooine, it is safe to say that Obi-Wan Kenobi shared the truths of the Jedi Order and reflected on Yoda’s concerns during the time of The Republic with Qui-Gon Jinn. What went wrong and how to restructure the Jedi Order in a way that focuses on the true nature of the Force.

As a Jedi Master who centralized all thoughts on the ‘natural force’ and not being blinded by the Dark Side, Qui-Gon wanted to assure his padawan that changes are brought upon life for a reason. Living by the book can be dangerous, because it does not allow room to grow and explore through natural belief. As the Jedi Master says in The Phantom Menace to young Anakin Skywalker, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality”. Obi-Wan later says to young Luke Skywalker, “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view”. Like Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan Kenobi finds the reality of the Force in how each individual handles it’s delicacy. Simply, how does a Jedi handle experiences that change the course of his or her life. This became the determining factor in how each Jedi continued their practice, as we see being played out in the newest trilogy.

Yes, I am saying there is a chance that Qui-Gon Jinn himself possibly pondered these thoughts alongside his apprentice to create and format what we now see as ‘the Force’ in today’s stories being told.

The Obi-Wan that we got to know as Star Wars fans has changed over the years. As with any character in this galaxy far far away, one story leads to ten or more countless others. The Last Jedi is at our heels, and as a community, the news is just around the corner. The tales of Kenobi have room to expand and come into fruition once December rolls around I believe. Until then, let us continue the conversation and hypothesize. Will he make his presence felt in the upcoming film, or does the story team have other plans for Obi-Wan? Whatever the arrangement is, we do know this. There will be ‘another happy landing’ for fans around the world. The surface has only been scratched, and the Star Wars Universe is ready for more.

Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Expanded Star Wars Universe

Back in April 2014, Lucasfilm announced that the expanded universe was renamed Legends.  By doing this, all the great stuff like games, books, comics and the awesome Clone Wars shorts from Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory were swept away for the new canon that was coming.  The only things to remain were the one comic, the movies and The Clone Wars 2008 TV series.

Since Star Wars is now under the Disney house along with Marvel, they can combine there resources to give us some great comics from the main title series Star Wars to Shattered Empire right up to just before The Force Awakens with the Poe Dameron series.

The comic which remained was Darth Maul: The Son of Dathomir and not from Marvel but Dark Horse Comics, this comic continues on from The Clone Wars episode The Lawless.  This will fill in the gap from when Maul was captured by Sidious to his return in Rebels Season Two, Twilight of the Apprentice. This is a great story for people who want more Maul and it was meant to be used in what would have been season six of The Clone Wars.  It’s sad that we didn’t get to see this on screen but we are lucky to have it in comic form, but the art makes up for it.

Maul has returned to the comics again but this time set just before The Phantom Menace, this is the Maul who is waiting and is ready to attack the Jedi but is kept at bay as his Master as it doesn’t work with Sidious timeline. This series has just started and has me hooked already.  It will be one that is at the top of my list after Kanan.

The comics have gave us a more in depth look the characters we have come to know and love over the years.  What I’m enjoying about the Star Wars main series comic at the moment is the fact that Luke is being more develop at the moment, learning on becoming a Jedi.  The Star Wars comic has given us more of Obi-Wan, hiding on Tatooine keeping an eye on Luke from afar and how he deals with his relationship with Owen Lars, who wants to keep Kenobi far away from Luke as far as possible.  Overall this comic series started off not great but over time has become great and one I would suggest picking it up.

Darth Vader has been great as this comic has been set just after the first Star Wars, it explores more how the Emperor wasn’t pleased with Vader on the destruction of the first Death Star.  I found this series an excellent read and gave us an more insight into Vader.  What those insights gave us, was finding out who Skywalker was and learning the truth that he had son. Yes some could say he work it out when knowing the name in Empire Strikes Back but this shows you how he worked it out.  This series also gave us Doctor Aphra which would later give us our first canon comic series from a character that hasn’t been put on screen yet with her two driods BT-1, also called “Bee Tee”, 0-0-0, also known simply as “Triple-Zero” and her wookie companion who she is owed a debt to Black Krrsantan, also known as “Santy”. I would recommend both series just even to read the crossover with the main Star Wars series Vader down as that offers a few surprises.

The canon comics have expanded the universe for single characters.

My personal favourite is the Kanan: The Last Padawan comic, this gave us a more backstory on how Kanan survived Order 66.  Before this comic we only knew about it from Rebels that he survived and that his Master was killed by the Clone Troopers who were his friends.  It gives a better understanding of why he isn’t so keen on Rex during the second season of Rebels.  This was a 12 issue series that I wish went on a bit longer and could have gave us more of what else Kanan went through from that time right up to is appearance in Star Wars: A New Dawn.

The Lando series has given us more of a backstory on this smooth talking smuggler we all know and love, even the first few panels of the first issue just sums up Lando in his own comic.  This comic took us to a place I wasn’t expecting and helps us to know why Lobot doesn’t talk in Empire Strikes Back and why he backs Lando up like how Chewie back’s up Han.  The five part Han Solo comic just makes me more excited to see the Han Solo movie coming up, we get the Han we know and love in this comic and more of this sparing with Leia which we all have come to enjoy.  These comics just add more to the depth of who Lando and Han are and just a great joy to read.

The one thing between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones that we don’t get much at the moment in the new canon but I feel will get expanded on at a later date is the training of Anakin under Obi -Wan.  This was an interesting story to tell as you could see in this comic that Anakin is feeling that the galaxy is calling to him, wanting to leave his training and is also being manipulated by Palpatine when Anakin doesn’t even know it.  I feel this enriches Palpatine even more by watching Anakin for most of his life.

The Princess Leia comic deals with the aftermath of Alderaan, we know that not all of it’s people were on the planet were it was destroyed by the Empire.  This story deals with Leia going of to find survivors and bringing the Alderaan together to fight the Empire.  What is great about this comic that it has been referenced in novels such as Aftermath: Life Debt and Bloodline.  The Chewbacca comic isn’t one that offers much but it does remind us that Chewie is the honourable wookie we all know from the movies, books etc. The C-3PO one-shot comic is something that could have been dealt with in Force Awakens as a one sentence scene about how he got his red arm but it was nice to just a comic focus on our favourite protocol droid.

What the comics is offering at the moment is a more detailed expanding universe in the canon.  Filling in gaps from A New Hope to Empire Strikes Back, giving us back stories on characters like Kanan and Maul.  We as Star Wars fans are lucky to have these comics connecting in with the books, comics and movies.  There hasn’t been anything like it before connecting all this together other than the Marvel movies but they keep there movies and tv shows separate, Star Wars isn’t and I hope it never will.

What I hope we get coming from the future of comics is more set after Return of the Jedi and The Old Republic, these are my hopes but whatever the story group give us we know we will get the best stories and from the great writers.

My First Experience with SDCC Exclusives at Hasbro Toy Shop

For most die-hard Star Wars collectors, most knew that today was the day that Hasbro would make a limited amount of their Star Wars San Diego Comic Con exclusives available for sale at their website HasbroToyShop.com:

 

This is the first year I have been serious about Star Wars collecting and as a result – this was my first attempt at trying to maneuver Hasbro Toy Shop (HST) on exclusive release day. I did plenty of research in advance on what to expect. That research had me wondering if I wanted to even bother with the hassle or to just wait for each of these three exclusives to be released as base figures. As of this morning I was undecided, but decided to casually update (or F5) the website throughout the morning in hopes of getting lucky.

I happened to see this tweet from Yakface.com shortly after 11 AM EST:

 

So I quickly jumped on the site and it was definitely moving sluggish. I used the Add to Cart button on each figure and after some delays, it looked like I had each in my cart (and somehow two of Jyn Erso). I went to check out and learned my first lesson about SDCC exclusives: just because it is in your cart – it does not reserve a figure for you. After some fumbling about rushing through to pay, I got an error saying that something was out of stock.

Rats. I was able to deduce that Jyn was the sold out figure, but accidentally had to start the order over again from scratch. This time I only had Ben Kenobi and Kylo Ren and got to the same place as before. This time, Ben Kenobi was sold out.

Double rats. I won’t bury the lede any longer as I was lucky enough to get the unmasked Kylo Ren eventually.

If I could travel back in time to this morning and give myself some advice, I would tell myself the following:

  • Have a Plan – There is no time to decide on the fly with the proverbial clock ticking on what figures you want
  • Act Fast – As I found out the hard way, just because something is in your cart at HST, it doesn’t reserve you a product until you pay
  • Update Addresses and Payment Method in Advance – I would have logged in earlier to ensure this was all accurate and up to date, saving valuable time
  • Be Available – You have to fully commit to being around your computer or mobile device. There is some evidence that suggests that 11 AM EST (8 AM PST) could be the new normal going forward but also having social media like Twitter is a huge help when the products actually drop
  • Bookmark the Exclusives Page – I saw some collectors have issues trying to order on the individual product pages. Adding to the cart directly from the Convention Exclusives worked for me (until I was too slow)

This isn’t the only way to secure the exclusives you are chasing, but I would found this information helpful if I decide to chance any exclusives in 2017 and beyond. It was a fun experience and I can’t be too disappointed because of my lack of experience with collecting.

May the Force be with you.

 

 

Bad Art Can Equal a Unique Find!

While camping in northern NH last year my family and I went shopping in a nearby, small town on what was turning into an increasingly rainy day. The town was Littleton, NH and during our stop there we stumbled upon an amazing little shop. Our car was jam packed with camping gear so there was no room to fit any purchases, but we vowed to return and a few weeks ago we made another trip up to northern NH. This time we left room in the car especially for relieving this shop of some of their inventory.

Bad Art is a small store off of a side street (conveniently located across the street from a brewery that also serves wood-fired pizza…also worth the trip, but that’s another story) where you can find many movie and TV show related pieces as well as some miscellaneous non-media related works.

The walls are covered with items that to me are far from what should be labeled as “bad art”. Especially when you consider the amount of great Star Wars based pieces you find.

While strolling through the store my wife and I found many items we were interested in. We immediately picked up this shadow-trooper-like piece painted on a 12″x12″ piece of wood:

There were many other Star Wars helmet paintings similar to this one using different color backgrounds. I’ve regretted not picking up a larger, scout trooper piece that hung close to this one since we left.

While everything seems to be reasonably priced, there are some cool pieces painted on vinyl records that won’t break the bank even if you are on a tighter budget as they ranged from $10 – $15 each. We picked up this one which shows a Force Awakens era storm trooper helmet:

 

But the item that I had to have was this unique storm trooper picture:

 

 

I cannot express how freakin’ cool this thing is. At 16″x 20″ this canvas painting is large enough to make an impression on Star Wars fans and non-fans alike. The $80 price tag seemed perfect, but to be honest they could have said $100 or even a little more and I would have bought it just as quickly.

The artist, Jon, gave us some insight on how this painting and others with a similar style were made. Specifically he said this painting was left out in the rain to get the spotted effect you see in the background. For others he has used various liquids to see what effect might be created and if it works. He pointed out one painting which he has used Pabst Blue Ribbon on. At least someone has found a good use for PBR!

In addition Jon mentioned how while he will make a similar painting now that we purchased this one, it will not be exactly the same. The next version will have changes to the background or other details meaning this and other paintings in the shop are one-of-a-kind.

The pictures and my description of the art in this store are probably not doing it justice. I recommend checking out their Facebook page using this link. Their Facebook shop has a limited selection compared to the store, but it gives you a little more of an idea of the various types of pieces they sell in their physical shop. They are also quick to respond on messenger if you have questions.

Collecting Star Wars merchandise is fun and addictive. However having something you can show off in your home as art while also adding to your collection is even better.

Every Star Wars collector has a Storm Trooper. How many have one as part of a piece that no one else has? Now that I do I will probably be visiting Bad Art again in the near future to look for another unique piece to add next to my other collectibles.

Oh and thanks to Jon at Bad Art for having awesome taste and bringing such unique stuff into this world!