Author Archive



Happy Rancor: Mail-Away Star Wars Action Figures

Dan Brooks | April 16, 2014

Happy Rancor by Dan Brooks on the Star Wars Blog

Happy Rancor explores hidden gems in and around the orbit of Star Wars — from old video games to comics to underrated novels — that have maybe been forgotten, but deserve a little more consideration. In this installment, we take a look at Star Wars toys that require proofs of purchase, postage, and patience.

One element of Star Wars collecting that I’ve always found fascinating is the mail-away action figure, a designation usually reserved for characters especially important to the saga or those that are just visually interesting and mysterious. The process is pretty straightforward: clip and send in “proof of purchase” UPC bar codes from previously purchased items in exchange for a free (more or less, depending on whether or not a shipping payment is required), not-available-anywhere-else toy. It isn’t immediately evident, but mail-aways have quite a big legacy in the history of Star Wars merchandise. This piece is a light history of mail-aways, combined with some autobiography regarding my experience with these special figures.

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Dave Filoni on The Lost Missions’ Yoda Arc

Dan Brooks | March 12, 2014

Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Lost Missions

Back when I interviewed Dave Filoni about Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we spoke for a long time regarding the series’ themes, its final broadcast season, and its legacy. I included almost everything we discussed in the final three-part piece…except for one brief exchange that had to remain on the cutting room floor: our talk about the Lost Missions’ Yoda arc, which at the time, was a little too spoilery to publish. Now that the episodes are out on Netflix for everyone to enjoy, I’m really happy to share his thoughts on this essential story.

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Interview: Dave Filoni on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Five, Part 3

Dan Brooks | December 19, 2013

Dave Filoni, supervising director of Star Wars: The Clone Wars

In the final installment of StarWars.com’s interview with Dave Filoni about Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Five, available now on Blu-ray and DVD, the show’s supervising director discusses a few details about those long-awaited bonus episodes, passing on what he has learned from George Lucas, and creating Star Wars Rebels — with a little help from his friends. (In case you missed them, be sure to check out part one and part two of the interview.)

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Star Wars at The Tech: See Podracers, Learn How to Build a Real One

Dan Brooks | December 17, 2013

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination

One big part of Star Wars‘ appeal — for myself, and for many fans, I’d imagine — is the sheer invention and creativity seen in the films. It’s the ships and models filled with details, like scorch marks on X-wings and the unique look of every lightsaber hilt. It’s the costumes that blend samurai influence and 1960s comic book art, but look timeless. It’s the beauty of the designs, for characters and locales both good and evil. The magic of Star Wars is how all of that comes together to create an amazing world, inspiring wonder about how it was made — and, to a greater extent, if Star Wars technology could be made real.

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Interview: Dave Filoni on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Five, Part 2

Dan Brooks | October 30, 2013

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In part two of StarWars.com’s three-part interview with Dave Filoni about Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Five, available now on Blu-ray and DVD, the Pittsburgh native discusses what has to happen when Darth Sidious drops in for a visit, why Darth Maul may not be as bad a guy as we think he is, and how Ahsoka’s story ties into the themes of the Star Wars films.

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Interview: Dave Filoni on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Five, Part 1

Dan Brooks | October 15, 2013

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Debuting in 2008 and running for five seasons, the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars made the Star Wars universe a far richer place. The show introduced major new characters like Ahsoka Tano, Savage Opress, and Mother Talzin, while further developing the saga’s icons and backstory, including the integral friendship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Perhaps most significantly, it kept Star Wars alive for older fans and introduced the world of Jedi, Sith, and starfighters to a generation of new ones. That’s all largely due to supervising director Dave Filoni, a gifted artist, writer, and director who guided the series, and whose ability to combine visual spectacle with witty dialogue and high-stakes, emotional drama was essential to the show’s success. Currently, Filoni is serving as executive producer on the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebels animated series, which explores the time period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and is also overseeing the completion of select final episodes of The Clone Wars. With the fifth season of The Clone Wars — which won Emmys for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program and Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for guest star David Tennant — hitting Blu-ray and DVD today, StarWars.com spoke with Filoni about how the many game-changing story beats of the year came to be, why a break from Darth Maul is important, and what it would take to get a New York Rangers reference into the show. (Spoiler warning: This interview digs deep into everything that happened in Season Five.)

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SWCE 2013: Fan Stories

Dan Brooks | July 27, 2013


Star Wars Celebration Europe is here, and fans from all over the world have been enjoying the show’s panels, exhibits, sights, and sounds. Walking the show floor and seeing all the costumers, fan-made props, and excitement for the future of Star Wars makes one thing very clear: The Force is strong in 2013, and it’s the fans that make it so.

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Happy Rancor: Revenge of the Sith Novelization

Dan Brooks | June 26, 2013

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Happy Rancor explores hidden gems in and around the orbit of Star Wars — from old video games to comics to underrated novels — that have maybe been forgotten, but deserve a little more consideration. In this installment, we look at the book adaptation of the last (for now) Star Wars film.

Star Wars novelizations are almost a genre unto themselves. They offer fans a slightly alternate, and often times, deeper look into the Star Wars films with extra dialogue and scenes that expand the scope of what’s in the finished film. At the same time, they have their work cut out for them: they’re competing with the film on which they’re based as well as original Star Wars novels, which can make it difficult for readers to know exactly how to view them. Among all the Star Wars novelizations, Matthew Stover’s adaptation of Revenge of the Sith is a particular favorite. It delves into characters and their motivations more than one would expect, it’s beautifully written, and it enriches the experience of watching the movie in surprising ways.

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Interview: Dennis Muren on Return of the Jedi

Dan Brooks | May 24, 2013

In 1983, Return of the Jedi marked the end of the original Star Wars trilogy, and with it, an incredible era of effects innovation in film. The movie wrapped up all the story threads previously set in motion — Luke’s journey to become a Jedi, the Rebellion’s struggle against the Empire, and the redemption of Darth Vader — and did so amidst a backdrop of stunning visuals, thrilling action, and lots of strange creatures. From speeder bike chases to lightsaber duels to a trip inside the tunnels of the Death Star, Return of the Jedi is still a spectacular entertainment.

In honor of the film’s thirtieth anniversary this month, StarWars.com spoke with Industrial Light & Magic’s Dennis Muren — the effects legend who worked extensively on Return of the Jedi and the entire Star Wars trilogy — about the early process of getting started on the film, why beams of light shine from a melting carbonite slab, and where Jedi stands historically.

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Mark Hamill Reflects on Star Wars at the Egyptian Theatre

Dan Brooks | May 6, 2013

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In his portrayal of Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill encapsulated everything that Star Wars was meant to be and is. He brought an adventurous energy, a good spirit, and a sense of emotional growth to the role — traits that were essential to conveying the story’s themes and to making Luke an iconic hero.

At Saturday’s thirtieth anniversary celebration of Return of the Jedi at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood — part of Entertainment Weekly‘s CapeTown Film Fest — Hamill made a surprise appearance after the 6:00 p.m. screening of the film. When EW writer and host Anthony Breznican asked if anyone could do a good Luke Skywalker impression, Hamill emerged, making a dramatic entrance that could rival Luke’s own “I’m with you, too!” moment from Jedi. He took part in two Q&As, discussing some specifics on Return of the Jedi and the exciting future of Star Wars.

Between Q&As, Hamill spoke to StarWars.com about what the entire saga was like for him as an actor, and the different challenges he faced in making a space fantasy believable. As it turns out, Hamill’s prior experience helped prepare him.

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