I recently shared with you a first look at new merchandise coming to Star Wars Weekends 2014 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning May 16. Today, I’m thrilled to announce that the Star Wars – D-Tech Me experience will return this year with a few new options for guests. This year, the experience will be located inside Darth’s Mall, located in Soundstage 1 between Studio Backlot Tour and Toy Story Midway Mania.
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One of the last conversations I have at the March 2014 Lexington Comic & Toy Convention is with a miner from Eastern Kentucky. He comes to my table with his teenage daughter, a pretty cosplayer all decked out in pink, heels a tad too high for her rail-thin legs. A rugged, handsome man, he says proudly he’s a fracker who has coal-mined all his life — except during the years when he had an unhappy experience out West working in oil and gas. “It was crazy out there,” he says. He’s glad to be back in Kentucky, in coal.
“Which Side Are You On?” is a protest song from the late 1930s famously covered by Pete Seeger. The legendary folksinger/activist left us this winter at the age of 94. As one who began his entertainment career in the early Sixties as a Greenwich Village-inspired folkie, I regard Seeger, along with Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, as one of my pre-Bob Dylan Yodas. The song is about a 1931 miners’ strike in Harlan, Kentucky. It was in fact written by a coal miner’s daughter, Florence Reece, who was also the wife of one of the strike organizers. The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield also spawned another folkie, Jean Ritchie — and well-known country music artists like coal miner-daughter Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoaka, and Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley’s dad.
So, which side are you on? Well, Dak’s a Rebel. Those of you familiar with his backstory know he was raised in captivity in the Kalist VI labor colony. As a teenager, he worked in a mine as a laser drill operator blasting away one of the ores that is a constituent of transparisteel.
Recently I have been asking fans at conventions that very question. In February, Peter Mayhew, Daniel Logan, and I were in Pensacola, Florida, at Pensacon. The first day, we three were on a Star Wars panel before a packed house of fans, and I put it to them. The show of hands indicated: 30 percent Imperials, 30 percent Rebels and 30 percent Underground, consistent with what I have found in my previous surveys.
His most famous film character has destroyed the Death Star, received the Medal of Bravery following The Battle of Yavin, and resisted a turn to the dark side — so what is he going to do next?
He’s going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!
No wait, wrong answer. He’s going to Disney World!
As mentioned in my most recent blog, new Star Wars Celebration 2015 announcements are coming up this April, probably later in the month, to commemorate the one-year-out point of what promises to be one really big Star Wars show.
A integral part of every Star Wars Celebration is what fans bring to the event, both informally and as part of the official program. Just like Bantha Tracks, with the motto, “By the Fans; For the Fans,” Celebrations are as much fun as they are because fans are involved; because they contribute talent, energy, ideas, and creativity.
Want to be part of the show at Celebration 2015? Read on for some tips on what we’re looking for.
The International Toy Fair in New York wrapped up last Wednesday, and the team from StarWars.com was there to ensure we brought you all the latest news on what you can expect from the industry over the upcoming months. There were lots of new products to see, including new items from Star Wars Rebels as well as products from the original and prequel trilogies.
In addition to the galleries already presented by Hasbro and LEGO, we present new images of some of the products on display. The first LEGO gallery didn’t include any of the summer product line, which includes a new Imperial Star Destroyer which opens up fully with some great new play features and comes with fix new minifigures (2 x Strormtrooper, Imperial Officer, Imperial Navy Trooper, Imperial Crew, and Darth Vader) as well as a stunning brand new holographic Emperor micro figure. For all fans of The Empire Strikes Back we look forward to new sets of the AT-AT featuring four new minifigures (General Veers, Snowtrooper Commander, AT-AT Driver, and 2 x Snowtroopers). In a new take on one of the first sets released 15 years ago, the snowspeeder which comes with three new minifigures (Sandtrooper, Luke Skywalker, and Dak Ralter) and a new firing harpoon mechanism.
A few weeks ago I was in Anaheim meeting with members of the Reed Expo team, reps from the Anaheim Convention Center, and a few audio/visual companies. We are more than a year out from what will likely be the biggest Celebration we’ve ever done, but planning is well underway.
Now is when we get to ask questions that I’m frankly quite passionate about answering: “Where are the best places for parties?” “How large a screen can we fit in this room?” “Where will the fans naturally gather and meet up?” “Where do we queue up the overnight line folks?”
It’s all about making sure we do the absolute best for the show, and it starts now — before we sign all the guests, before we create and schedule entertainment, and before we sell a single pavilion to a licensee, or create the first exclusive merchandise.
I LOVE this stage of planning. I might be alone in this affectionate obsession, but hopefully some of my site photographs and questions get you wondering too, and looking forward to April 16-19, 2015, in Anaheim. We’ll start the announcements soon at www.starwarscelebration.com.
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.
The eyes of sci-fi and fantasy, anime, and comics fans across the UK turned to Birmingham, the nation’s second city, over the weekend of 23rd and 24th November as Memorabilia returned to Brum for the second time this year, bringing with it stars of screens both large and small, voice actors, sports stars, cult heroes, comic artists, and writers and cosplayers of every ilk. And, as ever, it made for a fascinating two days of fun, color and vibrancy celebrating every facet of fandom.
The challenge: design and build a “real scale” exhibit incorporating approximately 25% of Han Solo’s beloved YT-1300 light freighter, the Millennium Falcon, then assemble it inside the New Exhibition Center in Pudong, Shanghai, China. The entire project, decided by the Disney China consumer products team for the China Toy Fair less than three weeks from the event, had to go from planning to drawing to construction to execution in that very short amount of time. I happily volunteered to help with design, content, and approvals, but could it be done?
The answer: “This is China. We can do anything.”
I heard that phrase much more than once while I was in Shanghai for Toy Fair and the Disney Consumer Products licensee meeting. I hoped to provide experience in and knowledge of the galaxy far, far, away, and help the process as best I could. I quickly learned that when my colleagues quoted the above, they were not kidding. We made changes and edits on the fly right up to the morning the show opened, but the result was a spectacular display that did indeed look like the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy on the outside, and house a Star Wars movie timeline and licensed toy exhibit on the inside.