The year was 1983. Return of the Jedi had been released to great fanfare on 25th May, breaking opening day records worldwide and bringing the original trilogy to a conclusion with a blast, resolving — for the next 32 years, at least — the fates of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and the droids. As it had been for the previous six years, Star Wars was everywhere. But little did fans know, we were just a handful of years away from an era of Star Wars history known as The Dark Times.
Archive for 2013
It was a chilly November morning in Death Valley National Park — not as cold as it had been the night before when I was snuggled in a sleeping bag-blanket burrito in my tent — but still cold enough. I’d visited the park before, but I’d returned this time with a purpose grander than sightseeing: I was going to find Tatooine. I’d only recently learned that pickup shots for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi were filmed in California.
The vision and goal for Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game impressed me with its ambition. As a designer at Fantasy Flight Games, I’m part of a team that was tasked to create an adventure for Star Wars that can be played straight out of the box by people unfamiliar with role-playing games (RPGs). In our perfect world, this means that three-five friends can gather around a table, open the box for the first time, and immediately begin role-playing their way through epic adventures in a galaxy far, far away…
The 1980s were a period of transformation for Star Wars. Following the release of Return of the Jedi and L. Neil Smith’s Lando Calrissian trilogy, there were few new tales being offered, aside from Jo Duffy’s Marvel Comics run and West End Games’ role-playing game books. Although it may be difficult for newer fans to fathom this, given the huge amount of Star Wars material being produced these days, the mid to late ’80s were lean years for the franchise.
It was during this period that Star Wars began focusing on stories for a younger audience. Jedi’s resident teddy bears branched off into two TV movies, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Simultaneously, Lucasfilm developed two animated series, one featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO, the other Wicket and his Ewok playmates. Star Wars: Droids and Star Wars: Ewoks (later re-named The All-New Ewoks) aired in an hour-long block dubbed The Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour, each spinning off a variety of children’s storybooks, as well as a corresponding comic book series from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint. In addition, a 48-minute special called The Great Heep aired in 1986, several months after Droids‘ cancellation, and Dark Horse rejuvenated the Droids concept with new stories eight years later.
As many fans of the Star Wars universe know, 501st and Rebel Legion members across the globe dedicate time and effort year-round in support of local community and charitable organizations to help raise funds and bring smiles to Star Wars fans of all ages. And with spring just around the corner, that means “con season” is back! Officially kicking things off for everyone on the West Coast, Comic-Con International presented WonderCon 2013 with three days of convention fun.
Sometimes it take a near-disaster as well as happy news to remind us what has made — and keeps — Star Wars so strong and such an important part of the lives of so many of us around the world. When it all happens in the space of just seven days, it’s like a bright neon sign flashing the word COMMUNITY.
Let me tell you about my week. About an hour into a guided tour of Rancho Obi-Wan on Monday for eight adults and two children, my friend and museum general manager Anne Neumann appeared at the top of the stairs with as serious a look as I’ve ever seen on her face. “Steve, there’s a major problem in the garage. Come now!” she spit out breathlessly, then turned and left. I couldn’t imagine what was up, only remembering that the garage was filled with scores of cardboard boxes filled with thousands of books and magazines that might — or might not — be duplicates of what we had in the collection. There were also cardboard store displays and more boxes filled with old and new collectibles that were awaiting integration into the museum.
Today we’re pleased to announce that everyone’s favorite galactic smuggler, gambler, and scoundrel will temporarily leave Cloud City and board the Millennium Falcon with a course set for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as actor Billy Dee Williams returns to Star Wars Weekends for the 2013 edition.
Williams, a fan favorite for his portrayal of Lando Calrissian in the film saga, will attend Weekend IV, June 7-9, 2013.
I’m a little late on this but March had me thinking about Women’s History Month and what it means to Star Wars fans. Just consider the huge shift in sci-fi fan (I hesitate to use the term “geek” but that’s what I’m really thinking) demographics that’s taken place since Star Wars came out. In middle school it was unthinkable to imagine a girl liking Star Wars and the only girl you could identify with the saga was Princess Leia, and she was pretty lonely in that cast of all men. Nowadays you can’t throw a dead mynock in the Star Wars universe without hitting a strong female character on either the light or dark side. And women not only embrace Star Wars and other fandom genres today but they’re dictating a lot of the way such entertainment is written and consumed.
There’s a sort of superhero vibe that surrounds my Elite Squad at the Star Wars Celebrations. You know how it happens in the movies when all hell breaks loose, and it looks like there is no hope for the good citizens. Suddenly Batman shows up, and you know that everything is going to be all right. The Elite squad is like Batman — or more appropriately, like Obi-Wan Kenobi. They are so capable and calm that once I have put a stage or area of the show in their hands, I turn my mind to other parts of the show.
It doesn’t occur to me to worry about the Elite Squad’s responsibilities once they have their marching orders. I know they will figure it out, whatever comes up. I can be free to turn my attention to disappearing marching bands and hanging Death Stars and queues that wrap around the building full of fans who are getting covered with snow.
Who are these Elite?