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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Naw, I'm Bithy."

A groan inducing joke from my brother, using my previous post of my custom Bith Rebel Pilot.  Thanks Doug!




Move along....move along.

Friday, 12 September 2014

See my Star Wars room on the official website!

Wow Wow Wow!!!!!

Amy Ratcliffe, owner of Geek With Curves and blogger for the official Star Wars website put out a call for people with large Star Wars collections.  I submitted some photos and information on my collection and it became part of an article about collecting!


So wizard!

Click the photo to go to StarWars.com



Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Toronto Fan Expo '14-Rebels Toys and Biggs!

Thanks to Jake at From 4-LOM to Zuckuss for posting my report from Toronto Fan Expo 2014. Head over to his site for my thoughts on the upcoming Rebels toy releases.





Gotta say, worst con ever as far as crowd management, obviously the Expo team WAY oversold tickets to Saturday.

Although it was extremely difficult to walk around and take photos my family and I still managed to have a good time, picking up some new items for the Star Wars room, including the final Original Trilogy ship that I needed, the B-Wing.

The highlight for me was meeting Star Wars actor,  Garrick Hagon who played Biggs Darklighter in the original film.  He signed my Premiere Magazine script, pointing out to his brother who was with him, the deleted scene from Anchorhead (I didn't even realize it was included).  A great guy and another example of how cool it is to be a Star Wars fan.

The 501st Canadian Garrison was out in full force too and my daughter and I continued a tradition I started at Walt Disney World this past February, Character Selfies!

So, Fan Expo planners, we'll be back in the spring IF you get a handle on the crowds!
















Saturday, 12 July 2014

Tommy Ramone RIP

A non-Star Wars post today. I have other influences in my life and last night I lost another one.



Aw, Tommy….

“Hey Johnny Hey Dee Dee/ Little Tom & Joey/You know we’re goin’ over/Sweet sweet little Ramona”

I’ve had a lot of musical heroes die over the years, Joe Strummer, Clarence Clemons, Roy Orbison and and now, the final member of the original Ramones lineup-Tommy Ramone.  Joey Ramone was always my favourite Ramone, as a tall, skinny teenager I’d try to do that weird walk Joey did in the scene in Rock n Roll HighSchool where the band was playing “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do.” But as far as influences go—I wanted to be Joey but I played drums because of Tommy Ramone.  

Back in the early 80’s I had friends who had a band that played some original music, but mostly Ramones covers.  Occasionally their drummer couldn’t be at practice because of hockey commitments so I started sitting in—and just like Tommy I started on the drums without ever knowing how to play them.  Over time I was able to play a simple beat (all that was required for kids playing Ramones songs at 3/4 their original speed) and eventually became, well, not bad.  The main thing when playing Ramones songs was just to keep up.  And I got pretty good at it.  Eventually I became the drummer of the band.  

It took reading interviews with Marky Ramone, who replaced Tommy in the late 70’s, to understand that what Tommy did may not have been technically difficult but it was a skill to learn nonetheless.  I left my basement band after about a year and was able to keep the drum kit for another 5 years or so.  In that time, I set the drums up in my basement and had a setlist consisting of first, Ramones It’s Alive (The Greatest Live Album Ever), and then expanded it to include songs by newer favourites like Bruce Springsteen and U2.

I don’t play the drums anymore.  The guys in my old band reclaimed the kit and I never bothered to pick up a new one, although I tell my wife that if she wanted to get me a cool birthday present, she could rent me a drum set for a weekend.  I drive her nuts every time we’re in the car as the steering wheel is perfectly tuned for playing drums.  

Last night at work, “Ramona” came on my iPod and instead of just letting it play and then shuffling to the next 5000 songs, I reflexively hit the Album button and listened to the album that the song is from, “Rocket To Russia,” my favourite Ramones album.  The album came out in 1977 and I’ve listened to it thousands of times.  But last night, when “Do You Wanna Dance” was playing I heard something I’ve never hear over the past 30 plus years. Toward the end of the song as Joey is singing, “Do ya, do ya, do ya wanna dance?” I suddenly heard an extra hit on the toms that I have never heard.  I repeated the song. Again: “Do ya, do ya, do ya wanna dance?”  “THOOM!”  

I couldn’t believe it. What a revelation after so many years to discover something new in a song you’ve listened to almost my whole life.

I continued listening to the album.  When “Ramona” came on, the line “Hey you kids in the crowd/You know you like it when the music’s loud” struck me as interesting enough to tweet it right then and there.  I finished the album, finished my shift and went home.

I woke up this morning and found out Tommy Ramone died yesterday.

Damn.  

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Custom Figure Fun!

So I'm in the Star Wars room wondering what types of Rebel pilots we haven't seen in action figure form and decided that the Alliance needed a pilot from Clak'dor VII. A quick trip to the comic shop for a couple $2 loose figures and voila, a Bith Pilot.  A pretty easy custom job, and my first one.  Maybe I'll try a Rodian pilot next.

I sort of see him with the nickname "Jazz" and he ticks off other pilots because he's constantly tapping out song rhythms or humming to himself while on an open comm channel.  






It's just too bad that Biggs got the short end of the customizing stick.

Canada Day/Star Wars Mashup Featured On "From 4-LOM to Zuckuss"

As Canada Day 2014 approached this year I decided to have some fun with my Rebel Base display in the Star Wars room.  As mentioned before on this blog, I have a cool story about Gold Leader, Dutch Vander who is played by Canadian actor, Angus MacInnes. I decided to honour the birthday of my country by having Gold Leader representing the Maple Leaf, Star Wars style.


After I posted the photo on Facebook, Jake over at From 4-LOM to Zuckuss asked if he could post the story as well.  You can read it here.

Thanks Jake!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Family Photos Featured In Star Wars Insider


The 150th issue of the official Star Wars magazine, Star Wars Insider, includes a segment on fans' interactions with actors from The Clone Wars. I'm proud to say that my family and I were lucky enough to have nearly half a page devoted to photos I submitted of myself, my wife and my daughter with "Young Boba Fett" himself:  Daniel Logan. We met him last April at Toronto Comic Con--the second time I had met him and the first for "muh gurls."  It was a bunch of firsts for them : their first Star Wars celeb meeting, first Con ever and now first time featured in a popular magazine.

A few years back my son and I had a picture in the magazine with Richard Laparmentier so I'm proud to say, once again, Star Wars is about family.

The Star Wars community never ceases to amaze me and it all starts with Lucasfilm. 

Thanks Star Wars Insider!


JULY 13/14 UPDATE
So this was kinda cool.  I went to my Chapters/Indigo bookstore to pick up the retail version of the magazine. As I was paying for it, the cashier made a comment about that I must really "be into Star Wars" as I was also wearing my Star Wars In Concert t-shirt.  I said, "Well, yeah, since I'm in this issue I wanted to go for the whole package."  He just kind of looked at me funny until I opened the magazine to the page that my photos were on and showed him.  The look on his face was priceless!  



Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Circle Is Now Complete-The Star Wars Room Redo


Thanks to Jedi Temple Archives for posting this on their website, there's been a lot of feedback from other collectors who obviously have had the same issues I've had.


I've been reading and watching a lot of stories lately on Star Wars collectors managing their collections, specifically James Burns and a great discussion on the Flyguy.net podcast. These are all guys with enormous amounts of merchandise numbering in the thousands and even tens of thousands. But even though my collection is much much smaller at about 500 pieces, the question is the same: what do you do when you don't have the room for it anymore.

Last January I wrote about where I was going as a Star Wars collector in 2013, based on some experiences I had in 2012, a sort of “State of the Star Wars Room” address to myself.  Jedi Temple Archives was kind enough to post it on their site and there were many helpful responses from readers there.  A little over a year later, well beyond my original deadline, I’ve finished the room.  



In early 2013 I basically locked myself into the room and began moving displays around.  Within a few days I felt I was finished—and hated what I saw.  All I was doing was cramming as many figures onto the shelves as possible.  The room is full of toys but I never wanted it to look cluttered, and it did at this point.  

About a month later I tried it again. I then spent 3 evenings after work quickly rearranging things. By the third day I was fed up. I don't know what I was trying to accomplish. I’d get maybe one shelf done, like moving my Prequel display to a top shelf, and get so frustrated at the time it was taking that I wasn’t taking any care in how it ended up looking.  A hobby should be fun, relaxing. This was feeling like work. 


So I took a deep breath, tossed about half of my shelved figures into boxes and walked away. I needed some distance from this situation. I made a decision that I would finish the room but without a deadline.  I'd treat it like my zen garden. A little bit at a time.   Finish it when it's finished. That was last April and my plan worked. Instead of trying to fix everything at once, I would sit on the couch, turn on the tv and just use the room as it was intended—a spare tv room. I'd look around from time to time and start putting ideas together. Hoth? Vintage? That's a lot of clones-group them?

I think one of the big reasons I couldn't decide if it was finished was that until recently it was a room in constant disarray, with a cheap futon and 15 yr old tube tv. I didn't want to sit in it and if I wasn't going to sit in it how would I enjoy my collection?  So in recent months we swapped the futon torture rack for a nice couch and  a 40" flat screen for the old tube tv. Almost all the shelving in the room is black now and I found an awesome deal on a tv stand to match that scheme. It started coming together.


Ok, so one problem solved.  The next issue was how to manage my growing collection of 500+ items. Originally that meant toss every figure I own onto a shelf. You should have seen my Cantina shelf at one point. I could make an excuse to toss any character that wouldn't fit into another scene--including Qui Gon Jinn, a Mustaphar Lava Miner and even a spare Sy Snoodles as a bartender. I needed to decide what figure I no longer needed.  Thanks in part to my son who grew up during the Prequels I/we have more Qui Gon, Obi-Wan and General Grevious figures that it could look like we were trying to troop build these guys. So the next decision was to realize there isn’t room to display every piece in my collection.  As I redid each shelf, one at a time, with no deadline, I would start pulling all of these extraneous figures and putting them in a box.  By the end I ended up with one large container with about 40 figures and assorted vehicles and ships that weren’t fitting into the plan.  Most are my son’s prequel vehicles—mostly from Attack of the Clones. I based this decision on the fact that my ‘vehicle interest’ has always been in the Original Trilogy.  That isn’t to say no prequel ships survived the purge, his AT-TE and Obi Wan’s star fighter are on display as is Anakin’s pod racer and Revenge of the Sith star fighter (those last two are mine).  The bin that all these extras are in will be within easy reach in storage for when younger kids come over and ultimately they’ll go with my son when he decides to move out on his own—hopefully for my future grandkids.  


The next thing I did was to go through the 10 or so office boxes stored in the laundry room that contained carded figures and general merchandise.  I reduced the 5 or so boxes of carded figures down to two.  One is a comic long box that I’ve labeled “Carded-One of Each” where I’ll attempt to only own one carded figure from each line,  no variants or limited editions, just a representation of what a Star Wars figure looked like when it was first released. 

I have a second comic long box labelled “Power of the Force 2 and Modern Vintage.”  I was actually going to sell off most of my carded POTF2 figures which is roughly the first two waves of that line but my son surprised me by asking me to keep them.  I asked him why since he stopped playing with the opened versions after better, more realistic sculpts came along.  His answer stopped me in my tracks: “because those are MY vintage figures.”  SO true! I only recently embraced my original Kenner figures as a collector—my son never really played with them because I didn’t have them, my brother did.  I’ll be hanging onto those POTF2s now until my son asks for them.  As far as the Modern Vintage? Sorry, I just love the packaging.  As of now, I won’t be buying anymore until Hasbro decides to start the line back up and I can pick up the rest of the modern versions of the Original 21. 

I then when through my general Star Wars merchandise boxes and tossed things like fast food toys, a bunch of Phantom Menace plastic cups from Taco Bell and basically anything that didn’t spark an emotion when I picked it up.  I remember when Star Wars was making it’s comeback in the mid-90’s and I was buying anything with the logo on it.  Since almost nothing remains of the thing I owned as a kid in the 70’s, I think I was determined to make sure it didn’t happen again to me in the modern era.  Now all I have left is a carefully cultivated, much smaller collection in storage.  Less ‘stuff’ yes, but much more meaningful to me now. I have a single shelf devoted to books in the room and I hope to pull out more of the paper products I have in storage and add them to this shelf.  I found a bunch of cereal boxes from the Special Editions release that I always loved and would like to have quicker access to them.  



It’s now been over a month since I started writing this article, life intervenes as always, I expected to have this finished much earlier.I can honestly say the room is finished for now.  Why “for now?”  Mainly because my wife has made me realize that although I may not sit on the floor and play with this stuff like when I was a kid, I’m still (even after saying “it’s done) playing with the room, coming up with new ideas and still moving the odd display around.  

The difference now is I’m doing it for fun.  





Saturday, 3 May 2014

May the 4th Be With You--- "Do it because of the trees..."

This is a re-edited version of an article I wrote last year.



The month of May is a big deal in our house. It starts (obviously) with May the 4th and moves through to Mother's Day, my wife's birthday on the 13th and my son's birthday on the 14th (which, for those who don't know, is George Lucas' birthday as well). Oh, and my wife was named after Carrie Fisher-this obviously had nothing to do with me, I like to think of it as the Force in action.

After these mid-month celebrations there is Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan and then a four day Victoria Day weekend here in Canada. Both of these event are on the same weekend this year as it turns out. The arrival of the Con and the long weekend also signify the arrival of my other passion--camping.  May often means either a weekend camping trip to one of Ontario's Provincial Parks or at the very least, pulling the old Millennium Camper out of the side yard to the driveway to begin getting it ready for the summer.  




As an avid camper and lover of the outdoors, my favourite Star Wars location is obviously the forest moon of Endor. Although Wookiees are my favourite species, Kasshyyyk is just a little too overwhelming and I'm not sure I'd survive a week in my camper there.  Yes, the Ewoks may try to eat me but those Wroshyr trees on Kasshyyyk are enormous and I'm sure hide all sorts of nasty surprises in them.  

In the novelization of Return of the Jedi, the scene where the Ewoks accept the Rebels into their tribe is a much longer event. Threepio delivers his tale to the Ewoks but they cannot be convinced to help the Rebels against the Empire. They don't quite understand what's in it for them. Princess Leia steps up after Luke fails to convince them:

Leia knew what Luke was trying to say, but she feared greatly that the Ewoks wouldn't see the connection. It was connected intimately, though, if she could only bridge the gap for them. She thought of her experience in the forest earlier - her sense of oneness with the trees, whose outstretched limbs seemed to touch the very stars; the stars, whose light filtered down like cascading magic. She felt the power of the magic within her, and it resonated around the hut, from being to being, flowing through her again, making her stronger, still; until she felt one with these Ewoks, nearly - felt as if she understood them, knew them; conspired with them, in the primary sense of the word: they breathed together.


The debate wound down, leaving finally another quiet moment in the hut. Leia's respirations quieted, too, in resonance; and with an air of confident serenity, she made her appeal to the council.


'Do it because of the trees,' she said.


That's all she said. Everyone expected more, but there was no more; only this short, oblique outburst.”


Excerpt From: Return of the Jedi Book Adaption by James Kahn


I love this passage. It reminds the reader of Yoda's speech to Luke on Dagobah in Empire Strikes Back when Luke fails to lift his X-Wing from the swamp:


For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. 
Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this
 crude matter. You must feel the Force around you;  
here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes.

Yoda and Leia are both speaking of the connection every living being has with each other. Force or not, there is a connection. And it's a connection I feel when I'm camping.  Charles Wilkins wrote this in "High On The Big Stone Heart":

No one knows where you are. In the deepest sense, you don’t know yourself.

Or maybe you do.
For in this rarified state, some tiny tich of understanding-something so deep within you don’t even acknowledge it-is silently reminding you that, for now at least, you are in exactly the place you ought to be.

Switch this with Leia's speech to the Ewoks and the message is the same. It's a universal thought.

So on Star Wars Day I'm reminded that I may have been drawn to this series of movies by spaceships and lightsabers but ultimately, to the adult me,  it reinforces that life, like the Force "surrounds us...and binds the galaxy together."

I think I'll have a campfire in the backyard tonight.  May The Fourth Be With You.







Thursday, 1 May 2014

Vintage Star Wars Filmstrip


This film was featured on the now defunct Hyperspace section of StarWars.com, which was the internet extension of the fan club back in 2006.  It featured the slides for the filmstrip as well as a separate audio file.  I combined the two into a full video.  Here is part of the description used on the Hyperspace website:



"Before the days of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, which champions the use of fun as a means to engage students in learning, there were publishing companies which sought to use kid-friendly properties like Star Wars to enhance students' skills in reading and writing. Pendulum Press started things off in 1978 with the release of an obscure educational kit that's been all but forgotten by old-school Star Wars fans, and likely totally unknown to the digital-savvy students of today's classrooms. The multi-media kit, which featured 80-plus slides cued to a taped soundtrack of dialog, sound effects, and music, included a read-along comic book for students and a series of purple mimeograph masters from which teachers could produce several worksheets.
Looking back, time has not been kind to the Pendulum Press Star Wars presentation. What was certainly a good faith effort on the part of the producers to impart valuable reading skills through the use of Star Wars characters and situations now seems, well, downright hokey."

Source: Pete Vilmur--Old-School Star Wars July 28, 2006 via www.starwars.com