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Topics - Muftak

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Watto's Junk Yard / Star Wars fanboy wish-fulfillment
« on: September 24, 2004, 03:52 PM »
This past summer I read a "wanted" add for short-stories set in the Star Wars Universe to be included in a new fan-based anthology. I've never written any real "fan-fiction" (an oxymoron, perhaps?) but something about this idea struck me, so I put together a story about a frustrated Sullustan and sent it off.

What do you know--they accepted it!

So, the first issue of The Rancor's Tooth arrived in my mailbox yesterday, featuring my story (top billing on the cover too!). It's still a pretty simple, homemade-looking fanzine, but I'm happy to have a bona-fie published Star Wars story to my credit. It was a lot of fun, and if you happen to have the chance, check it out.

(And if you're really interested, you can contact the magazine at

Original Trilogy Collection / VOTC...haven't I seen these before?
« on: August 26, 2004, 01:00 PM »
File this one under the "nothing new under the sun" heading...

I was thinking this morning about how all-out Hasbro seems to be going with the rehashes this year to capitalize on the DVD releases, and comparing it to the THX VHS releases back in 95. You know, the whole POTF2 thing.

I thought "wouldn't it have been great to see fifty figures spanning all the movies released at once back then?"

To which I replied: "Yeah, but they all would've been rehashes from the vintage era, probably, with only six new figures thrown in."

"Not necessarily," I responded. "after all, we also got the VOTC line this year. That's something"

And then it hit me: The VOTC of 2004 mirror the original POTF2 line-up almost exactly. To wit:

Luke Skywalker (ANH outfit)
Han Solo (ANH outfit)
Princess Leia (ANH outfit)
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Darth Vader
Artoo Detoo

Followed closely by:

Boba Fett
Lando Calrissian

Throw a Pilot Luke into the VOTC, and you have the first two waves of POTF2 represented completely. Plus a rehash of the vintage X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and Falcon.

Kind of amazing how far we've come in ten years, and how much things are exactly the same.


I am really trying to be a fan of the new "head on a stick" articulation. It sounds really neat in theory, it looks a little wonky at the jawline of most of the figures, but it does give the heads more posablitity.

The deal-sealer ought to be the ease of popping off the heads. The Clone Wars Asajj Ventress figure was able to have a nice removable cloak thanks to the feature. Dagobah Luke actually comes with two heads to make use of the easy head-pop.

But why for the love of all that's holy does every neck post need to be a different size?

I tried to play around this afternoon with some simple stuff--Dagobah Luke's head on VOTC Han and vice-versa, but the necks are two different sizes and the results are awkward. So I tried Ozzel, yet a third size. So I tried Dagobah Yoda. He's actually pretty close to Ozzel, but why in the world would I want Yoda to be wearing an Imperial Admiral Uniform (unless he's in disguise..?)

Way to go Hasbro. One step forward, two steps back.

Watto's Junk Yard / Uncle Jesse vs Uncle Jesse
« on: June 25, 2004, 10:21 AM »
Uncle Jesse vs Uncle Jesse

I ran into this phenomenon first hand over Father's Day weekend.

It appears the younger generation has the wrong idea about who Uncle Jesse really is...

Jocasta's Reading Room / Star Wars & Peace..?
« on: June 9, 2004, 03:48 PM »
I don’t believe there can be any argument that the novelization of A New Hope is hopelessly out-of-date.

I’d like to see a revamped novelization of the story, utilizing thirty years of hindsight and reams of backstory (EU or otherwise).

The kicker this time is to make it the exhaustive story of the “first” movie. Interesting asides like Kyle Katarn’s first stealing of the Death Star plans, to the Tantive IV’s story, to Biggs’s story (as touched upon in recent Empire comics) could be included to really develop the themes of war and rebellion and what these people were sacrificing. Give us sidestories for some characters from the EU—Mara Jade as a prime example.  A truly galaxy-spanning story, over a thousand pages easily, with the movie’s events only really occupying half of it.

The movie follows Luke’s story, but let’s expand the new novel to multiple POVs that we can truly appreciate after the prequels. Let’s have chapters told from Vader’s perspective, or Obi-Wan’s…maybe even Owen and Beru.

A New Hope ought to be your favorite Star Wars novel, but I’ll bet it’s not. This could change that.

What do you think? What would you like an expanded version of the classic story to contain?

Saga '02-'04 / Are Realistic Face Sculpts a Good Thing?
« on: June 6, 2004, 12:05 PM »
In my opinion, no.

These last few Saga waves (Star Destroyer, Yavin, Tatooine) have had some impressive new humans in the mix of droids and aliens, with a definite "bump" in facial detailing.

But at what cost?

To me, these figures (Captain Antilles, Jan Dodonna, Admiral Ozzel, Jedi Luke, even Skiff Lando as prime examples) all look a little too much like corpses. Something has been lost in the "life" of the figure, something that too much detail seems to be causing. (Not to mention the fact that, while the sculpt may be more detailed, the painting has not gotten better, and with these new tiny details, the painting in fact looks worse than it did on larger, more defined areas.)

I haven't seen the Endor Generals in person yet, but I have doubts Lando and Madine will look any more life-like there.

Also on the horizon, the pics of VOTC Han Solo's head are just downright creepy to me. It just disturbs me. I don't know if I want to own that figure.

Anyone else disturbed?

Watto's Junk Yard / "I, Robot:" The Indignity...
« on: June 4, 2004, 08:33 PM »
I was at the bookstore today and happened to see a display  of the "novelization" of Will Smith's latest action/adventure flick, "I, Robot."

I was intrigued. I read the Asimov book (really a collection of robot-centered short stories) many years ago, and after having seen the movie's trailer last year (and snorting loudly in the theater, to my fiance's dismay) I figured the two were only marginally related.

But here was the new novelization, with the by-line of Issac Asimov himself. WTF? I thought. it's gotta be some one ghost-writing...

So I grabbed a copy and sat down with it for a few seconds. It's the stories from the 50's, alright, exactly as I remembered them. More importantly, nothing like the film I've seen advertised.

It brought to mind authors rolling in their graves and whatnot. Especially considering there was a very good script written by Harlan Ellison for a very faithful "I, Robot" movie that Asimov actually signed off on back in the 80's.

The mind, it truly boggles

The Prequel Trilogy / The Phantom 5-Year Old
« on: May 20, 2004, 09:00 AM »
(this is from a writing exercise I do as often as I can, just a kind of stream-of-consciousness writing. I wrote it yesterday, and figured I might as well share:)

Five years ago yesterday, Star Wars Episode I was released. I remember that day well. Nearly three weeks prior, I had called around to all the local theaters, trying to find out as much as I could about the opening day activities. I decided I would go see it at my favorite theater of the time. The Tinseltown theater was about a half-hour drive on the expressway from my house, but worth it for its deluxe auditoriums with huge screens and extremely comfortable seating. (Two years prior, I had done a marathon of A New Hope for the rerelease (all 5 showings the opening day) at the local General Cinema theater, and my neck and back had paid for it.)

There was going to be a ticket presell (the first one I can recall, definitely the first one I had attended) the week before, with the box office opening at noon. I drove down at 10:00 am to find a line already wrapping the building, tents lined up near the front. I settled in at the end of the line near the rear exits of the theaters to wait. About an hour in, my younger brother showed up to wait with me. By noon, my girlfriend also showed up. Between the three of us, we held our spot in line while also going over to the Wal-Mart across the street for refreshments, potty breaks, and (at least in my case) ogling the huge Star Wars merchandise displays for new stuff I hadn’t seen yet. I remember the line moving pretty quickly once the doors opened and everyone started going. I must’ve been out of there by 1:30 or so. I bought tickets for the midnight showing, as well as some for 11:00 am.

The night of the 18th, I worked until 8:00, then went home and changed into my Star Wars outfit: jeans and a Jawa t-shirt. It was a rainy night, and after some initial car problems that made me worry we wouldn’t make it to the movies in time, we were on our way: my girlfriend, my brother, and me. We got to the theater about 10:30, and once again found ourselves in a long line, this one waiting to get seats. The crowd was populated with many of the now-classic sights: homemade Jedi outfits, an army of Darth Mauls, plastic lightsaber skirmishes, the occasional ornately-made Amidala costume. We were near the back of the pack, and by the time we made it in most of the theater was full. We wound up in the nosebleeds, three rows from the projector. Spirits were high as the crowd waited, I remember some guys behind us having fun with a laser pointer on the screen to the groans of the rest of the mob. Management came in and made threatening noises, and when that didn’t work, one of the homegrown Darth Mauls came up to confront the guy he was sure had the laser. It was an amusing sight.

When the previews started, there was a cheer the likes of which I hadn’t heard in a theater before, followed almost immediately by the largest “boo” for the preview for “the Beach” starring Leo DiCaprio (then a rumored favorite to play adult Anakin, but mostly hated for Titanic’s success.) Other film previews flashed by: Titan AE, Fight Club, American Pie, Austin Powers 2.

Then the movie started. Applause for the 20th Century Fox drums, then more for the logo. Then more for the Lucasfilm logo. A veritable roar for the “A Long Time Ago” titlecard. Somehow the noise just kept getting louder, as the words Star Wars leaped onto the screen, culminating in the cheer when the lines Episode I: The Phantom Menace scrolled into view.

The film upon first viewing was a treat. It looked good, back before our collective eyes got weary of all the digital stuff. I remember being drawn into Liam Neeson’s performance quite a bit, while his main adversary for the bulk of the movie—little CGI Watto—reassured the fears that Jar Jar Binks was already stirring in me. The movie came to conclusion amid many cheers (and not as many groans as I’d expect, looking back), all the way thorugh the end credits, when the patient could hear the phantom breathing of a character that wouldn’t appear for another two films.

We went home afterward, talking about the eventuality of Anakin’s fall and Obi-Wan’s failure. Of whether any casual fans would pick up on Palpatine clearly being Darth Sidious. Of Threepio and Luke being half-brothers. Of the surprisingly limited use of Darth Maul after all of the promotion. We got home about 3:30 in the morning, took quick naps, and went back for the morning showing. This time we sat very close, and felt more immersed in the story and images than the night before—so close I saw the ET senators that second time.

We talked about going again that evening, but finally decided not to. I saw it plenty of more times that summer. After a few viewings, it was easy to see this new Star Wars wasn’t going to have the same effect on me the old ones did as a kid, but I always had a good time.

Original Trilogy Collection / OTC = Freeze Frame Waves
« on: April 23, 2004, 02:47 PM »
All of the rereleases to come in the Original Trilogy Collection due out this summer strike me with a certain sense of deja-vu, right back to 1998.

I thought the Freeze Frames were a novel idea to get a little more life into the POTF2 line after the huge success in 1997, but I quickly learned to hate the line. I had no idea at the time that practically every figure would be rereleased, I was only interested in the new figures, and so found myself stuck hunting. (Feels like I've been hunting through new shipments of old figures ever since.) Zuckuss was such a pain in the butt to track down...

I've always thought that the Freeze Frame rereleases were what killed the momentum in POTF2, I even remember Hasbro mentioning the fact that they learned a lesson about never recarding figures en masse again.

While I am looking forward to more shelf space in the fall for my favorite toys, I sure wish there were going to be a couple figures on those shelves that I wanted (or even didn't already own.)

Star Wars Dioramas and Displays / Modular Cloud City Playset
« on: April 6, 2004, 06:01 AM »
I've been hard at work on my next project, a "three-level + a gantry" modular Cloud City Playset.

Right now I'm in the middle of putting the bottom level together. It' the "civilized" part of Cloud City, represented by the Guest Apartment, Dining Room, and Grand Corridor.

I've uploaded some in-progress pics to my "making-of" site for anyone who wants to take a peek and offer your comments.


Original Trilogy Collection / OTC Screen Scenes, anyone?
« on: March 26, 2004, 04:29 PM »
I for one would love to see some nicely done OTC Screen Scenes, in the style of the AOTC War Room/Jedi Council sets.

I've seen the pictures of the OTC Cantina set (Wuher/Kitik?Evazen) and while it's nice to finally see these coming out, I think it would've been better to have a new big accessory coming with them, either the holy grail "bar U-piece" or the Distillery from the back or just a nicely done booth. I also loved the Trash Compactor Scene that sor tof opened the door for this whole idea.

What sorts of OTC Screen Scenes could we see? It seems the formula is one large prop cut in two, and three figures sold with each piece. I'll throw some ideas out right now:

  • Death Star Control Room: a nice console piece tha snaps in two. One half comes with Stromtrooper Luke, Imperial Officer, and Death Star Trooper, the other with Chewie (with binders dangling from one wrist), Stormtrooper Han, and another Death Star Trooper.

  • Cloud City Interrogation: The torture device snaps into a curved wall and doorway. The torture device itself comes with Bespin Han and two Stormtroopers. The hallway comes with Lando, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader.

  • Ewok Village Celebration: an Ewok Hut that snaps in two, a bit of the floor of the village as well, maybe two rails. The first set comes with post-battle Luke (flap down), Rebel Pilot (Wedge?), and a celebrating Ewok. Set two comes with Han, Lando (celebration outfit), and Nien Nunb.
Any other ideas?

Saga '02-'04 / Packaging Heaven
« on: March 15, 2004, 06:31 PM »
I ran into the new Target exclusive figures and glasses today. While I didn't bite (so often anymore...) I did really like the looks of the packaging.

It really got me thinking. The Star Wars products have been getting A+ packaging this last year or so. I'm an opener, so it doesn't much sink in with me, but some of the boxed stuff lately has just been gorgeous. I'm thinking the new glasses, the Screen Scenes, the Jedi Warriors TRU 4-pack. The Cartoon Clone Wars stuff was wuite a nice look. Even the mock-up of the rumored cantina 3-pack. All really nice looking stuff I've noticed around.

Way to go Hasbro. We don't often stop to notice, but you've really come a long way.

Saga '02-'04 / Passed on Court Denizens...
« on: February 10, 2004, 10:08 PM »
So I saw the Jabba's Court Denizens Ultra set at Target tonight, but wound up not buying it. I held it in my hands for quite a while, though, and stared at the contents while I made up my mind.

Bubo looks really great, the Wol Cabbashite thing is neat but tiny (not to mention something I've never even noticed in the movie), and the B'ommarr Monk is, well, the B'ommarr Monk--the highlight of the set in many respects (size, articulation, creepiness factor), except that it's a figure I already have a couple of and just don't really need.

I nearly bought it just to get Bubo, but I couldn't justify ten bucks for a little figure with no legs. Here's to hoping someday Hasbro does the right thing and sells a Bubo with Jawa handler 2-pack.

Anyone else saying "no" to this one?

Saga '02-'04 / Palace Luke's Unorthodox Articulation
« on: January 19, 2004, 07:43 PM »
When the POTJ Rebel Fleet Trooper premiered, there was alot of talk about his innovative new knee articulation. The new Jabba's Palace Luke uses the same type of articulation in his elbows, a first for the line, if I'm not mistaken.

For my part, I think it's a pretty good compromise of looks and posability. I've been able to get him into all sorts of gesturing poses, and a couple nice action poses as well.

My only complaint is the open right hand that just can't grasp the lightsaber for a nice two-handed pose. I wouldn't mind seeing this figure sometime down the line (in a 4-pack or something) with a gripping hand, or ideally interchangeable hands (open/shot/gloved).

What do you all think of Luke's new elbows?

Saga '02-'04 / Themed waves haven't helped me...
« on: January 9, 2004, 11:02 PM »
When Hasbro announced the idea of themed waves, I hoped it meant a return to POTJ style case assortments. Obviously that hasn't happened, as I've chased Ach-Med Beqs and Kren Blista-Vanees around town trying to catch both the Hoth and Tatoonie waves.

This week, I finally started to see R-3POs and Hoth Troopers sitting around with their 2003 casemates, and tonight I finally found the whole Tatooine wave on the pegs. Unfortunately when I left, I left behind those same remnants I had been getting so frustrated at seeing.

I understand Hasbro is trying to keep a steady variety of figures out there, and I also feel the irony of being a big proponent of the "12 different figures per case" idea. But during POTJ, either the pegs were empty and I knew to check back, or the newest figures were there. There wasn't all the "hope those other figures sell soon" anxiety.

 :( :'( :(

(Don't mind me, just venting.)

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