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Messages - Muftak

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The Prequel Trilogy / Re: The Phantom 5-Year Old
« on: June 2, 2004, 10:42 AM »
Glad to see I could stir up some memories. I hadn't really given TPM much thought for a while, but after writing about seeing it, I had the desire to watch it one more time. I popped it in this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised by my warm reaction. Yeah, the "whoopees" and the farts will always annoy, and I cringe when I hear "ex-squeeze me."

But the podrace is just great. I'll never get over the brilliance of the Tusken snipers there.

And Watto...I don't think I've seen a better "b" character in any Star Wars film. Greedy, but not evil. An obstacle, but not uncompassionate. When he loses the race, and everything is going right for our heroes, how can you not feel kinda sorry for Watto (who's in big trouble and he knows it...)?

And the Duel at the end. The laser doors, the tension, pure cinema.

I guess I never hated TPM. I'm just surprised how much there is to like that I'd neglected the past couple of years.

Thanks everyone (and sorry I'm so late to my own party...)

Oh, and happy birthday to Diddly Squat as well. The more the merrier.

(special thanks to DSJ and AE for bringing my favorite bands to the party)

I actually really enjoyed the GIJoe-styled character bios form the very first sets of POTF2 more than the super-collection from the Vintage cards. I think if I were in charge, I'd return to that style.

Either is better than "Vader was a bad man. Very, very bad. Shame on Vader!"

Ah, to see how far it's fallen...

Well, I retract my earlier speculation that it could be the non-handstand Dagobah Luke's head on the "new" Bespin Luke. I've seen some much clearer pics and that hair's even more unkemp than the Saga Luke's.


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.

Could they have just borrowed the "non-handstand" head sculpt of the Dagobah Luke for the Bespin version? That would go a long way towards making it a different figure (and an idea I was going to try anyway.)

If they could just drop a few more subtle changes in with the figures, it really would make all the difference as far as the good graces of the collectors. I could go in for buying variants on paintjobs and minor details that make sense. I absolutely loved the improvements on the Momaw/Greedo/Ponda Cantina sets. But there just doesn't seem to be a lot of that going on here. Little stuff like the Jawa two-pack in slightly different colors (like reverse the dark brown/light brown scheme, help fill out that army of scavengers)...metallize IG-88 a bit...

...though I don't know how they could rehabilitate Bib or the Scanning Tech...

Other Toy Lines / Re: McFarlane Alien/Predator
« on: May 14, 2004, 08:44 AM »

Other Toy Lines / Re: McFarlane Alien/Predator
« on: May 14, 2004, 08:42 AM »
There is the old Kenner "Aliens" line from the early/mid 90s...they had quite a few different types of Aliens. My Cantina has always had a "Scorpion Alien" in it (looks most like the classic Alien) and it seems to be pretty close in scale, about as tall as Chewie.

There was a Kenner "Predator" line as well, don't know how clos ethe scale came on that...

Watto's Junk Yard / Re: It's A BOY!
« on: April 25, 2004, 07:39 AM »

I'm glad to hear everything went well.

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 / Re: Modular Cloud City
« on: April 7, 2004, 06:09 AM »
It's close to 2 1/2 feet wide by 1 1/2 feet long. So, yeah, it's on the large side. Each level loses a bit of that "fin" look on the front, so that the third (top) level is a circle with a 1-foot diameter. Then, off the back of the structure, I'll add the gantry, which will be another two feet long or so.

The second level will hold the torture room, the cell, and the junk room/boiler room. Then the top, circular piece will be the Carbon Freezing Chamber. Off the back, Luke and Vader wil be able to duel through the control room with the big window, out onto the gantry.

I always thought of the CFC as the bowels of the city, too, but I put it on top since it's the most important thing in the playset, and as a level by itself was going to take up the least space.

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 / Re: Modern Vintage - Waves 4,5,6?
« on: April 2, 2004, 07:52 PM »
I'm of the opinion these should be vintage updates as well, and main(ish) characters to boot. So, with that, I'll try to pick some good 'uns:

-Tusken Raider
-Jawa/R5-D4 2 pack
-X-Wing Pilot (with Luke/Wedge/Biggs variant heads?)

-Bespin Leia
-Bespin Han
-Bespin Luke
-Bespin Boba

-Bib Fortuna
-Ewok 2-pack
-Emperor(the only real no-brainer of the bunch)
-Admiral Ackbar

I really think a Tarkin would make tons of sense, but he wasn't vintage, so what can you do? I also like the idea of a Stromtrooper disguise Luke, especially if he was made "shorter" than a regular Stormie.

(Oh, and the second go-around is MSRPed at $4.99--hey if we're wishing, why not?)

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?

Watto's Junk Yard / Re: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
« on: March 26, 2004, 12:02 PM »
I saw one else did??

If you liked the mind-twists and psychological ideas explored in Being John Malkovich, you will like this moive. My fiance' and I were surprised to see how true to life the "love story" really was. It's not as zany (a surprise to me, with Carrey starring) but is much more touching than Kaufmann's previous work. There are few players in the movie, but everyone gets something interseting to do. Mark Ruffalo does well, as do Frodo Baggins Elijah Wood and Mary Jane Watson Kirsten Dunst.

It also doesn't explain itself as obviously as some mind-bending movies do (even BJM explained what was really going on in more detail than this) so you sort of have to pay attention.

I'd recommend it, if not for a weekend viewing then definitely as a must when it hits video.

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