It’s happening again, just as it did throughout the early to mid-80s and just as it did again in 1999. Star Wars is getting me so feverishly excited about a next instalment in the franchise that I’m about to soil myself. Yes, it’s their fault and it has nothing to do with me being weak-willed.
While I don’t remember more than the desire to go to FunFayre (a toy shop local to one small market town in Shropshire) to buy the latest in the original range during the 80s, my recollection of the release and build up of The Phantom Menace is much more fresh. I don’t want to dwell on how much I may or may not have liked the prequel trilogy but I was completely swept up from the first moment I saw a battle droid in the trailer and the new ‘Big Bad’s double-ended lightsaber. I started collecting the toys again and stayed up on the night that tickets were released watching the original trilogy on LaserDisc (with Christopher, fellow Methods Unsound nerd), heck I even went to watch The Phantom Menace four times in the cinema alone. Again, I won’t dwell on what you might consider ‘past transgressions’.
However, fast forward to 2014 and I’m excited again. I’m sneaking out of work to go to the canteen (renamed as the Cantina in my head) to watch the trailer for Episode VII, then going straight back upstairs to book the 18/12/2015 release date off work (now brought forward to December 17). This date is only a matter of months away and to whet my appetite more, the first toys from the new trilogy have just been released on a day labelled as Force Friday. I found out from a buddy that our local Disney store was opening early before work for the release and so I ‘had ‘to go down to see what was going on…
I imagined there would be hordes of screaming kids with parents, especially after hearing about stampedes in the US. As it turned out I was just one of four fully grown men. Once the shutters opened we all rushed in to feast our eyes on the bounty of new stuff and to see if they had any of the BB-8 remote control droids left. After around 30 minutes I knew it was time to leave when the Disney store employee asked me if I needed another basket. Here’s a rundown of the items I picked up…
First Order StormTrooper – Voice Changing Mask
No one can deny the sleek new look of the First Order Stormtroopers and this is captured perfectly in this voice changing mask.
It’s more robust than some of the other voice changing masks and does a great job of actually covering your voice unlike some of the older models. It fits really well, is easy to adjust and is pretty comfortable. It also comes with 5 pre-set quotes which are enough to sound awesome without giving away any plot. 8/10
Poe Dameron 3.75” Action Figure
It seems that finally toy makers are realising that people want substantial figures without the fear of mishandling the toy so it will crumble in your hands. On the flip side of this it means that the only points of articulation are the classic arms, legs and head but this is in keeping with all the other figures I’ve ever bought so it’s no biggy for me.
As far as accessories go, he comes with a small blaster and a back pack which also forms a section of a turret gun, with the other parts coming with Resistance Trooper and First Order Tie Fighter Pilot figures. This seems to be a common theme with Disney affiliated toys as recently Marvel released a range where you need to collect six figures in order to piece together a collectable Ultron – pretty smart when you think of all the suckers who are just like me. A good figure, but the colouring is a little bit rubbish and has bled into other sections and for that reason I can only award 6/10
First Order StormTrooper – Funko Pop! Vinyl
Who doesn’t love Funko? They make just about every iconic character in movie and pop culture history and they almost always look great so it goes without saying the new Stormtrooper is no exception. It has a typical blaster in hand and that’s about all she wrote. Again there are some slight issues with colour bleeding which means I can only give it 7/10. (Also just to let any collectors know, there is a Disney Store only C-3PO available.)
Captain Phasma – Elite Series Die Cast action Figure
I’m not one of those guys who keeps everything mint in box. As much as I try to, the kid in me always ends up being the devil on my shoulder, destroying any toy’s future worth. This figure however is for collecting and it a real quality piece. It has a decent weight to it and there are no issues like those seen on the other figures. This is another Disney Store only line and it certainly is what they describe as “Premium” on the reverse of the box. They are more pricey but like many things, you get what you pay for and if money was no restriction I would have no problem picking up all of these as they all look great. Captain Phasma also looks as if she’ll be an absolute badass in these movies so it gets extra points on a fairly shallow level. 9/10
BB-8 App Enabled Droid by Sphero
Yep – I did it I got one. Yep – they sold out in minutes. Yep – it cost me £130.
So I’m not proud of the money I spent on this thing but my god it is cool as hell! As soon as I found out that BB-8 in the movie is a practical effect my mind was blown and when I heard they were developing it as a toy I prolapsed (some things that I have said in this article are very true – this is not one of those things).
Everything about this little guy is quality; the packaging is on another level and reminds you, that this is more of a gadget than a toy. As soon as you hook it up to your computer to begin initialisation, it starts beeping and moving just like the R2 toy you always wanted when you were younger. The ball system is controlled by a smart phone app and as soon as the John Williams theme kicks in when you turn it on, shivers will run down your spine.
It works in two ways: either remote where you are in control of not smashing it in to the wall or stop it being trampled by your cat OR you can send it out on Patrol where it learns about its environment by trial and error floor mapping. Although I know this is just really smart tech it feels more like witchcraft or some other hokey religion (*cough* Jedi *cough*).
Other awesome things the guy can do is ‘complete missions’, I haven’t done these yet but I’m already pumped to and using the app it can project holographic images much like the one Leia records in A New Hope. You can also record your own holographic messages. Surely I don’t need to say anything else. There are also rumours of additional content which will be available by updating the app once Episode VII has been released which if available prior would contain Star Wars; The Force Awakens spoilers. To give this anything less than a 10 would be an injustice so it gets a Spinal Tap-style 11/10.
Disney has smashed it out of the park with the new toys and it would not have been difficult to spend an awful lot more. Do yourself a favour, get out there… and then go in there (a shop selling Star Wars stuff)… and load up on Star Warsy goodness because god only knows George Lucas needs more of your cash!
Oh I’ve gone a bit delirious. I might need to lie down. Bring me my Poe Dameron duvet!
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