J.J. Abrams calls lack of Rey Star Wars merchandising “preposterous”

If you’re frustrated at the exclusion of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise featuring Rey – you’re not alone.

Entertainment Weekly reports that  Writer/Director J.J. Abrams shares your pain – and your bemusement as to why this central character of the story he created should be excluded at all.

“I wish I had more details about merchandising and the schedule… I’m learning things as you are. I will say that it seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the Star Wars world in terms of merchandising.”

“I read that she wasn’t in the Monopoly game and was quickly making phone calls about this because if it were true — and it is true, and now Hasbro, of course, has said they’re going to put Rey in — it doesn’t quite make sense why she wouldn’t be there.”

He cheekily added “She’s somewhat important in the story.”

Creating a new gender balance in the force was clearly important to Abrams, who told me last year that “the idea was always to have this female character at the heart of the story.” He added that “…we have wonderful cast of good guys, bad guys, pilots, stormtroopers – that happen to be female.”

Daisy Ridley also said to me that ““J.J. is an incredible writer, especially of females in a kind of male dominated world.”

Now Rey faces her latest battle – in the male dominated world of Star Wars merchandising.

 

Review: Battle Action Millennium Falcon from Star Wars The Force Awakens

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon toy is full of great features and should please any young Star Wars fan – with one important addition.

(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

While it’s great to see favourite characters returning in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for me the most glorious returnee is the Millennium Falcon.

Millenium Falcon, Star Wars The Force Awakens, Star Wars Episode 7, Rey, Han Solo

Probably the most beloved ship of the entire saga, Han Solo’s Corellian freighter has blasted it’s way through childhood intergalactic adventures for decades.

I had an original Millennium Falcon in 1979 or thereabouts, or possibly around the time of The Empire Strikes Back. Ever the hoarder, I never got rid of it (other than a temporary loan to my now 18-year-old nephew). Dusted off, my daughter has been playing with it for the last couple of years.

But not any more. The first thing she said when she unwrapped this new one was “This is MY Millennium Falcon, not daddy’s.” We  can’t help but compare it with the Millennium Falcon 80s toy – and we agree the newbie wins.

Both toys are designed for use with the standard 3.75” Star Wars figures (this set includes 3 characters – more on that later), and they share many features including a cockpit for two figures, removable rear roof to reveal playset inside, and revolving radar dish – though this Falcon has the new rectangular one since the round dish was lost in Return of the Jedi.

But this is not just a Millennium Falcon. This is the Battle Action Millennium Falcon!

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon Nerf Cannon and Gun Turret
At the push of a button, the Millennium Falcon is ready for Battle Action. Pew pew!

It makes sounds. Lots of wonderful authentic sounds. When you lift off or land it makes the appropriate whirring. When you tilt it to fly, it makes a whooshing sound.

It has a pop up gun turret (with room for a figure) with more sounds and led lights blaster action. Most distinctive of all a pop-up Nerf gun turret (by same toymaker Hasbro) that fires Elite darts. While the Nerf cannon is not strictly Star Wars canon – it is tremendous fun to play with.

Battle Action Millennium Falcon Hyperdrive
Finn: “Punch it!”

There’s also a lever to engage the hyperdrive – with the interplanetary vroom, or the forlorn clank it made in Empire when the hyperdrive motivator was damaged.

The removable roof is also part of the playset, upturned and connecting to the back of the Falcon. All these new interactive elements make this a very cool Star Wars toy.

My daughter plays with it daily, enjoying hours of fun with it – from flying the ship, staging parties, acting out bathroom breaks for her figures (a popular play theme for preschoolers), as well as various Star Wars adventures. Not having seen The Force Awakens yet, she is convinced it begins with Luke shooting General Leia by mistake, and her being treated onboard the Falcon.

The moving parts also offer another element of play. My daughter is currently enjoying figure flinging!

The Battle Action Millennium Falcon in Action:

My daughter has discovered a great activity with her Battle Action Millennium Falcon 🙂

A post shared by Man vs. Pink (@manvspink) on

But where’s Rey?

For me there is a Supreme Leader Snoke sized omission in this Battle Action Millennium Falcon – Rey.

Chewbacca action figures, BB-8 action figures, Finn action figures, Star Wars toys,
The Battle Action Millennium Falcon comes with a trio of figures from Star Wars The Force Awakens – Chewbacca, Finn, and BB-8.

Star Wars sets never came with figures when I was a kid, so it’s great that it includes Chewbacca, Finn, and especially BB-8. But missing are the characters who actually pilot the ship in the movie – namely Han Solo and Rey.

Rey’s flying of the ship is one of her, the Falcon’s, and the film’s biggest scenes, so her exclusion from this set seems especially unfortunate.

This may simply be a classic way to get consumers to buy the figures separately. As I mentioned, there’s no Han either. I’ve also read talk of spoilers, though I can’t see how including her would spoil anything, just like Finn and BB-8. Her inclusion would’ve gone a long way to counter the #WheresRey blowback.

At least this was easily fixed for us. I had already raced out and bought my daughter a Rey figure immediately after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so now Rey takes her place in the Falcon’s cockpit as she should.

Rey pilots millennium falcon, Hasbro, wheresrey
Hasbro’s Battle Action Millennium Falcon doesn’t come with a pilot. FTFY.

If this Battle Action Millennium Falcon had included Rey, this set would’ve been a complete slam dunk. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great toy for any young Star Wars fan (and us old ones as well). Just be prepared to get a Rey figure too, so your little one can recreate the new Millennium Falcon’s biggest scene, the escape from Jakku, authentically – with Finn on the guns and Rey at the helm.

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The Star Wars: The Force Awakens Battle Action Millennium Falcon Toy has an RRP of £119.99, and is available from Amazon and other retailers.

Star Wars © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Disclosure: I received this item free of charge for the purposes of this review.

Family Fever

Electronic Chewbacca Mask with Moving Mouth review

TL:DR – this Chewbacca Mask with moving mouth is awesome!

There have been scores of Star Wars masks over the years. Those based on characters with helmets tend to be the best realised – such as Darth Vader or Stormtroopers. The detail is usually pretty accurate, and there are additional features such as voice changers in Vader or Kylo Ren that can elevate them above the usual run-of-the-mill dress up masks.

But this Chewbacca mask is probably the best Star Wars children’s one I’ve seen so far. It’s made of a hard durable plastic, has a good cartoony likeness of the lovable Wookiee, and is a comfortable fit (for a child) with secure straps.

But what really makes this so great is that is has a hinged lower jaw, so the mask’s mouth opens when the wearer’s does – and doing this triggers Chewbacca’s distinctive howls and roars.

There are a number of distinctive Chewie sounds that those familiar with the films will recognise, with different ones being triggered by how much the jaw is opened.

My daughter is really enamoured with it, and the overall effect is pretty theatrical.

Check out the Chewbacca mask with moving mouth in action:

Adorable eh? And as you can see, it’s perfectly paired with a Dorothy dress 🙂

This is a great addition to my daughter’s dress up box, and she really enjoys terrorising  friends and family with it.

As with many of the toys available in this new wave of Star Wars merchandise, I would have loved this as a kid too.

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The Star Wars The Force Awakens Chewbacca Electronic Mask has an RRP of £29.99.

  • Movie-like appearance
  • Open mouth slightly to hear Wookiee howl
  • Open it wider, and Chewbacca’s roar gets louder
  • Adjustable straps

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Disclosure: We were gifted this item free of charge for the purposes of this review.

 

Family Fever

REVIEW: LEGO Star Wars – Rey’s Speeder

Appearing early on in the very first trailer for The Force Awakens, Rey’s Speeder was one of the first new vehicles to be revealed.

Rey's Speeder, Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley

Its blocky, lo-fi, junkyard style design quickly became a fan favourite.

This LEGO version is a lovely little set to construct.

LEGO Star Wars 75099 Rey's Speeder

This was one of my favourite looking ones from The Force Awakens line (admittedly, the iconic , far larger, and more expensive Millennium Falcon – also featuring Rey – just edged it). The suggested age is 7-12, but my 3-year-old daughter put it together with minimal supervision.

Rey is clearly a central character to the new saga, so it is great to have a minifigure of her. My daughter also loves the fact that she is another female Star Wars character to play with.

Rey LEGO Star Wars minifigure

The minifigure has the usual two faces, though the expressions are a fairly subtle ‘wry smile’ and ‘displeased frown’. The freckles are a nice detail. She also has a mask with goggles, as seen in the introduction to the character in the film.

Rey wearing mask and goggles, Star Wars, The Force Awakens

The set also comes with a second mini figure, the hooded and mysteriously named Unkar’s Thug.

Rey’s Speeder is already one of the more iconic new vehicles of the new saga and is a great addition to our LEGO Star Wars collection, that that my daughter frequently plays with already.

The fact that it features the character that is basically the lead role in the new saga makes this an essential set for any young LEGO Star Wars fan to own. All she needs is the addition of one particular accessory (not included).

😉
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Star Wars © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Family Fever

The Female Focus of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Was Planned From the Start

As the father of one of the many girls who like Star Wars, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to quiz the cast and filmmakers about the prominence of female characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

As much as I love engaging with Star Wars with my daughter, I am always painfully aware that it is centred around male characters. But girls who like Star Wars – like my daughter – deserve to be able to see themselves in these stories too. Princess Leia is great, but it is her father and brother that the story focuses on. Ashoka is awesome, but the stories she’s in are usually driven by others.

No longer. There is much to admire about Star Wars: The Force Awakens – reuniting the original cast, the compelling new characters, using practical sets and effects. But the most glorious new aspect of the movie is the central role of Rey, and the greater prominence of female characters overall.

A new generation of Star Wars women

girls who love star wars, female star wars fans,
Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens – she will inspire a generation of little girls

Having previously stated that he wanted to make a movie that “mothers could take their daughters to”, Director J.J. Abrams told me that “the idea was always to have this female character at the heart of the story”.

From the moment we meet her, Rey is the one who drives the story forward and in a way that was surprising and moving. When she had her ‘moment’ I felt like crying and cheering at the same time.

Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm, has been a vocal advocate of the Star Wars fangirl community and the need to bring a gender balance into all areas of the Star Wars industry.

She observes that “(Princess Leia) was a very cutting edge character in the 70’s, so we really used that as a springboard to bring in Daisy Ridley and make her such a powerful female presence.”

This intention was echoed by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who made reference to the fact that “Women are heroes too,” so why wouldn’t they have a female Star Wars lead.

Daisy Ridley gives a bright and engaging performance as Rey. She will inspire millions of little girls, and I asked her how that felt. For her it came down to the way Rey has been written.  “J.J. is an incredible writer, especially of females in a kind of male dominated world… if people look up to her, then I’m very happy with that.”

General Leia and Captain Phasma – Star Wars women’s changing role in the intergalactic military

Princess Leia is now of course General Leia Organa, leader of the Resistance. It is a logical progression from the character’s more militaristic role with the Rebels in The Empire Strikes Back, and (to a lesser extent) Return of the Jedi. Of the change of Leia’s title, Carrie Fisher quipped that “Women are a lot better than men really, especially in wartime. We look better in the outfits.”

One of the best outfits in the movie is worn by Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma. She was impressed with it from the start. “I Ioved that it was purely practical armour, that it wasn’t sexualised in any way,” she said, adding that “I’m utterly thrilled to wear the costume… It’s very empowering.”

Captain Phasma became a female character very late in the casting process, in part because of internet chatter about the (at that time) low level of female cast members. It’s great that the filmmakers listened, and also looked for other ways to normalise the inclusion of women in a way that had not been done in previous Star Wars movies. JJ Abrams said that “…we have wonderful cast of good guys, bad guys, pilots, stormtroopers – that happen to be female.”

Empowering little girls who like Star Wars

It’s difficult for me to know exactly what characters will help empower my daughter. I have encouraged her to engage with a range of fictional females from Katie Morag to Batgirl. Her interest in Star Wars has been fairly organic, and she naturally gravitated towards Leia, the most prominent of all.

But I have a strong sense that Rey will resonate with her. Daisy Ridley beamed when I told her I bought a Rey figure for my daughter straight after watching the movie. “That is so cool! How old is your daughter?” When I told her she’s 4-years old (which she will be when she sees the movie), her expression changed. “She’s a bit young for this don’t you think?”. I shrugged, and so did Daisy. “Depends on the child I guess?” she said. It does indeed.

Should my young daughter see Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

In this story, set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. there was a girl who never lost hope, who cared about the plight of others over her own, and never backed down from a challenge.

I can’t wait for my daughter to experience Rey’s resilience, her exciting journey, and a defining moment that will bring many a fan close to tears.

Mark Hamill said something quite beautiful, about how much he loves Star Wars fans, and how privileged he feels to have been a part of so many of their lives from childhood to adulthood and even parenthood.

So despite her young age, and questions over age appropriateness, I think my daughter needs to see this now.

I want her to have this new saga woven into her childhood the way Star Wars was into mine. So she can look up to the stars in wonder, and imagine intergalactic adventures involving heroic girls (and villainous chrome armoured women).

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Star Wars © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.