Our Star Wars Day Hallmark haul

Star Wars Day – May the 4th (be with you) – has become an annual celebration of all things Star Wars. It has also become a day for many of the licensees to promote their own Star Wars products – and we were fortunate enough to receive from Hallmark UK & Ireland a substantial haul of what seems to amount to pretty much every Star Wars product they make!

As a greetings card company, many of these were cards – but like many manufacturers in the gift business they also had some plush toys as well – both little and large. Very large…

Here’s a rundown of the highlights of our haul.

Star Wars Itty Bitty (standard size)

Hallmark Itty Bittys are cute little plush toys, and their Star Wars ones have lots of different characters – from cute Ewoks to fierce bounty hunters. All the main characters are there too. Especially cute was the Han and Leia double pack, on a Millennium Falcon cockpit card backing.

Darth Vader Itty Bitty (Jumbo)

Hallmark told me they were going to include a jumbo Itty Bitty of Darth Vader. We have a few other large Itty Bittys (of Batman and Superman) that are just shy of a foot high, so I figured this would be the same. It isn’t.

This Darth Vader so-called ‘Itty Bitty’ is huge – 2 1/2 feet tall! It has an elasticated ‘belt’ with spaces to hold 6 normal sized Itty Bittys – which looks quite sinister, as if Vader is collecting people as trophies.

Jumbo Vader is now (much to my wife’s displeasure) an established addition to our daughter’s room. She says Vader is standing guard, protecting her against monsters.

Star Wars Greetings cards

We got  dozens of different Star Wars greetings cards, which will keep us in good stead for many birthdays of friends and families to come. My favourite is this Yoda one, which has a push out Yoda for the recipient to assemble.

Star Wars Gift Bags 

There were also a variety of gift bags, which again will come in handy come gift giving times ahead. However, my favourite was this one featuring classic imagery from the Star Wars Marvel comics of my youth – so I may hang onto this one.


This was a curious one – a Darth Vader bottle shroud. It’s a cardboard cutout to turn your bottle of booze into the Sith lord.


Disclosure: As this article details, we were sent these items free of charge by Hallmark UK & Ireland.


The Women’s FA Cup and beyond: Empowering girls with football

Playing football has been a rite of passage for British boys for generations – whether at home, in school, at the park, or in the streets. But this has not been the case for girls – which is a shame, as we should be empowering girls with football. Continue reading The Women’s FA Cup and beyond: Empowering girls with football

The original Star Wars trilogy novelisations

Was Star Wars a book before it was a movie? Yes it was.

Well, kind of. Star Wars, a book by George Lucas, was published in America in 1976. The movie was released in 1977.

But as I’m sure you know, the movie was not based on this book – it was a novelisation of the movie. In fact, it was not even written by Lucas, but ghost written by Alan Dean Foster. He was also the author (credited this time) of the very first Star Wars sequel, Splinter of the Minds Eye.

When I was a child, these novelisations were one of the key ways I engaged with Star Wars movies after seeing them at the cinema. As I look back, it seems amazing that I managed to remain interested in the movies. I’m pretty sure my daughter has seen the original Star Wars trilogy more times at age 5 than I did in my entire childhood. There was no way to watch at home on TV (although there were some 8 minute super-8 film versions for those few who had a projector). We saw the movies at the cinema. That was it.

But that wasn’t enough. So we found other ways to revisit the galaxy far, far away. I played with the toys. I read the comics. And I poured over the novelisations of the movies, which have all been re-published.

Reading them is to remember a time when my fandom was born. The exciting thing about the first book – which I read years after the movie came out – were expanded elements of the story that were ultimately cut like Luke and Biggs friendship and Solo meeting Jabba. Elements of these were reinstated in the special editions.

The Empire Strikes Back novelisation was written by Donald F. Glut, a fellow former film school student like George Lucas. He was a writer who’s credit I saw a few more times in my childhood, on some Spider-Man cartoons and various comics. As these Star Wars books were based on screenplays, and not finished movies, even differences in classic dialogue stands out. For instance, no “I love you,”, “I know.” exchange here, as that was ad-libbed by Ford on set.

Return of the Jedi (by James Kahn) was a book I clearly recall  reading before I saw the movie. So, the big revelation of Luke and Leia’s relationship was one I experienced not in the movies, but with my nose in a book at home. This book was also the first time I read how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader – here there is mention of a duel between Obi Wan and Anakin, which ended with Luke’s father falling into lava. My 11-year-old self was pleased that this was later reflected in Revenge of the Sith twenty years later.

These books are now available in a paperback omnibus, and in addition the adaptation of Star Wars has also been re-released in a hardback 40th anniversary edition, featuring the best and most iconic Star Wars poster of all by the Brothers Hillderbrant.

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope: Official 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition has an RRP of £16.99. Star Wars: Original Trilogy has an RRP of £12.99.


I was sent copies of these books for the purposes of this review.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy returned to the big screen in Vol. 2, and so did a slew of new merchandise – including this Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy. Continue reading Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Electronic Music Mix Star-Lord toy

Let’s go fly a kite! (#MySundayPhoto)

Something I think my wife and I both pride ourselves on is our immaturity. That’s not to say we don’t feel like adults – we absolutely do. But we also embrace our childish sides, passing on our childlike sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the fun things in life.

For me, it will often manifest itself in my continued passion for all things Star Wars and Superhero – which followers of my blog will know I keenly share with my daughter.

My wife is more of an outdoorsy type than me (not difficult). I’ve often put it down to her being a New Zealander – as a country they are far more into being active outside than we Brits are. But really, it’s down to her. Running, doing cartwheels & handstands, and climbing trees are all things she likes to do when we’re off on country walks – which being Shire dwellers are right on our doorstep.

On this particular family walk, we decided to take a kite with us, one that has remained unused since I received it for this review.

The funny thing about this picture and our kite flying activity is that it was pretty much only my wife and I. We took turns flying and launching/photographing for the other. Our daughter was encouraged to stay back, partly because we didn’t want the cord to wrap round her neck because of our erratic flying – but also because she would just be getting in the way of our fun!

Aesthetically, this is not a great photo. I chose it because it at least captures the action of our kite flying in a way that is not too blurred. Also, it needed to fit into the right image ratio for this page, Facebook, and Instagram (which the rejects did not).

We will return here with the kite – it’s a good spot to fly it. And we will share it with our daughter – once we have mastered it ourselves 🙂