Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mandalorian at the Mall

Outside the Lego Store at the Chandler Fashion Center, Chandler, Arizona, October 23, 2010

Giant Lego Yoda

The new Lego Store in Glendale, Arizona hosted a build event for their grand opening. Each kid got to participate in building a giant Yoda model.
Here is how it works: The kids make scaled up verzions of the classic 2 x 4 Lego brick and turn that in to the professional builder who assembles them into the model. The model stays on display for a while and then they take the whole thing apart and move it to the next venue.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You are my only HOPI."

I spotted this Princess Leia look-alike outside the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. It's actually a statue of a Hopi woman and not the well-known space princess. Reliable sources indicate that Leia's famous double bun was actually based on the Hopi hairdo. Now you know!

Friday, April 17, 2009

633 Squadron

Star Wars is a mishmash of mythology, Flash Gordon, World War 2 movies and samurai flicks. One of those World War 2 movies is the 1964 British film 633 Squadron. It tells the story of a small band of RAF Mosquito pilots selected for a secret mission that could change the course of the war.

It’s just before D-Day and the Germans have new rocket weapons that could turn the invasion into a disaster. Fortunately, Erik Bergman (played by George Chakiris; hey, he’s that guy from West Side Story) of the Norwegian resistance is able to smuggle information on the weapon system’s flaw to the Allies. It seems that the rocket fuel is made at a secret, impregnable factory fortress at the end of a fjord in Nazi-occupied Norway. 633 Squadron, commanded by American Roy Grant (Cliff Robertson), is assigned to carry out a daring mission: fly to Norway, maneuver down the fjord to drop bombs in a geologically sensitive spot that will cause a landslide and destroy the factory.

It’s pretty obvious how the plot and action scenes were turned into the trench run at the end of the original Star Wars film. One of those internet wisenheimers even spliced together dialog from the A new Hope with footage from 633 Squadron and the results are quite amusing.

Also, like Star Wars, 633 Squadron is part American and part British for no good reason.

So, is the movie any good? Some of the special effects are not that special. But it was 1964 and we can forgive them. And it is formulaic. You know something bad is going to happen the young airman who just got hitched and the Nazis are standard issue movie-Nazis who love motorcades and torturing prisoners for information. But, the aerial footage with real airplanes zooming around the mountains in Scotland is very well done. Even if the movie had just been 90 minutes of aerobatics without all the subplots, I would have been OK with that. When I watched this film on a laptop on a plane, it distracted the guy sitting next to me from reading his bible, even though I had headphones on and he couldn’t hear any of the sound. Eventually he put the good book away and kept watching. After a while he even nudged my elbow and asked what movie it was and we talked about it for a few minutes. All in all, it’s a good old WW2 movie, the kind that used to be on TV a lot in the seventies.

This is the first of what I hope will several posts about movies that influenced Star Wars.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A New "Hope"

There is a neat little gizmo over at Paste Magazine called You can use it to make your own Shepard Fairey / Obama style poster images. I decided to make a few of my own with a Star Wars theme.

I think the Vader image came out really well. He has his head tipped up at just the right visionary angle to the future where he can end this destructive conflict and rule the galaxy with his son.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Science Fiction Illustrated: 1977

At a local community yard sale this past weekend, I picked up a copy of Science Fiction Illustrated: 1977, Collector's Edition. The cover claims it is "The only magazine of its kind - a preview of all the top science fiction and fantasy films for 1977". Surely there must be something about Star Wars in there. Sure enough, it was. Here is the entire Star Wars article.


STAR WARS: $8 million and rising. Sounds like a line out of director George Lucas's earlier effort THX 1138, but expenditures will not cease on this operation. A sure-fire hit is in production, and the special effects whatever the cost, will without a doubt be one of the biggest sci-fi efforts of 1977. Lucas's story of STAR WARS is similar to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, a young man is called upon from a wise one to save the Galaxy from the dark forces of evil. Mark Hamill, Peter Cushing, and Alex Guinness are the stars. The real stars are the "special effects." Films producer Gary Kurtz called in many of the top men in the field. Among them are Dan O'Bannon (greatly responsible for DARK STAR). The film will utilize many areas of effects, most noteworthy are the computer displays, of which O'Bannon is in charge. The special facility which houses the special effects is located in Van Nuys California, in a warehouse known as Industrial Light and Magic - ILM. It consists of two large sound stages, a wood-working shop, electronics shop, and many more shops for model building, photography, negative cutting, optics, animation, and a projection room. All in all, an enormous facility devoted to stagger anyone's imagination.
How quaint! You'd think that a magazine that devotes three pages to "The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" would have more than just one paragraph on Star Wars. I especially like the reference to "Alex" Guinness!
Get your own copy on Amazon:
Science Fiction Illustrated: 1977 Collector's Edition

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Star Wars Tactical Displays

There is an awesome article at Den of Geek! detailing how the tactical displays from the 1977 Star Wars were made. The video from the Electronic Visualization Lab showing how the trench run computer display used in the Rebel briefing was made is a must see.

Pastor to Obama: 'May the force be with you'

Good golly! This is much worse than Chief Justice Roberts flubbing the oath. While Obama was at church just before the inauguaration, Bishop T. D. Jakes told Obama,

“The problems are mighty and the solutions are not simple,” Jakes said, “and everywhere you turn there will be a critic waiting to attack every decision that you make. But you are all fired up, Sir, and you are ready to go. And this nation goes with you. God goes with you.

“I say to you as my son who is here today, my 14-year-old son – he probably would not quote scripture. He probably would use Star Trek instead, and so I say, ‘May the force be with you.

Star Trek? Star Trek?!? It's Star WARS. Star WARS. Don't they teach anything in the seminary anymore?
Flashback: This insolence is not limited to the clergy. Recall that a few months ago, one of the world's top scientists at the Large Hadron Collider made a similar transgression.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Star Wars / Walmart Logo

Wal-Mart has dropped the hypen, become simply "Walmart" and updated its logo.
Now my old Star Wars/Wal-Mart logo crash-up is so 2008 and will not do. So, here is the new version for your enjoyment.

Click on the image for a larger version.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Spooky Star Wars" Lego Contest

Over at Reasonbly Clever, the "Spooky Star Wars" Halloween Lego contest is wrapping up. The catgories are :

1. Spooky Vehicle

2. Spooky Scene

3. Spooky Impulse (limited to 50 pieces)

4. The Final Moments of Jar Jar Binks

The winner is expected to be announced soon. My favorite is "Order 67", pictured above. See all the entries at this link.

Help me, Wolf Blitzer, you're my only hope!

Here is a fun little video from Slate, making fun of CNN's election night hologram thingy.

Found via Ed Driscoll.

Saturday, October 18, 2008