Last week, Hasbro celebrated Star Wars Fan Appreciation Day, because every single day is a new chance for the population at large to be marketed to by major corporations. Thankfully, we’re Star Wars fans, and the announcement of new Star WarsBlack Series figures is an exciting one, especially when they include a new version of The Mandalorian in Beskar armor, the respected Admiral Ackbar, a fierce Ewok warrior, and a slick carbonized version of a beloved character from The Empire Strikes Back.
Just before The Mandalorian arrived on Disney+, the first wave of merchandising from the live-action Star Wars series arrived in stores along with the first action figures from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But it seemed Hasbro didn’t properly anticipate demand for the Black Series figures associated with the series, because nearly all of them have been extremely difficult to find, especially Mando himself. But hopefully that will change with this new version of the bounty hunter.
Unlike the first version of The Mandalorian Black Series figure, this one comes with shiny new Beskar armor. It’s a much cleaner version of the character, and he still comes with all the appropriate weaponry. Unfortunately, there’s no two-pack that comes with The Child known as Baby Yoda, but you can still buy the little guy separately.
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Admiral Ackbar and Teebo Join the Black Series
Two characters from Return of the Jedi are getting their due diligence as Black Series figures. Admiral Ackbar joins the line, looking like his back has been seriously injured in the promotional photo above. Meanwhile, the Ewok known as Teebo is clearly not in the mood for dealing with any Stormtrooper crap, so don’t mess with that dude.
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New Carbonized Boba Fett and Stormtrooper
Finally, after first being introduced on Triple Force Friday last fall, the carbonized variant line of Black Series figures is getting two new additions this year, and they should be infinitely easier to find than that initial wave, especially since they’re both available for pre-order over at Big Bad Toy Store right now.
Boba Fett is easily the coolest of the two new carbonized figures. Much like The Mandalorian carbonized figure released last year as a Target exclusive which now goes for a 400% mark-up on the retail price, the armor looks slick with that metallic shine. Meanwhile, the Stormtrooper still looks pretty cool, but it would have been much better if they made a Captain Phasma figure with the carbonized paint style instead.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...