Tag Archives: Chewbacca

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Star Wars Scrapbook: My First Star Wars Action Figure

Star Wars Scrapbook
My First Star Wars Action Figure

Even thirty-seven years later, I can remember my first glimpse of a Kenner Star Wars action figure.  It was at my house in the spring of 1978, with the sun streaming in the kitchen windows. The lawn outside finally a vibrant green after a cold and especially snowy Kentucky winter.  Occasionally, when no one was looking, I would climb up on the avocado green kitchen counter to look into the dark brown cabinet beside the refrigerator.  I don’t recall what I was looking for that day, but I remember vividly what I found while exploring up there.  As I stood up on the counter, I spotted something on top of the refrigerator — a Chewbacca action figure in his transparent bubble on the soon-to-be familiar Star Wars card.  I couldn’t resist.  I had to have a closer look.  Taking the toy in my hand, I looked at the plastic representation of Han Solo’s copilot, comparing his likeness (or lack thereof) to the picture on the front of the card.  “What is this doing up here?” I wondered to myself.  I kneeled down on the counter, holding the treasure in my hands in order to inspect it more closely with help from the bright sunlight coming through the dual windows over the kitchen sink.  I had never seen anything so intriguing in my life.  I wanted to tear open the package and play with the toy, but I knew I had found something I wasn’t supposed to know about, and if I opened it, Mom would know I had broken her rules about climbing up on the counter again.  Exhibiting her psychic prowess yet once more, at the very moment I was returning my discovery to its former resting place, my mother came into the kitchen and caught me red-handed!

“What are you doing up there?” she asked in a tone that revealed she knew exactly what I was doing and what I had found.

“Look what I found!” I exclaimed, my youthful exuberance unable to invent a lie to avoid the trouble that would inevitably follow.  I handed her the toy, an unstoppable smile on my face, and she took it into her hands and looked at it with an feigned expression of interest.

After a couple of moments of my gibbering on and on about Chewbacca, who he was, and why this would be a great toy for me, she reached up to the top of the refrigerator, replaced the toy, and took me in her arms to put me back down on the kitchen floor where I belonged.  She explained to me that I wasn’t to tell anyone about what I had seen, especially my brother, since his birthday was coming in just a few days.  She also sternly warned me not to venture back to look at the toy again, implying that it was for my brother and I shouldn’t spoil his surprise.  She sent me out of the kitchen so she could continue her cleaning in preparation for my brother’s birthday party.

At this point, you need to know that until that time, birthdays had been a relatively minor event in my home.  When one of our birthdays rolled around, after dinner we would have a cake to celebrate with the family.  Once the candles were blown out, a present would be given to the birthday boy or girl, and we would then go back to our regular activities.  This year was going to be different, though.  My mother had explained to all us kids that starting with my brother, each one of us would have a party on our tenth birthday with our friends.  It would be a big event, and my brother’s party would come that weekend.  As excited as my sister and I were about this news, we must have been a little disappointed that our parties wouldn’t come for some years later.  I was somewhat more satisfied about my participation in my brother’s birthday, though, since I now shared a secret about what would most certainly be the greatest gift he would get that year.

The day of the party arrived.  My brother’s friends, mostly his classmates and fellow Cub Scouts, came over to the house, each bearing a gift for the occasion.  It was noisy in the house and out of the house as excited ten year-olds ran amok until the time came for cake, a song, and the opening of presents.  At that point, I watched anxiously from the next room to see my brother’s expression when he saw Chewbacca.  But he never opened any Star Wars gifts.  Chewbacca was nowhere to be seen.  Worried that something was missing, I went over to my mother and started to ask her if she had forgotten the surprise.  Putting a finger to her lips to silence me, she beckoned me and my sister into the den and handed a small gift to each of us.  Knowing that she still always gives something small to siblings of birthday boys and girls when she is invited to parties these days, I can only surmise that she had gotten each of us a gift so we wouldn’t be disappointed seeing our brother flooded with presents from his friends, knowing that we would have to wait years for our own parties.  We opened our packages excitedly, and while I don’t remember what my sister got that day, I remember what mine was…

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Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had inadvertently discovered my own present on top of the refrigerator that day!

What are some of your best memories of Star Wars in your youth?  Comment below or tweet me @shazbazzar #StarWarsScrapbook with your Star Wars memories.

 

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Star Wars Scrapbook: The Star Wars Holiday Special

Star Wars Scrapbook:
The Star Wars Holiday Special

When you’re a kid, people tend to believe you make exaggerated statements or confuse reality loswookieeswith imagination.  After a while, you even start believing what you thought you saw may never really have happened at all.  Maybe it was a dream.  Maybe it was wishful thinking.  Maybe it was a combination of memories cobbled together.  For years, I had been convinced that my memories of seeing Chewbacca’s family, a holographic circus, more zany aliens in the cantina, and a stormtrooper tearing the head off stuffed toy bantha were “something out of a dream.”  But they were real.  And now, they’re in my Star Wars Scrapbook.

Being the youngest of three children, I rarely had the opportunity to choose TV channels or what we were watching, but on Friday, November 17, 1978, I was the only kid at home.  My brother and sister must have been staying over at friends’ houses, or maybe they were at the movies, but as Dad was flipping through the channels, he saw Wookiees on the screen and called me to see if I wanted to watch Star Wars on TV.  For nearly two hours, I was glued to the television, amazed that my favorite characters were in a new movie.  Undoubtedly, I watched the whole thing, because when I finally got a copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special more than twenty years later, I remembered every scene (though some of them had become funny for entirely different reasons).  Since my first Life Day in 1978, I have had an odd affinity for the campy combination of ‘70s comedy shows and the space opera that some would like to imagine never happened.  A good portion of my love for the show probably has to do with my history of hunting down the elusive television program no one seemed to have seen.

In first grade, lunchroom and playground conversation often centered around Star Wars.  Whether we were reenacting scenes from the movie, playing with our Kenner toys, or just wondering if they would really make another Star Wars movie, one of the most popular subjects in school was Star Wars.  That being the case, it was rather strange that no one in my class seemed to have known about the Holiday Special.  After talking to a few of my friends, I discovered that none of them could relate to my story about the Wookiee boy’s little lost bantha cub and the evil Stormtrooper who tore up his toy.  Over the next few years, I gave up trying to remind people of the Star Wars Wookiees movie they never saw.  Having had no luck finding anyone who had seen or even heard of the Holiday Special, I began to think I had retroactively mixed up The Wookiee Storybook from our school library with cut scenes from the Making of Star Wars special I had seen on TV.  I left elementary school with no expectation of finding another soul who remembered the elusive Holiday Special along with all our doubts that we would ever see another Star Wars movie.

As I entered middle school, rumors about a prequel trilogy or a far, future sequel trilogy continued to come up in conversations.  All Star Wars discussions centered around what might happen in those movies.  I had all but forgotten that quirky special all those years ago.  That is, until the new Droids cartoon featured Boba Fett in the style of his original appearance in the Holiday Special.  Seeing the bounty hunter in action again led me to ask all my new friends if they had seen or heard about a Christmas special with Wookiees and the Boba Fett cartoon.  No one had seen it, but at least one guy had heard about it.  He had heard his older brother’s friend talking about The Star Wars Holiday Special.  He had no idea who the friend was, however.  This minor setback was nothing compared to the excitement of finding news of someone else remembering this obscure show.  At last my memories would be proven true!

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It wasn’t until my senior year that I found out who the mysterious friend was.  He was my brother’s age and was working at Camelot Music in the mall.  One evening, as I was talking to him about the possibility of prequels (which he said would never happen), he mentioned the Holiday Special.  Once I clarified that he was talking about the one with the Wookiees, I asked if he had a copy.  Not only did he say he didn’t have one, but he said it wasn’t even worth watching.  After my brief defense of the show (based on my eleven year-old memories), he promised to get me a copy from some friends in England.  I’m still waiting on that copy.

Years later, when the World Wide Web was being spun by grid spiders in cyberspace, I started starwarsholidayspecial-harveykormanfinding more evidence and information about The Star Wars Holiday Special.  Harvey Korman was one of the guest stars.  Since my family watched The Carol Burnett Show regularly with Harvey Korman and Tim Conway, I was looking forward to seeing what role he had played in the Holiday Special.  I found some people on the Bulletin Boards complaining about the lack of subtitles for the Wookiee segments of the show, but I couldn’t recallr that being a problem.  As the Internet grew, I sought out pictures, sounds, and video clips of the Holiday Special periodically, eventually leading me to discover The Star Wars Holiday Special website by SKot Kirkwood.  It contained all kinds of information that pushed me to locate my own video copy through eBay.  When it arrived, it wasn’t in very good condition, but I was committed to watching the whole thing through.  Elation gave way to frustration when the DVD malfunctioned about forty minutes into the show.

Unfazed, I got back online, found another seller, and got a better copy of the Holiday Special.

Was it worth watching?  Of course.  It was almost exactly as I remembered it — yet without the commercial breaks.  The comedy was classic ‘70s.  The music was retro synth pop.  The Boba Fett cartoon was amazing.  The tragic case of the toy bantha brought a tear to my eye.  In fact, the only disappointment in the whole show was Itchy’s excitement about the mind evaporator he received from Trader Dann.

For me, The Star Wars Holiday Special is not simply a TV special or Star Wars collectible.  It is a cherished evening of my youth, a vindication of my memories, a completed quest, and has now become an annual celebration with my family each November.  The Star Wars Holiday Special is something I’ll always keep in my Star Wars Scrapbook.

(You can hear the TechnoRetro Dads’ 2014 tribute to the Holiday Special with a special Life Day wish from The Star Wars Report here!)

- shazbazzar

The Top 3 Friendships in Star Wars

Friendship is one of the strongest themes in the Star Wars franchise. It’s just amazing to see how important the role of friendship is played throughout the films. Specifically, in the Empire Strikes Back, it’s shown just how much Luke’s strong friendships shaped the destiny of the galaxy. So without further ado, the following are my top 3 favorite friendships in the Star Wars franchise.

1. Luke and Biggs.

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I absolutely love how A New Hope (all too briefly) shows the relationship between the farm boy and his friend. Luke is longing to follow Biggs to the academy and then join him and Rebellion. There are aspects to this friendship that show how one person can positively inspire another. Sadly, it was destined to end all too soon, but the weight of the tragedy of Biggs’ death at the end of ANH is certainly impactful.

2 Han Solo and Chewbacca.

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Han Solo’s relationship with Chewbacca is almost the greatest relationship in the entire Star Wars franchise. And I say almost simply because I’m saving the best for last, but from the beginning, we get a true sense of Chewbacca’s loyalty to Han.The central theme of their relationship is how Chewy is so loyal to him, and would do anything for him. Without saying a word the audience understands that Chewbacca would die for Han, and that’s important to see. I think we understand that Han felt the same way about Chewy .

Now please dear heavenly father, don’t let Chewie die Episode VII.

3. Oh you know it. Its gotta be C-3PO and R2D2.

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Two of the most lovable droids in the Star Wars galaxy. There’s something about their snippy candid insults, you just know they must be truly great friends. Because, after all, good friends have the right to enjoy a little a little ribbing every once in awhile. But when it comes down to the serious stuff, R2 and 3PO are always willing to work together to save the day. Whether its shutting down all of the trash compactors, or R2 being willing to stick up for 3PO when Owen is getting ready to purchase the droids, these instances just show what truly great friends they are. I personally couldn’t be happier that R2 and (I assume) 3PO will be Episode VII.

So what are your favorite friendships in the galaxy far, far away?

-Riley Blanton

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The Value of Friendship- TWL #41

It’s time to start a new year! Join Karl and Jason as they sit down to discuss the value of friendship as shown to us through the Star Wars saga! From the iconic relationship between R2D2 and C-3PO to the dysfunctional friendship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, your hosts talk about how good friendship can lead to the redemption of a galaxy! So sit back, relax, and usher in this great new year in the Lair!

Book Review: ‘Star Wars: Scoundrels’

I really, really wanted to love this book.  It was written by Tim Zahn, the man who defined the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  It was a Star Wars version of the movie Ocean’s Eleven, and I loved that movie.  The main character was Han Solo.  This book had to be awesome, right?

Well, before I get too deep into it, here is the official book summary.

Han Solo should be basking in his moment of glory. After all, the cocky smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon just played a key role in the daring raid that destroyed the Death Star and landed the first serious blow to the Empire in its war against the Rebel Alliance. But after losing the reward his heroics earned him, Han’s got nothing to celebrate. Especially since he’s deep in debt to the ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt. There’s a bounty on Han’s head—and if he can’t cough up the credits, he’ll surely pay with his hide. The only thing that can save him is a king’s ransom. Or maybe a gangster’s fortune? That’s what a mysterious stranger is offering in exchange for Han’s less-than-legal help with a riskier-than-usual caper. The payoff will be more than enough for Han to settle up with Jabba—and ensure he never has to haggle with the Hutts again.

All he has to do is infiltrate the ultra-fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime syndicate underboss and crack the galaxy’s most notoriously impregnable safe. It sounds like a job for miracle workers . . . or madmen. So Han assembles a gallery of rogues who are a little of both—including his indispensable sidekick Chewbacca and the cunning Lando Calrissian. If anyone can dodge, deceive, and defeat heavily armed thugs, killer droids, and Imperial agents alike—and pull off the heist of the century—it’s Solo’s scoundrels. But will their crime really pay, or will it cost them the ultimate price?

A story about Han Solo leading a team of scoundrels to steal a lot of money is a cool idea.  The problem is we kind of already know how it’s going to end.  Ok… maybe not exactly… but we know Han can’t end up rich at the end.  So throughout the book we are left wondering what exactly is going to go wrong.  This actually isn’t so bad though.  Zahn is a masterful storyteller and he does a great job of not tipping his hand until he has to.  You literally do not get the full payoff of the story until the very last line of the book and I loved that

And the story wasn’t bad.  It was actual a great story.  The problem for me was how much of the story was unnecessary.  The meat of the book comes in the last 7 chapters.  Everything before that is set up.  Long, repetitive setup.  I kept thinking to myself, please just rob the place already!  I know a story like this needs to establish the characters and the gameplan, but I felt it just took way too long.  By the time the story started ramping up I had all but lost interest.  I really think Scoundrels would have worked better as a short story rather than a full length novel.

The characters were also lacking for me.  There were so many of them, but very few of them I found interesting.  Han, Chewie, and Lando were pretty much themselves although there were a couple of moments where I felt Han was out of character.  He seemed a little too calm and collected and not the same Han that runs headfirst into a squad of stormtroopers in A New Hope.  I wish Chewbacca was used more.  He was basically there because he had to be.  Fans of other EU stories will be happy to see Winter and Kell Tainer on the team, but neither of those characters were my favorites in the book.  The standout characters in my opinion were brand new to this book.  The imperial agent Dayja and the “ghost thief” Bink Kitik were both very interesting and I hope to see them both again in future Expanded Universe stories.

I think some people will love this book, but it just wasn’t for me.  Like I said earlier the overall story is great, and if you are a more patient reader than I am, you may actually enjoy all the set up.  I just found myself bored through most of it.  Once the book did pick up speed it got really good… but then it was over.

That’s three Star Wars novels in a row about undercover missions and daring heists which do not focus on Jedi characters.  Can I have my Jedi and lightsabers back now?

 

Random Thoughts and Observations

It’s still weird seeing Clone Wars references in a novel set in the Original Trilogy era. (page 16)

There was also a seemingly forced reference to the Old Republic era characters Revan and Malak. (page 183)

Loved the use of the Z-95 Headhunter.

Jaxxon’s species makes an appearance. (page 243)

Zahn uses the phrase “carry the football” which I thought was an odd real-world reference.  Apparently it’s not the first time the word football has been used in Star Wars though. (page 341)

Now we know Lando has a “number-three-type mustache”. (page 376)

Oooh, I know some people who will just LOVE the very last line of this book and others who will HATE it.  Should lead to some fun discussions.

Scoundrels will be released on January 1st and will be available at Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere.

Aaron Goins