All That Glitters: The Skywalker Saga Commemorative Figures

All That Glitters: The Skywalker Saga Commemorative Figures

 

With the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker this December, the nine-episode Skywalker Saga is coming to a close. To celebrate that milestone, Hasbro announced a set of gold-painted 3.75″-scale action figures, released in two-packs (and one three-pack) to commemorate each film, and exclusive to Walmart stores at $14.99 for each pack.

The original trilogy is represented by Darth Vader and a stormtrooper, Han Solo and Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca. The prequels are represented by Yoda and Darth Maul, Mace Windu and Jango Fett, and Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The sequel trilogy gets the expected players of Finn and Poe Dameron, Rey and Kylo Ren, and the trio of C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8.

It’s an admirable attempt by Hasbro, but it misses the mark because the figures aren’t particularly special. They’re just repaints of previous releases, many of which had been seen several times before and/or were exclusive to a single outlet.

 

 

 

Starting with the Prequel Era figures in the line—

The Skywalker Saga Darth Maul figure comes from the Target-exclusive Era of the Force 8-pack. That same Darth Maul was released three times prior: The Saga Legends Collection in 2014, The Epic Battles prequel pack from 2015’s The Force Awakens Collection, and another Target 8-pack from the Rogue One Collection in 2016.

The Skywalker Saga Jango Fett came from that same Rogue One Collection 8-pack, originating from the Epic Battles prequel pack from 2015 and the Saga Legends series in 2013. Meanwhile, The gold Mace Windu figure bridges the two as it comes from the Era of the Force 8-pack and the Epic Battles prequel pack, after first being produced for the 2013 Saga Legends series.

The gold Obi-Wan Kenobi was last seen in the Era of the Force 8-pack. That same figure was released several times, including in the Rogue One Collection 8-pack, the Epic Battles prequel pack, a Revenge of the Sith-themed two-pack in 2015’s The Force Awakens Collection, the 2014 Saga Legends series, and the 2013 Saga Legends series. The gold Anakin Skywalker shared the Epic Battles prequel pack with his former master, but only appeared in the 2013 Saga Legends series before that.

The Skywalker Saga Yoda figure is the outlier. It was originally the Jedi Master Yoda from 2017’s The Last Jedi Collection. That sculpt was reworked slightly for later release in the 2019 Galaxy of Adventures line.

All told, these Prequel Era figures have appeared multiple times before:

  • Era of the Force Target 8-pack (2017) – 3
  • The Last Jedi Collection (2017) – 1
  • Rogue One Target 8-pack (2016) – 3
  • The Force Awakens Epic Battles (2015) – 5
  • The Force Awakens Collection (2015) – 1
  • Saga Legends Collection (2014) – 2
  • Saga Legends Collection (2013) – 4

 

For the Original Trilogy Era figures—

The Skywalker Saga Stormtrooper is a repaint of the 2016 Rogue One series Stormtrooper, which was an all-new sculpt. Collecting site Jedi Business (whose extensive database was immensely helpful in the development of this work) speculated that it was a repaint of the Mimban Stormtrooper (minus the cape) from the 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story line, but the Mimban helmet sculpt was different. It is possible that the gold Stormtrooper combines the two figures into one for this release.

Along those same lines, both the gold Darth Vader figure and the gold Princess Leia figure are repaints Solo: A Star Wars Story line. Both Darth Vader and Hoth Leia were original sculpts for 2018.

The Skywalker Saga Han Solo figure originally comes from the 2015 Saga Legends series, and was an original sculpt for that line. The gold Luke Skywalker was also an original sculpt for 2017’s The Last Jedi collection. Luke was included in a Target-exclusive three-pack with Emperor Palpatine and an Imperial guard.

The gold Chewbacca is one of the most recent re-releases, coming from the Galaxy of Adventures line in 2018. That figure was minor reworking of the Chewbacca from The Last Jedi, which was original to that line.

Counting up previous appearances, it’s a far smaller list for the Original Trilogy Era figures:

  • Galaxy of Adventures Collection (2018) – 1
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story Collection (2018) – 2
  • The Last Jedi Collection (2017) – 1
  • Rogue One Collection (2016) – 1
  • Saga Legends Collection (2015) – 1

It’s interesting that the majority of this set comes from late-2017 and 2018 releases given that Hasbro posted significant losses for that year.

 

For the Sequel Trilogy Era figures—

The Skywalker Saga Finn figure comes from 2017’s The Last Jedi collection. The C-3PO figure comes from the same line.

The gold BB-8 figure is a little more difficult to track down, but after looking at the antennas, it lines up best with 2015’s The Force Awakens Unkar’s Thug 3-pack (later re-released in the Target-exclusive 8-pack, the 2015 Kohl’s-exclusive 5-pack, and 2016’s Takodana Encounter 4-pack. I initially thought it was the BB-8 from The Last Jedi – found in the Rose/BB-8/BB-9e 3-pack, later re-released in the Solo: A Star Wars Story line – but that one has a more squarish tip on one of the antennas.

The gold Poe Dameron figure is a bit of a foggier story: It could come from either 2015’s The Force Awakens collection or The Last Jedi collection, both of which are virtually identical excepting paint jobs. The gold Rey also follows a murky trajectory: It could come from either The Last Jedi collection or and of the various reworks of that figure. Those include the Crait Defense 4-pack, 2017’s Praetorian Guard 2-pack, the Kohl’s-exclusive 4-pack, 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story series, and the 2019 Galaxy of Adventures line. It seems that every time the Last Jedi Rey gets released, it gets tweaked in some manner.

The Skywalker Saga Kylo Ren figure comes from either The Last Jedi or Solo: A Star Wars Movie. Similarly, the Skywalker Saga R2-D2 figure comes from either The Last Jedi or Galaxy of Adventures.  In both cases, the latter figure is a rework of the former, but they are virtually identical. The gold R2-D2 does not appear to come with the booster rockets from either of these prior releases.

Since the Sequel Trilogy Era figures primarily stem from either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, there’s no need to tabulate them like the previous eras.

 

It’s evident that there is nothing new nor remarkable about this action figure line. It is a figurative warming up of the leftovers with a new presentation.

I’m trying to avoid the cynical opinion that it would be better to pick up each figure on the secondary market along with a can of gold spray paint. It might be easier given Walmart’s track record with toy exclusives. But, I digress.

While priced lower than current 3.75″ Star Wars figures – a new figure runs nearly $13 today – it’s apparent that the target audience is adults. These are meant for mint-on-card display or for unboxing and standing on a shelf. I can’t imagine a kid choosing a gold version of their favorite character over a more true-to-screen painted option.

Since these are geared more for adult collectors, Hasbro missed a – ahem – golden opportunity to engage the Black Series line and produce a truly remarkable tribute to the movie saga’s milestone. Think about it in terms of who is missing in this set and what holes currently exist in the Black Series line.

 

How would I have constructed this tribute to make it more meaningful while saving some production costs for Hasbro?

To start, where’s Padmé? For either The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, I would have included her. As the mother of the Skywalker twins, it is a crime to not include her in this tribute to the Skywalker Saga. Additionally, she was at her best as an independent leader and fighter in the first two prequel films. Padmé has only been in the Black Series once and that was in her white bodysuit from the Geonosis scenes in Attack of the Clones. I would have considered including Padmé from the Battle of Naboo in The Phantom Menace.

To accompany Padmé, I would re-release the Black Series Qui-Gon Jinn from 2017, but I would include a soft-goods Jedi robe and poncho combination. Those elements would have been great additions to the original bare-bones release.

Moving to Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku is already rumored for a 2020 release, so just move that figure up in the pipeline. Yes, Darth Maul was far more flashy, but Count Dooku was more manipulative and engineered the Clone Wars. Plus, he was portrayed by the legendary Christopher Lee. To complete the pair, add in Yoda with a cleaner robe and reworked face from his first appearance in the Black Series line, lining him up with the climactic duel from the second prequel episode.

Revenge of the Sith is easy. Palpatine/Sidious has appeared twice in the Black Series line, both from Return of the Jedi. It would be great to see a figure from the moment when Palpatine reveals himself as a Sith Lord just before executing Order 66. To offset the new figure, add in Obi-Wan Kenobi from the same film. That particular character has been released twice in the Black Series, but it was the same figure each time. Not only did Hasbro neglect a soft-goods robe, but the face sculpt was terrible. Using the lessons learned with the recently released Clone Commander Kenobi and the upcoming Attack of the Clones Kenobi, Hasbro could easily correct the sculpt and offer a much better figure.

When looking at the Original Trilogy Era, things start getting tricky. Luke and Vader have been released several times, and both Han and Chewie aren’t as dynamic when it comes to wardrobe changes. This is where Hasbro has to get creative.

For A New Hope, I would use the 2017 Black Series Han Solo that included the optional black-gloved pilot hands. This time, I would also add the headset that he wears while piloting and fighting in the Millennium Falcon. I would also re-release the 2014 Chewbacca, but include a dejarik table if possible. This would be a large money-saving release for Hasbro so they could channel funds into new sculpts and remasters for this line.

The Empire Strikes Back contains one of my favorite costumes in the Star Wars films, so I’m a little biased here. The Black Series needs Bespin Leia, burgundy and white gown, in soft goods. No question. Back that up with a slightly different Darth Vader than we’ve seen before by tapping into the Dagobah cave trial. Using previous releases, Hasbro could remaster Vader slightly to align the costume to the film. Then create a damaged helmet with Luke’s face as an alternate head, making the figure serve two purposes as either Vader or Force-vision Vader.

For Return of the Jedi, I would start with the forthcoming Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight figure. It’s a great update to the previous release with the addition of a soft-goods robe, but I certainly have issues with it. Primarily, it needs darker hair and robes, a better face sculpt, and an extra lightsaber hilt to clip to the waist.

To cap the original trilogy era, Hasbro could make a special effort for this commemorative set and include the Sebastian Shaw version of Anakin from the pre-Special Edition versions of Return of the Jedi. It’s a deep cut, but a good one. That character has appeared as an action figure three times – 1985, 1998, and 1999 – all of which were in the 3.75″ scale.

A really bad version of the Hayden Christensen Force ghost debuted in 2007.

The sequel trilogy era is much more difficult in terms of originality.

For The Force Awakens, I’d go with a remaster of Poe Dameron from the Escape from Destiny 2-pack. It captured his look from the opening sequences of the film, but it needs work on the face sculpt. For some reason, Hasbro can’t adequately capture Oscar Isaac’s features in plastic. I’d also add a re-release of Finn, either as FN-2187 or in Poe’s jacket from later in the film.

Still image from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

For The Last Jedi, that has to be a re-release of the Walmart-exclusive throne room Kylo Ren (with removable helmet and soft-goods cape) alongside the Crait Base Rey. Rey’s soft-goods clothing would need to be cleaned up quite a bit for this release, so that’s where I’d spend most of the time in remastering this one. Plus, you know, this duo will certainly make the Reylo shippers happy.

Anyone who follows me on social media already knows of my disdain for that couple.

Still image from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Finally, since we don’t officially know that much about The Rise of Skywalker, I’d follow Hasbro’s lead here with the three droids: C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8. I would avoid the “red arm” variant on Threepio, and I’d also use a clean version of BB-8.

Still image from the 2016 Oscars.

 

In summary:

The Phantom Menace: Padmé (Battle of Naboo) and Qui-Gon Jinn

Attack of the Clones: Count Dooku and Yoda

Revenge of the Sith: Darth Sidious and Obi-Wan Kenobi

A New Hope: Han Solo and Chewbacca

The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader (Cave Vision) and Bespin Leia

Return of the Jedi: Spirit of Anakin Skywalker and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker

The Force Awakens: Finn and Poe Dameron

The Last Jedi: Rey and Kylo Ren

The Rise of Skywalker: C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8

 

This lineup covers the spectrum of the saga from the origins of the Skywalker line to the potential end as the nine-episode arc closes.

Honorable mention ideas include a Yavin Throne Room 4-pack with Leia, Luke, Han, and Chewie and something with the twins from the end of Revenge of the Sith. The latter would introduce the Organas and the Lars, each with swaddled infants as accessories, but the new sculpts would drive the cost. The Throne Room set would also be cost-prohibitive.

As far as cost is considered, Black Series figures typically sell for $19.99 each, though Walmart often prices them between $15 and $18 each. With that and the cost savings from reusing existing figures in mind, Walmart and Hasbro could easily move these sets for around $30 per box.

Again, since the gold figures are obviously geared for adult collectors, I built this hypothetical model toward adult collectors.

 

Thought exercise aside, the point here is simple: Hasbro took the easy way out with a milestone commemorative action figure set. After 42 years and nine films – not even counting the piles of books, comics, games, films, and animated series – a major player in pop culture is coming to a close. The fans deserve so much more than leftover and poorly-selling figures with bad paint jobs.

This was Hasbro’s moment to prove that they respect the franchise and the community, but they fell back into the same old routine that promotes maligned distribution practices and overpriced products. They could have offered Star Wars fans something amazing. Instead, all they did was prove Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice right.

All that glitters is not gold.

 

 

(Once again, collecting site Jedi Business and its extensive database was immensely helpful in the development of this work. I am grateful for the Jedi Business team and their hard work in cataloging and reviewing modern Star Wars figures.)

No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter

 

Humor has a time and place. It’s an art, not a science, and can be therapeutic at times. It also needs to be done carefully.

Concerning jokes about mental illness and seeking therapy, especially so. Let me explain where I come from.

I have talked before, though never at any particular length, about the 2005 collision at sea on the USS Philadelphia. One of the immediate repercussions was losing some members of the crew who would no longer voluntarily go to sea. The event was just too traumatizing and they were sent home to be reassigned. Once we got underway again, those crewmen were the butt of many jokes (never by me, at any measure) for the following weeks. They were denigrated as not “real men” for being unable to tough it out and do their jobs. They were seen as weak for seeking mental self-care and removing themselves from a high-stress situation.

That incident is far from isolated in the military, and definitely not linked to one generation or decade in time. The history of each service is rife with people who have experienced trauma – shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier’s heart, PTSD, etc – but don’t seek therapy or assistance because they fear that it makes them appear weak in one way or another. It has ended relationships, careers, and lives in far too many cases.

It’s endemic in our society. Only recently have I noticed a trend of people openly talking about therapy and mental self-care. Before then – and still today – it was hush-hush for fear of retaliation by family, friends, and employers.

The peer pressure to avoid the appearance of weakness for seeking help is totally real. I’ve been down that road myself, and I know many more who walked it over the years.

I mean, it’s been fourteen years for me and I’m starting to come to terms with it. Imagine those around you – who you interact with on a daily basis – who carry that burden all the time.

It’s why I cringe when I see comments from people (especially friends) that use treatment as a punchline. From telling people who don’t agree with a particular stance that they need mental help to dismissing an opinion as a result of “not taking meds,” it’s a potential manifestation of that pressure. Even if it’s not intentional.

Sometimes humor inflicts damage. That damage can override the ability to “just get over it” or take a joke. It can even also be deadly.

All I’m asking is that people be more careful with their words and more mindful of their actions. Don’t treat mental illness or treatment of it as a targeted punchline to simply shut someone up. Treat the topic with the seriousness it deserves and find another way to make the point.

Creative Criticality Supports #TeamTrees

Creative Criticality Supports #TeamTrees

 

There is a movement occurring on YouTube, and this time it’s both constructive and potentially world-changing.

Back in May 2019, YouTube content creator MrBeast (known in meatspace as Jimmy Donaldson) reached 20 million subscribers on his channel that is dedicated to pranks, stunts, and general tomfoolery. To be completely honest, I had never heard of MrBeast before last weekend since I prefer more educational, sci-fi genre, and current events-type channels to (let’s say) the stylings of PewDiePie. But, upon reaching 20 million subscribers, MrBeast asked his audience what he should do to celebrate, and they made their desires perfectly clear.

They asked him to plant 20 million trees. One for each of his milestone subscribers.

MrBeast teamed with former NASA engineer Mark Rober to start a tree-planting campaign, which is where I heard about it. Over several months, they secretly recruited friends on YouTube to develop the plan, eventually opening it to everyone. Every creator has a community of friends and followers, and if they all donate even one dollar per tree, they can all plant 20 million trees together by 2020.

 

 

My family is deeply linked to the environment. We spend a lot of time enjoying the natural world all around us through hiking, river rafting, and scuba diving adventures. We do what we can to help keep it safe through local litter pick-up days, our neighborhood’s adopt-a-highway program, donating to conservation causes, and supporting organizations and legislators who share our ecological values.

Creative Criticality and my family are on board with this effort.

 

The donations go to the Arbor Day Foundation through the #TeamTrees portal. The mission team chose the Arbor Day Foundation due to the organization’s 47-year longevity and professional knowledge in the field. The trees will be planted in a variety of forests and public lands starting in January 2020 and the project is scheduled for completion by December 2022.

Planting 20 million trees won’t save the planet by itself, but it is a step in the right direction.

 

You can help by going to https://teamtrees.org/ and donating what you can. You can also help by asking your favorite content creators to join the effort by rallying their audiences with videos and posts like this. Even talking about #TeamTrees in social media feeds helps boost the signal. The more people who come to the cause means a greater chance of success.

Thank you for consideration.

 

 

Don’t just take my word for it. Here are some videos from my YouTube subscription feed that brought #TeamTrees to my attention.

Mark Rober investigated companies that are using drones to plant trees via biomimetics.

 

Derek Muller from Veritasium examined the science of tree heights.

 

Bob Clagett of I Like To Make Stuff gave his audience a quick tour of his farm.

 

Destin Sandlin from Smarter Every Day took a look at long-leaf pines and the role of fire in helping them to grow.

 

Joe Hanson from It’s Okay to Be Smart on PBS examined the physics of photosynthesis and how it would change on other planets.

 

Alan Melikdjanian, known as Captain Disillusion, devoted a couple of minutes to rallying his followers to the cause.

 

Once again, you can help by visiting the #TeamTrees donation portal, asking your favorite content creators to join the cause, and telling your friends about the quest to plant 20 million trees.

 

The Mystery of the Missing Doctors

The Mystery of the Missing Doctors

 

Funko Pops are the Beanie Babies of the early twenty-first century.

I say that as a statement of fact, not as a slight or insult. Created in 1993, Beanie Babies were a fad collectible from the late 1990s. They weren’t toys in the normal sense, and are collected more for their trading value and the overall cuteness factor. I have several of them, most of them celebrating milestones in my life because they were inexpensive and heartfelt gifts from friends and family. I cherish them because of those intended purposes.

Funko Pops are very similar. They’re difficult to play with, but they serve as inexpensive gifts for the pop culture fiend in your life. The line spans thousands of characters over a wide variety of franchises and licenses. From a collecting perspective, while they’re certainly not as advanced and playable as standard action figures, they do provide an easy way to celebrate particular fandoms.

I don’t collect a lot of Funko Pops. I don’t have any problem with people who do.

My main point of contention is with the Funko company itself, or rather with how they treat licenses that they create for.

 

Here it comes: Oh, god, he’s going to talk about Doctor Who again, isn’t he?

Yes, I am.

The franchise hardly needs any introduction. It’s a cultural touchstone that has existed for 56 years with fourteen actors in the title role. There are a lot of collectibles on the market to celebrate this franchise, among them Funko Pops.

But I feel like Funko is doing fans of this show (and their product line) a disservice with their offerings.

Funko Pops based on Doctor Who started hitting shelves in 2015. Thirty distinct Pops were released that year, focused mostly on the revival era of the franchise. At this point, the show was between Series 8 (during which Peter Capaldi debuted as the Twelfth Doctor) and Series 9 (during which Jenna Coleman departed). The revival Doctors were highly represented and the classic era got some love as well. The modern companions were fairly well represented as were the monsters. The TARDIS herself got two releases.

Twelve of the figures – forty percent of the year’s figures – were exclusives to geeky stores (Hot Topic, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, ThinkGeek, FYE) and major conventions (San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC)). The SDCC Twelfth Doctor in the spacesuit commands over $200 alone on the secondary market.

2015 (Thirty releases, twelve exclusives)

  • Ninth Doctor (x2)
  • Tenth Doctor (x4)
  • Eleventh Doctor (x3)
  • Twelfth Doctor (x3)
  • Fourth Doctor (x2)
  • Sarah Jane Smith (The Hand of Fear)
  • K-9
  • Rose Tyler
  • Jack Harkness (x2)
  • River Song
  • Weeping Angel
  • Dalek (x3)
  • Cyberman
  • Adipose (x2)
  • The Silence
  • TARDIS (x2)

The line slowed down considerably in 2016. Six figures were released and all of them but one were Doctors. Only one was exclusive.

2016 (Six releases, one exclusive)

  • Twelfth Doctor
  • Eleventh Doctor (x2)
  • Tenth Doctor
  • War Doctor
  • Davros

The following year brought a major shift in the line as only three figures were released, and all of them were exclusives.

2017 (Three releases, all exclusives)

  • Clara Oswald (SDCC, later Hot Topic)
  • Rory Williams (Hot Topic)
  • First Doctor (NYCC, later Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million)

In 2018, Funko moved back to six releases. Half of the line was sent to exclusive markets, including to Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC).

2018 (Six releases, three exclusives)

  • Amy Pond (ECCC, later Hot Topic)
  • Thirteenth Doctor (SDCC, later BBC)
  • Vashta Nerada (NYCC, later Hot Topic)
  • Thirteenth Doctor
  • Clara Memorial TARDIS
  • Missy

Finally, 2019 brought five new figures, two of which were exclusives. This year’s lineup was exclusively targeted toward Series 11 of the revival era.

2019 (Five releases, two exclusives)

  • Thirteenth Doctor
  • Reconnaissance Dalek
  • The Kerblam Man
  • P’ting (SDCC)
  • Tzim-Sha (NYCC)

Funko has released 23 figures based on the Doctor, but only 8 Doctors overall. The product line is heavily weighted toward the revival era, with only two Doctors and two companions representing the first 42 years of the franchise’s existence. Technically, Davros could represent the lone enemy from the classic years, but he has also appeared in the revival era which blunts the impact of that figure’s representation.

The problem is that we are missing six Doctors for a complete lineup of the show’s regenerating hero.

Funko has had problems completing lines in the past: Back when they had the Star Trek license, they created Pops for The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Star Trek Beyond. They completed the Enterprise crew for Beyond, but fell short with Next Gen and The Original Series. Specifically, they left out Beverly Crusher and Katherine Pulaski (both women and doctors) and only Kirk, Spock, and Scotty made the cut from the original NCC-1701. The rest of the franchise – Deep Space NineVoyagerEnterprise, the other twelve movies – didn’t get any love at all.

It’s not the only franchise line to fall to the wayside, either.

It would be understandable if Funko didn’t have the money or resources to complete the Doctor Who line, but that doesn’t jive with how they treat other popular franchises. Consider the various chrome sets (Marvel, DC, Star Wars, etc), the flocked versions, the sparkly “Diamond” glitter versions, the Rainbow Batman set (commemorating Batman’s 75th anniversary and Detective Comics #241), the DC Comics Lantern figures (Wonder Woman, Superman, and others became members of various Lantern Corp for a spell, prompting new Funko Pop molds for collectors), and the new Star Wars Skywalker Saga sets (which are really just repainted leftovers).

It also doesn’t pass the smell test when considering how many are coming out this year alone – an entire Mortal Kombat line, Miami ViceThe Dark Crystal, more Star WarsFrozenOverwatch, and the list goes on – and how many are stacked up on store shelves in the meantime. Just like Beanie Babies, these things seemingly reproduce like tribbles.

The evidence is clear. After an impressive debut followed by lackluster follow-up and lack of representation for classic fans, it’s apparent that Funko is failing fans of Doctor Who.

 

So, what can they do to fix it?

The obvious solution is to create the figures, but given that the market is saturated and (subsequently) distribution is scattershot, big-box brick-and-mortar storefronts are not the best option. I wouldn’t recommend convention exclusives either, since that approach tends to overinflate the price for anyone who cannot make the trip to San Diego, New York, Seattle, or other major conventions. I got lucky when shopping for the First Doctor because I found one on eBay that was missing the NYCC sticker and had a dented box, but not everyone has that.

Funko has worked with widely accessible storefronts such as Hot Topic, GameStop, Entertainment Earth, and Amazon. One option is to sell the missing Doctors through one of those more focused retailers. Another option is to use the online Funko Shop to “pre-order” the figures and judge how many to make. Six months later, distribute the figures to the buyers with a few left over for stragglers (which can by sold via the first option).

If this proves profitable, it could open the way for more companions, more monsters, and more Doctor Who in the Funko line.

Either way, the hole in the collection is painfully obvious. Doctor Who shouldn’t go the way of Star Trek or other incomplete franchise lines. It is a cornerstone and gold standard for science fiction television, and each of the incarnations of the titular hero has a dedicated fan following.

Funko should respect that history and those fans. They should complete the timeline of the Doctor.

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019

Debrief: Dragon Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – August 29 through September 2, 2019

 

 

Dragon Con 2019 is in the books! I had a better time this year despite the larger crowd numbers. It’s hard to predict how the crowds are going to ebb and flow from year to year, but you could feel the 85,000 attendees like the pulse of the con this year.

We also did tons of good works this year for the Atlanta chapter of the American Heart Association. $110,000 is a lot of money, and I hope it goes a long way to helping a good charity with a good mission.Read More »

Dragon Con 2019

Dragon Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – August 29 through September 2, 2019

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Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me, and a family reunion of sorts as I catch up with dear friends from around the world. This year will be my eleventh time attending and my fourth year as an attending professional. If you plan to be there, these are the places where you will be able to find me over Labor Day weekend.

I have fifteen scheduled program events in five days, and I’m sure more will pop up over the course of the con. Come find me and say hi!

The convention app is available now – look for Dragon Con by Core-apps in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store – and contains the current schedule of events. The list of confirmed guests, performers, artists, and attending professionals is available on the official Dragon Con site.

Dragon Con itself takes place in downtown Atlanta spanning five hotels (Sheraton Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, and Westin Peachtree Plaza) and the AmericasMart Atlanta exhibition center. The convention draws approximately 70,000 to 80,000 attendees annually and showcases one of the city’s most popular parades on Saturday morning at 10am.

Dragon Con prides itself on contributions to charity and the community. You can find more information about those efforts on their webpage. Each year, the convention partners with a local charity organization and this year’s partner is the Atlanta Affiliate of the American Heart Association. It’s a personal selection for the convention and the donations are in honor of long-time Comics Director Thom Trainor, who lost his battle with heart disease in July of 2018. Dragon Con will match all donations made this year up to $100,000.

If you’re new to the convention, consider stopping by the Dragon Con Newbies group on Facebook. It is run by Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony, and me, and is an in-depth community resource for information about this massive (and sometimes overwhelming) event. Memberships (tickets) for this year’s convention are also still available.

If you want a printable copy of my schedule, I have a convenient PDF.

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.
Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 23 Aug 2019: Initial post.

I will be around starting Wednesday. Pretty much the standards of wandering the hotels, picking up my Hard Rock Dragon Con gear, and catching up with some friends.

1:00p-5:00p: Dragon Con Newbies Walking and Rolling Tours (4 hours)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
Want to get a ‘lay of the land’ and find your way around the hotels? Did you know there’s a food court? Meet others new to Dragon Con and get a tour with some veteran con-goers. Groups leave every 30 minutes. Last tours will leave approximately 4pm.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

5:30p-6:30p: Dragon Con Newbies Q&A (1 hour)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share tips and tricks.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

Other Events of Interest
10:00p-12:00a: The ESO Network 2019 DragonCon Meet & Greet (2 hours)
Westin, Bar 210
Hosted by the ESO Network

10:00a: Dragon Con Newbies 101 (1 hour)
Main Programming
Hyatt, Regency V
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tip and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

2:30p: Captain Marvel: Blast from the Past (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
From her beginnings as a female foil to her own place in the MCU as a pre-eminent powerhouse, we’ll consider just how Carol Danvers and her story work in the MCU and her future as a stand-alone hero and Avenger.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Casi Hamilton, Jenna Johnson, Kelley Harkins

5:30p: New Series Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Crystal Ballroom
With Series 11 over, this panel discusses what Chibnall did in his inaugural series as show-runner & the impact of the Doctor & her companions.
Panelists include: Angela Hartley, Robert Bowen, Allison Lane, JM Tuffley, Robert Lloyd

7:00p: Battlestar Galactica Anniversary Panel: The End…? (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
It’s the 15th anniversary of the start, and the 10th anniversary of the end of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica…are we ready to talk about it? What is the verdict? Where might a future reboot of BSG take us?
Panelists include: Andrew E.C. Gaska, Kevin R. Grazier, Van Allen Plexico

8:30p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Theater: Mac and Me (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Witness the 1988 kid-meets-alien movie that totally was not an, um, homage to E.T. It’s this year’s movie watch for charity — you have to donate to the Dragon Con charity TO GET OUT.
Panelists include: Darin Bush, Gary Mitchel, Joe Crowe, Chris Cummins

Other Events of Interest
11:30a-12:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

10:00a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-a-Panel: Batman’s 80th Anniversary
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We can’t possibly cover all Batman movies & TV shows & cartoons in one panel. So we’re doing TWENTY in one hour, with audience members choosing the Bat-topics on our one-of-a-kind Bat-d20 (we auction it for charity at the end of the panel!)
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

1:00p: Earth Station Who Presents: Deconstructing Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
What are the essential elements of one of the most popular science fiction series for over 50 years? The Earth Station Who crew lead an in-depth discussion on the what, why, and how of Who.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Mary Ogle, Tara Newman

5:30p: Farscape Anniversary Fan Panel (1 hour)
Military SciFi Media
Westin, Chastain DE
Farscape was a monumental show for its weaving together of intricate stories, compelling characters, practical effects in puppetry, and strong visual storytelling. Come aboard Moya as we look back on 20 years of this fan favorite.
Panelists include: Amy J. Murphy, Amanda, James Henson

Other Events of Interest
12:00p: Doctor Who Trio
Epic Photos

2:30p-3:30p: David Tennant (1 hour)
Marriott, Atrium Ballroom

11:30a: Bond, James Bond 007, Anniversary Edition (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
The Bond Film Franchises has a number of anniversaries this year including the 50th Anniversary of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” the 40th of “Moonraker,” the 30th of “License to Kill,” and the 20th of “World is Not Enough.” This panel discusses these films and more.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, John L Flynn, Bob Nygaard, Caro McCully

4:00p: The Amazing Sci-Fi Worlds of Steven Spielberg (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Our tribute to the creator who took us from sharks to dinosaurs to flying bikes to the Temple of Doom and back.
Panelists include: Michael D. French, Sue Kisenwether, Jessa Phillips, Jonathan Williams, James Palmer, JC De La Torre

10:00p: UHF: 30-Year Anniversary Sponsored by Spatula City (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
See the epic Weird Al Yankovic movie — OR YOU GET THE FIREHOSE. Bring your own spatulas for a celebration where we don’t need no stinking badgers.
Panelists include: Kevin Eldridge, Shaun Rosado, Kevin Eldridge, Noel Wood, Beth Van Dusen, John Hudgens

Other Events of Interest
5:30p-6:30p: Catherine Tate (1 hour)
Epic, Imperial Ballroom

7:00p-8:00p: RetroBlasting Presents the Vehicles that Drove the 80s (1 hour)
Marriott, M103-M105

11:30a: Classic Sci-Fi Roll-A-Panel: 1979 & 1999
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We have too many movies we want to celebrate and panels we want to have– so we’re doing 20 of them in one hour! It’s a lightning round crowd participation melee of geekiness that’s bigger than the Deep Blue Sea! This year we’re talking about sci-fi movies from 1979, and 10 movies from 1999, from Black Hole to Wild Wild West — Audience members roll a giant customized d20 to choose which movie we discuss, and then at the end of the panel, we auction the d20 off for Dragon Con’s charity.
Panelists include: The All-Star line-up from the American Science Fiction Classics Track

2:30p: Endgame: MCU (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
For the final panel of the con, we’ll look at the final film of this part of the MCU. There was a lot of fan love, and some crazy timey wimey stuff, and the sad loss of some of our favorites.
Panelists include: Bethany Kesler, Lisa Manifold, Alison Sky Richards, Jenna Johnson

Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019

Debrief: Atlanta Comic Con 2019
Atlanta, GA – July 12-14, 2019

 

 

Saturday night’s all right for geeking out! Atlanta Comic Con 2019 has come and gone and this year was a blast. My involvement was limited to the panels in one day, but it was a fun day to be there.

After a trip on MARTA and a short walk, everything started with a visit to DougPool7 who was lounging on a beach chair by the ticket lines. I have seen a lot of Deadpool cosplays over the years, but this one really made me laugh.

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Deadpool on Vacation! #AtlantaComicCon

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You can find some more of his vacation antics on his YouTube channel.

Most of my time and all of my panels for the day involved a Drop of Mikes, which you may remember after the Council of Michaels that we assembled at Dragon Con 2018. The first panel of the day was So You Want to Start a Podcast with Mike Faber and Michael “Howdy” Gordon.

We had a great discussion with the audience as we talked about how to start a podcast, why you’d want to in the first place, and the basics of Podcasting 101. Once again, I promoted Tee Morris and his fantastic reference book Podcasting for Dummies. We also fielded a simple question after mentioning that, in general, no one is going to get rich and famous as a podcaster: “Why bother?”

We were pretty unanimous with the answer: Podcasting is a hobby and a labor of love, and as long as it remains fun, it’s still a worthy pursuit.

All in all, the audience was content with our advice. We fielded a few questions and offered a few more tidbits after the panel was over, and then we joined up with Michael Bailey to walk the con floor for a bit.

The four of us reconvened for The MCU: What Now?, our panel on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We had a wonderful turnout for the panel, even after half a row left when we told them that we would be discussing the most recent Spider-Man film. It’s entirely fair that they left, but we knew that couldn’t have an authentic discussion about the future of Marvel in film without including the twists and turns in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

This panel was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while. The questions were intelligent and engaging, especially from the kids in a pretty diverse audience. There was also a spirited discussion about whether or not Thanos could wield Mjolnir with was quite enlightening. They actually changed my mind after the panel.

From this point, we bid the Fabers adieu and settled in for the afternoon and evening. Mike Gordon, Michael Bailey, and I grabbed some lunch, caught up on all the events since the last time we had been together, and toured the show floor until it closed at 7pm. After that, we settled on a bench in the lobby area and waited for our 10:30pm panel.

It was fun to watch the cosplayers and chat about all things geek – Bailey’s expertise on all-things comics is helpful in filling the gaps in my knowledge – but we were certainly baffled about scheduling a Batman retrospective panel so late in the night.

Regardless, after the awesomeness that was this Black Adam cosplayer, it was time for Holy Pop Culture: Batman at 80.

The Batman panel was pretty fun. Based on the time, we were worried about having an audience, but fifteen diehard Bat-fans (and one dude who wanted a relatively quiet place to catch some shuteye) joined in the fun. Michael Bailey led the discussion from Batman’s origins in Detective Comics through his evolution and rise over the decades to the character’s unfathomable popularity today.

After that, it was time to head home.

I’d like to thank the staff at Atlanta Comic Con for their hospitality and hard work. I’m definitely looking forward to visiting (and hopefully participating) again in 2020. I also extend a huge thanks to the Michaels – Faber, Gordon, and Bailey – for a great day of camaraderie and geeky fun.