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Posts Tagged ‘Chewbacca’

Chess Grandmonsters

April 23rd, 2010 No comments

Wizards of the Coast recently announced that it was allowing its license to create Star Wars role-playing games and miniatures to lapse. However, before the product line became one with the Force, WOTC gave one last gift to old-school fanboys. The final miniatures set, “Masters of the Force,” includes all eight of the “chess monsters” seen in the original film.

The scene was a throwaway bit in which R2-D2 and Chewbacca passed the time by playing a holographic board game. Chewie’s poor sportsmanship–and the threat that he might pull someone’s arm from the socket–elicited C-3PO’s timeless advice, “Let the Wookiee win.” Special effects artists Phil Tippett and Jon Berg created the charmingly crude stop-motion monsters that squeaked and hissed at each other across the chess table.

I love the odd looks of these whatsits.  They suggest the crazy biological diversity of a galaxy far, far away in a way that subsequent Star Wars productions never have.

These days, they naturally have been forced into codified confinement. The space chess game was given a name (dejarik) and each of the creatures a detailed background. In other words, all the fun has been surgically removed.

As for the miniatures themselves,  I placed an order and received seven of them earlier this week. (The eighth is still to come via a separate order.) Here they are!

Best of all, they’re just the right size to stage my own space chess match! Wookiees, of course, will not be invited.

Categories: Star Wars Tags: , ,

Shaking His Fury Fist

April 16th, 2009 No comments

I think it’s worth mentioning again just how great Lost has been this season. Even though new questions are being posed, others are being answered at a rapid clip.

One thing that’s made me happy about Season Five is the reintroduction of the DHARMA Initiative. That was an intriguing piece of backstory that was tabled once we were introduced to the Others and the Freighter Folk. However, thanks to this year’s unstuck-in-time storyline, we’ve had lots of time among the DHARMA-ites in their prime. Turns out that they’re not entirely as benign a batch of hippie researchers as it first seemed.

Anyhow, I bring this up because last night’s episode paid off something I’d been hoping for ever since we learned that most of the cast had been transported to 1977. “Hmm,” I thought, “That means that Star Wars should be coming out any day now.” And, sure enough, last night we found out that in his spare time, Hurley has been writing the script to The Empire Strikes Back (with a few improvements) with the intention of saving George Lucas a little work. Cute!

Categories: TV Tags: , , ,

Some Get It

April 29th, 2008 No comments

As nerd culture seeps ever more into the mainstream, it’s not surprising to see it cropping up in prime-time network TV. But it’s easy to see which shows really have geek cred and which are just posers. Last night, I saw an example of each.

First up was The Big Bang Theory. I’ve only recently begun to watch this series, mostly while I’m waiting for How I Met Your Mother to start. It’s fairly standard issue sitcom stuff: four genius nerd friends and the hot blonde who lives across the hall. But what sets it apart is the obvious care taken in getting things right. While I’m not knowledgeable enough to confirm the science/math references (the credits list a science consultant), I do know that the geek stuff is bang on the money.

Last night’s episode was about the gang purchasing the original prop of “the Time Machine” from the classic ’60s movie of the same name. I missed the first part, but I gather that the aforementioned blonde derided one of them for his “toys,” causing a crisis of faith which nearly had him selling off his collectibles to the local comics dealer. (I took comfort in the fact that he ultimately changed his mind. And also when one of the nerds called her out on her Beanie Babies and Hello Kitty shorts.)

But what really pleased me was that not only did we get a dream sequence featuring movie-accurate Morlocks (as in the photo, right), but even a dream-within-a-dream which recast them as movers wearing embroidered uniforms reading “Starving Morlocks.” (Which, if you know what Morlocks eat, is pretty funny.) Furthermore, we got references to the Golden Age Flash, the Justice Society of America, and a rare Geordi LaForge action figure mistakenly packaged without his VISOR. And, unlike the film The 40 Year Old Virgin, which decorated the apartment of an alleged uber-collector with whatever random toys they picked up from the clearance aisle at Toys ‘R Us, the props people here made sure to have an actual Golden Age Flash figure on hand.

I’m not a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, but I do enjoy that the geeks aren’t just objects of scorn. Cringe-worthy moments are rare.

On the other end of the Cringe-o-meter was last night’s Star Wars-themed episode of Deal or No Deal. I’m not a regular Deal watcher, but I do believe that the “march of the models” which begins every game is one of the things for which television was invented. And I’ll be the first to admit that my entire reason for tuning in last night was the promise of 26 Slave Leias in formation.

But, despite (because of?) the obvious cooperation of Lucasfilm, it was painful to watch. First off were all of the lame “use the Force” references, which went as far as having Darth Vader telekinetically open the cover of the “Deal” button. (Cue the “oohs” and “aahs.”) And having the Dark Lord fill in as “the Banker” was funnier in theory than in practice. He sat up in the booth, quoting random Vader lines from the films as if he was his very own fanboy. (At least the James Earl Jones soundalike was good.)

Stormtroopers entering the corporate world. Oh, Annie, how low have you sunk?

They had two Star Wars fans competing to see which one would end the game with the larger cash amount (with the winner taking all), but the confluence of real-life geekery and typical game show contestant enthusiasm led to many embarrassing moments, including the worst. Yoda. impression. ever.

Then there were the special guest stars cheering them on. Carrie Freakin’ Fisher showed up to debase herself on behalf of a woman who, as we were repeatedly told, escaped from Vietnam as a child and found a role model in Princess Leia. (The real Carrie Fisher: not quite so much a role model.) Backed up by the leader of the Rebellion and the will of the Force, the contestant achieved a stunningly low total of $13,000.

“You there! The one in the white helmet!”

Ms. Fisher was shuffled offstage before the army of Slave Leias arrived, ostensibly to avoid giving the second contestant any clue as to how much he’d need to win, but probably so that there’d be no attempt at comparing drug-and-age-ravaged Carrie to 26 hot, young Carrie wanna-bes. Instead, geek #2 had R2-D2 and Chewbacca in his cheering section. Or rather, some tall dude in a Chewbacca suit. Giving high fives. Honestly, I would’ve thought that any schmoe in a fur coat could make a decent Chewie, but this guy’s performance had me appreciating Peter Mayhew all the more.

In the end, the Lucasfilm-sanctioned event featuring real nerds seemed less authentic than the sitcom in which four actors pretended to be nerds.

Plus, those Slave Leia outfits? Not movie-accurate.