Sunday, May 4, 2014
Star Wars Day 2014: Top 10 Favorite Things About Star Wars!
#10 Toys - Star Wars changed the face of toys and action figures forever. Back in 1977 before anybody had ever heard of merchandising for movies, George Lucas capitalized on the licensing and merchandising rights for his new movie franchise and made a fortune. When the movie first came out there wasn't much in the way of toys until Kenner produced the "Early Bird Certificate Package" which gave kids the chance to send away for the action figures before they were ever released. With the success of the Star Wars, Kenner produced thousands of toys, action figures, vehicles, and play-sets for Star Wars and many other franchises until the company closed in 2000 and merged with Hasbro. As an only child of the 1980's, I was deeply into Star Wars toys along with G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe. Of course, my collection of Star Wars toys grew in large thanks to the "spoiling" of my parents and grandparents.
#9 Role-playing Games (RPG) - With the success of book/table-top RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons during the 1980's, in 1987 West End Games produced a series of RPG books set in the Star Wars Universe which included several source books and adventure guides. Later in 2000, Wizards of the Coast received the licensing to produce a new series of RPG books until 2012 when Fantasy Flight Games produced a new version called Edge of the Empire.
#8 Board Games - Star Wars has inspired some of the best board games over the years starting with the classics 'Escape from Death Star Game', 'Jedi Master Game' and 'Battle At Sarlac's Pit Game'. Over the last few decades there has been an increase in many different licensed board games such as Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Trouble, Battleship, and even Operation! My personal favorite is the Trivial Pursuit Star Wars Classic Trilogy Collector's Edition with R2-D2 timer!
#7 Art - The art of Star Wars is what really gave it's universe meaning from the first design sketches to the fully painted designs of artist Ralph McQuarrie. His paintings and designs made Star Wars what it is today and not to mention all of the other artists and designers of Lucasfilm who have added to his legacy. Also credited for much of the Star Wars poster art is artist Drew Struzan, who is also known for more than 150 famous movie posters including Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Rambo.
#6 Video Games - Video games have always been a big part of Star Wars with the very first classic arcade game in 1983 to the Star Wars Trilogy arcade game in 1998. Other games have included many different titles on both video game consoles and PC including popular titles as Dark Forces, The Force Unleashed, Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, even LEGO Star Wars and my current favorite (and addiction), Star Wars: The Old Republic (a.k.a. SWTOR)!
#5 Television - Star Wars have been featured on TV in several spin-offs and series starting with the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978 to the short-lived Droids and Ewoks cartoon series from 1985 to 1986 during my childhood. To promote the release of Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Cartoon Network produced a series of shorts entitled Star Wars: Clone Wars from 2003 to 2005, created by Genndy Tartakovsky. Recently there was a huge following for the Emmy Award winning Cartoon Network animated series The Clone Wars which ran for five seasons from 2008 to 2013, prompted by a 2008 full-length CG animated movie. Currently the sixth season dubbed "The Lost Missions" are now available on Netflix. Next fall, Disney XD will be premiering a new series Star Wars Rebels, set between the events of Ep.III and IV featuring new heroes and villains!
#4 Comic Books - The Star Wars comic books have been around almost as long as the movies, first with the Marvel Comics series from 1977 to 1986 and lasting 107 issues. In 1991 Dark Horse Comics acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise and began a long run of titles featuring many different story lines within the Extended Universe. I remember reading several of the original comics and especially as I got into comic collecting more of the Dark Horse titles, particularly Dark Empire, Tales of the Jedi and Shadows of the Empire. As the Dark Horse Comics era comes to an end, it was announced in 2013 that Lucasfilm and Marvel Comics were reuniting and will begin publishing new comics in 2015! See Timeline of Comics
#3 Books - The first novelization of Star Wars was published in 1976 as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker although credited as written by George Lucas, it was actually ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster from Lucas' original script. Foster would later go on to publish the first Extended Universe novel in 1978, Splinter of the Mind's Eye. As the popularity for Star Wars books increased a book series featuring Han Solo and Lando Calrissian in their own adventures. In 1991, Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn was published beginning the immensely-popular "Thrawn Trilogy". Since then, the Star Wars legacy has continued with hundreds of novels featuring stories from the ever-expanding universe with new books.
#2 Music - Without the music of John Williams, the Star Wars films would be an entirely different experience! When director Steven Spielberg recommended Williams to his friend and fellow director George Lucas to score his 1977 film Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), who knew how much of an impact a musical score would have on the reception of the film. Both the film and it's soundtrack were incredibly successful and it remains to this day the highest grossing music recording of all-time, earning Williams an Academy Award for Best Original Score. Williams also scored Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) completing the original trilogy. Both scores earned him Academy Award Nominations. Then in 1999, Williams was asked to score all three of the prequel films including Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). While Williams' musical legacy continues in other popular films, other composers have credited his influence for their own music including composer Kevin Kiner for his work on the themes for Star Wars: the Clone Wars.
#1 Movies - On May 25, 1977, the world of movies changed forever with the premiere of Star Wars (also later known as Episode IV: A New Hope)! Creator/writer/director George Lucas took his influences from the films and serials he loved as a child and his studies in film-school to create a new, epic, space-opera. Star Wars broke box-office records and became one of the first modern blockbuster films and remains one of the most financially successful films franchises of all time! I consider myself a 2nd Generation Star Wars fan as I was born shortly after the initial release of the first film. I can recall seeing the first two movies at home either on TV, early VHS and Laserdisc. One of my favorite earliest memories is seeing Return of the Jedi at one of the few remaining local Drive-In theaters around the age of four and I have been obsessed with Star Wars from then on. I watched, played, read, slept on (sheets), ate (Star Wars cereal) and basically lived Star Wars my whole life! I was not overly-excited to be present at the opening of Episode I as so many of my fellow fans were and much to my dismay, shared in their disappointment. My original preconceptions of the prequel trilogy have changed over time and I have learned to come to terms with my love/hate relationship with the Special Editions of the original trilogy as well as the prequels. As news of Episode VII continues to increase, my thoughts and feelings are conflicted as to the future of my beloved Star Wars. As I'm not very fond of director J.J. Abrams due to his questionable reboot of the Star Trek franchise, however, when Episode VII is released I will be there waiting with millions of fans despite my expectations.
Thank you! "May the Force be With you!"
LINKS: Star Wars Official Site