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– by Kyle Malone

Welcome to The Cantina where we definitely serve your kind. I’m your bartender Kyle Malone and I’m serving up tall glasses of nothing but Star Wars.  By now you know I am the dedicated, well versed in the EU, experienced gamer, and open-minded fan this world needs. I see the flaws in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but also the great moments too. I know the importance of The Empire Strikes Back but see how strong Return of the Jedi is. I see that the prequels… well… we’ll get there… maybe. There’s nothing more satisfying than a great Star Wars story, and I want more! 

Episode IX and the Future

Happy New Year, everyone and welcome to 2019… the year that the Skywalker saga will end… Supposedly. That’s right, Episode IX will hit theaters on December 20th and I have no idea how this release will go. To call the fanbase divided would be an understatement, and many of the supposed leaks and rumors are unsettling to me. However, unless the trailer is just horrible, I will be there at the preview showings that Thursday night. I have been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember and while I have some gripes with the Sequel Trilogy, I don’t hate it.

I don’t think we will have truly seen the end of the Skywalker story though. Between new shows, comics, video games, and novels there will always be a story about Anakin, Luke, Kylo, or some other relative, but I sort of hope this is the end for the family on the big screen. Hopefully, this final chapter delivers a satisfying end that can reunite the fans and usher in the next great Star Wars saga.

So what comes after Episode IX? Well, we know about the Cassian Andor series will begin production this fall and The Mandalorian is already shooting, but back in September the head of Disney, Bob Iger, told us that they would be slowing down on the movie production, and since the reports hit that they canceled  the Boba Fett movie, we haven’t heard any solid news about the next movie(s). Hell, we haven’t even heard anything about the trilogy they promised to Rian Johnson before the release of The Last Jedi… I wonder why? Part of me thinks that Disney is waiting on reaction to the Episode IX trailer, maybe even the movie itself, before revealing their plans. If reactions are harsh, they may go back to the drawing board, but if they’re positive we may get some announcements about future films.

As for the future of the movies, I hope they dig into the deep past for a trilogy or something so off into the future that Han, Luke, and Leia are seen as legends or myths. Nothing else in the space between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and I hope not too much between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This is a large universe, with many cool ideas from the old Expanded Universe to borrow from, with limitless possibilities. So why get bogged down in one or two eras with characters we’ve already seen? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Original Trilogy’s heroes and villains, but I was a huge fan of the EU’s characters like Talon Karrde, Booster Terrik, Corran Horn, and Garick “Face” Loran. I think the big screen has enough room for something new.

While the future is fuzzy for the moment, we always have the past to enjoy. The OT is perfection, Rogue One is great, and the rest vary in quality. There are dozens of books, I highly recommend stuff from the EU like The X-Wing series. We have old games like Battlefield II and new games… like Battlefield II. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the toys.

Star Wars Moments: Toys, toys, toys…

Star Wars was basically the genesis of film merchandising, something that’s expertly made fun of in Spaceballs, and the memories connected to some of the toys or collectibles are just as strong as those for the films themselves. From the standard action figure to the large LEGO set and of course the lightsabers there is something for every age.

Kyle Malone – As a kid, my parents bought me plenty of Star Wars toys which gave me lots of joy and allowed me to have adventures such as Luke Skywalker and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taking on Vader and the Shredder in one hell of a crossover. I had a friend who lived across the street who had toys from the Alien franchise and let me tell you that Xenomorphs can put up a good fight against the Rebels. As great as those memories are, nothing compares to the fall of 2013 with the birth of my son and his first stuffed toy. A few weeks before my wife’s due date I began searching for the perfect first stuffed toy. I knew I wanted it to be geek-related and considered a Ninja Turtle or stuffed Chocobo from Final Fantasy, but settled on something from a galaxy far, far away. Searching the wide wide world of web I found cute Wompas and Wookiees and adorable Yodas and Jawas, but it was the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader, that caught my eye. A few days later I had the gift in hand and demanded my wife hurry up and get the show on the road.

My son ended up coming a week and a day late and despite the fact he tried to commit matricide on day one, I instantly fell in love with the little monster. After he and my better half were cleaned and safe I gave him that stuffed Darth Vader. As a newborn he didn’t seem to care, but I did. I have a photo of the three of us and that stuffed Vader and I treasure the memory. Since then we have put together Star Wars LEGO sets, played Star Wars video games, and watched the majority of the movies… I can’t bring myself to torture him with the Prequel Trilogy. He is a true fan through and through. He listens to Star Wars music at night, has dozens of toys, and of course still has that stuffed Darth Vader.

Cam Clark – I think there’s really only one choice when thinking about my favorite Star Wars toy growing up. The Millennium Falcon. I got the toy some time when I was quite young still. Not only was it my favorite Star Wars toy, but I continued to use the toy for all my other figures like GI Joe, He-Man and plenty of others for many years afterwards. By the time I was getting too old for toys I still had the basic shell and nothing else left. I remember as a child ripping out the cardboard sections from inside the ship as in my young mind, Han and the other should be able to walk from the back straight through to the cockpit. Of course, this simply left the toy looking wrecked and showed up all the connecting joints that were supposed to be hidden.

I ended up having just the outer shell with not a single removable item left on board and yet still I played with that toy always. I really wish I had kept it for sentimental purposes even though it was a ruined and worth nothing. It was also not half as cool as the modern take on the toy I picked up for my son a few years ago when he was younger. That’s still stored up my attic in a complete state (he’s getting a little too old for toys) and probably to this day still worth well over $150.

Nick Doll – I may have mentioned this before, but the Special Editions of the Star Wars Trilogy came just at the right point in my lifetime. In January 1997, I was nine going on 10 years old, when I saw Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope Special Edition in theaters. My birthday followed in February. Guess what type of gifts I got…

I got Star Wars figures, $5 a piece back in the later ’90s, in some odd variations. One friend accidentally bought me a TIE Fighter Pilot thinking it was Darth Vader. I received Chewbacca from Shadows of the Empire, and read the plot description on the back of that character, expecting said plot and costume in Return of the Jedi, which had yet to be released in theaters as a Special Edition. I also got Han Solo in Carbonite, which is my favorite figure to this day.
Star Wars toys have been in aisles ever since the 1997 Special Edition, but these were my favorite Star Wars toys all the same

Kronx (Reader) – My favorite toy was the All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT). The Imperial Walker was not only one of the most bad-ass vehicles from Empire, but in terms of playtime value, it was a natural action centerpiece. The Walker was great for just about everything… except walking. Trying to move each leg was an exercise in futility. But it was no less satisfying to smush Snowtroopers, rebels, or sometimes Cobra Commander. But as I write this, I can’t help but remember the Star Wars toys that were garbage.

For example, I had medical droid FX-7. That’s the one that looks like a gray “adult toy” with spindly arms hanging off it. Useless. At least, 2-1B could fill in at Safety and help cover Boba Fett in the Super Bowl. Then there’s the MTV-7 multi-terrain vehicle, a steamroller with a gun on top. It looked as lazy as it sounds, but the worst was Vader’s Star Destroyer. Yes, Darth Vader is awesome. Star Destroyers are awesome. His throne was awesome. But a nice chair does not a good toy make. It wasn’t a complete ship. It was a small section of the bridge which looked more like stage 3 at an open-air music festival, and it had zero room for action. It’s only use was to re-enact such wonderful scenes like Vader gives orders, and Vader receives orders, and Vader looks out at space.

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Kyle is the Weekend Editor for LRM Online and a business school graduate who loves movies, comics, and video games. He shares his passions with his wife and is raising a next-generation geek.