#ForceFriday – The Journey Towards The New Star Wars Movie Has Begun

It’s still a few months until ‘The Force Awakens‘ a.k.a. ‘Star Wars Episode VII‘ gets its worldwide release but for a while now September 4th has been billed as #ForceFriday; the journey towards the long awaited sequel to ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ (1983).

Much of the Star Wars fan community has been getting very excited about today and the release of new merchandise in stores and fan events around the world to mark the occasion. Principle markets like the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Spain have had midnight openings to allow fans to get their hands on all kinds of new figures, toys, stationery, Lego, clothing, masks, lightsabers and other such accessories.

As much as I tried to find out, I got no answers from Tokyo stores regarding them doing anything for #ForceFriday. Eventually I just decided that I’d check out the huge Toys ‘R’ Us store within Sunshine City in Ikebukuro. Fortunately, my friend Ben mailed me earlier this morning asking if I was going there and so we agreed to meet up to visit the shop just after it opened at 11am.

It took us a while to locate the Force Awakens goodies but just as we were pessimistically thinking there would be one or two Star Wars toys in the whole place we then saw a sizeable section devoted to all the new Star Wars things.

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First point of call was the section displaying the 3.75 inch figures (below) which dominate my collection. The most prominent ones on display were of Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Finn, Rey, Captain Phasma as well as various stormtroopers and sandtroopers. I had no intention of actually buying any of these new figures today and I didn’t! Instead, I got a bit caught up in the euphoria of such an event (which of course was not really an event!) and bought a Kylo Ren bobble head!

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It was all a little overwhelming at first but way more exciting than I thought it would be when I set out in the morning. Whilst this area of the store was far from busy and bustling, there was a constant flow of people (mostly men!) passing through; some with baskets being stocked full of figures and I very much doubt they were for their kids!

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It wasn’t just about the new heroes and villains though as there were also some new figures of classic characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and so on. I imagine the new crossguard lightsaber will be a very popular toy with the kids and with Halloween coming up next month, it will be interesting to see if anyone purchases the new masks and dresses up as a character from a film which still won’t have been released by then!

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One thing that it was lacking though was figures or merchandise relating to the soccer ball droid known as BB8. Maybe that kind of thing is being held back until a bit later in the year. As we left the store one hour later (yes, we spent 60 minutes working our way through almost every single item!) we noticed some Star Wars Lego cardboard display exhibits (below) on the way out although ‘Minions‘ were doing their best to hog the limelight!

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Reconvening later in the afternoon, Ben and I met up again to extend the buzz of #ForceFriday. We went to StarCase; the Star Wars shop in Koenji but there wasn’t much new stock there but for a few new figures. It seems the 7 Eleven convenience stores started selling tickets in anticipation of the December 18th release but you still need to exchange that ticket for the actual cinema seat ticket so we didn’t purchase any. Village Vanguard and AmeComi Senmonten Comic Collectors, which featured in the Tokyo Foxtop 5……otaku shops in Tokyo, were also checked out but had nothing new to offer.

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Later on, I checked out Loft in Shibuya (below) where a huge space has been given over to Star Wars merchandise with even more stuff available than was on sale at Toys ‘R’ Us. An awesome spectacle and had I been tipped off earlier I may well have made this my first port of call.

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Today was just the start of the journey taking us up to December 18th and no doubt the marketing and promotion will step up over the coming months with all kinds of Star Wars tie-ins with all kinds of food and beverage companies. With season one of ‘Star Wars Rebels‘ out on DVD soon, season two starting next month, Star Wars Celebration in London next July, the spin off movie ‘Rogue One‘ in December 2016 and ‘The Force Awakens‘ this Christmas time there really is no better time to be a fan of the franchise.

The Star Wars Saga Continues But Does It Really Need To?

“He’s my brother” says Leia to which Han Solo replies with a simple “Oh” and with that one syllable word the Star Wars saga came to an end in terms of spoken words. Of course there was a scene or two more but that was basically ‘The End’ ……….. until the LucasFilm company was sold to Disney on October 30th last year for $4.05 billion.

When that news broke I was having a rare lie-in and woke to many mails telling me the news which is quite rare in this era where one gets most news from Twitter! My feeling that morning was one of surprise that’s for sure and when I was asked a while back to pen my thoughts on the return of this mammoth franchise I declined the opportunity.

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Why would I do that I hear you say when I’ve spent fortunes travelling Earth in search of finding the filming locations. Well, for me, I just can’t get into the idea of there being a storyline that goes beyond ‘Episode VI: Return of the Jedi‘ where the story came to a perfect conclusion and rounded off the saga.

I’m certainly no huge EU (Expanded Universe) fan but I did read Timothy Zahn’s 1991 book ‘Heir to the Throne‘ and whilst I certainly didn’t hate it I just couldn’t get into it. Hearing about the children of the characters we all love just didn’t appeal. Of course, they’re not necessarily gonna follow any of the events that have happened in EU books after ROTJ but it does seem like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford will be back in some way for the sake of continuity before their kids and/or other new characters help move the story along to wherever its going. I guess, in a way, thats quite nice as there’s no finality like there was when the prequels were made so anything really can happen.

Of course I am following all the news and rumours (and there are many!) on RebelForce Radio and The ForceCast and I have to say that I am enjoying all the speculation, rumours and gossip which the hosts of those podcasts sure do analyse in comprehensive detail. I’m not gonna worry about which characters will appear or more importantly re-appear, or where it will be set and filmed because likelihood is that it will all be done in the studio like ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘ (2005) was.

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I have no doubt that by the time the film comes out in 2015 I’ll lap it all up and hopefully change my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I want to like it and I’m confident, having seen his work on the Star Trek films, that JJ Abrams will not disappoint but that doesn’t mean I’m not a little bit worried about how Star Wars will fare in the hands of someone other than George Lucas.

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Far more of interest to me has been the recently wrapped up ‘Clone Wars‘ TV series which filled in the gaps and a lot, lot more between Episodes II and III. With there being a new animated series ‘Star Wars Rebels‘ on the horizon set between episodes III and IV.

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I think I’m probably in the minority when I say that I don’t mind the axe falling on my favourite shows and in a way actually like it as I firmly believe that you can have too much of a good thing and its better to go out whilst you’re on top before story-lines inevitably get more ridiculous and desperate as the years roll by. ‘Clone Wars‘ didn’t finish off every story but that’s not always the way. However, with the fate of Ahsoka finally known, it did come to a fitting end with such a dramatic and deeply moving conclusion………….just like ‘Return Of The Jedi‘ did 30 years ago.