Star Wars: Most Wanted Review

If you’ve listened to the five or so most recent episodes of the main show, you have heard Fitz talk about reading this a few times.
You listened as my interest grew while he spoke about his downs and ups with it.
So the question is where do I stand?
Do I agree with ol Fitty or am I my own man?
Gather round and let’s find out, gang.

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Just to start, this book is curious.
Obviously, if I’m reviewing it, I liked it well enough (more on this later, trust me!) to tell you about it.
But for the first two sevenths of it, shit was looking really damn gloomy on the “ooo, this is gonna rock!” front.
That first hundred pages or so is just bland and uninteresting, it’s just a hell of a slog that feels completely uninspired.
Right around page 100, that all changes and this quickly becomes one of the most enthralling, engaging, and entertaining Star Wars books I’ve read in my decade of reading them.

Set just before the opening segment of Solo, we meet Han and Qi’ra as two kids with hopes of getting to be the leader of the White Worms pack.
With a near contempt for each other, Lady Proxima sends them, unwittingly to each other, on separate sides of the same mission, a high dollar auction for a new piece of cutting edge tech.
When the deal goes sideways, Han & Qi’ra are forced to work together and trust each other with their deepest secrets to survive.

Coming hot on the heels of possibly the most controversial movie of the franchise (The Last Jedi) and battling against poor promotion and a very public firing and replacement of the original directors, Solo was an unfairly maligned movie that had the true heart and soul of George Lucas’s Original three movies infused in its DNA.
It’s definitely the most fun of the new movies, desperately in need of a sequel or follow up of some kind (#MakeSolo2Happen!).
To say I want more of this era, these characters, and their world is a MASSIVE understatement.

In this book, we get to travel to at least four different distinct areas/districts of Corellia: the sewers, the posh upper crusty area, an industrial nightmare, and a grave yard for star ships.
Once Rae Carson hits her stride, she doesn’t fuckin’ stop, man.
What’s truly astounding is that this novel dropped before the movie, because it feels like Carson studied this movie for months to get that feeling of fun, adventure, and wonder locked down.
She captured it all, particularly in the scene where Han breaks atmo for the first time and gets his very first taste of space and flying.
His sheer glee at finding the thing that he desperately wants most in life is awe inspiring and wonderful.
I’ve never read a damn thing Rae has written before, but I’ll be watching more closely for her name from now on.

One thing I liked and have to mention is an observation Qi’ra makes about Han.
While watching his interactions with other folks of all stripes, different species, robots, filthy rich, or dirt poor, she notices that Han treats them all with the same level of dignity.
While this sounds like it may come off heavy handed, obtrusive, and forced, I can assure you it most definitely is not.
It’s handled incredibly well and doesn’t at all feel like you’re being beaten over the head with “a message”, it’s almost off-handedly mentioned.
It’s a good message to subtly send in this day and age of constant division, especially given the target audience of this novel.

The bottomline is this, gang, it has a more than rocky start, but if you stick with it it is wonderfully satisfying.
Carson has an uncanny grasp on this world, and these characters in particular.
I know she’s gone on to bigger assignments in the Star Wars galaxy, but I’d definitely love to see her return to Han’s roots and show us what she can do with this set of toys now that we’ve all seen the movie.
If you can, hunt this book down and give it a shot.
Like Jason Fry and E.K. Johnston before her, Rae Carson proves that the Young Adult arm of that galaxy far far away is producing some of the best stories it has to offer.
And yes, it’s incredibly eerie how much Fitz and I have ended up agreeing about this one…SEND HELP!!!

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Fitz’s Toy Chest #15: Han Solo (Hoth)

Few action figures trigger sense memories for me more than the subject of this installment of Fitz’s Toy Chest.

Welcome back guys, this time around we’re going to take a look at one of the coolest, yet curiously inaccurate figures in the Kenner Empire Strikes Back collection. Straight from the frozen halls of Echo Base, my first ever ESB figure, Han Solo in Hoth Gear.

Han Solo
Company: Kenner
Acquisition Year: 1980
Acquired via: Purchase (Venture)
Years In Possession: 40

The summer of 1980 was filled with Star Wars memories. For some reason this Han Solo figure has always been a key to accessing many of those memories. I can feel the humidity outside, smell cut grass and rain in the air.

These memories are all fragments, but the clearest one is of a stormy day spent visiting a nursery center with my mom, grandma, aunt and cousins. It was common for this group to spend several days a week together going shopping or to the zoo. We would all crowd into our station wagon, the cousins in the back seat or the “back back” of the car (i.e. the cargo space between the back seat and hatchback, which was totally safe).

On this day, I can remember being in the back of the station wagon with my cousin who had already scored 2 of the new Empire figures. He had the rebel hoth commander (which we would always consider to be Luke until they finally made a Luke Hoth figure much later), and Han Solo in his Hoth gear.

I can still see us huddled in the backseat in the gravel parking lot of the nursery, the adults having bought some kind of flowers or another. It suddenly got really dark, like night time dark as black clouds rolled in and we had to shelter in the car waiting for one of the usual tornado/hail producing severe thunderstorms we have at least every other week here in the midwest.

I was scared shitless (I’ve always had a fear of bad storms, it’s only been less of a problem in recent years thanks to many pharmaceuticals). I focused all my attention on that Han figure. He was like my guide through a bad acid trip. The more I focused on him the less I heard the crazy thunder and hail beating down on the car.

Finally it was safe enough to drive home, but I will never forget those intense minutes, and the piece of sculpted plastic that kept me from having a meltdown.

I eventually got my own Han Solo in his blue parka. Yes, blue. It was blue in the movie right? Kinda looked blue to me. Except Harrison Ford’s actual costume parka was not blue at all. It was actually brown. I lived my entire life believing the lie that his Hoth coat was dark blue in Empire Strikes Back. It wasn’t until I got the Star Wars costume book a few years back and saw the real garment used in the film that I realized it was brown.

Apparently there was a color timing issue with the original theatrical prints that made the coat look blue. It even fooled Kenner, obviously. It wasn’t until later modern r-releases where the problem was cleaned up. Even then it’s really hard for me to tell it’s not blue (and no I’m not colorblind). I felt like such a moron for never knowing that.

As you can see my Han has considerable paint wear. This is most likely from playing with him in the snow. Unlike Snow Job, I actually did get to use the Hoth figures outside in snow banks during the winter of 80/81. The paint wear on his legs is probably from having him “ride” the Kenner Tauntaun, which meant sticking the figure hip deep into a to tight trap door on the Tauntaun’s back. You would scrape a figure’s legs across the edge of the opening every time you inserted or removed the rider.

Another thing about my particular Han figure is that this is another member of the Broken Neck club in my collection. Not sure how it happened but one day his head came right off. It’s been super glued in place ever since.

I’m not sure if this is an official “feature” or not, but something I always liked about this figure was that you could pop his DL-44 blaster’s ammo clip into the molded holster loop on his hip and have him carry his weapon that way. Pretty cool.

I’m surprised and a little sad about how poorly the color on his face has aged. It’s turned quite yellow and jaundiced looking over the years.

Over all I really loved this figure and it’s probably just behind the Bespin Han in terms of my favorite Kenner interpretation of the character (but it’s a dead heat, Bespin Han was always just more versatile in different play scenarios).

Well, that’s enough oversharing for this week, I hope you enjoyed the baring of my soul. Come back next time for another dose of (probably at least mildly) toxic plastic playthings.

Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBToyChest, and let us know what you think! And if you want, let us know what some of your favorite toys were growing up!

The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week #42

Some say this week will be the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
Let’s find out.

This week we are staying in Space and asking: Who do you think is the greatest space ship captain in all of fiction, and why?

Leave your answer down in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #TNBQotW

Special thanks to @SteBoost for our QotW logo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (Finally…)

It seemed like we were NEVER going to get to see any footage from the Han Solo standalone film before it drops into theaters in May, but this past weekend we finally got the trailer everyone has been predicting for weeks.

Check out the trailer below and let know what you think!  We’ll be discussing this in an upcoming show along with our speculation as to what we’re actually seeing.


Episode 041: Brian Quinn Likes Pink Zinfandel

3409047393_dee54215d7In this episode, the roles are reversed as Doom is sick & downtrodden and Fitz is the energetic one!

After a plug for their newest merch design, Doom brings up Fitz being older and Fitz proves it by reminiscing about jobs he had in the golden days of yore, and they both talk about running into local “celebrities” throughout the years.

Oh yeah, you know how that new Star Wars picture opened yesterday?

They talk about the title for the one after that being revealed and some of those Marvel things on Netflix that Doom finally watched some of.

That’s all I can remember, BYE!

URL: Episode 041: Brian Quinn Likes Pink Zinfandel
Direct Download: tnb041.mp3