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The vintage Star Wars action figures are dear childhood friends of many (older) fans. Even E.T. was introduced to some of them when he visited our planet. Needless to say, vintage action figures are still collected today on their original card and also in loose condition. In this article, I’ll shed some light on the main variations of Kenner’s classic toys.

It’s important to understand that nearly all vintage figures have variations that range from obvious to minor ones. Fans and collectors are still discussing the origin and the validity of certain less obvious differences today. These variations sometimes occurred when figures were produced in a different country or at another factory. For example, most Mexican Lili Ledy figures differ from the ones offered in North America and in Europe (the Lili Ledy figures are left out of this article because they’re nearly all different).

Most of the major variations are found in the Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back lineups. The Return of the Jedi collection certainly has its proper variations, but not as many as the previous waves.

Star Wars

Luke Skywalker is one of the figures with the most amount of variations in the entire line. The two major variations either have blonde or brown hair. But there is more than meets the eye. Luke’s hair can range from dark brown to lemon blond and his trousers can also range from dark brown to cream. There’s even a Luke figure with “orange” hair. Another infamous variation is the double telescoping (DT) lightsaber. (Kenner used double telescoping lightsabers for the very first figures of Luke, Ben Kenobi, and Darth Vader.) A double telescoping saber is rare and can be recognized by the much longer tip of the saber (almost reaching the surface when pointed downwards). DT Luke is the least rare of the three figures, mostly because it was also included in most Early Bird sets. Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi shares Luke’s hair issues. You can find Ben with gray, but also with white hair. Darth Vader doesn’t have any main regular variations, but double telescoping lightsaber Ben and Vader are the rarest of all loose Star Wars figures and there aren’t many left today.

Double telescoping Luke

Han Solo features one of the most obvious variations. Kenner first released Han with a small head, which was replaced by a larger head that looked a bit more like Harrison Ford. Kenner seems to have overdone themselves since the second head looks a bit too large. The small head was mostly packed with the early cards, so it appears to be less common than the large head.

Action Figure Variations

Another figure from the first wave is the Sand People. Most Tusken Raider figures have filled tubes on the side of their face, but some figures, who were apparently packed on Return of the Jedi cards, have hollow tubes instead. The color of the gloves and belt from Sand People figures may also vary from light brown to dark brown.

An infamous variation took place when Kenner replaced the cheap vinyl cape of its Jawa figure by a cloth cape. Kenner reasoned that, since the Jawa was a smaller figure, they needed to upgrade its value by adding a nice cloth cape. History has its own way of dealing with decisions like that and the short lived vinyl cape Jawa became one of the vintage holy grails. Buying a loose vinyl cape Jawa requires caution and research because many forgeries have been made. The vinyl cape of the Toltoys Jawa (Australia / New Zealand) has a similar color as the cape of Ben Kenobi, while other Jawa vinyl capes should be lighter in color.

Boba Fett comes in a rich variety of colors and differences. A variation that has become quite popular is the “trilogo” Boba Fett which has a much paler color blue (gray) and has no COO (Country of Origin mark). The “trilogo” nickname isn’t really correct, since these Fetts were also sold on Return of the Jedi-cards in Europe.

A minor variation that several figures share, is the color of their face. Figures like the Death Squad Commander (Star Destroyer Commander), Luke Skywalker (X-wing fighter pilot) and Leia Organa can be found with differently colored faces. Walrus Man also has several variations concerning the color of his tusks (white or pink) and his skin. Chewbacca is a fine example of a figure with no major variations, but with many small differences, such as the color of his fur, his bowcaster and his pouch.

The Empire Strikes Back

The first wave of Episode V also has some figures with obvious variations. Luke Skywalker (Bespin Fatigues) succeeds in sharing similar characteristics with the original Luke. It also comes in a wide variety of hair colors ranging from pale yellow to greenish brown. The boots of some figures may also be a bit more dark. Lando Calrissian has an easily recognizable variation because some figures’ teeth and eyes aren’t painted. Both variations are equally common. Leia Organa (Bespin Gown) is the next Cloud City figure to feature interesting variations. She comes with a crew neck (flesh color), turtle neck or even a rare gold neck. This figure was also released with a variety of different faces so Leia Bespin figures will rarely be exactly similar.

Action Figure Variations 2

The Rebel Soldier (Hoth Battle Gear) is a figure with many small variations, including the color of his skin and clothes. Not unlike Han Solo (Hoth Battle Gear) whose legs can have different shades of brown. The Imperial Stormtrooper (Hoth Battle Gear) has an interesting variation, being the YPS / PBP (Spanish) Snowtrooper. YPS was a German comic that often contained extra’s. Issue 150 came with a Snowtrooper that sometimes had a gun from Palitoy’s Action Force line. The YPS / PBP can be identified by several small differences, including circular slots on the skirt and a slightly more detailed body. Other figures from the first wave have less obvious variations. IG-88 comes in metallic or in chrome, the Bespin Security Guard (modeled after Bespin guard Helder Spinoza) comes in a variety of mustaches and Bossk appears with different shades of color on his head, limbs and jumpsuit.

Yoda has endless variations. He’s either accompanied by an orange or by a brownish snake and while these are the two main alterations, the diminutive Jedi Master often appears in different skin colors and his gimer stick is found in several tones of brown.

Action Figure Variations 3

The later waves of The Empire Strikes Back contain less obvious variations, though the Imperial Commander figure sports two head variations: skinny and round. The colors of the skin of the Hoth Rebel Commander, Cloud Car Pilot and the AT-AT Commander can either be flesh or a bit more pale. Lobot and Dengar have similar facial issues, and the Lobots with the flesh face have round dots on their belts instead of circular ones. The Spanish Dengar (PBP) was released in a darker armor. The porcine Ugnaught can be encountered wearing a blueish or a purplish smock. There are Ugnaughts with smocks whose colors differ a little bit from the blue and the purple, though sunlight might have caused the color to fade. Even without the smock, the Ugnaught figure comes in many small differences such as the color of the face, differently colored eyebrows and thin or thick cords of the smock.

Return of the Jedi

Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight Outfit) is the next Luke figure with many variations. An early trailer of Return of the Jedi showed Luke with a blue lightsaber and that’s probably why Kenner released their first Luke Jedi figures with a blue lightsaber instead of a green one. Luke’s cape can be found sewn-shut or with a snap. On top of things, two main sculpts were used for Luke Jedi. One has a molded face with painted darker hair and the other sculpt has molded lighter hair with a painted face (the reason why many Luke Jedi figures have paint damage on the top of their nose). The Rebel Commando and General Madine can be found as well with either a molded or a painted face.

Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise) exists with a darker or lighter skin tone and a different color of the torso. Ewok figures Logray and Teebo have slightly different shades of fur. Klaatu (Wooof) can have variations in the skirt (different fabrics) and or differently colored limbs and legs. Han Solo (Trench Coat) is the last figure with an obvious variation. He comes with or without camo lapels on the front of the collar of his Endor coat.

Action Figure Variations 4

Although the Max Rebo Band wasn’t sold as individual figures, the set appears with gray or black microphones and with a black or gray chidinkalu (Droopy’s instrument).

These variations are just the top of the iceberg and an endless amount of other diversities can be discovered when you delve deeper into the world of collecting loose vintage figures. Collect them all may be hard to achieve, but it sure can be a lot of fun!

Special thanks to Paul Kerton from Vintage Action Figure Variation Guide for the use of his photos. Other photos by Grant Criddle (double telescoping Luke) from Star Wars Forum UK and by Tim Veekhoven.

Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co-founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He has contributed to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), is an administrator for Yodapedia and has written character back stories in ‘What’s the Story?’.

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Almost a year ago, I began adapting the Star Wars Rebels animated show into a series of junior novels and chapter books for Disney-Lucasfilm Press. The most recent book to be published, The Rebellion Begins, serves as the novelization for Spark of Rebellion, the movie-of-the-week series premiere. Given the storied tradition Star Wars novelizations, the responsibility of bringing these screen characters to life on the printed page for the first time has been both exciting and humbling.

My primary goal for The Rebellion Begins (the original title of Spark of Rebellion) was to write a novel that could be enjoyed by readers of all ages, from kids who have never before picked up a Star Wars book to adult fans who own the entire collection of Expanded Universe literature. This approach meant that I needed to re-introduce classic elements of the galaxy like Imperial stormtroopers, Star Destroyers, and an energy field known as the Force to new readers who might be unfamiliar with the Star Wars universe. These re-introductions proved to grow organically out of the story itself, since screenwriter Simon Kinberg centered his script around a 14-year-old kid named Ezra Bridger. Ezra’s a street urchin who’s never been off the planet of Lothal, and knows only vaguely of the mystical Jedi Knights from old spacers’ stories. Yet as Ezra becomes further involved with the crew of the Ghost, he learns more about the galaxy at large, and so does the reader. Ezra’s journey acquiring all this new knowledge mirrors the reader’s journey through the novel.

The Rebellion Begins features other characters, such as Hera, Kanan, and Agent Kallus, who are not ignorant of galactic history. One of the pleasures of writing the novel (and the first season of Rebels in the chapter books) has been the opportunity of getting inside these characters’ heads, discovering what they think, how they feel. While the medium of film expresses characters’ thoughts and motivations through performance, literature offers a much more dynamic portal into the interior lives of characters. In the novel, I had the ability (and luxury of space) to examine why Kanan is hesitant at revealing who he once was and from where he came. I could explore Hera’s anxiety and even anger at her longtime friend for hiding that same past. I could even show the mind of an Imperial Security Bureau agent hard at work, and demonstrate how one does not need the Force in Star Wars to be an effective nemesis.

In addition to offering insights into characters, Star Wars novelizations have always enriched and expanded the story told on screen. The Rebellion Begins is no different. Its prologue propels the crew of the Ghost on their quest to find like-minded rebels, and presents, for the first time, the interior of a vessel built by the saga’s most iconic alien species. I must say that creating a starship that no one’s imagined before is part of the fun of writing Star Wars.

Ezra’s backstory is also further fleshed out in the novel. I was able to include a scene cut from an earlier draft of Kinberg’s script, when Ezra opened up a sack of loot to find propaganda holodisks. I rewound from this moment, to tell of the fateful adventure that led to acquiring these disks. This inspired the invention of one of Ezra’s streetwise mentors, the former pickpocket-turned-fence named Slyyth. I conceived him as character in the vein of Fagin from Oliver Twist, although trapped in the deteriorating larval body of a Ruurian.

One image I couldn’t get out of my head while writing Ezra’s interaction with Slyyth was Sir John Tenniel’s famous illustration of Alice and the caterpillar from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. A testy relationship between a boy and an enormous caterpillar seemed to fit perfectly within the playful tone of Rebels. David Rabbitte, a fantastic artist who’s illustrated many stories for the Star Wars Insider along with my graphic novel about Roman werewolves, Empire of the Wolf, contributed his vision of the new scene from the novel.

John Tenniel Alice


David Rabbitte Ezra


Out of all the characters, I must admit a favorite: Agent Kallus. Unlike the Inquisitor or Darth Vader, he can’t access any preternatural source for superhuman feats, yet his sharp perception, his devious nature, and his downright doggedness in the pursuit of catching rebels make him a worthy adversary. He’s the Inspector Javert of Star Wars, a man whose devotion to law and order is absolute. For Kallus, Imperial edicts are not to be questioned, they are only to be enforced. Consequently, he has dedicated his life to root out those who would dare break those laws, at the expense of everything else. His dark side is not the Force, but his own blindness to compassion. He’s a villain one can find in today’s society, a prisoner of his own intransigence.

These are but a few of the decisions and expansions I made during the process of adaptation. Most of all, I poured my efforts into delivering the strongest story I could. Even if a reader had never seen Rebels or even a Star Wars film, I wanted The Rebellion Begins to be a book that they couldn’t put down.

Michael Kogge has written for Star Wars for a long, long time. Empire of the Wolf, his original graphic novel about werewolves in ancient Rome, was recently published by Alterna Comics. You can find him online at or on Twitter at @michaelkogge.

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Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos strike back! is thrilled to reveal the cover art for the upcoming novel Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden! Based on a series of scripts originally written for the unaired seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and starring ex-Sith bounty hunter, Asajj Ventress, and the unorthodox Jedi Quinlan Vos, this new Star Wars tale of love and loss, betrayal and redemption is being produced in creative collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group and Dave Filoni, supervising director of The Clone Wars and executive producer of Star Wars RebelsStar Wars: Dark Disciple hits the shelves on July 7, 2015.

Originally announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 to much excitement, the book is canonical within the Star Wars universe, and continues the story of two fan-favorite characters. Check out the full cover, a striking work by artist Matt Taylor, below!

Star Wars: Dark Disciple cover All Star Wars, all the time.


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We have been led to believe that George Lucas envisaged the iconic Jedi Master Yoda’s wisdom as a way to package ancient philosophies and teachings for a younger generation. We all need a religion of some sort, after all. We are even told that Yoda’s face was partly based on the debate partner of the Dalai Lama, the Rinpoche Tsenzhab Sekong. (I can see the likeness.) But for most of us, much more than that Yoda was. Magic, he was.

In my first article, share with you my passage down the path to becoming Lt. Sykes and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader’s stand-in, I did. But I hid from you a curious Star Wars symmetry that had shadowed that journey. It was standing there on set at various moments next to my double for example, that I questioned if it was perhaps the will of the Force and a powerful shadow had been cast by Yoda, who said…

“Always two there are, no more, no less. A Master and an apprentice.” — Yoda

Webcam: Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, Lucas, and Christensen oversee Simpson rehearse

Webcam photo: Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, George Lucas, and Hayden Christensen watch Christian Simpson rehearse.

For as Hayden Christensen playfully walked up and stood right behind me in identical Sith robes before a take, it was George Lucas himself who had said, “Oh no, there’s two of them!!!” An actor and a stand-in. A Master and an apprentice.

As with so many of Yoda’s quotes, they do not just apply to the Star Wars galaxy, but are mirrored in all our walks of life, regardless if our “job” happens to be working on Star Wars itself. Indeed my own journey culminated in a wonderful realization when I finally came face to face with the Jedi Master himself on set. You’ll find out in a moment, if you practice just one thing…

“Patience, you must learn patience!” — Yoda

Webcam: Christian Simpson (with Saber) and Christensen (off set) work together as one

Webcam photo: Christian Simpson (with lightsaber) and Christensen (off set).

In my most recent article I used another Yoda teaching to share with all my fellow Star Wars fans here what I learned about making a new Star Wars movie, be it Episode III or Episode VII…

“Pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda

For that is how we evolve and build on knowledge and experience. If you…

“Unlearn what you have learned.” — Yoda

But only the bad stuff.



Now, they say never work with children or animals, but they never said anything about younglings. One memorable moment of Yoda symmetry came with an interesting day on the set of Revenge of the Sith. Admittedly, it was a shock when we learned ahead of the rest of the world that the film would involve Anakin slaughtering several six-year-old children. I still genuinely find that hard to type.

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.” — Yoda

And all on-set stories aside, that is a quote that resonates profoundly with so many of us, and on a far deeper level. Thank you, Yoda, thank you, George.

Poor little guys don't know what's about to hit 'em

Poor little guys don’t know what’s about to hit ‘em.


But back from the real world, during the scene setup, the kids get a bit confused as both Hayden and I are in the same costume. We’re both simply “Anakin.” The blonde boy and star of the scene says to a chaperone, “Which one of them do I look at?”, understandably unsure who to deliver his lines to.

“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” — Yoda

Yoda is right and this made my day in a way. Human beings, living on our own planet together, cogs in a symbiotic machine, and the only real “star” is the one we all circle. Children see everyone in that sun’s same light, unless they are taught otherwise.

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” — Yoda

So you could say children are smarter than us, despite their diminutive size. Now, who was it that said something like that?….

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” — Yoda

But sometimes we might see Yoda’s quotes in an even lighter sense than they were meant. Here’s a problem — what do you do if you’re in the heat of filming, and a wonderful Jedi youngling actor who is meant to be sensing much fear, in fact does not sense any? After eight takes…

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” — Yoda

(Except when it doesn’t.)

First assistant director Colin Fletcher does his best to talk the kids through the pivotal scene where Anakin is about to murder them. “Right, now here comes the monster, you’re scared — scared — SCARED! ACT SCARED!!!” But when their friendly Master Skywalker unexpectedly flicks on his lightsaber, the kids react nothing like “scared.” This is because without the magic of CGI, on set the “scary moment” is actually just Anakin slightly moving his left thumb a bit to the left on a prop lightsaber switch. Not so Phantom Menacing after all.


We do take after take. No reaction from the children. The atmosphere is growing tense. It’s leading to suffering. It’s getting late. Time is Republic credits. Finally some bright spark has an idea. Hayden walks up to the blonde boy playing Sors Bandeam, lets him say his line, then shocks the heck out of all of us by giving almighty ROAAAARRRRR! in the poor child’s face. This sends the boy off kilter onto his back foot, before he runs away to hide behind the sanctity of his Jedi chair in absolute terror at monster Christensen. (I confess jumped a little too.)

And that’s the take you see in the movie.


“Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.” — Yoda

And I saw exactly that next Yoda quote when I realized how Star Wars props guys can be very protective of their goods — understandably enough, of course. I know that Anakin has his lightsaber for a certain scene. I’m standing in position, on camera. We’re all on the same team and so I ask the prop assistant for the lightsaber hilt to save time. The top-quality, hero, shiny, used-for-close-ups version of Anakin’s saber — the very same one Obi-Wan Kenobi hands to Luke Skywalker in Episode IV. Hmm. And so it stays shut away in the padlocked lightsaber chest of drawers. (Yup, that’s a thing.)


“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” — Yoda

Soon he must let go, for not a minute passes before George Lucas comes up to me and shouts, “Christian will need the saber!” That’s right George, Christian will need the saber! The prop guy comes running up to me with it and happily pops the saber in my hand. You can imagine that it feels incredible to be standing there holding that iconic weapon, wearing Jedi robes and hood, having just received direction from George Lucas, knowing at least Jedi younglings think I’m Anakin. I pinch myself for good measure.

Webcam: Simpson lies under a camera holding what will become Luke's iconic saber

Webcam photo: Simpson lies under a camera holding what will become Luke’s iconic saber.


As a fun side note, Hayden arrives and takes my spot for a later scene as I stand by next to him. I pass the laser sword baton to him. He rehearses through the scene in front of me but I hear him making the lightsaber sound effect as he turns it on. He must’ve picked that up from Ewan McGregor who was known to do the same back on Episode I. “They can put the sound in later you know,” I can’t resist saying to Hayden. “No, I do all the sound effects myself,” he jokes back. Like all of us, Hayden was doing what Yoda instructed…

“Feel the Force.” — Yoda

Speaking of Obi-Wan, during a rehearsal Ewan was going through his own lightsaber moves opposite me. Seeing the blade inching closer to my face I very Britishly proclaimed, “Excuse me, do you mind!” in a sort of Threepio voice. Unfortunately, he thought I was genuinely offended and offered a very sincere, “Oh! Sorry!” It’s okay Ewan, I was just kidding. You’re a Jedi Knight! Of course, I should’ve said:

“Away put your weapon, I mean you no harm!” — Yoda

Webcam: Ewan McGregor  Simpson rehearse with Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard

Webcam photo: Ewan McGregor and Simpson rehearse with Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard.

Before Yoda’s ultimate quotes below, I asked some of you on my Facebook page what Yoda quote means the most to you. In truth I already knew the answer, but once the replies were in there was no doubting that one teaching above all others has shaped the path of so many of us. Whether it encourages us to “feel the fear but do it anyway” in a potentially frightening situation (as my mother taught me, just as Star Wars fans AJ and Theresa Danna explained very well here) or as a motto to use during those inevitable hard times in life to make sure you always act your best to rise above a bad situation (as fan Mário R. Cunha told me) — for great satisfaction does all of that bring.



When I think back, my own father (not Darth Vader) taught me the same thing when he would say, “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well,” without perhaps realizing he was echoing Yoda. Or did Yoda pick it up from him? I’ll “pay it no mind.”

“No! Try not! Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda

And that’s the real point. When we use creative visualization to truly see in our mind’s eye — the unadulterated eye of the youngling — the true and positive outcome that we want to achieve before we even start down the path of ever achieving it, unbeknown to our conscious mind, that belief shapes our interactions with others as we take the belief with us along that path — including the crucial gatekeepers who might otherwise disbelieve and thus stand in our way.

Luke: “What’s in there?”
Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”

But because we believe and see it, so do they, and so the gate is opened for us…

Luke: “I can’t believe it.”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

I had to employ this teaching when writing my time travel novel, The Chrononaut. I could’ve just “tried” to write a book, but that wouldn’t do. Only to “DO,” would do. If it wasn’t for Yoda, the book would’ve failed to win awards or have Jeff Lieber (creator of Lost no less) call it “Seriously super cool.” So trust me, or Yoda, it works.


It’s not all glamor even when (not if) you do reach your goal. You try sitting in one position, unable to move your eyes as you exchange looks with Yoda for two straight hours while they perfect tricky Jedi Meditation Chamber slatted lighting. I swear he winked at me at one point. And was I going cross-eyed or was he?



“When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.” — Yoda

But all fun aside, I had a lot of time to think during those final hours with the Master himself, and I took away from it one simple fact about my journey to get there:

It was Yoda’s words that made me so determined to work on the Star Wars films. How ironic was it that I succeed, and end up staring him in the face?


“Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions.” – Yoda

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There has been an awakening as Star Wars fans prepare for the inaugural runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. It is four days of Star Wars fandom, Disney magic, and running events for fans of all ages. It’s the first of its kind, and the one thing in the galaxy that could inspire me to take up running.

The runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend is four days of Star Wars-themed events this coming January 15-18 at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The experience kicks off with the runDisney Health and Fitness Expo, a three-day exhibition with the latest in fitness gear, guest speakers, and more. Thursday night, there is also a Wookiee Welcome Party, a private event at Disneyland Park. But these events are just the beginning.

Races begin on Friday, January 16, with the Star Wars 5K followed by Saturday’s Star Wars 10K and the Star Wars Half Marathon on Sunday. All of the races are Star Wars-themed, taking runners through Disneyland Resort parks and the surrounding city of Anaheim. The courses are filled with Star Wars and Disney characters (and maybe a few other surprises as well). On Saturday, there are even runDisney Kids Races for children eight and under.


I’ll be there all four days, running the 5K and 10K, and meeting fellow fans along the way. I’ll report back right here on; that is, if I survive.

Saying that I’m out of shape is an understatement. It’s been years since my last competitive run, so today I run with the speed of a Hutt. My running “form” can only be compared to the shuffle of a Wookiee. But thanks to some very helpful resources at and the inspiration that comes from a Star Wars-themed race, I’m excited to take on this challenge alongside many of you!

Cole Horton, pre-runDisney Star Wars

This is my “before” picture (taken today, actually). To quote Luke, “I’m ready.”

What’s the reward for such a trial? Race finishers will receive one or more Star Wars medals designed exclusively for this event. Perhaps the most elusive is the Star Wars Rebel Challenge finisher medal, reserved for racers who sign up and complete both the 10k and the Half Marathon, running a total of 19.3 miles over two days! In all, there are five exclusive medals at the event, giving runners the chance to add some very rare items to their collection.

The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend medals

The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend medals. The Half Marathon medal is inspired by the medals given to Han and Luke after the battle of Yavin.

If you would like to be a part of the excitement, head over to The races are sold out, but there are limited registrations available through select charity groups and participating travel partners. If you act fast, you can still be part of the finish line ChEAR Squad and Wookiee Welcome Party. While you’re there, be sure to check out training programs from Jeff Galloway and nutrition tips from Tara Gidus.

Keep checking back right here on for my latest runDisney updates. You can also follow along with my running (mis)adventures at If you want to learn more about the event, you can find all the details at

Will you be attending the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend? Sound off in the comments below!

Cole Horton is an R2 builder and historian featured on and You can find him on Twitter @ColeHorton.


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1988’s Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman and directed by John McTiernan, is perhaps one of the greatest, but often forgotten, Christmas movies ever made. It’s thrilling and puts the hero through his paces. Willis stars as John McClane, an off-duty cop who finds himself in a hostage situation. His wife and a number of other executives are being held for ransom by the criminal mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).

To add insult to injury, McClane isn’t even wearing shoes when the terrorist’s plan goes off, leaving him vulnerable in his effort to save the day.

I know you’re asking yourself, “What in the world could this possibly have to do with Star Wars?” But that tells me you may have forgotten a fantastic episode of The Clone Wars called Hostage Crisis.” Instead of the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles, the scene was set in the Senate building of Coruscant. The major players are Cad Bane (in his first on-screen appearance on The Clone Wars) as the terrorist leader, and Anakin Skywalker as John McClane.

Bane takes a group of Senators (including Anakin’s wife, Padmé!) hostage in the senate, leaving Anakin the only line of defense to save them. But, instead of his lack of shoes, Anakin has been robbed of his lightsaber, having handed it over to Padmé as a symbol of his love and dedication to her, so she can keep it safe during his down time.

Like John McClane in Die Hard, Anakin is forced to stay hidden and keep his wits about him to slowly infiltrate the hostage takers, keep his wife safe, and ultimately save the day.

Although Anakin isn’t able to completely foil Cad Bane’s plot, the episode certainly features many flourishes from Die Hard, from the cat and mouse action sequences to the explosions in the end.

Die Hard is a wonderful film, well-made, thrilling, and tightly paced. It holds up remarkably well for modern audiences as long as they can believe the technology restraints of communication that were present in the 1980s. Like most movies from the 1980s, though it’s rated R for over the top (and surprisingly realistic) violence, language, some drug use, and brief nudity, it’s the sort of movie that is almost tailor made for the sensibilities of tweens and teenagers. I watched it with my son and he was riveted by it, though we definitely had to have some conversations about the content afterward.

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of Sith.

You can also follow him on Twitter.


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In late October, clone-Fetts Dickey Beer and Bespin Boba rendezvoused in the high-desert at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino for Jim Burleson’s Santa Fe Comic Con. This particular bounty-hunter reunion was beneath the expansive Sangre de Christo mountain range — sacred to the Navajo people — where J. Robert Oppenheimer fashioned the world’s first atomic explosion. Joining us was another metaphorical “destroyer of worlds,” film’s legendary visual effects director and soft-spoken Jedi Bruce Logan. During our two Star Wars panels, Bruce electrified attendees with his own buffalo thunder — his accounts of detonating the Death Star, Alderaan, and an assortment of TIEs and X-Wing fighters during the making of Star Wars: A New Hope. Logan’s 50 years in film have produced truly epic cinematic images.

Born a Londoner, Bruce Logan began his hero’s journey by making animated films at 14. He learned his craft from his father, Campbell Logan, a BBC classical drama director. “My father told me that every frame of a film should be a perfect picture,” says Logan. “He told me how to do my first special effects — a split screen. He is responsible for all my knowledge of film history and for introducing me to the films of all the great directors of the day, including Stanley Kubrick.”

Shooting the trench run from Star Wars: A New Hope

In the sixties, Bruce was working as a visual effects artist. Kubrick’s special photographic effects supervisor on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Trumbull, hired him onto the picture. In the following two years, Logan worked on the film as an animation artist, cameraman, and shot designer. “2001 was my film school. I was hired as an animation artist, but when they found out I could also shoot animation, I became doubly useful. I shot and designed most of the readouts. I designed some and shot much of the Jupiter sequence. I shot the opening title sequence for the movie, and then shot it seven more times for all the foreign versions,” says Logan. “Stanley didn’t want any country to have a dupe-negative — especially at the beginning of the movie.”

After 2001, Trumbull brought him along to work on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. “But our footage was never used,” he says, “until it reappeared in the opening title sequence of Blade Runner.”

In the early seventies, when George Lucas started putting together his team for Star Wars, he interviewed Logan to be his effects supervisor. “My career at the time was moving forward as a feature DP [director of photography], and I wanted to stay focused on that. But when George returned from England, he was frustrated with his perceived lack of progress for shooting the motion-control spaceships.” Lucas wanted him to shoot puppeteers in black velvet suites flying spaceships on black rods through the frame in high speed. “This rather novel idea didn’t work out,” says Logan, “but my unit then went on to do the miniature explosions.”

His credit was second unit photography of the miniature and optical effects unit. Logan worked as DP and led the unit that produced the majority of the large featured/miniature explosions. “Joe Viskocil [the late special effects artist] did the miniature pyro work and made all the multi-layered bombs which were rigged overhead and shot with high-speed cameras.”

Bruce and his crew of eight began work in September 1976. “Our unit started out at the Berendo stage, but we soon found out that the bigger the explosions looked, the better. So we soon outgrew the ceiling height and moved to Stage 5 at the Producers’ Studio across from Paramount and shot against a forty-by-forty bluescreen lit with eight blue carbon arcs. We shot 35mm spherical at about 120 FPS [frames per second] and VistaVision high-speed at 110 FPS.” Logan’s team used squibs to detonate silt, magnesium, and gasoline-based explosives. “We let off massive explosions with very little safety equipment and no fireman. I remember wiping burning napalm off my arms after a particularly large explosion.”

Logan’s team had all their creative meetings with Lucas at the Van Nuys facility. “Richard Edlund [the first cameraman for the miniature and optical effects unit] did not work directly with our unit but asked for the particular formats that our work be shot in.” In the winter and early spring of 1977, the unit began blowing up models. “I was not involved in the trench shoot per se,” he says, “other than producing explosive elements and the ship which were blown up and optically inserted into the trench sequence.” Logan adds that he used the Van Nuys machine shop extensively to make parts for his race-car. He is a champion race-car driver and a licensed pilot.

Shooting a trench run explosion from Star Wars: A New Hope

Post-Star Wars, Logan continued to ascend in his film career, working as a director of photography or DP for special effects on over a dozen films. They include I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Airplane, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, Batman Forever, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in which he also served as a second unit director, and film’s first cyberspace thriller, Tron. In 1986, he directed the prison action film Vendetta. Over the last 20 years, he has directed and shot music videos (Prince, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Glenn Frey, The Go-Gos, Karyn White, Tevin Campbell, Hank Williams, Jr., and Michael Cooper), a PBS Great Performances episode, and a host of commercials all featuring a distinctive Logan touch, as evidenced by this most visually kinetic montage on his website.

The supremely innovative Logan has maintained his relationship with Trumbull. In 2009, he helped develop a virtual set process with Trumbull’s Entertainment Design Workshop. Says Logan, “Doug built a new camera system called “Zero-G” which was basically a handheld camera which encoded all its movements into a computer and drove a Virtual Set. In its final incarnation we were able to shoot puppets against bluescreen and show a full rez [resolution] final composite of the puppets inside the virtual set in real-time.”

Logan now has ascended to the point where he has his own production company, Seventh Ray Entertainment, that puts his accumulated experience and many facets together. Recently he has been prepping to direct two films, Cowgirls, a western shot in New Mexico, and a cop thriller, Painted Dolls. Providing an insight into the intentionally Theosophical name of his company, Bruce offers that his mother was “an ardent esotericist.” “I had been introduced into the world of spirituality at a very early age, and so I knew of Joseph Campbell quite a while before he consulted on Star Wars. I was happy to see George and subsequently the mainstream media get a spiritual message out to the masses.”

John appeared as Dak, Luke Skywalker’s back-seater in the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. He also appeared in the film substituting for Jeremy Bullloch as Boba Fett on Bespin when he utters his famous line to Darth Vader, “He’s no good to me dead.” Follow him on Twitter @tapcaf.

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Star Wars #1, arriving January 14, 2015, will kick off a new era of Star Wars comics — and has your first look!

Set directly after the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the series (helmed by the all-star creative of team of writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday) will be the flagship of Marvel’s new canonical line of comics. What actually happened following the destruction of Death Star? Soon, you’ll find out.

Check out exclusive preview pages of Star Wars #1 — featuring some old friends doing what they do best — below!

Star Wars #1 preview page

Star Wars #1 preview page

Star Wars #1 preview page

Stay tuned to and for more on upcoming Star Wars comic books and graphic novels! All Star Wars, all the time.


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Earlier this year the cameras began to roll for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Abu Dhabi and while only time will tell what exactly was filmed on May 16, we can take a look back in history and explore the first days of shooting for the first six films in the saga. We start this two part series with the original trilogy of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

A New Hope

After a difficult pre-production phase of nearly three years, in which it was difficult to even find a studio willing to invest in the movie, the time had come to start shooting Star Wars (as it was originally called). Cast and crew left the UK with not all the preparations finished, there were still problems with some costumes like C-3PO and the stormtroopers, and back in the US, ILM was struggling with the technology required for the special effects. It seemed that the cast and crew were in for a difficult shoot. This proved true the moment they arrived in Djerba where they had a lay-over in a big hotel sprawling with German tourists who could not find their rooms, while production was to wake up at 6 a.m. for a long drive to Tozeur. The trip itself was also taxing for the drivers because it was difficult to see the dark-clothed native Berber people while driving in the night. In Tozeur they ran into their next problem: the big hotel of the city was closed for renovations and the cast and crew for the 12-hour long miniseries Jesus of Nazareth had booked the best alternative hotels, as well as most of the local technicians and rental cars. Cast and crew ended up in fourth-rate hotels, sometimes doubled or even tripled up in rooms. Producer Gary Kurtz would say later of this: “That was okay for two weeks. We could survive that. But if it had been two or three months, we would have had a riot on our hands.”

March 22, 1976

Shooting Star Wars on March 22, 1976.

March 22, 1976 – For this first day of shooting the following scenes where planned to be shot: parts from the scene where the droids Artoo and Threepio are being purchased, as well as parts for Luke watching the twin suns scene and the scene where Threepio and Luke rush out of the homestead to look for the escaped Artoo. The scenes were all shot around the set of the igloo and the treadmill wheels of the sandcrawler that was build earlier on the salt lake of Chott el Jerid, near Nefta. The call to begin was at 6:30 a.m., which was way too early for Anthony Daniels because he had slept terribly again after not getting much sleep in Djerba, and the two hours it took to put his costume on did not help with his mood, either. Still, like a professional, he soldiered on despite the costume being too much of a tight fit, hurting the actor whenever he had to move. Mark Hamill, on the other hand, quite enjoyed the first day as Luke Skywalker.

The rush to get started with shooting the movie proved to cause even more problems on this day, especially with the astromech droids. The production found out that the batteries they had put in them were too quick to deplete and not easy to replace, and that Artoo’s middle leg would not come out — whatever they tried. Another problem was that the droids would not always respond to their remote controls, causing them to go everywhere and not stop when they had to. A special problem case also was R5-D4, the red droid that Luke almost bought instead of Artoo. The crew had discovered that the exploding head was also where the parts were located to make him move, so they could not blow the head up. Still calm on the first day, Lucas and his team found creative ways around this, like pulling R5-D4’s backup droid on a rope so that they did not need him to move anymore, and Lucas knew that he would be able to use lots of smaller cuts in the movie to mask whenever a droid started to do something that it was not supposed to do.

They ended the day at 7:20 p.m., after shooting the night scene where Luke and Threepio are trying to find the escaped Artoo. Due to poor weather conditions the scene with Luke watching at the twin suns setting was scrapped and would eventually be filmed on March 29. The poor weather conditions on this first day would be a prelude to the big storm that would plague the production later, along with more accidents and problems that caused George Lucas to step down from directing for the next two movies.

The Empire Strikes Back

Just like with A New Hope it was decided to start shooting for The Empire Strikes Back on a location, this time it was the ice-planet Hoth, which was filmed in a small town called Finse in Norway. Most likely due to the newfound popularity for Star Wars and its upcoming sequel, a press conference was held in Oslo on February 29, 1979. There it was revealed that shooting would start  the next Monday (March 5, 1979), that Harrison Ford would fly over later because his scenes were scheduled for the second week of shooting and that Carrie Fisher wanted to come, despite not having any exterior scenes on Hoth, because she could not bear to miss the location atmosphere.

The next two days, cast and crew left Oslo in stages, but just like with Tunisia not everything went smoothly: there were not enough porters to carry all the luggage from hotel to bus to train, the luggage itself was way more than expected partially in thanks to Mark and Marilou Hamill, who were packing extra luggage with them just in case their son Nathan would be born prematurely in the remote shooting location. Also, the cast and crew stood waiting on the wrong track for the Oslo-Bergen express train, causing them to have to run quickly to the right track when they found out.

March 5, 1979

Irvin Kersher and Harrison Ford, March 5, 1979.

March 5, 1979 – Ever since arriving in Finse the weather had gotten even worse, reaching the point that over the previous weekend multiple avalanches had occurred causing train tunnels to be blocked completely by the snow, in a sense trapping the cast and crew from the outside world. At the location itself they found that the resulting whiteouts from the heavy snowfall also made it impossible to travel along the glacier to the two base camps where they had prepared to shoot scenes like the battlefield. Not that it mattered because the carefully excavated trenches had become completely filled again due to the heavy snowfall.

Despite his best preparations, Irvin Kershner, the new director taking over from Lucas, discovered that the extreme cold caused many more problems, from the difficulty in making notes by pen and paper with gloves because his tape recorder would freeze up immediately, to cameras that had lenses that would fog up or not work at all. It was clear that Lucas’ advice to not expect everything to work would become prophetic.

Determined not to let the production run over schedule, Kershner decided to start filming from the back of the hotel, calling up on Mark Hamill to be working this day for his scenes in which he escapes from the wampa and staggers on the plains of Hoth. Kershner also put Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Des Webb (Wampa) on the call list, but they end up not filming that day. Another important decision that Kershner took to not further delay shooting, was to call for Harrison Ford to come over so that they could film his scenes, starting the following day. After making some phone calls Ford was able to catch an afternoon flight from London to Oslo. However by the time he had arrived in Oslo, three avalanches had occurred, cutting Finse not only off by rail, but also by any other means of transport other than a big and slow-going snowplow. Ford managed to take the train to Geilo, a ski resort 30 miles from Finse, from where he took two cabs, bringing him another seven miles closer, to Ustaoset where production manager Bjorn Jacobsen found him with the snowplow, bringing a bottle of vodka with him that they shared on the drive back. It would be close to midnight when they arrived with the snowplow back in Finse, ready to start filming the next day.

Return of the Jedi

For Return of the Jedi, new director Richard Marquand, along with co-producer Robert Watts, decided to start in the EMI Elstree Studios, which in hindsight looks like a smart decision considering the previous movies and the problems that came with starting on location. After carefully looking at the schedule, Marquand had decided that the sandstorm scene on Stage 2 was the first scene he wanted to shoot. He reasoned that it may not have been the easiest one for the actors, but he could do the entire shoot for the scene in one day, freeing the stage quickly for the bigger, and more difficult to build, Dagobah set. With the shots carefully laid out in the way Marquand wanted to shoot them and with a press release ready to be released before dawn the next day, Marquand and the rest of the cast and crew settled in their London hotels, expecting finally a smooth start for a Star Wars film shoot.

January 11, 1982

George Lucas and Richard Marquand, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, January 11, 1982.

January 11, 1982 – Sadly that was not meant to be and the first problems arose even before everyone was well inside the studio. Carrie Fisher found out that the heating system in her room was bellowing toxic fumes and the car that was supposed to take Mark Hamill to the studio was stolen overnight.

Despite this, spirits were high and while the cast was in makeup, the Ewok extras were exercising to get in shape for their roles. The life-size Millennium Falcon was brought out of storage, and stood ready alongside an X-wing and a lot of fans with a broken-cork substance to simulate the blowing sand. And as soon Marquand said “Action!” the problems with Artoo started again, with the droid veering off to every direction, except the one he was supposed to go. Another problem was that the fans with the cork substance were way too loud and obscured everything, causing one of the camera teams to miss the cue from Marquand so that nothing of it was shot. With the views already obscured and difficult to see for the human cast and crew, Anthony Daniels especially had it difficult with the tunnel vision that his Threepio mask gave him. Rehearsing the scene beforehand gave him some of the direction he had to walk in, but the moment he had to do it with the sand bellowing around him, he just kept walking until suddenly he saw crewmembers, and while he was contemplating on what they were doing in the middle of the scene, he hit a rock and fell over.

After the first completely successful take it was time for a quick celebration before finishing up the rest of the scene. Mark Hamill was the last of the cast to finish shooting the scene, and this made him the only person to have filmed on all three of the first days of shooting. With the cast back in their hotels, the day was not yet over for Marquand and some other key staff members, who went to Stage 6 to see the final costume test of Michael Carter as Bib Fortuna, followed by some more preparations for the next day.

Join us next month for part 2 in which we take a look at the first days of shooting for the prequel trilogy!

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I remember when Fantasy Flight Games announced they’d be releasing the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. My social media feeds lit up brighter than a Christmas tree with excited fans talking about it. The tactical combat game was released in 2012 and has received praise from fans both for gameplay and for the detailed ships used in the game. I confess to purchasing an X-wing and the Millennium Falcon just because I wanted to put them on my shelf.


That’s not the case with Ruark Dreher (producer of Star Wars fan film Hughes the Force and video podcast The Comlink). Oh, he buys every ship and expansion pack released by Fantasy Flight Games, but he does so in order to play. He’s so enthusiastic about X-Wing Miniatures that he made a custom table just for the game. It’s even lighted by color-changing LEDs! Dreher told me about how he crafted this beauty, and I’m tempted to try to build one of my own.


Making the table was almost a necessity. Dreher saw other fans of X-Wing Miniatures play on vinyl mats or use bigger Star Destroyers for flyovers. The problem was that he didn’t have a surface big enough for his collection of game materials with enough seating for a group of friends to play. He wanted to create a table that had space for the game but also separate areas for the cards, tokens, and templates. And, he wanted the playing surface to be backlit. The solution was a 48″ x 48″ table with a 36″ x 36″ raised acrylic playing surface (36″ x 36″ is the regulation size for tournament games). The height of the table matches that of an overage coffee table.

We’ll get to the incredible playing surface in a minute but take a minute to bask in the details. Dreher enhanced two sides of the table by adding Imperial and Rebel symbols in red and white and the X-Wing Miniatures logo. He put the classic yellow Star Wars logo on the other sides. The border is about six inches wide to accommodate everyone’s gaming materials.

IMG_5300_resized_green lights

The playing surface is where it gets even more impressive. Most impressive, actually. The LEDs make it appear as though the ships are actually gliding through space, and I can only imagine how much it enhances gameplay. Dreher explains how it came together:

“The bottom surface is painted with a starfield background with partial depth holes spot drilled all over. I then added a string of color-changing LED lights to the inside of the frame, back-lighting the surface through the drilled holes. The frame for the raised acrylic surface is set inboard from its edge a bit, giving it an overhang. On the underside of that overhang I placed a second, independent string of LED lights that acts to light up the card surfaces. The LED kits have remote controls with various color and flash pattern options. We rotate the lighting throughout the course of a game, but it has now become tradition to turn it all red when a ship is destroyed and taken off the table, complete with everyone adding their own explosive sound effects!”

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Gaming Table in use

He broke in the table with a five-hour game and 300-point battle. To make the experience even more immersive, he played the Star Wars film scores by John Williams in the background. Even though Dreher is a member of the 501st Legion and allied with the Empire, he admits on that day, the Rebels claimed victory.

Raise your hand if you’re planning to find out where Dreher lives and invite yourself over for a round of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures on this gaming table! Kidding aside, have you built anything like this custom table? Share photos and links in the comments!

Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with all things Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. You can follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek and keep up with all things geeky at her blog.

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