The Blockade Runner

Star Wars Is Forever


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Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One

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I recently picked up a copy of Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One from Abrams ComicArts on Amazon after Ryan pointed it out to me on Twitter. I hadn’t heard anything about the book, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m super happy I grabbed it as it’s a great collectible and a convenient (an inexpensive) way to enjoy the Topps cards series without having to track them all down.

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The book opens with an essay by author Gregg Garani about the production of this first series of Topps Star Wars cards and it acts as a primer for viewing the volume’s primary content: images of every card from the original run for A New Hope. Garani also includes captions for many of the cards themselves and his commentary is thoughtful and informative as a result of his being part of the team at Topps that put the series together. He apparently also co-wrote Pumpkinhead, so it’s safe to say he rules!

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In addition to the hundreds of pages of images of the card series, there’s also an afterword that focuses on the Wonder Bread cards released alongside A New Hope and even some sealed bonus cards attached to the back cover (I opted not to remove/open them, so I can’t comment on their content).

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The care and quality with which the book was put together is what makes it an exciting product, at least for me. I liked the idea of a volume collecting the original Topps Star Wars cards, but I was a bit skeptical of how engaging the final product would really be, so I was happy to find that Abrams created a really special product here. The hardcover binding is excellent, each page features just one card in a simple, clean layout (one can imagine how the publisher could’ve easily opted for a more cluttered approach resulting in few pages, but also less class), and every choice from the images of gum sticks on the front and back of the book to the wax-like feel of the dust jacket indicate Abrams, Garani, and the rest of the book’s contributors took their time to create an excellent collectible.

Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series Volume One has a list price of $24.95, which I would argue is a fair price, but it’s currently selling for about $16 on Amazon. At either price I’d strongly recommend it to fans of the original Topps cards or those looking for a quality Star Wars collectible. Amazon currently carries listings for volumes based on Empire and the Star Wars: Galaxy card series, so it appears this is the first in a number of books that will provide an exhaustive look at Topps’ Star Wars card series.

 

 

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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Wings of the Master

Last week’s Hera-centric episode of Rebels, “Wings of the Master,” featured a number of beautiful shots, many of which come from breathtaking scenes of Hera piloting the prototype B-wing designed and built by Quarrie on Shantipole. The Rebels incarnation of the B-wing looks fantastic, bright color-scheme and all, and it was a joy to watch Hera pilot the ship and be in the spotlight as the episode’s protagonist.

That being said, this week I’ve chosen to focus on a shot (or two) of Kanan manning the Ghost’s canons and taking on a couple of approaching TIEs. While this isn’t necessarily the most beautiful shot in the episode, I was repeatedly impressed by the space battle scenes in “Wings of the Master,” particularly those taking place in turret stations like this one. IMG_0074Space battles are appearing more frequently as Rebels progresses and the show has been portraying them in an exciting and kinetic way. In this specific case, the motion of Kanan’s swinging turrets and seat coupled with the accompanying camera movement creates an impressive immersiveness that rivals (and possibly exceeds) similar scenes from the films. IMG_0069I also made note of the contrast between Kanan’s dimly lit figure and the bright brilliance of the exploding Tie in the distance. The explosion itself looked both authentic and impressive and serves as another example of how the show is able impress while emulating and updating the original visual language of the films.


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The Blockade Runner Video Show Episode 1 – Lucasfilm Sale and the Announcement of More Star Wars

Today I’m very excited to share the first episode of The Blockade Runner’s video show on YouTube! We shot the footage last month and I’ve been working on putting it together since. This episode features Dan, Kevin, and myself (John) discussing our initial reactions to Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney and the news that many more films were to be produced going forward, which seemed like an appropriate topic for our first episode and one that would potentially remain interesting even after The Force Awakens is released and the speculation about its plot is put to rest.

The Blockade Runner was actually originally conceived as a project that would primarily produce videos like this one, but financial, geographical, and scheduling difficulties meant it was easier to start with the podcast and blog and move forward with the video production side of things afterward. We plan to continue shooting episodes whenever we can though, and there’s more footage already recorded and in the process of being edited that will go up soon.

You’ll notice we’re not referring to this video as a podcast; we chose to avoid the formatting we use for our audio-only shows and hopefully this will feel different from what we release in that format. The videos will be considerably shorter than a podcast, and there’s no host. Instead we hope they better emulate the conversations we’ve been having as friends for close to twenty years now. Our goal is to produce something compelling for viewers, but we’re honestly also just excited about having a record of these Star Wars arguments and discussions that have defined our friendships for so long.

So, more shows are on the way and if you enjoy this first one, we’d love it if you’d leave a comment or drop us a line through Twitter or email. We have nearly endless enthusiasm for discussing these topics and we know there won’t be any shortage of content to talk about in the coming years, so we hope you’ll join us as we move forward with this project.


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – Brothers of the Broken Horn

The newest episode of Rebels, “Brothers of the Broken Horn,” is the lightest and most humorous we’ve seen since probably “Idiot’s Array” in season one, so for this Rebels Screenshot Spotlight I’m choosing an image that highlights the always entertaining weequay pirate Hondo Ohnaka.

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“Brothers of the Broken Horn” ends with Ezra’s realization that a pirate life is not for him as he knows he has a more selfless path in front of him. Still, Hondo and Ezra shared a brief adventure and though this shot of the two of them together is simple and straightforward, I thought it was a nice moment between the two of them and a good representation of the episode as a whole.

HondoAs a Clone Wars character returning on Rebels, it’s also interesting to look at how Hondo’s design has been simplified to match the aesthetic of the newer show. I’ve always loved Hondo (and I’m not alone, as he’s certainly a fan favorite), but I find him even more charismatic and appealing in his Rebels incarnation. I prefer the more cartoonish feel of Rebels and a character like Hondo exemplifies how warm and welcoming the show’s look is in comparison to the approach of Clone Wars.

Some fans expressed disappointment in “Brothers of the Broken Horn” because it lacks the drama and weight of other episodes of Rebels, but I was happy to see Hondo return and I don’t mind a lighter episode now and then to balance out the darker ones. I’m happy to have the old pirate back, and while I hope they use him sparingly going forward, I’m hoping to see him again when the arc of the show calls for a bit of levity.


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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 2 – International Trailer Reactions, New Posters, and More!

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Show Notes:

Download or stream episode 2 here!

In this episode of The Blockade Runner, Dan, Kevin, Ryan, and John discuss the new international trailer for The Force Awakens, the new TFA character posters, Darth Jar Jar theories, Harrison Ford and Kevin Smith interviews, the successful #ForceForDaniel campaign, and more. We’ll be back in early December for at least one more pre-TFA episode!

Intro and outro music in The Blockade Runner is “Hedonism” by Ash.

Email=theblockaderunnerpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter=@blockaderun

Instagram=theblockaderunner


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Rebels Screenshot Spotlight – “Always Two There Are”

It occurred to me while watching the most recent episode of Rebels, “Always Two There Are,” that I’d like to do something here on The Blockade Runner blog to show appreciation for the incredible art/design/look of the show. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the show’s style when the characters were revealed (there had been a bit of talk re: the McQuarrie influence and I think was expecting something different), but from the moment I was able to see it in motion, I’ve been incredibly impressed. Seeing Joel Aaron’s presentation at Celebration Anaheim only increased my appreciation for the show’s look and dedication to authenticity, and the initial shot of The Ghost approaching the abandoned Republic medical station moved me to action.

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I was initially taken aback by the presentation of the medical station itself; the elegance of the station and the cylindrical or almost funnel-like shape of it seemed distinctly McQuarrie. I think it may have reminded me of some of his Cloud City designs, and upon doing some digging I found a piece of Coruscant concept work that shares some similarities with this design. I’m not sure if this specific station was directly influenced by McQuarrie concepts or not, but it shares qualities with his designs that I think are very beautiful and very Star Wars.

I was also struck by the enormity of the medical station in relationship to The Ghost. It becomes clear as the episode unfolds that Ezra and the rest of the crew are pitted against a powerful enemy that outmatches them in most ways, and the composition of this shot emphasizes that the deck is very much stacked against them and that they’ll have to overcome a major challenge to successfully complete their mission.

I’m no design expert, so I hope it’s clear here that I’m commenting on this shot from Always Two There Are” out of appreciation for the incredible work of the Rebels crew. Watching Rebels has delighted me more than I expected in numerous ways, and its so gratifying and exciting to be presented with such beautiful imagery each week, so I’m looking forward to finding more breathtaking shots to feature from upcoming episodes.