The Blockade Runner

Star Wars Is Forever

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

bb-8 fire

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.



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Star Wars: Shattered Empire is Your First Step into a Larger World


Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto

Star Wars: Shattered Empire issue 4 hit comic shops today, concluding the story. After reading the final issue, I can confidently recommend the series to pretty much anyone anticipating The Force Awakens.

Shattered Empire is incredibly approachable and new-reader friendly- all you really need to enjoy it is a passing familiarity with the films. The book begins where Return of the Jedi ends: The Battle of Endor. As you may have expected from the mere existence of the upcoming sequel film trilogy, the death of Emperor Palpatine did not result in a “happily ever after” for the galaxy.


The miniseries has original trilogy favorites interacting with new characters, two of which have a pretty direct tie to The Force Awakens. The story has everything you’d want from a Star Wars yarn- space battles, romance, a lightsaber, Ewoks… It’s a gorgeous comic, and the dialogue and images flow smoothly from panel to panel. My only real complaint with the book is that it goes by a bit too quickly. I became pretty invested in the story of the two main characters, Shara and Kes. I found their story, despite the space battles and daring rescues, surprisingly grounded and relatable. While I thought the ending was excellent, I wish I had been able to spend more time with them.

If you’ve been curious about the Marvel comics and/or the “new canon” in general, Shattered Empire is a high quality, new-reader friendly book. And it may cause you to look at one Episode VII character in a whole new light on December 18th…

If you want physical copies of the four issues, check your local comic shop

You can buy digital issues (that you can read online or on your iPhone, iPad or Android Device) directly from Marvel

Or the cheapest option would be to wait for the trade paperback collection of the issues, which comes out next month

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The Blockade Runner Podcast Episode 1.5 – TFA Trailer Reactions


Show Notes:

Download episode 1.5 here!

The final Force Awakens trailer is here and Ryan and John got together to discuss it just an hour or so after it was released. We pick the trailer apart shot by shot as we process our excitement about this incredible new trailer and also briefly share our ticket pre-sales experiences.

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



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One Day Remains: Thoughts on the TFA Poster, Final Trailer, and the Lead Up to This Moment

This morning I found myself watching the first two Force Awakens trailers again with my youngest son. I wanted to watch them again while they were still the primary sources of footage for the movie and it occurred to me that the period of time from the release of that first trailer last November to the final moments before tomorrow’s (presumably final) trailer drops is a significant era in Star Wars history.

It’s probably a bit melodramatic to look at it this way, but I do believe we’re entering the final push toward The Force Awakens and I enjoyed taking a few moments to look back at the past year. As I watched those two trailers a few more times, I started thinking about all of the other events and reveals that have taken place since: Comic-Con, May 4th, D23, and even Force Friday all took place during this period of time. Together, they’ve provided small bursts of images and information to keep us engaged and excited about The Force Awakens, but it feels as if tomorrow signals a considerably more significant lifting of the veil of secrecy around TFA.

Then again, the poster itself is very much in line with standard operating procedures so far; it’s conservative in how much new information it reveals (although upon close inspection there is one as-yet-seen character and what seems to a huge reveal in the upper right corner) and it makes use of concepts and characters we’ve become familiar with already. If the trailer follows a similar path, I won’t be surprised and I won’t be disappointed. But I can’t help but feel that the film’s story will become much more clear after viewing tomorrow’s trailer in a way that Lucasfilm was never ready to provide until now.

And if the trailer does provide a more detailed look at The Force Awakens story, for me it will mark the beginning of a new era in the lead up to the film – one that I expected to begin with Force Friday. I’m ready for that, but running through those first two trailers a few more times this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit of sadness about this past year’s era of anticipation coming to an end. I want the answer to the questions I’ve been asking myself for the past 11 months (and really much longer). I desperately want to see more footage from TFA and I’ve even found myself frustrated with how long Lucasfilm has held out. But, asking those questions and waiting with the most excited anticipation for new footage has been the most fun I’ve had with Star Wars since 2005 or earlier. I have high hopes that the satisfaction and joy I’ll experience with the release of The Force Awakens itself will far exceed the fun I’ve had waiting for the movie, but I think I’ll always remember the wait for this one as a uniquely special time in Star Wars fandom.

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There Is Another: Disney Store Exclusive Interactive BB-8 Impressions

Sphero’s app-enabled interactive BB-8 toy seems to be the most talked about and highly sought-after piece of Force Friday merchandise, and for good reason: it’s an incredibly enticing and desirable piece of tech. That being said, for many of us it’s difficult to wrap our heads around spending $150 on a small toy (even in an admittedly super-cool way) when there’s so much other great Star Wars merch available right now that could be had for that sum.

bb-8 thinkway

Luckily there’s an alternative interactive BB-8 for those of us who are hesitant to spend the necessary credits on Sphero’s version. The Disney Store, first in the UK and now here in the US as well, has released Thinkway Toys’ larger but less technologically impressive interactive BB-8 for only $35. My son was lucky enough to receive one as a birthday gift last week (which means I’m lucky enough to have one in the house), and while it isn’t the high-tech wonder that the Sphero version is, it’s arguably the better choice for kids and an undeniably endearing toy.

When we opened the Thinkway BB-8, I was immediately struck by its size and weight; it’s a big and sturdy toy and it looks great from afar. We often leave her sitting next to our tv on the piece of furniture it rests on so that it’s both on display and ready to pull down and start patrolling the living room. On closer inspection there are buttons on the front and top of BB-8 that slightly detract from its authenticity, but for the most part it’s quite the toy and prop, especially for the price.

BB-8 moves via a wheel underneath her body, which is initially disappointing, but it’s mostly hidden and it isn’t too noticeable until she begins cruising. Even then her wheel is essentially out of sight, but as soon as Thinkway’s BB-8 becomes mobile, it’s obvious that a toy like this one was never going to feature the incredible movement of its film counterpart. Still, though her lower sphere is stationary as she rolls around, her head does swivel from side-to-side and she has a blue eye that lights up as well.

Movement is activated either by button (on top of her head) or apparently sound, though I’m not quite sure how that works. Unfortunately the instructions are limited to images and light text on the packaging, so I’m still not clear on how the voice activated mode really works. But whether activated by button or by sound, Thinkway’s BB-8 will roll around for a few feet or until she bumps into something insurmountable for her wheel to climb over (she’s pretty good at making the jump from my hardwood floor to an area rug though).

Though the sounds she makes are a nice touch (especially her super-cute shutdown beep), her motor and wheel are also louder than I expected and result in a fairly distracting amount of noise. And though she’s sturdy and seems like she’ll hold up even with a lot of play, her antennas are her one structural weak point. One of them broke within a day of use (she often bumps into walls and other objects), so I’d recommend keeping those packed away or closely monitoring her movements to keep her pristine.
I’m enjoying our BB-8 quite a bit; it’s a fun toy and it looks great when not in use. That being said, it isn’t a collector’s item designed for adults looking for a cool gadget or impressive technology like Sphero’s BB-8. While I’m hoping to get one of those as well, I’m happy to have an affordable alternative in the Disney Store/Thinkway BB-8 and I think it’s an excellent choice for families or for anyone who wants an interactive version of the new droid but can’t afford the pricier version. The Thinkway BB-8 is on shelves at Disney Stores now, but it’s also available on their site. I’ve noticed that the listing has been pulled from the site at least once since the toy was released, so if you’re interested keep checking back in the event it’s not currently available.