June 12, 2015

Ahsoka Lives!

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim was the best Celebration experience I've had so far. The gathering of Star Wars fans continues to be so much more than just a convention - it's a meaningful experience where I connect with so many friends and fans. I walked around for four days with the biggest grin on my face. That doesn't happen at any other convention because tiredness eventually defeats me. But not at Celebration.

One of the highlights of the event was #AhsokaLives DayJohnamarie Macias and I organized the Ahsoka Tano appreciation event because we were (and are!) excited about the return of the character in Star Wars Rebels. She really grew up over the course of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and I'm delighted we get to see more of her story. With the Season 2 premiere of Star Wars Rebels approaching (it's on June 20), it seemed like a good time to share group photos from Ahsoka Lives Day. All of these can be clicked to enlarge:

photo by Brian Larsen

photo by Brian Larsen

Johna, Ashley, me, and Dave - photo by Jenn Fujikawa
I'm thrilled so many fans showed up and suffered in the sun (I picked the worst time of day for the group photo) for the event. As you can see, we had participants of all ages and genders and they wore everything from custom shirts to full Ahsoka costumes. Other than the obnoxious guy who jumped in the front of the picture to take pictures of Dave (or maybe selfies with him), the event was a smashing success. And oh yeah, by the way, Ashley Eckstein and Dave Filoni kindly took time from their busy schedule to join us.

Many fans joined in from afar as well. Here's an attempt at a photo mosaic of everyone who posted images to social media on April 17 with the #AhsokaLives hashtag:


And you can see a glimpse of the Ahsoka Lives group at 3:11 in the below video from Lucasfilm about the return of Ahsoka:



This is a tradition I hope to continue at each Celebration.

You can see more photos from Ahsoka Lives Day at Flickr.

June 10, 2015

Review: Licensed Replicas from Skelton Crew Studio

As much as I love lining my shelves with toys and statues from giant franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, I also like finding treasures from indie and/or creator-owned franchises too. In fact, it's more rewarding to me to find something like a replica of a shield from Mouse Guard or a plush Chog from Chew because I wouldn't expect those products to exist like I do with a replica of Captain America's shield. But exist they do, and they're made by Skelton Crew Studio.

Founded by Israel Skelton, Skelton Crew Studio makes officially licensed, high quality replicas. It started with keys for IDW's Locke and Key. The replicas aren't quite toys; that's not the right word. Not even for the plushes. They're collectibles. I took a close look at a handful of Skelton Crew products and was impressed with the attention given not only to the products but to the packaging and tags. They've managed to make the mere act of opening a box or bag an immersive experience that throws you into a fictional world.


Let's take a closer look!



From David Petersen's Eisner and Harvey award winning Mouse Guard, Skelton Crew has made axes, a shield, and plush. They all are, of course, mouse-sized versions. Skelton worked with Petersen to create the replicas and the plush of Saxon, and I love being able to have a piece of Mouse Guard on my shelf. Mouse Guard Fall 1152 was one of the first graphic novels I read - I remember finding it at Barnes and Noble and being enthralled. But, I digress.

The plush captures the character from the comics, is sturdy, and manufactured well - for example, the butt is weighted so Saxon sits up properly rather than falling off your shelf.

Rand's Shield is a thing of beauty. The front is engraved and weathered with care, and it looks like it's seen plenty of action in the course of Guardmouse duties. And though you won't see the back of the shield often, there are little leather straps. That's an area where they could have slacked off but nope.


I've never been so excited about a nail. The Bog Roosh's Nail is a replica from Mike Mignola's Hellboy and has my favorite packaging of maybe any product ever. It comes in a sealed B.P.R.D. box and is cataloged like a proper artifact. Busting open the "do not tamper" seal made me feel like I was breaking some sort of law, but I did it anyway. The nail itself is solid, made of quality material - you know, not flimsy plastic. It's made from pewter. This is a replica that's built to last.


If you've heard of Skelton Crew, you've probably heard of their collectible keys from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke and Key. They've crafted more than 20 replica keys from the series since 2009, each of them unique and gorgeous. I received the Head Key and the Grindhouse Key. I love the design of this line. They're right out of the pages of comics. Again, they're made from pewter and could be used as weapons in a pinch. Their size makes them ideal for shadow box style displays - they would look amazing in a museum display case.

These two keys in particular really show off Skelton's range. They vary wildly in style and color but are beautifully crafted and evoke different emotions. Bonus: they also make lovely pieces even if you're not familiar with the source material.


John Layman and Rob Guillory's Chew continually makes me laugh. The quirky story and characters are fun, and I don't see myself forgetting about Chogs anytime soon. And Skelton Crew has brought them to life. This plush Chog is so cute and huggable that I can totally forget it's a genetically engineered creature. He (it just seems like a he to me) needs to be leaned against something to stay upright, but he's super soft and looks like he just walked out of the pages of the comic. And again with the packaging! The Chog comes in a Sushi Ono takeout carton that's so funny you'll be displaying it right alongside the Chog.

You can see more photos of the replicas and all the wonderful packaging at Flickr. All of these items are available for purchase from Skelton Crew Studio.

Full disclosure: The items featured in this post were provided by Skelton Crew Studio for review purposes. This did not affect my review of the products.

June 9, 2015

Read Dune with me!

We all have books we've been meaning to read. My list of books like that is long. Too long. But I'm slowly chipping away at it. Last summer, I finally read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion because I tackled it for Nerdist Book Club (and I'm so glad I did). This summer, it's all about Dune. I've actually read Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic at least twice, but I've learned it's one of those "I'll read it one day" books on several other people's list. So, I chose it for the subject of the next Nerdist Book Club!


If you want to join me and read along as I go through Dune with weekly posts and discussions, head over to Nerdist and take a look at the schedule. The first discussion takes place on June 22. I'm breaking Dune down into 12 parts/weeks because there's so much to explore. Details on how to participate are at Nerdist.

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