With the first episode of LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles debuting later this month, I was able to chat with the show’s writer, Michael Price, about the upcoming episode ‘The Phantom Clone’ and see what sorts of fun adventures await us and Master Yoda. In addition to writing the previous two standalone LEGO Star Wars specials, Michael Price has been a long time writer and executive producer on The Simpsons, having won several Emmys for his work on the show.
The official site points out that while we’ve had LEGO Star Wars specials in the past, The Yoda Chronicles is first to really introduce new main characters just for the shows, in this case: a clone, Jek 14, who has been “enhanced” by the Force. ‘The Phantom Clone’ and the other two future The Yoda Chronicles specials are produced by Wil Film ApS and written by Michael Price, who wrote the hilarious previous LEGO Star Wars specials, The Padawan Menace and The Empire Strikes Out.
It’s been about a week since the DVD release of LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, and we’ve got a couple clips for you, as well as the highlights of several reviews of this 22-minute special. Above, Luke and Leia share an awkward moment in ‘Sister’, while below, Luke runs into trouble of a different sort: giggling groupies. Also, we’ll check in with what reviewers are saying about the DVD, which came out on March 26.
Here’s how The Empire Strikes Out is stacking up:
The Morton Report calls it a breezily entertaining treat, but cautions that at 22 minutes and no special features, the only bonus is the LEGO mini-figure of Darth Vader with medal.
Scifi Mafia gave it 5/5 stars with “The writing is awesome, and the comedy is the perfect amount of gag and poking fun at Star Wars and LEGO alike. We loved it. It’s great fun for the whole family.”
While LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out is a lot of fun to watch and re-watch (I still have it on my DVR from when it first aired on Cartoon Network), the lack of any extras (besides the exclusive LEGO Vader mini-figure) makes me hesitant to trade up for the DVD, while first special, LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace did have some additional material on its DVD/Blu-ray combo release. Still, if you haven’t checked it out, or you’re looking for something fun for the whole family with Star Wars, this will definitely entertain you!
Out today on DVD is the second LEGO Star Wars special, The Empire Strikes Out. Full of humor and voiced by some of our favorite Star Wars stars, like Anthony Daniels, Sam Witwer, and Brian Blessed, the story is set post-A New Hope, with Luke dealing with his newfound fame as a Rebel hero, Darth Vader dealing with a new rival (hint: see picture), and the Rebels taking a side trip to Naboo.
The program was originally aired on Cartoon Network last September, when we got a chance to chat with writer Michael Price about it and the first special, The Padawan Menace, and was nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production for Children.
The DVD of The Empire Strikes Out comes with an exclusive Darth Vader with medal mini-figure. While the first special, The Padawan Menace, was released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, this release is DVD only. Huh? Maybe combo packs are too confusing for some consumers.
The LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago opened up a new Star Wars miniland this weekend, and it is all The Phantom Menace. Located in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is exhibiting three interactive dioramas showing off scenes from the first prequel film:
The Naboo hangar, with launching starfighter and duel scene
The Mos Espa podrace arena, with controllable Anakin and Sebulba podracers
The Naboo plains battlefield, where Gungans and battle droids face off
The new set of Star Wars dioramas, a first for a U.S. LEGOLAND Discovery Center, is made with over 500,000 LEGO bricks and 2,000 mini figures. Additionally, the Chicago skyline diorama will also celebrate the opening by including Star Wars minifigures and other references in its display. The new miniland opened to the public this past weekend with a series of grand opening weekend festivities. One blogger reports their ‘preview night’ experience with lots of photos.
Unlike the miniland dioramas at LEGOLAND California (which previously announced some minor updates for this summer) which assemble characters in a blocky 4-6 inch height scale, these dioramas are at the scale of the regular LEGO mini-figures, so you’ll see your favorite LEGO figures from The Phantom Menace in the exhibit (including a hugely populated podrace arena grandstand).
This is the first Star Wars miniland at any of the indoor LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in North America. The Manchester UK Discovery Center was the first to receive the Episode I miniland, though only from February through June, and there are some hints that the Chicago installation may be temporary as well.
In its announcement of the opening of the LEGOLAND hotel and the rest of its 2013 plans, the Carlsbad theme park slipped in a tidbit for fans of its Star Wars miniland. In the press release reposted by Endor Express, the resort’s general manager Peter Ronchetti talks about the hotel, the upcoming Legends of Chima attractions (tied into a new toyline and cartoon), and this:
“And LEGO Star Wars fans rejoice!” continued Ronchetti, “we’ll be gaining another exciting addition in June with more details to come but it will definitely enhance our guest experience.“
The Star Wars miniland at LEGOLAND California opened in 2011 with 7 dioramas, focusing on the saga films and The Clone Wars. At the launch of the 2012 summer season, the theme park added some minor improvements to the dioramas and a lineup of Star Wars character mini-figure statues. My guess at this time is that the 2013 addition will be along the same lines as the 2012 improvements: nothing huge, but enough to make a deal about to draw in local fans, and also host more Star Wars themed weekends.
Cartoon Network has put out their lineup for the 2013-2014 season, using a multi-city road tour for the next few weeks to promote their new and returning shows. Most notably, they are hyping three quarterly specials for LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles, and saying nothing about the return of The Clone Wars. Does this mean that The Clone Wars is leaving Cartoon Network for the fall? Or just that it is still in negotiation (ie, they can’t announce anything yet)? They list their returning shows, and the adventures of Skyguy and Snips aren’t on it.
But here’s the description of The Yoda Chronicles:
LEGO Star Wars returns in epic style with THE YODA CHRONICLES, a thrilling, funny and action-packed new LEGO Star Wars story told in three animated TV specials! Set in the “Prequel” Star Wars timeline, THE YODA CHRONICLES stars the one and only Yoda—the Jedi Master who has seen it all, done it all, and taught generations of Jedi Knights—in an all-new adventure. With the help of a fresh class of Padawans, Yoda leads the Jedi in a desperate fight to stop Darth Sidious and his minions from creating a new super-weapon that could crush the Republic and win the war for the forces of Evil.
Some of those news articles are claiming that the Yoda Chronicles are set in the original trilogy timeframe – I think this definitively says “prequel era” with such keywords as Republic.
Back to The Clone Wars: Is this the end of the show, or will Disney XD (or another Disney channel) be picking it up? We know that they have been working on season six, and perhaps a network change has prevented them from talking about it much officially.
And also coming back: The Powerpuff Girls in a new special!
EDIT: While the list of returning shows (and new shows like Teen Titans Go! and Total Drama All Stars) is primarily for their prime-time lineup on weeknights, there is also the lack of their DC Nation block of cartoons (Green Lantern, Young Justice, etc.), which follows The Clone Wars on Saturday mornings. Is the Saturday morning crowd just not big enough to mention in their release? However, other shows which have been aired on Saturdays are listed in their returning shows: Beyblade: Metal Fury and Pokemon: Black and White – are they being bumped up to primetime, or are they anchoring the Saturday morning timeslot. What does this also mean for the DC Nation shows? Just like Clone Wars, are they not important enough to list, still in negotiation, or not coming back? It seems that most comic books sites are calling Green Lantern and Young Justice as cancelled.
The nominations for the 40th annual Annie Awards, showcasing the best in animation, were announced today, with a few nominations headed towards Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Joel Aron got a nomination for individual achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production (for the second year in a row).
Sam Witwer was nominated for voice acting for his role as Darth Maul in the season four finale ‘Revenge,’ while Keith Kellogg was a nominee for Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production. The season five premiere, ‘Revival,’ was granted a nomination for Jason Tucker for Editorial in an Animated Television Production. The judges do love Maul.
Threshold Animation Studios earned an nomination for Best Animated Television Production For Children with their LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, that aired back in September. See… more love for Maul! (Don’t forget our interview with writer Michael Price!)
Meanwhile, two teams from ILM got nominations for Animated Effects in a Live Action Production: The crews that worked on The Avengers and Battleship. Another ILM team was a nominee for Thor’s abs and Hawkeye’s butt Character Animation in a Live Action Production for The Avengers.
Overall, Disney and Pixar picked up a handful of nominations across the board, including 3 Best Picture noms for Brave, Wreck-It Ralph, and Frankenweenie. On the TV side, DreamWorks’ Dragons: The Riders of Berk snagged a slew of nominations for its crew.
“I am very excited about this year’s slate of nominees!” ASIFA-Hollywood president, Frank Gladstone, said in a statement. “We had more submissions to choose from this year than for any prior year in Annie Award history, running the gamut from big studio features to indie films, television series to internet shows, games, shorts and, for the first time, student films, all showcasing the huge variety of venues, creativity, technical innovation, and story-telling that our art form has to offer.”
The 40th Annual Annie Awards will take place on February 2, 2013 at UCLA and are selected and presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.
Coming up before the season 5 premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on September 29, LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out will be premiering on Cartoon Network on Wednesday, September 26, and re-running over Thursday and Friday. Zap2It has the brief synopsis: “Shortly after the Death Star explodes, the rebels learn of a new Imperial threat.” And if you missed The Padawan Menace the first time around, it will also be airing again on Thursday and Friday.
With the first LEGO Star Wars special being such a marvelously entertaining show, I am very excited for LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out. Setting the DVR now!