One of the most delightful bits of merchandise to come out of the sequel era is no more: Sphero is dropping out of the the licensed product market, which means there won’t be any further BB-8s, BB-9Es or R2-D2s out of the company. They’ll continue to support the apps for two years.
The company sold “millions” of BB-8s, their first Star Wars toy, but “the licensed toy business required more resources than it was worth,” per The Verge.
Disney Publishing, which we already knew was handling the Rebels books, now announces new original-trilogy books for young readers. They’ve tapped bestselling children’s authors Tom Angleberger (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda,) Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles,) Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm,) and R.J. Palacio (Wonder.)
DiTerlizzi will handle The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, which is being illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie’s concept paintings. Palacio will adapt A New Hope, Gidwitz has The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars vet Angleberger takes on Return of the Jedi. All three will be illustrated by prequel and Episode VII concept artist Ian McCaig. (via)
The books will start hitting the shelves in October.
So yes, things are still up in the air as regards the adult novels. Though I did recently learn that Hachette does have an adult sci-fi imprint – Orbit (which yes, I knew of before – just not that it was linked to Hachette. Ugh, stupid me.) But they don’t seem to handle licensed work – could that change if Hachette gets Star Wars after the Del Rey contract expires? Or will Disney Press expand beyond kids’ and art books? Time will tell.
It’s been a while since we’ve had any of these, but Roqoo Depot has pointed out various directory listings: Untitled Star Wars #1, Untitled Star Wars #2 and perhaps the weirdest of all – a rerelease of Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy? Or a new Jedi Academy trilogy? Or are all three destined to be rereleases of the previous books? A Thrawn trilogy omnibus, perhaps? (And what would that mean for the Expanded Universe and Episode VII? All three books have fall 2014 release dates.)
The future of Del Rey’s Star Wars contract may still be in question, but we do know they have several books left on it – particularly if Sword of the Jedi and Paul Kemp’s duology are shelved, as is increasingly likely. A division of Random House printing these may not mean anything – both Bantam and Del Rey published new Star Wars books in 1999, the last time the license changed hands.
Whatever the case, hopefully the appearance of these listings means we’re getting closer to finding out something.
While it was pretty easy to see today’s Marvel announcement coming, things are much less clear-cut when we’re talking about another high-profile Star Wars publishing licensee: Del Rey.
(I’m putting all issues of canon, continuity and the sequels aside for this post. Those are big decisions made at Lucasfilm, not by their licensees: We can discuss it another time. This post is solely about the franchise’s publishing rights.)
Marvel will take over the Star Wars comics license in 2015, StarWars.com announced this afternoon.
Marvel was the original comics home of the franchise, publishing Star Wars #1 in March 1977. There was plenty of speculation dating from almost the moment the Disney sale was announced that the license would return to Marvel. Dark Horse is the third-largest comics publisher, but Marvel is one of the big 2 – and perhaps more importantly, Disney also owns them.
Despite their history with Marvel, when Star Wars was beginning a renaissance in the early 90’s, Dark Horse was awarded the license. They’ve published a great many influential series over the years, from Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi early on to fan-favorites like Legacy, Knights of the Old Republic and the new Star Wars series. Of the current ongoing series, Brian Wood’s Star Wars will end at #20, while Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Legacy will end with #18.
I don’t know enough about Marvel to speculate on what they may do with the franchise, but it’s safe to say that Dark Horse was one of the more beloved licensees in fandom. They’ve always been willing to innovate and look outside the box, and there’s no doubt a lot of fear out there in fandom, no matter how expected this may have been. We’ve become very attached to the folks over there, from editor Randy Stradley on down, and it’s sad to see the end coming on that partnership.
“Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films,” company founder Mike Richardson said in a statement. “After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own.”
There’s no doubt that Dark Horse has changed the game and set a pretty high standard for a fandom that doesn’t take things lying down. Will Marvel manage to build on that success? Here’s hoping.
What will happen to the Expanded Universe? Well, it’s too soon to tell, honestly, but a sequel trilogy could certainly mean upheaval in the galaxy far, far away – and the post-Return of the Jedi continuity that’s been in the works for the past several decades. My bare bones advice? It’s time to start hardening yourself to a more fluid concept of continuity and canon. (You might also want to check out IGN’s Joey Esposito’s great post on the 007 approach to continuity.) But it is far, far too soon to speculate about what new Star Wars movies will bring to the party when we don’t know anything about them aside from their basic existence. (Yes, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on all that later, but one thing at a time!)
One place we can speculate on is who’s going to handling that future in publishing. We’ve seen no indication that Disney is going to shake up the way Lucasfilm works, so we can assume that Lucasbooks will remain the guiding hand. But what of the licensees themselves? They all have contracts, so things will stay as they are for now. But once those contracts are up?
LEGO announced at Toy Fair that they have extended their license with Lucasfilm for Star Wars-themed toys, video games, etc. for another ten years. So not only will there be twenty new Star Wars LEGO building sets released in 2012, we’ll be seeing lots of LEGO Star Wars merchandise until 2022 (or probably longer).
These credits will do fine: The Pacific island nation of Niue will be issuing a series of Star Wars coins, starting in November. Ten $1 coins and eight $2 coins are being issued in this first part of their Star Wars series, which will continue with additional designs to be released in 2012, to coincide with the 3-D movie release, for a total of 40 coins. While they are legal tender on Niue (Queen Elizabeth II is on the obverse) and made by the New Zealand Mint, the coins probably won’t see much circulation on their island home as they will be minted in small quantities for sale on the collector’s market – no more than 50,000 of the $1 coins will be minted, while the $2 coins will be limited to only 7,500.
The $1 silver-plated coins sport the likenesses of ten classic trilogy characters: Yoda, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, Han Solo, Obi-wan Kenobi, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Emperor Palpatine. Each of these, shipped in a holder, will cost about $20 US.
The $2 coins will come in special four-packs with display cases – the dark side set of four coins (Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Stormtrooper, and Death Star) comes in a case shaped like Darth Vader’s mask, complete with breathing sound effects. The Rebel Alliance set comes in a Millennium Falcon case with hyperspace sounds and includes a Luke Skywalker & Princess Leia Organa coin, Han Solo & Chewbacca, Yoda & Obi-wan Kenobi, and C-3PO & R2-D2. Don’t expect to just pay 2 Niue dollars for these, as each of these coins is a whopping one ounce of silver!
Don’t feed the rancor! The Los Angeles Zoo will be having a Star Wars Day on August 27, including character visits, a sneak peek at the Blu-ray special features, and lots of comparisons between real world animals and the creatures and aliens of a galaxy far, far away. Just don’t pull a Jar Jar and accidentally let the animals loose!
Revelations decoded? Last week saw the release of two Star Wars comics, and launch of comics reviews on Big Shiny Robot by a familiar face. Check out GONK’s review of Invasion: Revelations #2 andThe Old Republic: The Lost Suns #3.