6 Reasons The Phantom Menace Is a Great First Star Wars For Kids

StarWars.com

The best viewing order of Star Wars films is a never-ending debate between fans, from those who prefer chronological by story, chronological by release date, and altogether different combinations. Throwing your kids’ first Star Wars movie viewing experience into consideration can add even more to ponder.

If you’re looking for just the right Star Wars film for your youngling once you’ve decided they’re ready, we suggest Star Wars: The Phantom Menace — which was released 20 years ago this month — for a movie night that’s fun for the entire family. Not only is it the first chapter of the Skywalker saga, younger viewers especially will find a lot to love in the most kid-friendly Star Wars film of them all.

1. Jar Jar Binks makes an instant impression.

The moment Jar Jar Binks runs into Qui-Gon Jinn, he makes an unforgettable impression on young viewers. From his distinct walk to his eccentric manner of speaking, Ahmed Best masterfully created a character that kids will find irresistible and irrepressible. And that’s not even taking into account the comic relief Jar Jar brings to The Phantom Menace as he gets into trouble with his tongue.

There’s no one else like Jar Jar in Star Wars, and kids will sit up and take notice.

2. The Phantom Menace puts kids in the galaxy.

There aren’t a lot of young protagonists in Star Wars. Luke Skywalker is delightfully teenaged as A New Hope begins, but it’s young Anakin Skywalker (with a shoutout to his best friend Kitster) that makes kids feel like they have a place in the galaxy. And Anakin quickly proves that even the youngest heroes can make a difference in a galaxy far, far away.

Anakin and Sebulba in the podrace.

3. Now this is podracing!

Podracing in the Boonta Eve Classic is one of the most heart-pumping scenes in any Star Wars film. Don’t be surprised if your kids ask you to replay it again and again.

The Jedi Council in The Phantom Menace.

4. See the Jedi at the height of their power.

Before The Phantom Menace, Star Wars fans could only imagine what a galaxy protected by Jedi Knights looked like. Thanks to Episode I, we see them at full strength, wielding the Force and acting as peacekeepers of the galaxy. And best of all, The Phantom Menace features a Jedi lightsaber battle for the ages with one of the most compelling villains in the saga.

5. Kids can meet Artoo and Threepio, getting a real feel for all things Star Wars

Classic characters like C-3PO and R2-D2 will spark recognition in kids who have some background knowledge on Star Wars and the Rebellion’s unsung heroes. They’ll also meet Yoda, another familiar face even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie.

6. … And then see them again in A New Hope, which is the perfect second Star Wars movie!

Once the credits roll, we suggest following up The Phantom Menace with A New Hope now that the kids feel more at home in the galaxy.

And then it’s all you. An animated series next? The continuing adventures on Star Wars KidsThe Empire Strikes Back? Back to the prequels? You and your kids can decide together as you continue your journey as a family.

Kelly Knox is a freelance writer who loves creating Star Wars crafts with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

6 Reasons The Phantom Menace Is a Great First Star Wars For Kids

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Alex and Amanda

StarWars.com

Happy Star Wars Day! For the past week, StarWars.com has been shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

According to Amanda Pezzuto, Star Wars means “everything” to her and her husband, Alex.

Turns out, that might be an understatement.

“We met over Twitter,” Amanda says, explaining that they followed each other because both shared a lot of Star Wars content. “So we bonded over Star Wars. We ended up meeting in person at Star Wars Weekends at Disney, and that was basically our first date. Then last Celebration, 2017, he proposed to me in front of Mark Hamill. And then we got married on May the 4th, the same year.”

“It’s a big, huge part of our lives,” adds Alex.

Star Wars fans Alex and Amanda at Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Amanda came to the saga through her father, who showed her the original trilogy at an early age. She was seven when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, and then became “absolutely obsessed.” Alex remembers having lots of Star Wars toys as a child, and then getting hooked through the prequels.

The couple, from West Palm, Florida, loved coming to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this year, cosplaying as Han and Leia, and grateful to be around fellow fans. “It’s always nice to come back and be amongst family,” Alex says. “Other people that enjoy this as much as we do, and it’s a passion for everyone. We get to see old friends and meet some new ones.”

Looking forward, they’re both thrilled with what’s to come in the Star Wars galaxy. Alex, who names Luke as his favorite character, can’t wait for the end of the Skywalker saga with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, while Amanda, a Leia fan, cites The Mandalorian — and pretty much everything else on the way — as her most anticipated Star Wars. “It’s great to have, with the sequels, this revival,” she says. “I can’t explain it. Being alive right now while all this is going on, it’s amazing.”


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Amanda: Phantom Menace. Seeing it three times with my father in the theater, and then him painting my face as Darth Maul for Halloween that year.

Alex: It’s honestly going to be a more recent one, but probably watching The Force Awakens for the first time with her. It was the first movie that we watched together in the theater, so I have a very special feeling towards that movie, just because of our relationship and what it meant.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Resistance

Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Alex: Resistance.

Amanda: [Pauses]

Alex: Careful… Careful!

Amanda: The First Order… The First Order. [Laughs]

Why is that?

Amanda: I’m just so drawn to everything evil other than Leia. [Laughs]

[To Alex] Wow. You better watch out.

Alex: Yeah, I know.

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Alex: Falcon. Falcon, for sure.

Amanda: I’m gonna say an X-wing.

R2-D2 in Revenge of the Sith.

Which Star Wars character would you want as a roommate? 

Amanda: R2-D2! He’s just great. He’s perfect, and he can save the day, whenever I need something…

Alex: I’m gonna go with Obi-Wan. I love Obi-Wan. I like his demeanor. He’s all about peace and good, and I think he’s very wise, so he’ll probably be a good motivator, as well.

He’ll be Jedi mind tricking you, like, It’s your turn to clean the bathroom again…

Amanda: [Laughs]

Alex: Oh, I didn’t think of it that way.

Amanda: You will pick up the mess I made…!

Alex: I’ll do that for him.

If you could have any job in the Star Wars galaxy — Jedi, Sith , Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Amanda: A handmaiden to Padmé!

Alex: That’s good. Obviously, I’d love to be a Jedi, but they don’t allow romantic relationships, and that would be a dealbreaker for me. Maybe I’d be a smuggler.

Amanda: Smuggler? I like it.

Happy anniversary, Alex and Amanda! – StarWars.com

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer, and spends his days writing stuff for and around StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews, #StarWarsDay

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Alex and Amanda

Celebrate Star Wars Day!

StarWars.com

How will you celebrate Star Wars Day?

Whether you’re introducing the younglings in your life to the saga now or continuing to explore a shared love for the stories in a galaxy far, far away, May the Fourth is the perfect time to gather friends and family, dress as your favorite character, and rewatch or reenact your favorite films and scenes.

Hosting Star Wars Day festivities also means plenty of themed snacks and activities to keep Padawan learners entertained. You can download your own official activity pack here for coloring pages, fun word finds and mazes, plus simple recipes for Millenni-Yums and more!

You can download the official Star Wars app for Star Wars Day stickers, which can also be found on Instagram stories.

And check out StarWars.com for cool crafts, fan spotlights, tasty treats, Star Wars Day deals, and more!

Celebrate Star Wars Day!

Fans Celebrate the Saga on Star Wars Day at Sea

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For his vacation on Disney Cruise Line, Matt Peczynski made sure to pack his Star Wars “I love you / I know” cufflinks. That might seem an odd choice for a Western Caribbean journey, but he had good reason: this cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy would be Star Wars-themed — and Matt, a huge Star Wars fan, was getting married on the ship.

“I said, ‘We’re getting married on a Star Wars cruise, I want to do a little something,’” he told me. In fact, Matt and his new wife, Jody, picked this cruise specifically because it was Star Wars-centric.

I had the privilege of meeting Matt and Jody, hailing from Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and other Star Wars fans while on my own family vacation. They’re just two of many fans who celebrated the saga in their own personal way on the cruise and during Star Wars Day at Sea, in which the ship is immersed in Star Wars for one whole day, from morning until fireworks-filled night. With the worldwide (and land-based) Star Wars Day arriving tomorrow on May the 4th, it seemed like a good time to tell their stories.

Star Wars fans on Star Wars Day at Sea.

On Star Wars Day at Sea, Matt cosplayed as Anakin Skywalker, Jody as Princess Leia, and their friend Matt Abela, from Simpsonville, South Carolina, suited up as ill-fated rebel pilot Jek Porkins. Abela’s fandom goes back to the early ‘80s, when he was just old enough to watch the movies. “Today has just been phenomenal,” Abela said of Star Wars Day at Sea, particularly enjoying the camaraderie with other fans. “When you run into people that are on the ship that know who Porkins is, that is awesome.”

“It’s fun to see how it makes everyone come together,” Jody added. One of the ways fans and family connected throughout the cruise was, appropriately, in movie theaters — even if it meant breaking bedtime rules.

Star Wars fans on Star Wars Day at Sea.

I spoke to Isaiah Dasen and his daughter Eva, from Spokane, Washington, just before a 10 pm. screening of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. “She’s been demanding we go to the late showings,” Isaiah said, clearly under some kind of Jedi mind trick from Eva. It was the first time Eva would be seeing Empire on the big screen, and while Isaiah loves Episode V, he doesn’t count it as his favorite. “I actually really like Episodes I through III,” he said. “And the new Solo movie, I thought, as a Star Wars fan, was fantastic.”

“I love Solo,” Eva added emphatically, just before the lights went down. While the screenings were impossible to resist, there was tons more to do on Star Wars Day at Sea, and I met even more fans throughout the ship.

Star Wars fans on Star Wars Day at Sea.

Melanie Gerardi and her daughter Genae, from Colorado, dressed as Chewbacca and Anakin Skywalker, respectively, while Dad (sans beard) did his best George Lucas. “I used to work for Star Tours, and that brought me more into the fandom,” Genae said. “I just think it’s so great. The representation, the culture.” A cosplayer with over 200 costumes, her detailed take on the Chosen One’s Episode III appearance was most impressive. “My favorite character is Anakin Skywalker, clearly,” she said with a laugh, and cited Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as her #1 movie from the saga. (One of the reasons: “There’s Ewoks.”) While they were not Disney Cruise Line rookies — this was the third cruise for Melanie, and number four for Genae — it was their first time experiencing Star Wars Day at Sea. “Oh my gosh, this is awesome,” she said. “I am so happy to be here.”

Star Wars fans on Star Wars Day at Sea.

Another mother-daughter team, Erin and Sophia Murray from Washington state, share a love of the saga — one that has been passed down through the generations. “Well, my dad was into it,” Erin, Sophia’s mother, said. “We saw Return of the Jedi in the theater, and from then on, it was just…Star Wars!” While Erin cosplayed as Qi’ra and Sophia as Padmé Amidala, Erin secretly prefers the bad guys. “I wanted to be Krennic,” she said of the Rogue One villain. “He’s the best! He’s just ruthless. I hate to say I’d be a bad person in Star Wars, but I probably would be.” Disney Cruise Line veterans, they loved taking pictures with characters, and traded pins and other random goods with some roaming Jawas. “They didn’t want our hotel card,” Sophia said. “But I traded some soap, and they gave me a flip flop. They’re picky.”

Star Wars fans on Star Wars Day at Sea.

For Todd and Megan Lagerberg and their children, from Oxnard, California, the immersion of Star Wars Day at Sea, from costumed characters to Star Wars-themed food, was a highlight. “It’s been fantastic,” Todd said. “It’s the whole ship.” As one of his first theatrical experiences was watching Return of the Jedi with his mother, seeing all the Star Wars films on the big screen with his five-year-old daughter was a big draw. “Having that chance to watch these movies and experience them in the theater is really fun,” he said. Indeed, Todd has passed on what he has learned: He was particularly proud that his daughter performed well at Star Wars kids trivia on the cruise. “We have the Star Wars Little Golden Books that we read every night,” he said. “They were like, ‘Who does the Resistance battle?’ She said, ‘The First Order, of course!’ I was really impressed.” Todd and his family enjoyed Star Wars drawing classes, crafts, and Jedi training, and would “absolutely” recommend Disney Cruise Line and Star Wars Day at Sea. “It’s been fun,” he said. “Especially if you have little ones.”

Star Wars fans the Varcoes with Chewbacca.

One of the biggest attractions during Star Wars Day at Sea is character meet-and-greets; I encountered the Varcoes, from Iowa, on the line to meet Chewbacca with my own family. “I didn’t actually become a Star Wars fan probably until I was a teenager,” said Nick, a.k.a. Dad of the clan, who discovered the films through cable TV marathons in the ‘90s. “I definitely became a huge fan, and it drew me into the books, and then subsequently, the movies, which I’ve passed on to my kids, as well.” Indeed, the Force is strong with Nick’s family, to paraphrase Luke Skywalker. On Star Wars Day at Sea, Nick sported Star Wars PJs, his wife Amy wore a Star Wars tank top, sons Evan and Wyatt dressed in their Halloween costumes (Chewbacca and Captain Rex, respectively), and Lucy donned an R2-D2 tee. Amy appreciated the fantasy of the experience, and how that inspired their children. “They’re totally into it, and the kids are able to interact with all the characters walking around the ship, and they never break character,” she says. “It’s fun to watch the kids be as excited as Dad is, and I’m excited because they’re excited.” Nick loved experiencing the day with family and fellow fans.

“I’ve just loved seeing everybody in their shirts, I saw a BB-8 dress, I saw lots of people dressed up as Rey,” Nick said. “Just seeing other people with the same interests as me has been awesome.”

Much like the Force, Star Wars binds fans together — when you can feel it at events like Star Wars Day at Sea, and on May the 4th this weekend, it’s truly special.

Visit the official Disney Cruise Line site for more on Disney cruises and Star Wars Day at Sea.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer, and spends his days writing stuff for and around StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews, #StarWarsDay

Fans Celebrate the Saga on Star Wars Day at Sea

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Lila and Patrick

StarWars.com

Every day leading up to Star Wars Day on May the 4th, StarWars.com is shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

For Lila and Patrick Atchison, fraternal twins from Santa Rosa, California, the Skywalker twins were easily their favorite Star Wars  characters growing up. Naturally.

“We directly had people to identify with,” Lila says.

By the time the Atchisons were born, four-and-a-half hours apart, their father Ron was already a huge Star Wars fan. One day at a Blockbuster Video, they picked out a copy of A New Hope. “He gave us a stoic, ‘I approve,’” Patrick recalls, and soon they were also hooked.

At 26, Luke and Leia have continued to be valuable role models for the pair through growing up and becoming adults.

“I was more of a tomboy growing up but I really, really respected [Leia],” Lila says. “She always had a level head on her shoulders and she was definitely a role model for me.” As an adult, she sees some of Leia’s struggles in a new light. “Leia has developed for me as I have developed as an adult and a person,” she says. “I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized more of the adult things that Leia had to go through in the workplace, talking to people who don’t take her seriously because she’s a female, you know, and her being strong through that,” Lila says.

“Just mighty as a person,” Patrick adds, although he always identified with Luke Skywalker the most.

Luke Skywalker watches the suns set.

“I really love Luke. I’ve just always appreciated him as a non-toxic, masculine hero because he was not like the he-man. He’s just this guy who’s like ‘Help, I’m confused. I want to help people, but I don’t know how.’”

“And a little whiny, ” Lila adds helpfully.

“And a little whiny, which is something I can absolutely relate to,” Patrick agrees. “His character in The Last Jedi really spoke to me now, I guess, because not every hero is the perfect paradigm that you think they are.” It made Patrick relate to Luke on a whole new level, examining for himself how external expectations can create an internal crisis when you feel you can’t live up to the hype. “I honestly loved it. Sometimes we just struggle with things and Luke having a criss of faith was something that’s very relatable.”

 

The music of Star Wars is also ingrained in the twins, who were raised in a musical household and both studied the subject in college.

“Without getting into too many of the boring details, I did an hour-and-a-half presentation in college on the music of A New Hope and it was the most fun project ever,” Patrick says. He loved analyzing John Williams’ classic work, examining the ways he sprinkles the character themes throughout the score. “It’s just so cool I could never stop thinking about it.”


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Lila: Oh! I think for me it’s being a kid and running across our lawn with lightsabers.

Patrick: Oh! Yeah, absolutely!

Lila: And having super epic battles.

Patrick: Yeah, and the sidewalk was lava and we had to jump in between the grass.

Lila: But we were doing giant jumps, obviously.

Patrick: Because that’s what we do. I ended up being the dark side most of the time.

Did you have to be?

Patrick: Unless dad was there, and then he would be the dark side and we would be the two Jedi fighting him.

That is a good childhood right there. Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Lila: I would join the Resistance.

Patrick: Resistance, absolutely.

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Patrick: X-wing!

Lila: X-wing. We’re basic.

Patrick: Yeah. [both laugh]

Which Star Wars character would you want as a roommate? 

Lila: I think it’d be really fun to have Rey as a roommate because as a person who sometimes was feeling kind of lonely in college, it would be really nice to make a friend who was also willing to make friends. And she’s really level headed. She seems like she’d be respectful of my study time and I think she’d keep the house clean, you know?

And she can make bread.

Lila: Her little AT-AT was pretty well organized.

Patrick: I’d probably say Luke because he’s relatable but he seems like he’d always be down to do something fun.

Which version of Luke?

Patrick: Probably younger Luke, I think just because he’s closer to my age. I might actually say Empire Luke because he’s kind of got his stuff together but…

Not quite yet.

Patrick: Not quite there.

Lila: He’s figuring it out.

Patrick: Which is a very relatable concept in my mid 20s.

If you could have any job in the Star Wars galaxy — Jedi, Sith , Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Patrick: I think smuggling would be incredibly exciting.

Lila: Yeah! I think it would be fun to be a pilot, to be honest.

Patrick: Yeah! A pilot of some kind.

A pilot/smuggler?

Patrick: Yeah! Freighters just seem like fun.

I thought you guys were going to pick Cantina Band.

Both: Ohhh.

Lila: If I had played brass? Yes.

Patrick: Same. I don’t play any brass instruments. It just didn’t happen.

In Star Wars, maybe you can.

Lila: I mean if Jabba the Hutt needed a backup singer, totes. I’m your girl.

Patrick: Or if they have any stringed instruments? Bam!

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Lila and Patrick

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Tracy

StarWars.com

Every day leading up to Star Wars Day on May the 4th, StarWars.com is shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

When it comes to Star Wars fans, Tracy Kelly’s opinion is clear.

Star Wars fans are the best!” says Tracy, a longtime aficionado herself. “It’s because of their inclusiveness and willingness to share moments and fandom unconditionally,” she continues. “So many times I see and hear them complementing each other on their costumes, swag, makeup, art — it is incredibly moving and inspiring.”

Tracy is the volunteer director of Rancho Obi-Wan, a non-profit, world-record-holding museum dedicated to Star Wars memorabilia and history. Her work extended to Star Wars Celebration Chicago where Tracy helped coordinate the fan-favorite Rancho Obi-Wan experience on the show floor.

Star Wars fan Tracy Kelly with a giant porg.

For Tracy, it’s all about coming together with friends from near and far. “I like sharing moments with other people,” says Tracy. “That’s what makes it for me. I’ve met so many amazing people that have become like family to me. I went to the first few Celebrations alone and now if there is one of my peeps that can’t make it to Celebration, I really miss them.”

Indeed, the saga has been a “comfort” throughout her life, and even a friend in its own right.

“When I was having a tough time in college or when my mom was sick,” she explains, “I would play a movie or soundtrack in the background and it gave me just that bit of stability and motivation to crawl out of the metaphorical hole. Life has changes and challenges but Star Wars remains a strengthening hug from an old friend.”


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

Star Wars fan Tracy Kelly shows photo of herself, seven years old, with Star Wars toys.

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Tracy: I actually happen to have a picture of it! I was seven years old. My family was building a new house, and my mom would often go to see the construction. Once we were there, she’d put me in the open trunk of our car, where I’d sit and play with my Star Wars toys. It was simple times. The picture shows my first four figures: Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, and the droids.

Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Tracy: I think Resistance is the clear choice. Those First Order guys aren’t very nice. I’m about equality and fairness for everyone.

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Tracy: I’m all about the speeder bikes, but I also thought of Slave I. I’d love to throw some of those seismic charges out somewhere. It also has plenty of cargo space in case I want to bring my friends, but the cockpit is small so I can fly solo if I prefer.

Poe Dameron in the cockpit of his X-wing.

Which Star Wars character would you want as a roommate?

Tracy: Poe Dameron, and I plead the Fifth on why!

If you could have any job in the Star Wars universe — Jedi, Sith, Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Tracy: Well, I definitely don’t want to be Matt the technician on Starkiller Base! I think I’d just like to be a Jedi Knight. Not a Jedi Master. I don’t need that responsibility! But I’d love to be a Jedi Knight and just help ensure peace in the galaxy.

Lucas O. Seastrom is a publicity writer at Lucasfilm. He grew up on a farm in California’s Central Valley and is a lifelong Star Wars and Indiana Jones fan.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews, #StarWarsDay

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Tracy

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Ashe and Jake

StarWars.com

Every day leading up to Star Wars Day on May the 4th, StarWars.com is shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

When we ran into Ashe and Jake Harris at Star Wars Celebration, they looked every bit the part of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Governor Pryce. The married Chicagoans have cosplayed at local events like the annual comic-book convention C2E2, but until 2019 they’d never attended a Celebration.

“So we were thrilled when we found out it was coming to the city,” says Ashe. “It’s been unlike anything I ever thought.”

“It’s been fantastic,” Jake says, arms folded neatly behind his back, eyes as red as the mines of Crait.

Thrawn and Pruce on Star Wars Rebels.

With their beloved Star Wars Rebels having ended last year, the pair saw Celebration Chicago as an opportunity to pay tribute to two of the show’s finest villains. But they know they’ve got plenty to look forward to this year, as well.

“We wanted to see the new Episode IX trailer when it happened, of course,” Mitth’raw’nuruodo — who goes by “Jake” in this galaxy — says.


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Ashe: Oh, gosh. Every time you’re sitting in the theater and you [see] that opening crawl — even just thinking about it gets me a little misty-eyed. It transcends generations, and it’s so much fun for everybody.

Jake: Absolutely second that. It’s the best form of escapism for the entire family.

General Hux delivers a fiery speech in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I think I know the answer to this one: Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Ashe: Well, we’ve apparently joined the First Order on the dark side. We’re Imperials.

Jake: We are very much dark side.

Ashe: But we’re pro-Resistance in our hearts!

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Ashe: I’ve always loved the TIE interceptors. And the TIE striker.

Jake: TIE defender.

That’s Thrawn’s special project.

Jake: It is. I happen to build them.

Which Star Wars character would you guys want as a roommate?

Ashe: Oooooh. Sabine Wren. I’m an art kid, and I’d love to hang out with Sabine.

Sabine Wren with the Darksaber.

She’s amazing. How ’bout you?

Jake: Hera — because she’s a pilot.

If you could have any job in the Star Wars universe — Jedi, Sith, Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Jake: I would like to be a pilot.

Ashe: My other personality is a Twi’lek, and I wanna work at Maz Kanata’s.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews, #StarWarsDay

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Ashe and Jake

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Anette

StarWars.com

Every day leading up to Star Wars Day on May the 4th, StarWars.com is shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

Anette Nam credits one clumsy but good-intentioned character with solidifying her children’s love of Star Wars. She and her husband had been longtime fans of the saga, although Nam admits she didn’t always fully appreciate the slapstick antics of Jar Jar Binks.

“But then when I had kids, they just gravitated towards Jar Jar immediately and I started seeing him in a totally different light,” she says. “They could see themselves in him in a way they couldn’t with the Jedi….He falls down, he says funny things, he messes up. And I think, certainly, my children are like ‘He’s just like me.’ And he’s still one of the good guys.”

Anette Nam

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace during Star Wars Celebration this year in Chicago, Nam donned a very special handmade hat — a fleece head covering with floppy ears paying homage to the beloved Gungan.

Nam’s love of Star Wars runs deep. The hat was originally made for one of her family’s blow-out May the 4th parties. They’ve been hosting the events with friends and family for the last decade, marking the 10-year anniversary at their suburban Chicago home on this Star Wars Day.

Crafts and recipes by Anette Nam

Nam creates a themed menu — which has in past years included Bossk pears, Poe boy sandwiches, and sweet Poe-tato fries among other delicacies.

Crafts and recipes by Anette Nam

She decorates the house with banners and other decorations.

Crafts and recipes by Anette Nam

And the whole family gets into the spirit of the day with elaborate costumes.

At Celebration, she was stopped by several Jar Jar fans who inquired about making their own Gungan hat, and she’s planning to post a step-by-step pattern on her blog soon.

“I feel like I’m the ambassador of Jar Jar a little bit,” she says. After all, she has the character and actor Ahmed Best to thank for enthralling her children from the start. “He singlehandedly made my kids love Star Wars more than anything me and my husband could have possibly done. Every time Jar Jar would fall over or he knocked over the cart, my son would just giggle. And then after that every time he saw Jar Jar, he would just burst out in this joyful giggle. And we were like ‘We got him!’ It’s really special that connection they have with him.”


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Anette: I think it was early on when I was dating my husband and we saw Episode III together. It was just really special because we had no idea there were going to be more movies coming out and we got to see that together so that was special.

Costumes by Anette Nam

Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Anette: [Pauses] OK, Resistance. [Laughs] I know, I had to think about it, really. But Resistance, it has to be. It has to be. I want to be one of the good guys.

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Anette: Millennium Falcon.

Which Star Wars character would you want as a roommate?

Anette: Hera! She’s cool. She’s organized. She’s got it covered. If I ever needed help, she’s the one that would be able to fix it for me and I admire her.

Costumes by Anette Nam

If you could have any job in the Star Wars galaxy — Jedi, Sith , Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Anette: That is a hard one. I think I’d want to work with the droids. I don’t have a knack for it, but I think designing droids. More of the artistic side.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Anette

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Erin and Matthew

StarWars.com

Every day leading up to Star Wars Day on May the 4th, StarWars.com is shining the spotlight on those who truly give the saga its power: the fans. In the StarWars.com Fan Spotlight, we’re honored to tell their stories.

It was on their second date that Erin Carr and Matthew Argalas had The Talk. The future of their young relationship depended on it.

“I brought it up to him,” Erin says. “I was like, ‘By any chance, do you like Star Wars?’ And now here we are, engaged to be married.”

“It was a defining factor of our relationship,” Matthew adds. And both acknowledge it would’ve been deal breaker.

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Erin and Matthew are huge Star Wars fans, and attended their first Star Wars Celebration this year in Chicago. For them, the experience was “overwhelming” – but not because of crowds or finding time for everything they wanted to do. Rather, they were touched by “the passion that everybody has for it in so many different ways,” says Matthew.

Star Wars fans Erin and Matthew with Ewoks.

Every saga has a beginning, which holds true for the stories of Erin and Matthew’s fandom. Erin came to Star Wars through a healthy diet of movie marathons on VHS with her brother, and she remembers “falling in love with the strength of Leia, the comfort of Chewbacca, and the world that was created blew me away.” Now, Erin names Leia as her favorite character, and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as her favorite movie — particularly loving the moment that our rebel princess uses her own chains to end Jabba the Hutt.

Matthew discovered the saga not through the films, however; rather, it was the Timothy Zahn trilogy of books that sparked his interest. “I found them in my uncle’s drawer and just kind of stole them, and ran away,” he says with a laugh. To wit, his favorite character is Mara Jade, and his favorite Star Wars film is from the modern era: Rogue One.

Today, Star Wars signifies something different to both. “To me it’s diversity,” Matthew says. “Anybody from any walk of life or any culture could feel like they could be part of this Star Wars universe, somewhere.”

“It means possibilities,” Erin says. “It means anything can happen, that anyone can be anything they want to.”


The StarWars.com Fan Spotlight Q&A

What’s your favorite Star Wars memory?

Erin: Dressing up as the “Millennium Falcon” for the Episode VII release. [See below. We love it. – StarWars.com]

Star Wars fan Erin's

Matthew: All my memories are kind of wrapped up in Star Wars. When you’re becoming an adult and you’re growing, and you’re wrapped up in something that’s continuously growing, it just becomes a part of you.

Would you join the Resistance or the First Order?

Erin: Resistance. I cannot emphasize that enough. Completely, hands down. In real life, in the Star Wars universe, which to me is real life, every single time I’’ll join the Resistance.

Matthew: I’ll probably be with the broom boy [from Star Wars: The Last Jedi], hanging out, getting my start.

So that’s kind of Resistance. 

Matthew: It is. I guess it is. [Laughs]

If you could fly or drive any Star Wars vehicle, what would it be?

Erin: Millennium Falcon. I would get to have Chewie as my co-pilot. And I love that everyone dismisses, at first glance, the Millennium Falcon, but it can do so much more than people initially think. That’s how I live my life. You might not think I can do everything I can, but just watch me.

Matthew: I would love to pilot a podracer. Those things look insane, and action-packed, and adrenaline-filled.

Which Star Wars character would you want as a roommate?

Erin: Oh, good question. I’m going to actually say Wicket. I would normally say Chewbacca, but…so much hair. I think Wicket would protect me. And I mean, come on, Ewoks know how to party. [Laughs]

Matthew: I’m going to go for an Imperial Guard, the guys in the red robes and red helmet. Just really quiet, and they’ll take care of your stuff and scare off bad guys.

Star Wars fan Erin dressed as Princess Leia.

If you could have any job in the Star Wars galaxy — Jedi, Sith , Death Star janitor, rancor keeper, whatever you want — what would it be?

Matthew: I guess I would like to be a Jedi librarian during the prequel era.

Erin: An intern to the general [Leia Organa]. I would gladly be her assistant. I just want to be there, plugging anything I can in, and writing any notes down. [Laughs]

Getting her space coffee?

Erin: Yes! I would love to know how she takes her space coffee.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #FanInterviews

StarWars.com Fan Spotlight: Erin and Matthew

Most Impressive Fans: Meet the Champions of Star Wars Cosplay from Celebration Chicago

StarWars.com

On the day before Star Wars Celebration Chicago opened its doors, Lucky McQueede arrived at a hotel parking lot with a pile of scrap materials, five gallons of yellow paint, and just 12 hours to pull together a towering loader droid cosplay.

As it turns out, the garbage would do.

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

McQueede, who makes a living as a stuntman, puppeteer, and creature effects artist in Los Angeles, cobbled together a massive cosplay for the official Cosplay Competition and walked away on stilted legs with the Best in Show title.

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Based on HURID-327, the massive red loader droid glimpsed at Maz Kanata’s castle in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, McQueede’s MC-219, nicknamed MAC the Loth-CAT, was actually his back-up for the contest. He intended to bring his Darth Maul cyborg cosplay, another behemoth on special digileg stilts, that he built seven years ago. But the costume needed some repairs and his makeup artist, who completes the upper half of the cosplay, got sick. So he went to plan B.

“I found all the parts for this on and off in the garbage for the last three weeks,” McQueede said, perched on a trash can and resting inside the venue shortly after winning the contest April 13. McQueede used discarded Nerf gun parts, stilts he already owned, and other pieces of mesh and metallic debris for the build. “When it comes down to it, it’s about shapes.”

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

McQueede couldn’t get started on the work of putting it together until he got to the convention. As part of a cargo transport for 501st members from California, Utah, and Colorado, on April 6 he hit the road, driving from Los Angeles to Chicago over several days and making stops to pick up astromechs from friends in the R2 Builders Club. During a stop in Colorado, McQueede’s father gave him the bucket of safety paint, the same hue used to mark off parking spots, and he pulled into the Windy City on the evening of April 10.

The next day, while the convention kicked off, McQueede was sitting in the parking lot of a Hilton Garden Inn waiting for cosplayers to pick up their gear and constructing his loader droid. “I had to babysit the truck so I built a robot,” he joked. He still had paint encrusting his fingernails when he won Saturday afternoon.

When he was done, MAC stood 10 feet tall, although he has a two-and-a-half foot reach with the pair of monstrous and agile arms on either side of the droid’s body. As the convention was winding down Monday, he could still be seen strutting the exhibition hall floor giving high fives. His training in Hollywood over the last 20 years certainly helped him accomplish the task in the strict 12-hour timeframe, he says, and he had some help from Katy Coleman, the creature performer who was inside the original droid suit on the set of Episode VII. That helped him figure out how to slip the body of the droid onto a backpack for support and ease of movement. “That was the key.”

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The royal treatment for Princess Leia

Although McQueede took home the top prize, he was just one of many impressive cosplayers on stage during the Star Wars Celebration Cosplay Contest and among fans wandering the exhibition floor all week.

Autumn Ziegler put almost 300 hours into her Elizabethan Leia ensemble, which clinched Best Mash-Up at the contest, and took a half hour just to put on. Ziegler had the idea when she was attending a previous Celebration, but didn’t get started sewing until January. To get the intricate costume done in time, Ziegler said she put in “a lot of weekends, a lot of late nights,” starting this January.

It was her first time crafting an Elizabethan gown, so she had to do hours of research and joined some period costuming groups on Facebook for tips. “It was a lot of bum rolls and farthingales,” she said. “There’s actually a lot under here just to give it the right shape.”

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
Detail from an Elizabethan Leia costume in the Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
Detail from an Elizabethan Leia costume in the Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
Detail from an Elizabethan Leia costume in the Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

She added in subtle nods to Star Wars in the details. The sleeves are inspired by Leia’s ceremonial gown, with ties that are printed with tiny silver X-wings. The rebel starbird is woven throughout. “I’ve always loved the Tudor time period and Princess Leia is my favorite character so I wanted to give her the royal treatment. Had she visited the court of Queen Elizabeth a long time ago…what would the dress consist of?”

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Jango Fett, Samurai warrior

Frank Wehrkamp, who won for Best Armor, styled his Jango Fett cosplay off the Samurai-inspired Bandai collectible figure. When he was deployed in Afghanistan last year, he used his downtime to begin programming the build and then 3-D printed 60 percent of the cosplay this fall, “as soon as I got home,” he said.

He had previously crafted a stormtrooper in the same style, but Jango Fett has always been his favorite character, he said. The costume creation required “a lot of resin, a lot of paint, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.” But when it was done, his helmet didn’t fit into any of his luggage.

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

“Funny story,” he said. On the plane ride to Chicago, “I carried it in my lap.” But for takeoff and landing, he couldn’t keep it there “and I couldn’t stick it under the seat, so I had to wear it in flight all the way here from Las Vegas.” That’s dedication.

“Just to pull off a win was amazing,” he added. The night before the competition, he and his family had to run out and buy sandpaper to mend some parts that broke in transit. “I mean, I brought an emergency kit, but no sandpaper,” he said. “Next time.”

And not only did he get the judges’ vote, several fans at the Bandai booth were smitten with his life-size interpretation of the collectible, he said. “The attention we got was just insane.”

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Stitching fit for a queen (or a senator)

Jennifer Catania got her start in theatrical and period costuming, so the historical influences of the prequel trilogy came through in her interpretation of Padmé Amidala’s dinner gown from the lake retreat. The painstakingly detailed creation won for Best Stitching.

Catania had already been on an elegant dress kick when she discovered the lace for the skirt in a shop, which inspired her to the begin the project. “The rule with Star Wars costuming is that if you see fabric that is anywhere close to screen accurate, you have to buy twice as much as you think you’ll need,” she said.

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

The gown — with a skirt sewn specifically so she can wear flats underneath to keep her comfortable and get her closer to Natalie Portman’s actual height in the scene — could almost be worn to a black-tie gala in this galaxy.

Catania put almost 120 hours of stitching into the look, with about half of that dedicated to hand beading the black velvet choker and the long beaded fringe at the front. Some of the beads were actually leftover plastic bits from a stormtrooper costume she had built, she noted.

For the cape, she used 13 yards of feather trim laid out in 10 distinct rows. The black pleather corset beneath was modified from a late 1800s corset pattern she custom drafted a few years prior.

“I think the best part of the contest was getting to hang out with all those amazing costumers,” she said afterward. Catania, a teacher by day, loves to cite sources and problem solve her different cosplay creations and share them with the community of builders and crafters. “That’s the reason I entered in the first place,” she said. And she was not disappointed, getting the chance to talk shop with cosplayers she follows on Instagram or had previously interacted with online.

Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.
Champions of Cosplay from Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

And these were just a few of the most impressive cosplay creations spotted at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. If we didn’t get a chance to feature yours here, it wasn’t that we weren’t impressed. There simply wasn’t enough time to catch up with all the amazing cosplayers on the show floor and parading through panels!

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #StarWarsCelebrationChicago2019

Most Impressive Fans: Meet the Champions of Star Wars Cosplay from Celebration Chicago