Alternate Title: “I sense something. A present I’ve not given since… [heavy breathing trails off]”
Hey, so there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out and it looks like it might not stink. I’m guessing this has inspired us all to buy Star Wars-themed gifts for everyone we know? I hope so, because that’s what I’m writing this article about. Here’s some suggestions, available at better local stores and sadly, big box chains. Um, and online. But always buy local if possible. /Paul Dechene
CAPTAIN PHASMA COSTUME Did you know that Star War Episode VII villain, Captain Phasma, is a woman? Now every little girl will have their own big-bad role model in the hitherto dude-heavy series. Phasma will be played by Gwendoline Christie and her chrome, modified stormtrooper costume has become one of the iconic designs of the film. But mega-boxstore retailer Target somehow missed the memo on the character’s details because they listed the kids’ costume version of her outfit as the “Star Wars Episode VII Boys Deluxe Villain Trooper Costume” [emphasis added]. The internet went bizonkers, ‘natch, and Target updated their web catalogue in less than twelve parsecs.
R2D2 USB CAR CHARGER Who doesn’t want an R2 unit perched on their vehicle making things go? Here you go: an R2D2 sized to fit in your car’s cup holder and you can patch him in through your cigarette lighter and use the two USB ports on his front to charge up all your smart devices.
STAR WARS LEGO I have this theory about why the original Star Wars trilogy was so successful. It wasn’t because it was such a great and groundbreaking series of films. The real genius was in the toys. The first film came out in 1977 and hot on its heels came an onslaught of action figures: one for every character in the movie. Not just the main protagonists and antagonists but for every single background character as well, from the cantina band to the mooks operating the Death Star’s superlaser. After that, there were three long years before the first sequel. There was no home video version of Star Wars that kids could watch repeatedly. Their main way to interact with the universe of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader was by playing with the toys. And most of those toys came with no backstory, leaving those blanks to be filled in by kids’ imaginations. And while I suspect few of the tales those kids came up with managed to top the not-too-shabby Empire Strikes Back, I wouldn’t be surprised if most kids came up with better endings for the trilogy than Lucas did with Return of the Jedi. And I also suspect that, subconsciously, much of the nostalgia that Gen-Xers feel for the original series isn’t for the films themselves but rather for the stories they told themselves, lying on suburban shag carpets and moving plastic action figures around.
Anyway, that was a long time ago. My kids now have seven seasons of Clone Wars on Netflix to clot their brains up with mediocre stories. The best hope for creative Star Wars play nowadays is with LEGO. Sure, even the third string mini-fig characters come dripping with backstory that’s only a quick search of Wookieepedia away. But at least, once your kids have built their Star Wars sets to match the directions, they can take them apart and build a novel, Star Wars themed universe for them to inhabit.
IMPERIAL STOUT TROOPER The first label for this dark beer from the New England Brewing Company sported a stormtrooper helmet straight from the original trilogy. It was a graphic design decision that inflamed the wrath of original Sith Lord, George Lucas, who issued a cease and desist order — and force lightning — against the rebellious Connecticut brewery. NEBCo responded by putting Groucho glasses on the stormtrooper helmet. Problem solved through pop-culture mashup. Imperial Stout Trooper is bottled annually and can be found in better hives of scum and villainy in the U.S. If you have a relative south of the border or know a Corellian smuggler, maybe you can score a case.
STAR WARS PLANETARY GLASSWARE Most fans of the original trilogy who are old enough to have seen the movies their first time through the theatres are at that age where they maybe don’t want to display their fandom by buying up armloads of plastic junk. Good thing the galaxy of Star Wars merch has expanded to include the classy as well as the plasticky. Check this set of stylish yet nerdy glassware that bring the planets of the Star Wars universe to your stylish dining room.
WOOKIEE HOODIE Everybody wants to hug a wookiee. Give the gift that will turn anyone into a Chewbacca surrogate and a giver of wookiee hugs.
STAR WARS GAMES Parents, I know you want your child to get out from behind the Playstation or iPad screen and do something fun in the real world. Maybe you’re thinking about buying your perfect little padawan a board game based on their favourite movie series involving Wookiees? If so, resist the urge to buy Star Wars Monopoly. I can’t stress this enough. NOBODY likes Monopoly. They play it because a.) You have provided no board game alternatives (read: you’ve failed as a parent); and b.) Generations of children have been raised to believe (falsely, by their failed parents) that playing Monopoly is as mandatory and inevitable as standardized testing, taxes and death by cancer. Please, break the Parker Bros Monopoly monopoly by buying your kid a Star Wars-themed game that isn’t endless torture by cardboard and funny money. For an older kid looking for deep strategy and won’t be scared off by some complex rules, try Star Wars: Imperial Assault. For younger kids, there’s the two player card game Star Wars: Empire Vs Rebellion. And for the littlest of your younglings, there’s the Loopin’ Chewie game and Bop-It R2D2 — no, these last two are not great games, but they’re better than monopoly. [Editor’s note: Don’t listen to Dechene. Loopin’ Chewie looks amazing. Combine with alcohol for bonus fun.]
STAR WARS SEX TOY When I agreed to do this gift guide I said it would have to include a Star Wars sex toy of some kind, thinking that a Google search would turn up dozens of options to choose from. But it turns out that while Lucas has licensed out his favourite sci-fi cash cow for everything from Death Star waffle irons to C-3P0 tape dispensers, he never went over to the sexy fun side of the Force. But if you’re not above giving a DIY present to your sex-positive Star Wars pal, there are plans online for how to make your own lightsaber dildo.