If you read the Internets in the last week or so, you might note how folks were agitated about the news that Disney bought Star Wars. I don’t worry for a number of reasons. Chief among those is that you can only screw up Star Wars once.
George Lucas himself did that with the prequels.
Nobody in the history of Inventing Cool Commercial Properties, has ever sold out to licensing harder than George Lucas. He makes the Disney people look like pikers by comparison. Now, I just happen to have a four year old who, doing his father proud, has developed a love of Star Wars. We showed him the original trilogy on the backyard screen over the summer, and his grandmother dug up my old Vader-head action figure case for him to play with.
Since his birthday last April, Benny’s been asking about the Playskool Star Wars Snowspeeder — a sort of preschool version of the classic Star Wars action figure/vehicle set — which I promised that Santa would look into for Christmas. Of course, that means its gone off production. Fortunately, the Toys R Us in the Philadelphia’s lovely Market East Gallery mall –yes THAT Gallery mall — had one in stock, so I don’t have to pay $30-35 for it online.
Over my lunch break today, I hopped the trolley to the mall and picked one up.
The epic journey…blah…blah…blah…just gimme already. (Every 4 year-old ever)
That’s when, on the ride back, I realized that there is no amount of Disnification (bar inserting Walt’s frozen corpse into the Wampa den in Empire) that would make a worse mess of Star Wars than Lucas did himself.
I bring you the back-of-the-box copy for the Playskool Jedi Force Snowspeeder:
A galaxy full of adventure awaits in Star Wars Jedi Force! Join Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader and all your other favorite Star Wars characters on either side of the Force!
Skim across the surface of Hoth in a snoswpeeder flown by two of the best pilots in the galaxy. This particularly nimble vehicle was used in one of the Rebel Alliance’s biggest victories against the evil Empire.
Bask in this for a moment. It really doesn’t seem bad. At first glance, it seems, at worst, unnecessary. The 3-6 year olds this toy is made for isn’t reading this copy. The parents were raised with Star Wars. They generally know what this is. There was a day when you could argue that this was written for Grandmom or Aunt Lucy. But truth be told, even Grandmom and Aunt Lucy have either directly raised or lived through the first generation of Star Wars fans. They get the brand. Star Wars = space, adventure, light swords, lasers. (Star Trek = red shirts, Shatner, Spock)
This is short, so allow me to dig in a bit:
Join Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader and all your other favorite Star Wars characters on either side of the Force!
Luke, Han…and Darth Vader? One I was a kid, the assumption would be that Vader is the enemy, and would not, therefore, be the focal point of playtime. You might read something like “Join Luke Skywalkerâ„¢ and Han Soloâ„¢ as the fight the villainous tyranny of the Empire!” if you paused long enough to bother reading the box copy before tearing the thing apart to get at the toys.
The prequels changed that sentiment, I get it. Kids can’t look at Vader now without thinking about how cool Anakin is (or at least, how cool he is in the Clone Wars tv show). Still, this copy is dead inside. “Join your heroes and all of their friends who might be good or bad or something!” A real stirring call to adventurous roleplay.
Skim across the surface of Hoth in a snoswpeeder flown by two of the best pilots in the galaxy.
OK, technically only Luke flew one, but I’ll forgive them. Although, it doesn’t look like both figures can fit at the same time. We’ll find out on Christmas.
This particularly nimble vehicle
Note the fine Corellian leather in this particularly nimble vehicle! (Said ricardo vocce for maximum effect.)
This particularly nimble vehicle was used in one of the Rebel Alliance’s biggest victories against the evil Empire.
My inner 5 year-old seethes with the molten fire of Tatooine’s twin suns! What kind of revisionist nonsense is this?
The rebels LOST the Battle of Hoth. Everyone
knows that who has actually seen the movies which might have helped with this copy design knows that.
So, inevitably, they will re-release this playset in some other fashion. How can they not? Empire is over 30 years old. Unlike the the Great Star Wars Drought from the late 80s until the late 90s, it seems we are entering a cultural state of perpetual Star Wars!
PlaySkool, when you re-release this snowspeeder, here are two options:
Its A SNOWSPEEDER! The thing Luke flies on the snow planet! Buy it for your kid!
Join young Jedi Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance as they fight the evil Empire and the forces of Darth Vader!
There, you’re welcome.