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May the Festivities be With You: Star Wars Xmas 2016
Christmas is almost upon us and this year, once again, there's a huge array of Star Wars related gadgets for that sci-fi geek in your life. But with such a wide assortment of items (and some being exclusives to certain websites) where do you even start to shop? Darren Rea take a look at some of the cool (and not so cool) decorations and gifts on offer this year...
While I grew up with Star Wars (I was seven when A New Hope was released in cinemas) and collected the Palitoy action figures in the '70s and early '80s I never grew up to collect Star Wars related merchandise. Okay, I admit I had a weakness for collecting Don Post replica helmets in the '90s, but I've never been a huge fan of Star Wars merchandise.
This year (2016), though, I seem to have stumbled onto a Star Wars goldmine of merchandise. We've had quite a few items in the office for review and I found it almost impossible to go shopping in the high street without coming across new and interesting Star Wars related items. Poundland even do a range of Christmas decorations for the sci-fi fan on a budget.
The seed for this feature started in the summer, when a friend got me into collecting the Star Wars Kinder Egg toys. Each had a Star Wars character's head stuck on a small spaceship. To be honest they were naff, but he suggested that they would make great Christmas tree decoration and so I decided (much to my poor suffering girlfriend's cries to cease this madness) for the first time I would have a Star Wars decorated Christmas tree in the office. And, once I mentioned this, almost everyone I know started sending me links to themed Christmas decorations.
I don't think I was really prepared for the mountain of official (and the occasional unofficial) merchandise available when I typed "Star Wars Christmas" into Google. Just about every single conceivable taste is covered from the obligatory socks and slippers right through to full-size Stormtrooper costumes and AT-AT and X-Wing beds for children.
After buying some Kurt Adler R2-D2 and Stormtrooper Christmas lights for the tree, I started to look for tree toppers (to replace the obligatory angel/star. And was surprised to see you could pick up Darth Vader or Yoda... but neither looked particularly enticing. Then I spotted the (soon to be released) Death Star tree topper. It lights up and plays segments of John Williams score, but it's a bit pricey, In the end I found some cheap kids bubble bath with a really detailed, good sized, hollowed out Stormtrooper helmet to sit on the top of the tree. Poundland's surprisingly tasteful, Star Wars ornaments helped to fill out the branches and once I'd added a bit of white and black tinsel everything looked perfect.
So, now the tree's all sorted it's time to move on and look at the huge array of gifts you can pick up for yourself and that Star Wars obsessed nut in your life. I suppose the next essential thing about Christmas, after the decorations, is the food and, for the budding chefs out there, there's plenty of gadgets to fill your kitchen with.
We've recently reviewed two kitchen timers: Bluw's R2D2 shaped traditional bell timer (RRP: £19.99 - prezzybox.com) and Underground Toy's funkier, electronic Deathstar timer (RRP: £24.99 - prezzybox.com) which plays a sound effect of the Deathstar powering up and firing once the timer has counted down.
Underground Toys produce a lightsabre pizza cutter that uses sound effects from the movie as you cut into your food. They also have a range of chopping boards, including the BB-8 shaped one that we've reviewed. And if you're going to chop your veg this Christmas, then you'll need Bluw's X-Wing Knife Block (RRP: £79.99).
For those that enjoy the odd tipple over the festive period Shepperton Design Studios manufacture a glass decanter in the shape of a Stormtrooper helmet (RRP: £24.95 - prezzybox.com), while Paladone produce an R2-D2 pint glass - that's the smaller American pint (RRP: £6.99 - geniegadgets.com). You don't want to get caught short, unable to open any bottles over the festive period, so Paladone also give us the Millennium Falcon Bottle Opener (RRP: £4.95 - geniegadgets.com). And to ensure that you don't damage your table Paladone also manufacture a pack of eight The Force Awakens themed 3D coasters (RRP: £6.00 - hawkin.com).
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas if someone didn't buy you socks, slippers or a festive jumper - and there are plenty of these with a Star Wars theme Just walk into any major supermarket. Of note are Groovy UK's Jedi Mule Slippers (RRP: £19.99 - geniegadgets.com) which are very warm and comfortable - anyone would think they were made out of Wookie fur.
If you're worried about getting bored over the holiday season then there are plenty of DVDs available. Soda Pictures's Elstree 1976 is a Star Wars documentary with a bit of a twist. The filmmakers interview 10 actors who appeared briefly in A New Hope, but each of them were unrecognisable due to the fact their faces were obscured by masks, helmets or heavy makeup.
Or, you could obscure your own face - indeed your own body - with this cheap alternative to a full Stormtrooper armour. MorphCostumes release a skintight Stormtrooper Digital Morphsuit (RRP: £44.95 - morphsuits.co.uk) that won't break the bank.
And finally, we have a range of Star Wars Laser Battling Drones, which will be available to buy from 01 December 2016. Using the latest drone technology, and beautifully crafted, there is a choice of T-65 X-Wing fighter, Darth Vader’s Tie Advanced X1, and a speeder bike from Return of the Jedi - complete with miniature trooper. Each model is hand-painted and numbered, and comes in a wax-sealed gift box that lights up and plays Star Wars music specific to the film the vehicle in question appeared in.
The highly advanced piece of machinery packed into a form factor the size of your palm contains intelligent awareness technology that allows for several different types of highly accurate multiplayer aerial laser battles. As well as flying to speeds above 35 MPH in less than three seconds, a unique flight control algorithm also enables special manoeuvres that mimic Star Wars flight patterns, such as forward moving corkscrew rolls.
However, with a RRP of £229.99, you're going need to start saving now if you want to buy enough so that all the family can engage in a mass laser battle.
3D Coasters, The Force Awakens (Paladone) - Hawkin / Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com
Bluw Ltd - bluw.com
With thanks to Alan Peters for the original inspiration