Disney+ to Bow ‘Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation’ Animated Special Aug. 5

The Disney+ streaming service Aug. 5 will premiere Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation, a new animated special from Lucasfilm and the Lego Group.

Set shortly after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Summer Vacation finds Finn arranging a surprise vacation for his friends Rey, Poe, Rose, Chewie, BB-8, R2-D2 and C-3PO aboard the Galactic Starcruiser, the Halcyon. But when Finn is separated from the group, he encounters three Force ghosts: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Leia Organa, who each share their own unexpected stories of vacations gone wrong, helping him to understand that holidays are about more than just having fun.

Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation features the voices of “Weird Al” Yankovic as Vic Vankoh; Yvette Nicole Brown as Colvett Valeria; Thomas Lennon as Wick Cooper; Paul F. Tompkins as Rad; Dee Bradley Baker as Boba Fett; Ashly Burch as the Tour Droid; Kyliegh Curran as Sidero; Anthony Daniels as C-3PO; Trevor Devall as Emperor Palpatine; Allie Feder as Sy Snootles; Jake Green as Poe Dameron; Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker; Ross Marquand as Han Solo; Omar Miller as Finn; Kevin Michael Richardson as Jabba the Hutt; Matt Sloan as Darth Vader; James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi; Kelly Marie Tran as Rose; Helen Sadler as Rey Skywalker; Billy Dee Williams as Lando; Matthew Wood as Ben Solo; and Shelby Young as Leia Organa.

In addition, the special includes the new original song “Scarif Beach Party” performed by Yankovic. A trailer for the special debuted June 21 and features the new song.

This will be the third Disney+ “Lego Star Wars” episode, following 2020’s Lego Star Wars Holiday Special and 2021’s Lego Star Wars Terrifying Tales.

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‘Lego Star Wars’ Halloween Special Premiering on Disney+ Oct. 1

The new animated special Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales will premiere Oct. 1 on the Disney+ streaming service as part of its Hallowstream celebration.

After the events of Rise of Skywalker, Poe and BB-8 must make an emergency landing on the volcanic planet Mustafar, where they meet the greedy and conniving Graballa the Hutt, who has purchased Darth Vader’s castle and is renovating it into the galaxy’s first all-inclusive Sith-inspired luxury hotel. While waiting for his X-Wing to be repaired, Poe, BB-8, Graballa and Dean (a plucky and courageous young boy who works as Graballa’s mechanic) venture deep into the mysterious castle with Vader’s loyal servant, Vaneé. Along the way, Vaneé shares three creepy stories linked to ancient artifacts and iconic villains from across all eras of “Star Wars.”

The voice cast includes Jake Green as Poe Dameron, Raphael Alejandro as Dean, Dana Snyder as Graballa the Hutt, Tony Hale as Vaneé, Christian Slater as Ren, Trevor Devall as Emperor Palpatine, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as NI-L8, and Matt Sloan as Darth Vader.

 

Disney+ Presenting ‘The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special’

Disney+ is embracing the holiday traditions of a galaxy far, far away. Tuesday, Nov. 17, the streaming service will debut The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, a new animated adventure featuring a return to Chewbacca’s homeworld of Kashyyyk for a Wookiee-sized celebration of the galaxy’s most cheerful and magical holiday, Life Day.

The show harkens back to the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, a cheaply made variety show framed by the attempts of Chewbacca to return to his family to celebrate Life Day. It was released a year after the original “Star Wars” movie dominated theaters and is probably best known today for introducing the character of Boba Fett before his appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back.

The new special will debut 42 years to the day after the lone official airing of the original Star Wars Holiday Special on CBS.

The holiday celebrated in the special, Life Day, the “Star Wars” galaxy’s equivalent of Christmas and Hanukkah, has been embraced by fans and is marked each year on Nov. 17 with ceremonies involving bringing glowing orbs to the “Tree of Life.”

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The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

Taking place following the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special reunites Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose and the droids for a joyous Life Day feast. Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on a new adventure with BB-8 to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious Jedi Temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through beloved moments in Star Wars cinematic history, coming into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films.

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The latest collaboration between Lucasfilm and Lego, which have produced several “Star Wars” Lego animations before, marks the first “Lego Star Wars” program to debut exclusively on Disney+.

Merchandise tie-ins with the new Holiday Special include a “Lego Star Wars” advent calendar available Sept. 1, designed in tandem with the new show and featuring holiday-themed characters from it. Also available will be a tie-in sticker book from DK.

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special

Lego DC: Shazam! — Magic and Monsters

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Animated;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Voices of Sean Astin, Troy Baker, Nolan North, Grey Griffin, Christina Milizia, James Arnold Taylor, Imari Williams, Fred Tatasciore, Ralph Garman, Zach Callison, Dee Bradley Baker, Jennifer Hale, Tom Kenny, Johnny Rees, Erica Lindbeck, Josh Keaton.

The “Lego DC” movies are like a throwback to the days of superheroes being light and fun, like the old “Super Friends” cartoon.

The latest installment focuses on Shazam, the red-suited mystically powered hero who has gotten a bit higher profile of late thanks to his own live-action motion picture last year.

In this new adventure done in the Lego style, Shazam is a rookie superhero on the verge of joining the Justice League. But he doesn’t believe the team will accept him if they discover that his secret identity of Billy Batson is just a kid who only takes on adult form when he gains powers by shouting “Shazam!”

His fears become secondary, however, when his archenemesis Mr. Mind and Dr. Savana discover a way to turn the Justice League members into children so that they may more easily brainwash them into doing evil.

That leaves is up to Shazam, and the kid version of Batman who escapes, to save the day.

The movie has a lot of fun playing with the Shazam mythology, particularly all the gods from whom Shazam derives his powers. There’s also a fantastic final fight that might fulfill a lot of fanboy crossover fantasies.

The Blu-ray includes a Lego Shazam minifigure and three bonus cartoons: an episode of “Teen Titans Go!” and two episodes of “Unikitty!”

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Universal Grabs ‘Lego’ Movie Rights From Warner Bros.

Universal Pictures April 23 announced that it has entered into a five-year exclusive agreement with the Lego Group to develop, produce and distribute theatrical releases based on its intellectual property and original ideas. The announcement was made by Donna Langley, chairman of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and Jill Wilfert, head of entertainment at the Lego Group. Wilfert will serve as producer on all Lego projects developed and released by Universal.

Lego, which had licensed its IP to Warner Bros., reportedly moved to Universal after a planned Warner movie didn’t materialize. Lego branded movies include The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which have collectively grossed nearly $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office — for Warner Bros., which retains rights to those titles.

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Universal and Lego have previously collaborated on the television special Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit and the 13-episode miniseries Lego Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar.

“The Lego System in Play gives people the ability to build worlds and create stories that they carry throughout every phase of their lives,” Langley said in a statement. “To partner with such an iconic brand that remains relevant and is constantly evolving allows for creativity in storytelling.”

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Warner Releasing ‘Lego Shazam’ Movie Digitally April 28, on Disc June 16

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the new full-length animated feature film Lego DC: Shazam! — Magic and Monsters through digital retailers April 28, and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD June 16.

The latest entry in the direct-to-video line of Lego DC Comics movies features Shazam (Sean Astin) becoming the newest member of the Justice League. But to join, he must reveal his true identity as Billy Batson, a 10-year-old boy granted the power of the gods when he says his name, a gift bestowed upon him by a wizard (Ralph Garman). While fighting off the evil Mr. Mind and Black Adam, Billy learns that he must trust others — and that nothing creates trust like helping those in need.

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The cast also includes Troy Baker as Batman/Bruce Wayne; Nolan North as Superman and Alfred; Grey Griffin as Wonder Woman and Lois Lane; Christina Milizia as Green Lantern Jessica Cruz; James Arnold Taylor as The Flash and Dummy; Imari Williams as Black Adam and Teth Adam; Fred Tatasciore as Lobo and Oom; Zach Callison as Billy Batson and Jimmy Olsen; Dee Bradley Baker as Jeepers, Dr. Sivana and Crocodile Man; Jennifer Hale as Mary Batson and L.N. Ambassador; Tom Kenny as The Penguin and Perry White; Jonny Rees as Mr. Mind; Erica Lindbeck as a greeter and a farmer; and Josh Keaton as Terrance and an executive.

The Lego Shazam! Blu-ray and DVD will include three cartoons from the Warner Bros. Animation vault: The “Teen Titans Go!” episode “Little Elvis,” and the “Unikitty!” episodes “Spoooooky Game” and “Pool Duel.”

For a limited time, the disc versions of the move will include a Shazam minifigure.

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Lego Launching Streaming Video App

Lego Dec. 9 is bowing The Lego Channel, a free COPPA-compliant content app for children available across all major over-the-top video streaming platforms, including Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV.

The new channel will feature more than 1,000 videos with content ranging in genres and animation styles. The channel will feature series based on various Lego properties, including content from Lego Ninjago, Lego Friends, Lego City, and specials from franchises such as Lego Jurassic World, and Lego Marvel, among others.

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“The Lego Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” Jay Shah, director, global content for the Lego Group, said in a statement. “With the launch of The Lego Channel, we can reach even more kids who will connect through some really fun and engaging content to inspire creativity, imagination and learning.”

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Content includes Lego Designer Set Reviews, which draw fans into the world of Lego designers and builders to get tips on how to build, in addition to YouTube show Rebrickulous, featuring the brand’s legacy Lego bricks.

“The Lego brand is known by practically every parent and child in the U.S. and Canada and they have created an incredible and memorable programming franchise amassing fans everywhere over the last 80 plus years,” said Vikrant Mathur, co-founder of Future Today, which helped with the Lego app launch.

Family Dynamics Build Conflict in ‘Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters’

Even though he’s a superhero, Batman can’t build a gadget to shield himself from family conflict in Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters.

Voice cast and creators were on hand at San Diego Comic-Con for the world premiere of the direct-to-video title July 21. The animated movie, which involves Batman, Batgirl, Robin and other superheroes facing off against Red Hood, who is obsessed with destroying the Bat-family and all of Gotham City, will be available Aug. 20 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

“It’s kind of an analysis of Batman because he really is the head of the Batman family and there’s a responsibility that goes with that,” said director Matt Peters in an interview before the screening. “How would Batman the crime fighter deal with that? Is he ok with that? Is he comfortable with it? Is it something that he would like to relinquish? Is it something that he would like to take responsibility for? And that’s kind of the story for a hero as well.”

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In the feature, Batman faces different conflicts with several family members, including various Robins.

“You have Batman trying to struggle with being a superhero and a dad at the same time,” said Troy Baker, who voices Batman and noted he’s facing his own dad struggles with a  14-month-old son. “The past, present and future are kind of tag-teaming him because you have Nightwing … you have Jason Todd, you have Red Hood, you have Damian Wayne — we see how much of an important facet Robin is to Batman.”

Jason Spisak, the voice of Red Hood/Jason Todd, finds the disaffected character easily relatable for families.

“A Lego movie is a great chance to have a whole family watch it, and if there’s someone in the family who’s bitter and somebody who’s angst-ridden or whatever, they can see this play out on the screen and then at the end when Batman and Jason have a moment of reconciliation, they can possibly open that door in their own family,” he said.

Then there’s Batgirl to add some spice.

“With Lego, the humor is far more sardonic,” said Alyson Stoner (Batgirl). “There’s a sassiness and a snarkiness to her in this version.”

While the Lego direct-to-video projects involve a separate universe from the theatrical movies, they have the famous plastic brick world in common.

“We do work hand and hand with Lego,” said producer Rick Morales, adding, “I got to go to Denmark to actual Lego headquarters and work out with their team what they might create for their sets and talk about the possibilities.”

Legos make up all the sets for the DTV title.

“You can pretty much take anything that’s in this movie and build it straight up from Lego bricks,” he said. “It would cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. I wouldn’t recommend it. But most everything in here is really buildable, and we’ve even developed a library with our designers of CGI bricks that are legitimate in scale.”

“Honestly, it’s one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been involved in,” Stoner added. “You just say the word Lego, and it’s pretty awesome.”

Playing one of numerous Batmans on page, screen and home video involves a certain responsibility to the character, Baker said.

“This may be the first introduction to Batman that somebody ever has,” he said. “And if that’s it, I just want them to go, ‘What’s the original?’ All of these pull from these great storylines. So if I make a kid or an adult pick up a comic book, then I’ve done my job.”

Warner Releasing ‘Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters’ Aug. 20

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Aug. 20.

The film is a follow up to previous direct-to-video movies based on the Lego DC Super Heroes video games, and not the theatrically released The Lego Batman Movie.

The story involves Batman, Batgirl, Robin and other superheroes facing off against Red Hood, who is obsessed with destroying the Bat-family and all of Gotham City.

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The cast includes Troy Baker as Batman, Alyson Stoner as Batgirl, Scott Menville as Robin, Jason Spisak as Red Hood, Steve Blum as Scarecrow, Zach Callison as Billy Batson, Cam Clarke as Brother Eye and the Bat Computer, Will Friedle as Nightwing, Ralph Garman as Wizard, Jake Green as Fred, Josh Keaton as Board Member, Tom Kenny as Comissioner Gordon and Penguin, Christian Lanz as Two-Face, Nolan North as Alfred and Killer Croc, Andre Sogliuzza as Riddler, Tara Strong as Batwoman, and Fred Tatasciore as Solomon Grundy.

The Blu-ray and DVD releases will include an 84-piece Lego mini Ultimate Batmobile while supplies last.

Note: This report has been updated with a new street date of Aug. 20. The previous street date was Aug. 6.

The Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2

DVD REVIEW: 

Street Date 5/7/19;
Screen Media;
Documentary;
$29.98 DVD;
Not rated.

This eight-part documentary series that originally premiered on Netflix delves into the history of some of the most influential toy brands from the past 50 years.

With a particular focus on toys that were big in the 1980s, when the loosening of the rules governing television programming blurred the line between content and advertising, it’s no surprise that many of the toy lines profiled here also rank among the most significant pop culture franchises as well.

Fittingly, then, the first episode deals with “Star Wars,” and how the George Lucas space opera forever changed the landscape of movie merchandising, while elevating a small toymaker such as Kenner into a national powerhouse. Not that other major players such as Hasbro and Mattel aren’t represented.

The hour-long episodes are divided into two seasons — one season per disc — and smartly focus on a different toy brand each episode. That allows each episode to find its own voice in telling the story of that particular toy, while letting viewers pick and choose which episodes they want to watch based on which of the toys are of interest to them.

Other season one episodes focus on “Barbie,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” and “G.I. Joe.” Season two deals with “Star Trek,” “The Transformers,” “Lego” and “Hello Kitty.”

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Aside from some invaluable under-the-radar lessons about business and marketing, the episodes offer a pure blast of childhood nostalgia, particularly for Gen Xers who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Which isn’t to say that younger viewers can’t find something to enjoy in the show, as most of these toy lines are pretty timeless. Plus, the upcoming third season will look at newer toys such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Power Rangers” (in addition to “My Little Pony” and professional wrestling toys).

The shows offer a lot of fascinating details about how the toys were created and evolved. The “He-Man” show is entertaining simply for how so many of the line’s creators want to take credit for coming up with it. The story of the creation of Battle Cat is particularly hilarious.

The first disc offers an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with series creator Brian Volk-Weiss, who delves into what his goals for the show were and why certain toys were chosen to be profiled.

It seems like a bit of an odd choice to include “Star Trek,” which has never really been associated with a robust toy line. But as the narrator continually brings up how less successful “Trek” toys have been compared with “Star Wars,” the episode comes across more as an avenue to profile the various toy companies like Mego, Galoob and Playmates that tried their hands at “Star Trek” toy lines over the years, with varying degrees of success.

In fact, the lone deleted scene included with the DVDs is from the “Star Trek” episode, consisting of a two-minute clip of various talking heads wondering why the toys based on the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboot didn’t sell well.

That discussion hints at the challenges that not just toymakers, but any steward of a popular brand face in the rapidly changing information age. Some brands have always had better success than others in crossing from one generation to the next, but the means of instant gratification brought on by the Internet have altered the tactile relationship viewers have with their favorite content, both in the collectability and playability of the merchandise associated with it.

As one of the talking heads notes in the deleted scene, we don’t really have pop culture anymore. We have a customizable culture, in which consumers can focus on their fandoms like never before.

Whatever the case, at least we have shows like “The Toys That Made Us” to help remind us why we love these things to begin with.