Star Wars: 2019 in Review
From Galaxy of Adventures to Jedi: Fallen Order Star Wars has had a banner year by the standards of any franchise – and that’s before we get to The Rise of Skywalker.
But that’s not to say that the last 12 months haven’t been a rollercoaster. With 2020 now just hours away let’s take a few minutes to reflect on how the year has gone for our favourite galaxy far, far away.
This is Star Wars: 2019 in Review.
Following the first December in four years with no new Star Wars film meant that January was a little quieter than we’ve gotten used to. Yet excitement for the franchise came in the form of Galaxy of Adventures, the new animated series on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel.
These hyper-stylised short animations re-interpret key scenes from the Star Wars saga. They work perfectly as bite-sized chunks of the franchise and as trailers for an as-yet-unmade cartoon show and are suitable for kids of all ages.
If you haven’t seen it yet it’s well worth your time – here’s a sample to whet your appetite:
The mid-February weekend is hands-down one of my favourite times of the year – and that’s all thanks to the New York Toy Fair.
This year Hasbro caused a splash with a host of new Vintage Collection reveals including (among many other awesome things) the Jabba’s Palace Adventure Set. Collectors have been asking Hasbro for playset environments for years, so this was a great announcement. I very much look forward to showing you what it’s like when I get mine from In Demand Toys next month.
We also saw the amazing anniversary card backs for The Phantom Menace Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul, but the real headliner was something that we’ve all seen before…
The Retro Collection is literally just repackaged reproductions of vintage Star Wars figures. Crazy, huh? Maybe so, but they’re also incredible sellers. Just goes to show that collectors know what they like.
The big news for March was the update to Battlefront II and the introduction of the brand new multiplayer mode, Capital Supremacy.
Taking place in the Clone Wars, this update allows players to fight as either Republic or CIS armies across a selection of Prequel-inspired locations, with the aim of capturing all the bases on the map before taking the fight to the enemy cruiser. It can be fast and furious or long and entrenched, depending on how equally matched the teams are; I’ve even had matches last over an hour.
It was one of a number of fun additions to Battlefront II’s multiplayer selection this year. The new version of Ewok hunt is probably my favourite though. Yub nub!
Star Wars Celebration in Chicago was the big news of April, and there was nothing bigger than the drop of the first trailer for The Rise of Skywalker – which in turn revealed the return of Emperor Palpatine.
There were a few choice toy reveals as well, including the Vintage Collection Luke Skywalker Jedi Destiny set. This fantastic three-pack, which I’ll be reviewing in 2020, shows just how good the modern Vintage Collection can be.
May started sadly with the passing of Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. I met him once at a convention when I was a kid, and although I can’t remember too much of the encounter I’ve always recalled him as a friendly man in person. He may have passed the Wookiee mantle on to Joonas Suotamo in recent years but he’ll always be Chewie to me.
Beyond this sad news, May was dominated by the US 20th anniversary of Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.
Seeing stills from the movie all around the internet and Darth Maul everywhere gave me a great nostalgic buzz, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film again to celebrate.
The midpoint of the year marked the start of the promotional push for the new EA/Respawn game Jedi: Fallen Order.
As well as the cinematic trailer Lucasfilm also dropped a gameplay trailer, a ton of concept art and a brand new limited comic series exploring key characters from the era before the game.
This barrage of reveals did an excellent job of hyping the fan base.
The big news for July was Hasbro’s turnout at San Diego Comic-Con.
While the number of reveals was down on NYTF and Celebration there was the headline-grabbing launch of the Galaxy of Adventures toy line. These stylized, articulated 5” figures use the same branding as the Galaxy of Adventures YouTube animated shorts and launched with a lineup that spanned the OT and ST eras.
The big collector-friendly news was the release of the SDCC exclusive Black Series Sith Trooper, which became the first toy from The Rise of Skywalker to hit shelves.
2019 saw the return of Disney’s bi-annual D23 expo, and with it the return of a name we’d not heard for a long time… Ewan McGregor! The Prequel Trilogy veteran joined the stage to tell us all about the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series for Disney+.
McGregor returning to the Kenobi role for some adventures between the PT and OT is something that fans have been asking for since Disney first announced new Star Wars content – and if the actors’ admission that he’d had to keep his involvement a secret for years is anything to go by, it was clearly in the works behind the scenes for just as long.
Beyond the exciting Kenobi news, we also got the first trailer for The Mandalorian, the debut Disney+ Star Wars live-action show.
And if that wasn’t enough, we also got a “D23 Special Look” at The Rise of Skywalker, featuring a glimpse of dark side Rey…
After a flurry of activity over the summer September marked a brief period of respite for Lucasfilm’s busy marketers – well, at least until the end of the month…
Lucasfilm put together a worldwide online streaming launch presentation for October’s Triple Force Friday, with actors from across the franchise coming together to unveil a load of new action figures and Lego sets.
Was the presentation cheesy and a little bit awkward? Oh yes. But if this kind of free-for-all event is the future of audience engagement then I’m all for it.
As well as Triple Force Friday (which yielded more Vintage Collection figures than first revealed) October also gave us the last big conventions of the year with New York Comic Con, Lucca in Italy and MCM in London.
These shows also gave us a few more Black Series figures from across the saga, including a 6” scale Wedge Antilles. Good to see more heroes of the Rebellion getting their due!
October also saw the release of the then-Final Trailer for The Rise of Skywalker. It may have looked epic but it still wasn’t giving anything away…
November started off big with the release of Jedi: Fallen Order and didn’t look back.
An excellent addition to the saga, Jedi: Fallen Order gives us an engaging Imperial-era story with fluid and fun gameplay. I’ve almost completely beaten the game; as soon as I do you can expect to see a lot more about it up here.
Now, Jedi: Fallen Order is a big deal. Yet we were truly spoiled for choice in November with the launch of (almost) the biggest Star Wars event of the year – The Mandalorian.
Available in the US and a few other territories from November 12th, The Mandalorian is the first live-action Star Wars TV show and it proved an instant smash hit. Space Western vibes, the man-with-no-name lead character and a certain zeitgeist-grabbing child made it a popular addition to the Star Wars franchise.
November was a helluva lot to top. Good job Lucasfilm had the ninth and final film instalment of the Star Wars saga locked and ready to go!
The Rise of Skywalker has dominated the fandom for the last fortnight. It’s still playing in cinemas now so whether you’ve seen it one time or ten, you’ve still got time to add to your tally – get down to your local multiplex to get stuck in!
That’s 2019 in Star Wars, then. What are your highlights? Let us know in the comments below.