Lego Star Wars Advent Fun

It has become a family tradition in our house that each day of advent is marked with a small bag containing chocolate and a small gift. Jane painstakingly sources the chocolate coins, the small gifts during the year, then towards November will bag them up to make sure each person in the house gets something similar each day. That became even more important when the boys came along (yes, we did it when it was adults only in the house!) as one getting something different from the other would lead to a big fight!

Last year was slightly different though. As Daniel had picked up my passion for Star Wars, Jane decided to buy the Lego Star Wars advent calendar. The boys loved it. Even Matthew, who’s not as big a Star Wars fan as Daniel is, couldn’t wait to open them daily. Safe to say, it was a huge hit. Well, this year there was no doubt that we had to get one again for all of the boys in the house! Each day the calendar has a small Lego Star Wars toy behind each door, needing assembly. They boys were told that as they’re fiddly and there’s not much time in the mornings for playing about while the have breakfast & get ready for school, they’d have to wait until I got home from work. It caused a bit of consternation of course, but once they thought about it, it would give them something to look forward to at the end of the school day.

So, on Sunday we started with Matthew opening door 1, with a small R4 droid unit to be put together. Matthew is doing the odd-numbered days this year, as he opened the big(ish) toy on Christmas Eve last year, so its Daniel’s turn this year. They couldn’t wait! On Monday I’d barely got in the door when the boys were at me to do the Lego Star Wars calendar! Its a bit of fun for us. All I do is check out how the little toy goes together, then leave it to the boys to do the work. Its their calendar after all!

Each Sunday in advent, there’s an extra little treat for the boys, as there’s a code on the back of the little door for the day that needs input to the Lego Star Wars website that unlocks a game for the character that was behind the door for that day, so there’s a bit of interactivity for them, and they both love the Lego Star Wars website. The calendar is relatively expensive at £25, but they have the fun of putting the toys together, which they play with for months afterward, particularly Daniel with his fantastic imaginary play, and they love the games online. If your little one loves Star Wars, give it a thought next year. May the Force be With You this Christmas!

Empire Strikes Back Treat with Daniel

Usually when we want to watch our favourite film, we’ll have it on DVD so we can watch it at our leisure. But when they appear on TV, I can’t help resist watching, and yesterday was no exception. Saturday afternoon with no football, and STV go and put on one of mine (and Daniel’s) favourite movies, The Empire Strikes Back. Even with the ad breaks, it was impossible to not watch it. Its on when someone else wants us to watch, not when we feel like it, but the draw of Star Wars for Daniel & I was irresistible.

Somehow, the movie being on TV made us pay even more attention to it than usual. We had a little discussion about C3PO being shot at Cloud City. We knew that when Chewbacca re-assembled 3PO, his first words were, “Stormtroopers? Here?” Daniel concluded that it was a Stormtrooper that did it, but its also possible that it was Boba Fett that did it. After all, Fett did go to shoot Chewwie (and 3PO) when Han was being put into carbon freeze. Maybe he wanted to make sure, although why he would be so keen to destroy 3PO, I’m not sure. We did think it was interesting that Vader restrained Fett from shooting Chewbacca. Did part of him as Anakin recognise his construction from Tatooine and he acted to save him? Seems unlikely that from the time that had passed, and considering all that had happened to Anakin/Vader, its probably unlikely that he recognised 3PO.

It was definitely worth waiting through the ad breaks for the scene with Luke and Vader. In many ways, Luke was very much like Anakin was before his crossing over to the dark side, and his eventual transformation into Darth Vader. Luke had ignored Yoda’s warning and had rushed to try and help Han and Leia. Turned out they didn’t need his help. As Daniel said while we were watching, Leia, Chewwie, 3PO and R2 managed their own escape, although Solo was lost. It could have been a huge disaster for the rebels had Luke been taken by Vader. Luke was driven somewhat by fear and was too impulsive. Yoda tried to teach him that, but wasn’t entirely successful. Luke was vulnerable to the dark side of the force, something Yoda knew – and feared.

But the climactic scene where Vader told Luke who his father was, was – and still is – mind-blowing. Back in 1981 in days before the internet and spoilers making the rounds before you saw the movies, it was absolutely sensational. For me, still one of the great scenes in movies. But ultimately, it was a turning point in the galactic civil war when Luke rejected Vader’s hand. Despite being vulnerable he rejected the dark side which started the ball rolling fatally against the Emperor. It was a scene of family rejection immediately followed by a bonding scene between brother and sister, Luke and Leia. It finally revealed Leia’s force sensitivity when she sensed Luke in distress. After the devastating blow Vader dealt Luke, it was a moment that healed his spirit.

Daniel and I had a long chat about it all, and it turned into a great afternoon. One of our shared passions was unexpectedly put upon us, and we enjoyed the opportunity. We’ll be keeping our eyes on the TV schedules the next few weeks in the hope Return of the Jedi makes an appearance. But thanks to STV for giving Daniel and I a lovely surprise Saturday afternoon.

A Love of Star Wars Shared and Interesting Chats.

Star Wars is a big favourite in our house. I have loved it since first seeing it in 1977, and that has been passed on to Daniel, who is really into it now. His best friend at school is also a fan, so Daniel has been caught in the middle, and has also become a fan. We will often watch the movies, and the Clone Wars. Daniel has so many questions over it, and he and I will have some quite interesting discussions over it. His constantly asks questions when we watched, which makes it a bit difficult to follow the dialogue, but secretly I’m delighted.

Yesterday, we discussed the Grand Army of the Republic, the Stormtrooper Corps and whether or not the admission of non-clones to the Corps weakened it to the point where it was a contributory factor to the eventual defeat of the Sith. The GAR was made up entirely of Jango Fett clones, and was bred for discipline. It was effectively a slave army as clones weren’t allowed leave or rest. The constant fighting made them a tough army, and they were on the verge of decisive victories at the time Sidious/Palpatine assumed executive control of the army from the Jedi, and issued Order 66. But as Sidious strengthened the Sith grip on power and the GAR became the Stormtrooper Corps, to increase the size of the corps, non-clones were admitted. It seems that they lacked the discipline of Fett clones and their dedication too. For example when Cody – a more than able commander under General Kenobi – assumed control of the Imperial Battalion in Timira City on Kamino, he was “disappointed” in the enlisted Stormtroopers who didn’t like his drills, or patrolling. That laxity in any army should ring alarm bells in any army.

Then there’s the individuality that came with enlisting non-clones. Clones would blindly follow orders, giving no thought to any alternative. But non-clones? They have their own ideas, and with that comes the risk that they may no longer follow orders. When that happens, there’s no guarantee that the next Stormtrooper over will cover his colleague’s back. That happened when Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, Chewie, 3PO & R2 escaped from Tattooine and trooper Davin Felth shot his commanding officer in the back, allowing Luke to escape.

The Clone Army had no thought for their own safety, and that made them absolutely ruthless. Sidious failed to see how much weaker the Stormtrooper Corps had become. I suspect that when he laid a trap for the Rebels at Endor, he had counted on the Corps being as the GAR had been. Turned out he was completely wrong of course, and the failure of his troops on the Forest Moon contributed to a decisive victory for what became the New Republic. This all came from Daniel and I having a chat as we watched Revenge of the Sith. He’s a deep little thinker at times, and its fascinating to raise an issue with him to see what he thinks. Sometimes his conclusions are fairly straightforward. When we were watching Revenge of the Sith, and it came to the scene where Mace Windu attempts to arrest/kill Sidious, I asked Daniel what would have happened if he had, and the GAR had won the Clone Wars and the Jedi order had survived. He simply said, “They wouldn’t have made your favourite movie” (The Empire Strikes Back)! How true I suppose, but maybe it would have ushered in a era of peace and justice as the Republic continued! occasionally I get a deep thought and answer, sometimes an obvious one.

Its all part of the fun that sharing my love of Star Wars with Daniel. Who knows what well talk out next?!

Lego Star Wars – our Obsessed Aspie Battles On!

As I mentioned the other day, our resident Aspie, Daniel, is obsessed with Star Wars. He’s either watching the movies, making up Star Wars related games to play, or of course, playing Lego Star Wars. But on the plus side, its time that Daniel shares with either Matthew, me, or all three of us. The gameplay on Lego Star Wars is excellent, and the puzzle solving tough enough for young minds to figure out. The 30-odd levels spread over the six movies will keep them occupied for a long time with 360 canisters (10 per level that make up a Lego creation), special Lego blocks and canisters to collect, along with various challenge levels to complete.

Thanks to a change of Wii, we’ve had to start from the beginning again, but I think that’s part of the fun – completing all the levels in story mode then free play (you can pick a handful of characters you’ve unlocked, or bought using the Lego studs you’ve collected in the course of playing the game.) We’ve been through almost all of the levels on story mode so far, with about 4 left to complete on Return of the Jedi. Daniel has his favourite levels he’ll return to, using the characters he’s bought on old favourites.

We’re doing our best to collect all the canisters & special canisters that make up the Lego Star Wars ships. Only so many of them can be collected in story mode as some locations on a level can only be accessed by using particular characters not available in story mode. Daniel returned to the Death Star level of the Star Wars (Episode IV) levels where he’d collected some of the canisters in story mode. In free play, without any help, he managed to complete the level collecting all of the canisters. Although the puzzles to discover the canisters aren’t overly taxing, Daniel is able to analyse what needs doing, and is managing to stay calms to be able to finish it. When he’d done it, he insisted Jane send me a message at work to say he’d finished it.

This week – the second of their two weeks off school – has followed a familiar pattern. Lego Star Wars would be played first thing in the morning, and today was no exception. We decided to go back to the very first level (The Phantom Menace, Negotiations) to have a go at free play, as we’d already collected 8 of the 10 canisters on the level. With Daniel’s prompting, I managed to finish it off, finding the last canister. Daniel was so excited by it. But that wasn’t quite enough. Oh no. We had to go for the special canisters. That involved a “challenge” mode level, where we had 10 minutes to find all canisters. I played to the accompaniment of constant advice and chatter from Daniel. First effort found 5/10 which was no good. Daniel’s all or nothing attitude his Aspergers gives him decided we could never complete it. No point trying again. I convinced him to have one more go. And with his prompting again, we pulled it off. It all gave him a stack of Lego studs he could “spend” on buying new characters in the game. He was happy.

We’re progressing through the game together, and have managed to complete 36% of it so far. Although its a fun game to play – and lets Daniel and I indulge in our love of Star Wars – most importantly, it allows Daniel & Matthew to engage in cooperative play, and lets the boys and I have some good quality fun time together. Roll on completing the other 64%!