Keys to the Kingdom: Will Lego Bring Back The Castle Theme?

My first big Lego set, Camouflaged Outpost, 1988

I have been a huge fan of Lego castle since I was a child. Some of the earliest sets I remember were castle, and castle remains the single largest theme in my collection. However, over the years, the availability of Lego castle has fluctuated and lacked any real consistency since the late 80s/early 90s. Even its most recent iteration, Nexo Knights, blends swords and sorcery with high tech vehicles and computerized castles, as if Lego castle and space themes had a baby together. Now that Nexo Knights have been officially retired, Lego castle fans look expectantly to the future, hoping their knights in shining, plastic armor will appear on horseback over the horizon, ready to save the day. Here are my best guesses on what Lego will devise for its next castle theme.

World of Warcraft

Blizzard entertainment recently partnered with Lego for a series of Overwatch sets, no doubt cluing in on the popularity of video game-themed merchandise, given Mega Construx’s popular Halo and Call of Duty themes, as well as their own Minecraft theme.

But this partnership has given rise to speculation over whether or not the two companies will develop Lego World of Warcraft sets. Fans may remember Mega Bloks’ WoW sets that were discontinued before Mega Brands were purchased by Mattel; it wouldn’t be the first time a license has changed hands. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and Thomas and Friends have all jumped from one construction toy company to the other, some multiple times. Who is given access to the IP license is the IP owner’s discretion, and Blizzard has already stated that they would be willing to work with Lego, so long as it seems mutually advantageous for both companies.

Unfortunately, the Mega Bloks’ WoW line had diminished in popularity prior to its cancellation, while Halo and CoD remain popular as ever. Even with Lego’s brand recognition alone, would WoW be viable enough to entice Lego into developing it into a theme? That’s the question Lego and Blizzard will have to answer amongst themselves.

The Lord of the Rings

Warner Bros. had already developed a good relationship with Lego, licensing Harry Potter and DC superheroes, by the time The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in 2012. Along with that, Lego was granted rights to The Lord of the Rings, and while I think most fans agreed that it was at least 10 years overdue, it was well received and even inspired a video game.

But as the Hobbit trilogy unfolded and fans became jaded by the movies’ glutted adaptation, Lego The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings quietly faded into obscurity.

Now, Amazon Prime has been working on a new TV series based within the world of Middle-Earth, and there exists a chance that there will be a renewed interest in the franchise. Even without Amazon’s TV series, fans of LOTR felt that the theme ended way too soon, and that a number of great sets and Minifigures were left on the table.

Will Amazon create new licensing headaches for Lego? Will the new show be kid-friendly enough to merit a toy line? Will Simon Tolkien, grandson of the Late J.R.R. Tolkien be open to licensing his grandfather’s work back to Lego? Unfortunately, these larger questions make another LOTR run look less likely than WoW, due in part to Lego’s current relationship with Blizzard Ent.

Lego Friends Elves

While Lego’s main line has been bereft of a good castle theme since The Hobbit/LOTR was retired a few years ago, the girl-targeted Friends line has been producing Elves, a fantasy adventure line centered around a group of elemental elves who befriend a human teen girl who accidentally wanders into their hidden world. While it doesn’t have the same look or feel as classic castle, it does make use of some classic elements and had no shortage of castles.

Unfortunately, most fans view these sets as being too tailored to preteen girls, and aren’t as willing to spend the money on them. At the moment, it seems like Elves may be slowing down. The remaining sets are retiring soon and the congruent Netflix animated TV series appears to be out of production, making it altogether improbable that this will be Lego’s torchbearer for castle or fantasy.

The Return of Lego Castle/Knights’ Kingdom

Licensing fees can be expensive, so it may be more fiscal to simply revamp and refresh the old Castle or Knights’ Kingdom lines. Whether it panders to the nostalgia market (although some claim nostalgia is on its way out) by reimagining old sets and factions; or finds some fresh footing, taking advantage of the many new collectible Minifigure elements at their disposal (elf ears and satyr legs leap to mind), this may be the most likely successor to Nexo Knights.

But the unanswered questions to this concept actually leave us with the most unsettling prospect…..

Nothing. Just, Nothing.

The sad, terrible truth is that Lego may just leave sleeping dogs lie and opt to not offer any castle or fantasy sets for the time being. Star Wars, Super heroes, Harry Potter, and Ninjago, along with the Lego movies, are all doing well enough, and city has never really lost popularity. If Lego has studied the market, crunched the numbers, and concluded that no one wants to buy Lego castle, that is their prerogative. They’d be completely wrong, but that is also their prerogative. I would wager that at some time in the future, Lego will find some way to offer some kind of castle/historical or fantasy theme, just as it has resurrected pirates, monsters, Dinosaurs, and wild west in the past.

Of course, this is all speculation. What Lego may already be doing with their castle theme could be something beyond my wildest imaginings. Or they may decide to retire it for good. I simply don’t know. I do hope that this is not the end of my beloved castle theme, as I believe there are many out there who feel the same.


Star Wars Movies Still in the Pipeline

With The Last Jedi being universally heralded as the greatest Star Wars movie of all time, and Solo an inarguably runaway critical and commercial success, Disney has shown no indication of slowing this gravy train down, upping their production slate to match the MCU’s 2-3 movies per year. Here are some of the projects in the pipeline at Lucasfilm:

The Fast and the Furious: Mos Eisley Drift: A Star Wars Story

Vin Diesel stars as an undercover Imperial Intelligence officer who must infiltrate a gang of podracers suspected of smuggling spice for the Hutts.

It’s a Parent Trap!: A Star Wars Story

A young Admiral Ackbar meets his long-lost identical twin brother at summer camp, and then the pair teams up to get their estranged parents back together.

Little Orphan Ani: A Star Wars Story

A musical about a plucky young orphan named Ani who lives on Tatooine under the oppressive care of the demanding and unpleasant Ms. Watto Hannigan, only to be adopted by the wealthy Qui-Gonn Warbucks and trained to become a Jedi.

A Boy and His Rancor: The Musical: A Star Wars Story

James Corden stars as Malakili, the scene-stealing rancor keeper from Return of the Jedi, in this musical about a man who loved his rancor and hated shirts.

It remains to be seen whether any of these movies will rival the unbridled success of The Last Jedi or Solo, but what we can say for certain is this; they couldn’t possibly be any worse than a crowdfunded The Last Jedi remake.

Is Solo: A Star Wars Story A Fail For Disney?

\nSolo: A Star Wars Story opened this past weekend to mostly warm reviews, but a very un-Star Wars global box office, tracking well below the usual Billion dollar hauls of previous installments, including the premier standalone anthology film, Rogue One. Even with rosy predictions of $400 million for gross box office, the movie was made on a budget of $250 million, which does not include marketing.
So what happened? Given the history of both Star Wars and Disney, how is a movie about one of the franchise’s most beloved characters unable to kill at the box office like the derivative but long anticipated The Force Awakens? Is this the end of what has become the most lucrative film franchise in history? Market analysts, talking head entertainment pundits, embittered fans, and film critics have all been throwing out their opinions on the matter, so we’re here to help sort through the muck and get to the bottom of the situation, and what Disney might consider moving forward with the franchise.

1) Star Wars Fatigue

When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2014, they firmly believed that there was definitely more to be mined, resulting in a hasty production slate that included one movie per year starting with The Force Awakens and a Dave Filoni-produced TV series to replace the suddenly canceled Clone Wars series. Four years later, the production slate is even more crowded, with a Rian Johnson-developed film trilogy, standalone movies rumored for Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, 2 live action tv series in the works, and another animated series from Dave Filoni. One can’t help but wonder, is this too much of a good thing? Traditionally, George Lucas gave us a solid space of three years before releasing more Star Wars, a strategy that seemed to work pretty well for 80s and early aughts crowds, with books, comics, and even some tv specials filling in the gaps and slaking fans’ thirst for more in the meantime. Has the oversaturation soured diehard fans without making enough new fans to overcome the difference? It’s hard to say for sure, but there are a couple factors that contribute to this. First, Solo comes out a brief 5 months after The Last Jedi, the franchise’s most recent offering. The first three films released by Disney were all released a year apart, in the cinematically Hoth-like cold waste of December. Some theorize having a longer recovery time between movies and a less competitive movie schedule worked in favor of the other movies, but against Solo.
Second, the poor fan reception of The Last Jedi may have turned many hardcore fans off from seeing Solo simply to spite Disney and send the message that they are unhappy with their direction. This brings us to….

2) A Fickle Fanbase

Star Wars has one of the most loyal, fanatical, and enthusiastic fanbases of any franchise. In fact, their very existence for over 4 decades is what makes it possible for Star Wars to exist today. If there was no interest in Star Wars, Disney would never have shelled out that kind of money to buy a played-out franchise. And even the most critical detractors to the much-maligned prequels received The Force Awakens, making it the most successful of the Disney films so far. But despite their enthusiasm for the initial installment, reception cooled for each movie afterward, and the movie’s direct sequel, The Last Jedi, proved to be even more divisive than Jar-Jar Binks, which is saying quite a lot. Overzealous fans who prefer to believe they know more about Star Wars, storytelling, filmmaking, and running an company than Kathleen Kennedy and Bob Iger than appreciate what they’ve been given have turned on the thing they claim to love the most. The fact is that many embittered fans, still sore after The Last Jedi, were actively wanting Solo to fail, to the degree that they were encouraging others to skip it. All because they love Star Wars so much.

3) A Troubled Production

Another factor that may have affected the movie’s reception could be the problems the production faced behind the scenes. Lucasfilm had initially hired The Lego Movie‘s Phil Lord and Chris Miller to direct, but when their loose style clashed with Disney’s tight production schedule and Larry Kasdan’s script, they were quickly replaced by Ron Howard. Additionally, an acting coach was hired for lead actor Alden Ehrenreich, sparking rumors that he wasn’t up to task. Ostensibly, movies plagued by these kinds of production problems typically don’t turn out well, and the internet was soon alight with fan speculation that the movie was doomed. But these things can easily be blown out of proportion, especially in this age of connectivity, where fans are so closely watching the production process at every step and news articles pour out over the internet at the slightest whiff of a rumor. Ron Howard is a proven director and a Hollywood legend, and was probably hired to assuage fans’ fears as much as for his directorial abilities. And as for Ehrenreich’s acting coach, it turns out that they were hired not to train the established actor how to act, but to fine tune his Harrison Ford swagger. As I said before, these things can get blown out of proportion.

So What Can Disney Do?

Well, in this whole equation, there are a few things Disney can control directly. First, spacing out their movies could relieve some of the movie goers’ exhaustion and regain part of what made Star Wars so special in the first place—scarcity. Second, they could take a cue from the original trilogy and spend a lot less money on making their movies. Part of why there is so much pressure on these movies to perform is because of the money dumped into them, producers just want to make their money back, and a low-earning movie could spell the end of a franchise. Part of what made the first Star Wars movie so special was actually budget constraints. ILM had to figure out creatively how to bring Lucas’ vision to the screen and it quickly became the new standard by which all visual effects would be measured and ILM remains the industry leader for VFX. I’m not suggesting Disney slash the budgets of ALL Star Wars movies, but find some that could be made for a lot less, focus on story, and drop those between big-budget tent poles to keep cash rolling in.
What is certain is Disney and Lucasfilm are going to re-evaluate their business strategy, but what measures they decide to take are still up to them. In the meantime, I’m still going to enjoy Star Wars, and I may go see Solo a second time.

Can President Trump’s Brilliant School Violence Plan Do Enough?

In the weeks after the deadly shooting in Parkdale, FL, pressure has been increasing on legislators to find some kind of solution to keep these kinds of mass slayings from happening. And while the Left is hell-bent on taking guns from law-abiding citizens, Conservative lawmakers are wisely seeking to protect the Second Amendment of the Constitution. President Donald Trump, no doubt going with his gut, favors the latter, and has discussed his plan to protect both our rights and our children.
“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” he said this week, after meeting with families of shooting victims and survivors.

To put it simply, the President wants to give teachers already trained in firearms the right to carry concealed weapons onto public school campuses with the intention of stopping and even deterring potential shooters, going so far as to suggest teachers willing to carry receive bonuses as incentive.

The Liberals have already pushed back against the President’s suggestion, but it clear that the president understands it’s better to throw more guns at a problem than work to prevent it. Unfortunately, his solution doesn’t go far enough.

We have already seen how teachers have abused their power with so many cases of inappropriate sexual behavior between students and teachers. So what happens when we hand guns to these people who have already proven, in some cases, untrustworthy? We don’t know which teachers will abuse their power until the moment they do. In the same way, there’s no telling which teacher will become the active shooter they were hired to execute.

This is where the President’s proposal falls short, but there is an obvious solution that’s so painfully obviously it’s painful for me to consider how obvious it is. Not only do all the teachers need to be armed, so do all the students in the event a teacher loses their marbles and starts slinging lead at the class. In fact, we could go another step further, and allow classmates to shoot each other if they think someone is planning a shooting. And parents, if you think your kid has some mental health issue that isn’t being resolved, go ahead and pop them in the head before they take their misplaced aggression out on their peers.

We all know prevention only limits the liberties and infringes on the rights of law abiding citizens. The only way to keep people from being killed is to kill other people before they can kill more even though they may have already killed some but at least it wasn’t a bunch cuz they have no respect for human life so kill them all! Don’t tread on me!!

President Business Fires FBI Director Bad Cop; “He’s a Real Nut Job.”

BRICKSBURG — Lord Business, President of Octan Corp. (DOW: OCT) and the World recently dismissed FBI director and head of security Bad Cop following Bad Cop’s apparent investigation into Business’s TAKOS (the ‘S’ is silent) Tuesday plan.

“He was a real nut job,” Business told TMS, assuring the citizens of Bricksburg that there is no need to investigate further into TAKOS Tuesday or to look up.

“Just act perfectly normal and hold still,” said Business.

The dismissal comes just 8½ year after Lord Business’s Octan Corp. funded an expedition to recover the Kragle, a relic of almost unlimited power. Whether or not the relic was found remains undisclosed although the expedition was suddenly called off and funding ceased.

Since President Business was unwilling to disclose all his business dealings following his election, the FBI was unable to ascertain whether Octan had the Kragle or what it would be used for. Bad Cop’s investigation was into an alleged link between the Kragle and TAKOS Tuesday.

It seems President Business has called Bad Cop’s loyalty into question, despite his years of service, including the mass detainment of hundreds of Master Builders, which Business blamed for spreading chaos by mixing elements, and 

the construction of the Big, Beautiful Walls that separate the realms. Still, what Bad Cop must know about Octan and the Kragle must have been enough to prompt his sudden and unexpected dismissal.

Trump Destroys Political Correctness By Wishing Everyone A Happy Wookiee Life Day

New York, New York, New York — Savior of the human race and beautiful pasty Adonis Donald Trump once again defended the First Amendment of the Articles of the Confederation by growling “Happy Wookiee Life Day”in its original Wookiese to a crowd of supporters who would have never been offended by it in the first place.

“Liberals don’t even want to acknowledge that the Star Wars Holiday Special even exists,” he told the rippling throngs of exceptionally high BMIs. “To that all I have to say is ‘REEEAAARGH! GRARGLE! GLLLUUUURRRG!’– Excuse me, I mean, ‘Happy Wookiee Life Day!'”

The crowd celebrated by joyously discharging their handguns into the ceiling of the event center, injuring 12, as is their right as Americans.

Here is the video courtesy of YouTube:

Violence Erupts At Trump Rally When Overexcited Supporters Start Punching Each Other In The Face

AMBRIDGE, PA– More trump rally violence as overexcited supporters began punching each other in the face. <Br>

Best Trump rally yet!

“Sometimes, I just punch stuff in the face when I get all riled up,” said Dwight Hoakum, a beet farmer by day and vigilante beet farm protector by night. “Good thing none of my friends or relation have any teeth, anyway.”
Witnesses and participants confirmed that the incident began after Trump gave a particularly “awesome” speech. Supporters became elated with the candidates words and started throwing punches.

May be too graphic for some readers.

“He gave a lot of vague non-answers and avoided most of the issues, but at the end he promised to Make America Great again,” recounted Nel Clark, a semi-retired lunch lady with an affinity for cat sweaters. “When it was over, I was so excited that I hailed off and punched my husband right in the back of the neck. Don’t believe I hit him that hard since that time I caught him with my cousin.”