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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

Episode I - Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Well, the summer of 1999 is just about done and the promotions for Episode I, in the US at least, are beginning to wrap up. What an incredible summer it has been! The TF.N staff decided to take this opportunity to look back at all the promotions, merchandise, and hype surrounding the film and give our thoughts on what we liked and what we didn't like. Maybe you guys will agree with us and next time the strong points can be built on and the weaknesses eliminated. We use the plain ol "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" to let you know what we think. On with the review!

Thumbs Up! - Episode I Tone Poem Commercials
These commercials were a great departure from your normal TV promotions. Not only were they beautifully written, they were great highlights of each of the characters and their parts in the story. They also effectively increased the interest in the film among non-Star Wars Super Freaks.

Thumbs Down! - Multiple Book and Comic Covers
Putting four different covers on the novelizations and variations on the comic covers really came across as a way to get more money out of the collectors. At a time when there was so much merchandise for fans out there to buy, it was a bad move to try and get even more money out of fans wallets, especially when the covers weren't particularly impressive (with the exception of the Hugh Fleming art covers for the comics).

Thumbs Up! - Denver Celebration
We were very glad to see an Official Convention finally put together! It was great fun to see all of the actors and people at Lucasfilm behind the film. The premiere of the Duel of the Fates video was an incredible treat, as well as the opportunity to see the props and costumes from the film. The showing of "Return of the Ewok" was also a tremendous treat. We hope they do more in the future!

Thumbs Down! - Denver Celebration Planning
There was definitely insufficient planning made for the crowds and most certainly the weather. The facility was too small and many of the volunteers were as clueless as the guests. The schedule was also set up so that it was basically impossible to see everything (and as much as we paid to get there, we should have seen everything). Plus, many of the items sold "exclusively" there were for sale on the web and in the Insider later. There were no special exclusive items to be had. Plus, since it was held before the film, most of the actors couldn't say a thing about the film. It should have been held after the movie came out.

Thumbs Up! - Kenner Figure Availability
It was extremely cool to be able to walk into stores and be able to buy one of every figure I wanted. That's the first time I've ever seen that happen, and I liked it. For once little kids and scalpers had equal shots at toys. The same was also true for the STAPS which came out earlier in the year. Great work!

Thumbs Down! - Commtech Chips
Not only do they add more to the cost of the figure (which is an important consideration when trying to buy a set), but the sounds suck. Commtech Chips sound like a "Speak N Spell". Has microchip voice technology not advanced since '83? People think they'll get lines from the movie from the chip, but they don't. And worse off, Kenner will likely reissue all of them with new chips in the future, gouging collectors again. Just go back to the nice big pretty photos on the cards!

Thumbs Up! - Lynne's Diary
The Lynne's Diary Videos were an incredible glimpse into the making of the film. No other movie site has given us such free access into the making of a film that far before it's release. We definitely would like to see more of them, but at least put them in formats other than Real Video!

Thumbs Down! - Episode I Soundtrack
Don't get us wrong, we loved the music! However, not only did we not get the full film soundtrack here, but spoilers were on the back that told who lived and died. Many an unsuspecting fan learned more then they wanted to know from just soundtrack listing.

Thumbs Up! - Weird Al Yankovic
You've gotta love Weird Al's Star Wars parodies. Their promotions for the video and parody website were also very funny and very well done. Hey Al! Let us know when you need stuff for Episode 2! :)

Thumbs Down! - Pepsi Can Hidden Messages
What's the deal with the Pepsi can hidden message? Everyone has seen the hidden words, and we've even complied a list of them with possible sentences after unscrambling. The problem - why? Just for the fun of it? Uh,no. Pepsi hasn't explained it, much less even mentioned it.

Thumbs Up! - www.starwars.com
Kept fans updated on the progress of the movie's production. Suggestions for Episode II coverage? Use the reglarly updated "Snapshot" feature BEFORE the movie comes out. Use it to display mysterious tidbits of preproduction artwork, models, set pieces, etc. Just these tiny glimpses, even without an explanation, would satisfy fans hunger for Episode II news!

Thumbs Down! - International Release
The international release of TPM may be the one favored over at LucasFilm, but why not let all the fans have one day where everyone in the world can see it at the same time. Just imagine, not having to highlight spoilers after, say, June 1st. Maybe for Episode II?

Thumbs Up! - Episode I Insider's Guide
The Insider's Guide to TPM was a welcome addition to the CD-ROM's in my collection. This resource, after the film's release, was a fantastic compliment to the SW Universe. We trust this will continue for the future Episodes as well. The only possible complaint - we would LOVE to hav eseen some cut scenes of the film, like Behind the Magic.

Thumbs Up! - Episode I Video Games
The video games from The Phantom Menace are fantastic. From the increadible sense of speed of TPM: Racer to the thrill of recreating the movie on the PC adventure game both make these sure winners. Of course,the upcoming titles like OBI-WAN and others are sure to be big winners as well.

As much as we all agree on the stuff we love and didn't care for, there were definitely some things that the TF.N team were split on:

Thumbs Up/Down! - Duel of the Fates Video
What a great treat for fans! Not only did it give a great advance listen to the music, but it had tons of behind the scenes footage that was new to fans. - Scott
I personally thought Duel of the Fates was wonderful, but DOTF video was very lame in my opinion. Maybe a novelty for hard-core fans, but I would have loved to see something to capture the imagination of the casual or non-fan that would have played in the top of the MTV charts. - Ens

Thumbs Up/Down! - Pepsi Promotions
Pepsi spent alot of money and put together a huge campaign. From the cans to the fast-food toys, this was a major promotion. you simply couldn't go anywhere without seeing Jar Jar or Darth Maul. Now, as they release additional cans like 'Destiny,' they're only fueling the hype. Maybe some more full color cans in the future would be cool. - Josh
The problem with the Pepsi promotions was that there was simply TOO MUCH! It was literally everywhere. If you walked into a convenience store, it was on chips, Pepsi bottles, candy, cups, etc etc etc. Combine that with the Tricon promos, and it was overkill. - Scott

Thumbs Up/Down! - Marphalump Commercials
The Marphalump commercials were absolutely hilarious. We had reports of this special CGI character since day one and he's certainly a welcome alternative to traditional film advertising and product placement. The one where he reinacts the movie with cans must be the best (as he shakes the can, spilling Dew everywhere. Darth Maul, "My brains are spilling out!"), and the pod racing taxi was cool as well. Great work. - Josh
What a wasted opportunity! Of all the cool things that could have been done, this annoying cartoon character was the best that they could come up with? Ack! I didn't find them funny, so that turned me off. They looked well made, though. - Scott

Thumbs Up/Down - Episode I Posters
I loved the Episode I teaser poster. I didn't like the Episode I Release Poster. I like the idea of the tie in to the original trilogy on the teaser but the release poster just didn't seem to flow. It wasn't the art work...that was great! it just felt like a let down to me... anyone else? - Joe
I was just the opposite. I didn't care for the teaser poster (with the photo of Anakin and Vader's Shadow). It was a little bit boring to me, especially up against every other Star Wars poster from the past like the classic "Gone with the Wind" ESB poster, the original ANH poster, or the Revenge of the Jedi artwork. The teaser felt kind of Blah. I am a HUGE Drew Struzan fan, so I like everything he does. I guess I'm biased. - Scott

Thumbs Up/Down! - LFL Releasing the plot early
This is going to sound particularly hypocritical coming from us, especially since we posted so many spoilers. But people definitely had to search us out to find them. If people didn't want to know the plot, it was a simple matter to avoid this site. So, of course we're split on the issue. Lucas decided to publish books, comics, etc. several weeks early of the film's release. So on the one hand, we were glad that if people wanted to know everything, they could get it without problem. Unfortunately that meant that many people that didn't want to know found out anyway either by buying the products or hearing friends talk about it. It was also particularly ironic after all of the debate about spoilers being posted on fan sites. The Star Wars Insider even slammed our website specifically for posting spoilers. LFL ended up releasing the biggest spoiler of them all - the novel. Everyone had access to the entire plot several weeks in advance. Keep it a secret. We don't want to know for sure. The speculation and mystery is more fun.

TF.N Staff
August 18, 1999

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