Summer Book Club Double Feature: LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes and Ultimate Star Wars Encyclopedia

Welcome to VGBlogger’s Summer Book Club! All summer long, we will be providing weekly book reviews across a wide range of geek favorite categories, including art, comics/graphic novels, fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi. So whether you’re heading out for a road trip, going on vacation, lounging beach/poolside on a nice sunny day, relaxing inside away from the summer heat, or simply searching for a good read to fill your free time, follow our Summer Book Club for our top picks of what you should be reading during these hot summertime doldrums.

That is no Ewok. That's my cat, because she was fixated on my camera's dangling wrist strap and wouldn't get out of the way!

That is no Ewok. That’s my cat, because she was fixated on my camera’s dangling wrist strap and wouldn’t get out of the way!

As fans look forward to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and geek out over every trailer release, DK Publishing has everyone’s favorite galaxy far, far away thoroughly covered with a pair of wonderful new books that are sure to please Star Wars lovers of all ages.

Primarily aimed at Star Wars‘ younger fan base–and older fans who are still young at heart–LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes is just what its title says it is, a retelling of key events from all six movies using LEGO bricks and minifigures. Each chapter, beginning with Episode I and progressing in order through Episode VI, begins with an introductory page fashioned in the same style as the iconic opening backstory text scroll from the films. Each “scene” consists of a two-page spread depicting a key movie moment built from actual LEGO playsets, complemented by the type of humor gamers have come to love in the various LEGO video games. Various filters and special effects are also added to make the scenes pop a bit more than they would have as straight pictures of LEGOs. The overall image quality and scene arrangements are very well done and chock full of cutesy charm.

A text block in the upper-left corner sets the stage with a basic recap of the scenario at hand, while additional story and humor is provided in the form of speech bubbles like a comic book, as well as silly comments from C-3PO and callout boxes highlighting basic bio information for specific characters, environments, vehicles, and other scenery pieces. Another interesting element is what I’ll call the LEGO fun fact box, which appears somewhere in each scene containing one or two little tidbits relating to the LEGOs used to recreate the movie moment. Random information like how the Ultimate Collector’s Series Death Star II consists of 3,449 pieces, the fact that Luke’s Dagobah minifig has only appeared in one LEGO set, and that the minifig heads underneath Vader’s helmet has over the years changed between 12 different grey models, two that were tan, and one that was plain black. If for some reason you need to brush up on your LEGO Star Wars playset trivia, this is the book to study from.

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LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes offers a fun and clever way to relive the events of the movies without having to become all-consumed by the universe’s deep lore. For that there is Ultimate Star Wars, a full-on encyclopedia of Star Wars canon.

Divided into four chapters, Ultimate Star Wars provides in-depth biographical data, along with movie/TV stills, for every character, creature, planet, weapon, vehicle, and piece of technology that has either appeared at one time or another within the main continuity of Episodes I-VI, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels, or that was never actually identified on screen. Each section begins with a general timeline of events, color coded by era, and for the Characters & Creatures chapter the actions of key figures are provided in the form of a vertical timeline box. Sticking to the timeline is an important organizational aspect of the book as everything is presented chronologically based on order of appearance from the movies and animated series. If you need to look up a specific name but don’t remember its general place in the continuity, there is a full index in the back for reference.

Whether it’s a character like Captain Tarpals, a creature like the Nexu, a planet like Tatooine, a weapon like the Adventurer Slugthrower Rifle, or a vehicle like the Millennium Falcon, each entry is accompanied by a detailed description of the subject–key characters/objects/locales have full two-page spreads, whereas things of lesser importance are condensed into single-paragraph boxes clustered onto one page with other entries–as well as a heading indicating which movies/episodes the subject has appeared in. Additional header details are specific to the chapter, so characters for example have a listed homeworld, affiliation, and species/model type. Planet listings outline their region, sector, system, and primary terrain attributes. And details like model type and manufacturer are given for devices, weapons, and vehicles.

Interspersed throughout the main entries are key event spreads highlighting pivotal story moments, from Han Solo’s capture at Cloud City to the duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader on Mustafar. While it isn’t a whole lot, each chapter also ends with a special spread showing thumbnails of behind-the-scenes material, such as pictures of actors rehearsing lightsaber duels, concept art, the creature designer modeling a sculpture of Yoda’s head, wire frames of animated character models, and various on-set photographs. A couple of the photos are from The Force Awakens, but they don’t reveal anything of particular interest so don’t get too excited. They’re just basic photos of things like the cast doing a script read-through.

As a Star Wars layman it’s staggering to read through this illustrated compendium and take in the breadth of characters, worlds, and things the Star Wars universe encompasses. I’ve watched all of the movies–the original trilogy multiple times because it’s great, the newer trilogy only once because once was enough–but until now I never would have been able to tell you who Sio Bibble is, or what the differences are between a Dwarf Spider Droid and an Octuptarra Droid. The volume of content covered in a little over 300 pages is nothing short of impressive. I suppose the only drawback is that soon enough there will need to be an expanded and revised edition of Ultimate Star Wars to factor in all of the new characters, storylines, and technologies introduced as the third trilogy eventually begins and concludes. But that’s a long ways off. For now, I doubt you can find a more robust and visually appealing encyclopedia of canonical Star Wars lore.

LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes and Ultimate Star Wars are on store shelves now from DK Publishing. LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes is available for under $20 at Amazon.com and other book retailers. Ultimate Star Wars comes in at a $40 list price, but you can find it for just over $25 at places like Amazon and WalMart.

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Disclosure: Copies of LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes and Ultimate Star Wars were given to VGBlogger.com for review by DK Publishing.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!