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9 of the best Star Wars gifts not named Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda merch is on the way, but these Star Wars gifts are available right now.

Image via LEGO on Amazon
  • Since the launch of Disney Plus, the internet has gone crazy for Baby Yoda.
  • Merchandise for the cute character was intentionally delayed, but there are other options.
  • The items in this gift guide are for anyone who loves Star Wars or wants to learn more.


Since the launch of Disney Plus and the premiere of The Mandalorian, Star Wars fans have been obsessed with one thing and one thing only: the asset, or as he is known to the internet, Baby Yoda. Not a lot is known about the character or his species, but the overwhelming cuteness has won the hearts of fans old and new, and they can't wait to get their hands on the merchandise.

Having successfully kept the character and by extension the puppet a secret leading up to the show, director Jon Favreau told The Hollywood Reporter that he knew the risks of keeping Baby Yoda out of all pre-release marketing. "By holding back on that one product, we knew that we may have had the disadvantage of not having toys available day and date," he said, "but what we got in exchange was an excitement surrounding the character, because everybody felt like they discovered him together."

Pre-orders have begun to crop up for Baby Yoda plush dolls, T-shirts, and other licensed products, but Star Wars as a property is much bigger than one cute asset. The gifts on this list include toys of other adorable characters as well as resources for learning more information about a galaxy far, far away.

This 'Star Wars' box set is worth it for the special features alone.

Whether you're completely new to Star Wars or you've seen the films dozens of times, there's no better way to learn than to watch what director George Lucas and his collaborators created back in 1977. This box set features the first six episodic films, beginning with the original trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) and including the prequels (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith). There are also over 40 hours of special features, including commentaries and documentaries that take fans behind the scenes of one of the most influential stories ever told. Sure you could stream the films on Disney Plus, but there are some things that everyone should own physical copies of.

There would be no Baby Yoda without Master Yoda.

We still don't know how (or if) Yoda and Baby Yoda are connected beyond them being the same species, but that hasn't stopped everyone from referring to the new character by his predecessor's name. This official LEGO set lets you build the centuries-old Jedi Master using over 1700 pieces. A Yoda minifigure is included, as is an informational card that lists his age and his apprentices.

Porgs used to be the cutest creatures in the 'Star Wars' films.

Introduced in 2017's Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, porgs are bird-like creatures native to the planet Ahch-To. Before The Mandalorian, porgs were widely considered to be the cutest animals in Star Wars, with fuzzy plushes like this one flying off the shelves. Some Baby Yoda merch is on pre-order until March 2020, but porgs are still adorable and their merch is available to purchase right now.

This highly anticipated new video game fills in gaps between two of the films.

Developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is the newest video game set in the Star Wars universe. Chronologically, the game takes place after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith but before A New Hope. It focuses on a young Jedi in training who, along with the rest of his kind, is being hunted by the Galactic Empire. IGN rated the game a 9 out of 10 and praised Respawn's attention to detail, brilliant animation, and well-crafted story.

From Princess Leia to Rey, this book is devoted to the heroines of the saga.

"Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy" by Amy Ratcliffe profiles over 75 women from all facets of Star Wars, including the films, comics, video games, and novels. It's the perfect gift for anyone who wants to learn more about dozens of dynamic heroes (and villains) who have contributed to universe and continue to make it feel real.

Get to know the man who started it all.

George Lucas is the architect that built Star Wars into what it is today and forever changed cinema. This biography by Brian Jay Jones tells Lucas' story from the mid-1940s up to 2016, one year after The Force Awakens released in theaters and one year before The Last Jedi. Extending beyond Star Wars, the book paints an almost complete portrait of who George Lucas is and how the work has shaped his life.

Test your knowledge and gain much more from over 1,800 trivia questions.

Ranging from easy to extremely difficult, this version of Hasbro's Trivial Pursuit includes questions about all of the saga films to-date. Designed for 2-4 players, the game is all about testing your fandom while also teaching you more than you ever thought you would know about Star Wars. Grab a few friends or family members and see which of you is really one with the Force.

Dive deeper into the science beneath the science fiction.

A pioneer in science and science fiction studies, author Mark Brake tackles questions in "The Science of Star Wars" that most fans never knew they had. What would it cost to build a Death Star, why are Wookiees hairier than humans, and could we actually live on a gas giant planet like Bespin? Grab a copy of the book for these and more interesting explorations.

Control the movements of your own adorable droid.

Most of us will never own a fully functional Astromech droid like BB-8, but this app-enabled version from Sphero is the next best thing. Steer the adorable ball using the interface on your smartphone, or turn on the autonomous mode and watch it come to life in your living room.

When you buy something through a link in this article Big Think earns a small affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting our team's work.

How accountability at work can transform your organization

If you don't practice accountability at work you're letting the formula for success slip right through your hands.

Videos
  • What is accountability? It's a tool for improving performance and, once its potential is thoroughly understood, it can be leveraged at scale in any team or organization.
  • In this lesson for leaders, managers, and individuals, Shideh Sedgh Bina, a founding partner of Insigniam and the editor-in-chief of IQ Insigniam Quarterly, explains why it is so crucial to success.
  • Learn to recognize the mindset of accountable versus unaccountable people, then use Shideh's guided exercise as a template for your next post-project accountability analysis—whether that project was a success or it fell short, it's equally important to do the reckoning.

What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth

Could this former river island in the Indus have inspired Tolkien to create Cair Andros, the ship-shaped island in the Anduin river?

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • J.R.R. Tolkien himself hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
  • But a fantasy realm can be inspired by a variety of places; and perhaps so is Tolkien's world.
  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
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Giant whale sharks have teeth on their eyeballs

The ocean's largest shark relies on vision more than previously believed.

An eight-metre-long Whale shark swims with other fish at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium on February 26, 2010 in Motobu, Okinawa, Japan.

Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Japanese researchers discovered that the whale shark has "tiny teeth"—dermal denticles—protecting its eyes from abrasion.
  • They also found the shark is able to retract its eyeball into the eye socket.
  • Their research confirms that this giant fish relies on vision more than previously believed.
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A massive star has mysteriously vanished, confusing astronomers

A gigantic star makes off during an eight-year gap in observations.

Image source: ESO/L. Calçada
Surprising Science
  • The massive star in the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy seems to have disappeared between 2011 and 2019.
  • It's likely that it erupted, but could it have collapsed into a black hole without a supernova?
  • Maybe it's still there, but much less luminous and/or covered by dust.

A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."

Or...

A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."

Future of Learning

Changing the way we grade students could trigger a wave of innovation

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