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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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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These alien-like creatures are virtually invisible in the deep sea.
- A team of marine biologists used nets to catch 16 species of deep-sea fish that have evolved the ability to be virtually invisible to prey and predators.
- "Ultra-black" skin seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps fish camouflage themselves in the deep sea, which is illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
- There are likely more, and potentially much darker, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.
The Pacific blackdragon
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p>When researchers first saw the deep-sea species, it wasn't immediately obvious that their skin was ultra-black. Then, marine biologist Karen Osborn, a co-author on the new paper, noticed something strange about the photos she took of the fish.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can't see any detail," Osborn told <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. "How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?"</p><p>After examining samples of fish skin under the microscope, the researchers discovered that the fish skin contains a layer of organelles called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same pigment that gives color to human skin and hair. This layer of melanosomes absorbs most of the light that hits them.</p>
A crested bigscale
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what isn't absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it's absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it," Osborn told <em>Wired</em>. "And so what they've done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else."</p><p>The result? Strange and terrifying deep-sea species, like the crested bigscale, fangtooth, and Pacific blackdragon, all of which appear in the deep sea as barely more than faint silhouettes.</p>
David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL<p>But interestingly, this unique disappearing trick wasn't passed on to these species by a common ancestor. Rather, they each developed it independently. As such, the different species use their ultra-blackness for different purposes. For example, the threadfin dragonfish only has ultra-black skin during its adolescent years, when it's rather defenseless, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">notes</a>.</p><p>Other fish—like the <a href="http://onebugaday.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-new-anglerfish-oneirodes-amaokai.html" target="_blank">oneirodes species</a>, which use bioluminescent lures to bait prey—probably evolved ultra-black skin to avoid reflecting the light their own bodies produce. Meanwhile, species like <em>C. acclinidens</em> only have ultra-black skin around their gut, possibly to hide light of bioluminescent fish they've eaten.</p><p>Given that these newly described species are just ones that this team found off the coast of California, there are likely many more, and possibly much darker, ultra-black fish swimming in the deep ocean. </p>
Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
How long should one wait until an idea like string theory, seductive as it may be, is deemed unrealistic?
- How far should we defend an idea in the face of contrarian evidence?
- Who decides when it's time to abandon an idea and deem it wrong?
- Science carries within it its seeds from ancient Greece, including certain prejudices of how reality should or shouldn't be.
Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain that what humans see and experience is not the true reality.
Credit: Gothika via Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0<p>When scientists and mathematicians use the term <em>Platonic worldview</em>, that's what they mean in general: The unbound capacity of reason to unlock the secrets of creation, one by one. Einstein, for one, was a believer, preaching the fundamental reasonableness of nature; no weird unexplainable stuff, like a god that plays dice—his tongue-in-cheek critique of the belief that the unpredictability of the quantum world was truly fundamental to nature and not just a shortcoming of our current understanding. Despite his strong belief in such underlying order, Einstein recognized the imperfection of human knowledge: "What I see of Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility." (Quoted by Dukas and Hoffmann in <em>Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives</em> (1979), 39.)</p> <p>Einstein embodies the tension between these two clashing worldviews, a tension that is still very much with us today: On the one hand, the Platonic ideology that the fundamental stuff of reality is logical and understandable to the human mind, and, on the other, the acknowledgment that our reasoning has limitations, that our tools have limitations and thus that to reach some sort of final or complete understanding of the material world is nothing but an impossible, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2JTGIA?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">semi-religious dream</a>.</p>