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Star Wars Episode VII: 7 more reasons to be excited

You may have heard there’s a new Star Wars film due in December. Indeed, you’d have to reside in a galaxy far, far away to have missed the news.

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens is one of the most-hyped films of all time, and under the direction of JJ Abrams – the man behind Lost and the Star Trek reboot – it promises a real return to form for the franchise. Especially after the awful last three films.

But it’s not just about the movies – new Star Wars also means new Star Wars merchandise and tie-ins, and none more so than the start of a new trilogy. Here are the best Star Wars-themed toys, gadgets, games and consoles around at the moment.

1. Darth Vader PS4

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With its shiny black finish, Sony’s PlayStation 4 is ripe for a Darth Vader tie-in. We can almost picture the Sith Lord himself firing it up of an evening of Fifa 15 and snacks with his stormtrooper pals. Well, now Vadey can play using a console bearing a picture of his own face, with the two Star Wars bundles Sony has announced.

As well as Vader’s fizzog, the console bears the official Star Wars logo, and the Dualshock 4 controller is designed to resemble his chest panel. Star Wars: Battlefront Deluxe Edition is also included, along with a voucher to download four classic Star Wars games: Super Star Wars, Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter and Star Wars Bounty Hunter. A word to the wise: we’d let Vader win. Otherwise you might find yourself subject to that invisible choke hold he seems so fond of.

2. Star Wars app

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Let’s be honest, most film apps are a bit rubbish. They’ll include the odd clip, maybe some trivia, and that’s about it. But the official Star Wars app is lightyears away from a cheap cash-in.

Using the filters, you can don virtual garb and take selfies in iconic locations from the Star Wars universe. You can pose as a Jedi or Princess Leia, and take snaps with Yoda himself. There’s also a lightsaber training mode, which involves a lot of waving your phone around, a soundboard with official sound effects and a collection of gifs. Want to stay up to speed on the latest Star Wars news? It’s the app for you. It’ll keep you inundated with notifications on announcements, exclusive interviews, trailers and more. You can even change the app’s theme from Light Side to Dark Side, and vice-versa.

This app has been made with a huge amount of love, and is sure to please even the most devoted fans. It’s available for free on Android and iOS now.

3. Star Wars Lego

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These aren’t official yet, so could be fakes. But they do look legit. They’re what could be the first new Star Wars Lego sets to coincide with The Force Awakens. They include the Millennium Falcon – complete with its new rectangular dish on top – Rey’s Speeder, the First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter, First Order Transporter, Poe’s X-Wing Fighter, Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle and First Order Snowspeeder. We can’t wait to buy them. Of course, they’re for the kids.

4. Star Wars Land

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Forget Disneyland, these are the real attractions. Disney has announced it will build two huge Star Wars-themed attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in California and Florida respectively. They will include hallmarks of the Star Wars universe like the Millennium Falcon and the Mos Eisley cantina.

Each will span 14 acres, and will be staffed by “local inhabitants” of various Star Wars worlds. This makes them the largest single-themed land expansion ever in the history of Disney. Attractions will include being dumped in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. If it’s anywhere near as good as Star Tours, Disney’s previous Star Wars ride, we’re sold.

5. Hasbro’s Star Wars toys

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It wouldn’t be a Star Wars film without the official tie-in toys. Hasbro is set to unveil its newest range on September 4th – dubbed Force Friday – to the delight of geeks all over the world. So what do we have? According to early leaks, the range will include Micro Machines playsets (including the Millennium Falcon), figurines, voice-changing helmets, Nerf guns mimicking Chewbacca’s crossbow and a Stormtrooper’s blaster, and customisable lightsabers. Roll on the 4th.

6. Aftermath

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This is the first novel in a trilogy by Chuck Wendig that follows on directly from the original film trilogy. Set in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi, it sets out the political status quo from the viewpoint of a number of relatively minor characters including Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles. It’s part of a collection of more than 20 books that will form the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens series, though this is arguably the most crucial. Others include technical manuals like Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy and fact files like Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know.

7. Star Wars: Battlefront

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Due for release in November, this is the latest in a series that spans all the way back to the days of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. It’s a multiplayer shooter than you can play in first- or third-person. Up to 40 people can play at once, running riot over 12 maps at launch. You can play as a Stormtrooper or Rebel soldier, or step into the boots of major characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and even Darth Vader himself.

The game modes sound fairly standard, but it also has Fighter Squadron mode, which sees dog fights take place between X-Wings and TIE Fighters. It’ll be available on Xbox One, PC and PS4, whether it’s Darth Vader-themed or not.

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens is in cinemas from December 18.

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