The Mandalorian Episode 8 Recap: What’s Up With That Lightsaber?

Mandos Save Din
(Disney+)

In the recap for last week’s episode, I talked about how the show played into video game lore by introducing the force-heal power into the live-action Star Wars universe, which most of us now know was a setup for what goes down in The Rise of Skywalker. This week’s finale, however, is essentially the greatest hits album of video game tropes, while also managing to be one of the most heartfelt, nuanced and entertaining episodes yet. We’ve got mini-guns, flame-thrower sub-bosses, and setting aside prejudices to form new friendships!! Taika Waititi, man. Taika Waititi.  As always, *SPOILER ALERT* from here on out.

The episode opens with the greatest scene in the history of Star Wars? The two scout troopers who offed Uncle Ugnaught race back to the city with Baby Yoda in tow, stopping to await orders. Played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally, the two chat idly, the subordinate trying to convince his superior to let him see the baby. It’s a funny scene that mocks what terrible shots Stormtroopers are. Ever since Obi-Wan snuck past some troopers talking about “the new VT-16” in A New Hope, the Empire’s faceless soldiers have always had a bit of a working-man vibe when you catch them having a chat. This scene lays into that hard enough to make you almost like these two dickheads, right up until they start punching Baby Yoda.

Enter my boy, IG-Taika Waititi, the reprogramed killer nanny bot. He drops in to murder the Tag and Bink wannabes and get his kid back. I’m sincerely worried dads are going to start asking their neighbor’s 12-year-old to demonstrate that wrist-breaking maneuver before trusting them to babysit for 20 bucks.

IG and Baby Yoda
(TheNerdStash.com)

Anyway, back in town, things aren’t awesome for Mando and his crew. Moff Gus From Breaking Bad still has the space team cornered in the local bar…which, hey, things could be worse, right? The big bad drops some key points of information to intimidate our friends. He knows Cara Dune is from Alderaan, which is why she hates the Empire so much. He knows The Mandalorian’s real name! And he calls out Carl Wethers for…being kinda old, I guess? Dramatic stuff. Mando and Cara Dune explain to Carl Wethers than being a Mandalorian isn’t a race, because yes, race is a social construct, Ok boomer? Yes, even in a galaxy with fish-people.

We get the full flashback of Din Dijin’s family being killed during the Clone Wars, and Mando explains how Moff Gus was the Imperial behind the big Mandalorian purge we keep hearing about. He was supposed to have been executed for war crimes but it looks like the New Republic is already getting sloppy with paperwork.

Anyway, Moff Gus gives them until nightfall to surrender for no real reason other than it’s a television show. We don’t have to wait that long, though because IG-Taika Waiti saves the day, blasting in on his speeder to start a big ole’ gunfight. Before the fight, Moss Gus made a big deal about how cool his big gun was, so of course, Mando goes right for it and turns it on the Imps. The team hit the standard approx 75-to-1 ratio of kills during a fight with the Empire but is forced to retreat back to the bar when Mando gets hit with one of Moff Gus’ frags. I’ve been playing a lot of Fallen Order lately, and you just gotta watch out for those bonus attacks.

In the bar, a flame-trooper goes in to burn everyone alive (I mean…Jesus) while the team argues about how to get out of there. Mando wants everyone to leave him to die covering their escape, but Cara Dune’s not having any of that because Cara Dune is the best of all of us. Baby Yoda proves to be a Baby Yoda Of Action and saves the day by blasting the flame trooper’s fireball back in his face using the Force. Then, like me, after doing anything remotely taxing, he takes a little nap.

IG-Taika Waitit promises to take care of Mando while everyone else jumps into the garbage shoot sewer grate. This, in my opinion, is the strongest moment of the series so far. All of the connections they have built over the season – Mando’s droid racism, IG-Taika Waititi’s obvious Mandalorian stand-in metaphors, the very question of who Din Dejarin is under that helmet – all come to this perfect, understated moment. Only the droid can save the Mandalorian. And since the droid “is not alive,” removing the Beskar helmet isn’t technically breaking with the code. We see Pedro Pascal’s face for the first time, and he’s just a person under all that armor after all. Fragile and vulnerable.

Mando's Face
(WhereverIlook.com)

The team is reunited in the sewers, where they learn that the entire Mandalorian clan from the beginning of the season has been wiped out by the Empire for helping Mando escape in episode three. Only the Armorer survives, cleaning up the devastation Mando has left in his wake. She finally meets Baby Yoda and declares the child to be a foundling, just like Din was. Until ManDADlorian can train the kid in the creed, or return him to his own kind, they are officially father and son in the eyes of Mandalore. Mando finally receives his signet – the mudhorn monster from episode two that the Armorer tried to give him before. Only this time it is given with the understanding that Mando and Baby Yoda are a clan unto themselves. (Cara Dune and the rest of the gang don’t say anything about that, but like…burn.) He also gets a jetpack, which is less meaningful, but what’s a good cut scene without an equipment upgrade?

The gang leaves the Armorer to her cleanup on aisle 11, and soon Stormtroopers descend on her in what looks like a heroic, ceremonial end for the character. But she ends up beating the shit out of a whole squad of stormtroopers instead, which was just great.

Mando and co make their way out of town playing a big game of The Floor Is (Literally) Lava. With stormtroopers at the exit, however, it’s up to IG-Taika Waititi to save everyone by making the ultimate sacrifice. In episode one, Mando had to stop the assassin droid from blowing himself up for selfish reasons. Now, in the finale Din Dejarin again pleads with the same droid, but this time it’s because -even with no other choice- The Mandalorian wants his friend to live. Cyclical storytelling that highlights character growth: George Lucas 101. As the man himself once said, “It rhymes.”

Still, IG-Taika Waititi does what needs to be done and clears the path by blowing up his central processor and taking all the stormtroopers with him. Flights of Angels, buddy.

The finale of the episode sees the Mandalorian finally get to use a jetpack in a fun air fight with Moff Gus’ TIE Fighter. It’s a very Indiana Jones moment: Mando is badass, but he still drops his little bombs at first, you know, because getting yanked around by a starfighter in low atmosphere is probably kinda hard. Anyway, the ship goes down and Mandalorian gets a 7 for the landing, with a little flourish of his theme music that I’ll miss very much. It’s time to say goodbye to the space team and The Mandalorian flys off with Baby Yoda the same way we saw baby Din flown off to safety in the flashback earlier.

(Collider)

The big surprise cliffhanger tag of the episode is not that Boba Fett shows up, but that Moff Gus cuts his way out of his downed TIE Fighter using the Darksaber. Clone Wars and Rebels fans will recognize this particular “not just any lightsaber” as the legendary weapon used by the first (possibly only?) Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order centuries ago. (Mini-Spoiler Alert ahead, if you want to go back and watch those shows totally cold).

The sword has played a big part in Mandalorian culture over the years, passing hands among fan-favorite characters Darth Maul and Sabine Wren. There’s a lot to infer here since we know Moff Gus had some part to play in the Great Purge. His having the ceremonial weapon is probably not going to sit well with The Mandalorian in the future. Are we setting up a story where Mando will reclaim the sword and unite all Mandalorians? Will this all align with his growing beyond and expanding the dogmatic creed as he corrects the sins of the past? IS IT MAYBE GONNA BE LIKE A STAR WARS THING, YOU THINK?

Very frustratingly, we’ll have to wait until Fall 2020 to learn more.

Blaster Fire:

  • The Mandalorians who rescued baby Din Dijarin and brought him into the Creed are members of DEATH WATCH (Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn). In Clone Wars the Death Watch clan were all about bringing honor back to Mandalore, and generally speaking, they were sorta portrayed as bad guy terrorists who weren’t very chill with the Jedi. Still, the Jedi were stupid pricks about the Clone Wars in general, so it’s cool to see a more heroic side of the controversial clan of Mandos. It’s always about a certain point of view, after all.
  • There’s a fun bit of narrative trickery when Mando has his flashback. We know that Moff Gus was part of the Mandalorian Purge, but we hear that story while also seeing the Mandalorians rescue Din from certain death during the clone wars. These two events are years apart, but the narrative sleight of hand emphasizes Moff Gus as a nemesis to Mando. It’s not that he was there during the raid on the village, but by learning about these two disconnected stories at the same time, we’re conditioned to see the Moff as an overarching villain in Mando’s story.
  • I could go on all day about the unmasking scene. IG-Taika Waititi claims that because he’s “not alive,” it’s not breaking the Mandolorian creed to see Den’s face. But in seeing his droid buddy face-to-face for the first time, Den lets some of his hatred of droids go. That’s the moment Mando sees the droid as a person, even if not a technically living one. It’s bending the rules, to say the least, but in a way that suggests the growth, our main character is experiencing through this story.
  • Absolutely love how the Armorer and Mando talk about the Jedi as this vague, mysterious band of sorcerers, and how they are “the enemy.” Playing into the Jedi/Mandalorian conflict is great fodder for the story as the Mandalorian dad raises his Jedi baby. Also, I know people who love to obsess over details will be like “how do people not remember the Jedi from like 30 years ago,” but the fact is Star Wars is cooler when the mystical stuff is kept in the shadows. The Jedi are just more interesting when they are unknown and mysterious, rather than a weird law enforcement agency.
  • IG-Taika Waiti is the best version of the Spock character in like thirty years. Not to franchise-hop, but Taika nails delivering an inhuman performance who is subtly full of compassion and humanity. Everything the droid does, including explaining his own “jokes,” is cold and calculated, but it’s obvious that despite his saying otherwise, he was very much alive.

 

Mahomes Signs 10-Yr, $400+ Million Extension, Keeping Him in KC Through 2031

Patrick Mahomes Signed
(Getty/Andy Lyons)

As the NBA’s imminent return grows a bit complicated with players opting out amid COVID concerns, and Major League Baseball experiencing similar issues as they prep to resume a shortened season, the NFL has yet to really weigh in. Thye’re probably waiting to see where we stand, as training camps don’t typically report until the end of July. Whether or not they’ll have a season this fall is yet to be seen.

That would be really disappointing for NFL fans everywhere, but at least one team has a silver lining: the Kansas City Chiefs will remain the champs until they are dethroned, and a delayed season would keep that Lombardi trophy in house even longer.

Of course, the primary reason they have that trophy is the play of their Super Bowl MVP – and former regular-season MVP – quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. And as of today, they’re going to have him in-house for another decade-plus.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter than Mahomes has re-upped with the Chiefs, extending his contract another ten years for a contract worth over $400 million.

That makes Mahomes’s contract the biggest in the league, and in the history of the league, which makes sense, considering quarterbacks are the game’s most valuable player, the dude has skills few quarterbacks do, and after winning an MVP award and a Super Bowl in his first three years, he’s still only 24!

The Chiefs will have him behind center until 2031, which, fans hope, will secure them a bunch more rings. He certainly has the talent, and the weapons, to keep his team in contention, but the NFL is a tough league, and getting back to the Super Bowl is difficult, let alone winning one.

I remember when the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time, Dan Marino, set the league on fire when I was a kid, breaking every passing record and winning league MVP on the way to the first of many Super Bowl appearances, only to never make it back, thanks to the lack of a running game and far stricter passing rules that would give Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady, and every other dominant QB of the last 15 years a heart attack.

But hey, congrats to Mahomes and the Chiefs, and here’s hoping he gets to earn his paycheck and defend their title come September.

Teen Helps Little Brother Travel the World Through Chalk Art

Teen Helps Little Brother Travel the World Through Chalk Art
(YouTube/WGN News Instagram/macairesmuse)

Being in the middle of what seems like year six of quarantine has left many kids grasping at straws when it comes to entertainment. Most camps, sports, and pools, have been closed indefinitely. With many parents still having to work from home, kids have had to become more self-sufficient at staying occupied for a lot of the day. Two kids in Illinois found themselves in this exact situation when their parents explained that due to their work schedules, the kids would have to keep themselves busy once they finished their classes for the day.

Unlike most teenagers who would have spent their spare time locked in their rooms making TikTok videos, Fourteen-year-old Macaire Everett took it upon herself to keep her 9-year-old brother Camden entertained while her parents worked in their provisional home office. Years ago Macaire dabbled in chalk art, and she decided that this was a better time than ever to design some new masterpieces. This time though, she had an extra spark of inspiration in the form of her eager little brother.

Not only was Camden supportive of his sister’s chalk art, but he was also the key motivation behind his sister’s incredible creations. Macaire told Today, “We have never traveled outside the United States. Cam really wants to travel, so he likes going places in the chalk. I’m giving him a little preview.”

Macaire has been taking Camden on the trip of a lifetime, right from the safety of their own driveway.

He’s traveled through the Sahara Desert,

 

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And done the classic Leaning Tower Of Pisa pose.

 

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He visited an active volcano but stayed a safe distance away thanks to his trusty jetpack.

 

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He lounged like a star in Hollywood,

 

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And even made it to the top of Mount Everest.

 

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Macaire and Camden plan to continue their chalky travels for 100 days. Follow them on Instagram to see where they’re off to next!

Paul Walker’s Daughter Shares Sweet Selfie With Vin Diesel’s Kids

Meadow Walker with Diesel Kids
(Instagram/meadowwalker)

Paul Walker’s daughter showed the bond between his family and co-star Vin Diesel’s is still strong, as she posted a sweet picture with Diesel’s kids. She left a simple caption, recognizable to all Fast and Furious fans:

“Family, forever”

 

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family, forever

A post shared by Meadow Walker (@meadowwalker) on

It’s been almost seven years since Paul Walker passed away in a tragic car accident, but the bond between him and co-star Vin Diesel was a real one, as the two became fast friends (I mean, that was just sitting there).

And the bond between their families is also a strong one. Diesel is Meadow Walker’s godfather. And Diesel’s daughter Pauline (now 5) was named after his late friend.

In the pic, Meadow (now 21) shared the shot with the three Diesel children (who range between 5-12).

In the past, Vin Diesel has spoken about how he values his relationship with Meadow and being a part of her life. And he credited Paul Walker for inspiring him to be a better dad.

Meadow was 15 when her dad passed away, but she and the Diesels have kept his memory alive, especially through the special bond between their families.

 

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happy birthday to the loveliest soul I’ll ever know

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Sopranos Creator Accidentally Reveals What Really Happened to Tony

What Happened to Tony
(HBO)

The Sopranos was one of the greatest TV shows of all time. The darkly funny drama ushered in the age of the anti-hero, as Tony Soprano paved the way for morally dubious dads like Walter White and Marty Byrde. While fans eagerly await the prequel the series continues to be remembered for its infamously cryptic finale, which was hotly debated by fans for years. Until now. The creator of the series accidentally let it slip what really happened to Tony in the final scene.

In the series finale, which aired in 2007, Tony and his family are eating at a diner while Don’t Stop Believing is playing. The tension builds throughout the scene, as the mob boss in the middle of a mafia turf war keeps scanning the room for threats, until…everything goes black.

Was he whacked? Was it the guy in the Members Only jacket at the bar?? It had to be, right? Or is the fade to black symbolism for what the rest of Tony’s life is going to be like, where he can’t even enjoy a family dinner without being on high alert for danger??? Maybe it’s all a metaphor for something esoteric and pointless (every 10th person has some wild theory like this, and they are obviously trying to stand out by being dumb).

We have an answer now, as Sopranos creator David Chase was doing an interview for a book commemorating the series when he let it slip during an answer to a question the author, TV critic Alan Sepinwall, asked.

Sepinwall: “When you said there was an end point, you don’t mean Tony at Holsten’s [the diner], you just meant, ‘I think I have two more years’ worth of stories left in me.’ ”

Chase: “Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end … But we didn’t do that.”

The author called him out for acknowledging it was a death scene and noticing his mistake, Chase cursed out the authors. So, we finally officially know what we always suspected we knew…Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss, was whacked.

The prequel movie, “The Many Saints of Newark”, is scheduled for a 2021 release.

And, with respect to one of the most compelling TV dads, and to what a great actor James Gandolfini was, here are his most bad-ass moments on the series.

Father and Son Create Back to the Future Guitar for Michael J. Fox Charity

Back to the Future Bass Guitar
(Doner Designs)

There’s a reason people keep wondering if Back to the Future is ever going to be rebooted (it’s not): it’s a classic. People love it, and they’re scared Hollywood is going to mess with it. There are so many indelible parts of the movie, including catchphrases, outfits, props, and soundtrack.

Michael J. Fox, the one and only McFly, knows how important the movie’s legacy is, and he’s leveraging it for a good cause.

Doner Designs has created a bass guitar inspired by the Back to the Future DeLorean, and, built to look like the dashboard, complete with a flux capacitor, this thing is a sight for sore eyes.

 

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Here’s the official description of the guitar, which was auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation:

This one-of-a-kind custom creation results from a ~300-hour labor of love by Steve and Richard Doner …Direct reference to the Back to the Future movie series was avoided, out of respect for intellectual property, but the bass features a selectable destination year display, a device resembling a flux capacitor and other electronic gadgetry sure to please fans of the time travel entertainment genre, 80’s pop culture and musicians alike.

Look at the detail!

 

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That’s not all, the flux capacitor – baked right into the body of the guitar – actually lights up. You can see it in the video below. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go back in time to be the one who buys this thing!

Guy Built Off-Road “Wheelchair” for His Wife, Now They’re Selling Them

Off Road Wheelchair
(Youtube/JerryRigEverything)

Being out in nature is one of the most freeing, exhilarating experiences imaginable. That is unless you have one kid who has to pee, another who’s hungry (he ate 4 granola bars in the car?), and a sunburn so bad you may as well just get new skin. Or, in Cambry’s case, if most paths out in nature are inaccessible because of your wheelchair.

Fortunately for Cambry, she happens to be married to YouTuber Zack Nelson, who calls his channel “Jerry Rig Everything”. This guy is all about technology – he builds things, takes things apart, and tests the durability of different tech products. Very few people have the resources or the ability to do what Zack did when he decided to give his then-girlfriend the gift of a lifetime. He wanted to help Cambry access parts of the world that she had, until this point, only been able to dream of seeing in person.

Zack did exactly what any tech-savvy guy with two spare electric bikes would do – he fused them together and stuck a seat in the middle (I assume there was a lot more to it than that, but that’s the gist). This innovative wheelchair-like contraption allowed Cambry to experience things she had only ever dreamed of experiencing. It operates as an electric wheelchair, but it’s far more capable of handling off-road terrain than nearly any wheelchair on the market. The wheelchair operates so quietly that the sound doesn’t at all detract from the peacefulness of being out in nature.

Now, Cambry and Zack have started selling their off-road “Not-A-Wheelchair” AKA “The Rig” to allow others to experience the same level of freedom. The Not-A-Wheelchair costs $4,750, which is more affordable than any other wheelchair branded for “off-road” terrain. It is also faster, quieter, and can last from 10-20 miles on a single battery.

The Not-A-Wheelchair website explains, “Shopping for an off road wheelchair can be frustrating. There are a few different options out there, but they can cost as much as a car or are super slow. Cambry and I decided to put our heads together, and build our own off road wheelchair. Something that’s quick and light with a super long range. And we finally have it! We’d like to introduce ‘Not-a-Wheelchair’ a fully electric, super quiet, accessible bike that can go 12mph with a range of about 10-20 miles. Our whole goal is to provide something that is capable and affordable. We hope you enjoy! Be safe! Wear a helmet.”

Thanks, Zack and Cambry, we’d love to roll with you any day.

Batfleck Might Be Coming Back too, Giving DC a Batman Multiverse

Batfleck is Coming Back
(Warner Bros)

Hollywood may still be largely shut down as the pandemic continues to rage across the country, but that hasn’t stopped the superhero machine from chugging along. Black Widow’s release was delayed, so it will be a few months before we get the next phase of the MCU, and despite the fact that Wonder Woman 84 was pushed to fall and production on Matt Reeves’s The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, has been delayed, DC has been making news behind the scenes.

First, HBO Max announced their plans to release the Snydercut next year, and then details emerged about the long-awaited Flash movie. The most interesting nugget? That Michael Keaton will be reprising his role as Batman in a co-starring part as a mentor to the speedy superhero. And now there are whispers that DC has plans to bring another former Batman back into the fold.

The rumors, which Cosmic Book News reports first appeared on 4chan but have since been supported by leaks in other places, like The Cultured Nerd, suggest that Ben Affleck has already signed a deal with HBO Max to re-appear as Bruce Wayne and his vigilante alter-ego in future films related to Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

“Ben has indeed signed a new contract and he is coming back,” claims Taylor Murphy of The Cultured Nerd. “The official announcement is expected to happen either at DC FanDome or during JusticeCon. One of the two, we’re going to get that announcement but it’s going to happen before September. We’re going to get the official announcement and we are going to get the Snyderverse Batman is going to be returning.”

Murphy suggests that Affleck is returning because he is fully on-board with Zack Snyder’s vision, and now that Snyder’s Batman is back, so is Ben. Apparently, DC doesn’t see a conflict between the three Batmans – Affleck’s, Keaton’s, and Pattinson’s – and that part of the idea is for multiple Batmans to exist within a broader DC multiverse.

“They are bringing everybody back,” says Murphy. “This is planned… This is a design because of Zack. This is a plan that they’re moving forward with. I mean, I keep saying it is a great time to be a DC fan.”

It’s certainly might be if any of this is true. It’s hard to know, and until – and unless – an official announcement is made, it’s probably best to take this all with a grain of salt. After all, Affleck has spoken about the difficult time he had portraying Batman in Justice League, and he may not have any interest in revisiting the role.

But with the Snydercut on the way, and Keaton and Pattinson already on-board, it’s not that difficult to imagine DC bringing in a third Batman, and differentiating themselves from the MCU with a Batman triple-play. Hopefully Hollywood gets back to business soon so we can find out.

At the very least, three Batmans would give fans a lot to argue about!

Father Figures: What I Remember Most

“My dad worked third-shift his whole life. He was exhausted most of the time and we didn’t have a lot of money, but he literally gave me everything I needed, and a lot of what I wanted.

In 2011, he passed away unexpectedly. When I reflect back, it’s not the material things he gave me that I remember most.

It’s wanting to hang out with him after his 12-hour night shifts. It’s him unselfishly taking me to the park after buying me a kite, even though he hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours. It’s the times he sacrificed sleep to watch my basketball games and support me during his small window of rest on Saturday mornings.

It’s the times his last dollar bought me back-to-school clothes and an old car that I could drive on my own to school. It’s his constant reassurances that he was fine, despite his health problems, just so I wouldn’t worry about him when I knew he was in pain.

It’s him preparing me for the day that he wouldn’t be here.

And it’s knowing he was there with me, long after he’d passed, as I nervously welcomed my son into the world in 2019. His presence reassured me that we would be okay.

He was the best dad, and the dad I someday hope to be.”

– Aaron Chandler

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

New LEGO Line Lets You Make Pop Art

LEGO Pop Art
(LEGO)

For the uninitiated, “pop art” was a movement that emerged in the 1950s in which artists created bold, colorful, vivid depictions of familiar subjects, from celebrities to comic books to the everyday mundane. You probably know the style best from the time Andy Warhol painted 32 cans of Campbell’s tomato soup.

(MoMa)

Now LEGO, who recently announced upcoming sets based on Home Alone and Seinfeld, is launching a line of LEGO Art products that will allow you to create stunning works of pop art. Each set costs $120, and includes a canvas, build guide booklet, and all the bead-like pieces you’ll need to assemble such iconic subjects as…

Marilyn Monroe

Darth Vader

(Lego)

The Beatles

(Lego)

and Iron Man!

(Lego)

Some sets allow you to make multiple pieces of art. For example, you can make various versions of Iron Man’s suit, while the Sith kit shows you how to make Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren.

(Lego)

And it gets better! Also included in each set is a unique QR code that, when scanned, provides you with a soundtrack you can listen to while you build. You can also combine canvasses to make even bigger, beadier, more badass pieces pop art to hang in your living space. The sets are expected to hit toy shelves on August 1st internationally and September 1st in the United States.

Your move, Mega Bloks!