The Internet is a crazy place where just about anyone can be transformed into a star. Especially in the age of social media, all it takes is one viral video for an average person to become a famous face. This phenomenon is readily apparent in the case of Candace Payne, better known to Star Wars fans everywhere as the one and only "Chewbacca Mom."
About a month ago, a video of Payne enjoying Hasbro's talking Chewbacca mask spread online like wildfire, scoring millions of views and winning over the hearts of many thanks to Payne's genuine joy and euphoria. To say her life has changed drastically in the weeks since would be an understatement. Payne has appeared on Good Morning America and The Late Late Show With James Corden, was featured on an episode of The Star Wars Show, attended the Fan Dallas Expo with Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, and received $400,000 in college scholarship money (among other gifts). Now, another chapter can be added to her surreal and unlikely legacy.
As a thank you to Payne, Hasbro (manufacturer of the famous Chewbacca mask), invited her to their headquarters in Rhode Island, where Payne unveiled a customized action figure of herself as Chewbacca mom. The toy's body and limbs are modeled after a traditional Chewbacca action figure, but the head is in Payne's likeness and comes with a removable Chewie mask. Check out some pictures of the event below:
Lucasfilm and their partners are well aware that Star Wars would not be the pop culture juggernaut it is today without the undying support of a passionate fan base eager to get their hands on anything from a galaxy far, far away. The buildup to Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year included several instances of the studio embracing that community in ways that were heartfelt and touching - whether it was Omaze charity contests, Daniel Fleetwood's personal screening, Peter Mayhew's letter to a young fan, or the appearance of astromech R2-KT. Bridging the gap between moviegoers and movie makers, all of these actions help everyone involved with Star Wars feel like part of a giant family where they can come together and celebrate a film franchise that they love. Lucasfilm cares about the fans just as much as the fans care about Lucasfilm.
This isn't the first time Hasbro has produced a custom action figure of someone who did not appear in the films (the George Lucas ones are well-known), but there's something unique about this case. Unlike Lucas - who is the creator of Star Wars - Payne was (up until a few weeks ago) just a fan who decided to purchase a Chewbacca mask one day. Now, the world knows who she is, and everyone wants to capitalize on her newfound popularity. Even when the hoopla around "Chewbacca mom" dies down with the passage of time, it will still be a crazy part of Star Wars history and something many won't soon forget. Even the Star Wars: Episode VIII crew can't get enough of her.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.