Hello there! You may have noticed I was M.I.A. for a couple of months. Or, maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t, good. Just don’t tell me that you didn’t. Anywho, I’m back, baby, better than ever, and I’m ready to inundate you with thoughts, feelings, and remembrances. What you are about to read is part 1 in what will be an ongoing series about the Star Wars films. We all love Star Wars, most of us started out with the films, and we keep coming back to them time and time again. We all do this for different reasons, but the one common factor is that they just kind of feel like old friends, don’t they? Or a warm, fuzzy blanket on a chilly afternoon. Or….you know what, I’m gonna stop that right there before I drink a gallon of hot cocoa and fall asleep. My point is this: We love the saga. What I have been pondering is each film as a separate work. What keeps me coming back to each film individually? When I decide that I want to watch one, why do I choose the one that I opt for? I’ve found that the answer is different for each chapter in the saga, and that’s what my next several blogs will be concerned with. I’m going to go through each film one-at-a-time and discover what it is uniquely about THAT film that I am drawn back to. I’m sure I’ll surprise myself with a few of my findings, and hopefully it will give some of you an appreciation for elements of the films you’ve never noticed, or encourage you to consider this topic for yourself and discover your own answer for each film.
Like many of you, on Thursday I went with my two boys to the theater. What a glorious evening! I was too young to see A New Hope in 1977, but I have vivid memories of seeing Return of the Jedi. I saw Phantom Menace with my new wife and uncle in 1999. Now, I took my own offspring to see this glory of a film.
At first, I was a little kid, stolen away to a movie by my doting aunt. For the second trilogy premiere I was a young man beginning my adult life just a few days after my wedding. Now as a grown man, I share the joys with the ones I am trying, with varying degrees of success, to raise.
I’m sitting down to write this with NO idea WHATSOEVER what I’m going to write. This will be a fun experiment. Maybe not for you, but it will be TERRIBLY interesting for me. I’m thinking about how Star Wars is hugely responsible for the rise of popular culture, and the toy industry and collecting hobby as we now know it.
Before Star Wars, very few movies had tie-in toy lines. Some television shows had semi-successful toys, like the Six-Million-Dollar Man, and comic book heroes were immortalized as Mego figures, but no movie had captured the minds of children enough to support a toy line of any real depth or longevity. Read more
In true Lucasian fashion, I am telling the first part of my story second. Which is fitting, since I saw Empire before I saw Star Wars. I also saw American Ninja 2 before American Ninja, so clearly this “Part Two first” thing is a running theme of sorts in my life. Anywho, a bit about me, other than what you can read on my bio.
My brother took me to see The Empire Strikes Back, and it changed my life. I started laughing at “Laugh It Up, Fuzzball” and laughed for so long that my brother eventually told me to knock it off, it wasn’t THAT funny. But I knew better. After seeing the movie, I got my first action figure: C3PO on an Empire card. I have one on the card that I bought a few years ago as a reminder of where it all began. As a result of seeing Empire first, it is my favorite of the Star Wars films, as is the case with many people. I love all the action on Hoth, and I love Bespin as a location. I also love Han Solo’s jacket that he wears after they leave Hoth. I can’t explain it, I just think it’s awesome, and I want one of my own. My favorite toy of all time is the Bespin Han Solo action figure. I have one on-card, unpunched, in terrific shape. It’s the only Star Wars figure I was ever allowed to buy twice, after I broke the arm off of my first one. My brother glued it back on for me, but having it always stuck out (so he could fly the Falcon, of course) became a problem, since I was the weird kid who liked playing with my toys by having them do the mundane tasks we never saw them do in the movies, like buying groceries. Yeah. Weird kid. Told you.
My mother was an enabler. In the best possible way. When I realized I was 4 figures shy of having the entire collection in 1986, she took it upon herself to call Kenner and see if we could purchase them directly. The lady on the other end of the line lied about Yak Face, saying he was never produced (I suppose it was true, from a certain point of view, since he was never released in the U.S.), but we were able to get the other 3: Death Star Droid, Snaggletooth (the short, red one), and Walrus Man. She helped me complete my set. To this day, I carry a Walrus Man figure around with me at all times to remind me of her. Ever notice that the figure looks like Sugar Bear from the Super Golden Crisps cereal box? He totally does.
Being the completist that I was as a child has proved to be a problem as an adult. See, it wasn’t a big deal as a kid, because my dad got toys at cost through his employer at Christmas. I don’t have such a hookup, so a large portion of my disposable income goes to plastic recreations of things from the Star Wars movies. And M.A.S.K toys. And occasionally G.I. Joe toys that I have misplaced as an adult. When I see a toy that I “need” (meaning “really really REALLY want”), I have a hard time passing it up. And when I go for too long without acquiring anything, I get antsy. It’s not entirely unlike a junkie looking for his/her next hit. The mind of a collector is VERY much like the mind of an addict, albeit on a much smaller scale, and typically with less dramatic conclusions. The recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman brought this into stark relief in my mind. As a serious collector, I’m basically an addict with no vices, at least no illicit vices. I get the same momentary high when I find and acquire a new item that someone might get from huffing an aerosol can or snorting a line, it’s the same chemical reaction, and the law of diminishing returns sometimes DOES come into effect. I’ve even been guilty of buying things I didn’t really WANT simply because I “needed” them to complete a run.
I bring all of this to mind because there are many people in my life who are NOT collectors, and who do not understand the mindset of collectors like me. It’s my hope that by explaining it in this way, those on the outside looking in might have a better idea of what it is that drives us. It is ALSO my hope that we, as collectors, can start to look at the way we operate and notice the way it affects those around us. Do we REALLY need 2 of everything, one to open and one to keep? Do we REALLY need EVERY single figure in a wave, even though we already have 12 of that very same Battle Droid on a different card? Do we actually HAVE a place to display (or even store) that Republic Gunship that was on sale? These are the battles I fight daily within myself, and I know that more than a few of you can relate.
Next month’s blog will be more involved with the Galaxy Far, Far Away that we all know and love, so I appreciate you allowing me to deviate a bit this month. I just wanted to give you all an idea of who I am, and where I’m coming from.
I said my favorite toy was my Bespin Han Solo, so it may surprise you to know that my favorite vehicle is NOT the Millenium Falcon, although I DO think it’s the coolest ship in the galaxy. No, my favorite vehicle is actually the Twin Pod Cloud Car. I know, I know, most people think it’s lame and has a silly design and an even sillier color scheme, but those are the reasons I like it. Even among Star Wars ships, it’s unique, and I have 5 versions of it. The one I’m missing is the die-cast version from 1980-81. I would love to have one loose AND one on the card.
And yes, I NEED both.
Marvin says hi,
Email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org