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The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 3 – How Did I Get Here? And Why Am I Wearing This Orange Flight Suit?

The Caffeinated Collector: Episode 3 – How Did I Get Here? And Why Am I Wearing This Orange Flight Suit?

MarvinDog Media Star Wars logo(plain)

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.

And then came Star Wars. We all know the story. If you don’t, I highly recommend buying a copy of Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (www.plasticgalaxymovie.com), it’s a wonderful documentary. You know what, even if you DO know the story, go buy a copy, you’ll enjoy it, I promise. George Lucas had the foresight to retain the merchandising rights for the universe he had constructed. As a result, he’s now the only person on Earth who can afford to buy every single Star Wars toy that gets released.

Ok, enough with the history lesson. You didn’t come here for that, you came to read MY thoughts and, more importantly, my OPINIONS, right? Very well, your wish is my command. In rolling all of this around in my pea-sized brain, I realized something: Were it not for Star Wars, my life would be immeasurably different, and so would yours. Sure, it’s possible something ELSE would have stepped in and transformed movies, marketing, and collecting, but who can say for sure? I collect today because back in 1978 Kenner started releasing figures based on a movie. And they kept releasing figures. They didn’t stop at the main characters, they released background characters, some of whom were onscreen for less than 10 seconds. And they made them affordable enough that it was possible to COLLECT THEM ALL. As a result, to this day I have a completist mentality when it comes to everything, and it’s a compulsion that I fight against in many cases, simply due to a constant lack of funds, space, time, etc.

People have always collected. Coins, stamps, even bugs and rocks. Collectors will always collect, but I do have to wonder if the collecting hobby/culture that we know today would be as vibrant and thriving if George Lucas had not decided to give Kenner a chance after Mego passed on the Star Wars license. I would have found SOMETHING to collect, because I do have collecting interests outside of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, but I do sometimes ponder if I would have such an intense affection for it if I hadn’t been hooked on the Star Wars drug at such an early age.

Which leads me to a question: George Lucas is which of the following:

  1. A marketing genius who saw and realized the potential of his creation.
  2. An extremely lucky creator who gambled on his idea and won BIG time.
  3. A Machiavellian string-puller on the order of Palpatine who knew EXACTLY how to entrench his ideas into the minds of impressionable children, ensuring their allegiance and their allowance money for generations to come.
  4. Accidentally all of the above?

My money is on D. And I love him for it.

What about you, dear reader? Has Star Wars informed, obstructed, or monopolized your collecting? Or are you one of those “normies” who doesn’t feel compelled to hunt down and conquer a want list? Tell me Tell me Tell me!

Hmm. That turned out better than I thought it would.

Marvin Says Hi,

Jeff

Email Jeff at jeffm@coffeewithkenobi.com

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12 Comments

  1. Becca Benjamin
    April 25, 2014 at 16:10 Reply

    Where is D?
    I don’t see any “choice/option D” ….

    Interesting. I honestly never thought of this, like, ever lol!
    My collecting is very….sporadic and none of it really makes much sense.
    Seriously, no sets or anything like that. Basically, if I like it, I buy it 😉
    Simple… that’s me!

    Great blog, Jeff 🙂
    Star Wars drug? Ok, what exactly are YOU collecting? 😉

    1. Jeff McGee
      April 25, 2014 at 17:30 Reply

      That was a reference to Buzz in Home Alone, he said “No, for three reasons: A, I’m not that lucky. Two, we use smoke detectors and D, we live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen. Period.”

      If it makes sense to you, then it makes sense, I applaud your refusal to feel pressure to “collect them all” 🙂

      And Marvin blinked, which is is way of saying “Hello!”

  2. Becca Benjamin
    April 25, 2014 at 16:11 Reply

    Hi Marvin 🙂
    He’s such a cutie pie!

  3. Aaron Harris
    April 25, 2014 at 16:42 Reply

    Awesome write up Jeff! Lucas was a genius keeping the merchandising rights, which is why to this day, he has so much of my money! Star Wars memorabilia is really the only thing left in life I still collect. From action figures, to autographs, I can’t get enough. My wife, on the other hand, thinks differently. Either way, I collect on!

    1. Jeff McGee
      April 25, 2014 at 17:31 Reply

      Thanks Aaron and again, welcome back to the fold! Star Wars is definitely the main focus of my collecting, but I DO pick up the odd piece from other areas as well, I sometimes just can’t help it. Collect On Indeed!

  4. Lisa
    April 25, 2014 at 22:54 Reply

    Hmmmm… In the absence of Star Wars, what would I collect? Gosh, I don’t know. I’m sure something would have grabbed my attention – and wallet. Books probably. Well, I collect books anyway, with or without Star Wars. Also, Doctor Who….. and Pugs. Not real Pugs – I’ve only got one of those. 😉

    My best friend collects Godzilla EVERYTHING. Other smaller collections she had – The X-Files, Xena, Hercules – she gave to me. So, I’ve got those, but haven’t added to them.

    Collecting has been hard the last few years. Money, money, money… and space. *sigh* I started off trying to be a Star Wars completist, many moons ago, but I had to narrow my focus after a time. Luke became the priority… with a sprinkling of other characters here and there. Depends on the item and the price.

    GL is definitely ‘all of the above.’ I can’t imagine my childhood without my action figures, and I will always be grateful to him for that. Luv ya, George!

    Nice entry, Jeff – and hello to Marvin !

    1. Jeff M
      April 26, 2014 at 16:58 Reply

      You’re right Lisa, eventually I would have stumbled across SOMETHING to fill my shelves with, luckily for me Mr. G. Lucas saw fit to make sure it was mostly items from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.

      With a focus on Luke, I bet that doesn’t really solve your lack of space issue, though, does it? Seems like he is one of the characters that gets chosen alot for various and sundry collectibles.

      1. Lisa
        April 29, 2014 at 15:54 Reply

        Yeah. My ‘Luke limit’ isn’t exactly helpful in terms of space… but it works on me psychologically! If that makes sense. 😉

  5. Melinda Wolf
    April 30, 2014 at 19:43 Reply

    Mr. Lucas is “all of the above”. (D? There is no “D”. lol I like your explanation in Becca’s comment corner. 🙂 ) Although I’d have to say he is mostly 1 and 2. 🙂

    As the years passed — and our family’s collection ballooned — we’d often quip that we alone were keeping George Lucas in business. lol (That includes the umpteen times we have seen each of the films in the theater!) I know this is not true. It’s been a team effort on all fans’ parts. However, sometimes it sure has felt that way. ha ha

    I love to collect Star Wars items, but I must admit that I’ve gotten more choosey along the way — due mostly to $$$ and space. (I wouldn’t mind an airplane hangar to store everything. 😉 If I had a bottomless bank account, that is.) Luke is my character of choice to collect these days. Big surprise there. Yet, I do pick up the errant item if it tickles my fancy. Or mostly my funny bone. The sillier something looks, the more I like it. 😉

    And books. I love to read, and if a novel has “Star Wars” in its title, I definitely will pick it up. 🙂

    The great thing, too, Jeff, is that each of us in the family has a different penchant where Star Wars is concerned. While my husband does not collect, he is a huge SW fan, and enjoys everything that lines the shelves and walls in our house. Our 2 daughters, on the other hand, have their own collections that consist of their own “favorites”. I feel like I can enjoy more SW … living vicariously through them. 😉

    Wonderful musings! I’d say you did superb — considering you didn’t know where your musings would take you when you sat down to write.

    Please give Marvin a pet for me. 🙂

    1. Jeff McGee
      May 20, 2014 at 21:49 Reply

      It’s always helpful to have a partner who doesn’t collect, but understands your drive to collect. Makes for an easier time of collecting and leaves you plenty of space! 🙂

      I love that your daughters do their own thing, it really does feel like you get to relive your collecting heyday through them, i bet.

      I gave Marvin a pet, and he promptly demanded another. Look what you’ve done.

  6. jaymo2yp
    May 2, 2014 at 10:51 Reply

    Sorry it took me so long to get to this post! You know how much I loves me a good vintage toy! 😉

    GL is a genius, no two ways about it. His foresight and ability to market his product in the way he has is proof of that.

    I am a collector as well, as you already know. I used to ONLY collect Star Wars, anything and everything I could get my hands on. Now that the market is so saturated with it, I am definitely more choosy about what I buy and why. For me, Its usually something 1. Vintage 2. Unique 3. Means something to me in some way, or D. all of the above (See what I did there?!)

    I also collect comic books (Marvel, mostly). I used to collect carousel horses!

    I’m going to a flea market tomorrow. Hoping to make some “fine additions to my collection!”

    1. Jeff McGee
      May 20, 2014 at 21:46 Reply

      Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. Life and all. I’m intrigued by this collection of carousel horses you speak of…

      I definitely see what you did there, and I love the 3rd part. At a certain point, just collecting to accumulate becomes an unlivable situation, so it’s important to know WHY you want something, to make sure you NEED it 🙂

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