Anticipation. It’s not just a Carly Simon song. Did I really just start off a blog with a Carly Simon reference? I don’t even LIKE Carly Simon, apart from “Yer So Vain” and that James Bond song she did. Only 4 sentences in and I’m already off on a rabbit trail. Sigh. Where was I? Oh yeah! Anticipation. It’s not just a…..NO! I will NOT get sucked into this loop!
As we eagerly anticipate Star Wars: Rebels and Episode VII, I am reminded of 1999. The year of The Phantom Menace. I was in college, and someone came into the theatre building, saw me and said “Hey, Jeff, I just saw a bunch of new Star Wars toys at Wal-Mart.” I don’t remember who it was because by the time they got the final “T” in “Mart” enunciated, I was already putting my car into “Drive.”
I got to the Mart of Wal (it was a small town, no Toys ‘R Us), and I was greeted by a full WALL of these red cards with Darth Maul’s picture on them. They had everything! Half-size Anakins! Darth Maul himself! The Liam Neeson guy and Obi-Wan Kenobi! Plus these 2 female characters, Queen Amidala and Padme. I lost a bet on those figures, but that’s a story for another blog.
I was understandably giddy. But also a bit disappointed. Like the Power of the Force 2 figures, we didn’t get the unique-to-each-figure cardbacks that I grew up with from Kenner. I assumed it was a purely economic decision. You can print up 5 million of these cards and slap a sticker on cheaper than producing a different card for each figure. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying up all the figures I could afford that day. I left with a Darth Maul, an Obi-Wan, an Anakin, and a Qui-Gon (that’s the Liam Neeson guy). I would come back later for Amidala, Padme, the pilot-guy, and Watto.
This was a few weeks before the film. Maybe even a month or more, I don’t really remember, and I’m in the groove, so I don’t want to research it right now. My point is this: After the movie came out, I had far less interest in most of the figures that were released. I never liked the Battle Droids, because, let’s face it, they’re not that interesting. The pilot didn’t do anything in the movie, so why did I need a figure? Even Darth Maul met an untimely (and unwelcome) end, so I wasn’t sure how I felt about that figure, either.
I was reminded of the Return of the Jedi figures. The first one I received was General Madine (as you would know if you listen to Talking Toys with Taylor and Jeff on www.marvindogmedia.com). Madine’s best scenes were cut, so we all had this pasty, older white guy who did next to nothing in the movie. But I didn’t mind, because it’s Star Wars! Now, as an adult (well, sort of), I was faced with an identical scenario, but had an altogether different reaction to it. Why? Was it because I was growing up? Was it because I didn’t enjoy Episode I as much as I had hoped? My guess is the answer is “Both.”
I fell victim to the hype surrounding Episode I. I doubt any film could have lived up to the hype we all fell for. I DO think Episode I could have been a much better film, but that’s another argument. My point is this: I learned my lesson. I think (and hope) we ALL did.
Mark Hamill recently revealed that he’s concerned about Episode VII living up to the hype, but I really think that all of us fans are tempering our expectations a bit. If we were let down by the prequels, we are lowering our hopes, if we enjoyed them, we’re just hoping for a similar experience, and I think we will all be rewarded for it. I think Rebels is going to be a lot of fun, and I think Episode VII is going to be roundly praised from all corners, simply because we have a better idea of what to expect this time around, and that will extend to the toys and other collectibles.
Sadly, at the moment Star Wars toys seem to be few and far between. It’s hard to find anything on shelves these days. My hope is that with these 2 new Star Wars properties on the horizon, we start to see more and more figures, vehicles, Legos, etc. populate toy shelves. I hope that Hasbro figures out their distribution issues and can get the items onto shelves and keep the shelves stocked. I’m more excited about Rebels than I was Clone Wars for a silly reason: The colors. It seems to be a more colorful show, and I look forward to the card art and the toys themselves. After Episode I, I’m expecting a stock backing image, but that’s ok, because I’m EXPECTING It.
And as for Episode VII figures, well, I can’t promise that I won’t buy up one of everything as soon as they hit shelves, because these are characters I know and love, and any new characters will just be that much more interesting because of their connection with the characters I DO know. I may even be tempted to collect the ships, because this will be a 30-year-older version of the Falcon, you know? I can’t wait, it’s gonna be so awesome!
Wait, what was I saying about learning my lesson?
Some things never change. I seem to be one of them.
What say you, dear reader? Are you excited about the new toys? And do you have a similar experience of the prequel toys as well? Let me know, I’d love to hear.
Marvin says Hi.
PS – Yes, I know I also referenced a Rick Nelson song in the title. I was watching Rio Bravo as I wrote this, and I think it sunk into my subconscious. Plus, I like “Garden Party” and if you don’t, well then you need to unlearn what you have learned.
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