It all began when I heard that my Aunt and Uncle were going to see 'Star Wars'. I was 5 years old, just finishing kindergarten, and I thought to myself...Hmm, I wonder how the stars shoot at one another? Later that week I demanded that my dad take me to find out. My best friend at the time, Doug Giles, went with me. The movie placed me in absolute amazement, I was completely enveloped by the lasers, bad guys, good guys, and especially...the lightsabers and Luke. Since I was the shorter one with blonde hair and Doug was a little taller with darker hair, he became Han, and naturally, I became....Luke Skywalker. Soon thereafter I was wearing a karate gee with a flashlight tucked into my belt full time. But dad, why canít someone make a *real* lightsaber?
My life quickly began to revolve around Star Wars. The picture below is of my childhood scrapbook. It contains all of my early reportcards, sports ribbons and drawings, etc. I covered it with Star Wars stickers because I didnít like the stupid sailboat that was on it.
I focused my limited amount of Star Wars purchases on toys and bubble gum cards. My friend Shawn always seemed to get the new figures before I did (and, he was the one that told me Vader was Lukeís father before I went to see ESB...argh). But, between the two of us we had enough figures and ships to recreate many a battle scene. We usually played in the big dirt pile behind Shawnís house, therefore most of my figures had a beautiful brown tinge to them....especially the stormtroopers. Why did they have to make those darn things white?
Recreating battle scenes was fun, but my absolute favorite pastime with my figures was 'the zipline.' Our family room had high ceilings, so I would take strings and string them up all over the room. The strings ran from a high point near the ceiling, down at an angle, and were tied to an object near the ground. Each string had a different angle, thereby allowing different rates of decent. I would take the gun hand of a figure (Luke, Ben, and Darth didnít work), raise it over his (or her) head, and hook it on the zipline near the highest point of the string. I would then let Ďem go, and watch him 'zip' all the way to the other end (or stop in the middle if there wasnít enough angle on the string). I spent hours weaving intricate webs of zipline all over the family room...what fun!
Beyond the toys I had tons of the original bubble gum cards. The picture below is the centerpiece of my collection. It depicts me sitting in my grandmotherís house surrounded by my card collection (As a sidenote, my grandmother died in 1980 after being terminally ill with cancer for a few years. The last movie she ever saw was....Star Wars). I could never complete the entire set, but I swear I had 10 of the card with the escape pod on it. I can still remember heading to the drugstore every once in a while to rip open a new pack of cards and stuff a rock hard piece of what I think was gum in my mouth.
Playing With Cards
I had the toys and the cards, but I didnít have the wallpaper. I wanted that cool Star Wars wallpaper to go with my Star Wars sheets and underoos. My parents searched high and low (or so they said), but couldnít seem to find it. Well, as you can see, space wall paper had to suffice (is the batman cool, or what? My dad painted it. I had spiderman and superman on my other wall).
The Next Best Thing
My Star Wars fascination ran strong through 1978, culminating that year with Christmas. Unfortunately, with all the pictures and videos we have of every Christmas ever, I couldnít find any of Christmas 1978. It is still vivid in my memory, however. I can still remember walking down the stairs Christmas morning, stepping to the landing and seeing two of the greatest gifts of my childhood...my shiny new huffy dirtbike with the gold 78 on the numberplate, and a Death Star Play Station. My father had already put it together. The play value of the DSPS was unbelievable. If the thought of galactic tyranny led you to the rebellion, you could hang out in the trash compactor, swing across the bridge, or try and shut down the tractor beam. If, on the other hand, you wanted to join the empire you could sit in the gunner chair and shoot down rebel ships all day...'You may fire when ready.' That was probably my single favorite Star Wars toy, except for my lightsaber of course, because I still thought I was Luke Skywalker.
This identity crisis was quite intense as can be demonstrated by the Sentence Completion assignment I had to do in second grade, shown below. My name being Brennan, people didnít know me as 'Bren', no, they knew me as Luke Skywalker. As for me, I even knew myself as Luke Skywalker.
I Am 'Luke'
It was a great run while it lasted, but I put my Star Wars toys away after ROTJ, never knowing the glories of POTF and not knowing that someday I would want them all back. Over the years most were sold at garage sales. When I decided to start collecting again I found only 6 ESB figures in the attic.
In late Ď95 I decided I needed to start collecting something. So I went to Walden Books and started looking through the hobby section. I found a book on Star Wars and Star Trek collecting, and thought to myself 'I loved Star Wars when I was a kid. It would be fun trying to find all the toys I used to have...Iíll bet there arenít many Star Wars collectors out there.' Little did I know...